Dark Sun: The Tyrant of Tyr

Session 6

Haze 23 – a long night in Tyr

The Night sky, calm and sparkling as always, lights up with the reflection of Ral and Guthay shining down upon the warriors, but they notice its beauty only briefly, locked in debate as to their next course of action. The city is near deserted as the residents cower and hide away from the watchful eyes and minds of the Templars as the crodlu patrols stalk the streets, always looking and forever vigilant… For our own safety and the safety of Tyr, of course!

We were due to meet the Man with the Emerald Eyes from House Vordon in Sculptors Square at 10, but even as that time rapidly approached Solzak insisted that we took care of his Aarakocra first. Quickly and begrudgingly we stashed them at the Golden Inix, where he paid for a more ‘secretive’ room (no compensation for those of us who had to carry them however) and set off for the meeting. Naraaku scouted ahead and stayed hidden in case of an ambush and our route took us pass the oppressive monstrosity of a Ziggurat. Just looking at that structure gives us all a sense of dread and more than a mere ounce of suspicion. Wary as we could be we stepped into the square and saw the mysterious House Vorden agent waiting for us. He proposed we help them tackle the increasing aggressive House Stel and that our allies at M’Ke were no more, the House having surrendered when confronted by the prospect of a Stel assault. He had not seen Helandrez or his somewhat dishevelled servant which of course, means that we can kiss our payment goodbye, at least for now. After a negotiation we agreed to help him discover more information about House Stel’s operations in Tyr (in exchange for 100gp, 50 up front, each), beginning with their last ‘acquisition’ before the M’ke warehouse, a small compound belonging to House Ianto, who have since left Tyr entirely.

We returned to the Golden Inix via a circuitous route in case of tails and spotted smoke from the edge of the Noble district. We approached cautiously and saw soldiers; templar’s and slaves trying to put out a blaze affecting Narissas shop? Fire is not something that any resident of Ahas relishes, especially as they are extremely difficult to put out. Abdiel spied three of Kalak’s necromancers watching the building, staring intently into the flaming structure, as if looking for something through the blaze. Solzak questioned a slave and was told the fire started hours ago with the necromancers arriving sometime later. A feeling of dread and chilling cold crept over us as we watched them when all of a sudden they turned and pointed at us. Guards, responding to their commands, mounted crodlu and charged towards our section of the crowd. Solzak and Naraaku turned and ran off disappearing into the crowd, with Redgar and Chuck not far behind and the mounted guards leaped over the Elven river to questioned Abdiel and myself but we bluffed our way through (I am getting tired of having to always play his “slave”). I later discovered that the voice of a young girl conveyed by telepathy told Solzak to run (that or his cowardly elven blood, no doubt).

We meet again at the Golden Inix finding Solzak and Naraaku already there with the injured birds and considered our options for action. Earlier we had spotted the caravan master Innex drunk at one of the tables with his buddy Berin, but seeing him now, free and apparently untouched, decided that there was little to be learned from him, and his links to the Cult of Silt made him untrustworthy. Instead we agreed that the only reasonable course was to investigate the newly acquired Stel warehouse near the Ziggurat, and headed there in two groups to arouse less suspicion in case the guards were still looking for us. Our group headed down Caravan way and passed several guard groups but due to Abdiels Templar status we were able to walk casually by, a trend that is becoming increasingly useful.

The warehouse was a secure, two-storey, and flat-roofed fortified building and all the second storey windows were boarded up, giving the appearance that the warehouse had been abandoned. Seeing no other way to get in un-noticed Naraaku climbed a building opposite, and incredibly ran across the cloth awning onto the roof of the warehouse (the elf is more suspicious than I thought….merchant my sandy ass). Chuck followed and they threw us a rope so that we could climb onto the roof. Abdiel was then taken with something I can only describe as a kind of madness, at one moment claiming that the trapdoor entrance was covered in warning Arcane runes and then the next admitting it was a mistake. Thankfully it was not the opposite and we entered through the trapdoor with a surprising ease. A search of the upper floor revealed little of interest apart from two doors protected by magical alarms (this time it was no illusion). Using his distance hearing Redgar swore he heard a muffled crying below, but before we were able to descend to the ground floor, four hooded figures entered by the main doors, dragging a crying and struggling Shalaya. They continued and dragged her through a set of doors below us.

Listening further we heard guards talking below suggesting that others were coming, and of a slight discontent within the group as to the reason for their ‘arrangement’. We determined to lure the hooded men into an ambush. While half of us stood ready by the stairs, Naraaku and Solzak snuck down to the entrance hall and rang the front bell, at which several men emerged from a large door toward the back of the warehouse. The first appeared to spot our party and attempted to fire, but was quickly skewered by arrows from Naraaku. Abdiel, in commanding tone called on them to surrender, the authority in his voice caused one to waver, and Naraaku pinned him to the door alive so that we could question him later (elves are cruel even in mercy). Chuck and I charged the rest, and with sword, magic, and arrows our group pushed them back into the room beyond. But as we slew the last of our opponents, a chill blast hit us from the basement below, the vile magic of a defiler!

Session 5
Excerpts from the journal of Eben the slayer...

Haze 23.

Back to Tyr, back to a different kind of oppression, but at least its one that has a face, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling relief at our return. It wasn’t easy however, as I will explain…

Among the defeated zombies in the middle floor of the tower we surveyed a wealth of weapons around us and after a few of our number armed themselves from the store we were left with some bone short swords, bone long swords and some excellent quality kank carpace armour.

