Campaign of the Month: May 2016

Mysteria

Missing
Hey, what happened to that guy....?

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Tharn Shatta-Renn glided effortlessly in the thin air above the Sarklan Desert. An immense distance separated his taut reptilian wings from the hot sand below, but this did nothing to diminish the power of his keen eyesight as he watched his prey travel slowly towards a ship on the banks of the Great Green Nuria. He had underestimated the small group when he had made his first ambush attack on its only scaled member, a lowly dragonkin female that had survived his pounce and resisted his poison. That was a mistake he would not make twice.

The company on the ship were slavers from Nangui by the looks of it, led by a demon with great horns. Troublesome quarry, he thought, tough by nature, tough in flesh. And tricksy. So very tricksy. The rest were humans, one of them a gnoll. A bit sinewy, not to his taste, and the slaves too lean. And what was this coming out of the boat? A mummy? Now, that really WOULD be disgusting. No, it was a succulent human traveller for him – soft skin and a few shiny objects to take home and admire.

Ah, they were fighting! Excellent! Some quick movers, flyers too. The nkosi was on his own but in a field of tentacles. Not a good place to land, Tharn thought. My gosh, what a flurry of magic they display. But one of them seemed to be avoiding the fight and moving into the open desert. Nice garb, some shiny metal and far enough away from the conflict. Ideal!

Tharn’s wingtips flicked slightly to change position before he drew the appendages to his side and dropped like a stone toward the young priest standing alone on a desert dune. Tharn saw the young man’s eyes just before he collided. They looked like they were praying in vain to some unknown god. Those eyes would never see again.

So ends the life of Ali Akbar, Rune Oracle of ATEN.

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The Grave Tale of a Horse with No Name

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“The Sarklan is a harsh and unforgiving place. To the North of Siwal lies the Sands of Sorrow, where many an adventurer has sealed his doom, but to the south are the great Plains of Oblivion – larger in area than the Sands of Sorrow, and teeming with many dangers. Traders are less in number but enemies abound.”

“Drought swallows swarm in flocks of utter dessication, lone demons and devils from Languria will stride forth in great malice, taking their anger out on unwary travellers. But deadlier still are the sand drakes, masters of sky and dune. Wicked, vengeful creatures that may lie unseen in desert sands, or follow prey for days upon end flying high in the air and waiting for oppourtunity.”

“Some say the sand drakes speak and indeed many sided with the Nurians in the wars against the Mharoti Empire, but they are no friends of human, dwarf or gnoll, and would much rather eat than talk.”

“Further south, along the shores of the Great Green River, the land is easier to travel. Narrow green banks offer fresh food for horses and camels, but little else. There is great natural power along the route of this river and those who can tap into the power of Leylines will attest to this.”

“Keep your muzzle clean, my brother, for the humans shall drive you hard through this land.”

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Oh my God I can't believe it....

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Achmed: Look, I know what I saw and it was a monster! Many eyes, many mouths, blobby and dangerous.
Malik: Just listen to yourself. Monster? Blobby? Are you sure you didn’t stir black salt into your tea instead of sugar?
Achmed: No, ask Emile, he saw it too.
Emile: Sure did! It was a monster alright. The size of an elephant. Three dozen eyes. Hundreds of teeth. Howled like a demon it did.
Malik: Oh, and when was the last time YOU heard a demon howl?
Emile: I heard one before, out near the Necropolis one night.
Malik: Phah! And you say those Northern SLIMES were fighting the thing?
Emile: I think they call themselves OOOZES, not SLIMES
Malik: Whatever….
Emile: Yes, fighting it.
Achmed: It swallowed their Nkosi priest.
Malik: Dead?
Achmed: Well, that’s just it, you see….
Emile: Thoth-Hermes came down from the sky and blew the monster away.
Malik: Now, you really HAVE been eating the wrong sort of spice. Thoth-Hermes, you say…
Emile: Huge body. Ibis head. Floating in the Air. Thoth-Hermes.
Malik: And what did he say as he blew away this giant monstrosity of teeth and eyes with his tiny Ibis mouth?
Emile: I don’t know what he said, but he brought that Nkosi priest back to life in an instant.
Malik: Then I suppose he just disappeared in a puff of smoke…?
Achmed: No smoke. Thoth-Hermes does not use cheap tricks.
Malik: Of course. Why would he? Well, no matter, I’m still not joining your church. I’ll say a few silent prayers to Aten tonight and ask that he keeps us all safe.

