An Evil Fleet of Sand Skimmers

006. Playin' in a Travelin' Band

Travelin' Band

On the final morning of our journey to Silver Spring Oasis our party and the 3 sand skiffs (manned by Black-hearted Brom and his motley crew) were once-again “ambushed”. While Liam®, Ganath, and Grimgutt, saw them coming, they were not able to stop the 3 attackers from making their attacks and damaging both the sand skiffs and the crew. Once Liam (b) and Zaine stopped distracting one another (discussing where each should stand) they too joined the fight. Grimgutt, Bynn, and Zar engaged 2 of the attackers and their mounts; while Ganath and Liam® attacked the very nimble assassin and his nasty mount. The assassin was obviously well trained and was able to attack Ganath with his sword and shoot Liam (ranger) with a poisoned arrow from his hand cross bow. Unfortunately, Liam® could not shake the effects of the poison for much of the fight. Bynn shouted battle tactics to his allies, and not to be outdone – Zaine shouted to Grimgutt to “attack the mount”. Fortunately, these words of encouragement to Grimgutt allowed him to muster up the extra force he needed to put down the mount for good. At times during the battle both Zar and Ganath caused the foes to be thunderstruck. Zar was amazingly effective in the fight… almost as if he were another person. He hit on every attack and was even able to add a few eye teeth to his necklace. During the middle of the battle, birds of fire and men of magma appeared… like we didn’t have enough to deal with. These creatures caused their own havoc; igniting numerous party members on fire and/or immobilizing them in magma. At one point, Liam® was fighting the effects of the poison and immobilization all while he was standing toe-to-talon/ toe-to-magma with the 2 creatures. Luckily when Zaine dimensionally scrambled Liam® and the creatures away from each other, the teleportation seemed to cure Liam® of these on-going effects. During the battle, Liam (b) did what he could to keep the party alive, which was not an easy task, as well as fight the foes. We used every trick up our sleeve to dispatch of the foes, and eventually the last of the attackers was slain and damage to the skiffs and their crew were assessed. Only 1 crew member was lost… poor little Halfling. The bodies of the dead were looted and from the assassin we took found some poisoned ammunition for Liam®, a magic amulet, and a signet ring. While the signet on the ring looked familiar to both Zaine and Bynn, neither we able to place it.
When we arrived in Silver Spring Oasis we were provided a note requesting we travel to meet Rhotan Vohr at the Inn of the Dancing Kank IN TYR! This information was met with skepticism and disbelief. The group was concerned about sending the skiffs on the journey without protection; furthermore, the authenticity of the note was called into question. Many party voiced their dissatisfaction and concerns about returning to Tyr but in the end the desire to get paid and seek answers won out. Messages were sent to Alturak and Balic informing the House Wavir and House Leidos of our plans and a description of the signet ring worn by the assassin.
Nine days later we gathered at the gates of Tyr, donned our instruments, and disguised ourselves as a traveling band of minstrels. Grimgutts rousing rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama” on Liam® lyre was amusing the first time; the 20-30 other times were a bit (umm…) irritating. Despite the musicality of our group, we were permitted to enter Tyr. Liam knew exactly where the Inn of the Dancing Kank was located as he had passed out …I mean patronized this establishment numerous times. The bar was tended by the proprietor, Mila, who recognized Liam immediately. Still leery of the note we received, we asked Mila if she had seen Rhotan Vor recently. Sure enough he was in Tyr and staying at his residence down the street. She provided us his address and warned us to stay in the safer parts of the city (or we might end up as slaves building Kalaks Folly).
Our meeting with Rhotan was productive. We were fed, provided wine, and paid for the job in the Tablelands. Rhotan provided the group some information regarding the “ousting” of the House Leidos from the city of Tyr. He provided us the name of Ushrik, a Dray “fixer” (aka, draqoman) who may have been involved. Furthermore, Rhotan was able to identify the signet on the ring… the familial crest of the House Tsalaxa; the assassin was a family member (D’OH!).
The next day we found Ushrik at the Inn of the Dancing Kank. While we thought we would have to introduce ourselves, Ushriks knew who we were and that Ganath “was new” to the party. Using some pretty persuasion, Ushrik was open to speaking with us. Zaine inquired about the people responsible for hiring him to destroy her family’s interests in Tyr. This of course would be costly, and rather than pay in gold, she offered to help him finish a job. In return for their assistance with the same job, Ushrik provided information to the Liams regarding the destruction of Dublin. Ushrik mentioned it was destroyed by Kalaks templars to allow Kalak to “pay” the tithe to the Dragon. Within the party, it seemed only Zaine and Grimgutt knew of this annual sacrifice of 1000 souls by the sorcerer-kings. So in one swoop, the Liams added the Tyr templars, Kalak, and the Dragon to their revenge list. [YEAH, good luck with that!] So now, we are on the hook to help facilitate the removal (steal) of a large ruby from Lord Hommol Gyra, an ex-templar of Tyr.
While out preparing for the job (ie, find out more about Hommol Gyra), Ganath and Bynn came across 2 elves harassing a half-elf beggar. Diplomacy turned to intimidation, which in turn, devolved to violence and soon enough elf was down. The ruckus caught the attention of some the templar guards; however, as they were approaching an earth-shatter KABOOM went off in the market. The guards immediately turn their attention to the explosion and Ganath and Bynn were able to slip away in the commotion. During this time, Liam and Liam were (shockingly) at a bar having a few drinks when a young woman ran in to the bar. A few moments later, the Templar guards rushed in as well shouting the Veil set off a bomb in the market and that the assailant was a female. To protect the women from the guards, Liam® did what every decent man would do… he kissed her. Of course, this worked and the guards left. The woman was so grateful to Liam she left too… and didn’t leave her name or contact information, so the Liams tried to follow her.
Finally, we all regrouped, regaled stories, and decided we scope out Hommol Gyra house to find the best way in. Liam® stealthily patrolled the grounds of the property while Liam (b) not so stealthily engaged a fruit vendor. Bynn was again involved in more violence when words failed, this time he tried to free a prisoner from 2 city guards and almost became a prisoner himself.

