Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Aldelle Group – Session 43 – Across the Desert and a New Companion

Session 43 happened Tuesday, September 6, 2011.

This campaign used the Dyson’s Delve dungeon pages on A Character for Every Game as a starting point, but has now moved on to new material from the DM-no-longer-in-training.  I heartily recommend Dyson's Delve as a beginning adventure.

Adventuring Group:
Tre-ba Bel a sheer (female elf alchemist)
Elspeth (female half-elf rogue)
Harkaitz of the Red Soul (male human cleric of Ra)

Aziz of the Light (male human paladin, cohort of Harkaitz)
Sarisvati the Sun-touched (female Ifrit oracle, cohort of Aziz)
Estrela (female Aasimar druid, cohort of Tre-Ba)
Macha (female human fighter, cohort of Elspeth)
Asmo (male Halfling mystic theurge)
Short John Copper (male halfling expert, hireling)
The Red Keffiyehs (human warriors, followers of Harkaitz)

Morning, July 21, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who lights all paths.

Our extra day in Ozimar was well spent.  In addition to the wands of endure elements Tre-ba crafted, we have three newer traveling companions.  Tre-ba recruited an unusual druid named Estrela.  While Estrela’s skin is the dark tan of those used to the sun, her hair is pure white, almost luminescent.  While I do not believe as they believe, Brek’nok showed me the value of the followers of the Old Faiths. 

Elspeth found a previous traveling companion of hers while searching for a ring of sustenance, a human fighter named Macha, who is also a refugee from Terranor.  We have been missing a pure devotee of the fighting arts since Sahar left our group, so Macha is a welcome addition.

Finally, Short John recommended a fellow Halfling named Asmo, a sorcerer of some skill and power.  [See my comments at the end about this.]

With our team ready to head out, we are saying our fare-wells and good lucks to our friends going after the Mountain Gate.  For us, the Uskar beckons.

Morning, July 22, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose dawn rebirths the world.

Yesterday we made our way south and out of the mountains and resumed setting watches during the night.  It was a quiet night and they turned out to not be needed, but better safe than sorry when the fate of the world is in the balance.

The dawn is spectacular.  We are on some elevated land in the shadow of the eastern Ridgeback Mountains, but the Uskar to the south is in the light of the sun.  The morning light has bathed the sands in coppers shifting to gold.  The occasional rocky outcrops are red in the light, casting long shadows that are slowly shrinking, receeding into the feet of the pillars.

It is good to be back home again.

Evening, July 22, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose light gives evil nowhere to hide.

Today we marched to the southeast, looking for the marked trail Luna placed on our last trip to the Uskar Gate.  What we found instead is troubling.

In the late morning we ran across a small group of five animated skeletons.  This is not the first time this has happened and their remains had no identifying marks.  After putting them down, we properly buried the remains so they can sleep peacefully.

Near mid-afternoon, we came across a group of seven robed travellers.  When they got close to us, I hailed them, but received no response.  When they got closer and had still said nothing, I asked Aziz to determine their nature.  He stated they were creatures of evil, to which Asmo responded by casting a fireball upon them.  They then threw back their cloaks and drew their scimitars with their boney hands, exposing themselves as animated skeletons.  They were probably skeletal champions based on their fighting capacities but after another fireball from Asmo, my Nimbus of Light, and expert swordwork by Aziz and Macha, they were destroyed.

Going over the remains, their cloak clasps indicated they were from a nearby village, Kurast.  Kurast is known to me and known to be strong in the faith of Ra.  If the lich is animating this many from that village and sending them across the desert, it worries me that the village may no longer stand.  After we gave the skeletons a proper burial with blessings, we decided to change our course and head to Kurast.

We have made camp after walking further on our new course.  Short John is preparing a warm meal.  We should reach Kurast tomorrow.  I pray that it still stands.

Mid-afternoon, July 23, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose light draws together.

We are in Kurast now, preparing to eat an early dinner.  Pleasantly, the village still stands and the faithful of Ra still live here.  This was not the biggest surprise of the morning.

Late in the morning, as we were getting near Kurast, we observed a lone traveller, completely covered against the sun and sand.  Per our standard, I approached and greeted him.  He hailed us back and we started talking.  After Aziz verified he had no evil intent, we made an impromptu camp and sat for an early lunch.  The stranger is a gnoll, one of the hyena-men who occupy the southern fringes of the Uskar Desert.  His name is Carnish and he is a wanderer in semi-exile from his tribe.  Due to the reputation of his people, he finds it difficult to enter human villages to purchase the few things he needs.  Having gotten a feel for Carnish, I agreed to escort him to Kurast and vouch for him to the villagers.  He was very grateful.

