Savage Sun of Athas

Recent events in Tyr and a trade logbook stolen

The group settled into House M’ke without incident and began to explore Tyr and the Merchant District. During their few days of roaming around the city, a few notable rumors and concerns seemed to be common with the citizens of Tyr:

House M’ke Oadim confided with them that the tradehouse has hit a streak of bad luck in the past 2 years. Many caravans coming out of Tyr have been raided, and a handful of those originating from Raam. It has hurt the house immensely. He suspects that there may be someone providing information on the routes and goods for caravans under M’ke’s trade banner. He asked the group to keep their ears and eyes open to anything suspicious.

2 Piece Movement – Many of the former slaves complain that freedom has only continued slavery under a different name due to low wages. Whatever they make during the 10 day week is lost to costs for food and housing. They wish to have a standard wage of 2 pieces a week which would allow them more funds to save for a better life. This is universally viewed among merchants and the craft guilds as a disaster. Increasing base wages to 2 pieces (or 2 silver) would wreck Tyr’s struggling economy.

Some merchants are secretly conspiring to have the leader of the movement, Eldra, killed. A minority feel that a counter offer should be given instead. There is no official standard wage for Tyr. If a standard of 1 piece was made an official decree by the king, many free citizens would be able to have a few more bits per week to have a decent meal, a bath, or enjoy a pitcher of broy. This might be enough to erode support of the 2 piece movement among the free citizens.

Rumors of slavers – Within the Warrens, rumors swirl of a string of disappearances for some free citizens. While slavery is outlawed in Tyr, other citystates still practice it. Some whisper that other city trade houses may be paying criminal gangs to abduct people to sell as slaves outside of Tyr. It may be possible that some criminal gangs could be dabbling in the slave trade directly also.

The fate of Kalak and Ziggurat – The ziggurat is guarded at all times. Some rumors claim that Kalak retreated into the structure during his assassination attempt. Other rumors tell that his body was not found. However this is all hearsay and no one has stepped forward with concrete information. However it is a mystery why the interior of the ziggurat has been made off limits to others, including members of the noble senate, and that King Tithian has claimed that only he can access the structure.

King Tithian – Many nobles worry how he will keep things together. Some claim Tithian is seeking to be another tyrant king. This view is popular as the Templars feel he is the right person for the job and has the backing of the military. Yet, others recognize he is in a difficult situation and is doing the best he can. Tyr is in the shadow of many City States of Athas envious of its iron mines. Most agree Tyr needs to show strength under a single leader to stave off any threats of future war.

Rook’s stone amulet – Another small merchant in House M’ke has approached the group about working with him to decipher a stone amulet in his possession. Rook claims it is to a secret elven cache of treasure, however he is unable to read the coded ancient elven text. He is in need of a few partners with unusual skillsets to help with this endeavor, and is willing to split the haul 50-50 with them.

Upon agreement to at least help in deciphering the amulet, they agreed to accompany him to an important elven merchant leader in Tyr, Lismuuk. Lismuuk claimed that while he could not read the amulet, he does know of elders which could. However he required a favor in return. Weekly, Tyr merchants meet to talk of trade and other matters. Usually some of the major trade houses for the other cities are also present. He requested that they steal a logbook of trade goods from one of the major houses. If they did this, he would provide elders which could interpret the amulet code.

The group set about to complete this task. The following day they posed as minor Tyr merchants and gained access to the compound where the meeting would be held. During intense discussion among the merchants, they snuck upstairs to try and break into one of the offices for a major trade house. After slaying a few guards, they broke into an office for House Tsalaxa taking one of their trade logs. Making a daring escape with an arranged diversion outside, they stole off to Lismuuk. Provided with the trade house log, Lismuuk arranged a meeting with elven elders which could interpret Rook’s amulet.

The elders claimed that to the east and north were a set of ruins which would provide dimensions to a funnel along with varying amounts of sand. The sand would pass through the funnel like a simple timer. With a known location and time provided by the sand funnel, a direction and distance could be calculated based on the passing of a shadow from a pillar of stone or some other natural landmark.

