DAY: 14
KA: 190

Choro is rubbing the base of his skull where it meets his neck. His long thick hair covers this area and his forehead. He has a lost look in his eyes. He is in deep thought and has not spoken in many minutes.

“Choro! Choro what is that?!?” calls out Olan sitting upright and pointing. A darkness seems to be rolling or pouring towards them on the bridge. “What is it?”

Choro snaps out of it and cups his hands over his eyes to see clearer. “Small but fast.”

Nearly two-thirds of the way across the bridge are five members of House Tsalaxa. Koe, a mul monk, and Drak’ Chka , a thri-kreen barbarian scout came to the hidden village of Ket to locate a missing and important package due in the city-state of Draj over a week ago. With them are the sole known survivors of the slaughter of Ket. Massa Hickxen, a Tsalaxa agent with Ranger based survival skills and two of her slaves, Ted and Griff. With no clues and the deaths pf over 120 people, mostly slaves, they return with little to show for it.

Drak, in the lead as they travel the wooden bridge that is over ½ mile in length, spots something ahead of them. He leads them on instead of alerting Koe and the others of something ahead. At about thirty feet away Koe can see the problem.


“Good to know you are observant. How will you get me across that?” demands the half-elf Tsalaxa agent.

A flash of impulse crosses the mul’s thoughts. Throwing her towards the hole- not over it. “We will cross it.”

“klik….danger.” warns the thri-kreen. The silt ripples with activity. Many small white domes move through the silt with a slight rhythmic glide. On the other side of the hole comes a laugh that Koe remembers. A huge skeleton with a cleric riding its shoulder rises out of the 5ft deep silt. The domes begin to rise. The domes were the top of dozens of skeletons traveling through the silt.

“Protect me dammit!” screams out the woman.

“I protect.” States Koe as he nods to the two slaves.

Back on the edge of the mainland…..

“Rats?!?” the half-giant questions.

“A swarm!” adds Olan as he watches them rush forward down the bridge.

They must wait a few moments for the rats to come to range. That is when Choro discovers- “Dead rats! Zombie but still fast!”

“It just gets better and better.” Adds Olan as he withdraws two daggers.

Choro looks at them then the rats. “Really?”

The tiefling shrugs and smiles apologetically.

Back at the break in the bridge-

Drak easily jumps over the gap and threatens the huge skeleton. Koe begins to kick and stomp the skeletons as they attempt to climb onto the bridge. Massa slides behind the two slaves. Meat shields.

A cleric of silt rises out of the silt. It doesn’t seem to hinder his breathing or senses at all. Drak kills him quickly. He then looks up at the lead cleric whom is still laughing until he spots the thri-kreen looking intently at him. “Bridge.”

The giant skeleton goes after the bridge. Drak ignores this clumsy attack and leaps onto the shoulder opposite of the cleric. The cleric is no longer laughing.

Koe continues to kick and stomp. The slaves mainly avoid having their legs grabbed by the skeletons.

The undead rat swarm is partially frozen as Choro reaches out with his mind. Then they are onto him. Horrified, he stumbles backward and off the bridge. With hundreds of targets, Olan realizes how futile his daggers will be. The swarm reaches the end of the bridge and stop. The undead rats continue to hop and crawl over other but do not leave the wooden structure. Olan looks to Choro. Choro shrugs. “I don’t know.”

The cleric cleric attempts to caste a spell but can not as he is struck with the thri-kreen Gythka. The dark skinned humanoid smirks and gives a salute to the kreen and merely steps back and falls into the silt and disappears. The giant skeleton attempts to dislodge the kreen but he holds on tightly to the ribs from behind where the skeleton can not reach.

Koe has cleared the skeletons threatening the two surviving slaves (whatever with her). A dozen skeletons have climbed up onto the bridge where Drak once was. Koe steps up to jump across but a rat chewed board gives as he pushes off. He falls into the silt but grabs the edge of the bridge.

Without the two cleric’s wills and spells controlling the skeletons. The skeletons stop…. As if confused. Koe sees his chance and begins to climb up. Then, the undead, once roaming freely within the silt, return to their limited but destructive and dangerous selves. The two standing by the edge where Koe is climbing take his action as a threat and begin to claw at him. Their sharp finger bones tear into the mul’s thick skin of his back. He snarls in pain and frustration.

The giant skeleton turns around and begins to walk away into the deeper silt. Drak hops off and lands on the bridge as Koe trips up a few skeletons and makes his way onto the bridge. It takes a few moments but the two clear the rest of the skeletons as they leave.

The zombie rats also begin to scatter. Many return to the silt while others run past Olan, Choro and his Inix mount which watches the creatures with strong dislike.


Koe and Massa do not get along.

Choro watches on. He looks at how Massa treats the slaves, Ted and Griff. He also feels how she treats him and Koe, a mul, as slave races. So unfair. So unjust. If he could just do something about it….

Koe is tired of hearing the demeaning tantrum by Massa. She over-saw a House installment of over 150 people. Over 100 were slaves that she could command as she needed…. Or wanted.

Koe quietly pulls Olan aside and talks to him. Olan has a strange look on his face then he nods an agreement. Massa is bullying the two slaves. Neither have their hands bond which irks her.

When they awake the next day, Ted and Griff are missing. (released by Koe complete with bone daggers a few coin) Massa is irate and that night sleeps with one eye open. Koe appreciates this.


Draj. The City of Blood & Sacrifice.

They arrived late the last night as the gate was being closed. Choro flashes a few coin but has no reply from the templar gate keeper. Massa steps forward and makes clear her standings. The templar takes Choro’s money and motions for them to enter.


Yaesha returns from whatever he needed to take care of. He calls Massa aside and takes to her in person. Unknown but suspected by Koe, she tells Yaesha how the mul endangered her and lead to many deaths of slaves. Instead of searching for the Drajah weed, he insisted on returning to Draj. She agreed if only because it would be suicide for her and two slaves to stay in Ket by themselves.

Koe is called in. As she passes the mul she gives a self-serving smirk. Koe doesn’t care. She means nothing to him. Koe explains what he saw. Speaks of the Silt Clerics and how they targeted the Weed. One survived and is presumed to have the product. He says nothing negative about her. He only speaks of what he saw relating to the loss and recovery of the stolen product.

Yaesha has the three others enter the room. He stresses the importance of not speaking of the contraband or Ket. Satisfied they will stay quiet, he gives each person 10 gold for pay and hush money.

They leave and Yaesha leans back in his chair. “What are they up to? Damned Silt People.”

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DAY: 01
KA: 190

Yaesha Tsalaxa storms into the Kes’trel Roost sputtering. Olan and Drak look up from their conversation about weapon balance and construction. “Where is Koe and Choro?” He demands.

“What else- training.” Says the Tiefling.

“Training? Training for what?”

“Choro is fascinated by the whole monk thing.”

“Half-Giants.” The leader curses. “Tell me when they arrive.”

“When who arrives?” States the mul as he enters the trade house tavern.

“and Choro?” asks Yaesha.

“Should be here shortly. Working on stamina. His head is stronger than his body.”

“Whatever. The House is under attack. Several houses in fact are being attacked.”

“Yes. The raiders between Silver Springs and here. I have heard of such.” Says the mul as he motions for a water.

“Yadda has demanded action. And what she wants she gets. She and several other house leaders have a plan. One we are to be a part of.”

“Continue.” Suggests the mul as Choro stumbles into the tavern. The big guy drops into a chair. He wants a broy. “Water….?”

“Seven caravans, two of which was ours, have disappeared in the past two weeks between here and Alturak. This includes one House Stel caravan. Anything that can take a Stel wagon is formable. We have no idea who or what is doing this and we need to know more.”

“Are we going out to that area? Investigate it?” asks Olan.

“Bait?” adds Koe.

“Basically. I will take one “fake” caravan and you four another and travel between here and Alturak. Try to draw out the raiders and learn who and where they call theirs.”

“Do you feel it is the Black Sand Raiders?”


“Klik…. Food”

TEMPLAR 02, Morning

Yaesha and his team have already left. Olan is setting his favorite snacks on the seat of the wagon. He will operate the wagon. Choro will take his Inix and lead two other heavy crodlu. Drak and Koe will walk before them as they often do. Empty crates and barrels are placed within the wagon and they leave the Tsalaxa Compound.

As if they understand there is no trade goods of value, the templars at the Drajain gates let go by with only a sneer.

It is the afternoon and they have left Drajian protected lands. Koe spots a hole near the road. A large hole. Drak begins to move towards it when a large insectoid creature skitters up from within the hole and looks at the wagon.

“Maybe it won’t attack.” Offers Olan once his attention is drawn to it. Koe turns and gives him a look.

“Klik-klik…. Hunt.” Adds Drak excitedly.

The creature (Ankeg) skitters up and to the side. Two more rise and skitter onto the road then charge. They immediately go for Koe and the crodlu pulling the wagon. Koe cracks the shell of the giant monstrous insectoid. Choro blasts it with fire causing bodily steam to hiss out from the chitin. Koe finishes it off. Drak and Olan take down a second one. The third attacks the crodlu and injures it. The four of them team up and kill this creature.

The crodlu is switched with a healthy one to pull the wagon.

“Hurm.” Grunts the mul. “Let’s go.”

