D&D Next: The Desert of Desolation

A Prophecy Fulfilled
The River Athis restored

The Great Pyramid has been conquered, the restless ghost of the mighty Pharaoh can now be at peace, but more importantly… the life giving waters of the Athis flow once more through this parched land.

The local Thune Dervishes encamped at the pyramid are now in control of a commodity more precious than gold in this vast desert… but for how long? Doubtless the news of this miraculous event will soon spread, and all eyes for leagues around will turn towards the pyramid and the magical waters of the Athis.

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The Athis River Valley in its glory days

As for the bedraggled and exhausted adventurers, the hospitality of the grateful Thune offers a chance to rest, heal, and reflect upon their next move… for the fact remains that more than half the party are foreigners from distant lands, stranded and lost in unfamiliar territory.

A peaceful nights sleep, one not haunted by ghosts, but accompanied by the lull of newly flowing water passes uneventfully… but the morning brings with it a hellish scene. The shouts of the Thune sentries are the first indication of something amiss, and the party gazes with disbelief out into the dune sea. The desert has been set aflame, and thick clouds of smoke blot out the horizon….

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Dances with Jackals

Having been trapped in the pyramid for days, Abdul Hariq chose to stay behind at the Thune encampment while Kalara, Edrin, and Jay set out in the direction of the mysterious inferno.

Although he would not provide them with a guide, Faruq Nasser – Thune High Priest was able to inform the party that the flames were coming from the general direction of the Oasis of Akhir, another intermittent campsite for the Thune tribesmen.

After some discussion, the group elected to begin their trek at nightfall to avoid the crippling heat of the desert sun. The first night’s travel passed uneventfully, and the party saw little of interest other than yipping jackals which shadowed their small caravan, doubtless hoping to scavenge some scraps.

They made their camp in the relative shadow of a dune as the sun rose the next morning and set four hour watches, intending to resume their journey the following evening. The day crept by in a monotonous fashion, the heat seeming to make the hours stretch. Nothing of any consequence occurred until it came time for Edrin’s watch.

The dwarf had benefited from a solid eight hours of sleep, and the heat did not cause him much discomfort thanks to his enchanted armor. It was with some amusement and mild interest that he watched as the jackals drew closer, and he considered tossing them some food to pass the time. It was only then that he noticed that one of the beasts had boldly taken up position directly in front of him not ten feet away.

Curious by this strange behavior, Edrin regarded the jackal, and couldn’t help but notice it’s piercing blue eyes. Gazing into them, Edrin found himself stifling a yawn, they had such a calming effect. As he pondered these thoughts, the dwarf drifted into a deep slumber, only to awake hours later in the dark to Jay’s frantic shouts… the camels, and most of their supply of water… were gone!

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A mysterious tomb

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The tracks led away from the camp towards a region of craggy hills to the east. Oddly, in addition to the camel hoof prints there were a pair of barefoot human tracks in the lead. Circling vultures in the distance put the party on alert as they drew closer to the hills.

Soon they were able to make out a dark opening built into the side of a low cliff, apparently the entrance to a tomb or ruin of some sort. Near the doorway, a pack of jackals snapped and snarled over the remains of one of the unfortunate camels as vultures looked on, and stole the occasional scrap from the yelping canines.

Choosing stealth over a more direct approach, the party spread out and cautiously crept forward, readying what missile weapons they had as they did so. The jackals took no notice until the arrows began to fly, pinning a couple of the beasts to the ground. The others scattered in all directions in panicked flight.

Exercising caution, the party remained hidden for several minutes to observe what response, if any, the commotion might bring from within the mysterious crypt. Their patience was soon rewarded as a quartet of gnolls emerged from the darkened doorway clutching their weapons expectantly.

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Tomb Raiders

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Quickly dispatching the gnoll sentries, the party made their way into the depths of the ancient tomb which had now become the base of operations for a band of gnoll raiders. Following their noses through the gloom, the group soon encountered more guards and a large antechamber which had been converted into a kennel of sorts occupied by a pack of hyenas, including a monstrous creature larger than a camel.