We proceeded up the tower stairs, spying four more guard zombies on above us and I attacked, sending the first plummeting over the top of the tower to the ground below with a mighty kick. With axe and arrow, magic and psionics we slaughtered them. Taking a moment to look around we noticed that after a short distance surrounding the manor our vision was being obscured by an unnatural effect giving the impression that we were inside some kind of mirage. Abdiel and Redgar were able to explain it as a mix of necrotic and psionic energy (which we later realised was projecting a false image to those looking in – of the house as it used to be, with living inhabitants going about their business). We did not have time to dwell on these thoughts as more zombie guards from the other towers were alerted to our presence and began to fire on us with their crossbows. We briefly considered assaulting the other towers, but knowing that we would be exposed to several volleys of crossbow fire we elected to head back into the manor and find another way round.

We went back into the main house, with Solzak finding more secret doors and cautiously checking for additional traps as we went. We discovered a further secret armoury at the back of the house where we collected more loot. We then headed back into the main house, looking for areas we had not yet explored. Entering the main hall again Abdiel and Solzak were suddenly absorbed by their own reflection in the huge vanity mirror in the room! They seemed to wait and stare for a minute or so and then suddenly leapt back with a jolt, as if shocked by an invisible force. They were both visibly shaken and refused to talk of their ordeal before Abdiel angrily unleashed his magic at the mirror, shattering it into a thousand pieces. It must truly have been a horrific image he saw there for it to be worth inflicting that much bad luck on oneself? Moving back through the hall of serpent statues and the kitchen we then found a small living room with several pieces of furniture covered in cloth, as if waiting to be moved. Inside the room also there was a bookcase containing tomes of ancient lore that spoke of the Silt Kraken. As Abdiel consulted the tome he spoke that little of what was contained within was more than he had previously discovered in the Templar’s library, however there were more pages that detailed the possible location of a temple beneath Tyr that if opened would show the locations of the pieces of the crown! At this point the pages of the book were missing, so for now, we still have little information of use.

We decided to take what evidence we had back to M’Ke rather than brave the underground tunnel and attempt to leave via the wall of the tower we had cleared. Solzak attempted to fix a rope to the battlements but was thwarted by a hail of arrows from the zombie-manned guard towers. We resolved that our only option was to destroy the rest of the guards in the other tower so that we could leave via the way we came and not be shot while we escaped. Finding another secret door to the North-West tower we crept up the stairs and found another guard room in which Solzak set upon and ambushed the zombies in spectacular style, taking down the first with ease. The others were not so easy and put up a tougher fight. Regdar’s psionics killed another and damaged the remaining two, and also Chuck (who of course wasn’t happy, buts it hard to tell with a Thri-Kreen!). In more moments we had destroyed them and headed carefully up to the top of the tower. Attempting another ambush, this time we were not so fortunate as Solzak stumbled, on the stairs alerting the guards who sent a hail of bolts his way. We charged in, growing increasingly tired as the afternoon sun beat down on our backs. We faced a tough fight and I almost fell beneath the vicious claws and teeth as two guards attempted to tear me limb from limb, but with endurance and perseverance we triumphed and won the day.

Heading back to the basement and where this horror began we tried to leave by the cellar doors and found that they were psionically blocked. Abdiel and Redgar took a moment to analyse the strength of the enchantment, and although they could not bring the field down, they would be able to weaken the enchantment long enough for us to escape, but that it would be a long and exhausting ritual. As they began to chant and utter words of magic and the way Redgar was forced to stop, as he was too tired to complete the complex and demanding ritual. Debating whether we should risk resting in such a terrible place we resolved that it was the preferable option to find a place to rest up in the house that we knew was ‘safe’ as opposed to venturing deeper in our current state of exhaustion and fatigue and thus enable Abdiel and Redgar to rest before attempting the ritual again. Chuck and I posted guard as the others tried to sleep, but they did not sleep comfortably, their dreams were filled with horrific images and haunting nightmares.

Abdiel and Redgar awoke with fresh resolve however and began the ritual with haste. An hour passed as we nervously waited in pitch black, fearful of drawing more attention to ourselves than was necessary. At one point Solzak believed he heard sound coming from further in the basement, but it was not clear. Success! Redgar, Abdiel and the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief as a great rush of fresh air and sand blasted through the now open cellar doors, we were free! Carefully we stepped out, into the cool night, and clinging to the manor wall crept around the grounds until we could disappear into the dunes. On the way we stumbled on the injured and dehydrated forms of the Aarakocra we had previously ‘rescued’. Solzak insisted we take them back to Tyr; quite why Chuck and I had to carry the stupid animals I don’t know, but maybe their bones or feathers could be worth something?

The night was cold, and in a way I was grateful of the Aarakocra on my back, which made quite a warm cloak, even though I could feel the warmth of his blood was faint; it was dying, so we went swiftly, led by the Elf, striding ahead as if for a moment taking on the traits of a desert Elf rather than one whom was raised as a trader?

As we approached Tyr we realised that it was late in the evening. The man with the emerald eyes?! We were supposed to meet him tonight? We were not late for the meeting though and would still have time to find him, but first we had to get into Tyr, and we didn’t exactly look like your ‘average’ visitors to the city at this time of the night. The gate guards and the ‘jobsworth’ Templar Abdullah were reluctant to help us through the gates but Solzak attempted to win him over by telling them a tall tale about working for an apothecary and the birds were to be sold for ingredients, despite the state of them. He offered Abdullah some coin, he wanted more and Abdiel had to step in and negotiate him down (this is where having a Templar with us could prove useful). He relented on the understanding that Abdiel would put in a good word for him with his superiors so that he could graduate from such a menial post, but of course, we only need to get in, not help anyone out with their job.

