Opelenean Nights


Session Eight

With the tomb complex beneath Kirkuk magically sealed, the adventurers decided to pay a visit to the local sheik, Ramman al-Saddam, to inquire as to how they could assist the village. They were respectfully ushered into Ramman’s court, where he was handling a mercantile case involving a sale of lame horses by Abu the Horse Trader. After dismissing Abu, Ramman entertained the adventurers with coffee and dancing girls, then turned talk to business.

The sheik explained that bandits from the Al-Baki Hills to the south had been striking at caravans entering and leaving Kirkuk. The accuracy of their attacks had led Sheik Ramman to conclude that there must be a spy in the village. He tasked the adventurers with rooting out this spy, and discovering the location of the bandit’s base. “As strangers in our village, you may go places the natives would not, and ask questions we would not.” The party swore they would do this task for the sheik.

The adventurers promptly split up to begin their investigation. Senef used his shamanic powers to speak with the caravan’s horses. The horses spoke in hushed neighs of a terrifying blonde two-legged monster who brought death and despair – Ethlyn. Humorous, but not helpful.

Raziel went to visit his friend Bechir the Lame to see what the head of the village’s beggars knew. Bechir quickly shushed Raziel, saying the bandits were too dangerous, and too generous, to speak ill of. Blind Mussa bleakly warned that “women will give birth to monsters.” This was ominous, but also not helpful.

Mahmud headed to the Traveler’s Inn and conversed with the innkeeper, Tahir al-Farouk. Tahir mentioned his suspicions of Buzurg the Whiner, whom he had often seen loitering near the lizardmen caves near dawn. Tahir also spoke of a missing niece, Dalefa, with “breasts like swinging pendulums,” whom he feared had run off in a shameful illicit marriage. Mahmud pledged to discretely notify Tahir if he caught any news of the missing girl.

The next day, 24th Innelen, Raziel hunted down Buzurg the Whiner near the old Zaharan ruins. He made the wheezing beggar quite nervous by inviting him for coffee after morning prayer and asking him leading questions about the cult of Zargon. Buzurg strangely blabbered about the Carnelian Idol and its former owner Nudurapur the Sorcerer.

While Buzurg was distracted, Senef approached Bechir the Lame with an offer to have his body restored and disease cured, if he would share what he knew about the bandits. Bechir – who had two lame legs, six missing fingers, seven missing toes, one missing ear, six missing teeth, and gruesome scarring, agreed with little hesitation. Dao the Wide was worried he would not be able to restore Bechir, but Fate smiled on the old leper, and he was healed. In light of this miracle, Bechir gladly shared what he knew: Abu the Horse Trader was the brigand’s fence and spy. Buzurg was not the spy, and wasn’t even involved with the bandits, as far as he knew. Bechir did confirm that Buzurg had often visited the lizardman caves, and that he’d seen others – masked men – visiting those caves as well.

At this point, the adventurers had come to a fateful moment. Knowing Abu was the spy, they thought it might be possible to interrogate him to learn the location of the bandit’s base, or perhaps follow him to his next meeting with the bandits. Being men of boldness and action, they resolved against this cautious plan in favor of a more audacious stratagem: They would leak word of their departure to Abu, whilst secretly escorting the next caravan out of town. In this manner, they hoped to be present the next time the raiders struck, so they could deliver a telling blow and cover themselves with glory.

Mahmud and Ethlyn called upon Farouk al-Fareed, a caravaneer due to depart the next morning. Farouk was strongly against their plan. The bandits, he said, had been attacking with close to 100 men. The last time they were sighted, they had held off only because the caravan guards were at double strength. Any caravan with fewer than 80 guards was better off just bribing the bandits, he explained. Mahmud and Ethlyn were not deterred. Mahmud swore by Imran that he would protect the caravan; they had dealt with 70 gnolls – they could deal with 100 thugs! Farouk al-Fareed was swayed by the adventurers’ charisma, and agreed to the plan.

The adventurers planned out a wide circuitous path that would carry them east, then double back to link up with Fareed’s caravan when it departed. Before they left, they visited their friend the Barber, purchasing the alleged map to the Carnelian Idol, and telling him they were off to hunt the cultists of Zargon.

By the 27th of Innelen, the adventurers had re-grouped with Fareed’s caravan and were entering the sandy dunes where the bandits had most often attacked. On schedule, the brigands arrived, only they numbered 140 or more, with several sorcerers. The bandit leader, Yasir al-Achmed, demanding tribute for passing through “his trail”. Flustered at their vast numbers, Fareed begged Mahmud to pay the tribute. “We have only 25 guards and yourself. We cannot fight 140!” But Mahmud was resolute. “Come and fight us, coward!” he shouted.

After these bold words, Mahmud and Raziel drank potions of invisibility and began to prowl forward, intent on slaying the bandit’s leadership. A vast volley of arrows peppered downward behind them, skewering Farouk al-Fareed. Sharik cast a spell that incapacitated a half-dozen bandits; the enemy sorcerer riposted with a fireball that engulfed Sharik, Senef, Ethlyn, Avda, Barnabas, and Sayyid. Avda, Barnabas, and Sayyid died instantly. Sharik dove into cover headfirst, landing on his teeth and knocking six of them loose. Ethlyn turned away in time to avoid death, but had her ear burned off.

Raziel and Mahmud reached the enemy sorcerer, but he leaped away with a magical stride before they could kill him. A few moments later, the party had surrendered. Yasir al-Achmed was not as ruthless as he might have been, for the adventurer’s boldness had impressed him greatly. He spared their lives, taking only their treasure maps, their horses, their carried treasure, and their magical items. After Mahmud showed great spirit, he tossed one magical blade back to the young paladin with a roar of laughter, telling him “come find me when you’re ready to actually use this.”

Relieved to have escaped without further loss of life, it was nevertheless a downtrodden and shamed party that trekked back to Kirkuk on the 28th of Innelen. Their woes were compounded when they were confronted by the Merchant’s Guild, which was unhappy to have lost an entire caravan under their “protection”.  Since the entirety of the party’s remaining treasure was kept with the Merchant’s Guild, they had little choice but to reimburse the Guild for its losses, leaving their coffers yet further depleted.

At the Mosque of Abundant Dreams, they were able to restore Lady Avda to life, but she brought back with her some terrible evil jinn. Haunted and disturbed, she retired from adventuring for a life of contemplation and sorrow. Meanwhile, the party’s reception by Sheik Ramman was not nearly as warm as their last visit; their frolicking with the bandits had worsened his situation, not improved it. They re-gained a margin of their pride when they hand-delivered the spy, Abu, to Ramman’s keeping, but only a margin.