DAY: 03
KA: 190

The four break camp in view of Raam. They turn south and in the late morning they spot a large caravan wagon. They fear it is House Shom.

“Dragon-kik-flies on flag.” Comments the thri-kreen as House Stel’s large mellikot drawn wagon nears them. Several scouts cautiously but with authority come to them.

“What have you seen to the north?” The head scout demands.

Koe stares at the scout.

“Damned stubborn mul. What is ahead? Have you seen any Gith or Raiders? Any bugs?” He demands while looking at Drak with further distrust and distain.

“No. We have seen….nothing.” states the mul.

“Then move aside Tsalaxa.”

“It would be easier for us than… for you to move. You are slower and more of a target.”

The scout says nothing but stares harshly.

As the tall four story wagon lumbers by Koe and Olan spot several non-archers watching from the archer windows high up. Two dozen armed riders follow the caravan wagon.


Late morning. Koe spots movement on the horizon. He warns everyone about it and they continue on. Soon it is clear that it is trouble. Riders on Kanks are flanking them while another group is moving down the road directly at them.

“Black Sand Raiders.” States Koe as he looks ahead. “Choro.”

The tactics are clear (or so they believe). They will be flanked and have a frontal strike. Overwhelming numbers. The Raiders get closer and closer then Choro psionically blasts the front row. The kanks stumble about as they are hit by searing heat. Their honey nodules burst and seep from the intense heat. The riders scream but stay up right. Not the best of signs.

Koe and Choro are surrounded as is Drak. Drak is bitten several times by the kank and can feel the poisonous venom in his system. Once the raiders keep them busy, they move onward to Olan and the wagon.

Drak falls, unable to move. The irony doesn’t escape him. An insectoid poisoned by an insect. Olan fears they mean to kill him as they circle about the downed barbarian scout. Choro tries to look over to see what is happening and pays for it. He is bull rushed by the kanks and beaten on with clubs by the riders. A rider grabs Drak and begins to leave with him.

Olan calls out an alarm. Koe can not break away from the fight as he trips and pulls riders off of the kanks and beats them senseless. Choro separates himself from the raiders and looks at the raiders with Drak. “This may hurt a bit” the half-giant says as he mentally reaches out to the thri-kreen. The insectoid suddenly lifts off and falls from the kank.

More riders stop and pick him up. Olan can not do anything more as the raiders once more attack and swarm him.

“Drak!” Olan calls out as the raiders drop with daggers in their necks.

“I will follow him. Choro will follow me.” Declares Koe as he flips a rider from his mount. The other riders all pull away and leave…. With Drak.

Koe was thinking he would catch up with the thri-kreen when he sees the raiders have stopped. They stopped just to tie him up. Now they leave once more.

Choro has Olan lead the wagon and crodlus off road. They do pathetic attempts to tie the crodlus to the wagon as they try to catch up with the quick mul.

When they do, they find him laying down on his stomach on a sand dune rise. They duck and do like wise as they reach him. Before, a little over 100 feet away, is the remains of an old fortress wall and kanks.

A Black Sand Raiders base!

DAY: 04
KA: 190

As night comes they finalize their plans to sneak into the camp and rescue Drak. As Choro is low on his psionic power and has few skills when it comes to stealth he will stay behind. He will keep an eye out for trouble from the Raider’s base and protect his Inix. Koe and Olan will sneak in on the side of the ruins and look for a way in other than where a mass of raiders are talking near a large pit fire.

Earlier that day Drak was captured and brought to the ruins. Still tied up, he was dragged to a pit and thrown in. Even as the stars cleared from his vision from the rough fall 15ft below the raiders dropped a wooden cover over the pit. He hears a few broken words “Carmilla ….. Advocate…. Vassel “ and lots of laughter. Soon after he works on his ropes. He can not twist or unravel the rope. He becomes enraged and struggles pulling and tugging on the ropes bound behind him. It gets him nowhere. [DM NOTE: 19 but needed a 20]. A female guard hears him struggles. She squats over the wood cover. Drak is not impressed by what she does next. The other raiders there do however and all laugh.

Staying low to the sand and whenever possible, use a rise in a sand dune for cover, the mul monk and the tiefling rogue sneak towards the ruins being used as a base by these Black Sand Raiders. The two moons are low and dull allowing much for shadows and dark areas. Half way there, in a deep trough between dunes, Olan fishes out two potions he has kept since before meeting Koe. These potions will help them advance and sneak into the cap secretly. Koe is uncertain but takes it after seeing the Tiefling take his.

The ruin walls are about twenty feet tall. The walls form roughly a 100 ft “U” shape. At the open end is a corral for the raider’s Kanks and a large pit fire. Over a dozen raiders are here with another 5 or 6 above on the walls watching for approaching dangers. There are a few cracks or breaks in the wall large enough for a thin outsider or even a wide mul to squeeze through. Peeking through a crack they find themselves between two tents. Careful not to step on loose brick or stone, they step into the camp. A ladder leads up. Koe points to it and up.

Silently they climb the ladder made of bone and pieces of wood. Koe hesitates as the guard is standing near the top but looking out into the desert in the direction Choro should be. Something has caught his attention. Using his mul-bourne strength and trained reflexes he pulls himself up to a standing stance with the strength of his arms only. He grabs the guard by the mouth and arm and pulls him down. Olan puts his dagger to use to silence him forever. Koe frowns and points at the man’s neck. Green Fungus like growth. He is infected.

They keep low so that other guards do not see them as they look at the rest of the camp. Olan takes special interest in a stairway that leads down. With a nod, Koe agrees and they descend into the darkness of the stairway.


Olan points ahead and Koe doesn’t react. He whispers the question “Can’t see can you? Here- hold this- just don’t yank.” Koe is slightly repulsed as he finds Olan’s tail being placed into his hands. “What do you see?”

“Stairs….. leads into a room.” At the bottom of the long stairs they enter a 30x50 ft room. “Columns…. Six of them. At the end of this room are doors- open. Broken open from the inside.”

“And the sound. What is causing that sound?”

Olan concentrates then he hears what the mul heard. A scratching and skittering sounds. From behind a column. “It is… a scorpion… no a swarm of scorpions!” At this point the monk can feel the first scorpion touch his sandaled foot. The mul thrusts the dead guard into the swarm as they make back for the stairs. “What now?”

DAY: 04
KA: 190

Choro watches as Koe and Olan hunker down and move into the desert. The Raider’s camp can just be made out due to a faint glow from a fire behind a dune (a ruin wall). This leaves just Choro and his faithful steed- Betsy- a huge lizard Inix. Not the best of company.

Choro rubs his head. His thick hair hides a secret…. Or two. He has slave tattoos on his neck and a headband on his head. His eyes easily reveal his sadness as he touches the headband that has never come off his head since he awoke with it on nearly two years ago. He was looking for his brother, Goro, whom was said to be wandering near some ruins north of Urik. Troll ruins. Dorummunu’s ruins.

“Don’t move half-giant.”

“Wha…?” begins the startled half-giant.

A human dressed in golden robes with black armor stands before him. A half-giant in scale mail and over-sized gloves stands to his right. Also to his right is a man dressed in black robes with gold trim and an evil gleem in his eyes. To the left stands a fully armored man covered head to toe in chitin armor wielding a club.

“Can I fry him?” asks the black robbed man with a quiet giggle.

“No. No you may not Kordlast.”

Choro looks them over and can clearly see these four have been in a fight- recently. Fresh blood stains are on the leader’s robes. They look familiar but he can not place the superior gaze.

“We found your cart and crodlus. Empty cart. You were here looking for the raiders also. That means we have a common foe.”

“I am Choro. I work for House Tsalaxa.”

“I am aware of this. We met earlier.”

“Stel!” The psion remembers now.

“Yes. We were attacked by a large party of Raiders. Stel failed to live up to their rep. We did not.”

“Burned they did.” The mage smiles with gleeful malice.

“Where are your allies? In the ruins?”

“You know who I am and whom I work with but I missed your names. Can you refresh me?”

“I never gave them. We are from Urik and act for the king of Urik- The Mighty Hamanu.”

Templars. Damn.

Back at the camp Drak tries to listen in. They are expecting company shortly. He tries his ropes again. His attempt to break the ropes has loosened them some and he finds he can worm one arm free. Happily he works on another.

Unseen by anyone, Koe and Olan emerge from the spiral stone stairs onto the wall once more. The guard’s absence still has not been noticed. There is excitement within the camp. Looking to the direction the raiders are looking they see the cause. More raiders. Dozens of them are coming. They ride in a semi-circle surrounding three riders that are tied. What they assume are the leaders gather and discuss things as they walk into the camp. They go to a guarded wooden trap door. The three captives, dressed in House Stel colors, are lined up before the door. They open it and suddenly an untied thri-kreen leaps up and out of the hole. With not looking further, he then leaps again and goes over the ruin walls to the darkness beyond. Koe and Olan, looking at other direction at guards, miss Drak’s escape.

Turning to see what the new noise is, Olan spots movement outside of the ruin.

