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 Episode Six: Cracked Castles and Siphoned Souls; Story

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Just_Irving
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PostSubject: Episode Six: Cracked Castles and Siphoned Souls; Story   Fri May 29, 2015 1:32 pm

The Short Version: Wandering through the goddamn desert for-goddamn-ever.
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PostSubject: Re: Episode Six: Cracked Castles and Siphoned Souls; Story   Fri May 29, 2015 1:57 pm

Episode Six: Cracked Castles and Siphoned Souls



The “Caught Light Caravan” had traversed through the Tarin Mountains and learned a bit more about each other in the process. Having passed through the capital of Giants, Cora, they made their way southward to the Kelly Desert. Caldear had purchased himself a new mount in Cora, the signature of giant riders; the giant guinea pig. He dubbed it Fluffy. Mira was able to locate a harpy peddler in the giant capital and Caroline paid for some simple harpy clothing for her. Light and translucent, not covering anything commonly considered obscene, but the thin cloth seemed to put Mira at ease. The caravan had stopped at a bar built to cater to both giants and smaller folk named Der Klotz in Mitte dem Strasse.

The night air was calm as the group arrived. Mira sat outside in “The Caught Light”, whilst Allesandra, Dolcetto, Zakhar, Caldear, Sancho, and their prior employer all entered and made themselves comfortable. Caroline sat across from a woman with heterochromatic eyes of gold and turquoise and brown hair with blue and red dyed bangs named Claire Lionheart. The pair of women sat playing a game of liar’s dice when a rough looking man by the name of Harald Parker McSheen approached the table to join the game. Sancho danced around the bar with a smile plastered across his face. Midnight had turned the previous day to the next and that day was the desert elf’s birthday. He waltzed around dancing merrily up to Dolcetto who sat drinking at the bar top by himself. Although he tried to cheer up Dolcetto from them losing Rafael a few days prior, Dolcetto simply brushed the elf off to remain in his mood.

Caldear sat a few seats down from Dolcetto thumbing through the pages of the strange book of innumerable pages. He blindly turned to an image of Sancho with a smile on his face but some dark liquid sliding down his face. The merg had a double take back from the image, looked over to Sancho, now moving over towards Zakhar, who sat even further down the way of the bar top in the section of larger chairs for giants. Caldear simply took it as an illusion, and continued to attempt to find sense within the strange book. Claire was winning a majority of the dice games as the three of them sat there shooting the breeze. Sancho began to tell a joke to Zakhar, but the desert elf could tell by the Wolf-folk’s demeanor that he was in no mood to hear one. Sancho simply went to tell his joke to an Ice Giant sitting by himself in the corner of the giant sized portion of the bar. The jolly birthday man jumped up on the table and asked if he’d like to hear a joke. The Ice giant simply sat with a gruff look of indifference on his face as Sancho talked about how a Stone Giant’s favorite drink in always on the rocks. The massive man was only stirred when Sancho pointed out loudly how he resembled the face of a wanted poster on the wall across from him.

The sedentary goliath of a man jumped up from his seat with a start, pulling his mithral club into his hand as he did. With a swift blow, he had brought the weapon down on the desert elf that had just effectively alerted the entire bar to his wanted status, crushing the table below him as well. The caravan group startled by the quick sequence of events made quick to react. Dolcetto shot a bolt into the ice giant’s side, as he tried to escape the bar, being halted by Zakhar attempting to hold him in place. Caroline ran outside to fetch a rope to tie him with, as Allesandra guarded the only door out. Caldear went over to check on Sancho’s status, but found him dead beneath the remains of the table with a trickle of blood going down his face frozen with a smile on it, just as he had seen not a minute prior in the book. The scene floored Caldear for a time while both Harald and Claire jumped into the fray. The woman jumped up and formed a blade with her mind as Harald utilized his own psionic powers to hamper the giant.

The group eventually subdued and hogtied the man. Caroline coldly told him that retrieving his bounty would be a pittance to her, and allowed a steeled expression Dolcetto to execute him. The leader of the caravan went to go pick up her fallen friend and brought him outside. The rest of the group began to gather themselves. As they did so, Claire went to ask Caldear what had brought the all of their group together. Caldear explained to her their trip through the mountains, but it left Claire wondering as to why they were still traveling together, as Harald came over to find out what the pair of them were speaking about. The merg then showed them the strange book that had been calling to the all of them. The book sent out a psionic message to the pair of psionically adept adventurers.

Caroline met with Dolcetto at ‘The Caught Light’ to express her concerns over the strange book that was urging them on their current course of actions. She turned her attention to Caldear as he showed the book to Claire and Harald and scolded the merg for exposing the pair of strangers to it, and retrieved it from his possession. She made her way over to Pimono, Sancho’s horse, removed the equine creature’s covering holding Sancho’s knives and set him free. She moved further then along the road, carrying her fallen friend’s corpse off into a field in order to fulfill his wish for a funeral pyre within a ring of his throwing knives. The rest of the caravan joined her in the service, as Claire and Harald watched the group do so.

Both of the psionically adept adventurers convened to question the other as to what the caravan’s intentions could be with the strange book, and came to the conclusion that what they may be up to might not be a beneficial decision. They agreed to follow the group from a distance behind to observe what they were doing, but it was in reality the influence of the book calling to them making them follow. The entirety of the group began to make their way to the southern Tarin Mountains to make it their destination in Ardith. Caroline and Dolcetto led the group as Zakhar rested, with Allesandra and Caldear taking up the rear, while Harald and Claire followed behind at a distance.

Travel along the way became tense as Caldear revealed having seen the visage of Sancho dead in the book moments before he was slain by the fugitive ice giant. The reveal prompted Allesandra to attack him for not acting or saying anything when he had the chance. Dolcetto went back to them to see what the problem was, but it only resulted in him threatening Caldear for not acting when he had the chance. Claire and Harald jumped into the fray, in an attempt to better understand what was going on. Caroline finally came back to them and quelled the situation, reminding everyone that it didn’t help to fight amongst themselves when they were bound mysteriously to follow the will of the book, and the caravan continued onward, with the psionic pair now accompanying.

