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Site 41 - Desert of Zanarkand
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Enigma



Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 148
Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:58 pm    Post subject: Site 41 - Desert of Zanarkand Reply with quote

Day 1 – Site 41 - The desert NW of Zanarkand


Expedition funded by Cordovar College: Gideon. Staff: 9 scholars/archaeologists:
Kalnar Cordovar: 25th lvl Arcanist/Archaeologist/Scholar; director of Cordovar College; human male.
Suanos Reardinn: 20th lvl Scholar/Historian; Cordovar College; human male.
Khem-dhor: 21st lvl Archaeologist/Wizard; Cordovar College; human male.
Fharan Aast: 19th lvl Scholar/Cleric; Senior Archivist of Cordovar College; human male
Furza Dryk: 20th lvl Scholar; Excavation/Field Director; half/elf male
Dreanna Furran: 22nd lvl Arcanist/Historian; Cordovar College Library; half/elf female.
Gailan Uriens: 20th lvl Arcanist/Scholar; Cordovar College Library; human male
Kandreas Milholt III: 10th lvl cleric; Office of Divine Studies, Cordovar College; human male
Jhenna Milholt: 8th lvl cleric; Obsidian Temple; human female.

24 x 2nd – 4th lvl field workers (excavation team, 4th year students from Cordovar College).
23 x 3rd-9th lvl scouts/rangers/w/fighters
7 x 4th – 10th lvl scouts/rangers/w/fighters already at site 41 at established base camp.

“Site 41.” Furza mused. “I have been involved in the last 9 expeditions but never one like this…Kalnar is going on a whim on this one.”
Dreanna nodded. “I wonder what the Seeker told him…they met for an hour last week. Kalnar seems driven by something…I wonder what lies beneath the ravine.”
“Is that where the excavation will take place?”
“I think so…he mentioned it yesterday while he was going over his notes. Kalnar also said that we were to be wary about doing business in Zanarkand. I found that surprising, but we had to get our supplies…did you find any problems Furza?”
Furza nodded as he looked out over the railing to the desert 200m below…the flat sandy expanse passing beneath them at an increasingly rate. The Zephyr Breeze was really getting up some speed. “I did notice some of the merchants would have rather seen the back of me, quite honestly, yet others were quite open and friendly.” He smiled. “They all had 2 things in common…the want of our money and curiosity as too our destination.”
Dreanna smiled her golden blonde hair flowing in the breeze. “Just like the Arcane Council at the dinner last evening…it was an interesting reception.”
“We were warned of it…and we were not to mention the closing of the library. I found that strange. I wonder what the Madodcracy have planned for their visit tomorrow…a group of them are coming by Lightning Rail. I heard Kalnar speak of it on the Lightning Rail yesterday. Especially coming so close after the independence celebrations.”
“No idea…but one thing I have picked up on since coming on board.” Dreanna remarked looking around to ensure the elven crew did not overhear. “Have you not noticed the crew…they are very quiet…as if they have other things on their mind.”
“Yes I have. Something is in the wind Dreanna…I can just feel it. Now…I have briefings to do…if you will excuse me.”


Last edited by Enigma on Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:19 pm; edited 6 times in total
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Enigma



Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 148
Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 1 Zephyr Breeze - approaching Site 41

Ehlissa turned Kalnar Cordovar looking through the viewing port at the sand dunes below. “We are approximately 30 minutes from your destination.”
“Wonderful Captain.” He beamed. “You know this will be my last expedition…I think the field work in a variety of climates and environments is finally catching up with me. But this will be very special indeed and I do thank you and your fine crew for starting the expedition off in wonderful fashion.”
Ehlissa could not help but smile…for a man approaching his 70th year he was still hale and hardy, excitable as a child and had never lost his sense of humour. “It was our pleasure.”
Kalnar bowed elegantly. “Now…if you would excuse me Captain…must get the students ready to unload the supplies. From the time you arrive…their work and practical assessment begins.”

