D&D Next: The Desert of Desolation

Jay buys the farm

At long last Jay had arrived home. Much had changed in his absence and still, much had remained the same. More of the human homes doted the valley than ever before but the groves, trees, and hills were all as he remembered. The Vinyard stretched in every direction as it had for as long as the halfling’s verbal history recounted. It looked like home, smelled like home and as he passed an olive tree he snached a leaf and put it into his mouth, and now it too tasted like home. He could feel his home in his bones.
His charger slowly clopped down the main road to the prime village of his ancestors. A once meager cluster of hobbit holes is now a small human town with shops, blacksmith, livery, and more. At it’s center was a long hall where tall beautiful treed once stood. As Jay approached a hunched man stepped out of the hall and gave what Jay could only call a wicked smile.
“Mr. Brandyfoot I’m assuming " he called out cheerfully with a wave. Jay led his horse to the man and nimbly leaped down.
“Mr. Olly Oakes” Jay replied politely “good to see you again”. Olly’s eyes went wide in surprise that Jay knew him by name.
“Ahh,we’ve met, you’rea local Brandyfoot.” He smiled “forgive me but I do not remember a halfling half so tan. And I have a hard time with small faces to be sure. The halflings are always coming and going, it’s hard to keep track”.
Jay did his best to turn his grimace into a smile. "Ah yes, I have been to a desert and have darkened some and we are small like cotton wood seeds and are known to drift in the wind
“Yes, yes” Olly agreed. Jay’s grimace returned with venom when Olly turned around to lead him into the hall. In truth halflings were not known to wonder typically. More did from this area to flee poverty and slave like conditions.
Inside the hall was a long table with benches on either side. The hearth was cold and the room vacant. “You are half a day early, we hadn’t expected you until later. I was just sweeping up the place, your lucky to have caught me”. Olly picked up the broom and began on move a pile of dirt on the floor. A smile shined brightly in Jay’s eyes when he saw the discomfort in the hunched man’s attempt in sweeping.
“We made better time then I expected. We can start early if you can round up the elders and deed holders.”Jay said. “You don’t need to sweep sand on my account, I just came from the desert after all” Olly smiled and mistook the offer as a mercy for his crippled back.
As Olly left the hall 4 large Thune and two Symbian men walked into the room hauling emaculat chests. They looked to Jay for where they should be placed. Jay nodded toward the long wooden wall. As they were placed people already began to arive. A handsome blond man was the first man to enter. He bowed and proceeded to move to the long table. Jay intercepted the man and put his hand out to shake.
“Mr. William Oaken” Jay said with a large smile hand extended . The man sheepishly put his limp crippled hands into Jay’s and shook it the best he could. Jay pretend to be surprised at the misfoarm hand and then pretend to pretend not to notice. “It is so good to see you after so much time”
Next entered 3 older men dressed rather lavishly and Jay greeted them by name. Two brothers walked in leaning heavily on canes arive followed by four younger men with long cloaks. A grim eyed man entered and sat without saying a word . Jay ignored the lack in formal greeting but also secretly knew about the accident that had left the man mute. Finally a young blind man with scars over his eyes and two more men with crippled right hands entered the room.. In all twenty and one human men were present for the meeting with the half Ling and almost half we crippled in one fashion or another . There were also four armed guards near the door. The guards were simple brutes with crude iron swords and no armor. The head guard was a strking man with a silk bow tied to his beard.
“Thank you everyone for meeting me. You have reviewed both my offers? Have you decided”? Jay asked flatly.
“We have” announced one of the elderly men seated at the center. “If you can afford the apologies, we can make them. Can you afford the coin you propose?”
“I can” Jay said calmly and nodded to the Thune next to the chests. One by one the dark skinned man opened the chests to reveal large amounts of gold and silver coins. "See for yourself "
the a few able to move freely stood and moved to the trunks and stared for a moment before running their hands through the riches. Their eyes went wide with greed. “Yes, they ate full and true” a man said with a crack in his voice.
“How many chests without the apology? " interjected a younger man.
“Axle, enough. We have been over this” shouted another elder. Axle sat back resigned.
“Half as many if that is your wish” Jay allowed. In truth, the second offer more accurately represented what the Vinyard was worth. Jay liked to think that buying his family land back at market value was a fair and honorable approach. He also thought that baiting a trap like the one this family had used to steal his birthright was also just. Giving them the option, well, that seemed like poetry somehow.
“We accept the offer and will apologize in writing and verbally for the acquisition of these lands by our great elders. You offer enough means for our family venture to move on, however we want all persons willing to stay to be free to do so. Agreed? "
“Agreed” Jay said with a smile. “You have signed the agreement and deeds”?
“Yes” said the elder and a man with a crippled hand handed Jay the paperwork. Poetry. Jay quickly read the document and checked for all the signatures.
“Perfect, everything is in order and is as it should be” Jay said beaming. Jay snapped his fingers and the chests clamped shut magically. “Thank you for your time”
“What is the meaning of this” demanded the elder.
“You admit to stealing and thereby not truly owning the land. The gold in the contract is for the owner, which happens to be my family. Good day” Jay smiled like a shark.
“Stop him” cried the elder
“Get back that contract” the second elder demand
The four brutish guards made only one step in their advance before Jay spun with his clock twirling around him. Knives flew in all directions. Not one drop of blood was spilled. The four guards looked and their shirts and pants were pinned to the the wooden wall. The sticking man had his beard pinned to a beam by the bow.
Jay drew his stone rapier slowly and confidently. “We can fight over it if you like, but I would hate to cripple even more of this room”

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Edrin's Epilogue

Edrin trudged up the gangplank of the Courageous Dream, a modest merchant freight vessel, a soft clanking sound heralding his footsteps.

“And are ye ready to set sail, m’lord?” the captain asked.

“Aye” the dwarf answered, handing over a sack of gold coins so heavy the captain immediately dropped it with a solid thud.

The captain choked “And where am I to be takin’ ye for such a handsome sum, then?”

“The Isle of Dread” said the dwarf with a chuckle.

“The i….the Isle of Dread?? Why would you want to go there!??”

Edrin paused for a moment, pulling a long chug of ale from a horn, then grinned at the captain, wiping suds from his beard with the back of a gauntleted hand “Y’know I can’t for the life of me remember!”

The captain eyed the sack of gold greedily, “As ye wish then!” he said, as the crew gave nervous chuckles and went about their duties to set sail.

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Meanwhile, in Seattle...

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Shadowrun >noun

Any movement, action, or series of such made in carrying out plans which are legal or quasilegal.

-WorldWide WorldWatch, 2050 archive

A brief history of the 6th World

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Post 5
Pritt and a crossed the Sea of Glass

They camp for the night taking turns on watch around a small fire at the base of a large rock formation. A cool breeze rolls over the rough landscape. Edrin sits outside the fire’s light and warmth to ensure the flames do not blind him or distract him from his guard. Edrin was from hearty stock and didn’t mind giving up simple pleasures when it was called for. The camels move slightly and Edrin sees some movement just out in the darkness. He stays in his seated position but puts his hand on his axe to ready himself to spring into combat. A desert cat approaches the camp from the darkness but stops a few yards out. Not the eyes don’t look into the eyes. Edrin thought remembering the jackal that put him into a trance. Outside the firelight Edrin watches the cat, maybe a cheetah, to see if it’s just here to find loose scraps or if its planning an attack on his weary companions or camels.

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The cat stretches out and then lies down as if to fall asleep. The camels lumber about slightly uneasy but not fully panicked. The cat’s ears pick up to alertness and the cat slowly saunters out of the camps fire light. Edrin watches the cat back out of the camp and scamper into the darkness. Edrin’s superior night vision allows him to see the cheetah break into a run into the distance. Edrin sees his chance to get to his feet and ready himself proper without giving up his location. While leaning on his axe, Edrin sees the cat loping back to the camp after thirty minutes. Here kitty kitty kitty.Edrin thought, Oh’ you’ll be a fine breakfast. When the cat returned Edrin saw it had something in its mouth. The cat drops the furry item at the edge of the camp and stairs directly into Edrin’s hidden position, then saunters off into the darkness and lies down again out in the open. The camels appear to have relaxed and are no longer swaying.

Edrin, knowing is hidden position has been compromised walks to the furry item and finds a freshly killed jackrabbit. “Oh’, how’d you know I was just thinking about breakfast”? He chuckles to himself quietly and starts cleaning the kill. The rabbit was expertly killed with a quick neck break. This left the skin and fur without puncture bite marks improving its usefulness for hide use. In a matter of minutes the cleaned carcass was on a spit over the fire. With a toe jab Edrin wakes Abdul up to share the meal.

“You’ll never believe it, that cat there shows up and brought me food. I was just thinking about eating the cat when it runs off than turns up with this treat”. Edrin is already eating before he finishes his statement.

“You don’t think that’s a bit… odd”? Abdul asks waiting for the poisoned rabbit to take effect. Edrin, still chewing, looks up thoughtfully.

“I suppose that could be” Edrin takes another greasy bite. “But it looks harmless enough.”

The cat saunters in towards the camp and stands on its back legs. While in this upright supine position it brings up a paw and waves at them. “Ohh!, I know this cat. That’s Elton. Is that Elton? Yeah, that’s Elton.” Edrin says with rabbit grease all over his hands and face.

“Your little… short friend”? Abdul asks

“Yeah, he turns into animals” Edrin replies.

The cat moves to the fire and curls up and seems to go to sleep. Edrin finishes the rabbit meal and leaves guard duty to Abdul. Abdul sits and warms his hand near the campfire. Abdul can see the sky start to turn colors and lighten in the distance. While appreciating the calm of a warm sunrise he hears a clinking noise. It takes a second for Abdul to figure out where the sound was coming from., but then it seems to clearly be coming from the other side of the rock formation they are camped against. Tink, tink, tink followed by a rough metal on stone scraping noise.. Abdul looks around the camp to see if anything else is amiss. The camels seem to be alert and a little restless. Abdul raches over and grabs Jays arm firmly but not roughly. Jay’s eyes flash open and is immediately alert but does not move.

“There was a noise, around the rocks” Abdul points.

Tink, tink, tink. Jay slips out of his sleeping sack and notices Elton sleeping by the fire. Unwilling to make a sound and ask where Elton had come from, Jay stalks off around the large rock formation. Abdul lets Jay get away towards the rocky shadows before he stands up. Abdul then yawns loudly and lumbers the opposite way around the rock formation. About halfway around the base of the large rock spiked out of the earth Abdul notices the sound stopped. Abdul looks around but isn’t able to locate the source of the sound. Jay comes around the far side of the jutting rock and sees Abdul looking around. Jay tried to get as much elevation as possible while circling the rock to ensure he had the best vantage. Fresh scratches catch Jay’s eye as he looks around. Jay doesn’t think they look like climbing marks but decides to climb the jutting rock surface just in case. Without his harness he tries to free climb for a better vantage but is unable to get purchase on this sheer side of the stone. Abdul spots Jay when he falls a short distance in the climb attempt. “Psst..Jay” Abdul whispers loud enough for Jay to hear. Abdul holds up his hands as if to ask what now. Jay shrugs. Worried about the unattended camp, Abdul hurries back. Jay sneaks back to camp the way he came.

When Abdul returns to the camp, he finds a hunched over figure next to the fire. K’lara and Edrin sleep softly and unharmed in their sleeping sacks just a few feet away. The gnome sits gnawing at the leftover meat from the jackrabbit. “You!” Abdul exclaims. “What are you doing here?”

The gnome jumps and seems pretty startled. “Oh”
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Edrin and K’lara wake up battle ready and stare at the intruder. Jay sneaks around and gets behind the camp and the gnome. Abdul holds his scimitar in his hand. “Ahh.. this rabit is excellent. Maybe, yes maybe a little short on the spices. Yes, but excellent”.
“What are you doing here” Abdul repeats harshly.
“What? Oh, taking advantage of your hospitality. Yes, forgive me” The gnome pulls back his cowl and reveals his face. None other than Pritt sit in their camp. This was the gnome they had run into in the pyramid. He had a spoon and dug at an earthen cavern endlessly. Jay thought he was a cursed ghost that died somewhere in the pyramid and was cursed to search for a way out. K’lara was suspicious from the get and thought Pritt was some illusion or trap. Abdul assumed the pyramid drove the gnome mad and Edrin didn’t care much to think about it.

“What are you doing here, in the middle of the dessert, in the middle of the night”? K’lara asked with intrigue.

“What? Ahh… Desserts, no matter where you are, you’re always in the middle, yes?”
“I will ask a final time, what are you doing here”. He points firmly to the ground at the base of the camp.

“What? Here, in the dessert? What, no matter, I’ve been looking for you. I have some information you’ll find useful.” Pritt stammers out his answer as though he hadn’t been asked a question and was volunteering the information. “Do you have any more of these rabbits?”

“Rabbits?” Abdul repeats annoyed “What information have you got that we would want?”

“Rabbit? “ Pritt repeats as if Abdul had brought it up. “No, the dessert. I know the dessert very well. Very well, yes. I have lived here most of my life. Yes, yes I know the dessert very well. Things… are not… going well at the pyramid.”

Pritt stops and looks around confused as if to just find himself in the camp at this moment not knowing how he got there. “Did you say you had a bit more rabbit” he blurts out. Everyone exhales a sigh at the arduousness of the conversation.

“Oh…” Pritt suddenly seems excited and aware “You’ll never find the tomb of Martek in this manner. No, no, no… probably not ever. Probably not…. Rabbit. Probably more rabbit would be good, oh yes, more rabbit” At the mention of the tomb of Martek the group gets very anxious and ignore the request for food and press Pritt for more information.

“What do you know of the tomb” Abdul interrogates.

“How do you know we are looking for it”? From Edrin

“Do you know where it is” asked Jay while K’lara remained silent concentrating on Pritt with her arcane senses. After some time she senses that Pritt is a very magical being and likely a shape shifter of some kind. The spoon appears to be some transmutation.
“Excuse me?” Pritt answered confused at first. “Ah, yes. The tomb, its here… in the dessert. Well, not right here in the dessert, no, no, but out there-here in the dessert, yes. You are seeking the tomb yes, out there in the dessert? You’ll probably never find it out there in the dessert.”

“Why do you think we are looking for the tomb”? Abdul asks mildly defensively.

“Why? The tomb? Ah, yes. The sphinx told me. You solved his riddle…in the pyramid? And now he is no longer… umm… bound to his task, yes, yes. Free.. The sphinx is… umm…hungery” Pritt looks around the camp imploringly. “is there truly no more food? No more rabbits. No, truly no.”

Just then Alton arrives with a few small fresh kills. He turned out to be the only one who heeded the requests of Pritt and ran off to accommodate. Jay was extremely relived and hopeful that the food would keep Pritt from being so muddled. Edrin cleaned the kills and set the meat on skewers on the fire. Pritt seemed to stare intently at the fire intently as though in a trance and he refused to continue the conversation until his appetite was at bay. Jay searched Pritt visually. Pritt was of similar height and weight. Pritt seemed to travel very light lacking in weapons and travel gear. That might account for why he seems to be starving to death Jay thought. Pritt seems to have kept the spoon from the pyramid as well; it hangs on his belt even now. Jay finds himself drawn to Pritt’s eyes. They were unusual to begin with but staring deep they seem to reveal even more. The color of his eyes were flecked with bronze coloring and almost had a reptilian quality. Before the meat was cooked thoroughly Pritt jumped up and grabbed a skewer and began gnawing on it.

“The sphinx, yes. Always seemed happy, yes, happy to serve the pharaoh.. The Efreeti, now… causing problems now and the… oh and Martek, the tomb of Martek rather… but no, Marktek too I suppose…” Pritt seems to ramble a bit before Abdul calls him to focus.

“You know much for one so small” Abdul said kindly.

“Oh, yes. I study, and am a leaned… oh, this is an excellent catch, just excellent, no need for herbs and salt on this,. No, not at all” As Pritt speaks aimlessly Abdul points out the odd eyes to the rest of the camp. One by one they notice the bronze coloring and that light seems to glint off the flecks.

“Oh… and this I fear, that nothing but calamity will fallow in the wake of the Efreeti’s army. Oh my, not even the Pharaoh’s armies will be able to stop him, ohh no. The armies that stand guard eternally to protect him. They will try, yes, they will try. Yes, but it won’t be enough, yes… no.”

Abdul folds his arms for a moment as if in disbelief. He then leans toward Pritt and mildly flicks his cheak. Pritt’s skin is fever hot to the touch. “What, hey… What now? Don’t touch”

“What are you my little friend” Abdul asks softly.

