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Dark Sun: Sands of Blood, Part 3

July 24, 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 4: Unwise Actions

Two days had passed since the ambush, and the thri-kreen was ranging ahead of the caravan with some of the mounted outriders. His wounds from the fight with the gith had mostly healed, leaving a number of shallow scars that crisscrossed his carapace. As he sprinted along the rocky slope that bordered the road, effortlessly keeping pace with the kanks on the packed dirt below him, his insectoid mind was filled with the joy of the relentless hunt. Find the prey, bring it down, consume it, never stop moving. It was what he was made for. But for the most part, the scouts had spotted nothing aside from the occasional bird or lizard.

Then, unexpectedly, the prey presented itself.

On top of a rocky outcropping that abutted the road in the distance, Krik spotted a humanoid figure. The humanoid had apparently noticed the thri-kreen and riders as well, for it turned to present its profile to them, and raised a long, curved stick in front of its body. Then it pulled its other arm backwards in a familiar motion…

Archer!” A shaft loosed from the humanoid’s longbow as the thri-kreen broke into a run to close the intervening space as quickly as possible. The outcropping was a good position to guard the road, he noticed, as there was no easy ascent to the archer’s position from the mantis warrior’s direction. The arrow arced through the sky and struck the ground near one of the kanks. The archer was already drawing another. “It is mine,” Krik called out to the mounted humans. “Go back and tell the tek!”* He kept moving without checking to see if they complied. His mind was bent on the hunt.

Arrows chased the ‘kreen as he raced towards the rock formation. When he got closer, the humanoid lowered its bow and clambered down from its perch, behind the stones and out of sight. Krik followed the road as it curved around the large rocks and spied that on the other side, their height descended closer to the dirt. He skidded to a halt, turned, and made an astounding standing leap from the road up onto a ledge. Another short hop brought him on top of the outcropping and within sight of his prey.

Unfortunately, his prey had friends. Five tall and slender elves, their skin darkened by constant exposure to the desert sun, were climbing up from a camp on the other side of the outcropping, seven-foot longbows in hand. Without hesitation, Krik charged into their midst.

The elves nimbly avoided his claws, however. The elf in front of the ‘kreen dropped her bow and pulled out an elven longsword, its edge fashioned from shards of bone. Her companions backed off, loosing arrows at the mantis-man as they moved. Three elven shafts sunk themselves in Krik’s shell, and he began to think that taking on five elves by himself had not been a wise decision.

Krik jumped over a low sword-swing and retreated. He leaped down to the hard dirt surface of the road, then ran across it and up the rough slope on the opposite side. Three of the elves advanced to the edge of the outcropping and continued to fire arrows, while the other two, swords drawn, made their way down to follow on foot.

Just then, bolts of pure coldness struck two of the archers, felling both of them. Two hundred feet down the road, back in the direction of the caravan, three kanks could be seen, carrying their normal riders along with Basal, Aral Karef, and Karick Reshaw. Aral’s kank had been stopped by its rider to allow the young kineticist to better concentrate on the Way. The elven archer that still stood took stock of the situation before retreating away from the road and out of sight.

From his seat behind the saddle of a galloping kank, Karick glanced over his shoulder in surprise at Aral. Karick knew how to perform the same “trick” with ambient energies (though he preferred to use lightning over cold), but the range of his abilities was not nearly so long.

Meanwhile, Krik had also moved out of sight from the road, and had temporarily outrun his pursuers. A quick scan of the surrounding terrain revealed a shadowy hollow under a boulder to the thri-kreen’s right, which he proceeded to squeeze himself into. He concentrated on his hidden talent, deepening the shadows around him and hopefully concealing himself from sight. The ‘kreen then took stock of his wounds. Not good. If the ikthok offered to remove my scars right now, I would not refuse her.* His compound eyes were drawn to a nearby movement; the two elves had caught up and were searching the empty landscape for him. One of them noticed a trail of dark yellow thri-kreen blood on the reddish rocks, and followed it with his eyes to Krik’s hiding place. “There it is! Kill it!”

The desperate thri-kreen burst from the shadows and leaped at the elves. Krik held no hope of survival, but he was determined to inflict as much damage as possible before dying. His claws tore into the side of one the elves, tearing her leather armor and drawing blood. His foes moved into flanking positions and beat at him with their swords.

