dark sun, dark times

Unlikely emancipators

The heroes awake in their cramped room at the Golden Dune. Peering out their window they notice the city is subtly different today. Smoke plums billow from various points in the Warrens, the artisans district and the merchant’s district. Beside his bed Mikhai find a small, tightly rolled piece of parchment. Quickly scanning the room for intruders he notices that the window to their room is open just a crack, and deduces that this message must have been delivered stealthily during the night. The note identifies the sender as a ‘friend’ and instructs Mikhai and his friends to meet him in the upper noble district.

The heroes take a cautious approach and send Mikhai, Maylay, and Blishk to scout ahead. Despite their considerable skill, however, the three are unable to find out anything useful. At noon the rest of the heroes join the scouting party in the upper noble district. Not very long after they arrive they are signaled by a cloaked man. Following him into an alleyway he reveals that his name is Drask, obiviously an alias, and insinuates that he works for a particularly powerful noble family. Drask is cautious though to mention names, and asks that the heroes help him undermine the efforts of Tithian, the captain of the templar, in his quest to become the next king of Tyr. The heroes agree that a less powerful monarch would be best for the people, and are instructed to ignite a slave rebellion at the brickyards.

Accepting their role as unlikely emancipators, the heroes move stealthily towards the brickyards. At the outskirts of the brickyards they spy a large pile of un-worked clay, which they use for cover. South of the Ziggurat a tall square structure rises 25 feet from the ground. It’s shear walls and guarded entrance mark it as the infamous slave pits. Four towers dot the corners of the pits, but Maylays keen eyes do not detect any movement in the towers. The main entrance, however, is guarded by two men and a small pack of sniffing and snarling jahkar. In an effort to avoid bloodshed, the heroes decide to scale the walls. Mihkai, with his impressive jumping ability, is able to leap onto the top of the wall in a single bound. With another he slides into the north eastern guard tower. As Maylay suspected, the tower is unoccupied. Tying a rope to the tower, Mihkai lowers a rope down to his allies and they ascend the slave pit walls. Once in the guard tower, Mihkai walks down a winding stair case only to discover two guards at the base of the stairs. Unnoticed, he returns to the guard tower and suggests that the heroes drop down from the wall into the interior of the slave pits instead. Again aided by Mihkai’s rope the heroes are able to reach the top of the wall, and then the bottom of the slave pits. Everyone except for Cenet that is. Not one, but twice, Cenet falls from the rope. Luckily Eager is there both times to catch her.

The interior of the slave pits is a a simple flat sand surface. Three doors appear to lead into the thick outer walls, one to the south, one to the east and one to the west. Opening the east facing door, the heroes run into two guardsmen. Confused the guardsmen draw their weapons and confront the heroes. Luckily quick witted Maylay crafts an elaborate lie in which the heroes are reinforcements, sent by Tithian to assist the slave pit guards. Distracted the guards fail to notice the ruse until Maylay’s allies come rushing into the room. With the element of surprise on their side, the heroes quickly subdue the two guards. Unfortunately the ring of battle alters the slave pits of their presence and soon four more guards join the fray. Using the door way as a choke point, the party is able to down the guards one by one. As the tide of battle begins to turn against the guards, one breaks ranks to open the portcullis and enlist the help of the outer guards. Fearful of even more reinforcements the heroes close and bar the door to the inner wall.

Hark, Mihkai and Cenet quickly descend a set of stone steps in search of the enslaved inhabitants. The discover a massive tunnel system filled with thousands of slaves in large locked pens. Mihkai shouts back for someone to search the guards for a key, and Blishk riffles through the dead guards belongings before find one. With the key Mihkai open the cells of the first slaves he can find, informs them of their impending freedom, the death of Kalak and the threat of the remaining guards. Elated by the possibility of freedom the slaves cheer and agree to use the guards key to help free the other slaves on this level.