Kalnar left the deck and made his way to one of the holds where Furza was addressing the hired guards, a mixture of scouts, fighters and rangers. Beyond them the students moved to prepare the unloading of the stacked boxes, crates, containing the expedition equipment under the supervision of two masked elven crew members. “…so this means, that you will NOT be involved in setting up the encampment. Leave this to the students. Now looking at the map and diagrams we have…I believe 3 observer posts should be set up at the top of the ravine, one a the end of the spire, and one on either side of the ravine…this will give us a westward, northward and southward vantage point. The posts should be dug into the desert and covered over. The other two outposts will be at the mouth of the ravine facing eastward over the sunken desert.”
Kalnar looked at the diagrams and map pinned to the large board. Yes…the more I see this the more I am convinced. The ravine is an impact site of the spire itself…ripping through the rock to its apex, the spire sinking down into the ground. He had first heard of the site when his college came into some documents provided by the Tahydn A scholar who traveled the desert region 80 years ago, whose own father had been among the founders of Zanarkand. He came up with the initial theory that this was an impact site…a very rare event indeed and he also wrote of a “strange power source” detected beneath the ravine. I wonder if it is still there…we will soon find out!!!! Then there was the 2nd site...site 42, this will have to be looked at carefully and had to be done without the knowledge of the others...until I had the evidence to show them.

“How many at each post?” Kappel Daev, one of the guards asked.
“That will be determined by Kharohal but I envisage two, one sleeping one on watch.”
“If anything should go down how do we contact the other posts?” another asked.
“Each post will have the means to communicate with each other and during the day and night, the rostered student on duty. We are limited to 8 of these devices so those who will range will not have them.”
“What about climbing the ravine, especially at night…will we use ropes?”
“Once the posts are established, ropes and pulleys will be put in place directly behind the north and south posts. The one on the other side of the spire will be reached by foot though we may have another set at the foot of the spire leading up to the top of the ravine.” Furza stopped and seeing Kalnar asked how far to the site.
“Half an hour.” Kalnar replied. “Everything set, my friend…it will be a mad chaotic rush when we arrive to set everything up before nightfall.”

Marerandas Kyrsilryn, or Mak for short…his friends preferred it that way too, turned to Dioras, a fellow half elf Ranger he befriended in Zanarkand. “I do not think we will be at the posts…Furza has told me those of us who are rangers will be scouting the desert around the camp.”
Dioras nodded. “How far do you think…no more than half a day I hope.”
“Depends on whether we will have encampments of our own. It looks like they are concentrating on the immediate area for the moment.”
Furza replied to Kalnar. “That leaves us…4 hours of daylight. We will have the basics done by nightfall. Tomorrow we will concentrate on the excavation tents and equipment and completing the domestic requirements of the expedition.”
“Good…I wish to begin tomorrow lunch time.”
Furza nodded and turned back to the guards. “Now…those of you who are rangers will assist in establishing the post today…your tasks however are separate and will be briefed to you tomorrow morning by Kherohal and Lazar. Kherohal is in charge of camp security and you will all obey his orders. He is very experienced in desert and hot temperate zones. Lazar is his right hand man…also experienced…though don’t try what he can do…his athletic ability is rare, very fleet footed. Now, you all have your tasks…I will issue out the packs for each post, so you can begin immediately upon arrival. Leave the students to unpack the rest of the equipment, including your own personal gear.”

Mak rose to his feet with the others and they moved towards one of the large boxes, already opened. Eager students worked like bees under the watchful eye of the crew, who were ensuring equal balance and ballast of the hold. Half and hour before we arrive, Mak thought…I wonder what we will find there.
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Enigma



Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 148
Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 1 Site 41 - Arrival of the Zephyr Breeze

The airship flew low over the sandy dunes and began to slow as the black spire was sighted ahead. Below decks was a hive of activity as the excavation team began to prepare to offload the large crates 4 of which were already of levitation floats. The floats were 7m x 7m and hovered 1 m above the ground thanks to 4 levitation spells. They were a recent development of the Cordovar College and first used at Site 39, the ruins of a temple outside Gideon some 6 months ago. As one would expect, they were designed to ease the work of the excavation team and save time in setting up the encampment. The crew of the Zephyr Breeze was impressed by the innovation and Kalnar promised to provide them with 6 Levitation Floats as part of their payment and they were being prepared to the Zephyr Breeze at the College alchemist laboratory.