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A hunt for the Howlers
Adventure Log by Dragathorian

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Rumours were abounding, blasphemers were hunting the chosen of the Gods within Siwal. A blasphemy without bounds nor seeming reason. The name, or perhaps title, Howling God began to circulate in hushed, fearful whispers. Perhaps this was the beginning of darker things to come, the slaying of Clergymen a herald of a far more sinister end.

The Oozes had decided to investigate these dark deeds, in no small part, as an end to the tale might grant Arcael a greater inspiration on his next ballad about his mighty deeds. May-hap finally crush Peter and his lesser Dumplings on the musical stage and as such banish their fowl mockery of music forever from his divine life!

As the Oozes passed through the marketplace on their way to the great library to research this cult, a mysterious assassin passed by Xavier who was at the head of the party and stabbed Saabu. Fortunately, due to both his cat like reflexes and hardy constitution the wound was not a fatal one and the mysterious liquid oozing from the blade could not overcome him. Unperturbed by the results the assassin left at a run, proclaiming that the Howling God had come for Saabu’s life. Xavier took off after the perpetrator at a run drawing his blade and demanding that the surrounding civilians clear him a path in the name of justice. Three lowly thugs failed to heed his warnings and had the audacity to even draw blade and swing at the furious warrior. One was sent to the ground, however the other two successfully barred his path, allowing the assassin to melt away into the bustling streets. Arcael a tower of wroth at, what he saw as a personal slight to himself, sent a flaming ball of death at the three, incinerating them instantly. A short interview with the guards later and the group were back on their way towards the halls of knowledge.

The group found out from an elderly ex Paladin, Qusay abd R’ad, that the Cult of The Howling God was ejected from the great city of Siwal some twenty years ago due to the deplorable ritual of human sacrifice used in their worship. Also, that he happened to be one of the people to originally oust the group in the first place. An important part of this story, that he’d forgotten, was to be revealed later with somewhat tragic consequences. The group surmised from this information that the killings may then be some part of a grand scheme of vengeance towards certain groups of priests and that the Ex paladin may be on that list of targets. The man was now a judge for the poorer parts of the city, this would put him out in the open and thus vulnerable. So, the Oozes decided to play the waiting game and observe R’ad at work hoping the assassins may strike at him granting the perfect opportunity to pounce. Alas no attack came and even worse news another priest had been slain, Jafsa daughter of Yusra a priestess of Aten, a woman also normally surrounded by guards slain at her prayers. The group found little at the scene of death.

Back at the library an acquaintance of Saabu, Wasimah the Eldest, had learned of an artefact held by the Howling Cultists. The Bottle of Madness, that apparently contained a djinn or a demon or some other monstrosity that would serve its wielders and that the man to ask about this terrible artefact was none other than theex-Paladin they had just left. Slightly annoyed by this the party returned to the man. Seemingly a strong magic was placed on this bottle to prevent its opening but there was a bloodline flaw that (apparently) allows the seal to be broken by the blood of a priest of Aten and unfortunately a priest had just been slain.

Arcael went to the The House of Mehmet to put out feelers in the underground for the poison the assassins were using while Goran went to see a man about a dog. Memet promised that his cousin Ishmael al-Turk would try to find out more about the Cultists within the caravanserai. While Goran received some information that the Howling Cultists may well actually be operating out of, or at least through, the House of Memet. He also received a tipoff that there was a gathering of the Cult taking place a short way out of town by a local oasis. Arceal decided that should Memet or anyone else for that matter betray him, his entire family and operations would be forfeit in a sea of fire. Having little else for the moment to go on, the group followed up on the secret oasis meeting.