After the scuffle, Mira began to violently berate Caldear about his cowardice from inside his cart. Asking how he could call himself a real man, when he just let everyone else walk all over him. Caldear just took the insults with a muted smile. Further along the way the caravan encountered a strange older dirtied, calmly dancing human who invited them to his brother’s house up the way for dinner, as his brother would soon be returning for dinner with the family. The old man was disquieting to look upon, and Zakhar, Dolcetto, Allesandra, & Caroline all declined. However, Mira, Harald, Caldear and Claire all chose to accept his offer, and went up the hill whilst the others began to set camp for the night further down the road. The four of them entered the mansion atop the hill led by the strange old dancer, and he went to the kitchen to finish his preparations. Claire found a book detailing the Ignan Language, and stowed it into her belongings while Mira began playing a game of billiards in the front room. Harald entered the dining room, to find every seat at the dinner table filled with freshly excavated corpses at nearly every seat, sat upright and dressed formally. This revelation set off a clear red flag to the former farmer.

As camp was being set up a strange half-elf, smelling of death and decay wielding a sword which seemed to be crafted out of flesh passed by murmuring about how he would soon be back home for family dinner. Allesandra sensed an evil air about him and demanded at point of her sword to explain himself. The man began to dash away from the over-zealous paladin, and she gave pursuit on foot. Zakhar & Dolcetto gave pursuit after them to make sure she, and the others in the mansion by extension were not in over their heads. The flesh-sword wielding man entered the home locking the door behind him. He entered the room filled with corpses and met his brother while he animated the dressed corpses. He turned the newly made undead upon the dinner guests and escaped to the upstairs as Allesandra & Zakhar viciously beat down the doors.

Caldear escaped with Mira out the window back to the safety of the caravan with Caroline. Claire began to fence against the dirtied dancer and set the dining room on fire, emolliating the walking dead. Zakhar, Allesandra & Harald all tried to give chase to the half-elf through the mansion, while Dolcetto waited outside to attack either the crazed brothers should they try to escape. The dancer escaped from Claire’s reach as his brother finished a necrotic ritual, which summoned a skeletal left hand from the crevasse to the side of the mansion. The group made their escape from the mad house as the skeletal hand dragged the building into the dark expanse it spawned from, with the pair of brothers laughing and dancing atop it, exclaiming they were off to the capital.

The caravan decided to cut their losses and return to their mission. The group stocked themselves for their eventual travels through the desert, and entered the southern Tarin Mountains. Traveling through the mountains didn’t ease concerns among the group, especially Allesandra. Dolcetto tried to ease her mind by opening up to her about himself one night while camp was being made. The pair of them realized they’d both been closed off about their lives and goals in attempts to not be hurt, and decided to try and confide in each other. Caroline spoke with Caldear, telling him that she would be trusting him with Mira’s safety for the trip, and the merg acquiesced to his new responsibility.

Traveling further into the mountains, the caravan found a tribe of Goblin warriors torturing their prisoner, a hill giant by the name of Rasend who was hogtied upside down to a wooden gallows. Allesandra demanded to know what the situation was that lead the Goblins to attack the hill giant with silver short swords. They claimed that he had destroyed their crops in the form of a giant boar and that he was a known were-boar lycanthrope. The giant admitted to being a lycanthrope, but pleaded his innocence. Allesandra sensed an air of evil emotion within all of the Goblins and were-boar and attacked them by herself, only to be quickly surrounded by the little warriors. With quick, precisely laid blows they had significantly bloodied and weakened the paladin in a matter of seconds, causing her to retreat to her traveling companions, leaving the huddle of defending goblins on guard with on crying out “Is there anyone else?! Is there no one else?!”

Zakhar, hearing the distressed calls of the hill giant discerned that he was not the culprit the goblins were searching for, at which point Dolcetto shot the rope holding the hog-tied lycanthrope with effortless precision. The called shot was in vain as the goblins had exhausted their captive to the point of near paralysis. Zakhar and Caroline struck a quick deal with the miniscule warriors, if they could find the real culprit before sundown, then the goblins would allow the innocent man to go. The goblins agreed, and Dolcetto, Zakhar, Claire, & Harald all set off to search for a different giant boar, while Caldear, Mira & Caroline all remained behind to watch the ailing Allesandra. Mira painted a giant grin across her face at Allesandra’s pain as the Aasimar lay attempting to rest in the Caught Light.

After an extended search as the day grew late, the four adventurers encountered a towering boar the size of an aged tree. Its hoof-prints matched the prints they had encountered whilst searching. With a newfound fire in her mind, Claire manifested a whip of flame to aid slaying the massive boar. The beast stood mightily against their blows until a psionic attack on the creature’s brain by Harald cut its life down. The four of them hauled its carcass back to the goblins, who accepted it as proof of the other boar and left the caravan to release the hill giant. The lycanthrope was very grateful to the group and introduced himself as Rasend Ruhigester. He gave to Caldear an emblem emblazoned with the hoof of a boar telling him to use it when times get tough. The giant went along his way, and the caravan set up camp for the night.

They exited the mountains the following morning and arrived in the desert outpost of Sabrina. Seeking more information on Noyan, the group learned of an instance of him defending an oasis outpost in the Kelly Desert from a horde of giant scorpions summoned by a mage known as Karramash. He slew the mage, and the scorpions disbanded, but some may still roam the desert sands. The group resupplied and began their trek outward in the desert, spellbound with intent to reach Ardith and deliver the book of sands to Noyan. Through the desert they marched, learning more about each other. Harald told of his experiences growing up as a farmer and struggling with fitting in his psionic abilities, which surprised Claire, a daughter of the Lionheart Alchemists of Isa, whom had received special attention concerning her own ability. A pair of upbringings more opposed one would be hard-pressed to find. Dolcetto opened up to Allesandra while she was skulking still recovering from the beating to her body and ego in the mountains, and in turn she revealed more of her own past to him. She told him of the fall of Vanessa and the loss of her parents, and he in turn told her of his late wife’s suicide after their lost child.

The group made their way through the desert over the course of two and a half days. Their travels were not without problem as they encountered a massive scorpion which was missing the stinger from its tail. The scar showed that it had lost it years prior. Zakhar made short work of the partially crippled scorpion.

