The Burnt World of Athas

Session 7

So long, Sukirs! Orphan Company out!

One hundred and fifty miles and possibly an army stood between the party and Tyr. They rushed to their destination, hoping to provide a dire warning to the city-state as well as complete a series of Orphan Company contracts. The journey started with an incredible sight: Cloud Rays, which Chronicler had vaguely remembered when Trigger first tried to describe them. The enormous flying rays began as billowing dust on the horizon and eventually blocked out the sun as they passed near the Great Road. After overcoming their awe, the party had Trigger reconnoiter and found Urikite troops on the backs of at least one of the gargantuan beasts. Although first worried that the Urikites had managed to tame the creatures, the party eventually surmised that there was, indeed, a passing army and it's movement had accidentally disturbed the slumbering giants.

Chronicler scavenged for resources and followed tiny indications of the presence of water to a very secluded oasis. But it was not totally abandoned, as a Thrikreen soon challenged the party and named himself, quite literally, the guardian of the oasis. Malachi quickly diffused the situation and said he sought permission from the spirits of the land before partaking of any water. The Thrikreen invited the party to sit and have their fill while discussing their journey. He believed that their mission would only beget more violence and destruction, although they were motivated by good intentions. Eventually with coaxing from the group, the Thrikreen offered invaluable aid, a secret route through ravines that would allow the party to by pass the great road and hopefully any Urikite army. He also gave them the location of several water wells, though warned them that water further in the wastes was often a location of conflict, either from people or beasts. Sukir also tried to get in the Thrikreen's good graces with badly mangled Druidic recitation that the party pieced together was the same call sign they had heard before: all are meant to be free. The Thrikreen seemed amused by this.

The party continued at a blistering pace, which soon wore Chronicler out. They ignored temptations in the wastes, and kept out of the presence of other travelers and the possible location of troops. Eventually they reached the ravines that He-Who-Guards-The-Oasis described. They found a blind carefully hidden at the intersection. Using a dust cloud, the party bypassed the guarded ravine but stood watch to attack anyone who came to investigate the cloud, lest they be discovered. A soldier did wander out and was felled by a hail of arrows. He dropped a switch that snapped shut, making a loud pop that echoed through the ravine. The party broke from their position and moved on the blind, seeing that the soldiers had split up and were running towards another ravine. They gave chase, running down or shooting most of the troops, although a soldier managed to take one of their crodlu and escape. The soldier's goal soon became clear, a small encampment with wooden palisades and watchtowers had been erected further in the maze of ravines. Just as he was about to break into the open line of sight of the watchtower, Chronicler loosed a shot that struck him in the neck, killing him so suddenly that he jerked back on the reins of the crodlu. 

The party considered exploring the encampment further but worried Trigger would draw unwanted attention. Upon Sukir's warning, Malachi left the area and transformed into a small burrowing skink to bypass the soldiers along the ridge of the ravine. On the other side of the ridge he sighted an amassed army: hundreds of troops bearing the emblem of Urik, armored mellikots hauling siege equipment, and dozens of calvary. He only briefly caught sight of the encampment before immediately heading back to tell the others. 

They continued at their blistering pace to the Tyr valley and began to encounter signs of civilization: farmland, scattered homes, even a roadside stop with a stable where they spent the evening. The party pressed on to Tyr itself, reaching the gates on the 4th day, well ahead of their contract. They saw signs that the situation in Tyr was not well. More than the normal number of individuals hung from the public stockades that lined the road to Tyr as a warning. Some of the bodies were guarded by large numbers of Tyrian guard and even Templars. A small unruly crowd was being dispersed as the group appeared at the gate. Sukir shared that King Kalak's usual foolishness had reached new heights. He had tasked Tyrian slavers with enormous quotas to provide the labor to complete the towering ziggurat that had been under construction for a year. This had pushed Tyr and it's populace to the breaking point. 

The line was also unusually long to gain entry, though a fee enabled the group to bypass the masses and use the merchant's gate. When they reached the gate checkpoint the party went to register their entry. They were each asked to pay the entry fee with a ceramic coin they pressed in their hand and concentrated on. The registrar watched them closely as they did so and would not let them drop the coin until he was satisfied they had done what he asked. When they dropped it on the provided paper he immediately sealed it with wax. An artist meanwhile drew quick sketches for their identification papers. The party then moved on to the next station, submitting to an inspection by the Templars. Sukir ensured the party that once they made it past the checkpoint they could keep their pick of a crodlu and riding gear while he would return the other 3 to the Balican merchant's post in Tyr.



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