Rook was very excited. He knew of the location of the landmark and the time when to watch the shadow, however he had no idea how long he should wait or the expected distance. With information gained at the ruins along with his amulet, he was certain that he could discover the location of the treasure. The group agreed to accompany him and made preparations to leave Tyr and House M’ke.

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Seeking Elven knowledge

The group quietly left Tyr days later. Rumors swirled abound of someone similar to their description responsible for the theft at the merchant meeting. To tie up any loose ends with Lucero in case leaving House M’ke was final, they wrote up a detailed report of the general situation within Tyr and with King Tithian, and sealed the report in a lockbox as instructed before leaving.

The group traveled north and east along the border of the Alluvial Wastes on foot with a kank in tow for carrying supplies. Rook wanted to skirt the border of the wastes and visit what free villages he could. Under the guise of a silk merchant, he suggested selling wares and trying to find more information regarding the stone necklace, and in particular if there could be any ancient elven ruins which dotted the wastes.

As elves are nomadic people, the ruins of their people would surely be more unique and stand out with many others that littered Athas. In one village in particular, they spoke with elves that suggested some possible locations. One elf was willing to provide a bit more history regarding why elven ruins existed.

Long ago, it was recognized that elves needed key locations to serve as houses of learning and a written record. Elves build citadels of knowledge which were to be archives of their accomplishments. Some elves suggested that what the group was looking for was the equivalent of finding out how long a mile was, or how heavy was a pound. The funnel was a means of recording the passage of brief periods of time. While that knowledge was lost on the precise standard size of a sand funnel, it would most certainly be found among these elven archives.

More tales were told in the villages regarding the history of elves. Elves began to record their arcane knowledge including the practice of preserver magic. This type of magic was rumored to not draw life from the earth and instead draw energy from the wisps of magic that flowed through Athas. This was viewed as a threat to the sorcerer-kings, which sought to have the elvish citadels razed. The practice of writing was abandoned as it furthered strife between the elves and other Athas races. For a period, many clans were ruthlessly hunted by armies of the city-states, seeking to slay all elders which knew of preserver magic.

The group decided to explore the landscape following remarks from a villager on a rumored elven ruin location. After a few days journey they came across a suspected ruin. Investigating further, they found it a lair of large centipedes. Clearing out the nest they discovered several rooms with elvish script, however some walls were collapsed with sand burying much of the lower levels. Despite the stone inscriptions having fragments of history and information on the physical world, they could not find any information of the dimensions of the funnel. They were bolstered though as they seem to be on the right course of action. It would only be a matter of time searching in the right ruins to get this key bit of information.

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An expedition, a raider lair, and a death

Rook convinced the others to seek out potential sites of elven ruins by themselves instead of mining for more information from villages in the vicinity. They came across a shallow canyon that held rumored ruin. Carefully scouting the canyon, sure enough there were columns and smooth cut stone along one section of the canyon wall. As the party carefully watched, several Ssurann were observed mounting Inixes and riding off. Seeing their opportunity, they explored the ruins below.

Inside they were met with a minimal number of Ssurann guards and Baazrags. Despite the low numbers and bolstered by a pack of guard lizard Baazrags, Rook was slain in a frenzied melee. The group decided to press onwards and explore the ruins more, eager to get what information they could before the remaining Ssurannn returned.

Deeper in the ruins they came across a chamber with wooden and bone cages. Inside one cell was a half elf woman, Jeila. She claimed she was from Tyr and a resident of the Warrens. She was kidnapped by a street gang and sold to a larger trade house. She was secretly taken from Tyr with a group of other slaves to be sold in Urik. Enroute, the caravan was raided by Ssuraan. She was one of the few that survived and kept to be sold to other raiders and slavers.

Realizing that Jeila would likely not survive the trek back to Tyr or a neighboring village without help, they offered her to return with them after exploring the ruins further. Jeila agreed and showed some eager curiosity to why the group was there and what they sought with the walls that were covered in old elvish script.

