Friday, 5 July 2013

Dark Sun Marauders (Season 3, Chapter 7)

These posts are from our DnD group's latest game.  The current adventure is a return to the world of Dark Sun.  In the previous seasons (the first run by me, the second run by Richard), the party were involved with hunting through Kalak's pyramid, confirming if the Sorcerer-King was truly dead, and retrieving the Orb of Dust.  The group is currently in Tyr, fighting against the invading Urik army.

The group were given barely enough sleep to get by on, but with the army a mere day's march away, no one was truly resting much.  As they moved out into the chaos of Tyr's streets, they were greeted by one of the guards, and ushered quickly to one of the templars in charge of defence.
"Finally!", was the gruff greeting they received when they arrived at the guardhouse.  "You are needed in at least half a dozen places right now - but most pressing is the front gates!"

After last night's fiery explosion, the engineers had tried to patch up the Caravan Gate as best they could, but it would not yet stand against an onslaught from the Urik army.  At the moment, they were trying to put the final touches on the strengthening of the outer layers of the gate, and complete the locking mechanism, but a squadron of halfling headhunters was picking off the workers and tearing down the plating before they could finish.  Following Pieter, an axe-wielding man with hair the colour of a late summer sunset, the group was quickly led through streets packed with folk wanting to escape the city before the siege pressing against those who had tried, and had been turned back by the guards.  Their task was to hold off these vicious halflings so that the workers could finish the job, and retreat inside.

That would have been easy enough, if it weren't for the silt sharks that a few of the headhunters had tamed and brought along.  These grey, leathery beasts swam through the dirt and sand, leaving a slippery path of quick-silt behind them, which caught Beren, and almost trapped others.  Their teeth were also most vicious, snagging Kal'kin at one point.

Still, even with Kulo, away helping put out the fires raging through the noble section, the team managed to keep the halflings at bay, and sent a few sharks down to the sandy depths.  The gates were repaired, they moved back inside, and the army scouts were locked out - for now.

They had barely finished reporting in when another cry went up - flyers! All had heard of the mighty Cloud Rays that floated through the skies deep in the desert.  However, none had turned them to warfare before - until Urik managed to collect some of the young. These creatures - only about 10ft across - made great mounts for the Urik templars.  These ones were surrounded by a handful of hatchlings, dashing through the air, and launching down at their enemies.  

The now-flying templars strafing attack wasn't the only thing to defend against - creeping through the shadows below, thri-kreen warriors ran towards the wall, quickly scaling them and leaping at those atop the wall.  Groups of soldiers, ex-slaves and other volunteers were spread out along the wall, attacking the Cloud Rays as they drew close, and trying to fight back the thri-kreen.  For a moment, Pieter pondered leaping atop one of the flying beasts, and the glory of riding the creature as it crashed to the ground sent shivers down his back.  

But glory was not his for the taking.  Instead, he played it safe, and lived on as just another faceless grunt in the war effort.  Still, once the walls were safe from invaders, he followed Kal'kin outside, and chased down the war machines being set up outside.

Kal'kin had always been fast, but now he seemed almost able to outrun a shot from one of the defiling-empowered trebuchets, as he charged at the machine, its crew and their guards single-handed.  One of the crew fell, and another was wounded, before the three half-giants turned and crushed the speedy insect into the ground.  Turning to face Kuoroar! and Beren, they presented a solid wall of muscle and flesh between their dying friend and Paelias' aid.  Taking down a half-giant and reviving a thri-kreen might not have been as climatic as surfing a cloud ray down the side of a city's wall, but it was clear that Kal'kin appreciated Pieter's actions all the same.

Sadly, the other teams did not fare so well.  The other six trebuches fell, but not a single other team returned to Tyr's walls.  Many good (or at least strong) folk were lost that day.

After taking an axe to his knee, Beren limped slowly off to the medic, with Paelias only barely supporting him.  Kuoroar! and Kal'kin travelled with Pieter, planning on returning to the temporary HQ, and debriefing again.  That was their plan - but when Kal'kin spotted figures running through the streets, dashing from shadow to shadow, they had to make a detour.  

The figures were clearly travelling magically - their forms were bulky enough that only fell means could hide the sound of their running. Kal'kin tried to move ahead of them, scouting around to get a better look, but instead positioned himself directly in the group's running path, and within moments, found himself surrounded by sturdy dray - bulky reptilian soldiers created by the sorcerer-king Dregoth.  As they fought, and died...and stood back up to fight again, Kuoroar! and Kal'kin recognised their abilities from another such fight.  Beneath the pyramid, the ziggurat in the centre of Tyr, they had fought such creatures.  They had dissolved into dust, reforming moments later. They had taken lethal blows and fought on despite them.  They were, in fact, undead.  

As they killed, rekilled, and killed them again, one phrase was spoken by the drey.  One phrase that, at first, was hidden behind the thickness of their accent.  This phrase seemed to be an urging, a plea, a request, despite their attacks.  And by the time the six drey had been defeated, a single word had been understood.  That word was a name: Thakok-An.  The name of the woman who had stolen the Orb of Dust from beneath their noses.

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