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Recap 28: Just Deserts

July 18, 2009

The Oasis
Amidst the lush vegetation, there is an altar at the edge of a small pond. To the elves, the altar appears to be glowing. On the base of the altar is a mural depicting a female elf hunting forest animals. This also is only apparent to the elves in the party. Alana taking a sip of water, finds her injuries are healed and she feels better than she has felt before. She passes this information on to the others and they all partake.

Lieralyn suddenly feels a tug on the mirror, a feeling she has been instructed by Brecaryn to notice as a sign someone is trying to communicate with them through the mirror. It is Leento - Josy is ready to return to the group.

Recognizing the female elf in the mural to be Sehanine Moonbow, Alana decides to pray to her. Having never done so before, Alana turns to her companions and asks them what she's supposed to do. After some brief suggestions, Alana chooses to thank her goddess, asking for her assistance in traversing the desert. She then debates how many of her belongings to leave on the altar as an offering, all the while seeking confirmation from her group mates. In the end, Alana plays a song on her harp and parts with some platinum, a few arrows, a giant yeti tooth, and a dragon tooth.

Hoping to garner help from any quarter that would increase his chances of survival without incurring the wrath of his own unforgiving goddess, Flerm chooses to leave an offering of arrows in thanks for the oasis. How his deity would look on this act, one can only speculate.

Taking up a standard watch, the party gets some rest. When it comes time for Snow and Alana to take over, Snow finds it impossible to waken her. She appears to be restless, caught in the throes of a nightmare. Even Malouf's herbs do not work. With no other likely solution available, Josy prays over Alana's sleeping form which seems to soothe her, though she remains asleep until the very end of the watch. Seeing her start, Snow asks how she's feeling. Alana answers that she has learned many important things that will help her on her journey. Sehanine Moonbow came to her in her dreams. The goddess was livid with Alana for praying to Ymir and scoffed at the gifts Alana left her. Luckily for Alana, Josy's prayer helped mitigate the goddess' anger. She gave Alana a second chance to prove her worthiness at being her champion.

Desert Crossing

At dusk, the group prepares to leave the oasis. Because the fruit growing there is so delicious, they decided to fill the folding canoe with fruit and stow it in the mirror. Malouf and Flerm mount the axebeak while the rest of the party is safely tucked away inside the mirror. They hope that with the axebeak, they will be able to avoid many of the pitfalls of the desert and finish crossing it by the next day.

This hope ends in vain. Not long after leaving the oasis, the group falls into another ant sinkhole. After fighting the ants off, they are then set upon by the dragon-like creature that's been following them from the beginning. Although they are successful at chasing the creature off, the axebeak is too injured to be ridden. Setting out on foot with Snow now scouting ahead, they make slow progress across the sand. At one point, they narrowly avoid an encounter with a large group of strangely dressed riders on axebeaks. Eventually, because of the extreme heat, they are forced to stop and build a temporary structure out of their looted treasures in order to shield themselves from the hot sun.

While those on watch remain outside, the rest stay inside the mirror to sleep. However, without Brecaryn actively manipulating the portal, neither side can communicate with the other and this oversight is soon made quite obvious.

During Flerm and Oliver's watch, the desert people they thought they had cleverly hidden from sneak towards the camp and attack, stealing the mirror and dragonkin masks and killing the axebeak the group was using as a mount. Flerm manages to kill one of the raiders and take his axebeak. Devising a plan for retrieving the mirror, the two track the desert people back to their home. Using the ring, Oliver shoots a fireball into the structure, intimidating the raiders with threats of more violence if the stolen items are not returned. The desert people do so and add a chest of coins. Flerm rides up and collects Oliver and the items before riding back in the direction they came.

By mutual agreement, the two decide to keep the escapade secret from the rest of the group. When the others question them about what happened to the tapestries they had been using as shade, Flerm and Oliver claim a sandstorm blew the items away. To explain away the injuries they sustained in the fight, the two say they have been sparring one another. Their declarations are met with skepticism, but the two remain adamant that their version of the truth is an accurate accounting of the evening's events. To add to this, they also tell the group that the sandstorm uncovered the chest of coins. What a lucky occurrence. The rest of the night passes quietly.

On waking, Brecaryn finds Rumpleplix with his tail wrapped around Nightshade's neck.

I coulda done it, but I didn't! *POOF*

As they set out, the group is attacked again by the dragon-like creature. In the attack, the axebeak runs away leaving them once again stranded. This is most unfortunate because it quickly becomes evident that a sandstorm is coming and they have no hope of outrunning it on foot. Buying them some time to come up with a plan, Oliver uses the protective dome on his ring. Snow and Malouf, both having the ability to slow their respiration are suited up in Dragonkin armor.

The rest of the party try to enter the mirror, but instead of being transported into the mirror dimension, Rumpleplix's image appears in the mirror. Unless Brecaryn agrees to allow him to fight Nightshade to be Brecaryn's familiar, he will not allow the party to enter. Left with little choice, Brecaryn agrees.

Once everyone is inside the mirror, Malouf straps it to himself and sandwiches it in between Snow and himself. They then prepare themselves to wait out the storm.

After 3 hours, they finally are able to dig themselves out, luckily having waited long enough that the storm had passed. Now without a mount, they have little choice but to walk. Eventually, they see a pyramid in the distance. This must be their destination. Before reaching it, they face one more encounter - giant scorpions - but reach it, they do.

Al-Laqant? Rhino?

A welcome party exits the pyramid to greet them, bearing water. The group is then shown to quarters, the inhabitants of the pyramid believing them to be merchants come to sell their wares in Al-Laqant. Having no wish to disabuse their hosts of this notion, the group complies. Special deference is shown to Flerm. When Alana questions their special treatment of the dark elf, their guide is confused - Flerm bears the mark of Anubis so he clearly must be the party leader. Oh.....

The city itself is built on the exterior of the pyramid. The majority of the inhabitants appear to be human, dwarves making up the rest. Most of the humans have a tanned complexion, common in desert regions. An official named Kamal comes to greet the party and to find out what wares they are selling. Kamal speaks to them with little expression, revealing no emotions. When they try to ask him about the inner workings of the pyramid, Kamal rebuffs them, saying this information is not needed by merchants. Not wishing to appear more suspicious than they can help, the group do not push for an answer. Instead, to keep up their merchant facade, they go down to the bazaar and sell many of their acquired items. Oliver, being the most congenial of the group is pushed to do all of the wrangling and possibly obtain some information. He does well, not only obtaining good prices for the sold items but befriends a dwarf named Dorik who tells Oliver that about 6 months ago, a group of Betayans passed through, asking questions but selling little. Could this have been Lord Phantar's group?

Tags: Alana, Brecaryn, Flerm, Josy, Kamal, Leento, Lieralyn, Malouf, Nightshade, Oliver, Rumpleplix, Sehanine Moonbow, Snow

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