Dark Sun: The Wayward Chronicles

Chapter 1: The Hunt
"I am here to purge what is not right."

The mysterious, robed stranger stopped in front of the house. After examining his chiseled, muscular body, the three women left their hiding place to meet with him. They discovered that he was named Vakin, and that the potter had hired him to come exterminate his mantis-warrior problem. He informed the party that they could join him if they liked. Narimbi and Cassandra followed him for rather primal reasons, and spent most of the journey walking behind him and never raising their eyes above his waist. Sheera, while disgusted with their openly lusty behavior for a total, untrustworthy stranger, trotted off with them to settle her own personal vendetta against the kreen, her racial enemy.

The day blazed on, and Vakin kept a steady, burning pace. When night fell, he stopped but refused to sleep, instead watching the fire that he made each night, usually via magical means. He spoke only rarely and generally as it pertained to the task at hand, hunting the thri-kreen.

The next day, before the red rock that covers most of Athas had been reached, the party was ambushed by two giant scorpions. The chitinous monstrosities lashed out with claws and vicious, poisoned tails. While the creatures were defeated, the party was sorely injured save Cassandra, who scouted around while the others rested and recuperated. What she ended up finding was her role in the party, which is to loot the various bodies and hoards before the rest of the characters have a chance. She came upon a small chest full of ceramic coins and bits, as well as a steel bastard sword. With the obscene rarity of metal on Athas, let alone good steel, she immediately latched on to the sword. She also gathered two of the scorpion eggs she found within, thinking that they could be sold to the Tyr arena.

They reached the border between sand and stone uneventfully after that. Another fire caught the attention of a pair of kreen who were out scouting and the party found itself under attack yet again in the night, this time with a fire cleric on their side. The two creatures savaged the party but were in turned felled after a brief but desperate struggle. That night, Vakin consulted the flames to determine where their enemies had come from. The price of the knowledge proved too high for Narimbi who lashed out violently as the fire cleric sacrificed a live sapling to his greedy spirits for the knowledge. He had a definitive answer, though. West, away from Urath and deep into the stony barrens of Athas.

Chapter 1: Evacuation
"You did what?"

The party stood in the stony desert, surrounded by the chill night air and worried over their substantial wounds. After some quick healing by Narimbi, they finally remembered that there was a slave who they had been following and who was sound asleep on the ground. Upon rousing him, they found he remembered nothing of his walk through the desert, and that he hadn’t even had any strange dreams. Confused and mystified by the occurrence, they started their walk back to the potter’s estate, with Sheera following their own tracks back. The progress was slow, and they arrived somewhere near dawn.

Their return was met with much attention, as the potter and seemingly most of his household turned out to see if the adventurers would make it back from the desert. Upon regaling them of the harrowing events of the night, however, they grew less excited and far more afraid. It was then that the party learned that thri-kreen fight as one. Had they killed the one they had faced, its pack mates might not have connected it to the distant pottery station. However, since the one they faced had fled, it would tell its family who had hurt it and where they had come from. The estate.

Immediate preparations began to evacuate everyone from the compound. The taskmasters went into frenzies lining slaves up as the grounds quickly filled with panicked people. However, in less than two hours, as the crimson sun just barely hung in the sky, they had all left. The compound was silent save the party of three.

Cassandra thought it a fine time to look for more valuables in the guards’ barracks, which she also decided was a good hiding spot. However, she turned up little more than a safe place with a small window and a good deal of furniture to pile up against a door, but not before she was joined by Narimbi. Sheera, uncomfortable in the house, instead took refuge beneath a high overhang of the roof. It was a decision she would soon regret.

Before long, the sun rose high in the sky. From the shade of the house, Narimbi and Cassandra waited tensely. Beneath the clay tiles of the roof, Sheera felt all the heat of the day and none of the breeze. With no way to reach her waterskins and maintain her hiding spot, it was a long, long wait.

Just after midday, the mantis warriors began landing on the property. At the first soft thump in the sand, the three heroes froze and hunkered farther into their hiding spots, waiting. Chitin clacked on stone. Mandibles clicked in the harsh language of the kreen. They entered the house.

After an indeterminate amount of time, and an indeterminate amount of thri-kreen, the pack left, with little more than a rattled door handle to frighten Narimbi and Cassandra. Sheera, waiting longer yet for them to leave, finally left her perch atop the house, drenched in sweat and filled with a powerful thirst. She immediately ran to the kitchen and plunged her head into one of the water barrels there.

The young thri-kreen who had stayed behind struck her in the back with four of its five attacks as it lunged out of the pantry. A desperate struggle ensued in the kitchen, as Cassandra and Narimbi hurried to force their way out of the barracks. Eventually they flung the door open and pelted down the hall, just in time to assist Sheera in defeating the somewhat smaller creature. But while it had died, unlike the last one, again the party (Sheera specifically) had paid a high toll in blood. They withdrew to the safety of the barracks, watching their backs along the way.

The sun wheeled slowly overhead. From time to time, one of the adventurers would lift the tattered curtain to peer out over the sun-scorched compound. After several hours like this, they finally spotted something different. A black-robed figure, walking toward the estate. As they continued to watch, a large, masked man grew as he walked the dusty road. He came to the front of the house, where he stopped.

Chapter 1: Into the Wastes
"Nothing good ever came out of the desert."