We were in! Debating where to go, our options were many; to an apothecary for the bird-men? To House M’Ke to share what we knew, or back to Perseus and Shalaya at house Asticles. Of course then there was the meeting with the Man with the Emerald Eyes…

Session 4
Excerpts from the journal of Eben the magnificent

Haze 23.

Trapped, like flies in a web… No sooner had that half-elf assassin showed up the house took on a life of its own and locked us in! I’ll forgive him for now due to him being a fellow half-breed, we need to stick together. Then the ‘silt’ on the ground gathered together to take on the form of a twisted old man telling us to get out? Perhaps this house needs to make up its mind, or that was some kind of failed warning, who knows? With little else to do we ventured onwards, hoping to find at least what we came for; that being either the old man or evidence of the cult.

Everywhere we search appears to have been untouched for some time. This doesn’t make sense? Outside servants tended the fields and guards stood atop the towers? Also, Redgar is complaining about headaches. Strange that no-one else is feeling any effects? I guess a Psion is more sensitive to these sort of things anyway. He then suggested that this could be some kind of illusion? Well, that might make sense considering, but its not good either way. For now I think it best not to think about it and move on. Stel thugs and Aarakocra are one thing, but fighting something I can’t see is not something I look forward to.

Searching through the cellar we find slaves quarters and bathing room. The bathing room being significant as the Elf noted the water was covered in a thin scaly film. My suspicions were raised at this point that perhaps not all of these cultists were human. We found the entrance to the Ur-Zola family tomb, and after arguing it out Chuck went ahead, checking for loose panels and other such tricks. The tomb was large, and full of many Urns; most notable in that there was no evidence of the recently deceased whom Sycia is suspected of. To make things stranger after Chuck decided to open the main crypt (or simultaneously its difficult to tell) a choking mist rose from the floor and from it sprang Ezekiel Ur-Zola, ancient founder of the house. He was a little incoherent and a little eccentric but talked about the ‘rightful heir’ to the Ur-Zola house being a man named Brevin. Not someone we have encountered before but the spirit asked us to help restore him to his rightful place by finding the original will of Alejandro Zola, the last legitimate heir before Sycia took control which would show Brevin to be the rightful heir

We aren’t sure whether this is worth our effort, we aren’t doing this for charity after all and have better things to do, but if we happen to cross paths with him or the will and can make something from it all the better. Hurriedly we left the crypt and made our way back to the basement where again Redgar was complaining of the pressure on his head increasing. As if that as an omen was not bad enough, we each received a vision. We do not know who or how this came to us, but it was a horrific experience for all. Each vision seemed to provoke different emotions in us all, but they all seemed very random, almost as if our minds were being played with…

Having little option but to continue, and feeling unsettled by our experiences so far, we delved deeper into the house, passing more slave quarters, until we reached a door, crudely scrawled with ‘Do not enter’. Of course that was the last thing we were going to do? So on we went through the door, and descended a short flight of stairs until we reached another door, this one unmarked. Through this door we found an area of the house that looked suddenly much more recently used and Redgar was feeling the pressure on his head increasing to the point where Chuck, a Psion wilder began to feel something amiss also. Confronted by another set of doors, we decided to open them in unison and face whatever would be beyond them together, rather than risk being attacked from behind, so on Chuck’s command, the doors were swung open and… Nothing. Nothing except a feeling in the pit of my stomach, that this is very wrong, and inside each room were the remains of a rudimentary living quarters for something not human, but in fact of Ssurran kind (Lizard folk). There is one thing we can be sure of and that’s that if they have flesh, then my Axe will find a home there, mark my words.

Past the living quarters was an abomination of a place of ritual to the foul silt cult. There were rows of wooden planks presumably where these filthy lizards waited to make their unwholesome offerings to this long dead beast. There was a bowl of ‘silt’ that seemed to move as we got near, and even tried to lash out at the wily Elf. Luckily for him, it didn’t have the distance it needed, and chuck, resourcefully used one of my oil vials stuffed with straw to light up that silt worm! Light up it did, and sent disgusting Ichor all over Redgar and Abdiel, whilst they cursed. Adjacent to the ritual room were two smaller chambers, each oddly lit and containing either a Silt Cultist symbol or Yarnath’s symbol. A ritual book stood on one end of the Silt chamber with several pages torn away, but we decided best left as it was for anything useful would have surely been taken.

It was at this time that we had our second waking dream. It seemed more intense and real this time, with the majority of us (who chose to share) experiencing some kind of gruesome end and seeing a common theme of two red eyes and jagged serrated teeth. We tried to hide it but each of us were shaken to the core. The intensity of the psychic pressure could now be felt by all of us, so we decided that, as the rest of the house lay yet to be explored, we should check that first before venturing forward, for what lay next was another staircase, rough hewn into the rock and mud, bearing similar scratch marks to that tunnel in the M’ke House.

Tracing our steps back to the storerooms and stairs up to the kitchen, we proceeded up to the main floor of the house, and immediately felt a relief to our minds as we left the pressure behind us. This rooms again looked bizarrely un-used in a long time (this really must be some kind of illusion, we saw servants in the fields, and guards?) and entered the main entrance hallway. The hall was well lit and furnished with several large statues of strange looking ‘snake men’. They looked almost too ‘life-like’ in very menacing poses, so we thought better of lingering and headed across the hall to the other wing of the house. In the next room we found a large dining/entertaining room, complete with throne and huge vanity mirror, partially covered by a drape. The Elf spotted strange marks and an outline in the northern wall, which turned out to be a large false wall, which led into an old library. Carefully we entered and saw this to be a narrow hallway filled with bookcases and a spiral staircase. As we approached the staircase though the books took on a life of their own, coming out of the bookcase and inflicting minor wounds. Not wanting to try to fight a foe we could not see we did not linger and headed up the staircase, which seemed to be out of the range of the books as they stopped once we were all up the staircase.