The group found sealed entrance in the floor of one chamber. Inside was a narrow tunnel covered in a thick layer of dust. The only disturbance was the corpse of a Ssurann that looked as if it had been dead for months. Apparently whatever had befallen the creature, the others decided it better to leave it and seal the entrance, rather than retrieve their dead Ssuraan comrade.

The group decided that they were too close and suffered too much to turn back now. They explored deeper, seeking to find what information they could on the dimensions of the sand funnel.

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Exploring the Elven library archive further

The party saw that the lower narrow tunnel branched off into other rooms with elvish script engraved in long columns, which ran the height of the walls. As they explored further a group of undead skeletons shambled forth and a quick fight broke out. Victorious, the group investigated further and Lazarion was able to decipher some information describing the dimensions of a funnel that operated as an ancient elven standard unit of time.

As they were getting ready to leave, to their dismay the Ssuraan raiders returned. They gathered for a fight, ready to attack the lizardmen as they entered the lower chamber. The lead Ssuraan gave a raspy laugh, had the rope cut, and closed the stone trapdoor, sealing the group in the lower chamber. Minutes passed and the party noticed to their horror the skeletons were reforming, with their scattered bones slowly rolling towards each other.

The group frantically went about trying to find an exit. The incorporation of the skeleton bones appeared slow, likely taking an hour or more. Dekra Blueheart noticed that the wall of one structure had some damage with a crack in the ceiling. All of the group aided and with her stone tools were able to crack open the ceiling rock. The sand dumping into the room was a hopeful sign that there might be an empty chamber above.

Sure enough a network of narrow caves were found leading out of the canyon wall to the open. Fighting off a giant scorpion the group slipped outside and escaped out of the canyon, leaving the raiders behind.

Jelia pleaded with the party to help her return to Tyr. She claimed that her grandmother knew of a place rumored to serve as a landmark for burying elven wealth. She said her grandmother told her tales of buried caches of coins that littered an area, only found by the setting of the sun. Many were found over the years, but some undiscovered hauls might still be there. The party deemed it worthwhile to at least meet the old woman and agreed to allow Jelia accompany them to Tyr.

After nearly a week’s journey, the group began their trek through the fertile vale with the golden city of Tyr before them.

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Rumors of gangs and dead kings

The group accompanied Jeila to the Warrens and her family. Relieved of her return, they offered the company a simple dinner and spoke of events in Tyr. Crime was always part of the Warrens in Tyr, but with the death of King Kalak things have escalated. Jeila’s family claimed that the Toecutter gang was at the center of most underworld activity in the Warrens. Jeila is sure the Toecutter gang took her, but when pressed. She was unsure. She did notice that the tradehouse which took her out of the city was also careful not to mention which merchant groups they represented by blindfolding her until they were well away from Tyr. However she did manage sneak a glimpse of a green inix emblem when she was in the lower cells of the tradehouse.

The group decided to spend some more time conversing with locals in the area to hear what rumors they could. They ended up in a tavern with an eclectic clientele. Between tradesmen, former slaves, and low level templar guardsmen, tongues began to wag freely when pitchers of broy were flowing. The party found some interesting tidbits of information

  • The Toecutters are one of 3 gangs in the Warrens. The* Eye Gougers* and Skull Splitters are two other gangs. All are vying for control of the Warrens and spreading seeking to be more active in other parts of the city.
  • One templar guard complained bitterly that there was more order when King Kalak was in control. He admitted to hearing of rumors the Kalak’s body was never found. The rebels made an assassination attempt in the stadium but Kalak escaped to the ziggurat. When Tithian pursued and found a sealed chamber that Kalak hid in, it was empty. Others said this was just a wild rumor. Again it’s a statement made by someone that heard it from someone else, that was a tale told from another. No one still has ever come forward to say they were at hand when the chamber was open.
  • Many of the templars did complain that King Tithian needs to be more active in ruling the city. He seems engrossed in studying the great library or deep within the bowels of the ziggurat. Some grumble that Tithian seems keen on finding out some knowledge that Kalak knew.
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The hunt for street gangs and a slaver ruse.