“Ol’ Bets will get it!” Calls out the nearest guard from the wall. Drak looks up to see who Bets is and suddenly hears three “Thriwpt!” sounds. A burning stabbing pain comes from his shoulder. Something has him! Drak tries to pull forward but instead finds himself being pulled backwards. He looks over his wounded shoulder finds a Spider-Cactus has attacked him. He spots long thick spikes. The cactus is looking to impale him onto these. Then it will suck the moisture and nutrients out of his body. He grabs, tugs at it but only gets pulled closer.

Olan, seeing what is happening drops to the sand with a solid but muffled thump and pulls out a salt-acid potion he had bought when at the Shadow Market in Tyr. “Time to go Drak!” and the potion bursts on the cactus and burns it. The tendril burns free and Drak is free. The three of them flee into the dark.

DAY: 04
KA: 190

“Choro has friends.” Comments Koe as they climb over the last dune between them and Choro with two Urik enforcers.

“Sounds like him.” Replies Olan.


They walk slowly to about 30 feet from Choro whom another half-giant stands above him with a large sword out.

“Hold there Tsalaxa scum.” Snarls a blacked robed man.

Koe instead charges forward even as the man reaches up calling up a spell. Choro strikes the outreached arm blocking the spell. The other half-giant strikes him for his effort.

Drak and Olan hurry up to aid Koe but then Konner, the cleric and Xorn, a warrior show themselves. They were hiding behind the inix under a sand covered cloth.

“Stand down Kordlast.” The Urik templar commands.

“Do we know each other?” asks Koe as he stops and steps back eying the half-giant holding a sword to Choro’s throat. “You seem familiar.”

“I looked down at you from position of power- high up in the House Stel wagon.” Koe nods to the memory of seeing him peer out from the safety of a window. “We found your cart. It was empty. I assume that means you are here with a purpose other than trade. I further assume you are here searching for the cause of the plague. The Green Plague as the Raamians call it.”

“What if this is so. Do you suggest we team-up? Holding Choro as you are is not a good way to convince me.”

“Raiders approach.” Suggests the deep voiced armored warrior.

“Time to go!” Choro tries to get up and gets stabbed again by the guard.

“Xorn! Weaver! Kordlast! To me! Demands the templar.

“Yes Konner.” Snarls the half-giant. Koe readies for an attack then sees the raiders. It appears ALL of them are coming.

“We go.” States Koe.

“We will meet again you cowards!” calls out Konner as he turns to face the raiders.

Xorn kicks and slaps the inix driving it into the raider charge. After running about 200 feet the image of a fierce and angy face appears in the night sky and the deep rumble of a sorcerer-king can be heard as a flame strike spell is summoned.


It has taken several days to reach the beginnings of the foothills where Raam is. The city guards are fiercely turning back most visitors. Word of a new plague has gotten out.

Choro pays the way in to enter Draj once more.

DAY: 10
KA: 190

“I think I could drink the entire bottle.” Choro states at the Kes’trel’s Roost.

“Really?” questions Olan.


“Broy. Glass for glass.” Says Olan smiling wide.

“I would be part of this…. Contest.” States Koe.

The bartender shakes his head and pushes over the bottle and leaves to get more.

“Sweet water….. better…..”

“Longsword vs Shortsword…… in the end it is still a sword.” Says the bartender smiling at his own wit. He is also trying to keep the tab under control.

Olan grabs four cups and the first bottle. He pours equal amounts into each cup. “To lost friends… and family.” And as he raises the cup to meet the other raised cups and he glances at Choro. Choro is clearly in a saddened state.

The four gulp it and thump their cups down. Olan pours again. Choro gives a toast this time. “….may we find them in good health.” And the four clink their cups again and drink.

“To the clutch and its clutch mates.” Says Drak as they drink their third round in a very short time.

“Your turn Koe.”

“urm…… To destinies fulfilled.” And the four swallow each cup quickly. Olan coughs as the fluid hits him hard.

“You okay?”

“Shore. I gud. Mys tern agin”

“To mah new gud fiends”. Choro blinks twice hearing fiend vs friend.

“I no feel good. I sit…. Out now.” Says Olan as he sways and lists nearly falling out of his chair. [DM NOTE: Nat 1]

“Choro…. If you may….. continue.” Suggests the mul.

He opens the second bottle and pours three cups. “To….. repent for…. Past misdeeds….. and accidents.”

“Are you…. Okay Chwoor?”

“Sup fine. Differend when you drink fast….. no passin’ between….”

“Klik…. Not sweet ‘ater.” The kreen’s antennae droop heavily. “chil gak iksed sed” [ loosely translates as “wish he knew how to make wine” ]

Drak gives the next toast. He says it in poor kreen and it is so slurred that even another kreen would not understand it. Choro burbs a thunderous belch and turns green from the smell. He knows he will not win so he cuts himself off.

Drak vs Koe for the winner of The Contest.

Several drinks later, the hardy mul wins out over the thri-kreen.

Olan awakens a few hours later to hearing a call of alarm from a guard. He stumbles to the doorway and sees Koe at the gate. “Open gate. I have hate message for Hark. Must deliver….. personally.”

“Go to the barracks and sleep it off Koe!” calls down a guard.

“ah…No. I climb then give… hate message. Take back Birthright” Mumbles the mul. He tries to climb but seems to never quite reach far enough to grab the correct blurred image.

“Koe…. Koe!” yells out Olan. “Koe- get over here….. I can’t walk straight yet.” The tiefling waves while leaning heavily against the door frame. “Damned drink….. Broy has a hell…. Hell of an after kick.”

Koe stares back and concentrates on him. His instinct to help friends in need overpowers his vindictive thoughts and he stumbles over to Olan. “Together…we make …. Barracks.”

Choro sleeps happily away in the tavern and Drak, he is ill for several hours. Even drunken, he doesn’t sleep so he tries to do what he normally does at night- make weapons using his spittle. In the process he becomes sick and the spittle is spoiled. “Not klik…. Happen with…. Klik swee…water…..”

Though he finds the bed comforting, Koe can not sleep. He looks over to Olan. “Asleep?”


“me too.”

Pause…. “Koe……”


“Who is Hark?”

“Where….did you hear that name?”

“You yelled it. Sounded like….. you hated him.”


“Who is he?”

“Family. Hugo Hark is…. Grandfather.”

“oh.” Pause. “Who is that?”

“You do not know who ‘father’ is?” asks the mul astounded.

“No and I mean yes…..” grumbles the hung over tiefling. He sits upright and stretches to clear his head a bit. “Who is he….. freeman? Merchant? Drajian?”

“I tell you.” Says the mul and he closes his eyes and begins. “Hugo Hark works for House Shom. He is very wealthy. Very Powerful. Very used to getting his own way. His daughter….. my Mother….. grew tired of him and family. Met a dwarf from work. I do not know his name…..or at least can not remember it. Broy make it hard to remember.”

“I’m listening….. go on.”

“They have me. Grandfather displeased. Father displeased. Father will have nothing to do with me. Insults me by naming me Brick.”

“Your real name is Brick?”

“Yes. Call me Koe or I hit you.”

“Heh…. Ah… go on.”

“Uses me as muscle….. to intimidate people…. That owe him…. Money. Never says who I am to him….. allows them to… assume I am slave.”

“That sucks. No wonder you don’t trust family.”


“what about the “Birthright” you mentioned.

“I should not drink so much.” Regrets the Mul.

He opens his eyes and looks at Olan. “The Scrab’s Tooth”

Olan waits.

“Sword that marks rank and power within the family. It was to be given to my mother’s first born male.”

“That would be you……wait a minute! Should I bow to you? Refer to you as Master Koe?”

“Koe is fine.” Though it has a nice ring he thinks briefly. “Hugo Hark holds onto it. He will not pass it down. This was six years ago.”

“Wow….. no wonder you avoid House Shom. I would too.”

“Tell no one. I will deliver hate message myself.” He lays back onto the mat. “Now I am ready to sleep. You should too Comrade.”

Several minutes pass silently. Olan breaks the silence. “Koe. Koe I want to help you find Hugo and get your sword.”

“and deliver hate message.”

“Hate doesn’t have to equal lethal. Keep that in mind.”

“Hummph. Then perhaps you should forget your family”

DAY: 11
KA: 190

Late the next day, Yaesha returns from his own trip trying to lure out the raiders. He is tired, haggard and in no mood for bad news. He gets it anyway.

The next day Yaesha and the four of them leave Draj with twenty men.

They find the remains of House Stel’s caravan. It has been burned and looted. It is not clear if this was during the attack or after.

They find the ruins the Black Sand Raiders were using. Yaesha doubts that was all of the raiders or if these were even the True Black Sand Raiders. The ruins have been abandoned. The tents and much of the goods burned or destroyed. There are no bodies- not even Kanks.

Drak finds his goods and Olan finds a few loose silver and coppers in the sand. Choro smells something bad coming from the wooden Trapdoor. They find three dead Stel agents within. They are presumed to have died from lack of water and food.

Looking into the ruins below, they find burned and destroyed scorpions and a few raider remains. Using torches they brought, they go deeper into the underground ruins.

The interior doors were pulled apart using ropes. Inside is another large room with columns and a glowing magical ward in the center. They carefully avoid it and go as far away as they can as they follow the walls. There are three doors. The center door has pristine metal reinforcements! In his excitement and haste, Olan sets off a magical trap that burns him and Koe. Feeling the magic is gone, Koe tries to open it again and the fire blasts at him again. They choose to ignore this dangerous door.

