The orc was right.
I woke up the next day refreshed and feeling much better. And not only was the storm over with but the body was nowhere to be seen! We headed out and continued west. By midday we saw something burning in the distance so we decided to check it out.
We found a burning caravan off the beaten path where there was a man putting things into a fire. Concerned those “things” might still be breathing we rushed down to get a closer look. When we get closer we hear muffled cries from under one of the wagons which we initially ignore. No telling if crazy fire pants man is gonna jump yet.
The guy is putting any random item he picks up in the fire including spoons. And we he greets us he offered us tea. I wasn’t about to drink anything he had to offer but my companions accepted. But it was confirmed he was on the crazy train once he brought out cracked tea cups filled with sand. Matters were further reinforced when he introduced us to his beautiful wife. A corpse.
While the group is dealing with crazy fire pants I went and talked to the man under the wagon. He’s a heavy set fellow who starts whining right off the bat. But he’s dying of thirst and stuck under a wagon while his companion is ignoring him. So I figure he’s entitled.
The guys get him loose of the wagon (which he apparently got stuck under while hiding from the Faithless raiders) and he introduces himself as Saeliesh Murthadi. He’s a merchant from the Arad Empire travelling to the City of Crypts and offers us 50g each if we transport him safely to Dustburn. Considering I’ll need some start up money I agree and thankfully the rest of the party does as well.
But that’s when I consider crazy fire pants over there drinking his sand tea. I asked if anyone knows how far we are from the closest town and the cleric pipes up, “7 days exactly” (which surprised everyone, including our half-orc survivalist). And then I checked on our total rations and water which could be stretched if we had to.
The party decided to leave the crazy guy behind and didn’t want to waste resources on him. But I figure I’ve got the food and water to keep him alive and the space on my riding lizard. Only I don’t trust him to ride with me or sleep with us. I try to explain to him that if he lets us tie his hands then I’ll bring him, but he doesn’t go for it. He’s crazy enough to think a corpse is his wife but sane enough to not be willing to be tied up by a Wind Runner Halfling. Go figure…
Sidebar: The Talathos box is in a sack tied to the monk’s lizard
Group Loot: 50g goods, 1 riding lizard, 2 rations
We continue on and the half-orc finds us some shelter in an area covered in rocks, ash, and sand. Retiring, I start dreaming. Forewarning, any time someone feels they have to include a dream in their logs they are either pretentious or the dream was supernatural. I am the latter.
Dreaming: I’m on a couch with black velvet and silk drapes and there are two smoking hot chicks rubbing my hair while feeding me grapes and pour me wine while calling me master. They’re just so glad I came by to visit because they don’t get visitors. They ask where I’m headed while molesting me (which I didn’t mind) and I tell them Dustburn. They start to ask me where it is but I don’t know and honestly didn’t much care about anything beyond the two girls rubbing their hands all over me.
So right at the good part of the dream things start to get creepy. Doesn’t that always happen?!?! It gets darker and off putting in the room. And that is when I realize that there’s no real light source, just a weird greenish glow. All of a sudden I hear a strange hissing from the girls and when I look at them they are wearing death masks. As they say that I look plump and delicious I wake up screaming in a cold sweat. Fucking hate this place…
I found strange, thin finger like marks (bruises) on my body and red welts on my neck. The group tries to figure out what happened to me but we got nothing.
The next day we set up a mini camp midday to rest from the heat. However it was interrupted by a group of Dry Husks that attacked us. They were very easy to hit, making almost no effort to dodge. But did they ever take a long time to take down. They actually dropped our cleric in the middle of the fight and we almost lost him.
But the odd part was that crazy fire pants guy was one of the Dry Husks that attacked us. We hauled ass out of there to make camp in some ruins we found far away from where we were. The monk starts asking about why that specific guy had been turned into a Dry Husk and whether “they” were after us (I’m not sure who “they” are, should have asked…). My personal opinion is that it is an ongoing effect from the Talathos box, kind of like a light tower.
While we’re discussing the box the merchant over hears us and chimes in that he can show us to some merchants who would be willing to pay good money for items that that. For a small commission (of course) he can show us to the right people in Dustburn.
The group however seems adamantly set upon destroying the item so we all turn in for the night after we’re done. Several hours later however we are woken to the sound of singing in the distance. When the cleric announces that it is a Talathos hymn I move stealthily out to scout for the sound.
However as I moved out (thinking my companions were right behind me) the group stopped, not wanting to leave the box unprotected. They woke the young boy and merchant (no realizing the little girl was missing) and debate over what to do. The creepy kid ends up grabbing the sack holding the box and they followed me out.
However a few minutes passed during that time which lead me to two realizations. It firstly put me into a moral dilemma and secondly made me rethink how far I should scout out again if I can’t see the rest of the party behind me.
About fifty feet out I found a large fifteen foot tall statue of a bearded man, tilted to the side and half covered in sand. In front of it is the little girl singing the hymn, which leads to the moral dilemma. She’s obviously being twisted and turned by evil forces. And out here there’s no telling how much trouble that could cause. I remember what happened to Master Talonius Constantine when he read that forbidden book. Countless apprentices died. Yet if I kill the little girl now my Lord would be angry with me for not discovering the why of this first.
Making a snap decision I whistle for the group so they know my location and walk out to talk to the little girl. The girl is looking at me expectantly (she stopped singing when she heard me whistle). When I asked her if she’s talking now she says that she didn’t realize she’s been out of it for days at all.
I asked her to touch the statue and nothing happened when she did. And when I asked her where she knew that song from she said it just popped into her head. So I did the obvious and asked her what else was popping into her head (note that my primary concern is that it will pop into her head to slit my throat while I am sleeping). She said that she had been thinking on how this place was once green and dotted with farms but that it’s all gone now and isn’t that weird?
The group arrives shortly after and I test her twice more by speaking to her in Midian C (which she doesn’t recognize) and having her hold the Talathos box. She said that it felt creepy and warm. Warm… I didn’t catch that before. I don’t remember it feeling warm. I’ve got to go touch the box again damnit. I’m the only one in the group who has had direct physical contact with it.
As we left I examined the statue more closely and could make out some Midian Cuneiform in Midian C and B at the base of it saying the word Kashgazar. We head back to camp and go to sleep.
The following day we continue on westwards where I suddenly smell something delicious. Really delicious! We debate for a while whether we should go out of our way for my nose because the monk really does not want to go. He thinks I’m delusional. (Gotta watch the monk too now. I’ve heard stories how people kill people they think are crazy out here in these lost Midian lands.)
Anyways, the kid points out that it might be Faithless cooking people and I say they might have innocents there. Which I already assumed it was people cooking and really just wanted a fresh meal. Was thinking too much on my stomach. Should have gone straight to saving people.
When we find the fires there is a group of Faithless roasting people for food (omg it smelled amazing!). We jump them from behind and drop them quickly and decisively with no losses to ourselves. However we were too late to save most of these people as there were only 3 survivors (1 in the end as two died in their sleep from their injuries).
On the upside the wagons hadn’t even been looted yet and were in perfect condition. I did think on whether it was right for us to take everything considering it technically was owned by the pilgrim who survived. But then I realized that it had already been stolen by the Faithless. So when we killed the Faithless we were totally justified in taking the Faithless’s possessions as our loot. Plus the pilgrim should be happy we’re feeding him, that we saved him, that we healed him (well the cleric did), and that we’re conducting him safely to the next town. Yes. He should be grateful even!
Group Loot: 140g goods, 4 days rations, 6 riding lizard, 6 wagons
The next day we wake up with no problems and head west. It’s then that we finally discuss the pace that we’ve been keeping and decided to start going faster to cut the travel time down to 3 more days instead of 4.
Lore Sidebar: I forgot that the monk told us that the Faithless are difficult to hit due to the unholy runes and sigils burnt into their flesh dedicating them to the Death Wyrm.
Later in the afternoon we come across a wrecked caravan and can hear someone calling for help. Upon examination there is a man buried to his neck crying about what the Faithless did to him (with hindsight I should have realized the Faithless would never leave someone alive unless it was for a very dark purpose).
While the monk was digging them out I saw an interesting method of religious indoctrination by the cleric. When the survivor said that Voxis (his god) was a dick for getting the three druid goddess knocked up he converted the pilgrim’s beliefs. He asked the man that if he had the opportunity to sleep with three of the most smoking hot goddesses wouldn’t he do it? And 3 of them no less (snicker). Watching the man nod as the light when on behind his eyes made me see that the cleric has serious potential to convert many to the worship of the Talazhon.
The reverie was interrupted when the man (the buried guy from before my tangent) leaps out of the sand attacking the monk. He’s screaming now and we can see that is body is infested with strange worms with gnashing teeth burrowing through his body. And that is when the Flayed Husks leapt from their ambush in the sand to attack us.
Lore Sidebar: They are called Flesh Worms and are an infestation created by Midians to create ancient monstrosities. A favorite tactic was to use them as “bombs” by catapulting them into their enemies.
The fight goes smoothly and we end up finding a small chest with 60g in it.
Total Group Loot Total: 250g, 7 riding lizards, 6 days rations, 6 wagons