Thursday, June 11, 2020

Session Thirty-Nine: The Secrets of Yaramuke

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

The images of Vashti began swaying and started singing in an unknown language. When their brief song was done, the images shattered into tiny shards of glass. After a few seconds, the shards dissipated into black smoke and vanished.
The group stood, dumbfounded, for several seconds. Vashti stepped away from the center of the circular room. The group didn't know what to make of the strange occurrence. Shade stepped into the center of the room and the images became him and repeated their strange song. No one had a way of translating the strange words, so the group moved on.
In another room in the same building, the group found the remains of wooden frames. What the wall hanging frames one held was absent. On the wall was written something in dark paint. Abilkisu could read it, as it was in Urikite and Abilkisu broke Urikite law and learned to read. He said the graffiti said something profane about a queen. The group thought it might possibly be about the queen of this former city.
The next room was filled with smashed ceramic shards and part of the room had collapsed. Shade turned to leave, but Vashti wanted to take a look. She carefully dug through the ceramic shards and found a ceramic flower painted in realistic colors and glazed. She thought it was strange that the flower was on a stick and not a cactus.
Kalino explained that sometimes rich nobles would throw flowers on sticks into the arena at their favorite gladiators. Vashti asked if the stick flowers could be eaten and Kalino didn't think so. Vashti said that money would be better and Kalino said that they occasionally threw that too.
The last door in the main hall opened into a room filled with smashed statues of people. The artistic style was very uniform, with standard poses. Most of the intact faces were of people from this city, with the strange lines around their eyes. The group wondered if the lines were makeup, as they previously thought, or if the people naturally had black lines around their eyes.
Shade checked the last room and inside were more smashed sculptures, but these seemed to be non-humanoid in shape. In the center of the room stood a black skeleton holding an obsidian sword, which had a solid obsidian blade. At the skeleton's feet were two, long dead, humans. The skeleton looked at Shade and Shade could see two small pinpricks of violet light in its eyes.