A well-placed fireball soon reduced the unfortunate beasts to ashes even as they feasted on the remains of the party’s camels. The one surviving hyena, the monstrous specimen, fell quickly to a flurry of blades.

Another grim discovery was soon made as the group located a ragged band of Thune prisoners manacled to the wall in another room. Grateful at their unexpected deliverance, the Thune explained that the gnolls were slavers lead by a mysterious creature who appeared part human, part jackal. The raiders styled themselves the “Sons of Set” and believed this tomb to be an ancient temple to the nearly forgotten deity of the same name.

The former captives had been taken when their encampment at the nearby Oasis of Akhir. The gnolls were more well organized than most of their kind, probably under the leadership of the odd jackal-human hybrid, which the party now believed to be none other than the enigmatic jackal which had facilitated the theft of their camels in the first place.

Having warned the party that the gnoll band’s fiercest warriors laired somewhere deeper within the tomb, the prisoners promised to await their saviors near the entrance, and that together they would journey to the Oasis of Akhir. With that in mind, the party proceeded deeper into the ancient tunnels….

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Sons of Set

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The party made their way deeper into the musty darkness, through passages of worked stone constructed in a bygone and forgotten era. Strange carvings and hieroglyphics adorned the walls in some areas, while others remained bare or defaced.

TO BE CONTINUED….

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Meanwhile, back at the Pyramid

Herein may be found the adventures of Alton Brown, halfling druid… which is why there is a secret post here for his eyes only! Chris, this gives you the chance to take some actions and level alongside the rest of the group even though you won’t be physically present this weekend.

Lets just say that in the party’s absence, events have been occurring at the pyramid…

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The Restless Dead

The gnoll raiding party fled north, following the course of the Athis and rapidly outdistancing the Thune warband which had issued forth from the pyramid complex. The leader, a scarred and ill-tempered brute called Garshak snarled and barked orders at his assembled warriors, calling for a halt near the banks of the river, shaded by the tumbled stones of some ancient ruins.

Though Garshak was not a deep thinker by any stretch of the imagination, even he knew the significance of the river and sensed the change that was soon to come. He urinated on the fading features of a half buried statue as night began to fall, weighing his options and considering which of the scattered gnoll tribes he should approach first with the news.

Garshak’s thoughts were soon interrupted by a cry of alarm from one of his men, and the sound of weapons being drawn. Perhaps the cursed Thune had not let up on their pursuit after all… but how had they remained unseen?

It was then that a bony hand shot up from the sand at Garshak’s feet, clutching at his ankle. Letting out a yelp of pain at the unexpected strength the thing possessed, Garshak slashed downward with his heavy scimitar, separating hand from wrist as he shuffled back towards the riverbank.

Skeletal forms clad in ancient armor and bearing weapons of copper and bronze were rising from the ruins all around the gnoll raiders, soundlessly attacking as the gnolls struggled to defend themselves. Savage and usually fearless, Garshak’s brethren began to whine in terror, pinning their ears back as panic began to set in, and with it… a chaotic retreat as the creatures ran for their lives from the undead, who by this point outnumbered the gnolls at least three to one.markinterview1.jpg

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Within the Temple of Set!
Elijah's Post

It kind of reads like a cookbook, but here you have it. Dictated but not read….
If you guys can edit it please feel free. I didn’t proofread it.
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The group departs Happy Hogans to meet the Sheiks second son Korus Eikoth soon after the sun set behind the desert sands. Knowing full well the meeting wasn’t scheduled until midnight the party decided to arrive ahead of time to investigate the meeting location. The Obelisk is a well-recognized landmark of the oasis covered in hieroglyphs associated with the gods and Set seems to be a prominent marker on the structure. It is also rumored that a cult of Set worshipers are operating in the area. Being more suspicious of Korus intentions than the Sand Merchants Guild, the group decided to negotiate to have the Sand Merchants Guild send some warriors to protect them from any nefarious actions.

