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?

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