Reaching the top of the staircase I was able to discern the flapping of wings and distinctive cawing sound of the Aarakocra! Loosening my axe from my back I crept closer to the top of the stairs and found myself in a small room, barely big enough to fit the staircase and us. We rested briefly and Redgar and Abdiel used their psionic powers of far sight and far hearing to gain us a view of the next room. Inside we saw the horrific sight of some kind of alchemists table which an Aarakocra was strapped to with a purple coloured crystal hovering over its head, which was emitting a beam of light directly into its skull. The poor wretches eyes bulged and body twitched as unknown horrors were no doubt being implanted in its mind. Elsewhere in the room were cages filled with other Aarakocra, some whom had already been subjected to this torture and others waiting their fate.

Chuck stepped forward, warning us to be mindful of traps, and proceeded to find and disarm a poison gas trap which would be triggered by the lock on the door. Mindfully we proceeded and bursting through the door with weapons drawn we found ourselves in some kind of aviary where almost instantly the two seemingly conscious birds screamed at us to help them get free, but at the same time the zombified birds broke free of their cages and attacked us, much like before. Whilst we fought the birds Solzak proved his worth as a master of the dark arts, disarming and unlocking the trapped cages and freeing the sane birds who, true to their words helped us to finish off the other critters. We put the tortured bird out of its misery, no use to anyone now and Redgar was drawn to the power of the crystal despite our better judgements picked it up. Remarkably he was safe and actually spoke of an increased sense of focus and power. The crystal seemed to interact with the orb he carries (which seems to have no apparent use) causing it to indicate a glimmer of life! Elsewhere in the room, searching through the documents we were able to find a secret compartment with the original will of Alejandro Ur-Zola! A fortunate find I feel as it seems almost too easy? We notice that this part of the house seems much newer and seems less effected by the psionic pressure experienced by Redgar elsewhere in the house.

From here we found another secret exit which Abdiel jumped to before any of us could stop him and ended up with a face full of poison gas! The door led to what we assumed was the master bedroom, complete with lavish silken bedsheets and a golden marbled bust of what we assume to be Sycia, not bad looking for a tentacle-worshipping witch! In the rear of her bedroom was a bathing area, with fresh milky water and spiced salts. No scales from what we were able to find, so we conclude at least she is or appears to be human. Exiting the room we entered the landing and had to creep due to the huge windows opposite exposing us to the view of one of the guard towers, however it seemed that the guards resisted to turn round, as if they were not supposed to. On the wall was a fresco depicting an ancient fable of Kalak, one which they like to teach noble children of how once Tyr was a place full of barbarians and that Kalak came and conquered the savages, uniting the people and making Tyr the greatest city in all of Athas. Of course, all city states have similar stories, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out what actually happened. On a shelf below the mural were the 8 element statues, depicting Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Sun, Silt, Rain, and Magma. Not wholly unusual to see all 8 here, it is perhaps quite a superstitious household.

Elsewhere on this floor we found empty bedrooms, lavishly decorated but maintaining the disuse found elsewhere in the house. Naraaku then mentioned he remembered seeing more unusual markings in the master bedroom, and on conducting a search we found a further secret entrance leading to a small corridor to the back of the house, and one of the towers. Checking the door again we saw a small guard room with weapons racks and populated by zombie guards playing a card game! We debating leaving them to it, but worried that we may miss something Solzak took the initiative and chose to silently creep into the room. The zombies continued their game, oblivious, and within mere moments the Assassin had taken down one and almost sliced through another! The fight was brief and deadly (for the opposition) and once again all was silent. We turned to one another and looked to the staircase of the tower, going up..?

Solzak's Journal 1
Excerpts from the journal of Solzak, the shadow of Tyr...

Haze 22.

Having left me to guard Innex in the M’ke house I contemplated just leaving the poor wretch to babble on, but he might yet prove useful if he snaps out of it. The operative word being IF. Quite why my benefactor wants me here is beyond me, but he seems to believe it to be of enough interest to the fate of Tyr for our involvement. Perhaps finding out more about this cult will shed more light on their intentions, and I expect this runs deeper than it seems at the moment.

I wait around for a couple of hours and hear nothing from the others, so I decide to do some digging for myself leaving the creepy Halfling and Helandrez to tend to the Caravan Master. Heading out into the mid afternoon sun I keep to the shadows, as always, the Stel thugs could be around here, as is their want. I see a group of them emerge from the Stel emporium heading for the Warrens, they look heavily armoured, so considering that I now find myself alone and weaponless I’ll save that battle for later.

The Elven Market is bustling as usual, despite the earlier riots in the square it almost seems as if nothing has happened in this part of the city, with the exception of a heavier presence of Crodlu patrols, although even escaped slaves would have to be desperate to hide out here. I start speaking to the local traders, concentrating on those I know and trust and find very little of interest. The cult are known, but no-one speaks directly of them, everyone seems a little afraid, more than usual, and less willing to talk about anything that might implicate them in anything. Its more self defence I guess, no-one wants to be blamed for anything in this city, it usually means the end. I speak to some of the ‘cutters as I still have contacts there and get a little more out of them. It seems there are a number of veiled alliance activists searching the city for something or someone, after a couple of them arrived in the city a few nights ago there has been a frenzy of discussion in the underworld. These two are hot subjects, not only because the veil and cult are after them, but because they have something else with them that’s got a few people either really excited or really worried i’m not sure.