“Taken aback is what I am. Hmmp… No one is poking you, flicking you. No. Not noone.” Pritt looks pretty insulted and indignant. “I don’t know why you did that. Why did.. umm… you… Martek, the tomb” Pritt’s outrage fades quickly as he seems to forget about the incident entirely. “I don’t know where exactly it is, no. But I can set you on your way, yes perhaps. I can guide you to where you need to be, set you on a path; yes the right path and you will find it. I am nearly certain.” Pritt makes this announcement as if the idea had just come to him and not been the entire purpose he met them in the first place. Pritt looks accomplished and happy with idea of having this group on this course, but then looks into the horizon and rising sun. “For I fear, Yes… I… fear, that only Martek’s power and his power alone will be able to stop this force.”

“Yes, that is why we seek it. We feel…” Abdul pauses briefly “I feel a great responsibility”
“Yes, We all fear the ruin wrought by these times. I would not even face it, no, not out in the open. No, sadly no, not even with the help from the sphinx.”

“Not even… you” Abdul asks “You think you could face the Efreeti?”

“No, not for very long, me? No, not for very long, and that’s why you need the tomb of Martek. From my knowledge it lies beyond the Sea of Glass.” Abdul winces at the mention of the Sea of Glass. The Sea of Glass is rumored to lie at the very center of the Dessert of Desolation. Travelers speak of it with the fear that surrounds a horrific myth. The sea itself is said to focus the already unforgiving beams of sunlight and be able to cook a man alive in mere moments. The sea stretches for miles upon miles and the only way to traverse the surface is with a specifically crafted vessel. At its center, it is rumored that an ancient civilization

“How have you come to this knowledge?” Abdul asks looking to reveal more about Pritt and his peculiar background.

“How? I? Oh, long life with many travels. Research, I am a learner the world around me, yes. I know the dessert well, oh yes. I have lived here a long time. Brothers, yes and sisters too, all of the clutch, yes, but I remain. I still remain.” Pritt looks melancholy for just a moment and then seems to forget his current thought and starts talking again like he just stumbled onto a brilliant idea. “The Sea of glass, yes, that’s it. Cross it and you will find Martek’s tomb”

Abdul, happy to learn the possible whereabouts of the tomb folds his arms with dissatisfaction of not discovering more about Pritt. Why is Pritt here? Why does he want this band of travelers moving this way instead of that?

“Ok, ok.. There is a chance. With my help, the sphinx’s help, the pharaoh’s help we could possibly…” Pritt announces at Abduls clear disapproval.

“The pharaoh? Isn’t he… departed?” Abdul interrupts.

“What, who?” The thoughts falling loosely out of Pritt’s head is almost visible. Pritt’s expression is that of someone mentally grasping at straws hoping to catch one. “Who, oh the pharaoh? Yes, he and his armies continue to protect the pyramid. Although, yes, things have changed quite a great deal. Yes indeed, thanks to you, it is now of his choosing… The threats that have emerged is…is…umm… No, He would not see his newly nascent kingdom destroyed once again, oh no.”

“How would we draw everyone together” K’lara asks.
“Everyone? Oh yes. At the pyramid. I feel that we could protect the pyramid and the environment around it. Yes, but not the rest of the dessert. No, I can’t speak to the rest of the dessert as it is now, oh no. It won’t remain dessert for long, which is almost certain. The civilizations to the south too yes, they are also in jeopardy. The Efreeti will not be content with the dessert, oh no, most certainly not. Families, mothers, fathers, and children will all suffer, yes. Sadly, yes.” Pritt starts speaking quickly and looks upset. “My Mother, yes, my mother fell to the likes of Efreeti. No!”

K’lara’s arcane insight has alerted her that Pritt’s form is not his natural form and wanting to change the subject to calm him down she asks “Have you chosen this form or are you stuck in this form?”

“What? Form? This form? Ahh, yes, this is a good form” Pritt stretches his arms out and wiggles his little fingers.

“What is your natural form” K’lara asks directly to cut to the chase.
“What form, this form? This isn’t my natural form? It isn’t! I wish not to speak of it.”
“But we need to know if we are all to come together to defeat the Efreeti.” K’lara says not mincing words.

“I will do my part” Pritt answers slowly, deliberately, and almost menacingly. “I can promise you, the pyramid will be protected” A pause draws out and in a flash Pritt seems to forget the tension that he brought to the conversation.

“The oasis. Yes, the oasis. I fear that it may be in grave danger. White Palm, yes. The Oasis of the White Palm. But first we must get you to the Sea of glass, yes. That should be first.”

“Can you point to it on our map?” K’lara approaches Pritt with the map she carries.
“Map? Excellent, yes. I can point, point as good as most, better probably.” Pritt claps his hands excitedly and waits for K’lara and then points rapidly as soon as its within his reach.
“Here, yes. This is the crypt of Badr al-Mosak. See, and here to the north is the Sea of Glass. You can’t miss it. No, impossible to miss. Once there you should investigate… The sea is surrounded by… umm… oh, yes… pillars. And there are ships that sail this sea. Yes, if you can find one, one of the ships, it may aid you. You must find one of those ships though… to umm… cross the sea, to find what you seek. There, here… Right here is the city of Phoenix” Pritt points excitedly.

“What about here” K’lara points to a spot on the map they had considered to start their search for Martek’s tomb.”

“No, Oh boy no.” Pritt suddenly looks exasperated and excited. “ Oh no, have you heard of a beast… umm… Alomia? There is one… here is one on the map. No, not on the map but here… there in the desert. She is a cranky one, oh yes. No, not happy. I would not trouble her and her nasty temperament.” Pritt moves from location to location on the map naming ruins, structures, and blank portions. “Alomia, yes. She once had her day, once she was….”

“How long has it been since she was nice” Jay asks to try to estimate the age of Pritt.
“HAA!!” The laugh was sudden and loud. “She was never nice! Oh no, oh my. Ha… Nice.

There was a time where she would not openly assault me. But now, oh boy yes now…”
“How long since you have had tea together or been face to face?” Jay persists.
“Many, Many, years. Five no, no, six centuries, perhaps?” Pritt looks confused and it’s hard to tell if he understood the question. “Martek, yes, Martek was powerful, indeed a very powerful wizard. Yes, the most powerful human wizard I have ever met. I feel his like does not exist in this world anymore.”

“AL righty then” Edrin is holding his fingers tightly to his temples with a pained face. “I think we have as much as we can get, let’s move on then”
“I must return to the pyramid,”

“One last thing” Jay steps up to Pritt. “How are things going at the pyramid?”
“Hmm… I suspect there will be problems with the newly arrived workers and local fanatics. Hearts may be in the right place, but the sun is setting.”

Jay stares blankly for a moment imagining the chaos that could result. He quickly pulls out a quill and paper and writes two notes. One note was addressed to the Faruq Nasser the Thune High Priest and told him to be tolerant of the Symbayans and allow them to make proper fortifications. He also addressed the other to Tolnus the former commander of the Sand Merchants guild who was placed in charge of managing the Symbayans and told him to respect the space of the Thune and not to enter the pyramid. Jay would put a fifty percent wager on these letters ever arriving at their destination, but the worst case scenario is the same as not sending them at all while the best case might provide the necessary instruction to succeed.

“Please, deliver these letters to the pyramid” Jay hold out the letters to Pritt.

“What letters” Pritt looks genuinely confused. Jay waves them to catch Pritt’s attention. Pritt’s eyes light up and he grabs the letters and stuffs them into his belt.

“Well friends, yes. I wish you luck. You will need it, luck, yes. I don’t have other options frankly, we will all need a pinch of luck.” Pritt stares blankly and recites a poem
“In future times, it is foretold

a voice for Martek ancient old.
Tells of a time when mortal men shall seek the aid of long dead kin. At Martek’s Tomb shall make a sound, to call the doors to the lost tomb found”

“A pinch of luck and maybe something material to help us with the journey?” Jay’s eyes shift to the spoon and then back to Pritt’s eyes. Pritt’s face darkened and he pulled his spoon out to examine it.

“This is the last memory I have. The rest… scattered to the four winds.” Pritt holds the spoon closely. “Melted down… some. Taken to distant lands… some. Spent on trifles, whores and drink!” Pritt’s slow menacing voice returned and Pritt was more focused than ever.

“Oh… ok” Jay takes a step backward. “It’s fine if you don’t have anything to aid us. We’re resourceful.” Jay takes a few more steps backward.

They breakdown the camp and prepare to depart. Pritt remains by the fire despondent and mumbling. Pritt is like a quartet that can’t decide which song to sing. At times he is pleasant and peaceful, while moments later he is menacing and terrifying, while at other times he seems afraid himself. His mumbling turns into deliberate statements.

“In future times it is foretold
A voice for Martek ancient, old
Tells of a time of mortal men
Shall seek the aid of long dead kin
At Martek’s tomb, shall make a sound
To call the doors of a lost tomb… found”

Pritt’s mumbling continues and the language doesn’t appear to be common.

Once they were an hours ride north Jay mentions the reptilian bronze eyes and exceedingly long life span of Pritt. It is possible that Pritt is just a crazy specter released from the pyramid but now it also seems possible that Pritt is a bronze dragon.

They rode on their camels throughout the morning to get as far as possible. The desert wind blew hot sand into their faces until they couldn’t manage any longer. Alton found a sharp overhang they could rest under. The rock surface blocked the sun from above and the wind from two sides. Alton was able to hunt while they waited out the hot sun’s rays. They rested there until the sun descended the sky and the horizon turned gold, brass, and bronze. Well rested and well fed, they mounted the camels and rode again north toward the Sea of Glass. The sun set and the moon and stars were bright in the night’s sky. The light color of the stones and ground reflected the moonlight and so they were able to see as they moved ahead. Only the shadows between the jagged rocks threatened unseen, unknown danger. Miles and miles of the desolate desert passed them by moonlight.

In the distance the horizon began to lighten casting a shadow a crossed the land. They slowed to a stop to either watch the sunrise or to allow enough light to rise over the horizon to see their footing. Shafts of light jettison from the horizon and shimmer across skyline. In the distance the line between earth and sky seems to fade before them as the sky and the surface lighten with the light of dawn. The sky looks as though it reaches down and wraps around the desert beyond. With the predawn shadow passed they begin to move forward and witness the desert sand seemingly drop off into the sky. Clouds float deep within this strange sky just as they float high above. After a few minutes travel they walk up to the edge.

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Once on the shoreline the air becomes very dry and so hot that it becomes difficult to breath. Far to the north beyond the reflecting sky at their feet shimmers what could be an island in the Sea of Glass. The Sea of Glass reflects the sun’s light back into the sky but ten thousand times magnified. Unable to continue forward they walk along the shoreline to the west. A half hours walk along the shore they come upon a metallic platform jutting skyward with hills and mounds of sand covered debris on either side. Sticking up from the buried rubble is tall metal pole with a crosspiece wrapped in woven bronze that glints the early morning sunlight. As they approach the platform a long blade runs the length of the structure on its side.

The intense heat bears down on the group so they decide to use the half buried structure as shelter to wait out the worst of the heat. They tunnel at its base looking for an entrance until Alton burrows a tunnel clear under the wall that channels up into the center. Once inside the structure they realize that they are sheltering under an overturned ship. They take turns throughout the day unearthing the ship so they are able to flip it upright when they are ready to depart near dusk.

Once the ship is flipped over it appears to float on runners over the sand. Only a thin shimmer of magic connects the runners to the bottom of the ship that allow it to hover in place. The ship’s rudder is studded with diamonds along its edge that shine a bright white. These diamonds allow the rudder to cut through the glass while steering the vessel. K’lara pulls out a book on magical enchantments and begins studying the magical forces at play. She sits in the shade while identifying the magical properties and learning how to possibly control the ship. “The base absorbs heat from the mirrored glass and converts its energy to a magical force that can propel the ship forward. It should also protect us from the heat if we remain in the ship.” She smiles

Edrin and Jay explore the vicinity to find an adequate place to secure the camels. An obelisk stands high on a hill a short distance away from the Sea of Glass. The pillar of ancient stone stands silently over the desert sands. Ancient markings are worn nearly smooth by the blasts of wind and weather, making it hard to read the writings. A hollow space is present under the writing. Edrin squints briefly at the hieroglyphics and looks at Jay. “Abdul, come read this bit” He shouts.

Abdul runs over to the obelisk and puts his hands on the old stone. His eyes appear to go trancelike briefly before he starts reading. Abruptly a voice rumbles from the stone “Martek and his sphere of power. Retrieve this, the quest, and destinies decree. An Ancient prophecy of doom and death. That men of courage should face without regret. To his mighty temple tomb against the shoes of the sky. That mighty monument of his life and passing. You must now find and enter, gain the gem before you take the power. To glow whence pointed toward Marktek’s Towers. Where, if survived, those here assembled, shall be your finest hour”
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Abdul continues to run his hands across the stone surface. “The translation in text is slightly different”. Abdul then reads out loud “The appointed time, shall man arise from his ignorance and reaching for the stars offer them in wisdom”

Jay pulls the Star Gem out from his synched pocket to see if it was glowing unbeknownst to him. It was not. K’lara produces her Star Gems to see if either glowed. Neither did. “It does look like a gem would fit in the hole below the words” Jay holds his gem to the opening to better illustrate his point. K’lara moves her gems close to the opening to see if they react by proximity. They don’t.

Jay puts his gem into the slot on the obelisk. The gem immediately reacts to the contact of the obelisk and produces a warm glow. Jay drops the gem to the sand however the gem continues to glow and gains intensity. Jay picks up the gem to inspect it. Abdul directs Jay “point it outwards and turn in a circle”.

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Jay obeys. When the gem points toward the Sea of Glass it brightens to a near blinding light. K’lara inserts her gems into the obelisk and they too now glow and intensify when pointed toward the Sea of Glass.

Jay and Edrin tie the camels to the obelisk and make sure they are well watered. “It’s a hard life being a hero’s mount” Jay reflects “In harm’s way until they get abandoned”.

Edrin paused to look at Jay. “My father always said ‘never name an animal’, he did” Once Jay turned around to walk away Edrin leans in to the camel and whispers in its ear “We’ll be back Prince Camelot, I promise” and gave it a few more pats on the head.

The night insects start their chorus of music as they board the ship and prepare to depart. They use the Star Gems glow to navigate the ships course. K’lara magically propels the ship toward the island far into the distance that seems to float in the open sky. They witness an amazing sunset with radiant colors above and below the ship. The night too harnesses an awe inspiring beauty illuminated by brilliant starts and moons from above and below. In the distance darkened lumps appear that do not mirror the sky above indicating objects on the surface. Steering wide they approach and realize the shapes are of scorched bones and clothing of five individuals on the surface. K’lara brings the ship in closer to get a better look.
The bodies lie in lumps on the surface and appear to be completely free of scavengers.
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Edrin Jumps down from the ship onto the smooth surface of the glass now cooled by the absence of the sun. Edrin grabs a corps lying face down to flip it over and realizes that the skin the remains is burnt to the glass. He forcefully peals the corpse off revealing the skull underneath and leaving the charred face on the glass. Abdul winces at the grizzly seen. Underneath one of the corpses was a hidden belt pouch. Inside the pouch is an amulet that seems particularly cool to the touch. Edrin delicately hands it too K’lara. None of the other corpses had anything of value. K’lara casts a quick spell to help identify the magical properties of the amulet. “This is an Amulet of Health” K’lara says when she is finished.

They board the ship and continue toward the island in the distance. Due to the flatness it seems impossible to determine the distance. The travel swiftly along the glass surface but the floating island beyond doesn’t seem to be getting closer which exemplifies the vastness of the Sea of Glass. They take turns guarding the side and rear of the ship as K’lara sails onward and rest between shifts. Dawn arrives with the earth and sky lighting to the east. Shafts of light break the horizon and bring fourth another amazing vision. As the sun crawls up the sky they remain comfortable in the ship as it races along the glass surface. Just after sunrise fatigue sets in on K’lara from the long concentration of operating the magical ship. She slows the vessel to a halt and directs Abdul to its operation.

Abdul guides the ship forward toward the island in the distance. It does appear to be getting closer but with the vastness of the open area and the shimmer of the mirage on the horizon it difficult to tell how much. In the distance another ship is stationary sitting on the glass. Near bored to tears Edrin points at it and urges Abdul to investigate. As they approach the craft appears to be abandoned. This new ship seems to be quite a bit larger than the one they currently are driving and has an emblem of the Eye of Rho on the prow. The new ship also has two masts with limp sails. Abdul pulls their ship alongside the new vessel.
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K’lara, somewhat skeptical asks “Maybe we should just keep going”? Jay nods and approves of staying focused on the task.

“No, no. Look at the size of this thing. It’s twice what this one is” Edrin objects pointing to their ship. Edrin smiles at Jay “Jay…” he says as almost a dare and cups his hands locking his fingers together crating what will soon be a Halfling launching pad.