Alaxander lashed out with the way and mentally punched the undead fiend. The undead's bones cracked and groaned beneath the blow. Vashti called out to her element, to force the undead to flee, but she stumbled over the words and nothing happened. Julius used the way to make himself impervious to kinetic damage and ran up to the skeleton, leaving himself open to attack. Shade charged with his bone alhulak and iron dagger, but failed to land a blow. The skeleton retaliated and slashed Shade with its obsidian broadsword. Kalino ran into the room and, with his chitin khopesh drawn, he rushed the skeleton and prepared to strike it.
Alaxander saw that Julius was attempting to make himself an open target and knew what he was doing. Thinking that it would help, Alaxander used the way to mentally punch Julius. The punch was not kinetic energy, so Julius took the full effect of the strike. Julius glanced back at Alaxander and said, "Ow!" Alaxander realized he had made a mistake. Vashti called upon her clerical magic and summoned her water hammer. Julius attempted to strike the skeleton with the best longsword he ever made, but missed. Shade lashed out again with his alhulak and dagger, but only struck with the dagger. The skeleton struck Shade with his sword, slashing Shade on his bicep. Kalino slashed at the skeleton from behind. His khopesh slid across the skeletons smooth bones, scratching and cracking them.
Alaxander decided to focus on the skeleton, instead of Julius, and used the way to strike it. Vashti's water hammer missed, as well as Vashti's bone club. Julius struck the skeleton with the best longsword he ever made and the sword shattered. Julius was shocked, as the bone longsword was, what he believed, the best sword he ever crafted. He concluded that the skeleton must have some magical resistance to bone weapons. Shade attempted to strike the skeleton with his alhuluk and dagger, and once again, struck only with his dagger. The skeleton sliced Shade in the thigh with its obsidian broadsword. Kalino then struck the skeleton with his khopesh.
Alaxander saw no reason to change his tactics. He was far from harm and able to punch the skeleton again with the way. Vashti hit with her water hammer, but missed with her bone club. Julius pulled out his other bone longsword, in order to test his theory, but was able to strike the skeleton this time. He was very confused. Shade missed with both of his weapons this time. The skeleton sliced Shade again, this time on his right arm. Kalino struck the skeleton twice with his khopesh.
Alaxander struck with the way again. Vashti struck with her water hammer and her bone club. Julius struck the obsidian skeleton again with his longsword. Shade finally struck with both his alhuluk and his dagger. The skeleton stabbed Julius again, but was not able to inflict much damage, due to Julius' use of the way. Kalino missed his strike this time.
Alaxander struck the skeleton again and the skeleton exploded into dust and obsidian fragments. Kalino was forced to step back, coughing wildly. Everyone else was pleased with their success, but then Vashti's vines began being defiled and the skeleton reconstructed itself and rose again. Seeing this, Vashti knew what it was. She had only heard stories of defiling skeletons and was shocked that they were real. She shouted to her teammates, "It's eyes are gems and must be removed!"
The skeleton slashed Julius with its sword, but Julius was able to absorb the kinetic energy. Shade, Vashti's water hammer, and Julius struck it back. It collapsed again into a pile, which made everyone cough and wheeze. Alaxander used the way to telekinetically bring the skeleton's skull to him.
The skeleton began to defile and heal itself again. Alaxander pulled out his iron dagger and tore one of the gemstones from the skeleton's eye socket. The skeleton collapsed and moved no more.
Everyone was coughing, except for Alaxander. He proceeded to take the other gemstone from the skull. He then broke part of the skull to make a shoulder pad for himself.
After the group recovered, Julius channeled his stored energy into the ground. They then searched the rubble in the room. Vashti found a solid blue orb. Julius found an eight inch long quartz khopesh. Alaxander found a foot tall granite obelisk. They had no idea what these items did, but took them anyway.
Shade loosed at the obsidian gems that had been pulled from the defiling skeletons skull. They were perfectly cut and could likely sell for a tidy sum. Vashti pointed out that if a defiler used them, they could construct another defiling skeleton. They all agreed to smash the gems and Shade did so. They were all surprised to see diamonds fall from the center of the obsidian gemstones. These, they kept.
Having finished searching the ruin, that they referred to as the museum, the group returned to the warehouse to plan their next move. It was after high sun and all of the close buildings had been searched. Shade was damaged badly by the skeleton and Vashti used the last of her magical healing on him.
Shade and Alaxander continued their training in the spear, from Kalino. Kiara gave Shade words of encouragement, until Kalino told her that she was distracting him. Vashti used her spells to determine that the orb, obelisk, khopesh, and obsidian broadsword had magical properties. She then meditated and thought deeply about the problem with the black water. She didn't know what course to take, but really wanted to investigate it. Abilkisu patrolled the building. Julius simply rested.
When night feel, the group took their normal watch rotation. During Vashti's watch, she saw the screaming dead wandering outside of the warehouse. They were making their short, shrill screams and obviously searching for something. Vashti feared that they were attempting to find them. She and Abilkisu watched them in silence. Vashti woke up Kalino. Kalino whispered that he saw them the night before also. After an hour, the dead moved on.