Just then i’m approached by a messenger, I know exactly who from as he always sends a psion. It is my benefactor; he must have news for me. The Psion passes, we lock minds and he’s gone. Its’ always an uncomfortable experience, but necessary in the times we live.

Into the warrens I head, past several more Crodlu squads. It seems a lot of the escaped slaves headed for this part of the city, hoping to hide out. Unfortunately for them the templar’s can find a panicked slave from half a city away. If I was them I’d go underground. Sure, you’ll probably meet an untimely death from something or someone, but you have a hell of a better chance of survival than up here.

We meet in the usual place and in the usual way. There is a sense of urgency about him today though I find unsettling, as if there is something he is not letting on. He tells me that agents of the Veil have been in touch with him as they have been tracking the movements of several cult members in the city. It is not usually a veil policy to be directly involved in events that don’t concern them, but it looks like they have no choice as he tells me one of their number has disappeared, one of the two both of whom had travelled here from Raam (no easy feat). He wants to know why this individual is so important to the cult and the veil, and so has tasked me with finding this out as he believes it could have an impact on his own plans and therefore my future. His informants have told him that the rest of my companions are in the noble district in the care of the Asticles manor. I shall go and meet with them and then perhaps we can find this veil member and discover what is really going on here…

As the sun begins to dip over the horizon I decided to stop by Narissa’s to stock up before I rejoined the others. She seemed unusually glad to see me and requested that I stayed and watched over the house while she attended to some business. I explained I was quite busy but she looked very worried, so I decided that as I owed her a favour I’d help her out this time.

She was gone for hours, during which time the shop remained empty. I half expected some kind of ambush, but that was not the case and by the time she returned, exhausted, it was in the small hours. She had a spare room in which I was able to rest, as by now it was too late to venture across town, even one versed in moving in shadow such as I. I tried to question her about what she was doing, but she just avoided my questions saying she was very tired and that she would explain it to me soon.

Haze 23.

In the morning I awoke early, but Narissa was gone, with a note explaining she was ‘sorry’ but to help myself to the pantry, which I did, and slipped out onto the rooftop and headed out across the city.

By the time I had bought new weapons and reached the Asticles manor my companions had already left, Perseus offered me the help of his servant, but I declined. I work better alone…

Session 3
Excerpts from the journals of Eben the destroyer

…It is another day and as I woke in House Asticles to the powerful rays of the Athasian sun I felt alive again, fully rested and revitalised…

Haze 23.

It was a long day yesterday, our mysterious hunter-Thri Kreen nearly met his end at the wicked end of a House Stel thug. They’d been tracking us since the altercation at House M’Ke and ended up pouncing on the group as we followed the Half-Elf Veil agent to the Asticles estate. Luckily for us the veil agent was able to heal him. Her abilities are like nothing I have seen before, and seem to be enhanced by a strange amulet she carries which at dinner she and Perseus seemed reluctant to talk about. They talked about ancient relics of worship from a eons ago, but I lost interest in such tales when I was a child. In this world the only things you can rely on are your wits and your axe, which reminds me I need to pick up a spare axe too as yesterday I shattered one on the skull of a Stel thug. A shame to waste such craftmanship on that Kank scum, but it was either him or me, and well, I won of course.

As we tracked closer to the manor we had another ambush, but this time from above, and none other than a small squadron of Aarakocra?! Flying high they were able to get the drop on some of us but they seemed only to be interested in Shalaya, the veil agent. As the wicked birds swooped and clawed and distracted us, the others tried to carry Shalyia away, kicking and screaming. Some well placed shots from the Templar and the Elf soon put a stop to that and with their advantage gone the rest of them went down fairly easy. It was unfortunate for them of course as it appeared from the bodies that they were but hapless pawns of the cult, and it seems had been sent to retrieve this girl. I expect they hadn’t counted on meeting such strong opposition!

At the Asticles manor we were greeted by a dwarf servant by the name of Deacon. Taken into the typically grand reception of a noble house we were offered a fine wine and moments later introduced to Perseus, son of Agis of Asticles. The wine was too fancy for my taste, but it seemed to have a remarkable aroma and effect that refreshed our weary bodies. Shalaya explained how we had helped her and we explained we’d been hired by M’Ke to find out about the recent attack on their warehouse. Believing (at least for now) that we were relatively safe and in the presence of someone we could trust we traded the knowledge we had so far gained. As we talked about our discoveries of the cult symbols and Yarnath Perseus confided that he believed the cult are looking for a temple hidden under Try which could help them to recover the parts of the crown of silt, which in turn would give them the power to control the dust kraken. It all sounds a bit far fetched, but there are enough people interested in this to make it worth all our whiles, even if at the end we just sell it to the highest bidder!

Perseus believed that a noble house has been helping the cult since their arrival in Tyr and that also they may have Abram at this moment. His agents and men had been tracking their movements in the city and narrowed down the two possible locations of the cultist’s lair. He then asked us to help him for a rather modest fee of 500gp plus the favour of the house to find out if it was Ur-Zola (matriarchal, based just outside city, iron mine interest) or Stigius (old house, thought abandoned but mansion now showing signs of life). We decided to target U-Zola first. Rather than leave right away we decided to indulge in the hospitality offered us at the Asticles house and bathed and drank our fill until it was time to retire. It has been a while since I have enjoyed such luxury, and something I feel like I could get used to on regularity.