Jay runs boldly at Edrin, hops lightly into his cupped hands. Edrin catapults Jay high into the air toward the mystery ship. Jay lands lightly on the deck and looks around. The deck appears very clean and put away. The ship wasn’t abandoned in a rushed half hazard manner. The two masts stand strait with the sails hanging. Barrels and crates are tied down with coiled ropes and a cargo hold can be seen toward the rear of the ship. Jay looks over the side back to his shipmates and gives the thumbs up. Abdul, Alton and Edrin make their way to the boarding ladders on the side of the ship. K’lara remains to protect their ship.
They start to explore the deck of the ship. Alton notices sails start to fill in the absence of wind and it almost looked like the ropes moved of their own accord out of the corer of his eye. “I think this is an enchanted ship” Alton announces.

“Whys that?” Jay asks dumbly as the sails are near full in the absence of wind.
Edrin sees the strange change in the sails moves to the rope to throw some to K’lara. Edrin moves to pick up the rope but somehow the rope resists and doesn’t move as if it has some additional weight to it. Jay finally notices the sails and starts to climb a mast to disable them. “We should disable the sails” Jay announces.

“Wait” Alton objects “We might not be able to put it back together”
“We might have bigger problems” Jay looks worried and continues to climb the mast to be ready to disable the sails when given permission.

Edrin continues to heave on the rope trying to forcibly move it from its coil on the deck. He is able to move it to some degree but the rope itself seems to be actively resisting Edrin’s attempts. Jay sees Edrin struggle with the rope and in a panic repeats “We should disable it” quickly in a high manic voice. Jay does not initiate untying the ropes however.

The ship lurches forward and then starts a smooth glide across the glass. Abdul tries to concentrate and mentally control this ship as he controlled the previous vessel. To Abdul’s horror there is no connection and he is totally unable to steer or stop the craft.

Astonishingly the crossbeam that Jay is standing on bends in an unnatural fashion and strikes Jay across the back. The sudden assault strikes Jay and he almost falls to the deck of the ship. The entire mast bends and flails now in a menacing manor.

Unappreciative of the ships behavior Abdul starts casting a spell. He points his index fingers at the sail and red rays of light shoots from them. The beams of light turn to flames on impact. Even though the sails are burned buy the spell they do not catch fire as intended. Edrin takes his axe to the defiant rope and chops it. The rope also flies through the air and strikes him back. Jay Jumps down from the beam and lances the rope pinning it to the sidewall of the ship. The rear mast bends sharply at Edrin and was a near miss. Another piece of rope strikes out at Jay like a snake but he is able to sidestep the assult.

Abudle continues to hurls scorching rays at the sails. They never get engulfed in flames as he intends but he does slowly ruin them with many holes. K’lara concentrates and navigates their boat to keep pace with the larger craft. Alton calls an electrical storm out of the sky. Lightning strikes down on the rear mast doing massive damage. All at once the ship stops propelling forward and slows to a halt.

They search the ship after the battle but were unable to discover anything of value. The barrels and crates had produce that had decayed a long time ago leaving only dirt and ash. There are also no signs that any other persons have been aboard this ship in a very long time. Edrin carves his name in dwarvish on the deck of the ship to announce his triumph.
The new ship is now able to be controllable and they are able to navigate it mentally. Even with the damage sustained to the ship they are still able to move, be it at a decreased rate. The rear sail is what gives the magical propulsion. Abdul attunes to the craft and has it follow behind K’lara and her vessel.

They again start moving toward the island off in the distance. After considerable time the can identify the shoreline in the distance. With the sky above and below the island, it looks as though it floats in the open air. They drive the ships onto the shore and secure them the best they can.

Once on the shore they see a monument with three crystal spires projecting straight and true from the desert sand. These thirty foot tall crystals show no marks from time or weather. Strange ancient runes cover the spires. The carved crystal spires tower above the group at three corners, one up close and the two others spread a short distance making the points of a triangle. In the center of the spires is a large black hexagonal face. Two forked prongs spread from the top of each crystal like the wings of a phoenix. In the center of the platform there is a circle of inlayed gray marble. Two other monuments like this can be seen at about three miles out in the distance. These distand monuments seem to also make a triangle shape. The Gems guide toward the center of the hexagon between the three crystal spires.

Abdul walks up to the crystal’s smooth surface and runs his hands across the runes. After a quick moment he reads them out lound. “Only once each day when the crystals sound, the way will be made clear. You have but to knock to enter.” Abdul steps away. “They keep repeating this phrase”

“let’s check out another monument” K’lara says placing the small ivory elephant statue on the ground. “I’ve got our ride”

After the spell has been cast they all climb onto the elephant and ride to the monument in the north and saving the East pillar for last. Once there they find a similar staging of pillars. Abdul reads them. “My name is Martek, and rising here before you is the tomb of my body. From here shall my sphere of power be called fourth on the appointed day from beyond death and bring salvation to the desert peoples.”

They look for a socket or location for the gem to no avail. While searching Jay finds a small latch on the back of the northern spire.

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The end is nigh...

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Post 4
Meeting the Fire Lord Efreeti

The group takes a well-earned rest behind the stone walls without doors. The topless box they nestle down in sits inside a much larger room with twenty foot ceilings and an octagon outer wall. After a peaceful rest Edrin lets out a yawn that is akin to a lions roar then stretches with his entire body. “Well then, let get to it.”

They pack up their gear jovially and depart from the safety of the room. They make their way back to the room with Seker’s altar. They enter the room to find everything as it was when they left it. The undead were unwilling to cross the threshold of the room. The illuminated domed ceiling projects light down to the clear glass or crystal alter below. As they group moves about the room each member individually gets an audible message that only they can hear. “Seker asks”. They discuss for some time as to the meaning but none can riddle it out. K’lara suggests that this is part of the puzzle with the obelisks that answer questions. Edrin is impatient with the riddle and is already ignoring it preferring to look to the doors for future challenges. Jay inspects the coins he left on the altar from afar to see if they had been disturbed. To the best of his knowledge, they had not, but now he wishes he paid more attention when he placed them there.

“Seker asks what” K’lara can be heard from the previous room with the obelisk. A hushed reply can be heard “Things are not what they seem”
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“Gah…It’s like talking to a river. Babble, babble, babble is all you ever get.” Edrin looks like he wants to punch the riddle that vexes him as his friends. “I’ve had it. Jay pick a door and we can be off”

“Pick a door? Or, Choose a door” Jay stands with is thieves tools already in his hands. Jay moves to the north door and puts his ear to it. Only silence. The door doesn’t seem to be locked. Jay smiles and puts his palms flat on the door to quietly push it open. K’lara standing next to Edrin watches Jay intently. She looks around and sees Abdul standing a few paces away. All at once K’lara is filled with dread and foreboding. Instead of Abdul she sees Abduls corpse staring back at her. Startled she turns to Jay who is also rotting before her very eyes. His grin was all the more gruesome contorting his face.

“Are you alright” It was Edrin’s voice that woke K’lara from her nightmare in a cold sweat. “You look a bit… off”

“We shouldn’t go in there. I have a bad feeling about this one” K’lara said with a trembling voice. Her face was pale and tremors were in her hands. Jay smiles and remembers the day he met K’lara. She burned three halfing doppelgangers to death because she had a feeling about the situation. He knew from that moment to trust his instincts about her instincts.

After a moment the color returns to K’lara’s face, so they decide to move on to somewhere else. Jay moves to the remaining door on the west wall of the room and quietly opens it. Inside they find an octagonal room identical to the others. The center of the room has another black stone obelisk with small detailed ingraining etched into its base. The room seems exactly like the previous rooms. The western alcove ends in the familiar deep pit with infinite raining debris. The north and south alcoves appear to be dead ends.

“What question should I ask”? K’lara asks the black stone surface.
“Extreme caution must be used” Says the stone in a low whisper.
Edrin’s head almost rolls off his shoulders with the exasperation of his eye-roll. “Oh, Mercy”
“Are you useful at all”? K’lara continues.
“Do not assume too much” the stone whispers
Jay wastes no time with the riddling obelisk and moves to the dead end alcoves. His assumption is that they will be like the other rooms and be false walls leading to other rooms. Jay discovers that one wall is false and looks over the surface for safety. Edrin and Abdul move to the pit to inspect the endless falling rubble. Among the passing rocks a skeleton falls past with broken armor. They watch for a while and notice nothing of value in the chute.

Jay opens the passageway and enters a thirty foot square room with a twenty foot high flight ceiling. In the center of the room is a ten foot cube. This room is the mirror image of the room with the large stone box the group rested in a while earlier. An exit is on the east of the room. Jay cautiously approaches the cube and throws his grappling hook over the top. Just as last time the cube is hollow. This one was vacant and did not have a prize sitting at its center. Jay drops into the ten foot space and looks around but discovers nothing exciting.

“Now I bet…” Edrin says looking at Jay “If you jump into that pit…” Edrin pauses and Jay lets out a sigh. “I bet… you’ll come out from the top”
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Jay looks at the pit and then rests the whole of his face in the center of his palm. “You bet huh? What do you bet”?
Edrin’s face lights up “I’d bet an entire Halfling, cause’ that’s what I’m out if I’m wrong.” Edrin laughs and claps Jay hard on the back. “Now don’t be chicken, I’ll catch you when you come through”
The flailing skeleton passes by again in its perpetual fall and Jay’s eyes go wide. “Ok ok, we can use a different shoot” Edrin Laughs

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Jay grins “I think I’d rather be a chicken, they at least have wings to help with the fall”. Jay puts on his climbing harness and steps up to the mouth of the pit. “I’m going to try and climb up it. Maybe I’ll come up from the bottom”
“I think a chicken would taste better and squawk less” Edrin japes.

Jay prepares for his climb at another chute. He looks up the shaft and notices what could be a door to another level. He points it out to Edrin who has the best dark vision and he confirms it. Jay climes into the chute and begins his slow assent among the falling stones and rocks. They approximate the climb to be fifty feet up to the next level. The surface is smooth with little and less to grab but Jay moves upward. Jay’s foot slips and he is almost able to recover but then falls rapidly. He passes his friends and the entrance to the chute at full velocity with wide saucer eyes.

As Jay falls the rocks and debris appear almost weightless in the dim light retreating light of the group’s torches. Jay has a feeling of disorientation as the light above disappears into the black distance. Far below him he can see a torchlight exit that he assumes is his friends. Quickly he looks for the second exit, his true target. Rapidly it approaches and Jay reaches for the ledge of the exit. With a hard stop Jay grips the ledge and manages to hold on. After a moment he pulls himself into the short alcove that leads to an ascending stairway. At the top of the stairway is a brilliant light that illuminates the area. Jay calls down to the party alerting them of his safety and successful location.
“Good enough for me” Edrin Jumps into the pit almost casually, leaving Abdul and K’lara surprised at his brazen leap. They give Edrin time to land and pull himself up before they too take turns.
Once on the landing they group has to shield their eyes from the near sun like brightness that emits from the top of the stairs. Jay quietly moves up the steps to peer into the next room. Unable to see into the room Jay holds his star-gem up to his eye to see if there is any improvement in vision. There was no improvement. Edrin appears next to Jay wrapped up in his Cloak of Elvin Kind and puts his hand into the light. “Didn’t melt off, suppose it’s safe enough.” Edrin smiles and moves into the room. “Doesn’t help my eyes much, I think they are on fire”
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Jay follows just behind Edrin. The brilliant light is near blinding and the party is only allowed vision a few scant feet in front of their noses. K’lara and Abdul follow quickly behind. “Gahhh…” Edrin lets out a wail. “Tha’s frigid, keep up the pace, there is something cold on the floor.” Edrin quickly moves forward.
“Gahhh!!!” Jay lets out a yelp, “It got me in the giblets” Jay quickly moves forward to get out of the trapped area and to keep up with Edrin. K’lara approximates how high Jay’s giblets are and steps over the trapped area. Abdul follows with a hop over the trapped space.
Edrin continues forward into the blinding light. Lighting flies unseen through the air and hits Edrin in the shoulders. Still smoking a little Edrin yells, “Eureka, it goes low to high. Everyone crawl the rest of the way.” They crawl through the blinding light to find a small stairway that leads to the room’s only known exit. Once safely through the room of lights the group bandages up their wounds from the traps before embarking into the next room. It takes time for their eyes to adjust to the dim lighting of the next room, but they eventually see. The only light in the next room is the glow from the brilliance of the previous room.

Jay cautiously climbs the steps toward the next room to peek inside. Just inside a beautiful lush carpet can be seen that disappears into the darkness of the room. Jay stops short and stairs at the carpets edge. The bright red with golden highlights caught his memory. Jay remembers scrying the through the crystal ball and seeing the princess with the Efreeti and he remembers them on this very rug. Jay pales and his eyes go wide. Jay very slowly and very carefully slinks down the stairs toward his friends. Before the can explain that he thinks the Efreeti is in the next room he needs to force himself to breath. Finally in a very faint whisper he manages “The Efreeti is in there, I think”
“You think?” Abdul says. “We need to rest a bit, do you think you can come back and be sure?” Jay recovers his breathing and his nerves and quietly ascends the stairs again. Peering in he sees a fifty foot square room. The room has exits on the compass points. Light from each exit shines into the large room except for the Northern exit. Lounging on a lavish pile of cushions lays the Efreeti in the center of the room. The Efreeti stares into his hands at a blue crystal lamp in deep contemplation.
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When jay returns he whispers “He’s there alright, and he has the lamp the princess is in too. Is it really safe for us to rest her?” Jay is clearly unnerved by the current situation.
“It’s that or we fight him as we are” Edrin responds. “Not much of a choice. Breathe easy, we’ll be fine”. Jay does not appear to breathe any easier.
“How’s about we hold up in the bright room. We may be concealed in there.” Abdul suggests noting Jay’s unease.
“Brilliant” Edrin laughs at his own joke and crawls into the room. K’lara rolls her eyes at the pun but quickly follows. They make themselves as comfortable as possible and mend their wounds as best they can. They remain quiet in an attempt to stay hidden. Now and then they would hear something moving around in the room but were never able to make out what it was. After an hour Edrin says “there is something terribly sobering about all this light, I got to get out of here.”
They make their way back to the stairway and prepare to advance. Jay moves forward as stealthily as possible to sneak into the room. At first the room appeared vacant of the Efreeti but he was quickly discovered when Jay used the Star-gem to see. A hazy image of the Efreeti now sits on the pile of cushions and the Crystal lamp sits to his side. Jay sees an opportunity to snatch up the crystal lamp and quietly moves forward.
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As he moves onward Jay tries to think of his assassins training. He wasn’t really trained to be a thief, but how different could it be. Instead of his mark to kill with a quiet smooth motion his mark was to lift a delicate item. Jay thought about his next few steps. Once the assassination is made, the assassin needs an exit. He looked to the exit opposite the one he entered noting that it does not have the glow the others do. Assuming the floorplan of this level matched the floor below, which was the most likely the escape he needed. Standing quietly behind the Efreeti, Jay notes that the Efreeti’s mouth is moving and is talking to someone. For a brief moment Jay wishes this were an assassination mission, it would be easier to just stab this fire God. Jay knew though that his best strike would likely not bring this God down, so he reached for the crystal lamp. Once Jay has his hand on the lamp the Efreeti shifts on his pile of cushions and glances at the lamp. Jay could have withdrawn his grasp and possibly gone unnoticed, however thievery is not is forte and he panicked. Impulsively he grabs the lamp knowing already he is already caught and is running before he is even aware of what happened. “Thief!” The Efreeti bellows as he becomes more material.
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“Interloper” The Efreeti’s rage shakes the room. The room suddenly lights up as if it has sconces on every wall. Edrin charges in with his frost axe held high challenging the Efreeti with a battle cry and sees Jay fly ahead into the next room. Abdul runs into the room in quick pursuit of Jay. K’lara also moves in quickly. The Efreeti stands up from his lounging position and begins to follow Jay. A few strides into his pursuit he sees the light shine up from the room below.
Jay rapidly descends a flight of steps then enters another fifty foot square room. In the center is a pillar bathed in a column of light. Glistening on top of the pillar is a beautifully cut jewel with its facets shimmering with a fiery light. At a quick glance Jay recognizes it to be the last Star-Gem. A single arched portal is at the center of the far wall heralding the only exit. Fifteen feet into the room Jay nearly falls through an illusion floor. Frantically he pulls his star-gem up to reveal the non-illusory walkways. The star-gem revealed only two safe labyrinthine like pathways to walk through the room. The paths mirrored each other by moving to the outside of the room and joining each other at the center like a figure eight. Underneath the false flooring are dreadful pools of acid. The star-gem also shows the column of light to be something more than what it appears but Jay does not have the time or wherewithal to consider these developing events.

