G'tok-Dra

Cave Massacre

The party makes it’s way inside the Face in Stone to discover a tribe of vicious hejkins. One of the beasts swaps places with Lo-Kag via teleportation and the goliath is set upon by several of the small monsters. The mouth of the cave is bordered by two large columns which reveal themselves to be traps when Ilikan moves between them. Expech Tuhuy is also a victim of the trap. The battle is hard-fought but eventually leads to the party’s defeat. At the last minute, the monk, Ulmo, appears and saves the survivors of the massacre and proves instrumental in turning the tide in the heroes’ favor.
04 hejkins1

With the cave entrance cleared, finally, the group penetrates deeper into the cliff face to find another cavern—with more hejkins! A hejkin chief sounds a chitinous gong that reverberates through the chamber, summoning a Chuul from a nearby pool of water. The chuul attacks Expech Tuhuy with its vicious pincer-claws and severs the shaman’s body into 3 separate sections—lifelessly tumbling to the stone floor. The only sound to escape the shaman’s mouth is a mewling whimper, as a still-surprised look is frozen on his dead face.

Joined, as luck would have it, by a Mul fighter Bost the surviving party members defeat the hejkin and find valuable treasure.

Oblidai felt the Shaman’s death before he was even told. The elements called out to him in mourning, Expech’s spirit was no longer part of this world but had moved beyond the veil into the next. The spirit called out to him as Oblidai had a connection to the mystical leader of the qwam. The tribe needed him and he felt it essential to follow in his master’s footsteps and find the face in the stone. Hopefully he could find Korek riikqhari the Thri-Kreen monk there and bring peace and honor in remembrance of Expech Tuhuy (DEAD).

Oblidai requested a mul battlemind accompany him from the Gith-attala as they attempted to find this “face in the stone”. The spirit of Expech called to Oblidai and they had little difficulty finding the giant dust devil concealing the temple’s entrance. The dust storm hung in place over a cliff wall. A twirling twisting pillar of blowing dust and sand ascended at least 50 feet into the sky. It screamed over the dead plain, promising stinging death to those who entered its skirts.

A few remaining dwarven obsidian traders confirmed that Expech and the other adventurers went into the storm to find the Face in the Stone. They were on their way to Kled as they were attacked by raiders who for some reason threw the rest of their caravan into the storm to die. These raiders were apparently led by the infamous Yarnath the Skull who operates from a mysterious citadel known as Slither. They waited a few days now, recovering from their wounds and had not seen any signs of the party – not wanting to wait any longer, as their supplies were dwindling, and they felt they were now strong enough to brave the desert. They wished us luck as we headed into the storm and probable death.

As the storm tore at Oblidai and his friend he used his own dust devil companion to shield them from the worst of it and they made it through to the eye of the storm relatively unscathed. Coming to a strange carved face they knew they had reached their destination. Passing into the cool dark cave they came across several remains of goat-like creatures, they passed a cool stream which they paused to refill their depleted water skins and came upon Karek and the rest of his crew. He greeted them in typical Tri-Kreen coolness but with respect. He explained to them the passing of Expech and the sacrifice he had made for their Quam. Expech’s body was cut in pieces and Oblidai ceremoniously rubbed oils on his body and prepared a sacred funeral pyre. They told stories of the wise shaman and as the pyre light flickered and went out Oblidai collected some of his ash to return to the Gith-attala.

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The Face in Stone
the new party heads back to Tyr for an initiation to the Veiled Alliance

Having stayed in Altaruk, the party is summoned to the estate of it’s governor, Lord “Aris” Arisphistaneles.