Back at the surface, Maylay and Hark hear voices outside the door, and see the door begin to shutter. After several large thuds, the door comes crashing down and more guards come streaming in followed by their jahkar pets. Maylay and Hark yell of assistance and engage the attackers. Nearly overwhelmed by the shear number of enemies Mihkai, Cenet, Hark and Cenet emerge from the lower level to help dispatch the guards. With just one enemy remaining the freed slaves suddenly begin pouring out of the stair cases. Spotting the remaining guard, the slave surround him and literally tear him to pieces before he can escape.

As the slaves are escaping a feamle Mul named Nori approaches the heroes, and introduces herself. She is very well spoken for a slave, thanks the heroes for their help and promises to help lead the slave to safety. Before she leaves, she asks that the heroes venture further into the slave pits to rescue those that remain, mostly potential gladiators.

To kill a sorcerer-king

The Templar fights with a furious rage, using his powerful arcane abilities to restrain many of the heroes and severely injure others. Each time he is able to injure one of the heroes he cackles loudly, and it quickly becomes apparent that this Templar has gone mad. Despite his formidable power the heroes are able to over power him using their numbers to their advantage. Ducking back into the cramped streets and alleys of the Warren, the heroes continue on in search of Xeros.

Eventually they find Hark’s old friend in a non-discreet building near the Noble district. Xeros explains that he is a part of a group of freedom fighters that have just carried out a plan to assassinate the sorcerer-king Kalak. The attempt did not go as planned though, when Kalak was killed his Ziggurat emitted a terrible energy, killing or stunning many of the freedom fighters. Now they are undermanned and need the heroes help to smuggle themselves out of the city.

The heroes agree and escort Xeros and the freedom fighters to a predetermined part of the city wall. As the approach nearby Templar sound the alarm and rush in to apprehend the freedom fighters and the heroes. To buy time for the freedom fighters, the heroes move forward to engage the Templar. While Maylay, Cenet, Blishk and Hark scramble through the narrow streets of the Warren, Eager and Mikhai dart across the rooftops. Unfortunately for Eager the shacks of the Warren are unable to bear his sizable weight and he crashes through the third roof his nimble feet reach. Apologizing to the frightened occupant, Eager tosses a few coins for the repairs and darts back into the streets. Soon the heroes find the Templar and goad them to chase. However, before they can get very far, their way is blocked by two more Templar and they are forced to fight.

These Templar fight much the same as the last, but without the crazed fervor. And, just like the last, they are subdued without much trouble. As the last Templar falls the heroes hear a loud explosion emanate from the portion of the wall they just left. Curious, Maylay scouts ahead and sees an immense hole in the once pristine city wall. Templar have already surrounded the breach and a large detachment of reinforcements is making its way towards the wall. Fearing retribution for their actions, the heroes decide to move out of the warrens for the night and find shelter in a local inn. They pay for rooms in the “Golden Dune” and settle in.

First day in Tyr

The heroes arrive at Tyr without much trouble. As they approach the city, wind power becomes too unreliable so Blishk, Mikhai, and Eager man the capstans. Up top Ozu informs the rest of the Heroes that he plans on staying in Tyr no more than a few hours, but will return in a few weeks. At the city gate the penny pinching Ozu tells Maylay, Cenet, and Hark to hide while they pass inspection in order to avoid extra entrance fees. Their attempts to hide though are unsuccessful, as the templar guards are able to spot each in turn. Ozu is none too happy, but pays his fines all the same. While inspecting Ozu’s Sand Sailor, Hark recognizes a man taking notes for the templar guards. As the man leaves, he slips Hark a tightly folded note that appears to be a crude map of the city, with an ‘x’ marking a sport near the outer walls. In the city Ozu makes his unceremonious goodbye and shoos the heroes into the city.

Dalen, the teenage boy rescued from canyon temple, asks that the heroes help him find his Aunt and Uncle, who he believes reside in the Noble district. As luck would have it Dalen’s uncle is the patriarch of the Remm family, a noble family who oversees Tyr’s water supply. This position has generated much wealth and power for the Remm family, and their palatial residence is not difficult to find. After a short chat with some suspicious guards, Dalen is allowed to speak with his Aunt. Dalen’s identity is confirmed and the boy is taken in by his relatives. The party is rewarded for their efforts and is told to return later if they are in need of work.