Taking giant leaps, Jay moves over the acid pools to the pathway that leads to the last star-gem. Jay grabs the star-gem with his body already in motion to continue his dash for the exit. Beams of light fall from the ceiling illuminating the once safe pathways to the pillar at the center and to the exit beyond. A curtain of light falls over Jay as his body twists towards his escape route. From Jays view everything seems to slow down. His ‘mad dash’ to safety seems a lot less mad. He sees his hands and feet petrify as he turns to stone. That last thoughts that go through Jay’s head “0 and 2 for stealing stuff today, oh hell”
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The Efreeti turns slowly to the heroes and way from Jay and newly eliminated stairwell with a smile. “Fools” he laughs “You’ll never leave here alive” He waves his hand and a wall of flame drops into the room. A cylinder of fire rises from the floor to the ceiling to trap K’lara and Abdul. They manage to jump out of the way with only mild burns. Abdul recovers from the attack and stands ready and faces the Efreeti. The Efreeti stares intently at Abdul with recognition. “Interesting… Very interesting” The Efreeti regards Abdul with amusement and curiosity.
The flames seem to dance before Abdul’s eye putting him in an almost trancelike state. He does recover and runs to catch up with Jay. The Efreeti swings with a flaming scimitar as Abdul passes, the blade glancing off his shoulder. Abdul descends the stares to discover the room with Jay frozen in stone holding the star-gem. The figure eight pathway leading to the pillar and to the exit still lit up with brilliant light. At the bottom of the step Abdul unrolls the scroll of protection from elements and begins to cast it. Abdul places the center of the spell in the stairway thus blocking the Efreeti on the other side of the wall. K’lara and Edrin move passed the flaming obstacles and charge for the safety behind Abduls ward.
The Efreeti laughs “Mortals, Ha! Do you believe such a parlor trick will stop me? I will kill you quickly, for freeing me has earned you thus.” The Efreeti begins chanting to channel a spell.
Abdul moves to enter the room. K’lara shouts “The light is a trap, that’s what turned Jay.” Abdul moves to avoid the light and steps onto the false floor almost falling into the acid pools below.
“The floor is not safe, there is nothing there.” Abdul shouts back and moves to the path of light. Though Abduls footing found purchase on the solid flagstone he notices his movements slow. He senses the oncoming petrification spell. “Gahh!!” Abdul yells in as much frustration as agony in resisting the spells negative effects. Abdul runs toward Jay next to the pillar fighting the spells effects.
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“Dammed if you do and dammed if you…” Edrin charges down the light path howling a battle cry while willing himself to move rather than turn to stone. Edrin grabbed the gem from Jay’s delicate fingers and placed it back onto the pillar. The lights that herald the trap retreat back into the ceiling and the punishing affects vanish.
“I wonder now… Where might you go?” the Efreeti calls out amused.
K’lara moves quickly to the arched portal out of the room following what she remembered from the path of light. Abdul grabs Jay’s statue and follows K’lara to the exit. Edrin Holds his position until everyone makes it to the exit. The Efreeti’s chanting stops abruptly with a curse.
K’lara and Abdul descend another flight of steps into darkness. They enter a room that is twenty feet long with an additional ten feet of cornered alcove at the end by thirty feet wide. The walls of the room are scorched, blasted, and pitted as a fierce battle took place here a long time ago. Discarded brass and copper weapons, scraps of cloth, and other junk is scattered a crossed the floor. K’lara yells “Dead end!” frantically.
Edrin courses in what was probably Dwarvish but with so much vile and venom in his tone Dwarves may not have truly understood his words… but they would all know his meaning. The Efreeti begins to magically appear in the room with Edrin. “You waste my time” the Efreeti complains. “I went from amused to bothered”
Edrin removes the stone from the pillar hoping to trap the Efreeti in the light and also hoping not to be turned to stone himself. “Ha!” the Efreeti barks. “You mortals are amusing me again. How clever, I may keep you as pets” The Efreeti begins to advance and Edrin begins to run.
K’lara and Abdul search wildly at the floors and walls for secrets levers or buttons or passageways. Jay seemed to trip into these things almost by accident but not when they truly needed to find one they were at a loss.
“In order for you to be a worthy slave, I must… heh, subdue you.” The Efreeti laughs. The Efreeti floats over the stone and illusory floor to Edrin and playfully swats at him with his flaming scimitar. “Wait, where are you going?”
“It can’t be a dead end, There HAS to be a way out of here” Edrin barrels down the steps to join in the search.
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“You have nowhere to go mortals” the Efreeti laughs. “Surrender now and I won’t have to… BREAK you”
“There are really no doors” K’lara’s voice spoke only of disbelief. She was going to be a slave to an Efreeti. She had known victory; she had known impossible amounts of wealth. Now she knew vastness defeat. In a final desperate act she sends magic missiles at the unforgiving stone walls that trapped her and her friends to no avail.
“What about these star-gems, can’t we use them or something”? Edrin held the newly acquired star-gem up. That sparked something in K’lara’s memory. She remembered that the Sheik had given them an amulet with the palm sign. It was intended to help find the princess because she also has a matching amulet. K’lara looks briefly for the amulet without results.
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“Surrender! Now! This is your last chance” the Efreeti appears walking down the stairs with both his hands glowing with fiery orbs.
Abdul begins to speak in an unknown tongue to the Efreeti and it seems to drop its guard a little, even smile a little. They go back and forth for a few minutes and Edrin looks very apprehensive of Abdul. Abdul shows the Efreeti a black iron amulet that seems to pacify the fire Lord. “I accept” says the Efreeti. “I shall allow all of you to leave, but the princess stays with me. That is the deal. My army of fire will not attack you and you may live within my kingdom. Accept it or accept your doom”
With a suspicious look at Abdul “We accept your terms”
The Efreeti provides them with magical carpets that fly them out of the crypts to the surface of the desert. As soon as they landed the carpets returned to their master. “I’m not so sure about you Abdul” K’lara’s eyes were on fire with suspicion.
“I just saved you” Abdul yells back defensively.
“You just talked that crazy fire lord into letting us go?”
“Yes, I did”
“He speaks common, we all heard him speak common.” Edrin interjects. “What was all that about?”
Abdul makes a somewhat shamed face “I made some promises to him… I … hope not to keep.”
Edrin stabs Abdul in the chest with a stout dwarven finger “I want us to get to the bottom of this business right now. What did you say to him… word for word”?
“I… I belong to a secret society, dedicated to combating the evils of the elemental planes, such as the Efreeti. I promised to reveal information to the Efreeti about the society. If I do so, they will surely be destroyed.” Abdul speaks softly.
“So you offered to betray your…”
“Yes” Abdul interrupts “because with the third star-gem he can be destroyed permanently. The Efreeti does not know this. If we succeed in this, all will be well”
“When does the Efreeti expect you to follow through on your cowardice?” Edrin asks sharply.
“I do not know” Abdul admits defeated “He will come when he is ready”
“And your friends” Edrin continues harshly “Do they know how we might use the star-gems”
Abdul swallows hard and his eye mist “They are all dead” A quite pause falls over the group. “I still have a contact in Dupar, but as far as the crusaders fighting at my side… they are mostly all gone, whipped out when this abomination was released.”
“Oh… How did that happen” K’lara asked knowing the answer.
“We were searching for the star-gems.” He replied. “We did not know we would become the instrument of the fire lords’ release”

After some time passes K’lara starts to look over the new gem. This gemstone has healing properties. Allows the user to Cure Serious wounds 3 times per day like the Potion of extra Healing.

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3rd post
This is a long one.

The group says farewell to Barus leaving him in Thurnas Netmasters bedchamber. They now look down the long hallway to what the bugbear calms to be their compound. It appears to be clean and well used. The hallway is dimly lit with soft glowing balls of light. A closed door is visible at the end of the long hallway as well as two doors standing directly opposite each other half way down. Each door is decorated with a carving of a bald man with an earring in his right ear. Jay gingerly approaches the south door to inspect it and the carvings. Just as jay is about touch the door in inspection a jolting noise alarms from behind him.

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“Help, Help, intruder, Interloper, tourist, help, help” wails the bald man chiseled into the door. Then a silence begins almost as abruptly as the alarm. The group paused for a moment only hearing their own breath. Jay looks at the bald figure carved into the door thinking it looks just as benign now as it did before.

Then a jay hears a slight rustling behind the south door. It sounds akin to someone getting dressed or putting on armaments. Jay can discern the attempt at motion in silence beyond the door. Jay leaps up the door, climbing passed the doorframe and wedges himself between the ceiling and the wall. The rest of the group cautiously approaches the door and Jay indicates for them to wait a few paces away from the door. Once in position Jay gently knocks on the door with his stone rapier. Tap tap tap and the seconds pass slowly. Abdul moves forward and passes the door then readies himself on the other side.

The moment Abdul passes the door it opens slightly. Jay peers into the darkness that lay behind the door. The soft glow from the magical orbs seems unable to penetrate the room beyond. Jay sheaths his rapier and pulls out the Star Gem and stares inside. Just beyond the door is a dark elf in full armor poised for combat with his sword raised. Just farther into the room giant spiders are also bracing for battle. Jay slips the Star Gem away and quietly draws out his rapier. Then with a wild thrust, Jay stabs into the doorway. The rapier whistles as it moves through the air but finds no purchase on Jay’s foe. Jay frowns and shrugs his shoulders at the group. K’lara catches his eye and gives a “what gives?” shrug response. Jay makes a tight fist and then flings his fingers out into a wide open palm and finally points to the base of the door. K’lara starts slow smile and then a raised eyebrow.

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K’lara cups her hands as though she is holding an invisible sphere in front of her. The sphere becomes visible as light and flames swirl between her hands. She then moves towards the door with the tiny inferno trapped in her clutches. At that moment the entire group is touched by a chill but it quickly subsides. K’lara lifts her chin to point at the door and Jay knows how to take a hint. Jay flips the door wide open with his stone rapier then K’lara extends her arms pushing the fireball down the hallway to the base of the doorway. At the moment of impact, rather than an exhale of flames and pain the fireball seemed to inhale into nothing. For a second everyone, like the fireball, held their breath until the absence of the torrent of flames was certain not to come. K’lara pales…

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Jay makes another blind stab into the doorway from his braced position into the ceiling. This time the wild stab from the stone rapier gets purchase into something on the other end of the door. From the darkness behind the door comes a surprised yelp in pain. In that instance the magical darkness is filled with the ambient light of the hallway and the room beyond. Beyond the door skitter many large spiders, a male drow in plate and a drow priestess. The priestess is smiling and maintaining a magical gesture with her hand. The priestess then shifts her stance and cups her hand creating a sphere of light within. She pulls her hands back to her waste and then thrusts forward shooting the sphere of flame toward Jay and the doorway. Jay and male drow brace for the impending inferno. Everyone caught a little of the flames, but no one got it worse that the male drow. He lets out a hellish scream and stumbles to the ground in a smoky ruin. The priestess makes a tightlipped frown and glares at the corpse and then with baleful eyes curses the party.

With smoke still rising from his pink and blistered skin Edrin charges the door barricading it with his stout dwarven body. He quaffs a potion of healing and braces for the impending combat. Abdul steps up behind Edrin and cups his hands conjuring a tiny flaming sphere of his own. With an elegant motion he draws his hands back to his right side and then thrusts forward releasing the sphere. While in in motion, the tiny fireball grows in size and fury threating to engulf all its foes. At the moment of impact the fireball sucks air into itself like a backdraft that can be felt throughout the room, and then explodes unleashing fames and intense heat. Many of the giant spider’s hard shells crack and then burst like and overdone hardboiled egg. The drow priestess howls as her body is awash in flames. Abdul then backs away from the doorway to block the line of sight needed for some spell casting.

“May the blessing of Anew be upon you” Abdul says reverently raising his hand which then begins to glow with a weight aura.

The ambient lighting begins to flicker and the air starts to crackle as K’lara steps up behind Edrin with a clenched jaw and electricity dancing down her arms. The raw energy seems to materialize somewhat as K’lara throws the bolt like a spear at the drow priestess. Reflexively the priestess puts her left arm up with her palm forward and somehow dispels the lightning bolt as it leaves K’lara’s hand. K’lara is now incensed with her hands balled into fists and then she kicks the ground. The priestess again cups her hands and conjures a small flaming sphere and then thrusts it forward to the group. Flames burst outward from the fireball and wash over the group. A look of disbelief falls over her face as she sees the, albeit singed, group not fall to her lethal spells. With a huff the priestess moves out of site down the roughhewn hallway at the back of the room.

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In unison the giant spiders charge the door. One skitters up to the ceiling and spits webbing at Edrin but it aimed too high and the gooey mass splats behind him. One lurches at the dwarf and is knocked back with a mailed hand and another two rebound backward after shallow swipes. Jay drops from the doorframe and tumbles into the room running under and around large and scary spiders until at last he is face to face with the priestess. The priestesses expressions went from startled, to afraid, to enraged in the blink of an eye. Her hands begin to crackle with electricity as she begins to cast another spell.

Edrin steps to the spiders and begins chopping with Abdul on his heels slashing at the spiders. The spiders drop in slimy bits and pieces. Abdul’s hands cast reddish hew and then he points his fingers on sending a beam of flaming energy at the priestess. One stream goes wide of its mark while the catches her in the side. His hand catches flame from another spell. He snaps his fingers with a pointing motion at the priestess sending the flames whirling to her. This final flame burst catchers the priestess still reeling from the last spell. She staggers for a quick moment and then she stumbles to the floor. The electric energy in her hands dissipates into the cold earth.

K’lara’s hands cast a blue and purple hew as she points her pointer and index fingers at the remaining spider and shoots beam at the creature. Ice crystals form around the creature even as it drops to the floor to shatter on impact. K’lara, the most affected by the priestess’s fireballs, chugs some healing potions and exhales in relief that this nasty event is over.
Abdul and Edrin rummage through both drows belongings. Next to a nearly incinerated backpack are some coins that amount to 23 platinum and 30 gold. Both drows gear appeared to be in perfect condition.

Just beyond Jay he is now able to see down the rough hallway. The adjoining room has a decorative web of spider silk. Silk tapestries hang on the roughen walls show spiders admits decorative patterns. A rich look bed covered with silks and furs stands against the opposite wall. Scattered around the room are marble tub, a desk, and two chests. A heavy cord hangs next to the bed. Jay and Edrin close the door and jam spikes into the mortar around the door to seal it. “We need rest and that room will have to do.”

Jay and Abdul moves into the room cautiously. Just as they pass the threshold a blanket of webbing drops but they both manage to bound away from it untouched. Jay proceeds to the bed and investigates the thick cord. When pulled a curtain reveals a small alcove filled with spider webs. Once deemed safe K’lara sits on the edge of the bed and does her best to mend her burns and wounds. Edrin moves to the bed and puts his feet up and head back onto one of the elegant pillows. Noticing that one of the pillows is not a soft and favorable as he might expect, he reaches inside pulls out a handful of jewels. A diamond, 5 sapphires, and 10 emeralds in all are places on the soft furs and silk bedding. Edrin inspects the superior cut and quality of the gems.

Jay then moves to the chests and checks them for safety then pulls out his lock picks and begins to work on them. Once open they reveal drow lingerie and other intimate items. The second chest, once opened, reveals perfumes, oils, and cosmetics. Deep in the chest was a potion and wand. Jay takes the makeup and potion and hands the wand to K’lara. “I don’t know what this stick is for, do you”? K’lara accepts the wand and investigates it.

The group makes a pile of their newly acquired gear to detect magic on it. A great sword, a dagger, 2 suits of chainmail, 2 cloaks, 2 pair of boots, the necklace and the skull in all. Abdul and K’lara begin a magical chant investigate the magical properties of the skull, cloaks, boots, necklace, chainmail and dagger. The skull appears to be sacred to Set and function more as a holy symbol. The necklace has small red gems that can be turned into flaming projectiles, but K’lara also notices something off about the jewelry. They debate on leaving it behind but decide to keep it to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The wand seems to have the ability to paralyze ones foes and the potion seems to turn the consumer of it into gas. Once the other useable superior quality objects are identified the group divvies up the loot.

Everyone takes a place on the luxurious bedding and relaxes or dozes to recover as much as possible from the weary trials of the day. They agree not to linger more than an hour to rest. As Jay lay on his side debating if the hour is up or if he should continue to be half dozing, he notices a large figure move into his view on the far side of the room. Startled by the new on comer in the hallway his heart begins to race but he does not move waiting for them to close the distance for him to strike. Not one but two large forms now approach the sleepy party quieter than one would expect for their size. Just outside the thrush of the room Jay recognizes them to be bugbears. Jay waits for them to approach so her can strike but they start to back away instead. Once out of site Jay springs out of bed and gives chase. Everyone else sees Jays startling action and readies themselves to follow. Looking at Jays stealthy posture they hold back from a full on charge. Abdul also stealths after Jay.