They go left first. This door is open and leads to a turning hallway. A bag is on the floor with tools to open a tomb. Within it is a fruit of Remove Disease which Drak takes. Another door, broken out into their hallway, can be seen. Within this room is a crypt. Every crypt has been opened. There are no bodies within them. All they find is a single dead rat with green fungus on it.

They back track and enter the door and hallway on the right. It is a symmetrical layout. Strangely, they find a single boot in the hallway. It is empty. The crypt here is also empty. Olan does find four ancient gold coins. REAL coins. Not gold leaf. These could be worth several hundred gold to the right buyer.

They leave and return home in Draj. Yaesha is not happy. Urik and Stel, always close allies were involved and interfered with their business. This may or may not be the origin place of the plague. Just as it may or may not have been the Black Sand Raiders that spread it. Drak mentions the word or name of Carmilla which means nothing to anyone.

They return to Draj on the 22nd

DAY: 20
KA: 190

A large humanoid dressed in black leather sits on a throne made of bones and animal hides. A large chitin and leather helmet with curved ridged horns. Red eyes peer through the slits of the helmet and sharp teeth gleam from the darkness where the mouth should be.

“Lord Zeberon, Number 001, The Almighty and the Great Horned Lord…. Number 003 has come to speak with you.” States a bowing human.

“Show him in Number 064.”

A bald headed defiler with a sweeping black cloak and a black staff with an obsidian orb on it walks in.

“I have news for you Lord Zeberon.” He doesn’t bow, he only nods his head slightly. In irritation , Number 001 snarls.

“Oh please- You are the leader of the Raiders. I am the arcane leader of the Raiders.”

“Say what you will… and quickly Fevil.”

“Outpost U has been discovered and destroyed.”



“Damn his templars and meddling fools.” The leader shifts in his seat. “Did you ever get through the doors?”

“No. Many did die trying.”

“Anything else you be telling me?”

“No Number 001.”

“I have heard of a sickness. Some are calling it a plague. I have heard reports my raiders are infected. Is there any truth to this?”

“Burned and forgotten.”

Zeberon removes his helmet. The horned are his… not the helmets. Number 001 is either a Tiefling or something worse.

“Keep searching. One of these ruins will have it.”

“Yes Number 001. We will continue to search for the artifact.”

DAY: 18
KA: 190

The four of them are sitting in the Kes’trel’s Roost. Olan and Drak were enjoying their drinks and spiced bread (a rare treat). Koe had his water and Choro had a full cup of water just sitting there- untouched. “Training” sucks.

Some activity outside got their attention. A carriage has come into the Tsalaxa Compound in Draj. Turning their seats, they look out into the courtyard to watch. Yaesha Tsalaxa comes out of the storage warehouse to greet the woman that is now stepping out of the carriage. Olan gets up and just happens to need to rest while leaning against the wall, unseen outside, near the open door. He can’t hear what is happening outside about 30 feet away.

The woman is older, about 60 years old. She is human and dressed in fine clothes. Her carriage has the Tsalaxa markings on it. Could this be the Matriarch? Could this be Yadda Tsalaxa?

Yaesha and the woman turn and slowly walk towards the Tsalaxa building. The tavern is the ground level but there are offices on the second level. It seems they are going here. Olan moves back to his seat with Koe eyeing his entire motion. Koe can not help but judge the actions of his co-workers. They step into the Tavern and introductions are made in part.

The woman pauses as she looks at the four of them. “I have heard about you four. You have done a great good for the house. I thank you.”

“You honor us Madame.” Answers Koe with a subtle bow and wave of his hand.

“Master Yadda Tsalaxa…. This is Koe, Olan, Drak and Choro. They have done us a great service over the past few months.”

The two continue on and climb the stairs to the offices above. Neither of the four caravaners move nor wish to. They try to listen but hear nothing from above. Over twenty minutes go by before they hear something. Yaesha comes down the stairs by himself. He looks up at the group with a slight smile and look on his face they try to determine. Thoughts are a mix of pride, fear and determination.

“Tomorrow we have a special delivery we need to do. After that we have a long caravan trip to complete. We leave at day break.” And with that Yaesha turns and goes out the door to the storage building. Two hours later and Yadda still has not come down. Koe shifts his weight to stand up. “We should prepare for tomorrow and finish our lose ends.”


As normal, as the caravan leaves, they are stopped by templars at the gates. Koe notes a certain sense of trepidation by the templars. Something is going on or happening out there beyond the city of Draj. Something potentially dangerous.

That night they make camp half-way between Draj and Raam. There seems to be fewer caravans and farmer activity than with past trips. Olan asks Koe about it and Koe feels Olan is reading into nothing. That said, he thinks deeply about it even after the tiefling walks away to talk to Choro.

Yaesha asks to speak with Drak in private. Koe watches as they move away placing the wagon between them and the others.

“Drak, I would like you to take a break tonight from guard duty. You have done it so much and always for the entire night.”

“Clutch leader doesn’t….klik….. trust me?”

“Nothing like that. We very much trust you. You have done an excellent job of it. As a reward…. I thought I would give you a few hours off….. say about mid-night.” Offers the caravan leader.

“What would Drak do? Drak always watch over and protect Clutch.”

“Go for a walk….. I know! You can hunt. You can find us fresh food for breakfast.”

“Drak can do that. Drak would like to make fresh breakfast for….klik-klik…. Clutch.” The thri-kreen’s antennae are straight and high from excitement.

Yaesha wakes up close to the middle of the night. Everyone is asleep except for Drak whom is working on repairs with his weapons. “Clutch Leader! Klick-klack “You are awake!”

“Shhhhhh Yes please don’t wake the others. Go and hunt.”

Drak scampers off into the desert and Yaesha, with a stern look of seriousness, checks his boots for scorpions and beetles before getting up and looking about. Satisfied everything is in good order, he sets off in a different direction. Choro opens an eye and watches. He snorts and goes back to sleep assuming Yaesha has a mid-night calling by mother-nature.

Yaesha climbs over two sand dunes still just in view of the camp. He looks over his shoulder. The camp is quiet and Drak is no where to be seen. “Yadda.”

Wisps of sand and silt swirl and collect forming a tall column that then takes on the form of a woman. Details begin to form from the eyes and out. Yadda Tsalaxa stands before him with a bundle at her side.

“As discussed, the templars of Draj would detect this artifact. The Urikitte templar, if you go at sundown, has been paid off already. Raam is uncertain as the two cities are in conflict over the plague.”

Yadda holds out the heavy bundle. “The Fire Drake Heart will fit perfectly in the crate marked with a blue paint scuff mark.”

Yaesha holds it. “It is warm…..and moving.”

“Pumping….. and of a powerful Fire creature. Bring it to Urik. As I have already said, the guard has been paid ahead of time. She will escort you and your team to Lord Elabon Escrissar’s estate. Do NOT cross him. He is a powerful state defiler and a templar of Hamanu. More important, he is a chosen of Hamanu’s. He has a lot of power officially and other.”

“Anything else?” asks the caravan leader slightly repulsed by the slow beating of the supernatural heart.

“Escissar is known for his….. being eccentric and indulging in odd and fearsome behaviors. Also be sure to control that group of four. I do not like tieflings and your Mul has a look of borderline to rebellion. ”

“Koe is loyal to the end. I trust him completely.”

“Very well. I trust you.”

“And I of you.” Yaesha turns carrying the heavy 10 inch around thing wrapped in a clean warm temperature resistant blanket.

Drak spots them talking and stops removing the fur from his prairie dog. One figure, Yaesha is carrying a bundle. The other seems to turn to dust and blow away in the gentle cool night wind. Drak hurries down with his breakfast.

“I have breakfast for the clutch. It is not much. I had to dig this one out.” The Thri-kreen explains with great energy.

“Shhhhh….. you will awaken the others.” States Yaesha as he tries to determine how he will place the Drake Heart Artifact into the crate unseen.

“Do you have the salt and pepper Choro enjoys? I would season it for him. Koe works him so…klik…hard.”

“I need a moment to find them- if we have them even.”

The kreen freezes in motion and stares in anticipation. Yaesha looks back. Damned kreen is not understanding Yaesha and his stare back. “Are there more?”

“Yes but below ground.” The kreen states without moving anything besides his mouth.

“Then try.” Yaesha nearly growls in frustration.

“Klik-klick….. two hunts in one night! Klick-klik…… I go.”

Yaesha smiles after the kreen turns and moves away quickly. He heaves up the artifact and slides the cover over the crate and hears “What is going on?”

Olan is awake.

For how long?

DAY: 21
KA: 190

Koe remains vigilant as the farmer, pulling his cart of “fresh” roots and edibles comes towards them from Raam. The King’s Road remains eerily quiet. “Do not bother with Raam. They are excepting no merchants today….. I suspect especially merchants from Draj.”

“What do you…kik.kik. mean?” asks Drak.

“There are rumors of conflict building between Abalach-Re and Tectuktitlay…. Raam and Draj.” Yaesha reveals. “Yadda warned me of it when she visited the compound.”

“Thankyou for telling us.” Mumbles Choro….. really and truly missing his mount. Damned Urikitte agents.