On deck Kalnar watched with Suanas and Gailan as the black spire loomed larger before them. “Strange rock formation, Suanas.” The aspect of the spire that intrigued him was that it jutted out of the sandy desert floor at an angle, perhaps 20 degrees from vertical…angling westward, away from the ravine.
“Indeed…I will take a sample when we arrive for analysis.” Geology was his passion and his reason for being here. The fact the spire was not a vertical formation interested him too. “Do you think it is an impact site?”
Kalnar nodded. “Yes…a meteor. You studied the rocks from Site 38 and I believe this could be of a similar composition.”
Suanas nodded. “When you told me of the spire I had a feeling what you thought it might be and brought my results of the rock samples from Site 38 for comparison. This is larger than I would have ever thought… and intact. Where is the impact site?”
“From the notes I have…it is beyond the ravine…you can see it now.” Kalnar replied pointing to the sandy covered dunes of the sunken valley.
“I cannot believe you think that is a meteor Kalnar.” Gailan scoffed. “Logic dictates it should have blasted into fragments on impact.”
Kalnar nodded thoughtfully. “You are right, it should have been destroyed in the impact…but this one has not and that my friend should be the first question asked...why did it not break up?”
Gailan could not answer that...yet.

Beyond the ravine lay an immense rift valley, surrounded by a tall escarpment of sandy dunes. The valley was about 200 meters below the escarpment and the Zephyr Breeze descended slowly circling to approach the gaping mouth of the ravine.
“Yes.” Kalnar said excitedly. “Oh…look at that…the ravine, it looks like it has been hewed apart by massive force…of the spire…it has to be an impact.”
Dreanna, Khem-Dhor and Fharan had now joined them on deck and viewed the spire in surprise.
Suanas nodded. “The face of the spire will prove it…any horizontal gauging marks. I cannot wait to check this out.”
“Kalnar, just what is this site…outside what I have been hearing. And why has it not been discovered before.” Dreanna asked looking at the ravine.
“It was discovered before…long ago.” Kalnar replied. “By Reis Tahydn 80 years ago. Then it was mostly covered by sand…now look at it.”
“Impressive, but I did not think this was going to be a geology expedition.” Khem-Dhor commented. “This is certainly not my field of expertise.”
“Oh this will be a wonderful surprise for all of us my friend and geology is just part of it.” Kalnar smiled. “You scholars and archaeologists will have an interesting time...oh yes an interesting time of it indeed.”
Somehow…Dreanna was not convinced…but the spire did intrigue her. And Kalnar…he was concealing something.

The Zephyr Breeze flew around the spire and below Lazar watched them from the top of the ravine and signaled to Kherohal who acknowledged with a wave. Kherohal returned to the encampment, where the others were waiting. “So much for sleep for those on watch last night.” he muttered to himself. “Right you ugly lot…lets go and play the welcome committee.”
“Right…shall we bring the beer?” Machon said with a grin.
“No…I hope you have damn well hidden the ale barrel.” Kherohal mused.
“Sure did…cleverly disguised too…and labeled in case of discovery.” Machon replied, Andreas laughing at that.
“Labeled as what?”
“A piss barrel, a full one that is. We do have to look after the environment you know.”
Kherohal laughed. “You are a bunch of bloody rogues…all of you.” He joked as they walked through the ravine to the open desert beyond, the Zephyr Breeze slowly advancing towards them. At the mouth of the ravine two Locka and Sinakar left the group and ranged out, armed with composite longbows. On top of the ravine Lazar watched, his eyes scanning the desert around him.