The group finally came to the city of Ardith, the home of Noyan Lerr Brett. Gathering information they found that he lived with old man fitting the description of the man who had given them the book in the Tarin Mountains, by the name of Olamide Bai. His house was opulent, with well-made works of art for furniture. The caravan was met by a small orange haired Halfling boy. He introduced himself as Beshoorchaka Bai, the young porter of Olamide. The young boy seemed to take interest in Mira, as he had never seen a harpy before. Allesandra was wary of the young boy, attempting to sense if his intentions were evil. She sensed no ill intention in the child. He informed the party that Mr. Noyan had left to pray at the ancient castle about an hour outside of the city of Ardith. They decided that they would make haste to catch up to Noyan to end their feeling of enslavement to the book.

Along the way to the castle, Allesandra sensed the presence of another being of slight evil intent in the back of the wagon alongside the familiar evil glow of Mira. Upon investigation she found Beshoorchaka had stowed away in the back of The Caught Light. Although concerned about the sudden spark of evil within the young boy Alessandra allowed him to stay, feeling that finding Noyan was a more pressing matter and that she would be able to deal with it later. She informed the rest of the group and they continued onward agreeing with her logic. They arrived at the ancient castle and took in its fallen grandeur. Upon the walls were partially destroyed depictions of sand dunes and an image as the Deity of Patience, Tatacey. Leaving Mira to watch Beshoorchaka as the two bonded; Caroline, Alessandra, Dolcetto, Harald, Zakhar, Caldear & Claire began to delve downs fails following footprints they guessed to the Noyan’s.

Scorpion swarms wandered throughout the broken building, as the seven of them searched for the mysterious man. They reached an inclined hallway and glimpsed a man with a shaven head turn down a corner. Dolcetto called out to him traveling down the sloped hallway, but found his voice and all sound cancelled in the hall. The group continued down the way to catch up, as they did though they realized the walls of the thin hallway were beginning to close in on them, as the entrance to the room closed behind them. Moving quickly up the steep grade, Dolcetto reached the end of the hallway with not much effort, as the others struggled against the sand covered slope. At the end of the way, Dolcetto spotted a metallic pole about the length of a quarterstaff. With no better options to attempt to save his travelling companions, he wedged the staff lengthwise between the closing walls.

The strange metal pole, red in color held the weight of the heavy enclosing walls without effort and stopped them in place wholesale. The rest of the party moved down the hall and continued further down, taking them to a large room with a pair of sand dunes standing quietly. The large intricately decorated doors at the end of the room sat slightly ajar, with a bright light flickering behind them. The group could hear a whispering prayer from behind the doors and moved towards them. As they travelled across the sand filled room however the sand dunes stopped standing still. The pair of piles of sand formed into elflike forms resembling both Rafael and Sancho Roval. The two sand-made sentries assailed the group with strange sandstorm forming powers and exhausting strikes from their sand form scimitars. Rafael’s attention seemed focused upon Caldear as Sancho’s attacks centered on Dolcetto. Quick sword work from Zakhar ensured that the sandform Sancho was stopped in his tracks, but it soon became apparent that attacking the two sand men was not going to remain effective. The group quickly dodged the attacks of Rafael as they ran towards the open door. Caldear was last to enter and was struck in the back by the thrown scimitar of Rafael, which sunk into the back of the long haired merg. Within the connecting room the group found a man sporting a shaven head, garbed in black robes with a gold lace overlay, wielding a katana at his hip. Within their minds, they all knew this man had to be the man named “Noyan” who they had been searching for.

Their task completed, Caroline relinquished the strange book to the surprised man with relief. Upon opening it, Noyan exclaimed that it was the “Book of Sand” that he had been in search of for so long. With a joyous laughter, a bright light began to exude from the tome in his hands as the pages began to fly loose in a wind seemingly rising from below the ground in the subterranean room. A brilliant surge of light filled the room, and the walls around the group began to collapse into sand around them as a pitch rose in all of their minds. The sensations ended in a flash and the group was suddenly looking upon a clear sky with mounds of crystals of sand at their feet. Noyan’s body began to glow with an unearthly light, as his pair of eyes merged into a single wide slit stretching across his face. The new portal on his face opened slightly as he spoke some strange language and floated away into the sky.

Upon his departure, a dense cloud of sand began to whirl around the group as a light sandstorm began to roll in. The group gathered themselves together and made their way towards the Caught Light and the remainder of their vehicles they saw sitting atop the sand, no longer housed in the completely disappeared castle. Beshoorchaka had been talking to and playing with and speaking to his newfound harpy friend all along, learning new things about the world. The group arrived back and met with their pair of passengers. Leaving out from the area in the direction they had traveled, the group saw strange lights glowing in the sand below them, moving in the same direction towards the city with them. Upon getting closer some of the lights began emerging from the sands. What rose up were sleek, hairless humanoid creatures wearing clothing that fit close to their form. The group attempted to speak with one of them but found its method of communication impossible to understand, full of clicks and harsh hisses. Fed up with the strangers, the creature continued onward past them towards the city.

Arriving back to civilization, they found themselves displaced from where they had previously been, now evident by the fact that none of the group could understand a word being spoken by anyone in the town they had arrived in. Caroline went to park the mounts and carts leaving the protection of Mira and Beshoorchaka to Caldear. Upon moving further inwards the group was approached by a formally dressed man carrying a strange case made of metal held by a single handle at the top. He began to attempt to converse with the group but both sides found they could not understand each other, and that the man carrying the case had a case of mistaken identity, as the group he was awaiting pulled up soon afterwards. Riding in a metal sledded cart, pulled along the sands by horse sized hyenas, came a group of terrifying looking bandits, led by a being wearing a black and red cloak, with a strange suit of interwoven tubes beneath it, whose feet hovered inches above the ground. The formally dressed man opened the case before the tube suit wearing being, revealing it to be filled with gold bricks. The tube suited person then in an unearthly deep voice ordered the others of his group to commence with the water trade after they took the case.