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Jay quickly and quietly pursues the bugbears into the next room and sees that they have turned to face the exit which now appears to have been broken and smashed. Jay now closes the distance, leaps into the air and thrusts his stone rapier into the back of one of the bugbears head where the skull meets the spine. The rapier pokes out an eye on the other side and then releases the bugbear mid fall. Without a sound the bugbear collapses to the floor with bloody matter tripping from its eye. The other bugbear turns surprised at the fall of his companion and shocked at the appearance of the determined Halfling before him.

Abdul rounds the corner with his right hand already emitting a purple and blue glow. He raises his hand and points his index and middle finger and the bugbear. With a few words of power he sends a cold beam at the foe. The cold blast strikes the bugbear full in the side forcing a painful grunt to escape his mouth. “Don’t be foolish, surrender now or suffer death.”

“Help, they’ve found us” the bugbear screams and Jay lets out sigh of disappointment.
The bugbear turns to Jay and swings his Morningstar but jay jumps backwards to miss the blow. At the sound of the bugbears yelling Edrin and K’lara run to engage. K’lara moves next to Abdul and flames now cover her hands. She brings a hand back and a flaming javelin materializes in her grip. She throws her hand forward releasing it at the bugbear. The bugbear sees the flaming spear and raises his shield defensively. His shield comes up short slowed by its chilled movements from the last attack and the fire lances the bugbears chest. It drops to its knees in agony and then falls lifelessly to the ground.

Abdul takes a shield from the corpse of the bugbear and the group gathers to decide what to do next. Outside the broken door is the door across the hall. The group moves out of this corpse filled room into the dimly lit hallway. Jay inspects the unused door across the hall for traps and then slowly moves in. Inside the room are bookshelves and a desk that seem to be someone’s personal study area. Abdul searches the desk and shelve while Jay searches the perimeter for traps and secret passageways. Abdul finds a crystal globe and some oddities on the desk and in the drawer a key ring. The bookshelves had many books written in the evlish tongue. Jay picks one up on the local desert plant life.

The group slowly moves down the hallway with Jay in the lead toward the door at the end of the hall. Jay quietly opens the door into a large room with various torture devices. The group enters the room and sees a stretching rack, iron maiden, and dozens of other grizzly devices. In the ceiling of the room is a small hatch out of the room. On the far end of the room is a wooden door left ajar. With the stone rapier Jay enters the room with Abdul quickly behind him. Inside the dark room a strong smell assaults their senses. Rotting hay and refuse hang in the air. At first the room seems to have rows of empty cages until a weak wheezing is heard from a back wall cell. The group approach a broken man shackled to the wall. He is made of broken bones, blood and pain. Jay guesses who this captive is only by reasoning it would make sense to imprison him here in the depths of this compound. “Tolnus, is that you”?

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The man startles and tries to move away in fear but is unable to because of the starvation, fatigue, and pain. His wheezing breath becomes more rapid but he is unable to do much more. Jay again repeats his name “Tolnus Granicus, is that you? We are here to rescue you”. The man stops moving almost as if the words had killed him on the spot.
“Really, Truly”? The broken man replies.

Jay steps up to him and pulls out the key ring. On the third key he was able to release his bindings. They give him food and water and with a few moments he is able to recover somewhat. “I am Tolnus ,thank the Gods it is over. Thank you, Thank you” Tolnus says with a hoarse voice.

“We will get you out of here” Abdul says helping him to his feet.
The group moves the torture rack under the hatch in the ceiling and jay quietly opens it. Jay peaks out into a clear night sky and enjoys the fresh air that comes into the dank torture chamber. He then climbs out and lowers rope to his companions. With gentle effort they are able to raise Tolnus through the hatch into the Sand Voyager’s compound above. “We are near the outside of the compound, going over this wall here should get us out of the compound and into the town.” Abdul says pointing at a high wall ten feet away.
Jay Scales the wall and lowers the rope again to his companions. While the group is acceding Jay spots two guards not too far off speaking with animated hand gestures. Curious he signals his group that he was going to sneak off and be back soon. As jay approaches her hears their voices become more distinctive. “I don’t know what’s going on here these days, can you believe it?” says one guard.

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“It’s enough to make you want to leave town I suppose, all this activity” replies the other.
“I know, yesterday we get all those flaming beasts wreaking havoc outside the town walls”
“Mmhhmmm” in agreement. “Must be what those reports were all about with the other settlements”

“And then you get the fighting at the obelisk today. It’s like we don’t have a big enough mess with the elemental sightings we have to be at each other’s throats too”
“I know, right? Management man, it’s the management”
“I mean, how many assholes we got on this ship anyway?”
“I know, right”?

Jay moves back to the group now that they have scaled the wall and alerts them to the fighting at the obelisk. “It had to be the people we left to cover us, right? The Sand Voyagers” Jay asks.

“But the Sand Voyagers and who”? Asks K’lara “Korus Eikoth, the Sheik’s son”?
“Maybe, or maybe more cultists” says Abdul “if they aren’t one and the same”.
“We can’t really trust any of them” Edrin interjects. “Let’s go to Hogan’s, sort it out with a drink or three.”

As the move through the town it becomes clear that everyone is staying indoors. The town is eerily quiet this evening as they pass darkened windows and doorway. Once closer to Happy Hogan’s Tavern they finally hear some movement. Choosing to conceal the rescue of Tolnus, the group enters Happy Hogan’s through the back door. Upon entry they find the cook in the kitchen. “Is Hogan in”? Jay announces to make his presence known.
The cook is surprised and looks down at Jay and picks up a frying pan defensively. “Who are you, what are you doing back here”? Jay grins and waves his hands dismissively at the cook’s brandished weapon.

“Hogan is my cousins, cousin. I’m looking for him, have you seen him about”? Jay asks innocently.
“Well, I suppose that makes sense” the cook mutters. “You are a Halfling after all, wait right here”

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The cook shuffles off and returns shortly with Hogan. “This is a little peculiar.” Hogan says with a sound of frustration in his voice. “Why have you… Tolnus is that you? What has happened?”
The two embrace in a short hug “Its. Good to see you, no one knew what had happened.” Hogan continues.

“Your friends here save me from the unimaginable.” Tolnus says. “They feel, and I agree, that I must remain hidden until more is known about what has happened in my absence.
“Yes, yes, of course. Thank you friends, thank you for rescuing Tolnus”
“We are hoping that he will be able to recover here for a day or two and then move out to the pyramid. We feel it will be safe there and we could also use someone with his skill in leadership and management, if he agrees” Says Jay.
Tolnus looks stunned for a moment. “Yes, I suppose I’m unemployed now with that nasty Thurnas Netmaster at work”.
“Well, Barus Broadblade is likely having a few words with him now and I suspect those words will be a little rough on the ears…. nose, eyes, elbows and kneecaps.” Edrin says with a laugh.

Hogan lets out a slight sigh. “Well, I have wanted to say out of these local affairs, but now it appears that I cannot. I will do what I can to help”
“It is with deep regret that we have put you into this position.” says Jay. “We only ever meant to what is right and return order to this land of upheaval. I know how desperately you wish to remain in the simple life that we now threaten. If we can we would like to make it up to you and your family.”

Jay looks to K’lara and she pulls out the magnificent diamond from the bag of holding. “Oh my, this is not necessary” Hogan says with wide eyes

“We feel it is” interrupts Jay “Part of this is also your fencing fee. Also, we want this to pay for safe passage of Tolnus to the pyramid. In addition we wanted to make sure you had enough to secure your family and belongings how you saw fit.”

Hogan accepts the jewel with a pleasant grin and claps Jay on the back and says “Oh, I have just the drink to celebrate with”. Hogan leaves and comes back quickly with an exquisite bottle of wine. They retire to Hogan’s small breakfast nook and drink the magnificent vintage. Hogan also helps the group with supplies for their next endeavor.
Wishing to remain unseen and presumably missing the group sneaks out the back and into the alleyways. Rather than exit the main gate that has patrolling town guards the group decides to scale the wall under the cover of night.

They quietly move amongst the camps outside the town walls. The campfires are small and mostly abandoned to coals. People appear to be keeping to themselves after sundown out here as well as in the town. “Now to buy or steel mounts” Edrin says looking to Jay.
Not too far off four camels are tied to a post just outside a small tent. Hushed voices of idle chatter come from the tent. Jay begins to inspect the camels and notices dozens of small bells chiming softly with the ambient movements of the beasts. If spooked, however, jay did not doubt that these bells would make a great deal of noise. He pulls out his knife and considers a moment the best way to detach the primitive alarm. Just as he is about to make his cut a small child can be heard from within the tent. The fussy baby isn’t really crying, but isn’t altogether happy either. “Hold for a moment” Abdul says to Jay. “I might have a better plan”

Jay shrugs and puts the knife away. Abdul walks toward the tent but staying ten paces back. “I am a humble traveler and I seek hospitality”

Instantly the hushed voices cease. A few moments pass before a man stick his head out of the flap. “Who goes there? We have weapons. We can defend ourselves you’ll find”
“Oh no. No need for that good sir. I seek only hospitality from a fellow Thune.”
The man steps out from the tent with a cast iron skillet in hand. “What would you have of me? We do not have much to offer. Times have been hard and seem to be getting harder still.”

Abdul smile politely at the man with the skillet. “I am a traveler and need to be on my way. I would like to buy those four camels from you.”
The man scoffs. “I’m sorry sir. I cannot oblige. My family needs these beast for work and travel.”

Abdul continues to smile politely “Hear me out, I know the value these animals are to you. That is why I am going to pay you thrice what they are worth” The man’s eyebrows raise and it is clear he is listening with more consideration.
“In addition we have four strong camels at Happy Hogan’s to replace the once we have just purchased. There is one caveat, however. No one can know the conditions of this sale. We wish to remain obscure to the eyes of… others” Abdul holds out a hand of gold coins.
“You hear that woman, tell no one” the man yells to the tent. “You have our word, no one will know this. I’ve never seen you before”

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Abdul hands the man the money and the group unties the newly acquired mounts and sets off into the desert. They travel by night as long as they are able. The realization of not getting sleep for some time is finally taking its toll. A few hours before dawn they are able to find a large rock that will provide some protection from the sun that will soon be burning down with full furry. They set up a loose camp and agree to a guard order and hunker down for rest.

Hours before sundown the group is awake breaking fast with breads and meats supplied by Hogan and washing it down with wine. After an hour or so they were off again to trek through the desert. With the sun set and a cloudless moonlit night make for an easy camel back ride. Just before dawn they start looking for another camp. K’lara spots a few trees off in the distance and the group moves to discover a small oasis with fresh water to drink. The group sets up a pleasantly comfortable camp, set up a guard rotation then hunkers down to sleep. And again they wake up the next late afternoon without incident to pack up the camp, refill the water supplies, and be on their way.

As the party draws near their destination the landscape shifts from the sand and dunes to one with rocky inhospitable features. They feel like they should be getting to their target soon when they discover tracks in the dirt that are even apparent at night.

Finally they come upon ruins. The structure seems to be a collapsing half circle with a statue placed in the center. Even from afar they have a hard time coaxing there mounts to approach. Jay jumps off his camel and begins to scout the area. He starts with a wide circle path around the ruins and slowly centers in on the stature. Now up close Jay feels the foreboding that has the mounts spooked. He slowly and cautiously creeps up to the statue. For a moment he almost felt like he was going to run away in fear. Jay Looks up at the statue and the face is an ever changing shape. His eyes never seem to be able to lock in on who this statue is supposed to be. Jay pulls out his star gem and peaks into it for a better look to identify this magical statue. Underneath the shifting illusion is a featureless face. Jay moves around the statue looking for anything out of the ordinary. He finally notices that the platform for the base of the statue has something like runners. It looks as though a strong push could move the statue down the runners and perhaps reveal the secret entrance.
Once certain of the safety he calls the group down to the statue. The camels were unwilling to move any closer so they tide them off somewhat out of sight. Edrin and Abdul leaned into the statue and it quickly gave way to slide down the tracks on the platform. Underneath the statue was a deep well that went into complete darkness. Jay went into his climber’s kit and harnessed himself up for the decent. K’lara Picked up a rock and imbued it with light. “Don’t get lost now” she said and handed it to Jay.

They tied the anchor end of the rope to the statue and Jay climbed in. Jay lowered himself with the rope until he ran out of rope. He sat for a minute pointing the light from the rock down the shaft. “Well poop” Jay exclaims and then climbs back up the rope. The climb up was even slower going. At the top they tie another rope to his rappelling line and he makes another decent. He got to where he had reached before with a large knot in the ropes joining them together. Jay moved across the rope and began his second rope decent. Jay kept pointing the rock light downwards in hopes to see the bottom to no avail.
And then he was in free fall. He didn’t even realize that he was screaming until he forced himself to stop. It took a second for him to even notice what had happened. His harness was still on snugly and the rope was still in his hands but he still dove unimpeded toward an unknown destination. Abdul above heard the panicking Halfling’s screams and said a few words of power. Abdul then dives into the well as if diving into a swimming pond. Jay assumed large spikes with snakes tamed by cannibals lay beyond his vision rushing up to greet him with a splat. He hurriedly throws the light stone down the shaft to estimate the approximate depth beyond him. When the rock went on ahead but made no landing, Jay new he was in a bad situation. He reached into his pack and grabbed the gaseous potion and drank in completely.

In that moment his momentum slowed. He now floated down the shaft instead of flying end over end. He sees the stone pierce water below and sink to the bottom to lie amongst old bones and forty feet of the group’s rope. Jay slowly wafts his way to the water below. He touches it to investigate the bottom of the well but the water may as well been made of brick and mortar in his current gas form. Unable to precede downward he slowly begins to rise. On his assent he sees Abdul charging downward. Jay almost thought he was falling too except for his determined face despite being upside down rushing to the bottom.
Once at the bottom of the well Abdul finds the rock that Jay had been using as a light source. It lay a few feet below in the water. If the skeletal remains had been smaller Abdul might have guessed them to be what was left of Jay after landing in a pool of acid. “Where did that little bugger…” Abdul begins to rise back up the shaft. He does notice the foggy stretch of the shaft but thinks little of it. While racing down the shaft he did notice an exit. He chose not to peruse it initially because the light from Jay’s stone led him to the bottom. “That must be where he has gotten to”
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Abdul lands on the platform that enters the room. His sword light up with the same magic that K’lara placed on the Jay’s stone. He looked around briefly but to his dismay he could not find Jay. He then flew up to where the rope had been cut to inspect it. Abdul suspected that some blade trap had severed the rope so cleanly. He raised his sword slowly up to trigger the device ready to move out of the way if he needed. Suddenly with a pang a circular blade flew out of the wall and struck the weapon hard leaving termers screaming up Abdul’s arm from his tight grip to his elbow to his shoulder. “Son of a motherless goat” Abdul Curses.
Abdul calls up to Edrin and K’lara and bids them to descend with caution. They climb down the rope to the point it gets severed. Abdul triggers the trap one more time to allow Edrin and K’lara time to move passed it while it resets. They both swing down to the landing and look around. The room is a large circle with hallways north, south, east and west. The tunnel they just dropped in from is in the center of the room. “Any sign of Jay”? Edrin asks
“No, but I do not think he’s dead. I have seen no sign of blood or bones.” Abdul said.
“He’s dead’ K’lara interjects. “I’m pretty sure”

Just at that moment a fog rolls up the pit in the center of the room. The group braces for a poison attack but notice it doesn’t move toward them. The little cloud instead moves away from the group and then down one of the hallways. A few moments later the cloud reappears and moves down another hallway. “Think that’s Jay” Edrin asks.
“Might just be” Abdul answers

“I’m still pretty sure he’s dead.” K’lara says. “I just got a funny feeling, which usually means someone is dead”

Edrin, K’lara, and Abdul sit at the mouth of the pit with their feet dangling over and share an apple and some food rations. After a few minutes the cloud reappears and hovers over to the trio. The Cloud begins to spin creating a powerful vortex then collapses in on itself leaving a somewhat startled Halfling in its place. “See, I’m not dead” Jay announces.
“See, He’s not dead” Abdul repeats. “Pay up”

Edrin and K’lara hand over the wagered handful of copper pieces. “Never bet against a Thune… When Death is on the line… Ha ha ha ha”

Jay cocks his head for a moment. “Umm… ok. So Down each hallway is a statue. These hallways have a trap triggered by a pressure plate.” Jay points down the various passageways “Down that hallway is a statue on a hinge, that’s the way out. I peeked on the other side of the secret door and there is a couple of nasty looking undead.”
Jay leads the way down the hallway where a statue with many sharp swords stands proudly at the end. The leaver to move the statue and open the passageway was between two sharp blades. Edrin stuffed his mailed fist into the opening and pulled it back hard. The door slides inward silently revealing two mummies.