On board Mak watched from the deck with Cassado, Hanyeef, Soravanu and Domis, his “team” assigned to establish observation post number 3, beyond the spire.
“Why couldn’t this be like any other site…ruins, perhaps of a temple…or and entire lost city or something. Just like they have found outside Zanarkand.” Domis sighed. “Here we are guarding what…a lump of black rock in the middle of the desert.”
Soravanu grinned. “You make it sound sooo depressing.”

The Zephyr Breeze slowed to a halt, hovering 2 metres above the desert floor. Two cargo doors open touching the desert as ramps and the excavation team set to work, pushing out the first of the levitation floats. The gangway was lowered and the archaeologists and scholars departed followed by the scouts and rangers, Mak and his team among them. Furza and Suanas moved to the ramps to supervise the unloading while Kalnar spoke to a short stocky built man clad in leather armour. “This is Kherohal everyone.” Kalnar announced. “His is in charge of the guards and our security throughout the expedition. The scouts and rangers are to remain here for a briefing. I will leave you too it my friend.” Kherohal nodded and Kalnar left with the archaeologists and scholars heading towards the ravine.

“Right.” Kherohal said. “We will worry about introductions, later over the evening meal and a quiet ale.” He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it. “You should be aware of your teams. Lazar is on top of the ravine waiting for the observation teams to establish the posts. So grab your kits and move along the dunes where you will see a path that we have made to make it easier to get up. Once the posts are established however, those of you who are manning them will use rope ladders. The original idea was to use ropes and pulleys but we have rope ladders in the equipment and they will be used instead. The north and south posts are to be directly above where the main encampment will be. Lazar will show you. Those of you not assigned to these teams will accompany me…I have some other tasks that need doing. Once we have finished, you can set up your tents and relax for the night. The advance team will be doing the first night shift.

"As for you rangers I will brief you tomorrow on your patrol areas and you can range out and get a good lay of the land, but just look around and that is what you will be seeing…miles of it. But we need to know if anything is out there…what creatures may be roaming around and that is your responsibilities. Now, the 3 teams following the escarpment for about 800m.” Kherohal pointed to the right of the ravine where it was of sandstone, weathered over time, with sand covering ledges and craggy rocky outcrops. ”There is a blue marker at the foot of the path, Lazar will meet you at the top, so lets get to it. The sooner you finish the sooner you can put your own tents up and relax for the night.”
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Enigma



Joined: 10 Feb 2006
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Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 1 Figures on the landscape

Lazar watched Kherohal brief the new arrivals and behind them the first of the large wooden crates were being unloaded. The academics as he considered them were walking towards the ravine, an old silver haired man leading with an enthusiastic pace…for one of his age. That must be Kalnar…I have heard of him, dedicated and passionate about uncovering the past…one worthy of respect. The woman with them…I wonder who she is…very attractive too, defined elegant features, walking with a style and chic that bespeaks one of high bearing…worthy of attention.

22 days and 8 hours remaining. I will know when the time is due…and the place and I will be there. If nothing else, Khios is a man of his word, I am looking forward to returning to my beloved homeland and reporting to my High King. Now I must work on finding another…a true wildcard among this group.

Looking beyond the Zephyr Breeze, Lazar caught sight of 3 figures watching from the dunes…2000, no 2,120 meters away. He used his natural gift and his eyes glazed for a moment as he seemingly moved forward, his sight closing in on the figures. Humanoid…dressed in desert garb, heads covered by cowls…armed with longbow and scimitars, in ornate jeweled sheaths…nomads perhaps...no mounts that I could see. The skin of their arms was tanned…deeply so and one carried a staff of gnarled wood with strange runes along its length. His exposed arms contained tattoos...a user of magic…they usually betray themselves this way.

Averting his gaze for a moment he signaled to Locka who was watching and received an acknowledgement. Locka had the ability to see using special glasses the distance I had perceived and would alert Kherohal as well. The arrival of the Zephyr Breeze has attracted attention as one would expect…this is one way to bring out the locals…who or whatever they were.