As Allesandra stood by, she began to feel violently ill and cough uncontrollably. All of a sudden her energy began to feel as though it were slipping away from her, as her normal impeccable form, caused by her stalwart devotion as a paladin gave way to her natural physique and appearance. Her skin turned from alabaster to a common pale complexion, her hair went from a copper sheen to simple brown, and her eyes turned from a sapphire sheen to simple blue pupils in her white sockets. It appeared to all Aaralynnian eyes that her deific connection had been weakened if not completely severed. As she recovered from her coughing fit, a vision leapt into her eyes; A being completely covered in strange tube-like clothing emerging from a silver pool as a young girl of pale skin, blue eyes and blonde hair descended into the pool.

Caldear at the side of the group noticed a young man scratching names off of a list on a posting on the side of a building with a strange black blade. A sudden rumbling that shook the ground at the edge of the town panicking the townsfolk to scatter and prompting the bandits to end their trade early, apparently without the full transaction completed as the formally attired man began to seem to beg and plead with the leader of the group as they were beginning to load up. The rumbling intensified and came to an abrupt stop when a massive centipede emerged from the earth scattering the party with a massive force. The mega centipede made short dinner of the formally attired man, as the bandits made their escape. Caldear noticed that the death of the man with the case full of gold sent the young man with the black blade into a rage. The young man dove at the centipede, the blade crackling with energy, and delved it deep into the carapace of the creature, sending a loud crack through the air. A black beam extended both back and forth from the blade shooting through the young man and the centipede, slaying the both of them. The people of the town took it upon themselves, to take the spoils of the creature and the now dead man’s belongings in a hurry. Caldear hurried along to the center of the square and picked up the strange black blade in the chaos. Holding it in his hands allowed him to understand the foreign people surrounding him, chattering about how the death of the megapede was a great omen of change.

Caldear had been so distracted by the spectacle in the middle of the square that he had taken his attention away from Mira and Beshoorchaka. He dashed back to the caravan only to find the pair of them missing with only a trace of the escaping bandit’s cart to follow. He sped out of the town upon his mount only to find further down the path Mira’s thin shoulder cover. It occurred to him that his failure to watch after them had put them in serious danger. He made a solemn vow to himself to bring them both back to safety. He shortened his hair with his dagger and returned to where his travelling companions were. Nearby Zakhar stood another young man, bowing and speaking very excitedly. Zakhar attempted to ask him what he meant, but reached no further than he was before asking. Caroline, Dolcetto, Allesandra, Harald, and Claire all gathered around attempting to make heads or tails of what was being said by the seemingly helpful young man. Caldear returned to bear the bad news of his folly, but found he could perfectly understand the excited young man. Though Caroline was especially troubled by the turn of events, Caldear informed the group that the young man was willing to aid them believing that Zakhar was the son of the deity of death, Corbin, who had disappeared many years prior. The young man took them to his adoptive father’s home where he bore the news to his dwarven father.
Zakhar had no reason for thinking he was a divine being in any fashion, and the young man was set straight by his father who informed the over excited teenager that the son of Corbin was born half Asherati, and that the wolf folk Zakhar could not possibly be the son of Corbin. Distraught, the young human ran from his father’s home leaving the Caught Light Caravan group in the presence of his father. The dwarven man explained in thickly accented Aaralynnian Dwarven that their coming had been foretold, and the current situation of the desert, Keifel, they now found themselves in. He told them the name of the floating being leading the raiders was an inhuman being was Gaul. Gaul was one of the leading men in the dominating force in the Desert; The Zohera. The group left the abode upon hearing a loud ruckus outside only to find the dwarf man’s son being butchered in the street by a group of four Asherati, the same type of creature they had encountered upon entering the town. The elderly dwarf spoke his last words and died standing before the caught-light group.

After some deliberation they decided the best course of action for them would be to obtain more supplies, and equip their vehicle to travel over sand. Through some searching they located a skiff garage. Allesandra remained outside as the rest of the group negotiated by force the necessary provision they would need to travel after the criminal group who had stolen their two friends, The Zohera. With their new amalgamated vehicle, dubbed “The Chimera”, the seven of them began to make their way to the next town. The black blade however began to speak to Caldear with the voice of a young girl. It asked him if he would find her sisters, within the dune winders. The discovery unsettled Caldear and he informed the rest of the group none of whom could hear the voice until they too touched the black blade. They asked the blade why they should help it, but it could only truly respond that it would aid them with fighting in return.

As they kept making their way along the group encountered a massive worm with a rending maw of teeth, grey in color with many spikes covering its body. The black blade made its usefulness known informing the group of the capabilities of the massive worm, one of the dunewinders. The knowledge aided the traveling companions, but didn’t prevent the devastating ability of massive worm as it thrashed and grievously wounded the group. Following its death throes, left behind was another small black blade, along with the underbelly of the creature etched with bizarre symbols. The second blade also spoke in the voice of a young girl to its holder and the pair of them begged their wielders to unite them. The group complied and the weapons merged gaining malleable transforming capabilities and a limited magical quality. Seeing it as a benefit to continue gathering the black blades, the group continued to keep an eye out for the remaining parts, especially Claire whom had taken a strange interest in obtaining their power.

Their victory with the dunewinder was short lived as after the joining of the blades together, Caldear began to be swarmed by sand which transformed him into the visage of Rafael Roval. He became enraged and attacked the rest of the group with a scimitar made of sand, and lashed out viciously against Dolcetto especially. Eventually they subdued Rafael and the sand fell away from the merg’s body, but by extension they had beaten Caldear within an inch of dying. The outburst came from an unknown source, but Caldear postulated that it was due to the sandform version of Rafael in the ancient castle striking him as they escaped. Caldear vowed to himself that he wouldn’t let it detract from his personal vindication to rescue Beshoorchaka and Mira.