And now to the task at hand as we woke and were greeted by the servants of Asticles manor who had already returned bearing fresh supplies and good quality weapons. We ate once more with Perseus who offered us his servant to take us to a secret tunnel exit out of Tyr which would take us as close as possible to the Ur-Zola mansion. Shalaya had also imbued some fruits and herbs with healing qualities which we gratefully took and so said our farewells and headed off.

Outside the mansion there was a small commotion of nobles who were debating the state of Tyr. As we negotiated the crowd the clumsy Elf fell over (he maintains he was pushed) into a fruit stand owned by the noble house of Minthur. Vernassi, arrogant snob that he is, protested that the Elf had offended his honour and ruined the days trade, demanding recompense. It was about to get ugly, but the Templar Abdiel proved his loyalty and authority by talking down the noble and promising the Elf would get a stern hiding and that Vernassi would be compensated through the appropriate channels… City bureaucracy is one thing I care little of, but in this instance words did more than any blade could, and so quickly we went on our way. Redgar the Psion maintains he saw a Mul disappear into the crowd after the elf was pushed, but of course it’s all too easy to blame the Mul.

The dwarf led onwards to the secret exit from the city, and although the way was tense through a section of under Tyr as we could hear screams of unknown horrors in the distance we made it through without incident and emerged in a field near the Ur-Zola compound. The place was guarded (12 men) and a few slaves tended the fields. Approaching the walls we had to silence some slaves, a pity, but necessary for us to remain undetected. Reaching the north side of the compound we spied a basement entrance and as our psion distracted the guards on the battlements with his powers we rushed one by one towards the entrance. No sooner had we entered we were confronted by a few guards in the basement, we silenced them quickly and now wait to see if more will follow…

Redgar seems to be complaining of feeling a slight pressure on his head, as if someone or something was trying to invade his mind. I think perhaps he has over exerted himself, but even so, I wonder what we have walked into…

Session 2

…The dust from the riots had settled momentarily and the guards had left, leaving us to ponder our next move. Just as we had resolved to return to House M’Ke and report on our progress we were stopped by a Templar, the famous Banther, Lord of the Games. Impressed by our martial prowess he offered us a job assisting in the search for and capture of the remaining escaped slaves running riot in the city. Seeing the unhappy looks upon many of our faces, and the urgency of our own agenda, our own Templar Abdiel declined for us all.

Rushing through the streets and back to our employers we briefed the House M’Ke Merchant, Helandrez, about what we had found: the slaughtered guards, the rifled papers, the cult symbol, the undead, the damaged ledger and the tunnel beneath the warehouse. Helandrez carefully checked his own copy of the ledger, finding the missing page contained little of interest (mostly standard trade goods), except for the presence of two passengers (which was against the rules of the house, meaning the caravan master would have taken a bribe). The first passenger was a old man called Abram Verath, the second a girl called Shalaya, both of Raam. The caravan master’s name was Innex Lauros. According to the records, the passengers disembarked before the caravan arrived in Tyr (presumably so they could slip in relatively unnoticed) so we resolved that the Caravan Master would be a good person to speak to next. However, as per our luck the Caravan Master is nowhere to be seen and hasn’t been seen for a couple of days. He is a known frequenter of the local bars and Inns in the area though, so if we’re lucky we might find him under a table, sleeping off a broy induced hangover, but that might just be too much to ask for.

Just as we learned all this we heard a commotion from the main entrance, a group of House Stel thugs burst in and accused Helandrez of spreading false rumours of their attack on the warehouse. Harsh words were exchanged between Helandrez, the Stel thug Gorek and then several of us at Gorek. They left while issuing the threat that they would return the next day to seek retribution for the insult unless there was tangible proof of who the real attackers were. The Stel’s seemed to be under the impression that M’Ke had faked the whole thing to try to smear their reputation. I know M’ke and this is not their handiwork, and I will be here when they return and I vow that if a fight is what he wants his blood will stain my axe and his entrails will be fed to the ravenous halfling! With time now striving against us we headed out towards the Golden Inix Inn on Caravan way to see if we could track down the caravan master.

We left House M’Ke and were once again stopped by a stranger in the shadows (what is it with all these shady characters we keep meeting?) who claimed to be called “The Man with Emerald Eyes” (which he did indeed posess) and an agent for House Vorden. He told us his house believed M’Ke to be in league with the Veiled Alliance and offered us money or favours in exchange for information. We agreed to meet him in Sculptors Square tomorrow night (some of us grudgingly, some of us for the money and others clearly recognising the benefits of House Vorden owing us a favour) opposite Karlen’s eye.

Arriving at the Golden Inix inn we entered, passing the sturdy Goliath guard and were met by the gentle female half-elf owner Milla who served us broy, water and wine (depending on our taste). She knows Innex, he was a regular but he hadn’t returned after last night, when he had been in and was looking troubled. She directed us to a drinking companion of his called Berin who said Innex had told him that he was being followed by several hooded men whom he had also seen hanging around his caravan only the other day after Innex had arrived in Tyr. We found out Innex lived in the Warrens and agreed to set off for the address. Before we left the Golden Inix we were approached by a shady-looking drunk, he said he was called Rowan and was a member of the Toothcutters Gang and he wanted us to convince Milla to sell him the inn, we declined as we’ve already dealt with enough scum this day and I would be more inclined to beat him senseless than help him.