“Anything else we should know about?” asks the cheerful and smiling Tiefling- Olan.

“No. We go on. The water cask used for emergencies for the mounts has a leak. We need the water.”

“We are near Raam….. there are many small but available deposits of water. We just need to ask.”

“We go.” Yaesha demands.

“Then we go.” Follows Koe.

There are few farmers and people in the fields. Even slaves seem to make only a rare appearance…. But always with a handler carrying a whip. Koe doesn’t show it but he has many thoughts about freeing the slaves. Many.

Raam is a city of un-rest and paranoia. From the view point of Draj, Raam is a city where disease breaks out often. Their sewer systems are too shallow and close to the city’s main water supply. To Raam, Draj was the first to call attention to the plague and thus they are the closest to it….. aka the epic center of it. Either way, each city and its ruler are more than willing to start a battle using the plague as a reason to blame ill of the other.

The Tsalaxa caravan, though very small, draws out six templars at the Raamian gate. Others including a dozen half-giants can be seen behind cloth and wood screens and curtains nearby.

“What do you have Drajian scum?!?” sneers the woman.

“Nothing for trade. We seek water for the animals. Possible food for ourselves.”

“You have crates! What are you hiding?!?” and six templars sweep out to the cart. Koe places a hand on his belt where his sling is kept. In return, an old man, still a templar, pulls out a wand and keeps it pointed on the mul.

Yaesha frowns as he hears the templars go through the cart. The carefully rolled and bound silk colored cloth is thrown onto the sand and unrolls as it bounces to a stop 15 feet away. Choro goes to pick it up but a templar steps between him and the cloth. Many crates are opened. Olan notices the templars keep pushing one with blue scuff marks on it to the side to gain access to cleaner and better looking crates under it.

“If you prefer we go else where then we must.” States a red-faced Yaesha.

“Take your diseased crap and return home with it Drajian dog.” And the templar woman spits to the ground.

Several hundred feet away Koe, without looking up asks “If you knew this would happen then why did we come?”

“To gauge the problem.”

And Koe allows a slight tilt of his head for a response. “and…?”

“It is bad. Unless something is done soon there will be war.”

DAY: 22
KA: 190

They are making camp once more. This is a new area for the team. Normally they travel south from Raam towards Silver Springs but not this time. They have gone further West towards Urik.

Olan goes to relieve himself when he notices there is water under the piles of small rocks that make up the Stoney Barrens. Kicking a few aside, he notes the water is dark and inky. “Water!”

Yaesha turns quickly- “Don’t drink it! Don’t even touch it!”

“Is it poisoned? Is this what is causing the trouble?”

“The food is almost ready. I will explain it to you then.”

Darkness comes and the group break out blankets. From over 110 it has dropped to nearly 80 already as the dark sun drops below the horizon.

“The lands north and south Urik are filled with small ruins. Most are surviving basements and foundations of farmers homes from the ‘war’. Others are larger. One of the largest is about 10 miles north of here. It is the city ruins of Yaramuke.”

“What happened to it?” asks Olan in true curiousity.

“Some say the ruler, a powerful female defiler, performed a magic rite that destroyed the city. Others say other rulers, including Hamanu of Urik, attacked and destroyed her and the city. Either way, during certain powerful sand storms, the ruins can be exposed. It is dangerous but people do try to plunder it. Few return but when they do, they have more gold, treasure and wonderous things than they can carry.”

Choro speaks up without lifting his head. “Not all. Some become cursed.”

“True. When these ruins are exposed, magics “leak” out and pollute the area. This is one of the more famous places. The uncontrolled magic has cursed and poisoned a small lake of water once said to be crystal clear and filled with fish to eat. The water flows out and seeps onto the surface for miles especially to the south. It remains safe from the heat of the sun by the miles of stones and rocks here.”

“What kind of klik- curse is it?” asks Drak wondering if he will try to look for food or remain within the camp this time.

“You become mindless and seek the flesh of others to join you. Some of the clerics refer to them as ‘zombies’. A type of undead I believe.”

Everyone goes to sleep with their weapons nearby and readied.

Hours after the midnight Drak hears the first one.

The sound of a stone grinding against another. Something is walking through the Stoney Barrens and disturbing stones as it comes. Drak is quick to awaken everyone including a harder than meant kick to Koe. “They come.”

Drak points to the source of the sound. The creature is not being stealthy. It lumbers slowly over the uneven ground. It occasionally disturbs a stone making it clack or grind against another.

“oh…..crap.” mumbles Olan looking beyond the creature. Dozens of the creatures are coming their way.

“They very rarely come this far south without a storm…….. take them down. They are slow but if they get too close they will easily overwhelm you and the mounts.” Commands Yaesha.

Yaesha hits one with three arrows and drops to its knees and finally down. More come. A pebble whistles from Koe’s sling and makes a liquidly thump as it strikes the face and embeds itself within a cheek and eye socket. Olan and Drak wait until they get closer and within range. Choro has no intension of this. He visualizes the horde in flames and waves his hands and a crackling sound can be heard in the wind. Two dozen of the closest zombies burst into flames. Some fall and splash water onto themselves by falling leading to less damage. Other keep stumbling at them….. fully engulfed in flame.

“What the….!?!?” Calls out the half-giant in a mix of fear and awe.

“Do again Choro.” Commands Koe as he waves his arms to get the creature’s attention.

“What are you doing Koe?” calls out Yaesha as he drops one more.

“Being a Shepard. I am grouping them up into a tighter circle. Easy for his psionics to do area affects.”

“That may just work. Good idea Koe. Do as he is.”

The wave of the horde move towards the thri-kreen whom is confused as he raises his four arms. Kreen are hunters…. Not shepards.

Two more energy cone blasts drop the remainder. Choro has a mild headache and wants to lay down. He doesn’t like zombies.

DAY: 23
KA: 190

Yaesha and the PCs arrived at Urik lands mid-day the next day. They take a break within sight of the city and sit there waiting until the sun begins to set. Koe has Choro do several balancing stances which brings humor to all as Choro has no sense of balance and falls regularly.

As dusk approaches, they pick up the day time camp and advance onto Urik. The templar of the gates awaits them. He taps his slippered feet in agitation and impatience.

“I was about to lock the gate Drajian.”

“You were told at dusk. You were paid for that service.”

“I was not paid to be mocked. Mercies, this young worthless boy will lead you to the estate. Now- Go and begone.”

The boy whom looks half starved, leads the way. The merchant area is quiet and the few that are up are wise to pay little attention to the late arrivals.

The difference from the merchants area to residential to then the templar area is clear. The templar area is clean. The walls of the buildings are pure white with blue and gold trim. They look recently painted. Small shrubs and plants are found near the walkways and entrances. Buildings are more than one story tall and have balconies that overlook the courtyards. The biggest of these buildings is the Escrissar Estate.

The boy leads them to the estate main entrance. Yaesha flips him a silver. “Get something to eat young man.” Before Koe can add to the boy’s food account, the boy hurries away.

“Choro and Olan- stay here with the cart. Koe and Drak come with me. Do not look these people in the eye nor speak unless spoken to. The person we are delivering too has a strange way about himself and can be dangerous. Let me do the talking.”

Olan and Choro are disappointed. Especially Olan. However, Yaesha strongly suspects Olan will draw extremely unwanted attention to himself as a New Race. There are rumors Escrissar is fascinated by new races and does unspeakable things to them for his own depraved pleasure. Choro will draw attention away from him by guards looking.

There is a long strand of giant hair with ribbons tied on it hanging from an overhanging ledge. Yaesha tugs on it and a bell can be heard ringing inside. Drak wonders what will happen next. Koe merely wonders if the bell is metal or something else…. Like the Belgoi’s.

Laughter can be heard from within and Yaesha stands straight and ready. The door opens and Yaesha is surprised by the sight. Koe remains still and Drak is more curious about what is happening than the other wise curious sight before them.

A young woman, maybe 17 years old, answers the door. She is naked except for slippers and some necklaces. She has some colored powder on her face similar to make-up. “Hi! I’m Melissa!” She cheerfully says.

Koe looks at her eyes. They are dilated and clearly she is on drugs. Not alcohol but something else. She turns and giggles as she races back into the house. Here there are five more woman, a mix of human and half-elf, ages 16-24 and in various stages of undress. Except Drak, the other two are very uncomfortable being here.

“Kreen? Maybe. The old guy- sure but a mul ?!?” exclaims one woman whose gaze violates Koe.

Koe has limited control over his body and is happy he is carrying the crate before him.

“Melissa! How dare you answer the door!” calls out a female voice. Through red curtains, a woman comes out dressed in black leather armor studded with bone spikes. Her hair is oddly shaved with long black hair growing over the shaved areas. “Need we punish you- again!” and this woman of command and power smiles an evil and wanting smile.

“I am sorry Mistress Miles. I meant no harm.” And the girl that answered the door curls up fearfully and cowers in the corner couch. The others look with eyes full of excitement.

“We have Master Escrissar’s package. Where shall we put it?”

Several guards rush in with short swords drawn. “,,,,and we will discuss your lateness later also.” She turns and waves for the three of them to follow.

Beyond the curtain is a highly polished pink granite tiled floor. Koe can see his reflection perfectly on it. Though he made a point of cleaning his sandals before coming in he hopes not to soil it.