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Abdul cups his hands and conjures a small ball of light. With a grin he pulls his cupped hands to his side and then thrusts them forward ejecting the tiny flaming sphere into the room. In an instant the room turns into an inferno setting the undead creatures on fire. The mummies howl in rage and pain. Abdul runs to the closest mummy with sword in hand and swings it hard. The Sword lights up with a holy radiance that seems to indicate the Gods are happy to strike down these abominations. The mummy raises it forearm to block the blow and nearly loses its arm below the elbow. Edrin Charges into the room behind Abdul and strikes the still reeling undead with his axe of frost in the shoulder leaving its arm nearly useless. Edrin jabs the undead in the stomach with the top of the axe forcing it into an almost bowing posture. Jay moves forward and capitalizes on the stance of the mummy and runs his stone rapier through the eye of the creature. The mummy howls as it collapses to the floor. Edrin looks up from the fallen mummy to find the other undead charging toward him. The Undead stops just before contact and locks its eyes with Edrin’s. With its cold breath visible in the air, a wicked hiss screeches out of the undead and its eyes light up. Edrin breaks into a cold sweat of fear as this creature manages to break his spirit and courage. Only his prowess in combat gives him the strength to not abandon his friends and flee outright. The mummy strikes Edrin hard but it only manages to be a glancing blow to his shield. K’lara Follows Jay into the room with her hands already a blaze in fire. A flaming rod materializes in her hand as she brings it back to throw like a javelin. With a grunt she hurls the flaming spear at the mummy to have it lodge deep in its chest. A howl fills the room as the mummy erupts into flames and falters to the floor.

The group pauses a moment breathing heavily and looking around the room. Innate hieroglyphs cover the room. In the center of the far wall is the statue of a large man with a crook in one hand and a flail in the other. On either side of the statue or doors that exit the room. A trail of platinum pieces lead from the entrance to the statue on the floor. “That looks like a trap. Do we really need more money”? Edrin asks.

The group gives the coins a glance and moves to the far end of the room. Jay inspects the statue, first investigating for traps and secret doors, then the removability of the items in the statues hands. Abdul recognizes the statue to be of one of the predecessors of Amen Ra. Jay now moves to the doors and searches for anything nefarious. Seemingly safe, Jay gently opens one of the doors and peeks in.

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5 hunched figures move in the shadows of the small room beyond. These creatures are clad in ancient ornamented leather armor and are brandishing khopesh swords. Under their armaments are hieroglyphs tattooed to stretched skin over bones. One of the creatures hisses at Jay which prompts another to howl as they start forward. K’lara cups her hands and summons a small ball of fiery light and projects it forward. The small burning blaze flies past Jay into the room. The doorway feels like it breaths in as the fireball consumes all the air inside the room followed by a massive exhale. Edrin chases into the room to the inflamed undead with his axe held high over his head. With a furious swing down he chops a creature from the left of its neck to its right armpit causing the head and one arm to fall forward while the rest of it fell backwards. With his axe now low he swings it up catching the leg of another creature flipping it to be prone on its back. With a heavy steel boot Edrin stomps down on its still burning skull.

Jay lunges forward and stabs into the chest of the undead. He then tumbles backward to a safer position. What at first seemed to be mindless moans and howls from the undead now appear to be more vocal and meaningful, even if no one knows exactly what they are saying. Abdul points his index and middle finger at one of the remaining foes. His hand glows red for a moment until a scorching ray shoots out of it. The flaming beam m hits the undead in the chest.

They move to surround Edrin. One undead coming straight on swings to have his khopesh only to have it deflect off Edrin’s shield. Another comes from Edrin’s left and also gets slammed by his shield. With Edrin twisted blocking the other two creatures the third moves behind Edrin and swings. The first slash gets Edrin in the side between his plates and below his chain shirt leaving a thin line of blood. At the taste of blood the khopesh takes a dark and smoky appearance. A line of smoke trails from Edrin’s fresh wound to the weapon like it was trying to pull his very life out of his body. Edrin winces and becomes focused in a metal fight of wills. K’lara appears in the doorway with her hand flickering with fire. She opens her fingers and palms wide and pours flame into the room bathing all inside but Edrin. This breaks the undead’s focus and khopesh losses its smoky grip on Edrin. Edrin screams violently and grabs the undead with his mailed hand buy the skull. Another scream erupts as Edrin breaks and crushes the skull with the fury of his own out reached hand. Abdul enters the room and stands next to Edrin to face the remaining undead. Abdul slashes at the creature severing its left hand just below the elbow while it slashes at Abdul. Edrin brought his shield up and partially blocked the hit to Abdul.

K’lara throws a fire bolt at the one armed creature that pierces its abdomen and burns away at the creatures flesh. Edrin chops the smoking one armed corpse into two pieces that fall to the floor. Jay tumbles forward and lances both calves with one thrust of his rapier. He then leaves his weapon lodged in the undead’s legs in affect binding them together. The creature lunges forward at the retreating Halfling but stumbles to lay sprawled out on the stone floor. K’lara follows her target to the floor with the aim of her hand. For a moment it looked as though the undead creature was actually swimming in flames the way it flailed and floundered on the floor. Then after a moment it ceased to move at all.

The group strips the undead of anything that seems useful. They find a copper dagger, 2 scroll tombs and 2 white gaseous potions. The scrolls have wizard’s spells written. Evards Black Tentacles, Wall of Fire, and Stone Skin are all scribbled in sloppy magi handwriting on one scroll. On the other scroll is Protection from Elementals. The potions grant invisibility. The bronze dagger (+2) also had a special quality to it. The hilt of the dagger is crafted in a unique hide that is somehow unsettling and runes appear and disappear on the blade. The dagger is heavily ornamented and looks more like sacrificial or ceremonial paraphernalia than a weapon for combat. Abdul focuses on the runes and magically deciphers their meaning. Surprisingly, the runes seem to speak gibberish. Between the nonsense phrasings “Your soul is mine” appears briefly on the blade. Inspecting the runes Abdul suspects the language to be extra plainer. Also while investigating the blade he finds magical properties that allow it to cast illusions to look like other objects. Abdul stows the blade and protection from elemental scroll. Once stowed safely away, Abdul begins to secretly covet his new item.
Now able to look about the small room it appears totally unadorned. Still able to magically understand languages Abdul steps back into the previous room. He reads the words out loud. “He lays the eternal resting place of SomG’uy. The royal majesty that reigned from….”

As Abdul reads, the adventurers quickly loose interest and start puttering around the room. Jay moves to the other door on the far south wall and begins his ritualistic inspection. Jay quietly opens the door to reveal a small empty room. Jay raises the star gem to his eye and sees through the illusion to reveal a passageway on the far end of the room. Jay takes the lead and travels carefully down the hallway. When the hallway turns Jay peaks around the corner into a still blackness of the unlighted passageway. Edrin moves to the corner next to Jay and looks down the hallway with his superior dark vision eyes. The hallway continues even passed his dwarven vision. Jay continues to lead in total darkness using his stone rapier to feel the path ahead. Edrin follows Jay but back about 30 paces. The rest of the group followed behind Edrin by the same approximate 30 paces. The hallway seems to be approximately 100 feet in length that comes to an abrupt dead end. Jay runs his hands up and down the stone surface and then gives the wall a hard push. The wall moves grudgingly to create another passageway.

The short passageway opens into a large octagonal room with exits at the four compass points. To West is an archway that leads to a door, on the East side of the room is an archway that leads to something that the group will have to get closer to investigate, and on the South end of the room is an archway that leads to a dead end. In the center of the room is an eight foot tall obelisk made of black stone. Small detailed engravings are etched into the base of the obelisk. Abdul leans down to read the engravings. “Ask of me a question” Abdul reads out loud.

Jay and Edrin move to the Eastern alcove to investigate it. Just passed the archway of the corridor is a deep pit in the floor. Just above the pit is a matching hole in the ceiling. Rocks, pebbles, and other debris fall continuously down the open shaft. Jay gasps as a mummy surprisingly drops down the shaft through the pit in the floor. Jay and Edrin continue to watch the debris when another mummy falls passed them flailing its arms to reach them. Edrin forms a curious smile on his face and digs through is pack to find a used potion bottle. With one hand he gingerly tosses it into the pit. After a moment two mummies writhing fall passed them. “This must be the mummy shoot” Jay japes.

Abdul laughs and approaches the pit. As he stands there investigating mummies continue to pass at high velocity with outreached hands. Avoiding the mummy torpedoes flying by, Abdul looks up and down the shaft to find only darkness at either end. Jay loses interest in the mummy garbage disposal and investigates the South archway of the room. It takes Jay a while but he manages to discover the sliding portion of the wall that opens into a doorway. Content with discovering the passage he moves to the obvious door and puts his ear to it and listens.

After some time Edrin does see a potion flask fall through the debris. It looked markedly similar to the one he had just thrown in a few moments ago forcing his little smirk into an impish grin. Content in solving the ‘mummies in the hole’ riddle Edrin marches to the black obelisk. “Where is the princess’s current location?”

A low ominous voice can be heard throughout the room. “Despair, if you continue thus”. The source of the voice seems to be the obelisk.
“Where is the Efreeti, Pasha Khalitharius” Abdul asks the obelisk.
A low rumbling voice answers again “Another tactic might prove wiser”.
After listening to the door for a time Jay is reasonably content with the safety and slowly opens the door. Inside the door is a small ten foot hallway that opens up into a fifty foot circular room. A shaft of light pierces the darkness from the domed ceiling above to illuminate a translucent altar in the center of the room. The walls are covered in five different types of hieroglyphs. Closed doors are situated again at the compass points of the room.

Abdul enters the room and walks up the writing on the walls. He runs his hand across the surface of the smooth stone and mummers the interpretation of the hieroglyphs. “May Seker grant thy welcome to his place of rest and worship. May he aid you in your kindness and grant on to you the power that you deserve.” Abdul turns and moves to another set of hieroglyphs. “Mighty Seker, God of light, purifier of the unclean souls that has lost their way to heavenly rest is honored here.” After a brief pause Abdul reads another set of hieroglyphs. “If thou believes in his might and glory, a sacrifice at his alter shall gain thy boon.” Before Abdul finishes reading aloud he walks to the next set of hieroglyphs to read them. “Seker shall sign forth in the last days when all the world despairs, to assist in the destruction of the great evil that spreads across our land.” Abdul stands defiant before the last set and softly reads “His might will sunder the restless spirits and put an end to their sinful evils.”

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Abdul finishes reading the hieroglyphs and then says to himself “’He of Restau…” and then trails off in thought. Something d “Forgive me, I mean to say that one of his many titles is ‘the place of ‘openings’ or tomb entrances. He helps souls cross to the realm of the dead.”
As Abdul reads, Jay walks the perimeter of the room looking for traps and treasures. Next Jay moves towards the altar and then pauses in mid-step a few feet away from it. “Seker asks” whispers a voice in his head. Jay approaches the last few steps slowly and then examines the altar. Jay decides to make a sacrifice to this God of Seker and puts all the coin that’s on his person on the Altar. The light that shined like the sun continued to beam down to the altar. Jaw had to count to ten before truly giving up on something happening. It is hard to guess as to why nothing happened. Maybe he didn’t pray to this god Seker, maybe he didn’t in his heart believe anything would happen, or maybe it wasn’t the sacrifice the god had been looking for. Although to some the money Jay placed on the altar was great sum, but in his heart maybe he knew it was no great sacrifice while his vast wealth stashed in K’lara’s bag of holding.

After a long pause the group heads back into the previous room with the riddling obelisk and head to the south. Jay investigates the short hallway to the south and discovers the secret passage. The passage way opens into a room with similar size and dimensions as the one they are in. In the center of the octagonal room is a large cube with suits of armor standing motionless standing around it. As Jay steps into the room suits of armor turn his way. “Ummm…” Jay almost has a chance to give warning before they charge.

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“Haha” If laughter could ever sound like a battle cry, it was Edrin now in this moment. Jay ducked out of the way of Edrin’s counter charge. They clashed together like a summer storm shaking the walls and floor with heavy blows. Jay and Abdul engage with swift subtle cunning landing melee attacks when opportunities presented. K’lara set the room a fire with her magic grace. The animated armor seemed less affected by the touch of flame that K’lara thought appropriate. Her hands then turn blue with frost on the sleeves to unleash an arctic blast upon foe. With each cast the animated foes seemed physically jarred by the attack. “That’s more like it” K’lara grinned as they fell one after another under the group’s attacks. When they fell, the armor splashed to the ground revealing nothing had been inside. One pursues K’lara and then redirects toward Abdul. Abdul runs all the way into the large circular room with the altar and prepares to make his a stand. The animated suit charges to the threshold of the room and stops abruptly. It turns quickly and focuses back on K’lara. It never saw Edrin coming from its right flank. With a massive chop Edrin smashes the Armor to the floor.

The ceiling is twenty feet high leaving ample room above the ten foot cube. Jay moves closer to the cube at notices that it appears to be a foreign black stone. Jay walks the perimeter of the stone cube and then throws his grappling hook up to the top. At the edge the hook catches and secures indicating a lip. Once at the top Jay peers down into what looks like a ten by ten doorless, windowless room. On the floor in the center of the room lay a closed book. “God dam it” Jay curses.
“What”? Asks K’lara
“I think it’s a trap” Jay says.
“Why?” Abdul asks
“There is a book in the center of a barren room.” Jay replies “It looks like curious halfing bait”
“I’m curious now” Edrin responds “Go get it”

With a deep sigh Jay surveys the ceiling and floor and throws some rope down. In one fluid motion, Jay hops down and with knees still bent from landing jumps back up to his rope with the book in his left hand. In a mad scurry to avoid ice, fire, spikes, and poisoned darts he tumbled over the wall and landed next to his friends on the outside.

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“Bah, that’s just a book. I’m not interested” Edrin says laughing noticing no trap had gone off. K’lara takes the book and looks through it. The cover of the book has The Eye of Horus. Inside the book K’lara notices hieroglyphs written on the inside. K’lara hands the book to Abdul so he can read it. Abdul inspects the book and deduces that it most likely came from a high priest of Horus. Abdul’s face twists in disgust and promptly hands the book back. “I may not have a great relationship with Horus” Abdul admits.

K’lara doesn’t have any answers at this point but feels that with time she could study the book to unwrap its secrets. She stuffs the book into her bag of holding. Jay is already snooping around the room looking for traps and secret exits. The room seems to be nearly identical with exits at the 4 compass points. This time the bottomless pits are to the south and to the east and the unexplored room is to the west. Jay silently opens the door to yet another octagonal room with for exits at the compass points. To the south is a shaft with falling debris. The north exit should lead to the circular room with the altar. To the west is a suspiciously a dead end. The center of the room bares an eight foot tall black obelisk of stone. Small detailed engraving is etched into the stone towards the bottom. This obelisk appears identical to the previous one they found.

The group follows Jay into the room to explore the area. Edrin examines one shaft and sees small racks tumble down the shaft. Occasionally he spots crystal ball, a gleaming helmet and shield, scroll and two small bottles skitter passed. “Ask of me a question” Abdul reads the engraving from the obelisk. Edrin frowns. Edrin takes his shield and holds it out to catch the items falling endlessly on repeat in the shaft. A few times Edrin missed his prize but for once dwarven stubbornness is a virtue. Once they gather all the items from the shaft they make their way back to the topless stone box of the previous room. They all agree it will be much safer to rest behind the ten foot walls. One after another they climb inside and begin to look at their new treasures.

The bottles contain Oil of Slipperiness, Scroll of fireball written at the 6th level of use (one shot fireball), Shield +2 (Dwarvin Make-“You feel more important”-easy going- Covet wealth-), Crystal ball –Clairvoyance-Scry(once per day), and finally the helm is cursed-alignment change. Edrin give Abdul his Elvin shield and take the new one for his own, Jay takes the grease potions and K’lara takes the fireball scroll.

After some discussion on who to scry on between the princess and the Efreeti the group decides to scry on the princess even though they don’t even know what she looks like. Inside the crystal ball images start swirling. She is sitting in good health on large pillows. The impressions on her hand match the palm signs the group was given. The room is small and smooth with circular blue opaque glass like walls. There are no exits to the room. The ceiling tapers up high into the air. The group stares into the crystal ball searching for clues to tell them the location of the lost princess. Suddenly a popping sound fills the room and the images distort and grow. The princess turns to a smoky gas and rises out of the high point of the room. The orb of vision follows the princess out of the room into a much larger room.

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For a moment the vision is out of focus and then snaps back into clarity revealing that the princess was magically stuffed into a bottle. The gas settles and the princess reforms under the shadow of the looming Efreeti. “Ahh.. Princess. Interesting.” The Efreeti Stares directly at the invisible orb that is giving vision to the crystal ball. “You’ve been busy?”
The princess folds her arms “Busy? Doing what? I’m totally bored in there. Like, I totally don’t even have my iScrolls to read or anything.” The Efreeti makes a face that is either squinting in suspicion or wincing in pain at her voice. With a flick of his wrist the Efreeti magically stuffs her back into the bottle.

