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.