When they arrived at the Obelisk, the twenty five foot structure towered over the landscape. The scene was calm with only local goat herders driving the cattle in for the evening. K’lara sensed the magic cast on the structure and found it similar to the pyramids magical aura. Upon close inspection K’lara discovers a thin crack in the Obelisk surface that she suspects is a door. She points it out to Jay who is scrambling the surface of the structure. Once the door was realized Jay was able to open into a passable entrance. Beyond the secret door a steep stairwell descends deep into the earth.
Abdul rushed to inform the hidden warrior contingent chaperoning the group that they found something and might be out of their sight for a time. He left orders to make sure that no one be allowed to come up to the party while they investigate.

The group descends into the well maintained structure. It appears even as though the sand is held at bay by the seemingly frequent traffic. Edrin lights the path down the stairs and the hallway beyond as Jay sneaks ahead just beyond view. The hallway ends with a stone door with a menacing jackal head painted on it. The eyes magically glow red and even emit some heat when Jay puts a hand to one. Jay Searches the door for traps and is reasonably confident its safe however is unable to discern how to open it. It lacks hinges, knob, and key hole. K’lara investigates the door and explains the either slides up or down to open the passageway. Edrin Leans into the door and tries to force it to move but is unable to make it budge. K’lara tries using magical forces to move the barricade to no avail.
Jay suspected the door opened mechanically and considered the main door needed to be closed in order for the second door to open. Abdul suggested that the door was more of a riddle and needed the proper words to be spoken. Jay split from the group to close the main doorway and left the group to work out the riddle theory. As Jay approaches the exit he notices two desert nomad men walking toward the obelisk. The men draw their weapons upon realizing the secret door was open. Jay struggles for a concealing position in the stairwell to no avail. Plan B, Jay draws his sword. “Stop right there” a gnoll shouts, as two of the slaver gnolls step out from concealment.

With a war cry one of the desert nomads charges the gnolls for combat. The other nomad sprints to the obelisk. The charging nomad is feathered with arrows and drops into the sand. It was equal parts of nomads running inertia and Jays stabby stabby that drove the rapier into the surprised foe. He is almost knocked over by the force of the blow. He catches an arrow to the back and drops to his knees. He manages to raise his scimitar at Jay in a hostile “I’m going to cut you sucker” kind of way. Jay spings forward with a finishing stab in the chest. Nothing remarkable is found on the corpse of the nomad. Jay stashes the bloody robes of the man and rushes back to his party.

Meanwhile Abdul thinks back to the surface of the structure and the repeating hieroglyphs marking Sets name. The religious context of the structure must be the key. With reverence Abdul says “Oh great one, Please let us pass.”

The door slowly rises to reveal a room with tapestries on the left and right walls. A winch is mounted to the far wall with a human looking creature operating the mechanism that opens the door. The creature turns to the group and advances. It has hieroglyphs seemingly tattooed all over its tightly stretched skin.

Edrin charges in with his water elemental axe in hand and K’lara casts a ray of frost from her hands. The tatted-up undead was only marginally affected by the spell attack. Abdul charges up to Edrin and also assaults the undead creature with his sword. The humanoid creature makes a fist with is boney hands and punches Abdul. The scrimmage goes back and forth and ultimately the group is victorious.
Jay rejoins the group and they all explore the room. Behind one of the tapestries more undead creatures stand idly in a rough cut alcove. The group moves into a striking position and then gruesome foes animate. The group moves quickly and dispatches the zombie like undead while taking minimal damage.