Out of another doorway, leading to a very large semi-lit room, comes two of the biggest and most muscular half-giants Koe has ever seen. Behind them comes a tall half-elf wearing a white mask with red and black trim designed to resembles a skull. He is wearing black robes, cuffs and feathers. On his right hand is metal and obsidian glove with long 5 inch talons on each of the fingers and on the thumb.

“What have we here Miles my dear?” He asks.

“Your package has come from Draj.”

“Excellent. I will look at the Heart later after the activities.”

Taking this as a dismissal, Miles directs them into a secret passage leading to the basement. As they pass the “man” they can dedect the strong smell of death and decay- evidence of being a powerful defiler. In the large basement she has Koe place the crate with the ‘Heart’ onto another crate. This one is leaking dark brownish-red liquid. No one hears it but something within this crate asks for help…. And gets none.

Leaving, they notice everyone has left the entre room except for Melissa. Her throat has been slit to the point where her head flops to an odd angle. Yaesha is repulsed and Koe wants to smash something. But the three go outside and meet up with Olan and Choro.

“Let’s go. I need a drink.” Demands Yaesha as he directs the crodlu to take the cart with its remaining goods to the Tsalaxa outpost within the city.

DAY: 25
KA: 190

Yaesha looks to the horizon to the south and ponders what he sees.

“What is wrong? Are we being followed? Black Sand Raiders again? Raam soldiers?” asks Koe

“I am having trouble reading the clouds. I suspect we will have a storm come tomorrow. Keep your gear close to you and unpack only what must.”

Koe leaves Yaesha and does as asked.

About when the sun begins to set, Drak notices something. Something big is on the road….coming their way from the south. It is about the size of many of the biggest boulders along this stretch of the King’s Road.

Klik-Klik….. Drak is uncertain at what he is seeing. Something insanely large rises behind this. It is a hazy dark mass rising from the horizon.

Drak awakens the group. Yaesha looks and calls out “Sand Storm!”.

Before the storm reaches them the one large figure becomes three. Three four-armed huge humanoids are walking steadily down the road. The leader of the three seems to be motioning to the caravan. The two following them seem to suddenly notice the increase in the wind.

“B’rohgs?!?” considers the caravan leader….. The storm is more dangerous but try to protect the animals. They will target them no doubt unless scared off by the storm.”

The storm washes over the three giant-kin as they reach the caravan. They do target the crodlu as the gusts of dust and sand hide Koe and Drak from their view. Choro is swatted by one and sent tumbling with the wind gusts into the stones. Koe and Drak find the wind is so strong they can not walk inti it straight on. By slowly shuffling they begin to go side-ways towards the wagon.

Yaesha and Olan try to free the Crodlus before they are attacked but free them early enough that the B’rohg have to chase them down. Choro is now choking on the sand and thus can not use his psionics.

By time the sand storm begins to calm down, two crodlu are dead and another two taken and presumably dead.

Sand is everywhere. They have no mounts remaining. But they are alive.

DAY: 26
KA: 190

As part of Choro’s training, he does some limited pulling of the half full cart. Due to his lack of strength however, it is Koe and Drak that do most of the pulling. Sweaty, dirty and exhausted, the five of them arrive at Silver Springs late that afternoon.

The Master of Walls looks down and reconizes Lilapaul’s pet and smiles. “Guessing you know about the storm we had last night.”

“Good afternoon Basettu… The Master of Walls. May we enter?” asks Yaesha…. Thourghly humbled.

“You have no animals. What became of them? Oh wait…. I see them now. A mul, a thri-kreen, a half-wit and whatever mutant that is that some find amusing to play with.” Teases the cruel elven archer.

“The storm you mentioned did indeed take most of them. Those it did not were taken by a band of B’rohg during the storm.”

“Hahahha…. What poor luck!” laughs the elves. Basettu motions to an elf whom leaves. Yaesha suspects the elf is letting the animal keeper to know to increase prices. Damned Silver Hands.

“I apologize. I did not speak loud enough for you to hear me from your advantageous place. “We would like to come in. Use your pool and resupply. We have money.”

“I’m sure you do. A silver each to enter and another to shop and still one more to go to the water.”

“15…..” He begins to growl. “…sounds reasonable.”

“No need to wash or shop….. “ begins the thri-kreen.

“Not now. We need to enter, resupply and find shelter.”

“15 silver doesn’t include a night’s stay. That is extra.” And a new round of laughter begins.

They pull their cart past the animal pens. Indeed, there is little here and the elves here are all watching with excitement in their eyes. The market area is attended by two elves. Their booths look very full with various goods. Olan looks over to Lilapaul’s tent but follows the others to the water pool.

“Careful of the bog waders.” Teases a female elf.

Koe stares her down and pulls off his breeches to enter the water. The elf has nothing to say.

Soon they all (except for Drak) enter the pool of dirty water and wash off the sand and silt from their skin, hair and other areas. Koe thought he saw something on Choro’s neck but dismisses it. They now wash their armor and travel clothes while drying off.

“I’m certain you want to visit the defiler Olan. Take Drak and Koe with you. Choro- I want you to go with me to buy animals and supplies.”

Olan nods his thanks and they leave. As he reaches her tent there is a gentle unexplained breeze that jingles the bells and rattles the wind chimes.

Olan hears the whispering invite and goes in. The others follow.

Lilapaul, as usual, is dressed only in the usual see-thru silk dress with metal bracelets and jewelry. “Welcome back my Prince. I watched you at the pool. It pleased me.”

Slightly nervous still, the Tiefling smiles and nods. “It has been a while since I last came to visit. Have you learned anything new? Learned anything new about my family?”

Drak is looking around the tent. So many curious things to look at. Animal skulls, ribbons, colored stones and crystals….. Koe merely sits down and listens and watches carefully.

“One of your brothers lives in a city within the Tablelands. I still do not know which city. Another brother lives to the north….. in the Bandit Lands” The elven defiler circles Olan as she continues. “You have two sisters. Each live on an island within the Sea of Silt.”

“The Sea of Silt……?” wonders the Tiefling rogue. “Where…..-“

“Your mother….. do you wish to know about her?” the elf asks as she locks eyes with him.

“Go on. I do.”

Koe frowns.

“She is human. I am uncertain but I believe she is alive. She hides. Even as she tried to hide you.”

“Hide me?”

“Yes. She wishes for you and her to remain hidden.” Lilapaul’s eyes become red and irritated from dryness. Somewhere near silt.”

“Like where my sisters are?”

“Perhaps. I am uncertain. Magics interfere…. Block with my own.”

“Is there…. Anything else?”

“No. Not now. My magic is being blocked. Perhaps with standard non-magical means…. But that costs money.”

“I can give you more money.” Offers Olan to Koe’s disapproval. “It is not much…. But I have some gold pieces. More later.”

She takes the three gold covered pieces and they disappear into a hidden space on her bracelet. “Until later my prince…. Perhaps in your dreams.”

Olan and Drak begin for the door but Koe has not moved. Lilapaul raises an eyebrow. “Can I help you Koe?”

“I have people I search for also.”

“Oh. Not what I had hoped for. I watched you at the water also. All of you. Is it true? What they say about a male mul’s endurance?”

“Yes but I am not here for that.”

“Oh poo.” And she circles him twice then sits across his lap. “Then what can I do for you or otherwise to you?”

“Do not flatter yourself. I seek one person in particular.”

The defiler temptress smiles and teases his face with her finger. “Go on.”

“Hurrrrm. Very well. I seek Hugo Hart the 2nd. He is an :):):):):):):) and a noble whom works for House Shom out of Nibenay. He carries a short sword at all times.”

“Is it the sword that you want?” she asks allowing her perfume to fully effect the Mul.

“Yes. But I want him also.”

“To do harm to?”

“If killing slowly and painfully means harm then yes.” Koe further adds…. “I want details. Where is he. What defenses does he have? What habits does he have? Tell me everything.”

“Yes. Yes I can do this.”

“There is another. Fyona Hark. I want to know if she is well.”

Lilapaul takes it all in. She knows it must have pained the proud mul some to ask her to ask him. Perhaps he is even desperate.

“As Olan has paid so must you Koe.”

“Indeed. It is always about money.”

“Not always…..there are other ways to pay.”

“I am no weak willed male thinking with his base thoughts than higher functions. I have…. This.” Koe removes the true solid gold coin he found from the ruins. He sets it down but doesn’t remove his finger from it.

“Is that a real…… It is. Will there be anything else? Are there more coins?”

“Stay out of my head defiler. You will not charm me out of my money nor dignity.”

“I have a considerable reach into the cities and the trade houses. I can research this Hark for you. And the woman also.”

“One more thing…. To earn this coin.”

She smiles and waits.

“Stop lying to Olan. I understand you fear Olan because of his father. But you know more than you are saying and that may be endangering him. Or worse- you are dragging this out to get money from him. Either way- No more. Tell him the truth.”

He gets up and leaves her to consider this while she admires the gold coin.

Yaesha is bartering with the elves for the ONE Crodlu they have. (strangely at night they have six more) Yaesha tries to talk the elves down but cannot. He pays 3x normal rates for this one and it looks like it was outside for the storm.