What they found was a group of cultish looking people howling every so often during a rather strange sermon. The original plan had been to take a couple of them alive for some ‘gentle questioning’ however as these things go only one was spared the brutal massacre that commenced, with a possible unseen second fleeing the scene. From this unfortunate soul one, Anwar el-Iblrahim, a fanatical cleric of Aten known to Saabu Theet, they learned he’d come to hopefully watch them die in recompense for killing a god. The Oooze handed him in to the church and later learned that the “secret cult meeting” was all a ruse to lure the minstrels to their death. Luckily, The Oooze are not so easily killed.

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Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

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Four friends meet for coffee at one of the quality spice shops in The Minarets of Ancient Dust. Their names are Dulpha, Andos, Ali and Grubba.
Dulpha: “Hey Grubba, I didn’t see you at the Puddings gig on Saturday night…”
Andos: “Yeah, where were you, you sneak?”
Grubba: "I went to see Arcael and the Oooze at the Bluewater Inn."
Dulpha: “You’re not supporting those God Slaying Lizard Lovers, are you?”
Ali: “God Slaying?”
Dulpha: "Yeah. Everyone knows. Why do you think they wear turbans all the time?
Andos: “What God did they kill?”
Dulpha: “Who knows….some ancient God that nobody believes in anyway. But they’re cursed, I tell you.”
Andos: “And they are Lizard Lovers. I’ve seen them walking around with that horrible dragonkin creature.”
Ali: “So what were The Oooze like, then….?”
Grubba: "Pretty good. They had a lot of magical smoke and lights, and that Arcael has got some voice on him."
Dulpha: "Aw, but Man! You should have seen the Puddings gig. Peter and Finrod Halfelven performed a double lute solo while Zahrah al-Zaina did a full body dance. It was amazing!"
Andos: “I hear those Ooozes also caused a bit of trouble in town on Sunday…”
Dulpha: “Yeah, blasted three citizens with a fireball, right on a main road on Sunday afternoon.”
Ali: “What? No, never…. and they’re still walking around?”
Dulpha: “Apparently claimed that someone attacked them. Tried to kill one of them.”
Andos: “Anu-Akma, they should give that guy a medal. Pity he failed.”
Dulpha: “Anyway, they’re filthy lizard lovers alright, but don’t mess with them, or you’ll turn out on the wrong side of a fireball.”

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A God is Dead!
...and the tomb of the elephant god lies plundered!

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Thanks to information by Gravebinder Panshal al-Marhji in gratitude for them saving his daughter, Arcael and The Oooze were first on the scene after a recent sand storm uncovered the hidden resting place of Maraut, the Elephant God.

Key events in this story include:
the destruction of a group of wights led by a Dreadwight,
the utter defeat of an elite kobold sleeper unit, resulting in the death of Bartiman Greenbough (raised by Saabu Theet),
the defeat of Herutob, fiendish water naga,
the defeat of a Devouring Mist and a Sacrificial Spirit,
overcoming several deadly traps,
the defeat of resident and summoned SHADOW DEMONS,
the defeat of swarm-filled skinstitches and gibbering allips,
the defeat of a hellwasp swarm,
despatching a belker and two blood golems,
the destruction of THE ELEPHANT GOD, Maraut, resulting in the death of Goran (restored by MIRACLE performed by High Priest of Anu-Akma), and the subsequent PERMANENT marking of each character as “GOD SLAYER” by an immovable tattoo on the forehead of each party member.

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Wishing

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After the excursion to the Tomb of The Elephant God, where Goran died upon the destruction of the God Maraut, and all other party members were marked with the eternal symbol of “God Slayer”, the noble Cleric Saabu Theet received a DIVINE DREAM, informing him that nothing short of a Wish or Miracle would restore the party’s rogue to life – a seemingly difficult task to achieve in a city not very well populated by 17th Level Clerics or Mages. Xavier could offer no help. Arcael and Bartiman Greenbough asked their contacts in Siwal and both suggested that the best hope was to approach the Church of Anu-Akma, Lord of the Dead.

On gaining an audience with the High Priest of Anu-Akma, the old man asked the party: “Does the recipient have a black ear?” The party nodded, not sure what this meant.
“Then, I have a scroll prepared!” the priest proclaimed triumphantly. “Leave the body here, along with a small token of 35,000 Gold Pieces, and you may collect your friend tomorrow.”