Any possibility y’all could move the growing armor discussion to thread for discussing armor? I saw several updates to this thread and got excited :frowning:

He bandits didn’t kill them all? AND you let them keep a sword? You’ve gone soft, Macris!

The continuance of this campaign is a cruelty in and of itself. We lost two beloved characters last session (Session 9). Session update soon.

What is this…? Meta suffering?

Sifu! I apologize! I apparently have much to learn.

As a bit of a teaser prior to the next update: after session 6, the assassin (still passing himself off as a fighter) began introducing himself as Raziel “the Lucky”.


Session Nine

After their misadventures dealing with the bandits, the party decided to lay low for several weeks to recover from their wounds. They took a small pleasure in spending some of their hard-earned treasure. Sharik commissioned a set of silver dentures to replace his missing teeth, Senef had a marvelous spear forged, and Mahmud commissioned a silver mask of Imran, similar to those worn by the Cynidiceans, to hide his ghastly pallor. 

The Barber paid a visit to the badly wounded Sharik and inquired as to whether he and his friends intended to use the treasure map to go after the Carnelian Idol. “I am an old man…I can no longer adventure. I must live vicariously through you,” he explained. Sharik said they would do so soon, declining to mention that the map had fallen into the hands of the brigands. Mahmud, meanwhile, called on Prayer Leader Khamil Ibn Ravi, to make inquiries about Sheikh Ramman. The Prayer Leader said, “Our sheikh is an ambitious man who deserves better than this desolate town. But he has no connections with our Auran overlords, so this is his fief.” Senef used the intervening weeks to commune with the jinn of Kirkuk. The jinn revealed several secrets to him – first, that the magically-sealed door to the Zaharan tomb complex beneath the old fort was the only such door in the complex, and that it had been sealed to keep interlopers out; second, that the people visiting the lizardmen caves at night were up to nefarious deeds, and that the innkeeper’s niece, Dalefa of the Pendulous Breasts, was “with” them.

It was by now the 15th of Nethelen, and the party felt well enough to tackle another adventure. They decided to keep watch on the Thrassian caves to see if they saw any cultists entering them. It was a full moon that night, and from their secret vantage point the party spied a small group of hooded men enter a particular cave two-thirds up the cliff side around fifteen minutes after midnight. Raziel, the stealthiest of the party, pushed ahead to investigate, but by the time he reached the cave there was no sign of the cultists. All he found was a thick carpet of human and Thrassian bones, and obscure and ominous sigils carved on the cave walls. The rest of the party came forward and they commenced a thorough search of the cave. They soon found that the eastern wall of the cave was partly illusory, and proceeded inside.

Past the illusory wall, the party was immediately set upon by a band of hulking figures, hooded and robed from head to toe. Red glows emanated from the eye holes of their hoods, and their hands were clawed and inhuman. Sharik used his knowledge of the dark arts to take command of these, and they were revealed to be Thrassian skeletons. Sharik noticed that his necromancy seemed stronger, a sign that they had entered a sinkhole of evil.

The cave connected into a limestone tunnel network that seemed to honeycomb the cliffs of Kirkuk. Sharik used his skeletal minions to press ahead for a time, but eventually his power over them began to fade and they had to destroyed. Thereafter, Raziel took the lead. He was on point when the party entered a long, man-carved gallery with steps at the far end. Raziel’s keen ears heard movement and speech down the steps, so he proceeded forward. Alas, Fate had a cruel destiny in store for Raziel the Lucky. Only a few feet into the hall, a trap door sprung open beneath his fate. Raziel’s death was instant, for the pit below led to a burning shrine of elemental fire. As his soul was consumed, his “sacrifice” was accepted, and an efreeti summoned. Sadly, there was no priest on hand to control the efreeti…

Meanwhile, above, the party had no idea what had just ensued, though they were momentarily stunned by Raziel’s disappearance. Then the efreeti burst up through the trap door and attacked. Rakh and Mahmud rushed forward to fight it off. The rest of the party was preparing to assist when Thrassian skeletons and fanatical cultists suddenly appeared on their left flank. (Down the steps, the cultists had been alerted to the party’s intrusion and proceeded to follow a side tunnel around to flank the adventurers.)


The cultists were led by a sinister sorcerer who sent a ball of fire into the party’s midst. The fireball was particularly deadly, for the party was within a region heated by the elemental sphere of fire. Rakh, who had just retreated in search of healing, was caught in its blast and died instantly. A few moments later, he rose as a deathless minion under the command of the cult sorcerer. Sharik used his own necromancy to control UnRakh, but he lost control thereafter, and Mahmud had to cut the lizardman down, wailing at the horror of it all. The sorcerer’s henchman, a cunning crossbowman, exchanged fire with Ethlyn. Each was injured, but the crossbowman’s bolts were poisoned, and burned like fire as they pierced the bard.

The shifting tide of battle had by now carried the efreeti into the cultist’s ranks, where it indiscriminately began to attack. As the sorcerer turned his attention to dispelling the genie, the party took the opportunity to make a fighting withdrawal. Sharik conjured up a slippery lubricant over the stone tunnel, which quickly tumbled the pursuing cultists to the ground. With the cultists momentarily incapacitated, the adventurers sensed a chance to win. Casters on both sides prepared to unleash their most potent spells. Tragically, Fate was against the party. Sharik’s necromancy was resisted by the sorcerer, and Senef’s spells interrupted by the crossbowman. The evil sorcerer’s magic was not interrupted, and he succeeded in summoning up jagged pillars of rock. Audarius, Sharik and Senef were pierced horribly these teeth from the earth. Senef survived, barely, but Sharik was reduced to a red stain. Audarius was slain, only to rise a few moments later as a zombie.

Their defeat catastrophic, the adventurers fled, carrying Sharik and Rakh’s corpses but leaving behind Audarius in his damned state.  Horrible laughter followed as they fled to the moonlit surface. At the Mosque of Abundant Dreams, Daood the Wide was again persuaded to use his powerful magic upon the deceased and crippled party members.  It took three weeks for the party to recover. Senef seemed shaken by his brush with death, but otherwise intact. The others were less fortunate. Sharik returned with an ethereal glow to spirits and ghosts. Rakh returned but his body seemed to barely heal – he still looked like a zombie, an appearance that did little to further his already-low popularity with normal men and women.