“My new friends, the time for your initiation into the Veiled Alliance has come!” The lord hands you an unsealed scroll of papyrus. It reads:

Greetings from House Shom

We’ve sent messengers throughout the Tyr region to deliver this communication to those of a mercenary guise. If you be such, and you wish to earn a great reward, read on. Desert raiders harass and disrupt our caravans, yet the Revolutionary Council of Tyr will not lift a finger to help. Thus, honest merchants must find aid elsewhere. The raiders claim that our caravans know the site of a ruined temple called the Face in Stone. They say if we give up the location, their attacks will cease. But we know nothing of the ruin. Moreover, a Shom caravan seeking to find the Face in the Stone never returned. Our request is this: Find the Face in Stone, learn the fate of our lost caravan and provide assistance to any survivors. All we have concerning the ruin’s location is a line from an old song:

‘Where the devil’s horn threads the tunnel in the sky, a stony visage rarely blinks its hollow eye.’

Return with your findings to our emporium in Tyr, and you will be heralded as heroes of House Shom.

Regards, Delem Shom."

Eagerly awaiting the chance to join with a force for good in this godsforsaken place, you all make haste to leave Altaruk, en route to the mountains around Tyr. Making your way through the myriad stalls, booths and tents of the Elven Market, you’re set upon by a large group of dwarves, thri-kreen and men. The apparent leader, a human named Sarhan, who bears the roaring lion symbol of Urik, steps forward and speaks.

“This is your lucky day, dogs of Tyr! The Lion God, Hamanu, has chosen YOU to join the ranks of His worshipers. You should feel honored! However, I’m afraid this is going to hurt. A lot!"

A group of elves, armed with throwing chatkchas appears on the roofs of two nearby buildings. Then, a group of sturdy looking dwarves advance on the party, followed by Sarhan. Finally, a pair of bounding thri-kreen warriors blocks any possible exit from the melee. Although strong, your group doesn’t fare well against this numericaly and tactically superior force. You are quickly defeated, but, surprisingly, left alive and unconcious. When you awaken, you notice that three of you have small lion-head tattoos on your wrist. No sign of Sarhan or his forces is found.

Disturbed by these events, but undeterred, you set out for Tyr to find this Face in Stone place-wherever it may be. Outside of Tyr, you’re ambushed by large spiders, seemingly made of crystal.
Crystalspider

These are easily defeated (it seems that the spiders didn’t have enough time to take advantage of their terrain… ). After several more hours wandering through the desert and foothills of the Ringing Mountains, you come across a large gathering. A huge dust devil swirls amidst a cliff-face. Several large rock beds are surrounded by Tarek raiders and a few human bandits. Also, you spot several unarmed humans who are bound and being held captive. Several are being thrown into the midst of the Dust Devil—not to return.

Tarek by ben wootten

Combat is joined and, soon enough, the Tarek are routed, but only 4 humans remain alive. You briefly interrogate the humans and learn that they are all that remains of a large caravan sent by House Shom to find the Face in Stone. Although they failed to find it, they believe that it lies beyond the Dust Devil.

All of you make it through the immobile dust storm and there, in front of you, is a giant humanoid face carved into a cliff face. You’ve found the Face in Stone!

Face stone

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Caravan

“The spirits protect their own. They have tasted our blood and sweat in the desert and rewarded our perseverance”

Expech prayed to the elements for their release from the desert. Now it was up to them to survive Tyr! The foul smelling, gaudily worked structures punctured the earth and he told the rest of the Gith-attala to remain in the shelter of some caves as they obtained supplies in the city of man.

Korek waved an antennae for Expech to climb up a rocky outcropping and pointed to a small caravan winding its way up the trade road. Expech nodded in agreement and they headed towards it to see what news they could obtain from the traders. As they approached they saw it was a band of Elves en route to Alturuk. In fact the elves saw that we were well acquainted with our environs and asked us if we sought work – and offered us 50 ceramic pieces apiece if we would guide and protect them on their journey. It was too good to be true, to be certain, but still an offer as such could not be overlooked – so we discussed it briefly and took it – risky or not.
Under a dark sun by jasonengle
The trade route was almost as bad as being on the open desert. They needed to tend to the pack animals and avoid bandits and such. The journey was relatively uneventful and it appeared to be the easiest money the two would make till they made it into town. The elves gathered in a tent and Expech and Korek were conversing with two other guards they met who happened to be ex-gladiators from Tyr – Ilikan and Lo-Kag both half giants. They were wary of the elves as well and when they spotted them talking to some slavers in a silk tent they confronted the elves – who at once prepared to silence us. One of the giants took the elven leader, Kaldras, out with a ponderous hit from his gouge and the town guards rushed in to uphold the peace.