The seven of them continued on weathering the periodic perils of sandstorms and heat snaps. Allesandra continued to receive the same strange vision in her dreams at night as they traveled. Continuing west towards where Gaul had apparently stolen off with their friends, they encountered a meeting of Zohera forces trading cargo be they food, water, or slaves. Seeing their opportunity present itself, the Chimera Caravan made their stake and attacked with Zakhar, Claire & Allesandra providing cover and melee support to Dolcetto & Caldear as he shot from range. Harald laid psionic interference by laying down roiling walls of psychic force from the back of the monstrosity of a sand skimmer that was The Chimera, driven by Caroline. Upon reaching range of Gaul, Allesandra attempted to reason with him to attempt to work out her strange dream that Gaul had been appearing in, but her words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Although their attack took the Zohera by surprise, and allowed them to capture a grunt of the forces, their attack was ultimately thwarted when Gaul used a strange psychic jamming dagger to disable Harald’s psionic capabilities, and the main skiff lifted off the sands through channeling psionic power through the apparent same type of red metal as the rod in the dilapidated castle, and it sped away. Allesandra was flung from the skiff after an extended period of her attempting to keep hold as not to let Gaul escape. Upon tumbling to the ground her vision faded from the escaping vehicle to another vision.

In her new vision, Allesandra saw Gaul cradling the same young girl, with her face reflected in his glass domed faceplate. The rest of the party caught up to the delirious paladin murmuring about her dream. They began to question her stability. Further travel would push the limits of the entire group, as the sun sweltered and more of the massive worms and Zohera forces assailed them. Claire seemed to be adapting well gaining an aptitude towards fire, as Caldear seemed to be losing control of his agency as more incidents of his transformation arose as more pieces of the blade were recovered from the innards of the dunewinders. The group had decided against uniting all of the pieces since they seemed to trigger Caldear’s episodes. Claire had begun holding some pieces of the blade, and the voice of the blade conveyed to her that Caldear had lost a part of his mind to doubt and the presence of Rafael’s sandform version had taken safety in the recesses of the merg’s mind. When Claire asked the blade why it didn’t oust the presence of Rafael in Caldear’s mind, it replied that it was more enjoyable to weaken his mind further and feed off him slowly.

Upon arriving in the more stable plains-like southwestern area of the Keifel desert the group had become desperate for supplies. Dolcetto had taken to swindling merchants behind Allesandra’s back as he knew that theft and dishonesty would incite her rage despite its necessity in their situation. It seemed that the presence of slaves had diminished, whereas the population of Asherati had increased compared to the east. The Chimera Caravan learned of where the Zohera had stationed their base; within the crag of a deep canyon, rich with the red metal, known as Aionis. Their main vehicular base was stationed on the ground level while the nervous center of the base was underground. They reasoned that without a significant distraction to the main forces stationed aboveground they would need to cut through the thick of the forces. Caroline volunteered to be that very distraction. She gave them a window of time wherein, she would attract the attention of the main forces while they crept undetected in behind to knock out the epicenter of the base and rescue Beshoorchaka and Mira. Caroline began to arm herself and dropped the group off on the outskirts of the vision of the base, and left on her assured suicide mission. The distraction was exactly what was needed as the main force cut through the small reserve left behind within the base with ease. They were only slowed by a dwarven man whom spoke in perfect Aarlynnian Dwarven, with a strange grey glow within his chest. He claimed that his father was a fool for believing ancient philosophy and he used his superior martial arts abilities and ability to manipulate temporal space to combat the group. His power proved too great for Allesandra, as all at once he struck her throat and neck with such force that her life was quelled in an instant. It disheartened the group in a startle to see her drop to the ground lifeless. If not for Harald quickly working his psychic ability to its limits, the paladin would have remained among the deceased. With her life restored to her, she wildly ended the time manipulating dwarf’s life in a violent outburst rending him with her bare hands and sword.

The six continued further into the bowels of the base through mining equipment and slaughtering the miners that assailed them. Caldear was overtaken by a sandform Rafael upon being disarmed of the black blade, however this ended poorly for the thieving Zohera thug. Caldear was returned to normal after an extended struggle against Rafael’s influence. The stolen Black Blade was absorbed by Claire’s and was taken back from the thug. Eventually they came to the heart of the processing center; a room filled with fine sand-like grains of Aionis metal. A brown skinned Asherati beckoned at them to stop their foolish assault and die quietly. When the Chimera’s Riders refused he began to unleash all manner of hell in the form of psionic bolts shot from both his hands and the cannons manned by a pair of underlings within the room. When they began to close in on him, the Asherati sank into the sand like Aionis and evaded them succinctly. He resurfaced to continue his firing. His tactic was yielding him great results, the Chimera group were unable to properly attack him while he manipulated the environment to his advantage. Allesandra had run ahead attempting to locate the harpy and the young Halfling, but instead found the main control and surveillance room to the facility. Upon one of the monitors, the paladin saw Caroline fighting and covered in viscera against a trio of cowering Zohera underlings. She began to question her own stability when she saw a quartet of Carolines follow in behind the first. The five Carolines quashed the three grunts quickly and moved on to causing further havoc in the vehicle hangar. Allesandra put the bizarre sight out of mind and attempted to utilize the smatterings of the common tongue of Keifel and shut down the magnetic force within the processing room where the others were still battling the asherati known as Riejieth Ooshtoo. The lack of magnetic energy between the Aionis particles rendered the ranged asherati essentially helpless and at the mercy of the Chimeric Terror. They had no mercy for the man who had shot them on the run. Zakhar ran him through with his sword with extreme prejudice.

Upon further examination, the Chimera group found, that not only were there no slaves being held at this base, but they had been being tracked by their psionic output. Nothing though could prepare them for the sight they beheld in the main power facility of base. The room was filled to the brim with many glass cylinders all glowing with psionic energy. Within all of the cylinders was held the naked body of a Halfling, funneling psionic power outwards. The Halflings of the land of Keifel had been captured and enslaved to be used as tools of psionic energy and power, trapped forever. Upon examining the catatonic beings further, the group found that the cylinder was also serving as a life support system, if the Halfling were freed, they would die shortly afterwards. Harald, who was depleted of his own psionic energy opted that they utilize the Halflings for their power in order to allow him to heal the group. Allesandra came to a point of cognitive dissonance. She didn’t wish for the Halflings to be exploited and abused for their psychic energy, however she also didn’t feel it was right for them to die just so they wouldn’t be used. She argued impotently against Harald, Dolcetto and Caldear before she acquiesced to idly stand by as Harald utilized their energy to refill his own.

