“Mae suddenly comes to. She is walking alongside a strange Pterran in an unknown desert, toward the early morning sun. She’s exhausted, sunburned, parched, and starving, and just as she gains awareness of her surroundings, they come upon the carcass of a giant ilix.
She and the stranger approach the rotting lizard. They surprise two giant beetles feasting on the carcass, and the beetles immediately attack. They manage to dispatch the insects, and the stranger loots the beetles, taking a large clear wing from one.
Mae and the stranger collapse in the unpleasant-smelling shade of the ilix and discover that they are both lost without memories of what seems to have been several days. The Pterran’s name is Rymie, and his or her gender is neither discernible nor proffered. Between them, they guess that they’re 3 or 4 days north of the city of Tyr, and that the last thing they remember is approaching the city from opposite directions. They are each missing most of their valuables. They notice that they’ve both been tattooed, seemingly about three days prior, with a symbol of the royal house of Tyr and a number. Mae’s is #0774; Rymie’s is #0770.
They’re anxious to recover their belongings and their memories, and decide to head to Tyr. Mae asks if they can stop at Jeren’s house, which is a few hours’ ride east of Tyr, to let him know she’s okay, and to recover and equip themselves. Rymie agrees to the plan, and the two take watches and rest through the heat of the day. They harvest what they can from the carcass and cook it with the day’s heat. Mae still has a gourd with some milky cactus juice, which they share. Rymie is able to conjure water, and does so to sate their thirst and fill the gourd.
That evening, Mae and Rymie walk south toward Tyr, stopping only to fend off an attack from some foxy dog creatures.
THE WALLED CITY
Entering the city & finding shelter
“As the next day dawns, Mae & Rymie encounter the ruins of a walled city. Although they estimate they’re only 2 or 3 days from Tyr, neither of them recognizes the ruins. The walls are partially collapsed, and sand has collected against them, so they’re able to enter easily. It is dominated by a huge 4-tiered pyramid, the bottom of which is nearly buried in sand. The pair find a building in particularly good repair and decide to take shelter there for the day.
Upon entering, they find signs of recent occupation. There’s a cold campfire and Rymie deduces that 4 humanoids (probably slaves) sheltered away from the fire, a big person and a medium-sized companion stayed near the fire, and two other lighter creatures stayed separate from both groups. With some searching, Mae & Rymie find and distribute the following items:
- 2 hide bedrolls (1 each)
- 6 wax candles (3 each)
- 10 8"" wooden stakes (5 each)
- cracked bone mirror (rymie takes it)
- empty waterskin (rymie’s!)
- 2 empty ceramic vials (mae)
- ceramic container with a little bonding epoxy in it (mae)
A mysterious poem
“Mae finds a parchment with three couplets in old Tyrian hidden in the dust on the floor of the building. Although the language is old, it appears to be a recent copy.
The mountain of man keeps watch to the birthplace of the king
Laid to wake, his sleep uncovered, piece of he will bring
Cures of woe, Aethora was gifted.
Of her the greatest treasures befitted
True Bhreen of sky true Bhreen of earth
Commit your life from death to birth.
At the very back of the building, Mae and Rymie make an unpleasant discovery: two dead elves. They each appear to have died of single deep stab wound. The search the bodies and find the following:
Female Elf: desert robes + elf sized boots including sun lenses on a thin metal frame + filter mask (clogged) + partial distillation kit, missing the glass element (oilcloth, stand, and wooden tray).
Male Elf: heavily worn hydration suit sized for an elf + 2 unclogged filter masks + small container with stinky healing salve (probably gone bad) + a bone dagger + 50’ of hemp rope + climbing harness made of rawhide.
In addition, the female elf has a piece of parchment with a contract with Lord Syrian Tyrenthus (the prince of Tyr & King Cassius’s son) granting the elf tribe Air Striders tribal water rights at Fort Heydja for one year in exchange for the Aethora.
Despite the bodies, Rymie and Mae decide that there’s little chance of discovery, and so they rest for the day, taking watches in turns. They then set out for the pyramid, which they imagine may be the “mountain of man” mentioned in the mysterious poem.