Tellamon – the Captain of the Altaruk town guard, who wielded a magnificent metal long sword, apparently worked as a judicator in town. The man listened as each side presented their perspectives as to what had transpired. With some excellent social skill, Toox convinced Tellamon that they, indeed, were the victims of the elven tribe.

We celebrated our victory against the elves with much libation, but, ran afoul of a Balican noble. To make up for the insult, we were sentenced to fight in Bloodsand Arena.

To the roar of the crowd we were pitted against the elves and had to get these giant ceramic coins into colored baskets on opposite sides of the arena. It was not too hard with the giants and my elementals blocking their route and the nimble tri-kreen monk with multiple appendages juggling multiple coins. In fact it wasn’t even a contest. But the crowd must have enjoyed our performance as I thought our case won – once we defeated the elves…

So then came spiders and gith and the giants squished the bugs easily enough. They seemed to enjoy it – in fact the arena was where they were raised. I merely raised their spirit and refreshed their souls with my primal magic and they could withstand the utmost punishment! Korek seemed to take to the giants as well – with them keeping the foes attention he was able to strike where it did the most damage with little fear of retaliation. There was one other that fought with us in the arena Toox and I did not understand her nature. She was a beautiful specimen who seemed to conjure crystals of force that exploded. Of course the giants did not like the shards of force that struck them as well, but, when they understood to get out of her way, the matches got easier that they had us “perform” as a grand spectacle for the people. I think if we were less impressive the event would have been much shorter.
Dark sun arena
Then, in our last bout, there was a scream from the stands—it appeared that someone was thrown from the upper balcony! There was much panic in the crowd and the guards came out and ushered us back into the gladiator pits and attempted to disperse the crowd.

While we were in the pits a half elf approached us and applauded our performance in the arena. “My name is Selonius and I work for Lord “Aris” Arisphistaneles the lord baron here in Altaruk. He was most impressed by your show today and requests your service in another manner. You saw the disturbance in the arena today I presume? Aris would like an outside counsel to investigate this matter. Aris rewards those who please him and is offering a prodigious amount of ceramics a piece. What say you?”

When the group stopped their open mouth gaping they readily agreed and they were led to a group who they were told witnessed the event. It was Tellamon who was murdered. It was also quite obvious the witnesses had already been bullied and were not cooperating. But the giants had an intended effect upon them as they most certainly saw their performances in the arena – Aris choose his inquisitors wisely! The culprit was wearing gladiator sandals and a white tunic. The group also found a dagger laced with a poison made from arcane magic – which few in the city would have access or knowledge about.

Investigating around a bit more they saw a suspicious looking dwarf running off into a shady section of town and shadowed him. Following him into an a gladiator house, they met him talking to a muscle bound brute wearing a white tunic and sandals. Surprised by our entrance, he challenged our intrusion and being forthright we told him we were investigating a murder. He saw that he could not fool us, so, he came clean; explaining that it was indeed his plot and had hired his friend here to kill off Tellamon. He went on to clarify that Tellamon was seeking to depose Aris, and that the captain was a member of a secret society called The True. Tellamon had found out that Aris was part of the Veiled Alliance and was planning to assassinate him.

Taking him at his word, we went back to Aris and exposed the plot. He was pleasantly surprised by the news and swore us into secrecy about the whole affair. He went on to propose that we be inducted into it – I don’t think we had much choice in the matter.

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