Then a thick crossbow quarrel sprouted from the shoulder of one elf, and flashes of electricity and cold struck both of them. Krik breathed heavily in relief as the two elves fell to the ground, dying or dead, burnt and covered in frost. His companions from the caravan sat on kanks atop a hill, back in the direction of the road. The thri-kreen wearily nodded in appreciation and then bent down to slit the throats of his attackers. The riders and their mounts made their way down the hill towards him. When they were closer the thri-kreen spoke.

Ikthok, I humbly ask for healing prayers. These scars will fade from my jidz, but the memory of them will not fade from my mind.”*

Basal gave the young warrior a nod to signal that she understood as she dismounted.

“Aren’t you going to eat these elves like you ate the gith?” asked one of the outriders, gesturing towards the bodies. “I thought elf meat was a delicacy for your kind.”

So it is said. But I was raised in slavery and have never tasted the flesh of an elf.” Krik regarded the almost-elvish ears of Basal with curiosity as she bent down to heal his wounds with her prayers.

Karick knelt over the bodies, examining their clothing and weapons. “They look like they’re members of the Silver Seeker tribe. I didn’t even know that the Seekers traveled this region. Why did they attack you?”

An outrider spoke up. “They just did. There was no warning.” He inclined his head in Krik’s direction. “Maybe they really hate ‘kreen?”

The first arrow was aimed for you, or your mount. They were guarding the road, I am certain.

“We need to return to the caravan and warn Laalresh,” Aral said. “This looks like trouble.”

* tek = pack; ikthok = earth cleric; jidz = chitin / shell

Chapter 5: Trouble

When the outriders and guards returned to the caravan, they told Laalresh of what had happened. “Trouble indeed,” he declared as he turned away and glumly looked to the southeast. Their destination, a small trading outpost owned by House Klethira, lay in that direction, but it was still roughly a full day’s travel away. And it’s already close to mid-day.“Have the elves attacked our outpost, do you think?” he inquired of the empty expanse before him. No, Gorgoreth would have sent word. Or perhaps he did, and his message arrived after we left Nibenay.

Behind him, Gravik spoke up. “No way to know until we get there.” The dwarf looked up at Karick Reshaw. “These Silver Seekers, are they raiders? Do they have the numbers to seize a fort?”

The red-haired wastelander shook his head. “I do not know. I thought their tribe was mostly concerned with trading. Maybe they got hit by some hard times and have turned to pillaging to feed themselves. Although if they sacked the outpost, they wouldn’t be guarding the road – they would have just moved on afterwards.”

“Is it possible to reach the outpost tonight?” Aral interjected, cutting short the speculation. “I don’t believe we should be making camp out in the open if there’s an entire tribe of angry elves running about.”

Laalresh turned back to face the others and nodded. “Aral, I agree. Gravik, get us moving, as fast a pace as the handlers think the kanks can handle. If we push on past sunset, I think we can reach our destination.” Laalresh gave those assembled before him what he hoped was a reassuring smile. Assuming it is still there to be reached. The group broke apart and headed back to the wagons, where the dwarf started shouting out orders. After a short time the caravan was traveling along the road with a sense of urgency it had not possessed before.

They continued their march through the hottest part of the day without pausing, and without spotting any elves. For a while it almost seemed as if they would reach the outpost unmolested, and spirits began to rise somewhat. “The elves must have been out here for some other reason,” Laalresh exclaimed to the teamster seated next to him. “Yes, that’s it! They uncovered something of value nearby, an ancient ruin perhaps, and perceived us as a threat. They only sought to drive us off from their find!” The man shrugged in response to his employer’s words and cracked his whip over the heads of the tiring kanks. Who could say why elves did anything?

But Laalresh’s hopes were soon dashed when the caravan came upon the arrow-filled forms of the two forward scouts and their mounts.

Laalresh stood from his seat on his wagon, dumbfounded at the sight. The thri-kreen and some of the other guards were cautiously moving forward to inspect the bodies. Those further back looked to their caravan master, seeking his leadership in this difficult moment he thought, but the words that came to his mind and flowed from of his mouth were not very inspiring:

“We Are F***ed.”

Next: the gauntlet!

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From → D&D, Dark Sun, Gaming

2 Comments
  1. Not a random ambush then.

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  1. Dark Sun: Sands of Blood, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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