On the far end of the room is an archway that leads into another room. This room has three shallow pools that run the length of the room and creatures painted on the walls. The first pool is green and smells perfumed, the second is pool is red in color, and the third is clear. On the left side of the room is a small alcove with a door that has a ‘3 is company’ half-arch on the top. Abdul washes his feet in it, Jay takes samples, and Erdrin does a taste test to find out what these wading pools contain. Nothing noticeable happens as the group splashes around to figure out the purpose of the pools.
Jay moves to the door to inspect it and sees hieroglyphs on the floor and on either side of the passageway to the door. As he enters the passage a bright light flashes and flames rush out of the hieroglyphs. Just stumbles backwards and lands blinded in the red pool of water. Abdul assumes his washing in the pools has given him protection and steps into the passageway. Again, the trap goes off affecting Abdul in the same manner as Jay. K’lara takes the bloody robes from blinded Jay and throws it and some loose change into the passageway to see if the trap goes off. Edrin holds his shield up to on glyph and charges through. It seems as though the bloody robes absorbed the light from the floor glyph and the shield blocked one of the wall glyphs leaving only minute damage from the last glyph.
K’lara moves to pull down the tapestries from the previous room and roles them up. They drag them into the pools allowing them to soak. Once thoroughly saturated the group leans the tapestries over the glyphs. When the group passes the threshold they trap goes off however with all of the glyphs blocks the effects are minute. When the trap fires the tapestries are set a blaze and the room becomes very humid with hot steam.
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Once passed the trap, the group moves through the unlocked door. Beyond lies a huge room with a gigantic statue of Set on the far end with a large seemingly bottomless pit in front of it. Large pillars support the vast chamber. There are three exits to the room, a dark passage way directly across from the doorway the party just used, a closed door down the room on the right, and another passageway across the room from the other door.

Abdul moves to insect the statue/pit area when the group hears cultists moving down the passageway directly across the room. Five cultists emerge to spot the group the same moment the group sees them. Edrin charges across the room and lets loose his fury on the closest cultist. But hell hath no fury like a woman with fireballs and so K’lara lights up the cultists decimating them utterly. Abdul walks in slow-motion with K’lara’s fireball in the backdrop to the statue.

Jay moves to a door on the end of the room to inspect it. He listens closely to hear if there is someone on the other side. When he put his ear to the door it is pulled open by a robed figure. Jay thrusts his rapier into the man and jumps backwards to hide behind a pillar. K’lara cast a spell that attacks the robed figure leaving him staggering then collapsing to the floor. A second man moves to the door and slams it shut from inside the room. There is a sound of heave furniture sliding over the stone floor as the man tries to create a barricade on the other side. Jay springs forward, opens the door then darts into the sparsely furnished room. Three beds, three chairs, three desks and three chests leaving goldilocks to wonder which one was baby bears. “Drop your weapon. Surrender!” Jay commands, but he cultist maintains his crazy face.

K’lara moves into the room and casts a spell on the wild cultist who flails in pain on contact. He counter-casts a spell that leaves K’lara roiling in temporary pain. Edrin Charges into the room and strikes the cultist leaving him only barely conscious on his feet. Jay vaults forward tumbling behind the cultist and strikes him with the hilt of his rapier dropping the injured man to the floor. Once the crazy eyed cultist was in fetters Jay searched the room for traps starting with the chests. They contain old clothing and religious books. A concealed compartment is discovered with four small boxes within, gold, silver, lead, and obsidian. Jay closely inspects the small boxes for traps and feels confident they are safe. Upon opening the obsidian box lightning flashes out from the box frying Jay a little around the edges. A gemmed neckless and snake armband are discovered inside. The other boxes contained different kinds of incents. K’lara puts all the boxes in the bag of holding with the incense inside.

Meanwhile Abdul casts a spell that allows him to fly and dives down into the pit. After fifty feet he thinks the shaft is endless, however once past sixty feet he passes the illusion that shrouded the bottom. Across from him he sees an impression on the wall in the well and below skeletons lay stacked in a pile. He flies to the pile of carcasses at the bottom. Amongst the bones Abdul discovers jewelry and coins that he quickly gathers. Abdul returns to the impression on the wall and discovers it opens into a shoot that leads steeply upwards. At the end of the tunnel Abdul finds a dead end and is unable to open the trapdoor.

The group comes back together to compare stories and loot in the room with the large statue. Abdule and K’lara make a pile to detect magic on while Jay and Edrin roughly wake up the shackled cultist over the pit below the statue. He comes to freaking out. “Set… blah blah blah. Set blah generic religious jargon, blah, Set… Set”. The cultist spits into Jays face in mid interrogation. Jay quickly loses interest and hands over the questioning to ‘Bad Cop’ who promptly bashes the jerk a few times and tosses him into the hole.

