Campaign Journal – Nuwmont 6 1006AC
"Well, I guess winter is here…" said Arwan to no one in particular as a light dusting of snowflakes landed on the stone sill of the infirmary window. The ever present twilight resulting from the ash cloud and the fact he hadn't been outside since he arrived there made it hard to tell just what time of year it was. Still, the cold breeze coming through the open stone window had the feel of midwinter. "How long have I been here?"
"Five weeks" replied the plain-faced, elderly priestess of Valerias that was carefully removing the linen bandages covering what had been a deep, puss-filled, gash along his right torso. Surely, the great, steaming construct's deadly axes had carried the taint of corruption along its blades.
The woman was not ugly, but, after the stories Arwan had heard in Specularum's jail about a certain priestess of Valerias who ran a "healing" establishment in that capital, he was hoping for a little more "comforting" from these servants of the love goddess. Before the Second War of the Desert Nomads, most of them had only dealt in charms and potions for the lovesick sons and daughters of well-to-do Daro merchants. Only recently had some turned to truly reverencing Valerias and few could be counted as true healers. All told he was grateful they managed to nurse him back to health and stop the black filth weeping from his painful wound.
Truthfully, before the War, hardly any Daros had paid the gods credence save a few coppers tossed to Asterius from time to time. But, now, a few could be heard to talk of Vanya or Ixion, or at least blame The Master's invasion on their anger. Even Arwan, who had not given much thought to the Immortals, recalled a few fevered dreams of a mighty white oak standing in a glade slowly shedding it leaves while he convalesced. He was sure it was brought on by his illness, but the words of King Doriath of Alfheim, that he had been touched by Ilsundal, still nagged at him. He was keen to return there an delve into the mystery of the Trees of Life.
"Looks like you are healed. How do you feel?" asked the priestess.
"Bed sore, stiff…ready for a drink."
"Well, you have a visitor Colonel."
Arwan thought he would not get used to that honorific, but it did get him one step closer to the legitimacy he so craved – that he felt as warden of Three Crowns. "Lets see that shit Varis arrest a Colonel of the Darokin Legions," he thought.
"Niko! 'Bout time you showed up!"
"Uh, sorry, I've been really busy" blurted out Niko as he glanced around the room sheepishly taking in the rows of wounded legionnaires on their filthy cots.
"Books again? Fil?" Arwan leered and pushed himself up on his elbows.
"Yes! No, I mean, yes, sort of. I've been trying to figure out whats going on with me…with this turmoil in the world, but not with books actually. I know… Long story short…there's a place in Ylaruam…The Dead Place. I think if we can find it, we can figure out what's going on. Or, maybe why. There was an old empire…its gone now. There's a storyteller in Surra Man Ra…he knows of it and The Dead Place. What do you think?"
Arwan grinned, "Can we fly there?"
Of course, nothing for the Companions is ever so simple as listening to a story. First, against all odds, they run into an old friend of Arwan in the desert – a nomadic Norwolder who had spent time reaving the same seas as Arwan. He says his name is Caelnach, but little else. Then, finding the ramshackle, mud brick town of Surra-Man-Raa, the travelers discovered they would need to enter the dreams of wizened Wakim the Storyteller to unlock his memories of The Dead Place hidden behind wards placed by the Immortals who demolished it.
After gathering the requisite mushrooms for the tea that would give them entrance to Wakim's mind, the party found the local Sheik Ismail riding roughshod through the town searching out infidels. His men cornered the party in a hot, dusty alley. When Wakim prevailed upon the Sheik to honor Wakim's hospitality and treat his guests as under his protection, the Sheik sentenced him to death for sorcery.
In short time Caelnach's greatsword was drawn, several of the Sheik's men dead and the Sheik wounded and fleeing. It will be unlikely Sheik Ismail will forget this insult. And that was not the strangest part of their journey.
Safely aboard their skyship once again, they found themselves drinking Wakim's tea and entering a surreal dreamworld. From the snippets of Wakim's memories they could uncover, it appeared he had been part of an expedition to The Dead Place decades earlier – an expedition led by famous Ylari treasure hunters – Niko's parents! Faisal and Indera delved into a deadly and trap laden ruin in search of the tomb of Acererak – the high wizard-priest of Nithia's hidden god Amon-Gorlath – who was believed to reside beneath the temple. From the screams seared into Wakim's mind, it appears Faisel and Indera may have met horrible fates.
34th session – XP 3,350 (total all sessions: 64,030)