Dolcetto had a sudden change of heart upon further reflection. Just before Harald was about to operate the apparatus which would pour the legion of Halflings psionic energy to refill his own, Dolcetto smashed the console controlling the flow of energy, rendering the Halfling batteries useless with the beings inside soon to die. The act was met silent confusion from Zakhar, Claire and Caldear. Enraged and exasperated, Harald exited the chamber housing the now dying Halflings and aimed the last of his psionic power in an attacking thrust at Dolcetto before collapsing from exhaustion. Allesandra, enraged and confused pushed the marksman up against the metallic panel demanding to know why he killed the Halflings after arguing fervently against it. He only responded with “I had a change in heart.” Tensions settled as the group realized that Caroline was still fighting tooth and nail in the hangar alongside her 4 copies. They quickly gathered their effects and took anything of use from the room, including a map of the desert, trade records of the organization and several ingots of Aionis. Upon arriving topside they found the Zohera hangar massive wreck and nearly deserted save for dozens of bodies in Zohera underling garb, five separate Carolines, and a massive vehicle that sat on rolling tracks. Dolcetto and Allesandra explained to Caroline that although they had not located Mira and Beshoorchaka, they now knew where they had been taken: The Zohera base located in the northeast of the desert near to the Schriemann Mesas. Caroline informed the rest of the group that splitting into multiple copies of herself had drained her greatly and she would be forced to become comatose as a result. The multiple Carolines assimilated into the one speaking to the group, until they were just the one. She removed the necklace, handed it sluggishly to Dolcetto saying “keep this safe for me,” before she fell to the ground unconscious.

The all of them decided to recuperate from their wounds in the now cleared lair of the Organization for a pair of days. They became familiar with the workings of the large skiff-tank which had been marked as Overskiff Φ, renaming it ‘The Big Tray’ and learning the basics of how to pilot it. They positioned The Chimera within the tank’s large cargo area along with their surviving mounts. During their rest, Allesandra again dreamed of the young blonde girl and Gaul, her crying face reflected in the glass of his domed face cover. The stress of travelling began to wear harder on Allesandra motivating her to attempt to destroy the Psionic batteries which contained the Halfling people. The remainder of the group retaliated by restraining her with rope until she calmed her nerves a few days later. It would take them at least two if not three weeks to reach the Northeastern Zohera Base, however with The Big Tray in tow, the trip would be greatly eased.

A few days out into their travels the group of adventurers came across a band of Gnolls who traveled on the backs of giant hyenas. They excitedly acknowledged Zakhar as a being called “The Marru”, some sort of messianic figure, and asked that he would lead them. Zakhar was very confused by the development, having never traversed the Keifel Desert before, but both Harald and Dolcetto agreed that some extra muscle would be appreciated and Zakhar played along. They introduced themselves as The Ragnat Gnolls; Holdirt, Muukuu, Sandusk, Chesst, & Agatesun. They operated the ballistae atop The Big Tray. Caroline awoke to find Allesandra still restrained and she did not protest upon hearing the reasoning. The stresses of the dreams and being held had mentally exhausted Alessandra to a point of being consistently closed off and unresponsive to talking. Before a week and a half of travel had passed, after having fended off a smaller overskiff marked α, it was at this moment that again Caldear was overtaken by Rafael, this time even more viciously intent to slay Dolcetto. Without their combined efforts, he might have succeeded. The Voice of the Black Blade callously informed Claire that a part of Caldear’s strength of will when the blade was taken from him in the Zohera Base. Claire chose to keep this knowledge to herself.

The next day before the others had awoken, Caldear spoke to Caroline concerned that if Rafael continued to rear his sandy head that she should not hold back in killing Caldear as a result of stopping Rafael. Claire awoke to hear part of this conversation and be informed by the black blade that they were coming close to the nest of the Dunewinders, and another part of the blade lied there. Claire then opted to inform both Caldear and Caroline about both these facts and what she had learned the previous day from the blade. Caroline informed them that she had no intention to go anywhere near a nest of the rending heat shooting worms and said the group wouldn’t be interested in doing so either. Caldear and Claire opted to go as a pair and risk it for the safety of the rest of the group. The two departed and Caroline watched as they rolled out across the dunes, then she began to ready The Tray to continue travelling. Harald released Allesandra upon them reaching the outskirts of a city called Ekagna. They were greeted by a magistrate who at first mistook them for members of The Zohera Organization. Upon clearing up the misconception, the magistrate allowed them to enter the city given a condition. He returned to the city, and while doing so Allesandra regained her bearings and walked out from The Big Tray towards where Zakhar and Dolcetto were waiting. The Ragnat Gnolls laughed happily atop the vehicle. The magistrate returned with a short humanoid with glassy skin, two small horns atop his head and bound wings with his hands tied behind his back. The magistrate explained that the being next to him was a salt mephit, explaining further that they come from a mountain made of salt to the northwest and are known to corrupt water and required that they slay it.

When Allesandra inquired why, the magistrate informed her that the only reasoning was that it was a salt mephit. Allesandra began to get into a heated argument with Dolcetto who had acquiesced to killing the mephit. Zakhar, however drew his sword and slaked the prisoner before Allesandra could proper halt him. Her reaction was a retaliatory strike at the wolf-folk man. This attack on Zakhar however prompted the Gnolls atop the big tray to fire the ballistae at Allesandra. She was then knocked unconscious by the magistrate’s psionic backhand. With the situation calmed down, the magistrate explained to both Zakhar and Dolcetto, that if they intended to destroy The Zohera Organization that it could create a large power vacuum which would undoubtedly be sieged upon by the salt mephitis who have been held at bay by the Zohera. He asked that if they managed to topple the Eastern Zohera Base that they also quell the threat of the salt mephitis for the good of the desert. They both agreed and returned Allesandra to The Big Tray and once again restrained her.

