The shifting sands clatter like stones on the hourglass wall as time slips ever onwards, and the warriors considered their next move against the cult of silt over a flagon of sweet Kank nectar…
We were decided, waiting for the caravan was not an option, if an attack were to take place — outside of Tyr would be the best place for it, and at worst we would ride out to meet them and just follow the caravan in. Now it was just a case of acquiring a means of transportation, we need to be mobile. Abdiel again proved his worth in this task by assigning the increasingly loyal “neebit” as a runner to get our mounts from vordon.
It was then that a familiar sight entered through the door of the inix, it was Shalaya and in her shadow was the hulking figure of the albino Dray we had seen (and possibly heard) the previous evening. He looked as if he had been in a fight as he was covered in scratches and his armour showed signs of recent battle.
Shalaya remarked that this Dray, called Drax had sought her out and the veil as he is trying to locate the temple of silt located beneath Tyr. Long ago his fellow clansmen had been the ancient protectors for the parts of the crown, keeping them hidden until such time as a way could be found to destroy it. Over time the crown parts have become forgotten as the clan has dwindled in size. The story of the crown has faded into legend and its apparent threat lessened and so the clan began to abandon the places of hiding and head out into the world. Now, some hundreds of years later Drax has taken upon himself to seek the protectors of the crown and find the parts for himself, hoping that with the help of the veil some way can be found to destroy it. It is a noble cause but for us at this time we have far too much to do on our own let alone go on any crusade with a wandering dragonman! He was able to impart some useful information however. It was indeed this Dray whom Naraaku heard the previous evening. The cry was made in anguish when Drax was unable to prevent the death of berrin, innex’s buddy as they had been ambushed by assassins — shadows to be precise! Naraaku was able to tell us of these Knives for hire, they are not cheap by any means and they are deadly foes, coming out of nowhere to strike and then disappear just as quickly. Innex was still alive and he had described very briefly how the cult had been subjecting slaves to experiments but that innex had somehow managed to escape by slipping away during some guard confusion, eventually finding his way back to his home delirious before being found by us. We agreed to help so much as to satisfy the two of them and send them on their way but right now we have a good thing going with house vordon, if we stop the cult on the way then so be it. Drax and Shalaya for their part would keep watch on house Stel and the cult houses through the veil with the aim to meet the following evening to discuss their findings.
Shalaya and Drax left and but few minutes later Neebit arrived with our mounts. Already much time had passed and we would have to hurry to get out of Tyr in time to catch the caravan before it arrived. We had chosen Crodlu mounts for their speed and subtlety but of course the templar could not be so subtle and decides to take a chariot! As far as i’m concerned they can travel out front. Abdiel left Neebit more money and assigned him the task to gather intel on house Stel and to spread the word to other street kids to create a network of ears to the ground. I believe that this could prove quite useful provided this ‘neebit’ is trustworthy (and stays cheap).
We mount the crodlu and quickly proceed to the city gates, only to find them blocked by a throng of squabbling and shouting merchants pressing against some angry looking Mul guards. The merchants seemed to be protesting against the Templar in charge who was attempting to turn them all away. Abdiel exercised his authority amongst the city folk and got in close in order to find out what was going on. It seems that a sandstorm had blown up just north of Tyr along the road to the Iron mines and so the templars were preparing to shut the city down to wait for the storm to pass over. Strange though as the more we listened the more suspicious and conveniently the apparent appearance of this storm became. We decided to hedge our bets in that it was no natural storm but a stel/cultist trap for the approaching caravan. With some negotiating we managed to get the guards to let us through via a smaller side exit to the gates. It meant dismantling the chariot which Abdiel was upset about but needs must and we had to leave the city quickly lest we arrive too late.
It was mid afternoon and the sun was blistering hot outside the gates and a gentle breeze gathered the more north we travelled. We could see in the distance the form of the storm slowly coming into view and so we prepared for the worst equipping our dust masks and or wrapping our scarves as tightly as we could. This was going to be difficult as the storm looked extremely thick and we could not see any sign of a caravan. Naraaku and Solzak headed around the outside of the storm to see if they could find a possible point of entry and or signs of fighting.