Without anything pressing to do, the party decides to split up and explore the city. Hark heads to the upper noble district to seek his friend Xeros, Mikhai goes to the artisans district, Maylay to the sculptors square, and the rest gather near the stadium. A massive crowd has assembled to watch some sort of arena event and it is impossible to get close to the entrance. Intrigued by the giant pyramid at the center of the city, they heroes decide to walk around it for a while to get a better look. Mikhai joins them and just as he does a powerful wave a pain washes over the entire city. From the stadium the nearby heroes hear a multitude of screams, which are suddenly cut off. Hundreds begin streaming out of the stadium and the heroes move closer to investigate.

Else where, Hark helps nearby citizens who have been injured by the mysterious pain before sprinting towards towards the source of the screams. As he approaches the stadium he spots his allies just outside the entrance. Mikhai is trying desperately to enter the stadium, but is unable to get through the flowing mob. After he finally gives up three ferocious creatures burst through the entrance, killing the templar guards, and lashing out at the fleeing people. The heroes charge forward to slay the creatures and are able to make short work of them. Able to final enter the stadium they see the bodies of hundreds of people lying dead in the stands. They see no sign of blood or other possible cause of death, but their investigation is cut short by a flood of templar from the western exit. The templar shout “seize the deposers” and the heroes decide to flee. After a short chase through the Warrens, they are able to shake their pursuers and move east in search of Xeros.

They move through a few sections of the Warrens without incident, but their lucky quickly vanishes. Turning a corner they spy a templar, covered in blood, and suspending a small boy off the ground by his throat. The boy’s shriveled hands clutch motionlessly at his throat. As the heroes enter the alley way the templar discards the dead child and his hands suddenly erupt in blue flame…

New friends, new destinations

After narrowly escaping the desert temple, the Heroes are finally properly introduced to their rescued slave. The nervous human says his name is Dalen, and that he was kidnapped several days ago while exploring the area. He would like the Heroes to take him to Tyr, where he has family that can get him safely back to Urik. The party agrees and sets off for the Eladrin village. After roughly two days of travel they find a make shift Eladrin Village. Belkas explains that although the Heroes successfully destroyed the artifact, its power was too great and their lands are no longer habitable. What remains of their tribe is preparing to head west, in search of other Eladrin lands, and if all else fails, the forest ridge. Due to the resources required for this endeavor, they are only able to give the heroes two days worth of rations and point them towards the next outpost, Celik.

When the party reaches Celik they are questioned by two guards about their business in the city, and then instructed to pay a 50 silver entrance fee. After paying, the party enters Celik through the southern gate and meets the real city guard. Annoyed, Mikhai sprints back to the southern gate in search of the impostors and his coin, but is unable to find them. Inside the ruined city, Hark, Mikhai, and Blishk decide to look for transport north to Tyr, while Maylay and Cenet head towards the market to ply their “trade”. On the way to the market, Maylay notices a strange symbol on a merchant’s booth that carries some sort of significance to her. After telling Cenet to begin entertaining the crowd, Maylay has a short conversation with the shop owner who instructs her to report back to agents in Tyr, and suggests she seek out a dwarf named Ozu for help. Satisfied, she heads back towards Cenet who has attracted a large crowd with her music. Falling back into their old ways Maylay recoups some of their lost coin while Cenet entertains the crowd.

Meanwhile, not far away at the “city center” the rest of the group tries to negotiate passage to Tyr to no avail. It seems that the residents of Celik are not interested in taking on passengers. Frustrated, Mikhai notices a dwarf just outside the large tent that makes up the city center gesturing towards him. The dwarf informs the group that his boss might have room aboard his caravan for a few hearty workers, and instructs them to find Ozu in the tent city.