When he recovered, Sharik paid a visit to his friend, the Barber. He had dimly recognized the voice of the sinister sorcerer in the caverns and needed to confirm his suspicions. As the Barber sharpened his razors, he told Sharik a strange tale. “Once, the Well of Kirkuk was a place of healing, with sacred waters that would cure any disease. So long as its sanctity was observed, it stayed pure. Then adventurers delved into the waters, meddling where they ought not, and the waters turned to poison. What does that tell you of the dangers of delving too deep, my friend?” Both the tale, and his aged baritone, seemed to confirm Sharik’s fears. Droning on, the Barber reiterated that Sharik and his friends should seek out the Carnelian Idol. Seeking to learn more about the Barber’s strange obsession, Sharik confessed that he had lost the map. The Barber seemed enraged for a moment, then proceeded to provide a perfect duplicate of the missing map. Sharik left hastily with a pledge to investigate.

Senef again called upon the jinn to gather more information. The spirits confirmed that the Barber was, in fact, the evil sorcerer they had faced in the caves. They also hinted that the great roc which guarded the Carnelian Idol might not be entirely unfriendly to the party, should they travel to it. Desirous of avoiding further confrontations with the  cultists, and encouraged by the notion of trafficking with a roc, the party set forth on 9th Nethelen to find its aerie…


Session Ten

On the 10th of Vinethelen, the adventurers had finally reached the aerie of the great roc said to guard the Carnelian Idol. At the foot of the nest was a graveyard of massive bones – bears, camels, and other, larger creatures, their ribs cracked as if by one fell swoop. Even this did not prepare them for the true size of the roc, whose wings were each larger than any ship on the seas. “Who visits Majid, He Who Flew With the Prophet?” roared the great bird.

“We have come to pay tribute,” responded Ethlyn, perhaps on instinct. The adventurers brought forward gifts, including gold coin, masks of Cynidicea, and a camel. The roc raised its great talons in the air. “It has been long since I was remembered… Your gifts please me. You may touch my feathers.” With friendly relations established, the party began to converse with the might roc.

Majid explained that the Carnelian Idol had fallen into the hands of Al-Sindor when Nudurapur was slain. Al-Sindor felt that that immortality was sacrilegious for man, but he was unable to destroy the idol. Majid was entrusted to be its guardian, and has lived for over a thousand years. “Too long… I yearn to fly again among the mountains, free of my burden. I seek another who will take up the guardianship.” Mahmud, paladin of Imran, kneeled to volunteer but the roc shook its head.

“It is no easy task to guard the Carnelian Idol. Before I can trust you with it, you must prove your worth. Return to me with wisps of darkness drawn from the Well of Shadows in the Howling Emptiness, and I will know that you can be trusted with its care.” Majid and the party swore that they would do this and solemnly made to depart. As they left, the sad old roc had words of caution. “Many have vowed to undertake this task. None have ever returned to me. May the hand of Fate deal gentler with you.”

The party decided that before it could undertake an expedition into the Howling Emptiness, far to the southwest, it would need more men, camels, and supplies. These, they surmised, could best be found in Alakyrum, the Pearl of the Desert, capital of Opelenea. Kirkuk lay along a caravan route to Alakyrum,  but getting to Alakyrum by way of Kirkuk would take six days. The adventurers estimated they could cut through the desert directly towards Alakyrum and get there in three.

Somewhere in the high, rolling dunes east of the Al-Baki Hills, the party lost its way, steering an easterly course when it ought to have gone north-east. Perhaps their brief flight from the strange, iron-skinned bulls that pursued them through the hills caused their disorientation. Perhaps it was sun sickness, or perhaps it was simply the Hand of Fate. Whatever the cause,  after three days of travel Alakyrum was nowhere in sight.

The party was following the course of an ancient riverbed, now a dusty wadi, when a sudden autumn torrent poured down on them. The riverbed quickly flooded, and the party took what scant shelter it could. The rains ran for over an hour, then passed as quickly as they’d come. Traveling further along the riverbed, the party saw that the rains had washed away sand and gravel, revealing the entrance to some ancient tomb or temple.

Surmising that Fate was smiling upon them, the party decided to explore this ruin. They quickly forced open its stone outer doors and entered a large hall. Their flickering torchlight revealed a dozen sepulchers – but did not reveal the dozen incorporeal shadows until they had already set upon the party. Sharik and Rakh, who had gained dark connections to the netherworld when they were returned from the dead, were the primary targets of the attacks. Sharik was able to summon mujahedeen to protect himself, but Rakh had no such power. As his body weakened from the draining coldness of the shadows, he fell hard onto a stone sepulcher, knocking out two fangs. Fortunately, Mahmud, Ethlyn, and Senef were able to drive off the creatures.

The adventurers retreated from the tomb and, as it was getting late, decided to camp nearby. Senef summoned the local jinn and made inquiries. The spirits told him that he need not fear the return of the shadows, but he should be wary of what lay past the entry hall in the tomb. They also told him to stop heading east, because Alakyrum wasn’t that way, an revelation which elicited great consternation from the very, very lost party.

The next day, 14th of Vinethelen, the party decided to head back into the tomb. Past the sepulchers was a stone slab, grooved hinges visible, but with no apparent handle or mechanism of entry. A name on the stone slab read “Shaddad, Terror of Genies.” Ethlyn recalled a legendary warrior named Shaddad, said to have wielded a scimitar called The Cyclone of the Four Quarters, who had brought down a curse upon himself for slaying too many genies. Senef’s shamanic powers detected a curse on the entire tomb.

Zoya stalked forward to investigate the door to Shaddad’s tomb, and quickly realized she was standing on top of a pit-trap: Only Fate had avoided setting it off. She quickly grabbed a rope from Mahmud, but as Fate would have it, when she tried to spring off the trap, she stumbled, and the pit swung open.  She crashed down below, dangling perhaps 10 feet. She could feel the cold hands of zombies clawing at her heels in the darkness below, and scrambled up in haste.

The adventurers decided to deal with the pit trap and its occupants before trying to open the stone slab door. Their plan was simple and effective: They propped open the trap door with the lid of one of the twelve sarcophagi in the room, then crushed the zombies in the pit by sliding the other sarcophagi lids on top of them. It was over quickly, and after determining that no treasure was to be found in the pit, the party turned to the tricky proposition of opening up the stone slab door.

Mahmud and Zoya carefully hammered a dozen stone spikes into the door, through which rope was interwoven, creating a handle, and then Sharik conjured a slippery oil into the door’s grooves. With the stone now frictionless, the slab door opened easily, revealing the undying figure of Shaddad, Terror of Genies, within. Shaddad warned that the adventurers that to take his sword would be to call down a terrible curse, but the lure of power had touched their souls. Battle was enjoined.