Arriving in the Warrens we headed for Innex’s house, once there we found a Thri-Kreen called Chuck who claimed to be hunting this man too, looking for a bounty connected to Innex which, once he had described what he was after turned out to be the same two characters we were looking for too (These two have definitely made an impression in Tyr already). After some discussion with it (either due to language difficulties or because it’s not too bright) we agreed to work together to find him and the mysterious caravan passengers (or “hunt” as the Thri-Kreen said). The front door we noticed was branded with a cult symbol painted onto it but faded so that it was barely visible. Cautiously we looked inside and saw that it appeared to have been crudely searched or either that Innex was an extremely messy person. Then the Elf heard a moan from behind the closed door at the rear of the house. After our last experience with the warehouse we expected trouble, but beyond instead lay a slumped Innex; mumbling incoherently while scratching the image of the cult symbol on the table in front of him. He was delirious and needed the attention in one more skilled in the matters of recovery, so We wrapped him in a floor rug and returned to House M’Ke for assistance. Upon returning to the M’ke house the Halfling surprised us all by being more than capable as a healer and was able to bring M’ke back to semi consciousness. Innex rambled and ranted about the “Master of the Silt” who was “coming” but was otherwise insensible. As we sat watch over Innex, Abdiel travelled to the temple district and the great libraries there. Consulting ancient texts he learned of an old fable of a Dust Kraken, a powerful creature controlled by a Sorcerer through a magical crown who once terrorised the Silt sea hundreds of years ago. So great was the threat is presented to Tyr that the Dragon of Tyr intervened, the beast and Sorcerer were vanquished and the crown sundered into many parts, now lost and until now, forgotten. Abdiel returned and shared this with us.

Left without any further leads we decided to head back to the warehouse and tackle the tunnel. Before we had walked much further than a few yards a hooded half-elf stepped from the shadows and asked us in a very coded way if we would like to donate some money to the poor of Tyr. Perplexed, we wanted to continue on our way, but she was quite insistent, urging us to follow her. On Abdiels lead we cautiously followed behind, wary of ambush, but it was as we walked that she instead warned us we were being followed (a check revealed this to be true) and that she knew of a safe place where we could go. She led us through the alleyways to a house in a strange back alley. Not knowing if we were walking into a trap we continued, but something about her felt reassuringly truthful for once, and once inside she revealed herself as Shalaya, the daughter of Abram! It seems they are both members of the Veiled Alliance and that they had fled Raam because they had been opposing the Cult of Silt there and thought Tyr to be a relatively safe haven in comparison. They had not counted on the cult following them here as they believed they had no way to travel such a great distance, but obviously they have found a way which concerns her greatly. They have friends in the Asticles noble household here in Tyr and this is where she was headed now as her father and she were separated from each other between the city gates and the house an evening ago and he was now missing. She was not able to tell us who the men following us were however, other that they were thieves. It is Shalayas belief that the plight of herself and her father and the attacks on house M’ke are linked and she suggested that we ally forces for now as we both seem to want the same things and if we can track down her father she says he would surely be able to help sort the mess out with House Stel without bloodshed. She suggested that we might accompany her to the Asticles mansion and consult with the son of Agis of Asticles, Perseus, on helping to track down Abram, as she seemed to think he might know something of the activities of the cult in Tyr.

We thanked her and decided to resume our journey back to the warehouse, and rather than slink about the shadows like cowards we would confront our enemies head on if they dared. Almost immediately we had departed the safehouse a fight ensued with the thugs who had been trailing us. They revealed themselves to be under the employ of House Stel, and that this would be a “message” from them that our meddling in the business of the merchant houses was not appreciated. A desperate fight ensued, as we faced well trained opponents who fought a tough battle but ultimately fell to our combined efforts of blade, psionics and hails of arrows from the elf. Shalaya also proved herself a capable healer, helping us both during the fight and healing the injured afterwards.

Leaving the scene as quickly we gathered what useful supplies we could from the bodies and continued on our way, ever wary of who else might be out there in the city but emboldened by our success…

We stood there in the alley, the bodies of our murdered enemies around us, we gathered their weapons and valuables as rightful spoils of battle and decided what to do next.

Session 1

As the blistering sun crept its way up the horizon, a new day in Tyr began with all haste. It is the month of Haze, just past the hottest month of the year, but if you are out in the heat it matters not for only madmen and slaves choose to remain exposed in these hottest of months. The slaves working on the ziggurat toil and die on a daily basis. Perhaps they had loved ones once that would shed a tear for their loss, but now this is all that many in the city know as life, and will be for as long as the mighty Kalak chooses to make it so.

All stories have a beginning, and this is one such beginning for the Mul barbarian named Eben. We begin his tale on the 22nd day of Haze, as he joins 5 others of vastly different backgrounds and aims, to embark on a new venture with the troubled House M’ke

The following is an excerpt from the chronicles of Eben the conqueror…

A new endeavour.

Summoned in response to a House M’Ke request I travelled to the lavish offices of House M’ke. There Helandrez, a merchant of the house commissioned myself and 5 others to find evidence of a suspected House Stel attacks on House M’Ke.

My companions are an untrustworthy elf ranger, a tiefling who claims to be a Templar of Tyr (but who trust’s a tiefling’s word), a half elf who claims to be a minstrel and a pathetic burnt man. House M’Ke’s poor fortune clearly attracts the scavengers and detritus of the city.

We were led by the merchant’s verminous half-wit Halfling assistant to a House M’Ke warehouse which had been sealed since a recent attack. We entered and found guard animals and guards slain by scimitar (House Stel’s favoured weapon) and fire magic as well as papers strewn about. The invaders were clearly searching for something. We probed deeper into the warehouse, seeing the deal of an old cult upon the floor and then hearing a rapping at a cellar door.