IN THE TEMPLE
Tier 1 (The top tier)
As Mae and Rymie climb the stairs to the top of the temple, they notice a flock of buzzards at the base of the top tier, just to the right of the stairs. There they find the body of a young slave branded to Lord Syrian Tyrenthus. The body is propping open a secret door, and it has been pierced by a quarrel which came from within the temple. Some careful examination turns up a small room with a single mounted crossbow and no further traps.
The dead slave is wearing a backpack that contains:
- a couple more bedrolls
- wooden bucket
- linen shirts & pants
- a pair of hemp pants (someone else’s pants)
- 2 gourds full of cank honey (mae)
- 2 flasks of oil (rymie’s)
- a small wooden shovel (rymie)
- a block of fresh meat wrapped in fabric, which once was mae’s cloak
- a belt pouch with tinder and flint & steel
- a bone dagger (mae’s).
At Rymie’s suggestion, they smash up the mounted crossbow and fashion 4 torches out of the crossbow pieces and some of the linen. Rymie lights one of the torches, and they pull the body in and let the secret door shut. They proceed through the opposite door into what appears to be a large altar room.
Mae and Rymie are immediately attacked by several large gecko creatures, which they manage to take down. They then have a look around the room. At one end (between the hidden door through which they entered and its mate) is a raised stone dais with two mauled humanesque statues, an altar which is blackened and overflowing with wax, and a giant frieze of a horrible, tentacled monster. In front of the altar is a stone-lined pit about 5’ in diameter and 10’ deep. Mae drops in and has a look around; it’s full of deep ash and bones.
On either side of the altar area, past the secret doors, are two storage rooms. In the first room they discover a badly injured porter named Kryn – another slave of Prince Tyrenthus – who shocks them by recognizing them. After healing and befriending him, Mae and Rymie manage to fill in some gaps in their missing time: Kryn doesn’t know how they came to join the group, but he says the entire group was sent to find a relic, led by a man named Rahvin. Rahvin was hired by Syrian, but Kryn is able to read the minds of people he has spent some time with, and he knows that Rahvin is actually an agent of Syrian’s father Cassisus, the king. The party included Mae & Rymie (who were left for dead in the desert), the two elves (since betrayed), four slave porters (Kryn, Myra, Bo, and Evan), Rahvin, and a gladiator named Hasef. Hasef has turned from friendly to taciturn over the course of the expedition. Rahvin had a parchment stating that he is the Voice of the prince, and he always has music in his head.
In the opposite storeroom were several crates of crude gunpowder. Mae filled her two ceramic vials and then Rymie and Mae filled an entire sack with nearly a gallon of it. While tediously emptying the powder from its paper sleeves, Rymie and Mae fill each other in on their backgrounds. Rymie is wandering Tharaa doing good to try to atone for a horrible accident resulting from some controversial kinetic psionic experimentation. Mae shares that her family has been wrongfully disgraced and enslaved by King Tyrenthus.
On the next level down, Rymie, Mae, and Kryn encounter the first statue they’ve seen that is mostly intact. It’s a man with a staff topped by an eagle in one hand and a sickle in the other. It appears this motif is repeated in statutes throughout the temple.
In a room under the altar, they find a ceramic door slightly ajar with ash spilling out, and discern that it’s directly below the ash pit from Tier 1. They continue to wander the tier. Rymie ends up covered in spores from an old storeroom (taking no serious damage thanks to a filter mask), and in another room they encounter and manage to defeat a strange, shadowy, mindless creature who drains much of Mae’s strength. They also find two well-sealed ceramic jars with what appears to be an Earth symbol on them. They seem to be full of water.
In an adjoining hall, Rymie, Mae, and Kryn find Evan’s body. He has been crushed in a crude trip wire trap by half of a statue. From his body, they recover the following:
- wooden flute (rymie takes this)
- 2 linen shirts
- 4 torches (they split these up)
- Athgariwood prybar (hardened wood) (mae takes this)
- large empty sack
- 100 silk rope (mae’s)
- small fishing net (rymie’s)
- dagger (mae’s)
In a nearby room, the group finds the bloated bodies of a couple of Gith, and have to fight off some large buzzing insects. They manage to slow the attack by using the door of the room and the fishing net to tackle fewer bugs at a time. Afterward, Kryn realizes he recognizes the ceramic jars with the Earth symbol as an unusual healing tincture, and Mae drains one, restoring her strength and constitution (but not charisma).