Upon her awakening, Harald, Caroline, Dolcetto and Zakhar all communally told her that the outbursts she was having were detrimental to them all getting home and that though they weren’t in the best of situations trying to stand up for what she felt was right was not helping their situation. She said that she would no longer set aside her morals for the rest of them and that she intended to separate from them and find her own methods of returning to Aaralynn. They untied her and she gathered her belongings and set out on her horse Faress without a word to the others. Setting off that day after gathering supplies in the city Allesandra found the desert harsh to deal with without her paladin abilities. The remaining four of them purchased their own supplies and left out from the city later that night.

Allesandra was faster on her own outside the hulking tank of the Tray, however her supplies began to run thin as she reached the next settlement, Ern, having no food for the day of the night she arrived. Outside of Ern she came up to Gaul standing beside an overskiff, at first unaware of her until she spoke. Allesandra noticed a tome with a symbol of her deity, Mileni, on the spine. When she approached and questioned him about the book, even the demonically deep voice couldn’t mask that Gaul was tensely nervous. Once Allesandra told Gaul that the book was emblazoned with a symbol of her deity, he psionically rushed off into the overskiff and it began to speed away, leaving Allesandra behind. That night Allesandra’s dreams changed once again. Now the young blond girl sank into a pool of liquid metal before Allesandra reached her hand in to save her before she drowned. Rather than pull up the blond girl however she pulled out Gaul by the hand with both their forearms were covered in the liquid metal.

Without Claire talking to the Black Blade, Caldear transforming into Rafael, or Allesandra antagonizing their efforts, things were relatively uneventful Caroline noted as she piloted the Skiff-Tank over the sands. The Big Tray was intercepted by a pair of smaller, more maneuverable Overskiffs marked σ and τ. From the pair of overskiffs a cadre of Zohera forces led by Gaul assaulted The Big Tray. Harald caused himself significant bio-psychic damage as feedback from attempting to help better the Tray during the assault. Gaul formed a psionic wall enclosing himself next to the engine of the machine and began to destroy it. Zakhar managed to break through a portion of the wall, but Gaul continually psionically deflected the Wolf-folks attacks. Having done significant damage to the engine of their craft Gaul psionically warped back to the smaller ships which were being attacked in return by Dolcetto and The Ragnat Company. Gaul gave a signal to abandon to the overskiffs, and struck a section of the machinery as the remaining Zohera began to board sand sailing skiffs. The Zohera and Gaul escaped from the two smaller skiffs as the adventuring party returned to their own craft in the nick of time. The σ and τ Overskiffs crashed into the sand dunes, mechanically failing. The damage to The Big Tray’s engine was great indeed, only trudging along at a quarter the previous pace. As The Big Tray continued past the wreckage of the σ and τ, the Ragnat Company warned the adventurers of the Infamous Overskiff ω, An overskiff twice the size of The Big Tray that once annihilated an outpost that stood in opposition to The Zohera. It supposedly was positioned to guard the eastern base. This information did not come as good news as The Big Tray rolled into Ern functioning just enough.

Allesandra’s efforts to learn more information in town had not fared well due to the cultural divide, and some still present language barriers. Two days had passed by without her learning anything of value on either the Zohera Organization’s technologies, or sources of knowledge where she could find out more. By the afternoon of the next day, The Big Tray had parked outside of Ern, sending a column of smoke into the open sky. Allesandra’s curiosity overwhelmed her pride, and she decided to approach Dolcetto upon seeing the Big Tray pull up. Caroline, Harald, and Zakhar eventually came out from The Tray. Their collective conversation was strained but non-confrontational as they both explained what had occurred to themselves. They decided that their chances of survival were probably only viable if they remained together regardless of their ideological differences. As their conversation was finishing Harald noticed a large cloud of dust fast approaching the town. Upon closer examination, the group noticed that at the front of the cloud was Claire and Caldear both carrying small worm-like creatures in their arms, followed behind by another larger Dunewinder than the last they had seen. They could tell the pair were wounded, but they both held a part of the Black Blade. They all turned to each other and eventually all looked at Caroline with a look saying ‘we need to do something about this’. The bounty hunter sighted audibly and exasperatedly said “These people…”

Though the merg and mind-blade were both moderately wounded from their venture, they lent their efforts in keep away from the adult Dunewinder as the others assaulted it with fervor before it could devour the two and destroy the town. Caroline commented that their reunion was so convenient that it must have been divinely influenced. The infant dunewinders were quick to become material to trade for in town. The foreman at the garage informed the group that The Big Tray would be completely out of commission for an extended period and the repairs would be intensely costly. Dolcetto spoke frankly to him informing him that their friends had been captured weeks prior and that they needed all haste to rescue them. The man said he didn’t have any other real options he could offer, and provided worse news, saying that if their friends had been taken as slaves, there was a great likelihood they had been traded into the neighboring country of Schriemann. Dolcetto left the man’s office at his wit’s end, but another worker, Rejj Addar Zamin had eavesdropped on the conversation informed the now reunited group that he could provide them with supplies and mounts to re-outfit the Chimera with sails to help it cross the dunes quicker in exchange for a favor from the group. His sister had been a psionically gifted girl and was stolen away by The Zohera Organization and sold to a noble in the Schriemann Mesas named Bavarra Huell Jo Yurrara. He wanted them to bring his sister back safe and sound. They agreed and he provided them with the supplies and effort in upgrading The Chimera to be run by a pack of giant hyenas, and with sails that caught the wind. It truly now did resemble the multi-headed beast it was named for. Soon word had spread from the town of “The Chimeric Terror” that was the all of them.