The company began to investigate any known watering holes frequented by the Toecutter gang in the Warrens and stumbled upon the Dry Well tavern. At the bar the group learned that House Lanto was responsible for the illegal movement of slaves to other city states, although they could not get any direct evidence of the Toecutters being involved with abductions. The following day each party member split off to do different tasks.

Naomi went to House Lanto and posed as an agent for Raam, seeking to purchase high quality slaves for her lord. Originally she was rebuffed from a house representative, however another house merchant overheard her conversation and quietly agreed to a viewing of their illegal wares later that evening. When she left, she observed a poor tradesman approach. The man threw waste at the main house trader, crying out that they were murderers and would not stop the 2 Piece Movement.

Lazarion decided to drop off a letter through a courier to Jeila in the Warrens. The contents of the letter stated that the group would personally find those responsible for abducting her and bring them justice. As he left to conduct other business, he heard conversations spreading throughout the various districts related to the 2 Piece Movement. Eldra, its leader, was dead. She had slipped into a wasting sickness two days prior and finally died. While no one could state for certain, poison was suspected and likely some members of the craft guilds, merchants, and trade houses were responsible. Lazarion, taking the news of Eldra’s death to heart, decided to do a performance in the Warrens with a song that honored her and the 2 Piece movement, with the residents especially moved by his performance.

After his performance, Lazarion continued to House M’ke, intent on leaving a written report for Nawab Lucero. At the gates of the complex we was stopped and Oadim personally came out to meet him. Fuming Oadim confronted him about the infiltration of a merchant meeting weeks prior, the slaying of guards, and theft of a trade logbook for House Tsalaxa*. While Oadim had no direct proof, the apt description of the thieves and their sudden departure from the house was more than enough evidence for him. Oadim stated they were not welcome and could no longer fulfill any requests for the Noble Lucero under House M’ke’s banner.

Meanwhile Dekra Blueheart, rather impressed with the old architecture of the Dry Well, returned to study the tavern more. She was approached by Toecutter members and they unsubtly suggested she stop asking about slaves and abductions in the Warrens. Rumors were abound in the Warrens that the party was seeking justice and striving to be champions for the common free citizens of Tyr. The Toecutter gang would not stand for any interference in their criminal activity. Understanding this threat, Dekra sought the remainder of the group to tell of the warning she received.

Armed with new information on House Lanto, Naomi sought out the opinion of the group. They all agreed that help from the templar authorities was the most prudent. Naomi went to a local templar’s office and the captain of the guards for the district demanded more proof before they could make any arrests. House Lanto was a long established tradehouse from a respected family and the templars simply could not make such accusations without more evidence that slaves were actually being sold.

* Note

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The freeing of captives and an old dwarven friend

The company decided to go through with attempting to purchase slaves. That evening they were met by an agent from House Lanto at a local tavern. Following him through several back alleys, they arrived at a merchant’s shop. Led down into a cellar they passed through a concealed door and entered Under Tyr , the labyrinth-like catacombs that lie beneath the city. After a short jaunt of several twists and turns, they came to a rectangular chamber that held a number of bound, blindfolded women flanked by several guards.

Feigning a haggling conversation, the party got into position and struck, slaying all of the merchant guards save one. An intense argument broke out as the group struggled with the situation they were in. The lone guard pleaded for mercy and would help get them safe passage to the surface. He was not only from a group that worked for House Lanto, but also from House Tsalaxa. The guard stated that if they let him go, he was content to just part ways. Surely if all the slavers never returned from this exchange, both houses would be after the group. Additionally, they would likely have to kill the merchant of the shop where they entered the catacombs, another body left in their wake. To the disgust of some of the party members, they all finally agreed to the guard’s terms.

Freeing the women, they made their way back to the cellar of the merchant. Enroute a figure slipped out of an overhead tunnel opening and viciously stabbed the remaining guard to death. The diminutive figure stepped forward and embraced Dekra. She was an old friend and one of her stone crafter guildmates, Fen Rocktunnel. The fellow dwarf was one of the surviving members from Kalak’s Night of Blood, a horrible event where King Kalak had nearly two thirds of the city craftsmen killed in a single night. Their only crime was being the talented tradesmen that had worked on the mysterious ziggurat after its completion.