We were all relieved when we came into view of Kurast and found things normal.  As we entered town, we gathered worried looks from the villager and it was not long before the local militia arrived to question us.  The leader of the militia is named Tylar and I explained what our mission was and that I would vouch for Carnish’s behavior while in the village.  This seemed to satisfy Tylar and he showed us to the village square, where Carnish could purchase the things he needed.  We took a couple tables as an open air tavern and shared news and information with Tylar.

After we shared news, we questioned Tylar about what he might know about the area we were heading to.  He related a legend that the tomb of a great paladin of Ra, Sylar, was buried somewhere near there.  Sylar fought and defeated the last nightshade to threaten the Uskar.  Sylar’s sword, the Light of Ra, is considered to be a holy relic, useful against undead, and supposedly kept in the shrine Sylar was interred in.  Thinking about the sword that Aziz now carries, one we retrieved from a holy shrine of Ra, I asked Tylar if there was a description of the Light of Ra.  He said there was and described a sword very much like the one in Aziz’s scabbard.

I chose to keep the location of the sword secret for now.  If the lich or its minions come through here, I do not want it to have a reason to harm the villagers.  For the same reason, I did not introduce most of my companions, which is rude.  The amulet I had created in Ttaeladra hides me from the lich’s scrying.  As I am the only one whose name it knows, this should protect us somewhat from its spying.  It is the best I can do at this time.  The lich knows we pursue it, we cannot afford for it to gather more information on us.

Carnish is done with his purchases and has returned to join us for dinner before we leave the village.  I enjoy Short John’s cooking, but food from home has its own appeal.  This will be a pleasant meal.

Noon, July 24, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose light illuminates knowledge.

We have found another wayward soul in the desert – Professor Walsh from Terranor!

After we left Kurast, we left a false trail and arranged with Tylar to tell anyone following us that we were headed to a shrine deep in the desert to the northwest.  Once we were out of sight of the village, we detoured around it on the west, covering our tracks, and then resumed or march to the Uskar gate.  We kept a cold camp to avoid drawing any attention.

Mid-morning we regained our original marked trail (Luna’s arcane marks) and resumed following that path.  A short while ago we spotted a weakly moving figure attempting to crawl across the sands.  We rendered assistance immediately, setting up a quick camp so we could tend to the traveler.  After we healed his wounds [and a lesser restoration], he told us he was an archeologist from the University of Terranor.  I asked if he was Professor Walsh and he was!

He was surprised we knew of him and we explained we had been in Terranor waiting for him as we had an artifact we wanted to sell to him but we were unexpectedly sent to the Forest of Angry Elves.  He related that he was returning to Terranor when he ran into refugees from the demon attack.  With nothing to return to, he used what resources he had to come to the Uskar and search for the Throne of Ra, a legendary temple said to be sunken beneath the sands of the Uskar.

We explained what we may have found the Throne of Ra and it was still buried.  I asked what the legends say about it.  He stated that there was very little anymore, but the largest fragment stated that “when the Chosen of Ra stands on the peak, the Throne of Ra will rise to the surface”.

This requires I commune with Ra.

I have communed with Ra and my soul is full of His light.

Ra has confirmed that the peak we need is the pyramid on our map.  More ominously, the lich works for the nightshade and is trying to bring the nightshade back from where it is imprisoned.  Ra also confirmed that the lich’s phylactery is in the Drow City.  This is awkward, as our agreement with Nionel was that we would never intrude on each other’s realm again.  I’ll have to give that some thought.

I am sending a message to Wednesday to update the other team about what we have learned.

“Lich phylactery in Drow City. Found Professor Walsh. Going to pyramid to raise temple under sands. Lich working for Nightshade. How goes mountain gate? Harkaitz.”

*End of Session*

[So, due to our need to split the group into two groups to accommodate Wednesday’s player’s schedule, we needed to bolster our ranks.  We picked up only one new player for the weekday group out of three we tried for, so the DM allowed us to mod Tre-ba and Elspeth retroactively so they had the Leadership feat and their cohorts would fill the missing gaps in our roster.

Also, since Luna’s player cannot make every session and will make either the weekday or weekend session as her schedule allows, the DM added Asmo to fill that gap.  When Luna is available, we have Luna.  When her player is not available, we have Asmo and hand-wave the difference to keep the game going.  To avoid issues in the adventure log, Harkaitz will not comment on this at all.]

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