In the next room, the group finds several Gith who have set up a crude barricade. Mae performs some ill-advised diplomacy, but things go south when the Gith manage to communicate that they are in Rahvin’s employ. A fierce battle with the Gith ensues, and Mae is knocked unconscious. Rymie and Kryn manage to get her out of the room and heal her, and the group set up for an offensive on some nearby stairs. They manage to defeat all of the Gith, including their leader and a psionic warrior, though it’s a tough fight. From the bodies, they take:
- crude leather armor (3)
- bone chaulaka (3) (blades on a rope)
- crude hide robes
- necklace with a crystal
- 2 keys
- studded leather armor
- 2-handed bronze-bladed carrikal (ax)
The group holes up back on Tier 1 to rest and heal. They’re interrupted by a few more Gith, whom they dispatch with ease. From these, they gather:
- leather armor (3)
- heavy shell shield (3)
- bone 1-handed carrikal (ax)
After completing their rest, the group gets back to exploring. They raid the rooms formerly occupied by the Gith, and with the keys are able to open some lockboxes they find. In those and in some crates they find the following:
- ancient book written in an unknown language
- gold-plated candlesticks (2)
- thin gold necklace with small garnet pendant
- Salted aprig (like bacon)
- Pile of rock – it appears to be tin ore – 20 lbs of ore, could be smelted into about 1 lb of tin
- Jar of honey
- Barrel of clean water
- Battle horn with several amethyst chips
- 20 silver coins
- Rymie’s crafting tools
- 1 lb. of soap
- 2 bedrolls
- ceramic mugs & bowls
- wooden box with cooking spices and salt
- flask of cooking oil
- Mae’s scarf
The group is then startled to discover Myra, another of the prince’s slaves, tied to a wall and severely beaten. They free her, heal her a bit, and feed her. From Myra they find out that she was left as collateral the day before by Rahvin for the Gith’s services as soldiers. Although she just wants to return home to Tyr, she can’t make the journey on her own and so agrees to accompany the group.
In the next room, we find a still-warm fire and a dice cup and some bone dice. This appears to have been the Gith common room. This room also has a door that won’t open. It’s either completely blocked, or bolted, or magically sealed. There is no knob. Rymie and Mae agree to explore the rest of the tier before attempting to break it down.
Rymie and Mae lead the way into an unexplored corridor, where they hear voices behind a closed door. Kryn and Myra hide while Rymie and Mae investigate. The voices belong to some of the True Bhreen, and once they’ve explained themselves to Nathan, the captain, more pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Nathan and the Bhreen are surprised and impressed that Rymie and Mae have managed to defeat the Gith. According to Nathan:
The Aethora is an artifact of Nathan’s people, the Bhreen. It’s a staff that can heal with great power and with great distance. This symbol of the Bhreen’s power and devotion is rumored to have been entombed with the last king before the priests took over.
Many years ago the Bhreen lived in the city surrounding the temple, irrigated the local lands, and basically thrived. At some point a creature – Zargon – was unleashed (from where, it’s not known). The Zargon was a horrible, tentacled creature, in fact, the same creature the adventurers saw depicted on the frieze in the first tier. Some of the Bhreen began to worship Zargon, performing human sacrifices to feed him. Soon the city was defenseless and the Gith barbarians invaded. The Bhreen retreated underground & continued to worship Zargon.
The True Bhreen (the faction who do not worship the monster) have been trying to fight the Zargon priests for a decade and a half. They learned that the high priest and the priest commander might be vulnerable if they were attacked in the temple itself. That attack took place on the third tier. It failed, and the captain of the True Bhreen put a magical seal on the door as they fled in retreat. However, when they reached the second tier, the Gith attacked, killing the captain. The True Bhreen are now trapped here, between the Gith and the magically sealed door.
The priests still take sacrifices, but nobody has seen the Zargon in Nathan’s lifetime. Rymie and Mae decide to rest with Nathan and his true Bhreen that night and then try to go break the seal and find Rahvin.
February 28, 2010 at Jake & Katie’s house
Characters & Players