Day 10, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending

When the group woke up, they fed and watered themselves. Vashti preached her sermon and everyone went to find water. Kalino, Shade, and Julius were all successful. They were pleased with the amount of water they had in their kank barrel. Nine and one half gallons was quite a good amount.
Shade drew a map in the sand of the ruins and the buildings he remembered. They had searched all of the nearby buildings and decided to search the ruined building furthest to the south. They decided to take a round about way to the building to avoid possible lookouts from Abu's forces.
They arrived at the small sandstone building. It was badly weathered, but the entrance had already been cleared away. Shade checked for traps and, finding none, the group cautiously moved inside.
The first small room they entered had a mural of the city painted on the walls. The mural was faded and worn, but they could see the barracks they had entered and the museum also. They could see a palace painted right where Abu's team was digging. The room also had some ancient, broken chairs and tables. In the far corner was a old agafari door that was closed.
Shade searched the door for traps and he actually found one. He could see that if the door was opened, the ceiling would collapse. Without telling his party of the danger, or suggesting they move outside to escape any danger, he went forward and began disarming the trap. Luckily for everyone inside, Shade's disarm attempt was successful. Shade then told the group about the trap and opened the door.
Inside was a large room filled with shelves. Many of the shelves had collapsed and whatever they once held was scattered on the floor. Even with the mess, due to the human-sized foot prints on the ground and dust that been disturbed, the group knew that the room had been ransacked. The group concluded that it was likely Abu's group who had done it.
The group began searching through the clutter. Vashti found an intact pint of kank honey and added it to their stores. Julius found a quartz statuette of a place. The statuette called to Julius with the will or the way. Julius opened his mind to it.
He saw himself facing elaborate agafari gates with the same pyramid and eye motiff as the museum, although on a much larger scale. Instead of a ruin, the city was alive and many black-eye lined people walked the streets. The men were bare chested and wore linen kilts, while the women wore revealing linen dresses. Both sexes had dark hair and olive colored skin.
There was some sort of festival going on and Julius felt himself lift off the ground and fly through the city streets. He recognized the barracks, museum, and warehouse. The tower with the screaming dead appeared to have once been a stately manor house and Abu was digging in an area that was once littered with large mansions.
He found himself in front of a mudbrick building shaped like a mountain and a large statue of a man with an outstretched hand. Than, a human man used the way and levitated. He placed the blue orb, that Vashti now carried, and in the statue's outstretched hand. In the mountain building, Julius saw a dwarf place a white orb, with black lines, on top of the buildings peak.
The setting sun shone through both of the orbs and lines of light shot from them into an empty lot. Where the light touched, a large, beautiful palace appeared. The crowds around Julius cheered and shouted in some unknown language. Julius then found himself back in the storage room, released from the ancient images in the statuette.
Julius stood stunned for a moment and Vashti asked him what was wrong. Julius explained his vision and the group was pleased that Abu was digging in the wrong area. They left the small building and planned their cautious route to where the mountain building should be.
It took them a few hours to cross through the ruins to the site of the mountainous building. It had almost completely collapsed, except for the base level. The group cleared away the debris from the front door and after Shade checked for traps, and found none, they opened the door.
Inside the building had bare dirt floors and on both flanking walls was a symbol of a line with a blue circle above it. The mudbrick building was dark, so the group lit their torches. After forty feet, the group saw two doors, one on the left and one on the right. They checked the right door first. Inside were some ancient, rotted sandals and rotted brown robes. The robes had the same line and blue circle as the walls.
They checked the door on the left and found a two foot circular wall with an eight foot diameter. Inside the wall was water. The water was not black. Julius dashed forward and dunked his head into the well and began to drink. Suddenly, a creature rose up from the water and tried to grab Julius. Fortunately for Julius, the creature could not get a solid grip on Julius' armor or cheap clothing.
The creature fell back beneath the water. The water reflected the group's torch light and made it difficult to see beneath its surface.
The group positioned themselves around the well with weapons ready. As the monster leaped out to strike Julius, the group would slash and stab at it. The creature had gray, wrinkled skin, webbed three fingered fingers and toes, and a large mouth filled with needle like teeth. Sticking out from its skin were bony wedges and spikes.