I attempted to proceed cautiously as per training, wary of a clear threat but the foolhardy elf pressed past and threw open the door. More than half a dozen undead spewed forth and attacked us. A battle ensued. While the elf fled like a coward at first he proved his mettle in the combat that followed, as did the rogue, psionicist and templar. The undead were foul decayed Silt Zombies! I had only heard talk of such hideous defilements of human flesh, to see one in the ‘flesh’ so to speak was unnerving to say the least. The poor Psion Redgar at one point had one of the beasts at his neck, taking a chunk out of his already badly burnt skin! I shall have to keep an eye on him for signs of infection…

We descended into the depths of the cellar and found another looted record store, between myself and the burned man Redgar we found an underground tunnel, carved by claws. Above ground we found evidence that a lich lord of the Tablelands was linked to the undead (his sign was on their hands). The so-called Templar seemed to know much of this creature. Yarnath is its name, and he rides the Tablelands in a giant animated undead fortress called ‘slither’. He can slide back to whatever stone he crawled out from under for all I care. Quite why these minions were under the control of another power we have yet to discover.

We heard a horn sounding outside, warning the city that an important announcement was about to be made, taking as evidence the torn papers and a marked hand of a former guard with us. We proceeded to the city square and heard the King’s Templar Tithian announce that a day of games would be held to celebrate the hard work of the people on the pyramid. They cheered. Then Tithian announced that the slaves would be taken from the iron mines and put to work on the pyramid. This pleased less people and the merchants the least. We spotted a small group of hooded figures in the crowd acting suspiciously. Within moments these figures let loose a series of explosive objects against the nearby guards and chaos ensued.

We were caught between some panicked slaves and guards as the rest of the crowd either tried to flee or contribute to the chaos. Initially our attempts to talk our way out came to no avail. Eventually between the half-elf asserting his apparent authority and The tiefling announcing himself as a Templar the slaves realise we do not side with their kind. We fought and they died, a fitting end for the rebellious and the weak. The guards had accepted us as allies or at least not enemies and as we caught our breath the remaining slave was taken off to a fate probably far worse than that of his now dead companions.

As the sun begins to creep above our heads its time to move, lest we get caught in another crossfire…

The trouble with House Stel

Tensions between House Stel and House M’Ke have been at an all-time high of late due to House Stel taking over more and more of the warehouses just off Iron Square to provide ‘storage space’ for the ever increasing demand of slaves for the Ziggurat. The space has been taken mainly from the smaller merchant houses by the use of force and bullying tactics. They have been forcing them to sell up by sending round groups of hired ‘thugs’ armed with their trademark scimitars in increasing regularity asking for ‘protection’ money else ‘bad things’ happen, which materialises usually with raids or assassinations of house members eventually scaring the house into submission. Even the other large houses Inika and Wavir who normally operate at a similar level to Stel, are feeling the pressure as the wealth and presence of House Stel increases. As long as there is a continued demand for slaves, Stel flourishes. House Ianto and House Vordon are both doing well from slaves but their tactics of expansion have been much less violent (but equally as successful some say).

The latest event in the conflict is that just over a day ago there was a brutal attack on one of House M’Ke’s store houses in the merchant district just off Iron Square. The attack was said to be the most gruesome yet and the M’Ke members who have seen the scene have been said to have been horrified by the barbaric brutality of the murders. House Stel are heavily suspected of being involved, due to hallmarks of their handiwork found at the scene such as the Scimitar cuts and beheading of the bodies, but so far they have denied all involvement.

House M’Ke have sent several messengers out into the cities inns and shadier spots looking for mercenaries and investigators. They want to keep this to themselves without alerting the authorities for as merchants they operate outside the realms of the laws of one city state, so they have been very selective, trying to find those individuals who have very little connections within the city, have worked with M’Ke in the past or who are relatively new to Tyr. Among those who answered the advertisement are 6 warriors whom M’Ke have settled on due to their diversity and mix of skills that would perfectly compliment their interests.

Abdiel – Tiefling Templar with a thirst for adventure is aware of the power of ‘favours’ in the city. You scratch a merchant houses back, they will return the favour, for if not now but in the near future, he will need allies.

‘Chuck’ – The Thri-Kreen was seen as a ‘wild-card’ by the M’Ke household. A bounty hunter could be very useful if it came to tracking assassins from a rival house and his neutrality was seen as a bonus.

Eben – An ex soldier-slave who, through the Scarlet helms has worked with M’Ke in the past guarding one of their many caravans of nuts and spices from Raam to Tyr under the sponsorship of House Atrius, whom although he still has good relations with them they have no ownership of him any more.

Naraaku M’Ke were hesitant about letting an ‘Elf’ anywhere near their warehouses and half suspected that Elves were to blame for the entire incident, but this one was different. Nearly all the Elves they had encountered before were mere traders, but this one had something darker about him that they liked and was very interested when the words ‘House Stel’ were mentioned as a possible connection to this attack.

Redgar – Redgar has done some work for M’Ke since coming to Tyr and has the majority of (at least the low ranking) household members absolutely convinced of his advanced telepathic ability and immediately sought him out for this mission, knowing that although he did not work cheap, he would prove to be a valuable asset.

Solzak – With a reputation for discretion and efficiency, he came as a name recommended and feared by all who knew of his exploits. Quite why he was involving himself in the petty squabbles of merchants instead of his usual more lofty political aims was a mystery to them, but they would not question his willingness to see that their sentence would be carried out (for a price of course).

The six looked warily over each other, after only brief introductions (or what information they chose to tell one another) they were led by the Mul Slave Durr-Gan into the chamber of Helandrez, master of House M’Ke


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