Since that night, Fen has been exploring Under Tyr. She is convinced that there is a secret entrance to the ziggurat and an answer to its purpose. During the year she was exploring, she had discovered gangs from the Warrens working with House Lanto (with the apparent assistance of House Tsalaxa) to smuggle abducted citizens out of the city to be sold as slaves. Fen was convinced that killing the captive guard was fitting justice for perpetuating the banned practice. She offered another route to the surface and would help them get the women to safety.

The group decided the best course of action was to go directly to the city templars. Talking with the district garrison captain, he required that most of the women along with the party make sworn statements. Late into the evening they all recited the high notes of their discovery of slavers by rescuing Jeila, running into the Toecutter gang, and finally meeting representatives from House Lanto. The possible connection of House Tslaxa was especially troubling. This was a merchant house for a city-state. The templar captain demanded the company stay within Tyr. This had to be brought up to the noble senate and likely they would all have to give testimony while the noble council decided an appropriate response to dispense justice to the houses involved with this slavery ring.

Early in the morning and dead on their feet, Fen offered them a safe place to rest. She expressed her concerns for Dekra’s safety. Surely these powerful merchant houses would not take this sitting down and likely seek a permanent means to silence all of them. She implored Dekra to join her efforts. With enough coin and several workhands, she was certain she could excavate into the lower ziggurat. She was convinced it held something, as it was rumored King Tithian had all but abandoned any responsibility, spending most of his time within the odd structure.

The company decided their course of action was clear. Leave the city that day and try to make their way to the hidden cache of treasure. With enough coin they could return and likely be able to better reinforce their position with men at arms and bought influence. Further, the coin would help with aiding Fen’s efforts to investigate the ziggurat further. Late in the afternoon, riding newly bought crodlu, the group slipped away from Tyr and tagged along with a few merchants making their way south.

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Altaruk, hunting ground for a Thrax

The group peeled off from the other merchants and headed southeast towards Balic. During their travel they noticed a group in the distance that were mounted, but seemingly left their mounts and began following on foot. The next few days of travel were uneventful and the party arrived at Altaruk, a small trading post. Their hopes were that in Altaruk they could arrange a sand skiff to travel faster down the Estuary of the Forked Tongue.

In Altaruk, things were exceedingly quiet. Asking the locals, they found out that the small outpost was plagued by a Thrax. This cunning undead creature was brazen enough to enter the walls of the keep at night and drain the life of the occupants. The party decided to offer their aid in ridding the community of this monster, and with a few mercenary guards in tow, headed out to try and track down the undead beast.

In the hilly and boulder-laden desert, they managed to pick up the trail of the Thrax, likely having its lair in a southern range of mountains. While travelling they were suddenly waylaid by a group of a dozen elves, all armed with thick hide armor, bows, and hefty weapons. An imposing figure came forward and sneered, “Lismuuk has tasked me with bringing him your heads and the stone amulet.” *

*- Recent events in Tyr and a trade logbook stolen

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A melee with elven raiders and slaying of a Thrax

A honed, lean imposing elf came forward and introduced himself as Ryjas. He asked the accompanying guards if they were getting a share of treasure as mercenaries. When the accompanying guards from Altaruk looked confused, Ryjas said they have no quarrel with them and would offer them safe passage. The lead guard told the adventurers they had accompanied them to hunt down the thrax, not fight in their battle against raiders. They said they’d continue on to find the lair and would wait until dusk, then ride back to Altaruk. Then they solemnly rode off leaving the group behind.

Ryjas began to account for the current events buzzing around in Tyr. House Lanto was rumored to be involved in trading slaves, and House Tsalaxa was also involved. Further rumors that a mul, dwarf, and human warrior women were involved, along with an extremely pale half elf man. His chieftain, Lismuuk had then heard of the Toecutter gang talking to the same dwarf in the Warrens, warning her to not get involved with their slaver affairs. Only they had ignored the warning and freed some abducted slaves anyways.

Lismuuk was sure he knew who they were and saw an opportunity to get some leverage with House Tsalaxa. He had approached the house and stated he could take care of the group responsible for not only marring their name by exposing their involvement with slave trade, but also the ones responsible for stealing their trade logbook.

Lismuuk had his men scour the Warrens to find out more and came across Jeila. With some threatening, she stated the details of her rescue and the exploration of old elvish ruins finding information on the sand funnel. This further convinced Lismuuk where the group was going and likely that the stone cypher the group had was real.

Lismuuk had ordered Ryjas to not only take back their heads but also recover the stone seal. Ryjas thought it folly to hunt them down, and better to just to follow and ambush them once they had made the excavation. He has no interest in wanting to kill the party. All he wanted was the stone cypher.

While Ryjas admitted he’d only speak this out of earshot from Lismuuk, He also felt Lismuuk had gotten himself in trouble with House Tsalaxa by using the stolen trade log book. It was better for Ryjas if Lismuuk sweat a while. So he again demanded they simply hand over the stone disk.

The party answered with steel, alchemical magic, and psionic fury. After a pitched fight, the group was bloodied, without mounts, but victorious. With half of his men cut down, Ryjas called for a retreat and the runners fled with the neverending endurance that only elves possessed. Wounded, the group limped back to Altaruk.

As the sun set and dusk settled in, they reached the small outpost. No one there had heard any word of the guards that accompanied them. None of them had returned from scouting the thrax lair. The group wearily rested and decided to strike out the following day to continue their hunt for the thrax.

The next day they came across the bodies of the guards killed by some type of beast. They continued tracking the thrax and were attacked by wild creatures. Carrying further on, they finally found a ruin and a likely lair of the thrax. Inside they discovered and fought the horrible creature, along with a handful of salt zombies serving as its thralls. Taking the head of the monster and burning the body, the decided to explore the ruins further to discover what else was within the ancient stone rooms.

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A silt cutter, a new comrade, and a buried chamber.

Exploring further in the ruins, the party came across a small cache of coin and some items of magical power. Taking what they could they returned to Altaruk to inform others of the good news. Grateful for slaying the creature, the leader of Altaruk informed the group they could offer an escort to nearby docks that ran silt ships, and that they could help arrange travel for the company.

Securing a silt cutter the party traveled east. It was not without incident and the craft was attacked by a large predator, but it was successfully defeated. During the trip the group got to know the crew and became especially acquainted with a human named, Simic. The craft continued to the small town of Southern Ledopolis, however tragedy struck. The captain, a long time traveler of the silt estuary passed away in his sleep, apparently finally succumbing to the buildup of fine silt in his lungs.

At South Ledopolis, the other crew member left ship, leaving Simic in possession of the craft. Despite a few years on board, he realized his knowledge of navigation was too poor to successfully captain himself. He’d be dependent on another person taking command and likely demanding a majority share in the silt cutter. When he heard of the expedition the group was taking to find buried coin, Simic threw his lot in eagerly with them.

The company resupplied and headed south combing for information on a more exact location of the landmark they sought. After talking with residents in a small hovel, and to others rescued from slavers the adventurers met in a chance encounter, they were finally confident of being able to find the landmark. A few more days journey and they came upon the odd stone formation that looked like a hand reaching up to the sky.

Waiting for the sun to set, the group followed the instructions constructing a funnel filled with the right amount of sand, and began pacing off a set number of steps. Monitoring the movement of the shadow based on time recorded by their crude sand timer, they found the direction and location needed to dig.

The surrounded terrain was worrying some for Naomi. The approach to the stone formation was hidden somewhat as they had traveled there in a dry riverbed. The area around the stone hand was a wide plain. However it was dotted with large boulders and piles of rocks, certainly enough cover for a group to approach with stealth. Nonetheless, they found the potential location and began to dig.

For some time, nothing was found. The group’s hearts sank some as all around them were dozens of holes leaving just empty pits of sand and dust. The hidden caches of coin and treasure apparently dug up. Then they struck a hard surface. Working quickly they soon found a crack in a straight line of stone, and clearing further discovered a large rectangular stone slab. Apparently it was sealing some manner of a buried chamber hidden well beneath the sand.

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