Despite the wedges and spikes, Alaxander thought that he would grab the creature and then teleport the both of them away from the water. The group could then attack the monster outside of the safety of its habitat. The next time the creature jumped to attack, Alaxander leapt and grabbed the monster. Unfortunately, when the wedges and spikes cut his skin, he couldn't concentrate enough to teleport.
Alaxander fell into the well and found himself surrounded by water. He had no idea how to swim, but kept trying to grab the creature. The creature fought back, scratching and biting Alaxander. Kalino threw a rope into the water and, being unfamiliar with large quantities of water, was shocked to see that it didn't sink. Shade thrust his bone club into the water, so Alaxander could grab it, but Alaxander ignored it.
As the creature scratched and bit Alaxander, Alaxander again tried to grab it. Suddenly, Alaxander could no longer hold his breath and his body forced him the try to take a breath. Alaxander began to drown.
The group began to panic when Alaxander did not resurface, or grab Shade's club. Vashti jumped into the water and used her element granted power to ignore it. She could breath normally and fly through the water with ease. She grabbed Alaxander and gently brought him to the surface.
The beast tried to hold him down, but when Kalino grabbed and heaved Alaxander out of the water, the creature was pulled out too. Shade and Julius took the opportunity to beat and stab the monster, which killed it.
As Alaxander was throwing up water and trying to take a full breath, Vashti found an underwater tunnel leading away from the black waters, which was likely how the water monster had gotten inside. She would have liked to follow it to its source, but her time ignoring her element was quickly running out. She climbed out of the well a minute later.
Julius was surprised that anything could live in water and Kalino agreed. After Alaxander had recovered, and the creatures body removed, the group filled their water skins and water barrel. They were absolutely giddy with the amount of water they carried.
They continued to search the building and came upon a library. The library had a number of shelves filled with ancient papyrus scrolls. There was crumbling tables and chairs and laying, or sitting, around the room were six corpses. The corpses were five humans and a single dwarf. The group took the dead to the the first room they had entered and they were respectfully entombed. As Shade carried the dwarf, a large brass key fell from him. Shade picked it up.
The papyrus scrolls crumbled easily, far too easily and most of them were lost. The few scrolls that were legible were in a language that no one knew how to read. They did find a couple of scrolls with priestly magic ascribed onto them. Vashti happily took them.
As Shade was searching one of the shelves, a spider crawled across his hand. Shade had a phobia of spiders and cried out. The spider fell from his hand and onto the shelf. Shade lashed out with his club and smashed the spider. Unfortunately, he also smashed the ancient shelf. Everyone looked over and Vashti asked Shade if he was alright. He explained about the spider and everyone quietly laughed.
The doors from the library were large and stone, with the line and blue circle symbol on them. Shade checked the doors for traps and found none. He used the brass key he had found and the doors unlocked. He quietly opened the door and the room was filled with their torch light.
He saw a large room, with mudbrick pillars and, at the far end, there was a granite altar. On the altar was a glass eye. The eye was quite large, perhaps big enough for a giant. The iris of the eye was brown and sclera, the white of the eye, was decorated with the images of mountains. Julius knew it was the white orb he saw in his vision.
Shade was startled when a figure stepped out of a pillar's shadow. It was a dwarf in an incredibly tattered brown robe. Shade gasped in horror, because the dwarf had no skin and there was fire burning in his eyes.

Thank you for reading and join us in two weeks for another exciting session of Adventures Under the Dark Sun.

2nd edition AD&D Dark Sun Cast of Player Characters and other Major Characters
Julius: Human male psychokinetic. 22 years old. Played by Dave. Speaks Balican, Tyrian, and Giant.
Alaxander: Human male psychokinetic. 17 years old. Played by Ben. Speaks Balican, Tyrian, and Elf.
Vashti: Human female clairsentient/water cleric. 20 years old. Played by my wife. Speaks Nibnese, Gith, Tyrian, and Balican.
Shade: Half-Elf male ranger/thief, 18 years old. Played by Chad. Speaks Balican, Elf and Tyrian.
Kalino: Human male fighter/preserver. 20 years old. Party NPC. Speaks Rammin, Tyrian, and Balican.


  1. I misread this as "Secrets of Yarmulke" at first glance - I imagine some alter kaker whispering conspiratorially: "This kippah - it looks like nothing special, but then - you turn it inside out and it's totally reversible and waterproof on one side..."

    But on a serious note, I'm glad you're able to get playing in, and have a great continuing campaign.

  2. Thank you. Also, "Secrets of Yamulke" would be a very interesting, and somewhat strange, campaign idea.