Below Kherohal had completed his briefing and a group was heading towards the escarpment. Interesting one of my candiates is among them...good. Returning to Locka, the young scout signalled acknowledgement, he had seen them too. Matters was now out of his hand...now to set the outposts before nightfall...it was now more important now that we have attracted attention.
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Enigma



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Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Establishing the outposts

Lazar waited until the outpost teams arrrived up the path...interestingly enough 2 of his candidates were among them...good. They gathered before him with their packs and equipment. "My name is Lazar...we will get to know one another in due course, for the moment time is short and we need to get the 3 outposts done by nightfall. Even as I speak we are being watched by 3 perhaps desert nomads...so the locals are now aware of us. Now...have you been assigned your teams."
"Yes we have." one of them replied.

"Good...follow me." He led them along the edge of the ravine. "As you know we will have 3 outposts, the idea being to monitor activity in the surrounding desert...we are on a high point here. One will be located on this side, facing south the second on the other side and the third at the end of the spire itself. Each outpost will have walls of sandbags that you will fill when digging your individual posts. Dig no more than one and a half metres, the sides must be higher than the viewing area which should be if possible 160 degrees. The sandbags will prevent the sand from coming into the outpost and keep the posts warm at night. When you have done that, cover the post with the tarpolin and use sandbags and the meter long spikes to secure it in place. This should not be difficult."

"I am one of the ones assigned to the north post, Lazar. Will that be my primary responsibility here?" one of the scouts asked.
Lazar nodded. "Yes...if we are attacked at the ravine and you are on post...you are not to leave it to aid us...remain at your post and await orders from Kherohal or myself."
"What if we see anything...how do we report it?" Cassado asked.
"There will be someone on watch at all times at the encampment. Each of the posts will be given a blue stone...rub it and talk...I will be one of those in the encampment that will respond...we are giving these to you for one reason...to prevent noise. In the desert noise such as voices can be heard from considerable distances away, so do not under any circumstances consider these posts for chit chat, keep your voices low and to the minimum...your lives may depend on it. I will be monitoring."

They reached the area below which the first of the levitation floats had come to a stop and the crates were being removed by the excavation staff. "Outpost 1 is here...outpost 3 directly opposite on the other side of the ravine." Lazar said. "Once you are finished imbed 2 of the spikes on the edge of the ravine for the rope ladders...they will be brought up separately."
"Right Lazar leave it to us." one of them said as he assembled his team.

Lazar nodded continued on with teams 2 and 3, leaving team 1 to begin their construction. The spire loomed, the black rock ominious in such a landscape.
"What is it...such a strange thing to see in the desert." one remarked.
"Reminds me of a prow of a ship." Domis grinned. "The way it is slanted...so damn unnatural."
A prow of a ship...interesting. Lazar thought. The 5th Emperium...could it be. Interesting it should come from one of my candidates. "Which team are you?"
"Team 2." Domis replied. "Myself, Hanyeef, Soravanu, Mak and Cassado."
"Thank you." Lazar acknowledged. "I have chosen a suitable site for you."

They reached the spire and moved around it the scouts looking up and wondering at the strange angle it jutted out of the desert floor. Some thought about the idea it was a prow of a ship...as Domis suggested...what a ship in the desert...yeah right!!!! Rounding the spire...the deser before its bulk was hard and smooth...slightly blackened, like glass. Mak knew enough to know that sand can be fused like this under extreme heat. In fact looking around the dune was huge, sloping down to more dunes beyond.

Lazar pointed to a spot about 20 feet down from the spire. "Team 2 should find this spot easy to work with...it also afford an excellent view of thhis area. So Team 2 you have your task. I will return once I have shown Team 3 their site."
Lazar departed with Team 3 and Hanyeef turned to his companions. "Lets do a good job...I sort of take pride in what I do."
"And what is that?" Domis asked, already knowing his friend's roguish streak.
"Getting into trouble mostly." Hanyeef grinned and the others laughed.
They unpacked the equipment, including shoves, picks, stakes and sandbags and set about their task.