The group finishes it rest in the safety within the cube.

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A Reversal of Fortune

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Thurnas Netmaster staggered into the compound supported by one of his remaining men. He had taken a vicious slash from one of the Sheik’s retainers and had lost a lot of blood. Fortunately the hour was late, so aside from the shocked guardsmen who had hastily opened the gate to the bazaar, no one witnessed his rather unceremonious return from the night’s events.

What was supposed to have been an ambush perpetrated by the slavers out at the old obelisk had instead turned into a slaughter. The Sheik’s men had materialized like ghosts, surrounding the slavers as they lay in wait. A pitched battle had ensued, and Thurnas had lost most of the gnoll mercenaries as well as his own hired muscle. Only he and a pair of his followers had managed to escape, and at great cost.

Thurnas knew that he had to have the wound tended to soon or risk bleeding out. “Khalim”, he shouted hoarsely at the man who was not supporting him, “Get to Hogan’s and see if that old rogue will sell you some healing potions. I know he keeps some on reserve…”

The slaver gasped in sudden pain as he lost his balance, crashing into the door frame as he and the remaining guard entered the Sandvoyager’s Guild. “Careful you inbred jackal” he cursed at the man “Get me to my room without killing me if you are able, and then secure the compound… see who we have left. Check below and inform our allies as to what has transpired. The situation here might now be untenable”.

Without a word in reply, the guard nodded and shifted his shoulders, to give Thurnas better support. On any other night, one or both of them might have noticed that the guild hall was unusually empty and silent, with no sign of even the several slaves who took care of the menial tasks.

Thurnas did however notice that the door to his chamber was open ever so slightly, and he could have sworn he had closed and locked it before they had departed an hour earlier. It was a fleeting thought, overshadowed by the pain and increasing light-headedness he was feeling, a result of blood loss he knew.

Shoving the door open, the man supporting Thurnas took two steps into the chamber before an arrow caught him in the throat. He collapsed with a choking gurgle, clutching futiley at the shaft as he drowned in his own blood.

Thurnas was too weak to stand, and fell to his knees as he drew his scimitar, nearly crying out in agony as he did so. His eyes widened in shock and disbelief as he took in the figure who now slowly lowered his bow and drew his own blade, advancing with deadly intent towards the stricken slaver.

" Barus Broadblade … but… you are dead…"

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A brief interlude

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Pritt followed his nose to the site of the carnage, which turned out to be a Thune encampment situated at the base of a craggy hillside which offered some shade from the mid-day heat. The bloated bodies of a pair of camels lay twisted in agony near the edge of the camp, burned almost beyond recognition.

The buzzing of flies was the only sound to break the silence, and the gnome scanned the skies for a moment in apparent consternation. Strange that the vultures had not yet arrived to feast, he thought momentarily. Also missing were the ubiquitous jackals and hyenas which soon followed.

Reaching into a pocket hidden amongst the folds of his tattered robe, the gnome produced a silver spoon, worn with use, yet untarnished. It caught the light of the noontime sun and gleamed like a beacon as Pritt examined the implement, passing it from one hand to the next, apparently lost in thought.

The Efreet’s army grows ever more destructive and approaches the Tomb of Amun-Re He wondered if the pyramid’s guardians would rise to meet the threat. It was at that moment that Pritt resolved to speak to the sphinx Neferu, now free of his charge yet still loyal to the long-dead Pharaoh. The beast was wise, Pritt knew, and also powerful. Perhaps he would have some answers.

A small pack of hyenas appeared suddenly from a cleft in the hillside, no doubt drawn to the stench of carrion. What took you so long? Pritt mused, smiling wryly. Seeing the gnome, the hyenas began to whine and back slowly away, ears pinned to their skulls, eyes wide with growing panic.

“Fear not ye smelly beasties, I mean ye no harm”

At that, the hyenas turned and ran, yipping and cackling as they disappeared into the nearby dunes. Pritt smiled, pocketed his spoon once more, and set off in the direction of the Pyramid.

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0726 2014
Rescue Barus and imprison goblins

The wight collapses before the group allowing them to recover. Jay feels the curse of the evil creature linger and senses he will not fully recover from that battle for some time. Breathing heave the group takes the opportunity to explore the room now that the creepy fog has dissipated. A room with a display pedestal atop a dais lies beyond the doorway. The room is illuminated by a red light that seems to come from the pedestal itself. The pedestal appears to be the resting place of the skull previously in the possession of the priest. Looking around the room it becomes apparent that the design is not the same as the rest of the temple. It lacks in the general Set motif and seemed to be more infernal in nature. Rather than the obvious solution of sticking the skull where it belongs on the pedestal Jay puts the weights skull to see if any magical affects take place. No magical affects take place…

A quick discussion takes place on whether to place the horned skull on the pedestal or to explore the rest of the temple. The group decides to place the horned skull into the bag of holding and search out the rest of the temple and later return. Only the one corridor across from the sleeping chamber remains unexplored. The corridor has a chill to it seems to drain the light out of the air. Sand continuously settles between cracks in the sealing pouring to the floor. Inches deep the sand cover the floor of the corridor with no sign of tracks or resent movement.

Jay slowly steps into the corridor to examine it more closely. Immediately the chill in the air turns into a frosty gale with icy fingers that feel as though they claw at his very soul. Edrin moved behind Jay and was also affected by the painful chill. More doors are now visible down the passageway. Panicked to get out of the sandy, icy, dark, badness they vault forward to the closest door in the hallway and burst through it to get out of the painful chill. Beyond the door is a small room with a brazier with violet flames in the center of the room. On one wall a cabinet sits with what seems to be filled with torture implements and on the wall hang three skeletons in manacles. The center skeleton wears rich robes, a fine neckless, and Egyptian stylized armbands. The skeletons on either side both have a red glint to them.

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Avoiding the skeletons, Jay runs his hands along the wall search the room. Totally not avoiding the skeletons Edrin marches up to the center skeleton. Upon approach the skeletons animate to claw at the new interlopers. Jay springs forward and thrusts his rapier into the robed skeletons boney torso with minimal affect. At the sound of combat K’lara and Abdul dash through the enchanted corridor to enter the room. Electricity crackels from K’lara as her hands pour her magical energy into one of the red tinged skeletons. The electrical energy travels from K’lara’s gloved hands to the undead.Once closer to the foes it becomes apparent that the reddish ones have veins that seems to pump blood across the dead bones. K’lara’s gloves come away bloody and the smell of burned metallic blood fills the room. With smoke rising from the undead creature, it swipes at K’lara with its boney hands. Abdul closes with the smoldering bloody skeleton and swings.

Electricity starts to crackle in the room again, but this time the robed skeleton is the source. The robed skeleton reaches out and grabs Jay and releases the current of energy. Edrin steps to the robed skeleton and slashes the undead with is frosty axe. A torrent of flames pours from K’lara’s hands engulfing the undead chained to the wall. The center robed skeleton lets out a howl and slumps over while the other two frantically claws at the intruders. Jay capitalizes on the hysterical state of his foe and stabs again. The skeleton slumps in its chains. The undead immediately revives and swipes at Jay to no avail. Abdul slashes at each the undead with his scimitar incapacitating them. The blood however appears to continue to pump through the veins across the dead bones. Abdul summons scorching fire and blasts the skeletons repeatedly. The undead blood burns and turns black again filling the room with and awful stench of burned blood. K’lara and Abdul sense a magical presence from the necklace on the center skeleton. Edrin decapitates the undead with brazen panache and Abdul uses the tongs to move the necklace into K’lara’s bag.
Abdul quickly moves to the next room with one of the branding irons in hand. This room has a small alter with a golden falcon at its center. The golden idol radiates magic and appears to Abdul to be of the deity Horus. A theme of multiple deities reemerges in the temple of Set. Edrin rushes to join Abdul trying to minimize time spent in the traitorous hallway. Abdul picks up the idol and steps into the hallway testing the protective effects of the idol. There are no protective effects…

With the golden falcon in one hand and a branding iron in the other he moves to another room. Another small room lies within. An oil lamp illuminating the room displays a small table with delicious looking food in the center, a wineskin consciously pouring wine, and a man manacled against the farthest wall. The prisoner is motionless slumped against the wall held up by chains. He has clearly been beaten and tortured with new wounds adding to old scars. The wine and food are just beyond the captives reach. Abdul yells to alert the rest of the group to his discovery. “I’ve found a prisoner”. Everyone braves the painful attack of the icy, sandy, badness of the hallway once more t
o enter the room.

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“Who are you” Abdul inquires.
“My name is Barus BroadBlade” he answers. Waiving his right to have a lawyer present he continues “I’ve been captive here for months. I can’t keep track of time down here. I haven’t been fed and have been tortured.”
“Who has imprisoned you” Abdul asks

“I don’t know” Barus replies. “They ambushed me and my men on the way home from the tavern. All I could see is paint around the eyes.” Barus pauses and breaths deeply. “Who are you, You look local… but the rest of you… are foreigners”

Edrin works to remove the shackles from Barus and then moves to the ever pouring wineskin. Abdul fills a goblet with win and moves to give it to Barus. Edrin drinks some, chokes and spits out wine and blood. The wine burns his mouth like acid. Looking like a shit vintage Abdul dumps the wine. K’lara steps up and offers her water to Barus. He drinks deeply and is sincerely grateful. Like a pica driven two year old Edrin starts sampling the poison buffet. Turns out, it’s poisonous…
“Why did they keep you here” Abdul continues his interrogation “Why you, and not your men. Why keep you so long and not simply kill you”?

“They asked the same questions, over and over. It was something about the sheiks daughter.” Barus answers. “They thought I maybe kidnapped her or knew her ware bouts. I’ve only ever seen the girl from afar. I’m just the Captain of the Sand Voyagers guild. Ever since we’ve come under new management I’ve noticed some unsavory changes. I have also been reassigned to be away more. And much of the company has been bolstered with gnoll mercenaries.”

Edrin sighs deeply “So wait… no one knows where the daughter is?”
The group mends Borisons wounds and equip him with a bow, arrows and scimitar. They all prepare to exit the room and explore the rest of the temple. Barus agrees to accompany his rescuers and look for a way out.

Jay rushes out of the room and bursts into the next room again trying to avoid spending any extra time in the painfully sandy hallway. Another small room lay beyond the door. A raised platform in the center of the room and an alter with an Idol of a monkey lay inside. The Idol has jeweled eyes and its paws over its ears. Unlike the falcon idol the Monkey idol does not seem to be religious. Jay is inspecting the monkey statue when the rest of the group enters the small, now crowded, room. They gem eyes do not seem to be affixed to the statue. “right is never right” Jay jokes and he puts his thumb into the moneys left eye pushing it in like a button and then waits for something to happen. Nothing happens…

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While Jay fiddles with his monkey (huh.. hu.. huh), Abdul discovers a secret door on one of the walls. Abdul opens the door into a dark hallway with thick cobwebs and deep layers of dust. A tomb like musty smell escapes the door and it appears as though no one has been here for a long time. Unsatisfied with leaving the gem eyes well enough alone, Edrin pushes the right eye. He senses the magical attack and manages to resist the incantation that would presumably turn him into a monkey.

Jay moves into the next room to scout. One exit is nearly full of spider webs, another exit leads to a hallway that dead ends into a door, and another hallway that dead ends. He turns back at the large crumbling hole that leads to the corridor made of webs and then smirks at K’lara. “You should set that on fire” he says.

“I should” she agrees with a wicked grin. Flames swirl from her hands that quickly ignite the webbing. The room quickly turns into an inferno as the fire covers nearly every foot of the room. The unmistakable chattering of panicked arachnids can now be heard from within the room. Shadows of the large arachnids move hurriedly around the flames. Barus takes aim and sends an arrow flying then rapidly fires another into the blaze striking the creature. Abdul steps forward and unleashes flames from his hands singeing them and setting blaze to any previously intact webbing. Frantically the spiders scurry to escape the all-consuming flames. One secretes a webbing mass and spits it at K’lara. The fire and heat consume the mass turning it into a fireball and burns out well before contact. Another web mass is spit from a second spider skittering across the room and again catches fire and evaporating in air. The final spider spits a mass of webbing at Edrin. Again the secretion ignites crossing the inferno of a room disintegrating along the way.

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Because there isn’t enough fire in the room K’lara magically waves her hands and fire pours from them as if from a pitcher. The arachnids screech as they are once again bathed in flames. One staggers and drops to the floor curling its legs in underneath itself. Through the smoky haze Jay springs forward and stabs wildly at an enormous spider and vaults backwards to remove himself from the both the spiders and flames alike. Edrin charges forward and swings his axe but was also blinded by smoke and ash from the blazing webs. He swings again, this time his axe gets purchase on the leg of the creature forcing the arachnid to stagger backwards a step. Edrin capitalizes on his foes off balance and brings his axe down hard. The massive spider is cut clean in half with its gooey guts spilling all over the floor. Abdul steps back into the entryway and launches a bolt of flames from his hands at the remaining spider. The arachnids cephalothorax and abdomen pop open and slime bursts onto the floor. One last hisss is heard as in bundles its legs underneath itself and rolls onto its side. Abdul feels somewhat shaken after his attacked and leans against the archway to gather himself.

Now that the webs have finally burned away, the group is able to explore the room and the rest of the passageways. One well-kept room has fine tapestries with depictions of spiders spreading there webs across the lands. Across the room is a steal door with the head of a jackal. The mouth of the jackal is open wide displaying sharp teeth within as if in mid attack. In the back of the mouth a small keyhole is discovered by K’lara. Edrin laughs heartedly at Jay “That’s your job, right”? And Jay lets out a melancholy sigh in agreement.

Jay steps up to the jackal head and stairs at it grimly for a moment. K’lara reaches into her bag and pulls out a dagger. At first Jay thinks she is going to use it to prod him into motion but then realizes she is propping the mouth open with it. Once the dagger is inside the mouth the jaws clench down hard. Jay moves quickly to pick the lock. Moments later the lock makes a clicking sound revealing to Jay it’s open. To Jays dismay there is more to this lock that normal. There is at least one more layer if not more to the locking mechanism. Sweat beads on Jay’s brow as he puts another dagger into the jowls of the jackal. He quickly works on the second layer and the lock makes another click indicating that another layer of the mechanism is open. Jay almost begins to cry when he realizes there is yet another layer to this madness. Jay tries to think of gold, power, all the riches that could be stored behind this door, but in the end he just wants to keep his hand. Jay frantically scrambles to pick the last lock. At long last the lock clicks and the door is now free to be opened. “I think I peed a little” Jay admits sheepishly

Behind the tapestry Abdul find many hieroglyphs etched into the walls. “Beware the wrath of Set and his minions, for before you is his kingdom of evil. Those that make that journey shall never return.” Abdul tells the group about his discovery and translates it for them. “I nearly pissed myself for the kingdom of evil”? Jay wines.
“Nearly”? Edrin japes

Jay opens the door and peers in. A long room lay just beyond with a large statue of Set. Just in front of the statue is an idol of a jackal headed figure sitting next to the pit that cast a red light throughout the room. The idol holds a bowl that gives off smoke as its gem eyes glitter. More hieroglyphs are seen in the room. Abdul reads them aloud to the group “Beware ye the eyes of set for they are all seeing and all knowing. He casts his gaze upon thy and knows thy, and knowing thy does seed to his minions.” Abdul finishes reading the text and steps into the room.

“Do we need anything that could come from this room’? jay asks clearly nervous about the kingdom of evil scripts on the walls.

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Barus quickly chimes in “yea… I don’t really want to go in there…uhhh, yea” standing in the doorway. Even the mighty Edrin looks particularly cautious.

“I can fight from far away, You guys get in there.” K’lara chides them
“Maybe there is some bit of logic that says we don’t need to be in here” Jay says like a complete pussy as Barus and Edrin peer into the room without entering.

Abdul, apparently the only man with any stones in this adventure, continues to move forward. In a snap the door slams shut. They eyes of the statue flare up and a creature crawls out of the pit. The undead being hisses at Abdul with its tattooed skin drawn tight across its bones. It shambles forward. Abdul runs to the door and hits it rapidly with both open palms. “Let me out, Let me out, Let me out” with each repetition of the words his voice goes up an octave.

Jay looks to Edrin “That’s your job… Right?”
Edrin scoffs and leans into the door. Barus also leans over Edrins stout body and pushes to open the door. The door slowly moves and finally becomes open enough to slip in or out of the room. K’lara squeezes passed Edrin and Barus through the door frame and immediately begins casting. Her hands glow red and then a Bolt of fire springs from her fingertips. The blast knocks into the undead back a step but it continues to lurch forward. Jay sprints into the room passed K’lara, Abdul, and the undead then hides just behind the pit and statue. Jay peers into the pit and sees the pulsing red glow emitting from the bottom.