After an hour or so riding with the potter of Urath, the party came upon his estate, sprawled a few miles outside of Urath itself. The compound was small, consisting of a modestly nice house, a barracks for the slaves, and the clay pits, wheels, and kilns. Also, and of particular interest to Sheera, a small stand of scraggly trees grew near the edge of the property. A small pool of water next to it drew Narimbi’s attention. Also in abundance were people. The grounds seemingly teemed with slaves, guards, and a few task masters. Despite the fact that the market had closed in town, there was still work to be done, even into the evening.

Upon examining the grounds, and Narimbi’s blessing/examination of the water, they began to interview guards and slaves to find out how exactly the slaves had gone missing. They quickly learned that only one ever disappeared, and that was once every two nights. Slaves had awakened from their sleep to see one of their number staggering out into the night, with their eyes still closed. However, little was to be done with this curious information, as a slave had vanished only the night before. The party would have to wait.

Prior to dinner, Cassandra flexed her innate good looks and a roguish streak (that none of us thought her player had) to easily seduce one of the guards, thereby gaining access to their barracks in the main house. After the party shared a quiet meal in the kitchen with the house slaves, she made her rendezvous with the reasonably piggish guard. After satisfying him (and more importantly, herself), she proceeded to help herself to whatever valuables she could find in the room, which amounted to a handful of ceramic coins and bits. After, she found her way to her own room, bolted the door, and went to sleep, as did Narimbi. Sheera, mistrustful of the potter and his many servants and guards, arranged several large barrels of water on the back porch in a concealing manner and slept behind them. The night passed without incident, and the party awakened at dawn, with the exception of Cassandra. (This would become the longest running joke in the campaign. Cassandra is still usually the last one awake after over a year of play. Sometimes, she sleeps through a few rounds of combat before bothering to get herself up.)

During the course of the day, little of note happened. Mostly the party conserved their energy to wait up in the night to see if another slave left. Sheera examined the stand of trees and managed to find herself a good hiding spot in preparation and did a few patrols. She also found some tracks in the sand outside the compound likely left by the last missing slave. Cassandra attempted to break back into the guards’ barracks to no effect, apparently not feeling like seducing any of the others. The blazing day passed in time, the party relatively free from its blistering intensity.

Once the sun had set, the party took a brief meal of rice and fruit, and began to watch the slave barracks, Sheera in the trees, Cassandra and Narimbi in the slaves’ quarters themselves. The hours drew on long into the night and soon, not a soul stirred but the party and the few guards on night duty.

It was sudden. A slave bolted up and began a shuffling, dizzy walk for the door. Narimbi and Cassandra urged him to lie back down but stopped when they saw that his eyes were closed. Having no choice and not wanting to hurt him, they followed him instead. Sheera joined them outside, and they wandered out into the sands, following the drifter.

The hours crawled by out in the open wastes beneath the twin moons of Athas. Sand eventually gave way to rock. That was when the first chatkchas struck, two of them sticking into Cassandra’s chest. Before they knew what was happening, the thri-kreen was on them. The mantis warrior was alone, but armed with gythka, claws, chatkcha, and venomous bite. A vicious battle ensued as it leaped into the middle of the party and began laying waste to the adventurers. After a hard-fought struggle, they injured the creature enough to cause it to flee, although as it bounded away (50 feet at a time!), Sheera could not fell it with her longbow before it passed from her sight. Taking a moment, the sorely beaten adventurers contemplated their wounds as the wind whistled around them.

Chapter 1: Drawn Together
"I don't believe in coincidence." - Ragan Almesh Tyezan

In the small desert town of Urath, only a few strange looks found their way to the lone elf who wandered through the dusty streets. Sheera Khan, ranger of the Khan Tribe and child proving her worth to her people, ignored what little attention she garnered, ignored the people drew away from her. Parched from her walk in the desert, she headed for what passed as a tavern, seeking water. Within, she found a dirty crowd of villagers being entertained by a comely young woman, Cassandra, who was performing ventriloquism for tips.

While not immediately apparent, the elf’s passage piqued the young rogue’s interest, and it was carefully monitored. After an expensive drink, Sheera left the tavern, with Cassandra close on her heels, although not unnoticed. Quickly darting into an alley while out of sight, Sheera abruptly grabbed the human and slammed her against a wall, demanding to know why she was following her. Quite naturally, as an accomplished thief, Cassandra admitted nothing. She was also stronger, and broke the elf’s grip, leaving her behind with a few choice curses.

On the other side of the village, Narimbi Besh was tending to Urath’s slow-feeding spring, which had expanded considerably under her care and constant creation of water. Aside from the usual assortment of people who came to her for free water, the potter of Urath also came to her to ask her help in locating some missing slaves. While not completely inclined to do so, the simple fact that someone had come to her, a half-elf, for something aside from water roused in her a generosity that was not always there. She agreed and planned to meet with the potter after the market was closed.

Shortly thereafter, Sheera wandered into the market, still being followed by Cassandra, and was asked the same question. Sheera, as a ranger, agreed to help find those lost in the desert, but, as an elf, required payment for it. This potter was no one to be trusted on a whim. Hearing about the money, Cassandra quickly darted over to offer her services in exchange for coin, as well, although she was already well-known to the potter, who did not seem terrifically happy with her offer. The two waited the brief time for the market day to end with nary a word spoken, when Narimbi joined them and the party headed out of the town proper to the potter’s estate, where nothing they expected to happen would.


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