Mahmud, Bechir, and Ethlyn tore into the mummy with their magical weapons, but Shaddad was a fearsome foe, and with each sweep of his sword an adventurer took a telling blow. Bechir fell, but Senef rushed to his aid and got him back into the fight. The old ex-soldier charged in again, this time taking a gruesome blow to the knee that sent him sprawling. Mahmud, Ethlyn, Sharik, and Senef were by now all wounded and the fight seemed lost when Zoya, the thief, appeared behind Shaddad, and proceeded to break her lantern over the mummy. The burning undead creature howled in rage, and struck at her, but she finished it off with a torch.  

Senef got to work treating Bechir and Sharik against mummy rot while the rest of the group turned to the spoils of victory. Mahmud claimed the mummy’s marvelous scimitar, The Cyclone of Four Quarters, while Sharik took a fancy magical ring, and Zoya scooped up considerable coin, gems, and jewelry.

Feeling that for once, Fate had indeed smiled upon them, the adventurers departed the Tomb of Shaddad and headed north. Within thirty minutes of northward travel, they stumbled upon a caravan trail, and by the next day had reached the Oasis of Al-Danya, not far from Alakyrum.

Thank you for the zombie pit trap!


Session Eleven

Whilst recuperating in Al-Danya, the adventurers came to meet a venturer named Jamal bin Saladin [a  new PC]. Jamal was reputed to “never get lost,” which was a highly attractive skill set to the oft-misdirected adventurers. Jamal, in turn, had heard of the adventurers: “You’re the ones who got an entire caravan killed!” “Fate has not always been kind,” explained Senef. “We’ve made errors,” acknowledged Mahmud.

Jamal was undeterred by the risk of adventuring. “Where others see risks, Jamal sees opportunity! But Jamal has one simple rule. Jamal cannot do business when he is dead.” The party agreed that this was a valuable business lesson. Ethlyn and Zoya then arrived at the meeting, and Jamal turned his charms towards them. “Who are these desert roses?” Ethlyn raised her dagger. “Oh…the rose has thorns!”

A few days more rest served to get Rakh back on his feet, and the party headed towards Alakyrum, arriving there on the 22nd of Vinethelen. Alakyrum was a breathtaking site, a city of 100,000 souls centered in a lush oasis. Salt from the south-east, silk from the west, and gold from the south all trafficked through the Pearl of the Desert. The party paid the exorbitant 20gp toll to do business in the city and entered the great bazaar just past the gates.

They had come to Alakyrum hoping to learn more about the Howling Emptiness and the Well of Shadows, so the party split up to seek out different venues of learning.

·         From Imam Mahdi al-Idam, of the Great Mosque of the Way of Eternal Truth, the party learned of the ruined remains of a pyramid rising from the Howling Emptiness. It must have been built by giants, for no surely men could have moved the titanic blocks of basalt it was made with.  

·         From Damanos, an antiquities dealer, the party learned that the Well of Shadows is a gateway to another dimension. He also warned that a great centipede, with the power to mesmerize those who gaze at it, haunts the Howling Emptiness. And he spoke of a great statue brooding in the Howling Emptiness, beneath which bubbles a magical pool; the pool can salve the soul, but is guarded by a skeleton legion.

·         From Urabi al-Chukri, great alchemist of Alakyrum, the party was able to purchase an enchanted bottle, magically sealed, that could stopper up the shadow-stuff of the Well of Shadows. But Urabi warned them not to go after the Carnelian Idol. It was created by the Zaharan sorcerer-priestess Navana at the height of the Zaharan Empire, and the Zaharans, he explained, had powers undreamt of in this sad days. Worse, Navana was merely vanished, not dead and Urabi warned she would one day return for her Idol, and that he would never lay hands on it for that reason.

While the rest of the party was gathering this information, Ethlyn fell into the company of a gladiatorial promoter named Ommador. Ommador had seen Ethlyn in the company of masked Mahmud and mighty Rakh, and surmised that these were her slave-soldiers. He offered valuable prizes should she be willing to have her warriors fight in the arena, which had “unfortunate scheduling gaps”. Ethlyn quickly agreed to have “her slaves” fight. Mahmud was set to battle Orestes the Swordmaster, while Rakh was to battle a black panther from the jungles of the Ivory Kingdoms.

After some additional commerce by Jamal bin Saladin – including selling many treasures to Lazar the jeweler, and purchasing extravagant clothing from Bassida the mercer – the party traveled to the Arena, which was a sunken amphitheatre constructed outside of the city’s walls. Its red sands were stained crimson, and the warriors fought under the baking sun. Of course the Exarch, Caiaphas ibn Süroman, the Butcher of Ber-Gathy, enjoyed a shaded pavilion, as did the high ranking sheiks and patricians of the city. All of the party laid large wagers on Mahmud and Rakh as the fighting began.

“The masked Mahmud, servant of Imran, faces Orestes the Swordmaster, the Krysean conqueror…” The gates clanged open and the fight began. Mahmud fared poorly: Imran turned his eye away from his paladin, and Mahmud was cut down with a bloody wound to his eye. He had fought valiantly enough that the Exarch gave him a thumbs up to live, at least.

Rakh found himself cast as a villain. “A Thrassian monster, from the dark days of man, captured! A savage beast, fit only to be slain by another savage beast!” It was unlikely Rakh would have received mercy from the Exarch had he lost, but he tore the black panther apart in seconds. As gold coin in the thousands changed hands, the dark grip of greed seized the adventurers. It was clear that there was money to be made in the arena, and glory to be earned…

Mahmud needed a week to recover, and the party spent the time carousing in the Patrician’s Rest, an upscale tavern catering to arena patrons. The party gathered several more rumors:

·         In the western foothills of the Al-Baki, between Ber-Gathy and Khaibar, stands the wreckage of Krak al-Shidda, a remainder of the bygone wars between Kemesh and Opelenea. Adventurers who have visited the ruins claim that the castle’s dungeons glitter with gold, but none have lived to claim it.

·         Some of the most fabulous treasures lost in the fall of Zahar were the three Star Gems. With them, the Zaharans ruled Opelenea, but all have been lost in the sands of time.

·         Al-Sindor knew that a time would come when the ancient evils he had defeated would rise again. He entrusted to the sheiks of a sacred oasis the means by which the powers of Law could be summoned when the time came

Soon a week had flown by, and Mahmud and Rakh were ready to test their blades again in the arena. Mahmud fought first. “Mahmud, the masked man, who fears no death because he is already dead, faces Malyn the Merciless, fresh from the wars...” Mahmud and Malyn’s bout last for minutes as they sweated and bled on the sands. Both warriors were near exhaustion when Mahmud saw an opening and cut open Malyn’s belly. As the warrior fell, the Exarch rose and presented a thumb’s up: A good fight. Chirugeons rushed to the sands and saved Malyn, and Mahmud strode off to the acclaim of the crowd.