The undead creature shambles toward Abdul hissing and biting but Abdul easily sidesteps the creature. Barus and Edrin release the door stepping into the room. Barus sidestep slightly and takes aim at the undead. He loosed two arrows at the creature. One arrow sailed clean while the other nicked the undead. The runes on the creatures’ skin flared up on impact. The creature noticed the impact of the arrow and was distracted slightly. Abdul swung his scimitar fast and hard managing to hit the creature’s side and a deep gash in the leg. The runes flare even brighter and the undead wales. The creature hisses while Abdul backspins with the scimitar flying leaving a third deep gash a crossed the chest. Edrin charges forward with his axe held high above his head. He brings the axe down hard splitting the undead in half. It collapses into two piles on the floor with gore and slime puddled between.

Jays starts as he sees another abomination crawling up the side of the pit. It lurches at Abdul and slashes with its clawed hands. Abdul jumps back avoiding most of the attack but the undead still managed to draw blood. A foul darkness radiates from the wound and Abduls limbs begin to stiffen. Abdul whispers a quick prayer that banishes the darkness and he quickly recovers. Electricity crackles down K’lara’s arms and then is released from her fingertips. The room lights up with the flash from the bolt nearly blinding anyone who tried to trace it with their eyes. The bolt arcs around her friends and passes though the creature and ends striking the statue. The statues jeweled eyes flare for a moment then on eye appears slightly dimmer than it was before. The undead stagers backwards from the electric attack and then charges forward at K’lara.

Jay pulls out the star gem and stares into the pit. He now sees beyond the red glow into a howling wasteland. The swirling images themselves almost seem to be a brutal attack making it harder and hard for Jay to continue to gaze into this new world. Just beyond the pit Barus draws his scimitar and engages the undead standing between it and K’lara. The first cut removes the creatures arm at the shoulder and the second cut removes the head. Edrin moves to the pit and readies himself for the next attack while Abdul leans into the exit door and opens it. “Come, Lets go! There is nothing here for us” Abdul sais bracing the door.
Jay willing himself to stare into the portal sees a red flash and then another creature appears. Again the creature is near the top of the pit crawling out. This creature looks similar to the last but somehow more feral. It springs forward at Edrin and claws at him but only manages to scratch his armor. A thick stench fills the room from wafting off the ghast causeing Barus to retch and dry heave. The room begins to flicker with light as K’lara summons the lightning attack once more. Again the electrical storm races down her arms and is released at her fingertips. The bolt passes through the ghast and again ends at the statue. The gem eyes in the statue again flare up and then the dimmer one now goes dark. With smoke still rising from the undead creature the ghast wales and advances.

Jay continues to peer into the world beyond the portal. He is nearly consumed by the chaos and madness below. He drops the star gem unable to look into the pit any longer. Unable to cope with the visions of bedlam below Jay is left stunned barely able to breath. Barus bites back on the bile in the back of his throat and charges forward. Barus cuts the creature from neck to opposite armpit cleaving off and arm and head. The body drops to its knees then slumps to its side leaking a foul black liquid. Edrin and Abdul stand near the door to prepare an escape assuming the next beast will be worse than the last.

As predicted another undead creature emerges. This time a large skeletal snake appears with a human skull. Immediately after emerging from the pit the undead snake starts to sway rhythmically back and forth. Barus lowers his weapon clearly enthralled by the creatures advancing motion. K’lara ducks a tail swipe by the surprisingly fast undead. Jay stops hyperventilating and gathers himself somewhat and charges in from behind. He is still staggered however and is ineffective at causing real damage. At the sound of continuing combat Abdul and Edrin leave the door and engage the undead. Abdul swings his scimitar chipping bone and Edrin cracks the open ribs with his axe. A wight begins to crawl out of the open pit. “We are falling behind” Abdul warns.

K’lara snaps her fingers releasing a bolt of fire that flies though the air to strike the gem eyes of the statue. The one eye flares up and then is left slightly dimmer than before. Jay slightly more grounded he strikes the skeletal creature driving his stone rapier between vertebrae and snapping the spine in half leaving two piles of bones on the floor. The wight advances forward to Edrin and screeches madly and claws at his armor. Barus stands next to Edrin and swings his scimitar at the undead. The first attack went wide but the second hit the creature hard. Edrin follows Barus and attacks chopping at the undead with heavy blows. Abdul forms a ball of fire in his hands and hurls it at the statue. A winged creature seemingly made of smoke and shadow appears. K’lara summons magical bolts of arcane power and shoots them at the statue. The gem eye flares bright once more and then goes completely dark. Jay springs forward striking the wight. The undead folds in on itself and seems to wither. Barus engages the winged demon feigning a stab and then slashing with full force with a critical blow. Abdul summons magical energy and flings it at the shadow creature. The creature turns to Abdul and shreeks with its hands held high over its head then dissolves into nothingness.

Breathing heave the group braces for more. Finally, after a few moments pass they begin to explore the room. Edrin searches the bowl with burning incense and Jay wills himself to use the gem eye to peek into the disarray at the bottom of the pit. After the rough combat the group decides to take a short rest to mend armor and bandage wounds. During the rest Abdul meditates on his discovery and acquisition of the idol of Horus. He considers for a moment that it is possible he has set luck against the group by removing it from its original location. Not wanting to tempt the Gods Abdul decides to return the idol back to its intended location. Before leaving the group closes the door and does their best to dismantle the lock and key mechanism to prevent others from using the portal from either side.

Once back in the main corridor where the entrance to the spider room was discovered the group began to search for secret traps and doors ignoring the other doorway exits for the time being. Something about the shape of the room led Abdul and Edrin to believe there had to be something more there. And they were right! Once discovered Edrin gives it a mighty dwarven kick thrusting the door open. Jay leads the way down the hall and passed a ninety degree turn to an old staircase. They collectively decide to come back to the staircase when this floor is more secured.

The group returns to one of the previous doors that doesn’t appear to be locked but seems wedged closed. Edrin again, puts his mighty foot into the door revealing a small room. Several humanoids rise from sitting and even sleeping posture. One wall on the far end of the room appears to be crumbled and broken. Beyond the broken wall seems to be a tunnel exiting the room. The earthen tunnel is rough and fresh with piles of dirt at the mouth. The seven figures appear to be goblins in the candle light with shovels and picks in hand. “Stand Down” Barus yells at the goblins.

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The goblins immediately drop their mining tools and manage to scurry in place. “Master, master” one begs “How did you get here from that direction? We have only just now managed to tunnel through the wall. Mm…mm… Master, who are your friends?”
“Master huh? What’s that supposed to mean?” K’lara looks at the group’s newcomer with accusing eyes. She keeps her eyes and laser guided fireball locked on Barus in case any nefarious actions arise.

“That door was locked” the goblin continues” the goblin continues
“Well it’s not now” Barus replies sharply keeping the goblins intimidated. “Where did you come from” He asks
The goblin stammers in answer “We tunneled. Your companions. We were told to tunnel though”

“My companion”? Barus repeats while K’lara seems to get ready to cast some spell with an expression part curious part scorn. “Who sent you”

“Yo…Your c’companions” The goblin stammers.
“Who sent you” Barus repeats fiercly
“The other slavers, the other slavers” the goblin wines “the dark elf lady…”
“Whoa, Whoa, Whoa” the group says in near unison.
“Dark elf lady… Sssen’tt us… umm. P’perhaps we find secret entrance.” The goblin pleads. “We did, we did”

“Yes” Abdul congratulates the goblin with warm appraisal. “Well done”
“Thank you” The goblins eyes light up and he begins to bow repeatedly. The other goblins join in bowing quickly and repeating “thank you thank you thank you” Another goblin remarks “No beatings”? And almost answers his own question “No beating, no beating”
“Anything you would like to add”? K’lara asks Barus the new addition to their party with dagger eyes.

“What, no”? Barus answers defensively. Jay sees the inquisition by K’lara and remembers the day he met her. He saw her light-up three Halfling adventures because they ‘gave her a funny feeling’. Jay wonders if Barus will end up the same way. “Go back to resting, we need to sort this out” Barus says eyeing K’lara.

“Why do they think they know you” K’lara asks Barus accusingly as soon as they form a little conversation huddle.
“I’ve never seen these guys before!” Barus exclaims.

Jay explains “They think that Barus is on the slavers side. He just looks and acts like their bosses. He is a solder and is a little rough around the edges”

“Ok” She squints her eyes suspiciously at Barus but K’lara seems convinced for the moment.
“Gah…” Abdul expresses a moment of frustration mixed with eureka “The Cultists don’t seem to have the princess, the Sand Voyagers don’t seem to have her, the Sheik does not have her…. but perhaps, the ‘dark elf lady’ has her”

“Maybe the Sand Voyagers are capturing locals and selling them to the UnderDark to the dark elves”? Barus suggests.

Abdul runs back to the secret door next to the monkey idol and closes it so that it would appear that no one has used it. The group meets up back at an unexplored door near the spider room. Jay inspects the door and quietly opens it. Rotted cloth hangs from cables on the walls within. On closer inspection it looks like these are the remnants of old tapestries. Jay pulls up his star gem and peers into the room to find anything unseen. The group enters the room and begins to search the walls and floor for more secret passageways. “This room is a dud” Jay says with a sigh after a quick search.

“Back to the stairwell then?” Edrin asks already leading the way.
They reach the stairs and Jay takes the lead position again with Edrin just behind. Abdul follows just behind Edrin then K’lara and then finally Barus. Edrin, with his dwarvish vision, can see down the stairwell farther than anyone else and is still unable to see the landing. Jay is mindful of traps on the way down but it would take too long to search each step. Atlast they near the bottom and Edrin can see the landing. As Jay and Edrin advance toward the bottom there is a sudden change in footing. A ten foot section of the steps drop away and Jay and Edrin scramble backwards to safety. Below is a smoke filled pit that now exhausts the into the stairwell. The group manages to jump across the pit to the steps farther down the stairwell.

At the bottom of the stairwell the group descends into a small room with shelves with old scroll cases made with bone. A large pile of ash is in the center of the room with soot covering the walls and ceiling. Jay begins exploring and searching for secret passages while Edrin and Abdul go through the shelves. Abdule finds an old sealed bone case with runes covering its exterior. Abdul reads the Rune ‘Property of the good mage Martek. Do Not Open. Hold secure’. Abdul pauses for a moment. “Really?” he blurts out loud drawing confused looks from the rest of the group.

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He slowly opens the book and begins reading. He also finds a map within that dates from Marteks time. On the map there are hieroglyphs that Abdul continues to read (he won’t be happy until he finds the one that blows up his face), ‘Here did I, Martek arch mage of the land, seal up a prince of da’jin that in the days ahead I do foresee when the evil one is loosed. The powers of good might be put to the test against the evil. The path and the way ahead I have entrusted to the pharos and their wives that each might hold part of the key. So that together they know when to unlock the goodly Da’jin. The time is yet unknown but the place is this place of Set though the protecting phoenix.’.

While Abdul reads through the material K’lara finds a gem in the pile of ash in the center of the floor. This gem is of the same size and shape as the one Jay carries only this one is clear. K’lara shows the group and tucks it into her bag of holding. Barus looks through the shelves and finds other cases made of bone. The rest of the scrolls have crumbled with age. They Identify the gem to be the Gem of Convelar (probably not spelled right) wich allows an arcane caster to meditate and have one additional spell slot per spell-level.

The group exits the library and ascends the stairs. They bound across the fallen piece of staircase with ease. They decided to return to the goblins and explore the tunnel the goblins came from. When walking across the room a distant shout can be heard from the tunnel. At first it’s unintelligible but standing at the tunnel mouth it becomes more clear. “How come I’m not hearing any pickaxes you slobs?” voiced in a deep guttural tongue. “You do NOT want me to come down there.”

Jay quickly grabs a threadbare shawl and a poorly stitched hat from one of the sleeping goblins than smears mud and dirt on his face and cloths. “Do I look like one of them” Jay asks promptly “How would I say ‘Yes sir’ in goblin”

K’lara teaches him the quick words and Jay bounds down the tunnel. Jay keeps his head low and the pickaxe in his left hand trying to look smaller and more subservient. Jay’s dominant hand is under the shawl gripping his rapier. The rest of the group follows at a distance. Jay enters the small room light by candlelight. Chests are piled high around the room and three large figures are within. Two are laying down on mats either and the other is lumbering around in the room. There is another exit on the far wall and Jay spies a trapdoor in the ceiling with a coiled rope latter below. The standing bugbear walks to Jay and begins barking in goblin. If Jay understood goblin he would have heard “Why are you up here? Who said you should come back up?” but he doesn’t. All Jay heard was a gargling noise that managed to sound threatening. Jay continues to advance to the bugbear and meekly mumbles the phrase “Yes sir, yes sir”

Jay manages to close the distance between him and the bugbear. Once close enough to smell the foul creature the bugbear grabs at his whip. Jay drops the pickaxe and in a flash produces the stone rapier. Before the bugbear even knew what was about to happen it was done. The rapier was clean through its heart. The bugbear fell heavy to the side and Jay tried to hide the rapier and look confused to the others lying on the mat. One bugbear was confused and stared at the dropped one however the other had seen the rapier quickly protrude and recede from the back of the now fallen creature. It stands quickly and brandishes its spiked club. Jay springs forward and charges the bugbear still seated hoping to capitalize on its slow wit and movement. Jays stone rapier sink deep into the bugbears shoulder and then pulls out clean. “Surrender” Jay commands in the common language.
“I will pulp your head” The bugbear shouts outraged at the attack and stands at his full imposing height. Edrin sprints into the room to stand near Jay to help protect him. Panting from the run he manages to surge forward with an attack with his axe. The Bugbear drops to the ground from the blow. Jay turns to the remaining bugbear and commands “Drop your weapon”.

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Abdul enters the room and sees the bugbear charging toward Jay with his spiked club held high. A ball of fire is summoned into his hands that projects to the bugbear and explodes. The bugbear manages to dodge some of the explosion debris and stands smoldering. Barus stands in the entryway to the tunnel and raises his bow and takes air. Two arrows are sent flying through the air towards the bugbear. One sinks deep into the bugbear one sinks deep into the wall behind him. Glowering the bugbear drops his weapon and backs away. Edrin kicks the club to the side and tells the bugbear to take a seat. It drops to a pained sitting position instantly. K’lara approaches the bugbear and demands information “What’s going on here”

“I’m surrendering” the bugbear says confused and looks to Jay to see if he misunderstood the command.

“Why are you here, tunneling with the goblins” Jay says more directly.
“We seek an entrance into the tomb. We were ordered by the mistress dark elf to tunnel in. They know there are other ruins in the area. We are tunneling and searching for treasures. That’s all I know”
“Who’s in charge here” Jay demands
“Zamora, the dark elf. She is the most dangerous adversary”
“Is there just the one dark elf or are there more”? Jay asks
“Oh, at least eighteen” the bugbear responds. Jay’s expression immediately turns grim and open-hand strikes the bugbear expecting he has received incomplete information or misinformation entirely.

“I swear, I swear” the bugbear pleads. “At least eighteen… at the least”
“Any more like you, goblins, hobgoblins…?” Edrin asks
“Yes, Many… many” Unsatisfied with the bugbears response Barus hits the bugbear in the face. Barus stands over the burned, shot, defenseless creature in an imposing way. The bugbear cowers and begs “I’m a virtual slave myself… I… I do this against my will… I … I Just want to go home. “

“Answer the questions honestly and fully. Tell us your numbers” Barus threatens. The bugbear quickly describes the quantity of goblins below that the group allowed to sleep. “What about upstairs” Barus asks looking at the trapdoor and rope-latter.
“Upstairs, the Slavers Guild Hall? Oh, no. We do not go there.” The bugbear says shaking his head.
“What’s down here” K’lara asks pointing down the only other exit to the room.
“That goes to our compound” The bugbear admits.

The group escorts the bugbear and the seven goblins down to the cells where they found Barus. They lock the door and advise them repeatedly not to eat the food or drink. The group can hear the cries of pain and stupidity as they leave the jail area and return to the room with the trapdoor. Jay unrolls the rope-latter and quietly opens the passageway. Jay finds himself looking at the underside of a bed. Jay crawls into the room and looks around. It all looks very familiar as it turns out. Jay finds himself in Thurnas Netmaster’s bed chamber. Lying open on the desk is a book with a red cover. Jay nimbly takes the book.

While Jay is upstairs the group riffles through the large boxes in the room. Instead of finding secret treasures the crates are filled with mining tools. When Jay returns to the group he explains that it went to Thenas Netmaster’s bed chamber. Barus grins and thanks the group for his rescue and then explains that staying in his bed chamber would be the best way to have a private chat with Mr. Netmaster. Now the group has to decide on moving onto the compound or meeting with the sheiks second son Korus.

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