Jay climbs around the statue of Set searching for anything unusual, like a secret compartment, door, or glowing gems eyes. He inspects the eyes closely and sees that they are magical like the rest of the statue. “Do we want these?” Jay asks leaning in almost nose to nose with the face of the finely carved figure.

“Yes” K’lara responds and then mumbles beyond Jays hearing “When that thing comes alive, I’m going to say ‘I told you so’”

With dagger in hand to pry the gem stone out of the socket Jay positions himself to have enough force to be successful. The millisecond his dagger touches the rim of the eye socket of the statue a menacing sensation overwhelms him. His heart stops in shock with a feeling of being crushed. Jay breaks into a cold sweat and pauses a moment. Suddenly this seems like a terrible, terrible idea. Jay slowly crawls away from the foreboding that looms inside those gemstone eyes. Sheepishly Jay moves away from the Statue and is instantly greeted by K’lara’s best chicken impression

The group moves into the next room. Three pedestals with basins of liquid sit in the corners of the room. One basin has a clear liquid, another has a reddish liquid, and the last has a amber liquid. Edrin discovers a secret passage exiting the room. To celebrate Edrin drinks a small amount of red liquid (maybe it was wine?) and immediately reacts to the acid going down his gullet. Choking and coughing Edrin learns it’s not poision… or not the kind of poison he thought it might be, it’s still not good for you. He tests the clear liquid with his pinky finger before sipping it and decides he is done drinking the gross clear liquid. Edrin again uses his pinky to test the unknown substance in the basin, this time the amber. Upon contact the amber pool vanishes like a dispelled illusion. Jay, moves to bottle a sample of each of the liquid.

Jay inspects the secret passageway and moves to open it once it’s clear. The passageway opens into a hallway with an intersecting hallway at half its length. Abdul is pretty confident that the trapdoor he discovered before is triggered in this area. Abdul, still able to fly from his earlier casting of the spell, jets over the area tapping the floor. At the intersection he discovers what he believes as the trigger of the trapdoor. Closed doors are now seen on all three unexplored sides of the intersecting hallways.

“Safety first” Jay turns out to be the most risk adverse rogue ever and climes into his harness. He then hands Edrin the tethered rope and jumps from corner to corner to the right avoiding the center of the intersecting hallways. He then climbs out of the harness and throws it to K’lara. While she harnesses up Jay listens to the door at the end of the hall. K’lara and Edrin quickly follow jumping over the cross section in the center and convince Jay its safe enough to not need the harness anymore.
Jay slowly opens the door revealing a stone wall only to trigger the trap. The floor on the far end of the room drops creating a steep ramp for the group to slide down. Jay clings to the door, K’lara manages to grab the ledge, and Edrin goes quickly down the chute. Abdul grabs for Edrin to stop or slow Edrins rapid decent but is unsuccessful. Edrin lands hard on the cultist he threw down earlier. Abdul Pulls K’lara over the edge to safety on the far end of the room. He then flies down to Edrin to help him ascend towards the top.

The group collects near the door that isn’t part of the ramp-trap. Jay inspects the door and slowly opens it. A mist slowly pours out from the next area filling the intersecting hallways. Jay quickly attempts to close the door to no avail and mist continues to fill the corridor. Jay concentrates and listens for oncoming attackers. Just before the blade falls he hears it swing in the air. It slashes Jay with both physical and dark magical force. Ancient Egyptian garbed creature is now barely visible lurking in the obscuring mist. Another figure enters combat from a secret passage. This one robed in fine priest of Set clothing and wielding a glowing skull both casters. K’lara and the robed figure cast simultaneously on each other. Flames leap out of K’lara’s hands at the dark priest scorching his face. The priests spell was unsuccessful. Edrin leaps toward the priest and swings his heavy axe. Jay stabs quickly and moves away while Abdul drops a large flaming blast that strikes the priests and ornate undead. The priest drops in flames. Jay was struck again by the weight. K’lara casts on the undead but it appears unaffected. Edrin charges the creature and smashes face with his frosty axe.

A magic necromatic skull and enchanted ancient mace were found in the loot pile. Ancient composite Longbow, arrows, ancient armor, khopesh sword,

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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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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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