At tent city, Cenet finds a place near the communal fire pit to lay down her bed roll, and Maylay decides to stretch her legs a bit. She finds Ozu’s tent at about the same time the rest of the group does. Puzzled, they enter together to find a very drunk Ozu at a giant wooden table, gulping down beverages and yelling loudly about the city and its officials. The party informs Ozu of their desire to gain transport to Tyr and is asked to prove their worth before they are allowed to join his crew. They are able to do so with a combination of strength, diplomacy, and lies before Ozu tells them to inform his friend, a half-giant camped out at the communal fire pit, that they will be leaving in the morning.

At the fire pit Cenet meets a very interesting and jovial half-giant named Eth-Kaulak the Eager, they discuss their past while Eth-Kaulak laughs and sings songs for the young boys and girls of tent city. When the rest of the party arrives they notice Cenet talking with their new Half-giant crew mate. Introductions are made and celebrated with a round of broy before turning in for the night.

In the morning the party does some haggling in the Elven market (buying mostly junk), but does manage to swindle the seller into buying a worthless piece of leather armor for more than it is worth, before joining Eth-Kaulak the Eager and Ozu on the Sand Sailor, just outside the city. Eth-Kaulak, Hark, and Blishk man the capstans which turn the ship’s wheels. The seven day journey is made with remarkably good time, due to favorable wind conditions and a curious stretch of good luck. Finally, the weary crew glimpses the great city-state of Tyr in the distance.

To catch a defiler

After resting in the hidden room the party emerges cautiously. Proceeding through the northern corridor, the enter a large rectangular room. In the corners of the room burn four brazer almost identical to the two they encountered at the entrance of the temple. Three robed men guard two large doors to the north. On their chests is a symbol that resembles a cracked keystone, although this symbol likely holds significance for the these men, for the party its meaning is unclear.

Across the room lie the recently deceased bodies of six Eladrin, presumably the original party sent to stop the source of the arcane energy. The robed men threaten the heroes, and the heroes respond with violence. As the battle begins, one of the men uses the life essence of a dying ally to animate the Eladrin corpses, and they attack. While still engaged with the undead horde, Brandis feels a compulsion seize him, and he immediately breaks from the battle and runs through the northern doors.

Soon after, the remaining heroes subdue the last of the Eladrin undead and chase after Brandis. Past a set of doors and up short flight of stairs they enter a large octagonal room. Brandis stands in the center of the room on a large dais with his back to the heroes. At each corner of the dais stand statues similar to the one found earlier in the hidden chamber. They are holding large spears in both hands, and appear poised to strike. In front of each of these statues, is a small alter, and chained to each alter is a ragged looking human in tattered clothing. As the heroes enter the room the slaves tug against their chains yelling, “Save us!”, “please save us, you must!” and "He will kill us!” Without a word Brandis makes a small motion with his hand, and the slave’s voices cease. Their eyes widen in surprise, and they grab at their throats in confusion.

Brandis then slowly bends down and picks something up off the temple floor before turning towards the heroes. In his left hand he cradles a great helm, in the right his now familiar orb. As he turns you glimpse the crumpled body of a man in front of him. His robes stained with blood. Finally, he turns towards the party and callously mocks each in turn. He then flings his orb away carelessly, and it shatters as it crashes into the hard stone floor. Smiling he dawns the strange helm and his eyes begin to glow with a eerie green luster.

The battle the ensues is a lengthy one, the helm has granted Brandis new abilities, along with enhancement to his old powers. As the heroes move within melee range the image of Brandis is replaced with a terrifying visage of a long forgotten God. Each time Brandis is near death he is able to magically manipulate the stones statues, killing a retrained slave and using defiling magic to feed off their life force. When he does so he also weaves a powerful illusion that draws from the memory of a random hero. The illusions are so powerful that allies fight allies until they are able to break the illusion.

Brandis is able to use this sinister trick three times before the heroes can free the forth slave, and spare his life. After a harrowing battle, Brandis finally begins to feel the effects of the battle, and unable to kill the last slave is brought to his knees by Cenet’s spear. As his life fades the helm cracks and shatters with a force that triggers a cave in. The heroes are able to narrowly escape the temple along with the slave, but fail to recover Brandis’ body.