Then it was Rakh’s turn. “The vicious beast, Rakh, having escaped death, returns to the arena to face the undefeated Orestes the Swordmaster, the Krysean killer…”  The crowd roared Orestes’ name. Trumpets blew when Orestes entered the field. Rakh cut him down like wheat before the scythe. Stunned silence fell on the arena. In disgust, the Exarch held his thumb down, and Rakh finished off Orestes with his own blade.

The adventurers had placed large bets and won almost 4,500gp in the games. They suspected the odds would be less favorable going forward, so it seemed a timely moment to leave Alakyrum. Jamal loaded up their camels with crates of porcelain purchased in the bazaar, which he hoped to sell during their adventures, and they departed.

They reached Kirkuk on the 3rd Genethelen. Here they were momentarily paralyzed with indecision. Investigate the Watchtower? Go to the Howling Emptiness? Descend into the tombs below the city? Explore the Desert of Desolation to the south? Finally they decided to trek towards Cynidicea.

On the 8th of Genethelen they encountered a tribe of camel-centaurs in the desert. The desert dwellers attacked, shouting “Death to the Zargonites!” Eventually the party realized that Mahmud’s mask and pale complexion had misled the centaurs as to their nature, and they were able to stop the fighting. Abaddon, the centaur chieftain, confirmed the party’s fears that the Zargonites had continued their raiding of the surface world.

The lost city was almost in sight when Fate turned her evil eye on the party. A wyvern  - the very same wyvern they had seen in the skies above weeks ago – swooped upon the band. Rakh leaped at it as it swept down, and its mighty talons tore into him, and bore him aloft. A moment later, the wyvern spun out of control as Sharik choked it to death with his dark magic. The impact of the crash sent Rakh tumbling onto the sands. Miraculously the lizardman was alive, but his right hand was a gory ruin.

With their ablest fighter so injured, the party had no choice but to return to Kirkuk. There they called on the services of Daood the Wide to restore Rakh. Daood cautioned them that between Rakh’s injuries and his many ill effects from past efforts, there was great risk, but Rakh was not willing to adventure one-handed.

Daood’s  cautions proved well-merited: Rakh’s restoration was an awful affair. The Thrassian was made whole, but he complained of terrible headaches from bright sounds and loud noises – the cry of a camel disturbed him, the brightness of a spell blinded him. In the darkness of dungeons he could still fight, but it was clear his days of battle before the cheering crowds in the suns of the Arena were over.

Rakh wept.


It would take Rakh a month to recover from his restoration, so the adventures had time to pursue some side quests. Senef began to build a congregation among the desert nomads encamped outside Kirkuk, while Ethlyn launched construction of a statue commemorating the band’s victory of the wyvern. Meanwhile, Mahmud, Sharik, Ethlyn, and Jamal travelled to Alakyrum (handily dealing with some white apes en route). Sharik hoped to learn a new spell at Urabi’s library, but his research came to naught, and Mahmud paid his respects at the Great Mosque. The rest of the adventurers spent the month carousing in Alakyrum, learning some interesting rumors.

·         When Al-Sindor swept into Opelenea, the Zaharans set against him a great pasha of the Efreet, aflame with power. But Al-Sindor summoned a vizier of the Djinn and together they defeated the Efreeti Pasha and imprisoned him forever beneath the desert sands.

·         The greatest satrap of ancient Zahara was entombed in a great city. The city was buried under the sands of time, and the power and wealth of the satrap was buried with him.

On the 1st of Vicelen, the adventurers greeted the winter solstice with the Celebration of Unconquered Dawn. Jamal threw a feast for two dozen families in the area; Rakh, still invalid, prayed from his bedside. Sharik and Mahmud found the celebration at Alakyrum disappointing, with most of the coin lavished on the Imperial army, so they held a private celebration of coffee and fermented goat’s milk.

The adventurers reconvened on the 10th of Vicelen and quickly sortied out to Cynidicea, which they reached on the 12th of Vicelen. The party decided to explore the upper level of the ziggurat before proceeding deeper, and quickly dealt with the cave locusts and giant centipedes that scuttled about. They wisely bypassed a pack of sprites that might have cursed them all, and proceeded to an abandoned corner of the first floor, where they had the misfortune to encounter green slime. The foul slime melted Rakh’s magical mace before it was burned, enraging the lizardman.

Leaving the smoking chamber of the green slime behind, the party stumbled into a room filled with old trunks of unknown provenance. The whole of the room was covered with a strange yellow mold, but the party was intrigued by the possibility that the trunks could contain treasure. Sharik summoned mujahedeen from the spirit world and sent them sallying forth. The berserkers’ movements caused the yellow mold to send up terrible spores, and the berserkers expired soon after delivering the trunks to the party. The trunks proved to have no treasure, but their removal revealed a previously-hidden door on the far side of the chamber. Sadly, the party couldn’t think of a way to get to the door without setting off more deadly spores, and so they decided to leave the mold-infested chamber alone for now.

Descending deeper into the ziggurat, the party was accosted by a gaggle of Cynidiceans wearing demonic masks. The Cynidiceans were priests of a sort, or thought they were, and spent several minutes trying to “turn” the party by thrusting holy symbols and smoky incense at them. Jamal suggested that perhaps they should capture the Cynidiceans and seek clerical healing for their madness, but the adventurers eventually just played along and let themselves be “turned” so they could go about their business.

About half an hour later, the party stumbled into the chambers of three Cynidiceans with animal masks. The Cynidiceans claimed to be worshippers of the old gods, and warned of a nearby group of ogres who had been feasting on the dead. With but gentle persuasion, the Cynidiceans were convinced to help the party against the ogres, and led them to the den of the giant beastmen.

The fighting quickly devolved into anarchy, as Bechir, Mahmud, and Rakh found themselves fighting not just ogres, but veritable dopplegangers of their own form. The party belatedly realized that the “Cynidiceans” were in fact horrific shapechanging monsters. Bechir was felled, the old man’s last words “better to die a warrior than live a leper” justifying all they had done for him. Infuriated at Bechir’s death, Mahmud and Senef rallied the party and they slew the ogres and doppelgangers.

In the aftermath of the fighting, the party found a considerable store of treasure, and decided it was time to return to Kirkuk. Their return trek was largely unexciting, though the rambunctious Ethlyn did want them to investigate some curiously life-like statues that the more experienced party members thought it best to avoid. The party reached Kirkuk on the 13th of Vicelen, but decided not to loiter there, and headed to Alakyrum directly. On the 19th they reached the great Pearl of the Desert, and began to spend their newfound wealth recruiting hirelings.