The Chimera encountered yet another Dunewinder before long in its path paving towards The Eastern Base, but its reckless abandon in attacking was its undoing. It didn’t take advantage of its surroundings as the others that had come before it had, seemingly enraged, and the group gained yet another part of the black blade again. Though Muukuu had perished in the death throes explosion of the Dunewinder, the Gnolls didn’t seem to mourn death, and were strangely happy. Not because she was dead, but because she would meet Corbin. They were a strange lot the Ragnat Gnolls. The group was but two days away from the location of the eastern base before they were met by the Overskiff marked ω approached them on the dunes. The group prepared to have to fight to the death to even make an effort to quench the massive tank. Gaul stood atop the Overskiff next to a cannon that began to glow with a bright pink energy, before there was a loud rumbling emerging out from the ground. The Overskiff ω began to float unevenly out into the air, toppling around as the sound of crunching metal echoed out from it. It was clear that it was shrinking not of its own volition, and Gaul psionically teleported far away from the tank that began to fold in on itself. As it floated higher, the rumbling began to increase in intensity and volume, and it folded yet again, faster and faster until it was no more than a crumpled blood soaked husk one hundredth of its former size. The rumbling intensified until out from with the ground emerged a black silver and red Dunewinder with a giant purple crystal encrusted in a deep scar on the front of its head. It turned around to address the Chimeric Terror telepathically. It informed them that they had slain all the other adult Dunewinders leaving it the sole survivor of the species, as the larval Dunewinders were unfit to fend for themselves, and would die. It explained that it, Aphgemgo, had been appointed sentience and certain responsibilities of the desert by Corbin years prior. Aphgemgo conveyed to them that he was soon to perish as well and needed the deific intercession of Corbin’s son, Noyan and asked that they obtain Noyan’s help to right the situation. Once again, the group agreed to give a favor of their effort. In return Aphgemgo relinquished the part of the Black Blade which it held, and in addition summoned the other Companies of Gnolls that roamed the Keifel desert to aid the Chimeric Terror in assaulting The Eastern Base. The group left with renewed drive to topple the Zohera Base.

Just outside the city of Emeena, the group saw as Gaul ran injured by a psionic jamming dagger, being chased by a group of Zohera thugs. Although the situation was unclear, Allesandra leaped out from the vehicle to run to the aid of Gaul, jumping between the injured elocator and the oncoming thugs. A bright beam of light descended down from the sky as Allesandra’s body began to glow bright and she felt her paladinic abilities return en masse to her. Both this divine intercession and the group of about forty gnolls approaching closely behind prompted the assailing thugs to flee back to the city. Gaul nervously thanked the paladin as she helped to dress the masked man’s wounds. The rest of the group approached at the ready to execute the being that had caused them so much pain. Allesandra asked them to hold off before removing the mask of the former Zohera cohort to show it was a woman of blond hair beneath the suit.

Allesandra told them that her goddess had been sending her visions telling her to save the woman, and that slaying Gaul would first mean dealing with her. A touch confused, but still tense the group discussed with her what was going on. The woman told them her name was Rethett Gaul, and she hid her identity to avoid being oppressed or sold as a slave, however she had been found out by Bandall Forth Corbo and after her numerous failures to stop the Chimeric Terror, she was ousted. She explained to the group how the Eastern Base was set up as a communications hub and that she had already seen “the winged one” be transported off to the Nation of Schriemann, but that “the non-psychic Halfling” was in the ownership of Bandall Forth Corbo, the second in command of The Eastern Base. She said that assaulting the base would be near suicide. Undeterred, the Chimeric Terror continued forward with their plan to assail the communications base. Caroline remained on The Chimera just outside of the city to watch over their new “friend”, and Zakhar borrowed The Petal Necklace.

The garage of the first floors was made quick work by the dozens of Gnolls and the main group slid past the main guarding force in the chaos of the assault. Rising into the slave quarters they were faced with children being psychically controlled to attack them. Though they were weak, there were many and they were vicious and the group was forced to cut down a majority of them, before reaching their controller. A Portly man that confirmed himself to be Bandall Forth Corbo the head slaver and master of the mind-controlled children stood at the entrance of a door laughing only interrupted by raucous coughing. He was flanked by a trio of oddly strong elves. It occurred to them that they had yet seen an elf in their travels through the desert. During their struggle, though Caldear held a part of the Black Blade, Rafael began to form out from his body once again at the most inopportune time. Caldear found himself trapped within his mind struggling for control of his body against Rafael. Just when it seemed as though Rafael would overtake the merg, a vision of Caldear’s mentor Duncan appeared from the recesses of Caldear’s psyche. His reappearance gave Caldear the drive to realize that it was his guilt overtaking him, rather than truly Rafael’s soul magically overtaking him. Finding concentration and inner calm, Caldear dissipated his guilt and the form of Rafael slipped away, not to return. Upon being able to strike the now wildly coughing Bandall, his blood leaked slowly and thickly like a black tar. He seemed to be afflicted by a strange disease which he could not stop coughing from. He was cut down quickly only for the group to find his innards had also been apparently rotting into the same black sludge his body was leaking. Inside the room on the bed sat Beshoorchaka huddled together who spoke with a stiffened voice on the verge of crying only wanting to know if they had found Mr. Noyan and if they could go home yet. It was clear his status was not stable, as he began uncontrollably crying. They found a record of the trades of slaves into the Schriemann Mesas.

Ascending through the main communications tower they reached the zenith of the building met by a man in a strange cold room filled with many Psionic machines. He was dressed in a mechanical suit which formed around his entire body covered in psionic diodes apparently. His name was Volster Eikolgo Umar. He turned to them to chastise their efforts at overthrowing the power structure of the Keifel Desert. He finished with “What good is all of your effort to bring “right” to the land when it will be no more than a single grain of sand in an endless desert?”

As the group made themselves prepared proper for combat Dolcetto replied simply “What more is a desert than a collection of grains of sand?”

The fight was intense as the man formed strange walls and spears of ice, walking through the air using his psychic powers. Through the sharpshooting of Dolcetto, and Caldear, the sheer strength of Allesandra and Zakhar with his four copies, the fire spouting psychics of Claire, and the healing capabilities of Harald they bested Eikolgo. With a final sword strike Zakhar struck the man dead and he fell to the ground deceased. Upon removing the Petal Necklace Zakhar fell into a deep sleep as Caroline had prior. They found a letter he was writing with nothing more than ‘To my dear son” written at the top. They left the base a ruin riddled with the bodies of the Zohera and disabled the communications capabilities of the building. They returned to Caroline and Rethett knowing that their next objective would be to travel into the neighboring country of Schriemann.

End of Episode Six


Last edited by Just_Irving on Fri May 29, 2015 2:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Episode Six: Cracked Castles and Siphoned Souls; Story
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Dungeons and Dragons :: Irving's Campaign: Oh! What a Wonderful World :: Story Information :: Series 2-
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