The lands within the winds

The party awakens in a large tent. What appears to be a young elven girl instructs them to wait while she fetches her elder. The party discovers that the tent they stand in is protected by an invisible barrier of psionic energy, when they attempt to exit the tent an unseen force pushes them backwards. Party members familiar with the desert believe that they may be in the ‘lands within the winds’ (the feywild).

After a short time the girl returns, followed by a taller and older man. He explains that his people hold to the old code, and thus are honor bound to help their Elven brethren during times of trouble. They are not, however, bound to help the other members of the party. To repay their debt the members of the party are instructed to discover the location of a hidden artifact and destroy it. This artifact has just recently begun to emanate arcane energy, and this energy is slowly eating away at the Eladrin lands. The party agrees, and is supplied by the Eladrin with enough supplies to find the artifact and return to the Eladrin lands.

In the morning the party sets off towards the west, some members of the party have trouble keeping up a normal pace under the brutal sun and so the party must rest for an additional day. They eventually discover a rocky outcrop, but take two days to find the canyon. Upon finding the canyon, the party is able to successfully scale the steep walls with the help of a long rope (for the most part). They discover a hidden entrance to what appears to be an ancient temple. The door is already cracked open, with deep claw marks on one side hinting at the identity of the intruders.

In the first room the party discovers two brazers which explode in a fiery rage as they approach. Unable to disarm the cunning trap, the party rushes and leaps past the brazers and deeper into the temple. In the next room a six zombies attack the party after their eternal slumber is disturbed. After dealing with the undead threat, the party decides to head east, through a crude barrier of stone and bone. In the next room they discover a terrified group of Hejkins. In an attempt to intimidate the warped humanoids Brandis makes a show of arcane might. Unbeknownst to him, the Hejkin revile arcane power, and immediately attack the party. After a ferocious lightning filled battle, the party emerges victorious and discovers a hidden room. In the room they find a statue to a long dead god, the statue wears a magical suit of worked stone chainmail and has valuable gems for eyes. Weary from their battles the party rests in the hidden room for the night.

Between a den and a sandstorm

The heroes decide to enter the Silt Runner den, and find five very angry creatures in residence. Two runners are able to immobilize Hark and Maylay with poison darts, making the battle most difficult indeed. But through discipline and and a little luck they are able to dispatch the surprised creatures. Resting for the night in the silt runner den, the heroes find a small toy drum which is discovered to be a magical Ki focus, in addition they secure enough food and water to survive five more days in the harsh desert.

Returning to the site of the caravan attack, they decide to take their chances north, instead of heading back south to the city of their capture. After roughly a day of travel they stumble upon the lair of strange small creatures with ravenous jaws. While engaged in this heated battle they fail to notice the warning signs of an impending sand storm.

As the last of these snarling creatures falls the sand storm descends on the heroes. Gasping for air they fall unconscious one by one, but as they do a thin shimmering line appears perpendicular to the horizon. From this line a tall slender figure emerges, looks around cautiously and then gestures towards the party.

The bonds of slavery

A small makeshift caravan of slaves, traders, and commoners is slowly traveling north towards the great city state of Tyr. Five days into its two week journey the caravan is assaulted by a roving band of silt runners. The distraction provided by the intense fighting allows the six slaves to escape their bindings and retrieve their weapons.

However, upon doing so they are assaulted by the remnants of the raiding party. In short order, the freed slaves are able to dispatch the remaining silt runners. Unfortunately for these survivors, the silt runners have made off with the caravan’s supplies, and the great beasts of burden that were pulling the caravan’s carts are no where to be found. They are now alone in the desert, without supplies, or a shift means of transportation.

After a short rest, the party discovers a trail left by the raiding silt runners leading to the north west. Following the trail they discover a small hole in the ground, tracks around the hole lead the heroes to believe they have found the silt runner’s den.


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