Among their more notable recruits were a Kushtu pit fighter named Masamba, a Kemeshi bladedancer named Nakhita, a magical scholar named Suad, a war mage named Balen, and a pair of Tirenean thieves named Celic and Dornethan. With the groups’ numbers now enlarged to a dozen, they felt ready to tackle an ambitious expedition. 


Session Thirteen

To make ready for what they hoped would be a final delve into the Lost City, the party left Alakyrum with sixteen camels and a half-dozen mercenaries to guard the caravan. With Jamal’s keen navigational skills to guide them, the party made fast progress and by noon on the 30th of Vicelen, they had reached Cynidicea.

The party made directly for the yellow-mold infested room they had discovered on their prior expedition. Since the party had taken pains to bring dozens of flasks of oil with them, it proved a simple task to burn the yellow mold out of the room and expose the secret door beyond. Just as her comrades were about to open the secret door, Zoya the thief noticed a trap on the door that would cause it to swing and seal shut. This prompted great alarm, and the group made care to spike the door open. Zoya probed the antechamber beyond and determined that it had a pressure plate which would seal the doors and flood the chamber if stepped on. With the door open, the adventurers decided to purposefully flood the chamber and allow the water to disburse. The exercise ultimately proved useful, as past the antechamber they came upon a treasure vault with thousands of gold pieces and five gemstones.

Satisfied with these efforts, the group decided it was worth investigating certain other areas on the third floor of the ziggurat they had as yet not entered. Most chambers bore little fruit, but in one abandoned chapel to Istanul they fought off a giant draco lizard and were rewarded with various holy relics worth several hundred gold pieces scattered about its lair.

Descending down to the fifth floor of the ziggurat, the party returned to the vast temple where they had once fought werefoxes. Heading south-east, they quickly blundered into a translucent cube of acidic gelatin. This fight might have turned against them were it not for the recent addition of the warmage Balen to their ranks. “Burn!” shouted Balen. The roasted smell of gelatin was nauseating but even more nauseating was the lack of treasure left behind in the cube’s wake.

Returning to the temple area, the party was attracted by the sound of bottles being smashed to the north east. Investigating the noise led them to a wine cellar which was under fierce attack by a drunken owlbear. The abomination was clumsy with liquor, but almost immune to pain, and it took many blows to dispatch the beast. Leaving the creature a pickled corpse, the party decided that a find of 300-some bottles of fine old Opelenean wine was too good to pass up, and they decided to spend an hour ferrying the bottles to their camel caravan on the surface.

They wisely took the precaution of having Zoya the thief scout ahead, and the sharp-eyed scout spotted a party of Istanul mages approaching while they were carting the bottles. A quick spell and a brief melee defeated the magi, and the party was soon on the surface. They caught their breath, enjoyed some sunshine, and broke open a few bottles of centuries-old wine to celebrate their success. Then it was back into the ziggurat.

Returning to the vicinity of the owl bear, they headed westward, where they came upon a strange room – a stone chest, sitting on a pedestal, in a pool of what Sharik identified as highly potent acid. Sharik summoned up his faithful mujahedeen and commanded them to leap to the chest and see what was within. Three perished in the jump, falling into the acid; one managed to open the chest, revealing gold coins and a scroll, but his weight on the pedestal caused it to begin to dip into the acid. Alarmed, he jumped off, but fell into the acid and expired in agony. So great was the berserker’s suffering as his body melted that even Sharik’s scanty conscience was slightly panged.

More to the point, they were at a loss as to how to get the treasure. Fortunately the party had previously found a scroll and potion of levitation and Sharik and Ethlyn hit upon the notion of using these wondrous objects to float to the ceiling above the chest, dip down, and undertake the laborious process of loading the treasure into sacks and shimmying them back to the party. This took almost two hours, but was completed before the levitating magic expired.

Returning to the great temple, the party decided to explore northward, the only area they had not yet been on the fifth floor. This area was actually the former grand entrance to the pyramid, though now sadly sealed by sand. From this they surmised they were actually on the ground floor of the pyramid, and when Barnabas the frog noted tracks in the dust, the party began to suspect there might be a passageway to the rumored underground city below. An exhaustive search of the entrance chamber’s many columns and murals eventually did reveal a secret door to a downward sloping passage beyond.

It was by now nearly sunset, so the party decided to make their evening prayers and give Senef a moment to commune with the local jinn. “Will we encounter Zargon if we descend below?” asked Senef. Possibly, was the ambiguous answer. “Can we harm Zargon with non-magical weapons?” asked Senef. Not permanently, was the ambiguous answer. “Is Zargon more powerful than a wyvern?” The laugh that responded was chilling.

Nevertheless, the party decided to delve downwards. The tunnel proved quite long, and at the party’s cautious rate, with careful mapping and occasional rests, it took almost three hours to spelunk. Finally, hundreds of feet beneath the earth, they came to the famed underground city – a vista of ancient Opelenean buildings around an underground lake, with a central island overlooked by a cave-pocked cliff with a red volcanic eye.

The adventurers had made only a few steps into the city when they were accosted by minions of Zargon. Ethlyn parleyed, explaining that they were the band of surface-dwellers who had dealt such damage to the Brothers of Orn and Magi of Istanul, and that they were here to open up trade relations with the Zargonites. Mollified, the Zargonites agreed to take the band to see the Rector in the Temple.

The adventurers soon found themselves in the nave of the Temple of Zargon. The interior of the Temple’s chancel featured a pool resembling the underground lake, and the Rector stood on the central island. Flanking him were a half-dozen guards, clerics, and mages of various sorts, while another dozen guards escorted the adventurers forward.

Things went to hell almost immediately, as the Rector demanded they pay homage to Zargon, and Mahmud responded by drawing the Cyclone of the Four Quarters and attacking! Such was the party’s ferocity that they managed to hack down the Rector before he could even get a spell off. Despite the Rector’s death, the Zargonites showed no inclination to retreat, and the fight was to the death. One cleric of Zargon soared overhead with magic and began to use an enchanted sling to dispatch the party’s spellcasters, before being brought down by archery fire. One of the Rector’s bodyguards seemed to possess giant strength, and was able to cut down mighty Masamba, but he was in turn dispatched. A dozen more guards ran to reinforce the Zargonites, but magical sleep from Sharik brought them low. Soon it was over. The party stared around at the red ruin of the Temple, and slowly realized they had just created a dreadful power vacuum in the Lost City…

Awesome (and gruesome) stuff!

How do you handle desert travel/heat exhaustion/water consumption? My guys are going to a wasteland soon and I’d love some pointers!

Also the tomb…was that a random encounter? Did you plan it ahead of time? If it was random how did you set it up so quickly?

Anyway…always happy to read about the pain!