As he is doing this, Choro wanders by the market area. It appears the elves have explored an exposed ruin. There are many ancient items here including….. a book. Choro, like most people, cannot read but this one has pictures and most are in color. This interests him even more.

“Do know what the book is called? What it is about?”

“Yaramuke and the Queen. It is called…. The Queen and Yaramuke.” Offers the elf with a smile.

“Yaramuke…… we were near there a few days ago. Maybe this came from there!”

“Perhaps…. If so…. It was fate you should find it.” Says the other vender with an equally reassuring smile.

“Really? How much?”

Yaesha takes his one lone crodlu and ties it to the cart. He notices three other travelers are also washing in the pool. After they finish getting washed, dressed and walk about they come to him. They strike up a friendly conversation starting about the storm and then about the state of affairs between Raam, Draj and everyone else due to the plague. These three are searching for its cause. They believe it has a magical origin and comes from a ruin near here.

They are also searching for items stolen from a ruin near here last night. They followed some of the stolen goods to here but cannot find the key items they are searching for. Little more is talked about on the subject.

That night, Yaesha catches Choro thumbing through his new purchase. “I didn’t know you could read.”


Yaesha gives him a look and shakes his head in bewilderment. Choro is not stupid by any means but he can be a child at times. It is the Giant in him.

Choro then is caught looking at his book by Koe. “Put it away.”

Later, Koe is sleeping on top of the cart and Choro is under it….. looking at his book again. Choro thinks that Koe is unaware he is looking at it again. Koe merely doesn’t want to waste time going down to rip up the book.

Olan spots him under the cart. “What are you doing?”


“Well nothing looks interesting. Is that a book?”

“No.” he answers knowing Koe is above him sleeping.

Olan teases him and wrassles the book away. “I didn’t know you could read Choro. Especially ancient text.”

“You can read?”

“I have never been taught officially but I do have a way to figuring things out. I generally can decipher a lot of stuff- even ancient text.”

“This is the book called “The Queen and Yaramuke.” It has colored images of its people and buildings.”

Olan looks at it few times…. Straining and thinking….. “How did you come up with that name?”

“The elves that sold it to me said so.”

Koe snorts from above.

“I can’t break down each word but it’s not about Yaramuke. Its about Kalidnay.”

The few hours are spent looking at the pictures and doing poor translations of the script.

Koe wrestles with his conscious for a few minutes then says…. “Olan…..”


“Don’t trust the witch.”

DAY: 02
KA: 190

Lilapaul rests warily. Today, she has spent much of the morning preparing for scrying spells. The evening was spent “entertaining” several members from the Trade House Vordon. Now she needs to spread her spells and contacts out to others.

The elf Freemaun has come and gone. He is going to Nibenay to contact House Shom and The Shadows. The elf Beleez left yesterday. He is also going to contact house Shom agents.

But for Olan….. Olan she must do herself. She sits down and leans forward to light several intense candles to lit the room. Next, she prepares her components and tools to reach out mentally and locate Olan’s family. He reacted the strongest with the mention of his mother. She will try to contact her tonight but first….. his sisters on the islands…….

Freemaun and Beleez both arrive in the City of Shadows- Nibenay. They traveled separate to get here so as not to raise any suspicions from the Trade houses or Templar wives.

Lilapaul’s astral spirit floats about in the haze. She is unclear on the location but sees she is on a large island within the Sea of Silt. The land has small mountains and a ….lake? Moving closer she spots a small village. The people are…… are enslaved by people in grey cloaks. Among the people is a woman… human…. With black hair…. Much like Olan’s.

Could it be….?

DAY: 27
KA: 190

It is early in the day (9am) and already the sun is blazing and the temperature is rising over 90. Koe and Olan are thinking about their recent visits with Lilapaul. Choro is thinking about the pictures in the book and the little Olan was able to translate. Drak is watching for possible food. Yaesha is hoping the crodlu they have makes it to Tyr without dropping dead.

Drak swivels his insectoid head and stops. “Klik-Klik…..Kreen”

Koe looks to where he is staring and spots two thin insectoid creatures…. That continue forward walking on two legs. Thri-kreen.

Yaesha, high on the wagon seat spots more coming….. in a hurry. “Raiders!”

Drak is lost…. His thoughts are reeling. Kreen…. His people…Thri-kreen are attacking. It can not be! Growing up in Raam, he had seen kreen. They were peaceful. He had heard stories of kreen being vicious hunters and raiders outside of the walls….. its part of why he escaped Raam…. To find out for himself. But within a few days he came across Koe and the others…..

In kreen “Why do you attack us? My Clutch and I have done nothing to you. ”

These kreen are all blurred images as they use their psionics. Yaesha fires his bow at them as they approach running. His arrows all seem to just miss. Choro uses his psionics and again, fire erupts from the ground near one as it runs at him and the caravan.

Koe kicks and swings at the leaping kreen raiders. He misjudges every attempt. Two kreen leap up and over Choro and Olan onto the cart. Yaesha purposely “falls” off the cart to avoid the attacks.

“Need food. Klik. Need supplies. Klik. Eggs hatching.” Clicks out the leader as he leaps onto Drak whom sidesteps his attack. Looking at this leader, Drak assumes he is a young adult.

“Klik- I do not klik understand.”

“Liar- or have you been corrupted by klik klik… these soft shells?”

The battle goes on. The visual disturbance caused by the raiders wears off. It is then the caravaners have more success against the kreen. At least some success. Yaesha’s arrows are sometimes deflected by the agile mantis warriors. One such deflection finds itself striking Olan.

“klik klik…. Call off your clutch…. Click clik…. My Clutch leader will destroy them…..” asks Drak as he struggling with the young leader.

“No! Hatchlings will..klik klik.. die.”

The two battle. Only one strong strike is landed. Drak’s experience comes out on top as he wrestles and grapples with the youngling. Arms pinned, Drak demands the young kreen to surrender one last time. In response, the younger kreen attempts to bite and paralyze Drak but misses. Drak doesn’t miss. However, it is too late, the other five young thri-kreen have all been defeated…. And killed.

Drak sets the leader on the ground and spots a shadow cover them both. He hears the creak of a powerful bow string being pulled back. “Step back Drak.” Commands Yaesha.

Continuing to feel around in his pack for the few healing fruits he has, Drak nods no with crossed antennae. “No kill. He is good. Seeking to…. Feed hatchlings.”

“Likely story. He threaten me. Threatened all of you. Threatened the cargo. If allowed to live he will do this to other caravans….. other people. Do you want their blood on your hands?”

Drak places the fruit at the mouth of the unconscious kreen and Taesha shifts to the side and just as he is releases the arrow Drak swats at him. The arrow embeds itself into the ground about an half of an inch from the kreen’s head.

Olan pulls the arrow from his back and reaches for his healing fruit. Yaesha reaches over and snatches the arrow from his hand and places it onto his bow again.

“No. Not like this.” States Koe as he steps between Yaesha and the two kreen.

“Koe….. step back. You know I am right.” Choro and Olan stare in disbelief. “Stand down dammit.”

“Hatchlings in danger…. Clutch in danger…. Klik…. His clutch.” He turns his head to look back at Yaesha. “My clutch….. you and klik… others… click-clik…. Are safe.”

Yaesha suddenly is torn between his House and his…. Friends? “He can not have the House cargo.”

“Food and some water…..” begins Koe.

“NOT the caravans.”

Olan tosses his water skin at the side of the downed kreen. “Mine….. not the House’s.”
Koe and Choro follow suit as they untie and down their water and whatever trail rations they had on them.

“Further more, we will take this kreen to his home.” States Koe.

Drak looks up at the mul and his antenna twitches a few times.

“You would abandon the caravan?”

“We are a day or two from Tyr. You said we would be there for a few days then go south to Alturak. We return to his home. Then return to Tyr and continue to Alturak.”

“You are placing yourselves on dangerous ground. The House can not support this.”

“You are assuming the House will learn of this side trek.”

Yaesha has rarely placed friendship and respect above House rules…. Very-very very rarely. “We will arrive at Tyr on the first. On the third we leave. The caravan will not wait for you. If any damage is done to the caravan in that time…. Your disappearance will be duly noted.”

“Yes.” Sates Koe.

“As you will be branded a traitor.”


“As Yadda may place a bounty on your heads.”

“Hurrrm. Yes.”

“Begone” and Yaesha eases the bow string and walks to the cart.

Choro looks at Koe. “Stay here with caravan. Protect it.” Choro is saddened by this. Olan has already walked to the side of the cart.

DAY: 27
KA: 190

Drak has tied up the young thri-kreen so to safely carry him. Unseen by either Drak or Koe the young kreen awakens and chews free. Koe spots him trying to get free. “No.” Declares Koe and he back hands the kreen putting him out once more.

At mid day they stop and the kreen slowly awakens again. In kreen it speaks. “Klik kik….. Destroy me…..”

“No. Will not.” Says Drak as comforting as he can. “Why do you wish klik…. That?”

Koe listens but cannot understand them. He is watching for body language. He watches for any sudden movements.

“What are you…. Doing?” asks the young kreen.

“We wish to klik help you. Help your Clutch. Make it clik strong again. Need not hurt the others…. The non-kreen.”

The young kreen stares at Drak and gives way. Drak is superior to him. “I am…. Klok.”

In common- “His name is ….klok.” then reverting to the native tongue of the kreen- “Tell me of your…. Clutch.”

“We are hunters and gathers…… live deep in desert. Two days away……in that – clik- direction” and his head nods to the due east. “Home…. Nest in ruins…. In desert.”


“Yes… klik kik…. Eggs there…. Ready to hatch. Vulnerable however.”

“How is weak?”

“Sick raiders…. Humans dressed in black….. with black ashe and green growth on bodies. Attack us for …. The ruins. Said they seek something….. maybe in the ruins.”

“Is there?”

“Our two greatest treasures. Our eggs and their ancestors. “

“Your…. Ancestors?”

“You are no kreen. You have been with… the soft skins too long.”

“I do not….klik… understand.”

Klok closes off and will not discuss anything any more. Drak is bothered by this. He still releases the young kreen and the three walk into the desert.

That night they set up camp. The two kreen are both anxious to be sitting to wait for Koe. They begin once more to discuss things Kreen.

“Can you…klik…. Tell me again….. about your…. Clutch.” Asks Drak.

“As my elder…. I will comply……” begins Klok.

“Black Sand Raiders used to attack us sometimes. Wanted the ruins for themselves.” Begins the young kreen. “Then they brought sickness and disease. Many of the Clutch died…. Many elder ancestors were put away. Including the Clutch Leader.” The antennae droop and cross. Koe knows this suggests sadness or regret. “Only seven of us remained along with six… unhatched eggs. Eggs that would hatch soon. We hoped our leaders would return to us.”


“How is it you know so little….of our ways?”

“I was hatched within a city. I had no kreen to teach me until later. I have limited….. ancestral knowledge.”

“It shows” states the young kreen. “How did your egg get taken away from Clutch?”

“I do not know.”

“Was it stolen? Was it taken from dead protectors?” Was it an evil kreen?”

“I do not know.” And Drak finds himself wondering now how did he come to be a city hatched kreen.

“Your spirit must be…. Broken. I pity you.”

“Pity me?”

“As young ones, we are exposed to ancestors. We identify with an ancestor. Our ancestor’s spirits then guide us….. teach us.”

“Exposed…. As you see their…. Dead bodies?”

“Yes. It saddens me that you neglected to bring my clutch with us….. to be reborn with a future egg.”

Drak feels bad now. He did not fully understand this process. An elderly old kreen in Raam tried to explain it to him once but he refused to understand. Now he wishes he stopped to listen and learn.

“The raiders stole our reserves. Destroyed whatever they could not take. They thought this would drive us away. But our eggs remained there hidden and our ancestors remain there waiting to be reborn. It was decided one would stay behind and watch over the eggs as the rest of us sought food and supplies.”

“I see no evil here. You merely wished to protect your clutch.”

“Yes. Protect. Protect and Provide for. That night a storm came. It drew us off course. We lost our own supplies. We do not normally bother the soft skins. Even the elves.” Klok pauses as if nervous. “Is it true what the soft skins say? Are elves delicious?”

“I do not know. Gith are not. Raiders have a bad aftertaste. Made me sick. Yaesha….. he helped me.”

Koe peers from his sleeping pad at the familiar name.

“He is a wise man?”

“Yes. But not always.”

Klok looks for an explanation.

“He is wise but wished for me to kill you.”

“We attacked him. He beat us. It was his rite.”

“I disagree.”


“We are close Drak. There- see the wall?” exclaims the excitable young kreen. He hurries ahead. At the point of this ruin he grows concerned. He can see the second ruin clearly and it appears to be without anyone and largely buried under sand.

“Quickly! To the large ruin. Something is wrong.” And he hurries along. Both Koe and Drak hurry with him.

“Doke! Doke! Show yourself!” Klok calls as he races around the multi-story ruin. He enters a courtyard and sees nothing but broken columns and sand. “Doke!”

Drak enters the place and feels strange vibes here. It seems to speak to him.

Koe waits outside the courtyard and guards the entrance. He feels only kreen should enter and wishes to respect that.

“Doke!” and Klok begins to dig furiously along a wall exposed to the sun. Not sure if it is the right thing to do Drak also digs nearby. The sand is loose and slides about. It has not had time to set under its own weight.

Drak then feels something…… as does Klok. Klok emits a whining pitiful sound as he has found something. Carefully he pulls out a 10 inch tall kreen hatchling. Dead. “Dig. Maybe the others escaped or have yet to hatch……”

Drak feels a heavy heart as he has found something. An adult kreen. Dead. Buried in the sand. The two dig there further and find the other five hatchlings….. all dead. The storm came here and literally buried the just hatched kreen. The guardian tried to protect them but died as well….. shielding the just born. Drak helps Klok lay out the seven dead bodies then steps away.

“What is happening?” asks Koe outside.

“klik…klik… The storm that we fought…. B’rohg….. hit here. Buried everyone….. all dead…. Drowned in sand… and silt. His clutch…K’d g’tok (End of the Clutch).”

Koe asks if he can help and three solemnly moves the dead to another area that Klok has uncovered. The dead are placed with the other dead…. All facing NW.


Koe and Drak leave Klok. Klok refuses to come with them. He feels he must rebuild the Clutch….here… with his ancestors.


They reach Tyr and enter. They easily find the Tsalaxa building as they have been here before. Yaesha has already left. “We drink then walk…. Fast”

DAY: 01
KA: 190

With a heavy heart, Yaesha gets the cargo into the walls of Tyr and to the Tsalaxa compound. “You have two nights. On the third we leave. There is a mid-year festival happening. Enjoy it but be careful.”

Olan and Choro check out a gladiatorial match. They are not as excited by it as the others seem. That night Olan tries to buy some poisons to use with his daggers. The few elves that said they would do business with him want more for the poison than he has.

That night they go over the book again. Yaesha spots it and grumbles about the contraband. He hesitates slightly when he learns it is about Kalidnay.

Kalidnay was a rich city located near the southern tip of the ringing mountains. It was well known for its source of wealth- diamonds and gems.

Kalid-ma, the ruler of Kalidnay, had everything but one thing- an heir. He had many wives and none produced a child. He started to become desperate and sought other means of having an heir.

“What did he do?” asks Choro.

“Not sure. I’ll have to look it over some more.”

“Can’t we wait one more day?” Asks Choro.

“No.” Says Yaesha. “We go.”

Outside of Alturak, The Tsalaxa Caravan reaches the gates. They spend one day here doing business.

DAY: 06
KA: 190

Koe buys an entire bottle of wine at the Tsalaxa compound in Tyr. “Tonight we drink and tomorrow we go.” He states to the thri-kreen Drak.

“Sweet Water….. I drink with you…klik kik… Koe.”

The first cup of wine each drinks quickly. Then they sip the second. Half way through the second Koe speaks breaking the silence. “Been thinking. Klok said something that seemed strange.” Drak’s antennae cross in apprehension. “He….whatever he said bothered you. Hurt you. What did he say?”

“….. hik…… He said I had …. No ancestors….. no connection…klik….to the kreen…. The people.”

“Is this true?” Koe asks as a young woman walks in and asks for a bottle of Broy. She pays and sits down on the other side of the small company tavern.

“Kik….It seems.”

“I don’t understand.”

“If klok…klik kik… is correct….. by being taken as …kik kik… an egg I was not allowed….. to commune with…. Ancestors.”

“How would you….. oh. The bodies.” Self-answers the mul.

“Maybe it would be best to start from the beginning.”

Drak finishes his cup of wine. “I was taken….. as an egg. Brought to Raam. Was to be…. Fighter.” Drak

Drak continues to retell his origin only this time in common to Koe. Koe is coming to understand the thri-kreen more and more. He understands why he helped Klok and still seems preoccupied about his fate.

“Do you….kik…. think he is right….Klok is right?”

“Which part?”

“I lack purpose. I lack spirit?”

“No. You make own fate.”

Drak remains quiet and stares at the wine bottle. “Can I tell you….. a secret.”


“I ….felt something….. when burying the hatchlings. An awareness.”

Koe stares at him trying to determine what Drak is getting at.

“I think…kik….klik…. I think I am done talking tonight.” And with that the thri-kreen picks up the bottle and steps outside and settles down on the porch.

Koe wonders a bit about his life then suddenly realizes the woman is still here and watching him. “What?”

“You are….. Koe. I have heard of you.” She slurs slightly.

“I don’t have a name tag on me.”

House Tsalaxa has only two muls under its service currently. Bartus and Koe. Bartus I have met and he is in Urik now. Only house members may drink here….so you are- Koe.”

“Then you are correct.” He watches as she gets up and walks to his table. She has an athlete’s body and the face of a noble. Her hair is silver with bright blue tips. Her armor is well made leather. Finely made…. Maybe even magic. He approves.

“Your friend seems to be having an identity crisis. That is too bad.”

“His problem. Not yours.”

“Do you wish to know what my problem is?” she asks.

“Not especially.”

“I am horny.” She pauses for a reaction which Koe gives none.

“I hear Muls are incredible. Is that true?”

“It would seem so.” And he thinks about his last time. It has been six years…… in the monastery.

When they upstairs there is no else there. In the morning Drak goes up and finds them there asleep.

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