We waited with much trepidation as there was no way for us to even know what we could be up against. I have heard tales of caravans assaulted by hundreds of Elves in the past, leaving the guards as butchered meat for the Kestrekals circling above. This would not be our fate today though, as this storm covers our enemies tracks, but it will also hide our own and our enemies advantage will become our advantage.
Solzak and Naraaku hurried back and spoke of the shadowy shape of the caravan somewhere in the middle of the storm. It seems like the attack is already underway and some mounted troops approached from the north – probably to spring a surprise attack from the rear no doubt. Thinking quickly we decided we would approach from the west, and perhaps find the leaders and take them out before getting bogged down in an extended battle…
With Naraaku and Solzak scouting ahead we approached as close as we could mounted and then proceeded on foot. A flash of lightning alerted us to the presence of a mage and soon we were close enough to see that the foul being was in fact the very same necrotic sorcerer we had encountered in the Ianto warehouse – for he bore the same traits of grey screaming smoke emanating from his defiling hands! Quickly Naraaku closed the distance to him and took up a sniping position from where he could cover our approach. Then something happened, either Solzak slipped or the mage was alerted to our presence and a flash of lightning and an explosion ripped through the ground – sending rock and sand thick into the air. As far as I could tell Solzak was relatively unharmed but there was no time but to act immediately before the sorcerer had chance to raise another undead army against us. I cried out a call to the primal spirits for strength as Naraaku’s arrows struck true again and again. The sorcerer’s foul acidic blood polluting the earth with the stench of decay and rotting flesh as we struck him again and again but he would not fall. As axe and sword fell on his corrupt skull he called forth the last of his magic to summon some minions to defend him, but this day was ours and we struck him down and his black twisted staff clattered to the ground as his body collapsed into the sand.
Solzak was left exposed and suffered horrible wounds before chuck was able to leap to his defence cleaving Skeleton bodies left and right with deft swipes of his rapier. Meanwhile Abdiel and Naraaku had found the source of the storm in the figure of a druid chanting a ritual binding the forces of nature to his will. His eyes rolled back into his skull and veins protruding from his forehead as the intensity of concentration consumed his power and strength. A purple gem hung around his neck, glowing with foul necrotic energy. Naraaku sent arrows straight and true into his body, throwing him momentarily from controlling the storm before Abdiel called forth all of his power to send a huge blast of energy that half incinerated the old man. As he collapsed to his knees Naraaku swore he saw a spiritual version of the old man appear above his body – cradling it as he slipped into unconsciousness and screaming ‘NO’! It was too late for remorse – for no-one could argue with the choice to put a stop to such a dangerous foe. The sandstorm almost immediately died to a mere breeze, and we were once again able to see the sky. We also saw the true devastation, as a burning caravan blocked the road which had caused the Vordon caravan to stop. Sounds of battle from the other side of the caravan indicated that the fight was far from over, but our immediate focus returned to the threat that stood before us in the form of a group of several skilled Ssurran cultists.The scattered remnants of caravan guards were being steadily cut down by the foul Ssurran’s – each wielding savage sabres much like the brutes from house Stel.
Just then the caravan began to move and turn – It was heading north and although slow at first – the Mekillots that pull these giant slabs are much faster than us at full speed. The lead Ssurran cried a grating rallying call and the others withdrew to the caravan, leaping with great agility onto the canvas sides and clawing their way up. Chuck was quick to follow – hacking at the legs of one of them as it tried to slip away. The rest of us moved to catch up with Abdiel narrowly missing becoming crushed under the huge rollers by leaping from a nearby rock and missing his handhold. Luckily he managed to roll away in time, dashing back to recover his staff before the giant roller made it into a flatbread!
Chuck made the top of the caravan with ease (what I wouldn’t give for an extra pair of hands occasionally!) and from there was greeted by the wicked sabre arm of his prey (which he nimbly dodged). At the other end of the caravan train chuck could see several figures approaching at full speed. It would only be a matter of seconds before they arrived to reinforce the battle. The odds may be against us – but I like those odds!