Session Fourteen

As the party surveyed the red ruin that had once been the Rector and guards of the Temple of Zargon, they could hear muffled sounds from the floors above. They had cut the head off the snake, but the viper’s body was still thrashing. The question was whether the dying snake would come to the party, or the party would have to go after it.

After about twenty minutes, a small body of clerics and soldiers burst down the stairs into the first floor of the Temple. The intruders encountered nothing but the robed and masked greetings of fellow Zargonite priests – for the party had taken care to disguise themselves. This clever deception lasted only until Senef’s Kemeshi accent revealed the trick, but it was long enough to count - a quick fight ended with more dead Zargonites.

Now the party decided to go on the offensive, and headed upstairs. The next few floors proved to be barracks and cloisters for the soldiers and priests of the Temple, but these had been seemingly abandoned. When the party reached the 5th floor, the reason for the empty 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor became apparent. 30 Zargonites lay in wait, lead by Siamak, hero of Zargon. Senef, disguised as the Rector, made authoritative gestures, but the cunning Siamak was not fooled, and a deadly fight began.

Rakh saw that the rear line of Zargonites was casting spells. The lizardman hurled forward, overrunning four lines of guards, and proceeded to cut down four of the six casters in a whirlwind of claws and teeth. The surviving mage unleashed a sleep spell that put Rakh, Celic, Jamal, and Dornethan into a slumber. The mages Suad and Balen were surprised to find themselves in the thick of the melee, although they gave good account of themselves. While the rest of the party struggled to beat back the Zargonites and awaken their friends, Mahmoud unleashed his righteous wrath, drawing Cyclone of the Four Quarters and smiting a foe every other second until none stood against him. Rakh, meanwhile, fought a bloody one-on-one battle against Siamak that ended when the Thrassian tore the head off the former champion of Zargon. Victory was at hand.

As the clamor of fighting on the 5th floor gave way to the cries of the wounded and dying, Zoya snuck onto the adjoining balcony to see whether their assault on the Temple had drawn attention. To her horror, there was a great crowd of dark-robed figures gathering in the broadway below – Zargonites, and scores of them, preparing for an assault to take back the Temple! The party knew it needed allies.

Nakhita strode onto the balcony and levied an angelic choir, a chorus of svelte female voices singing an ancient war-song of Annara loud enough to fill the city, holding aloft the holy symbol of her goddess to show that Annara had triumphed over Zargon. To buttress this claim, Mahmud and Rakh hurled down the severed heads of the Zargonite Rector and war leaders onto the broadway below. For a moment the Zargonites stood in dim shock. Then a cacophonic roar filled the city as the Warrior-Maidens of Annara poured forth from their compound and attacked the milling Zargonites! A bloody brawl ensued in the streets, made more confusing when the Brotherhood of Orn entered the fray, and doubly so when the Magi of Istanul began to hurl spells onto the fighters.

Unnoticed, one small splinter group of Zargonites slipped off to a massive vaulted building in the southern expanse of the city. There they opened a heavy stone door, and then scattered, as a terrible roar filled the air. Zargon had been unleashed. The street fighters began to flee in panic, and the party headed downstairs to fight off any intruders who might assault their strongpoint.

As they reached the ground floor, they could hear horrific screams and monstrous scuttling sounds punctuated by inhuman roars. The echo of such a roar was still resonating when the doors of the Temple slammed open -revealing three warrior-maidens. Magdala, their leader, explained that they had been cut off from their compound by the arrival of Zargon and sought shelter. The party quickly befriended Magdala, Avina, and Sapphira, and those three were in turn quick to make friends with Ethlyn, Zoya, and Nakhita. The warrior-maidens explained that  Zargon would feed on the hapless and wounded and then return to its lair before sunrise, after which time Magdala would guide the party to their compound. The grateful party proceeded to begin curing the injured warrior-maidens. Nakhita’s display of clerical power awed them. “Annara does not answer our prayers,” Magdala explained. “Not since the time of Zargon.”

Seeing that they had befriended the warrior maidens, the party decided that they might do well to get the Magi of Istanul on their side as well. Ethlyn ascended to the fifth-floor balcony and called out to the Magi of Istanul who patrolled the walls across the broadway from the Temple. Sadly, her diplomatic gesture was met with violent hostility. It was clear that the Magi were quite aware that the “liberators” of Cynidicea were the same party that had killed Aytollah and over two dozen other followers of Istanul. This realization was troubling, as escape to the warrior maidens’ compound would require the party to traverse for almost a minute in full line of sight to the Istanul magi. What terrible magics might they unleash?!

The party might have opted to stay in the Temple until the warrior maidens could counter-attack, but events forced their hand. A scouting mission by Zoya and Celic spotted that the vault to Zargon’s lair remained unstopped, such that the creature could emerge again at any time. Worse, the cliffs west of Cynidicea were alive with activity – hordes of beastmen and other monstrous denizens were gathering in the hundreds. “They serve Zargon,” said Magdala. “With the Zargonites dead, they come to take their place.”

The Temple of Zargon would surely be their main objective, so the party saw little choice but to either flee the city or join up with the warrior maidens for a final battle. “If we destroy Zargon, can you defeat the Magi and the Beastmen?” asked Mahmud, hand on his sword. “Perhaps… can you destroy Zargon?” “Perhaps,” the grim-faced paladin offered.

It was enough – an alliance was struck! Together with the bladedancers the party raced forth from the blood-soaked temple. Cascading waves of spells from the watching Magi struck their members with slumber, but the adventurers had prepared for this eventuality and put the physically strongest characters in the rear. These mighty figures tugged, pulled, and literally carried the slumbering comrades forward towards the warrior-maidens’ compound.

The warrior maiden’s compound doors were open -- safety was in sight -- when the leader of the Magi of Istanul reached the walls. His lightning bolts seared forth. Jamal took the brunt of it, the lower half of his body simply vanishing into a blackened scorch. Nakhita and Suad were hurled aside by the thunderbolt, Nakhita scarred and Suad’s knee wrenched and torn. They shuffled into the compound.

The doors shut.

Awesome (and gruesome) stuff!

How do you handle desert travel/heat exhaustion/water consumption? My guys are going to a wasteland soon and I’d love some pointers!

Also the tomb a few sessions back…was that a random encounter? Did you plan it ahead of time? If it was random how did you set it up so quickly?

Anyway…always happy to read about the pain!

Desert Travel: I'm using the ACKS rules-as-written without any special rules for water consumption. The only proviso I've made is that travel has to be in the morning (5am - noon) and twilight (6pm-8pm), with the middle of the day requiring them to rest. The primary hazard of desert travel to date has been getting lost (very easy in a desert) and random encounters.