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From the Journal of Bynn Jerdun:

Setbacks.

First, one of the halflings crewing the skiffs died in the latest attempt on our lives. The attackers were on mobile mounts that forced us to split up to protect each skiff, and we’re simply not as effective when not fighting as a unit.

Then we had to go to Tyr to get paid. Zaine was able to get a lead about her family’s misfortunes, but it looks like we’ll be forced to do an unsavory job for an unsavory Dray in order to get it. He might even have some information about Grak, available for the price of a fine dagger that, with any luck, won’t end up in my back.

But even these minor successes loom small in what we did learn since we arrived. I have tried to be as helpful as I can to my allies. Not to journey on a road to sainthood, though they seem decent enough people. I do my best work in a team, and if I prove my worth to them, I hope that they will return the favor – specifically, in each of us achieving our long-term goals.

I thought that helping the Liams achieve theirs would be, if not easy, at least the safest, and perhaps even enjoyable. I thought they were merely seeking fame and fortune as entertainers. But we learned that their entire village was destroyed, and they wanted to find out who was responsible to get their revenge.

I had hoped that it would be some desert warlord, or a faction with Tyr like a corrupt merchant house or noble family. Instead we learned that they were all part of the annual sacrifice to the Dragon of Tyr. The one power on Athas that even the Sorceror Kings fear. This quest may be the only one more difficult to achieve than my own. They’ll die trying. That’s not a description of their determination. It’s what will happen.

Meanwhile, Tyr is in a frenzy of activity from press gangs looking for “volunteers” to work in the ziggarut. I myself was approached by salvers, with a captive already in tow. Word on the street was that you could no longer buy your freedom, so high was the demand. I felled the two muls but the dwarf screamed for the Templars, whom I could hear quickly approaching.

The poor wretch actually helped me in the fight, not to gain his freedom, but so I could keep mine. Part of me was tempted to try to stay and free him, as if I’d forgotten every lesson Athas has ever taught me. Lessons reinforced earlier when Ganath and I tried to help the beggar being hassled by the Toothcutters in the marketplace. (Then there was an arcane explosion which distracted the templars. Veil activity? I would not be surprised – destroying a market booth is assuredly the best way to heal the planet.) I withdrew before the Templars arrived.

The Liams said it best, in a song they had written about Tyr:

This town rips the bones from your back.
It’s a death trap. It’s a suicide rap.

Haunting words, and every one rings true. Sadder still that they probably apply to all of Athas, not just Tyr. The sooner we conclued our business here, the better.

006. Playin' in a Travelin' Band
Estes_1313

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