When the party returned to Anu-Akma’s shrine the next day, Goran met them at the fountain. He still bore the symbol of “God Slayer” and still his ear was black. But he was alive!

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Song of the Siren

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Khors, wearing the bright mask of Aten, sat in a large circle at an elite performance of the travellling musicians who played under the name Peter and the Puddings. In a large private tent in Nuria Natal in honour of the birthday of Abdul Bashir, Siwal’s trade ambassador in the Capital City, the Divine Son of Svarog appeared human to all but one in the crowd, and listened carefully to the music of the young bard La Fayette. A singing style no doubt enriched through practise and devotion, but even more wondrous, the dextrous mastery of the lute in his hands.

Khors’s eye caught that of a beautiful woman who sat opposite him, yet closer to the singer. From across the circle, she winked at him knowingly. Any other person in that tent would have been beguiled by the seduction of that wink and smile, but Khors was not fooled.

Nakresh,” he realised, understanding immediately the divine Patronage lending its power and influence to the young singer in the centre of the circle, and yet it was not pride that Khors saw in that smile. It was something else. Something more sinister. Something malevolent. Something befitting the wiles of the Many Handed goddess. Something terrible was happening. He felt sure of it…..

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God Only Knows

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Those who say they know the gods say that Horus, the Desert Falcon, sees all that happens in The Sarklan. A desert eagle flies high above the wispy cirrus, where once a winged camel soared. Its piercing vision spies the temple opening and yet there is no prey in that arid land. But, he who used the raptor knew its import.

Memories stirred in the very heart of The Majestic One of a long lost friend, cursed by the Serpent, crushed by Divine Power, yet not devoid of hope. Resurrection? Could a DEAD God live? Not his place to intervene. All in the hands of mortals now.

The eagle turns and flies away. Ever searching. Ever hungry. But the Eye of Horus fixes its gaze upon the ancient temple, seeing all that can be seen. No other God but one has had its eye upon this place, and He that did would not intervene. Would Anu-Akma be called by the passing of a soul? Even Horus knew not this. He must wait. Like Providence, the fate of one once noble balanced tentatively on the sharp point of a deadly knife.

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Redemption Song

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Selikk Aman, Desert Disciple and High Lieutenant of Ogun flew over the dry winter Sarklan on his winged camel, Nagritte. There were no sand dragons aloft today, which pleased the Wind Lord greatly, for he despised such creatures and endeavoured at all times to keep such evil monsters away from civilized people.

On the dry lands below, a few caravans struggled across the slow terrain, and in the distance his divine ears heard the smooth swish of a Siwal sandship as it made its way through the Sands of Sorrow. But this was not his calling.

Flying over an oasis, he saw two merchants arguing, their hands on their daggers, their wives and servants wild eyed and pleading for peaceful resolution to whatever trivial disagreement they contested. But this was not his calling.

As Selikk swerved westward on his winged beast, away from the Hariek Hills, he noticed a group of dead reptilians, their life essence ripped from them, their bodies already decaying in the warm winter sun. But this was not his calling.

After a short time he descended to a vile pool at the foot of a short ridge. The recent storms had blown away tons of sand and had revealed an ancient temple of the Elephant God, Maraut, so old that even Selikk Aman had not been born when it was built. This was his calling.

Leaving Nagritte outside with instructions not to approach the pool, Ogun’s Servant strode through the maze of passages on the edge of the ethereal plane, being careful to avoid triggering the powerful magic preventing interdimensional travel within the temple. Deep into the dungeon he ran, past desecration painful to behold.

Avoiding a large room guarded by the souls of wretched priests, he strode through a series of tombs and through a dark passage leading into the most vile room he had ever entered. Black was its essence, putrid its stench. Mortals engaged with demons in fierce contest. He would pray for them when he left, but he was not sent here to battle demons, just to eject one from the body of a loyal follower.

Dispel Magic was a simple spell for Selikk Aman, and he cast it with pleasure, forcing out the horrid demon from the body of the unwilling barbarian. “A fairer contest now,” he thought, and turned whence he came. He could have stayed to help the mortals against such demons of shadow and disgust. But that was not his calling. And it was unfair to leave Nagritte alone in such a terrible place.

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