Tomb: The tomb was a point of interest on the map that had already been created with a floorplan and encounters. I expected they'd learn about Cyclone of the Four Quarters in Alakyrum and go searching for it. The vagaries of chance led them to blunder into the hex.


Ah…another look finally turned up those rules. I didn’t see them the first time.

When characters enter hexes of interest, do they automatically hit the point of interest, or do you make them roll, or what?

In general, if they enter a hex with a major point of interest, I will have them automatically encounter the point of interest. Hex crawling on a large map can be very time-consuming, and a particular hex may well only be traversed once in an entire campign; given that content is there, there's no benefit (generally) to not making use of it.

One exception to this general rule-of-thumb is if the point of interest is actively hidden by antagonists. For example, in the original Borderlands campaign, the Valley of the Sorcerer-Kings is a hidden vale in desolate cliffs that has been secure for a thousand years. As such it's where Sebek makes his last stand. The party has to do more than just wander into the hex to find it.

A second exception to this general rule-of-thumb is if the party is being cheesy. For example, if they each ride a camel in a separate 6 mile hex at full speed in order to "quick spot" all the points of interest. Such antics should be met with an iron fist, of course.




Session Fifteen

In the stronghold of the Warrior Maidens, the party immediately called a war council. The question before them was which of several unappealing strategies to pursue: To preemptively attack the beastmen; to defend the stronghold against a likely attack; to assault Zargon’s lair; to attack the Magi of Istanul; or to attempt to flee to the surface.

The party contemplated making a last stand on the mysterious island in the underground lake, but the Warrior Maidens warned against this. “That is an evil place, with terrible caverns that lead deep into the earth, where demons like Zargon slumber.” Sharik, through his knowledge of the occult, surmised this might be a sinkhole of evil from whence Zargon emerged.

The party’s decision ultimately hinged on whether they believed Zargon to be a god, or not. If he was truly a deity, then retreat to the surface was the wisest choice. But if he was a god, how did he come to be bound in a stone lair? If he was not a god, from what source did the Zargonites get their divine magic? Magdala explained that the priests of Zargon taught that Zargon was an avatar of the god of madness, Kahil. Senef surmised from this that it was Kahil, not Zargon, that was the source of the Zargonite’s magic.

Still, there were no easy choices, and the hours passed with no decision made. Eventually, events were decided on their own time, when the surviving priests of Zargon forged an alliance with the beastmen. The Zargonites had a vendetta against the party, and the beastmen, lured by promises of gold, were their tools of vengeance.

The beastman attacked in the predawn hours. Balen, the warmage, showed an unexpected skill at military strategy, and helped the Warrior Maidens organize the defense. “They will strike hardest here,” he said, noting the broad avenue that lead to the main gate. So advised, the party took up positions near the gate, with Mahmud and Rakh on the battlements; Zoya, Celic, Dornethan, and Ethlyn with bows at the embrasures; and Senef and Nakhita in reserve to heal the injured or reinforce the line.

The initial beastman assault came in three waves, each numbering about two dozen goblins covered by hobgoblin bowmen. The first wave suffered heavily under bow fire. The second wave made it to the walls, but in a feat of strength Rakh hurled back the assault ladders, sending the goblins to their death. The third wave reached the battlements and was met in close-quarters combat by the heroes. The balance of the fighting nearly tipped when a gang of seven hobgoblins descended upon their flank, having cut through the Warrior Maidens on the adjoining segment of wall, but these too were fought off.

The fighting entered a lull that stretched into minutes. Senef and Nakhita did what they could for the wounded. Peering anxiously outward, the adventurers noted that the ground below the walls was piled with the dead. This would forcing assault troops to advance more slowly, but offer them substantial cover.

The lull broke with a horrible warcry, and the second assault was launched. All around them, the party could hear sounds of fighting, but they could do little to help for their own section of the wall was under attack: 20 hobgoblins carrying assault ladders scurried through the corpse-laden courtyard. Behind them came four bugbears led by a chieftain, and trio of ogres, one of them of enormous size. The attackers were simply too tough to be stopped with archery fire, and a dozen enemy soon had escaladed onto the walls. Rakh and the ogre chieftain fought a fierce hand-to-hand fight. Mahmoud and Ethlyn, meanwhile, squared off with the bugbear chieftain. The battle was beginning to turn against the party when a band of ten Warrior Maidens raced onto the walls from the east – a timely set of reinforcements that turned the tide. When the bugbear and ogre chieftains fell, the enemy morale shattered and the beastmen scattered.

The party was by now exhausted and the line of defenders was quite thin. The sounds of the maimed and dying were a symphony of slaughter. The death-cursed Rakh had to keep his ears so tightly plugged as to be veritably deaf.  Only Balen seemed unaffected by the horror: “War is entirely in the mind,” he said.

Within minutes, a third and final assault on the walls came. Scattered bodies made reaching the walls a cumbersome process, made dangerous by the litter of weapons and bone fragments, but goblins and hobgoblins were everywhere escalading the battlements. At the main gate, the party was confronted by nine hobgoblins, a pair of ogres, and a hulking troll chieftain. Low on arrows, out of magic, fatigued and exhausted, the party had to rely on brute force. The terrible troll chieftain was on the walls in seconds, and met Rakh at close quarters. Rakh might have gotten the worst of had Sharik not evil-eyed the chieftain and sapped his strength. The weakened troll went down to Rakh’s claws and teeth. Mahmud and Nakhita meanwhile fought off the ogres and hobgoblins, barely.

As the fighting on the walls reached its culmination, a foul odor descended on the battlefield. Below, moving through the carnage, was the great, loathsome form of Zargon, tentacled arms dragging the dead and dying into its voracious maw. Ethlyn began peppering the great beast with arrows. Wounded for the first time in a millennia, the “god” gazed upward with hatred, but no attack came – instead it withdrew to its subterranean lair.

The fighting at the main gates having died down, the party gazed round the fortress and saw that the Warrior Maidens were everyone in withdrawal. Beastmen had clambered onto the walls and were waiting for orders from their troll chieftain… orders that never came. Glee turned to hesitancy, hesitancy to fear, and the beastmen’s morale broke – streaming away from the stronghold even as they had captured it!

“Victory!” shouted the party .“Another such victory and we are undone,” said Balen. 


Sorry for casting restore limb and life on this old thread! But just discover ACKS (Boundle of Holding fault!) and this campaign summaries, which I am really enjoying.

I was wondering how Alex awarded experiece for treasury in the first sessions. The book says you need to return the treasure to civilization, were the different cult safe houses consider that? Or they waited util they get to twon to get the reward?

Just going to read session 7 now! :smiley: