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Dark Sun: Sands of Blood, Part 2

July 17, 2017

Continuing the story of an old 3E Dark Sun game. Our heroes (?):

  • Krik, a thri-kreen fighter-in-training, alone and hunting for a new clutch
  • Basal, a female half-elven earth priestess, wastelander healer
  • Karick Reshaw, a male human psion (kineticist), wanderer and guide
  • Aral Karef, a male human psion (kineticist), scion of the merchant houses
  • Kanyth, a male human bard, free-spirited story teller

Chapter 2: Good Omen

Shortly before dusk came to end the first day of the caravan’s travels, a ragged shout went up from one of the guards. “Silk wyrm to the north!” Everyone turned to look in the direction pointed out by the one who called out, and sure enough, a silvery ribbon could be seen flying through the air, several hundred feet away. It seemed to be heading towards the wagons in a lazy, aimless fashion. The assembled guards stopped to gawk at the sight, some turning to Laalresh for leadership.

The caravan master stood up from his seat at the front of one of the wagons and gazed at the distant snake-like monster with a scowl. “Hmmm, so it is. And it’s coming this way, I think. How unfortunate. What do you suggest, Gravik?”

The dwarf had already unslung his heavy crossbow and was busy cranking it. “Get out our bows and crossbows and shoot it until it dies! Damn beasties, killed my parents they did…”

The thri-kreen jogged over to Laalresh and spoke in its dry, raspy voice. “Many pardon, hoz, but I am familiar with creature like this. Difficult to fight without losing one or many tekmma’ak. Suggest we keep low and do not move, in hope that creature does not see tek.”*

“Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea, I suppose. Stay your hand, Gravik. Everyone else, get down and stay still. Perhaps it won’t bother us.” Laalresh followed his own advice by climbing into the wagon bed and hiding himself under the safety of its covering.

With some grumbling (the vast majority of it coming from the dwarf), the caravan guards and handlers did as they were ordered. The wyrm continued its slow flight towards the party. By the time it had closed half of the distance, its form could be seen much more clearly. Its body was roughly 40 feet long, covered in lumpy-looking chitin and capped by a wedge-shaped head that featured an extremely wide mouth.

“First it ate my family, now it’s back to finish the job!” groaned the dwarf. “We need to attack before it’s on us!”

Still almost 200 feet away, the silk wyrm swiveled to look at something below it. Like a striking snake, its head reared back for an instant. It then dived down and out of sight, apparently attacking some unseen creature on the ground. The group remained where they were, anxiously watching the last visible spot the wyrm occupied. In short order the monster resurfaced, carrying a giant lizard in its massive jaws, and started moving away from the caravan. With sighs of relief, the guards stood up, dusted themselves off, and after Laalresh emerged from his hiding spot they resumed their journey.

When camp had been made that night, the men and women of the caravan sat around their campfires, gambled with their yet-to-earned wages, and spoke of the silk wyrm. “To see a wyrm on the first day, have it approach, but not attack? That’s a sign. It’s a good omen, it is,” said one of the men. “I’m thinking this trip is going to be the easiest money I’ve ever earned.”

But unbeknownst to the guards, a hunched over humanoid figure looked on the camp from far beyond the light of its fires. After a time, it turned around and ran off into the night.

hoz = leader; tek = pack; tekmma’ak = packmate.

Chapter 3: Ambush!

Two days later, the wagons were almost upon the Blackspine Mountains. Further ahead, the road would turn northward, leading out of the Blackspine Gap, but Laalresh had other plans. The caravan pulled off of the main road and onto a smaller trail that led southeast, staying in the hills that surrounded the mountains.

On the next day, the caravan fell into a well-prepared ambush.

The trail had slimmed as it snaked uphill between a pair of rocky ridges. As the kanks struggled to pull their load through the most narrow section, shouts of “Chaaldach!” were heard from all sides, and a score or more gith appeared on top of both ridges. The stooped creatures continued to shout as they easily jumped down from their hiding locations and charged the surprised defenders. Most of the gith carried stone-tipped spears, though a few swung massive greataxes with blades shaped from bone.

Aral Karef struggled to recall his studies at the academy as two of gith advanced on him. In his mind’s eye, he could feel minute traces of moisture in the air, and more in the bodies of those near him. He quickly drew forth barely perceptible amounts of the water from all around while mentally transforming it into another form. A deep bass hum sprang up around him as his mind gathered the result of his work into two daggers composed of pure coldness.* He directed the missiles at the approaching gith, who fell over when struck with a look of great surprise on their faces (and a light coating of frost). The entire process took only a handful of seconds.

The young student of the Way looked on his handiwork and smiled to himself. But he was broken from his reverie by an arrow clattering on the packed dirt near his feet. Gith remained atop both ridges, and were firing bows down into the melee.

Nearby, Krik charged the gith nearest to him, who appeared unarmed, but the thri-kreen’s opponent easily jumped back from the insect’s hasty claw rake. One of the gith’s own clawed hands suddenly blazed with a reddish hue, and the creature attempted an overhand slash. Krik barely managed to lean backwards and avoid the deadly strike. The gith’s momentum carried its claw into the ground, where its strange glow discharged harmless into the dirt.

The thri-kreen responded with a flurry of claws and mandibles. Some attacks the gith dodged; others were harmless deflected by the surrounding air itself, as if it had somehow been hardened into an invisible shield. A gith chakak?** No matter, I will still bring it down and feast on its flesh.

Over on the other side of the caravan, a gith carrying a quarterstaff had remained on its ridge with the handful of archers. Since the attack began, it had been chanting with a strange voice while holding its staff aloft and grasping a piece of crystal that hung by a cord around its neck. It finished its prayers with a shout, and a humanoid shape rose from the dirt near the rear wagon. The newly formed figure was roughly three feet tall and composed of sand and stone. When it opened a mouth-like hole in its head, a deep rumbling sound issued forth: an elemental battle-cry.

Basal the earth priestess picked up the heavy crossbow that she had been reloading and moved closer to the earth elemental. She held forth the rock that hung from her neck and called out in Terran, “With the power of stone I command you to hold! Return to your home and bother use no more!” The rock began to glow with a soft brownish light, and the elemental shrank back in fear from the radiance. By the time the battle had ended, it had sunk back into the earth without moving from its spot.

In the meantime, the defenders struck down many gith, and an equal number of humans had fallen next to their attackers. Aral continued to drop the ambushers with his missiles of cold until he ran out of nearby foes. Scanning the melee for the best targets, he was surprised to see the mysterious guide Karick creating javelins of lightning from the air and hurling them at the gith. Another kineticist! On the opposite ridge, he could see that Gravik had reached its top and was swinging his stone war hammer at the gith cleric. Basal fired her crossbow into the back of another attacker that had just stabbed one of the guards with its spear. Behind Aral, the thri-kreen and the gith psion were still struggling in vain against one another.

Down at the other end of the caravan, Aral spotted one of the axe-wielding gith, full of arrows and frothing at the mouth, as it readied a charge against some of the guards. Aral formed a single missile and directed it into the creature’s back. It gave a final shudder and collapsed.

Another raging gith disemboweled two guards with a single swing of its huge axe. Karick shocked it with a lightning missile, to no noticeable effect. The hulking monster turned on him and charged with a scream, slicing open a gash in the guide’s midsection with its axe. Karick desperately loosed another bolt of lightning while avoiding the gith’s attacks, again with no visible result (except perhaps angering his opponent further). As the gith readied for a powerful swing to split the human’s head in two, it was stuck simultaneously by several arrows and a massive crossbow bolt from Basal. The gith paused in mid-stroke, blood running from its mouth. After a long moment, it fell forward and on top of Karick, pinning him to the ground.

The few remaining gith routed. The one that fought tooth and claw against Krik backed off and ran to the hills. The thri-kreen, its shell covered with numerous claw marks, declined to give chase. A few arrows and bolts were half-heartedly loosed at the fleeing gith, to no great effect. When the situation appeared safe, the men and women descended on the bodies for some well-earned looting.

Gith corpses littered the landscape, along with several of the guards. Basal spread her healing around the wounded, though the two disemboweled guards were beyond her aid. When she reached the thri-kreen, a raised claw stopped her short.

Will your magic preserve my scars, ikthok?”**

“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that. Your scars will fade as if they were never there.”

No! If I have no scars on my jidz, how will those who look to me know my prowess as a kak?”**

“Uh… okaaay. Well, let me clean your wounds, at least. I can wash them with urine and pack them with dirt; that’ll keep them from drawing an infection.”***

Very well.

“And I will have to say a short prayer over the wrappings, in order to ensure full protection.”

Very well.

The priestess packed the wounds as promised, and wrapped them in long strips of cloth. Afterwards, she said her short prayers, which were in reality a handful of minor healing magics. Krik seemed not to notice.

In the midst of the carnage, Laalresh and Gravik sought out Karick. The guide had been healed by Basal, but his clothing was torn and he was covered in blood. “My, you are quite the surprise, aren’t you? Here I thought I had hired but one master of the Way, and it turns out I have two. And you’re an accomplished guide as well!” Gravik gave a short grunt in agreement.

“I am a man of many talents,” was all that the red haired kineticist would say in response.

“What do you think of these gith? They seem a rather ragged lot, no? I wonder why they left their homes in the mountains…”

Karick thought over the puzzle for a small while before replying. “Perhaps a stronger tribe chased them off? There are many gith living in the Blackspine.”

“True, true. But even… Hey, what’s the thri-kreen doing over there?”

Gravik snorted. “Looks to me like he’s stripping the meat off of a gith.”

“I, uhm… Well…” Laalresh quickly turned around. “Gravik, go over them and tell him to stop. Or at least tell him to do it out of sight of the men. Yes, the men, that’s it.” The dwarf gave a coarse laugh and went to perform his duty.

* It was actually five missiles, but the energy missile power has since been toned down in our game and I would like to keep the story consistent with later events.
** chakak = psion; ikthok = earth cleric; jidz = chitin / shell; kak = warrior.
*** Fun survivalist fact – if water is scarce, urine is sterile and can be used to clean wounds!

Next: trouble!

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From → D&D, Dark Sun, Gaming

7 Comments
  1. …and if your urine isn’t sterile, you will notice, and should get a doctor’s apointment!

  2. Awesome! Dark Sun is STILL my favorite setting!!! I have all of my original 2nd Ed. Dark Sun box set, flip adventures and books.

  3. “Kanyth, a male human bard, free-spirited story teller” …. and poisoner, if I recall Dark Sun correctly 😉

    • Yep, bards in Athas are assassins and poisoners. Kanyth’s activities are vaguely alluded to in the first update as why he’s eager to get out of Nibenay.

      One story that I do remember from that campaign that doesn’t show up here is that somewhere along the way, Kanyth got a wand of magic missile, caster level 1 (so 1 dart for 1d4+1 damage). There were no wizards in the party so he made use of it with the Use Magic Device skill. That wand brought down soooo many foes (as in, getting the last shot that took the target to unconsciousness/dying, it was still only doing 1d4+1 damage) that it became known as the wand of deadly missile. 🙂

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