Lazar led Team 3 to their site and showed them the area they were to build the post. Lookign down, most of the equipment had been delivered into the ravine below and the excavation team were working to establish the main encampment, a large kitchen tent being the first to set up, so that the cooks could begin the evening meal. Yes...this College is well organized indeed. Accommodation tents for the senior staff had been erected...with the help of subtle magic, the tents brightly coloured emlazoned with the Cordovar College emblem. He saw the woman emerging from a mouve coloured tent and took a mental note. I have time...let's test the waters with this one. Some of the excavation team were constructing two more large tent enclosures and smaller accommodation tents were being set up as well. The rangers and scouts would encamp about 50 metres from the main site...closer to the mouth of the ravine. Kalnar he noted was near the end of the ravine...where the spire rose skyward with 3 others and they were in deep discussion.

In the distance the Zephyr Breeze rose to the air and flew slowly over the ravine and circled the spire heading south towards Zanarakand. Looking in the distance he saw the 3 garbed nomads...still watching in the distance. He looked for the ranging scouts and soon found them...Locka and Machon had moved out and were able to set up positons where they could watch the nomads...from an east and west position to them both of them lying on sand dunes about 200m from where the nomads were.

Ensuring that Team 3 had begun their task Lazar returned to Team 2...there was another in this group that interested him. Arrving he found them hard at work...much of the digging done and the walls of sand bags being put in place. In the far distance the Zephyr Breeze moved across the desert back towards Zanarkand. They seem to be in haste. More contract work awaited them no doubt. "You are doing well." he said. "Once you are finsihed you can set up your own accomodation tents and relax for the evening.
"Work likes this deserves a beer afterwards...I hope you guys got some supplies with you." Cassado grinned shoveling sand into a bag.

Lazar smiled...so typically human!!! "Yes, we do...just for the hard workers as one might say." He sighed...getting use to this human tongue was at best...barely tolerable. But this was his role here...and it included "being" human...he thought briefly about the woman and smiled.
Hanyeef laughed. "I like that indeed." he said.

Lazar remained here for a time...watching not only his candidate but another in this group...half elven. On my world, my race was known to the humans as such...by other names. He was intrigued by the physical presence of the elven and half elven races...remembering their existence on Greyhawk...so similar. This one intrigued me.

The observation posts were completed an hour before nightfall, Lazar moving between each site and ensuring they were completed within the orders. Once completed he placed special protection wards at each post and with the exhausted teams gathered together, led them down into the ravine using the trail where they set up their tents under the eye of Kherohal. "Well done everyone. Tonight we will have a few ales to celebrate. There is a meal being prepared...more than enough to feed an army. Tomorrow I will brief the ranging scouts on their task."
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Enigma



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Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 1 Evening

Kherohal and Lazar stood atop of the ravine as the setting sun blazed its light across the desert. "Are they still there, Lazar?"
Lazar nodded. "So are our own watchers. You may need to change the roster for this evening...send some of the new arrivals to their posts."
Kherohal nodded. "Shit...I promised them a good night...but it will have to be done. No other activity."
"No."
"I will keep the ranging scouts aside...they will have their tasks starting tomorrow."
"You have recruited well, Kherohal...have you worked for the college before?" Lazar asked.
"Yes...on 4 previous excursions...they pay well and look after their staff. That is why I like working for them...at the end of this, I may gain permanent employment, Kalnar as approached me with an offer."
"Well deserved." Lazar commented. "One only needs to see the rabble groups at Zanarkand to know the difference between true research and just plain looting."
"This desert is opening up...and Zanarkand is the center of it. Yes...some of the groups I saw there were well...not worthy of mention let alone worthy of hire." He turned to face Lazar. "What do you make of this site...it is most unusual for the college. I know Kalnar is impassioned about it..that is why we are here."
Lazar thought for a moment...yes...just what to say to this human. "I think Kalnar is justified in his decision to come here. One of the team mentioned the spire was like a prow of a ship...can you imagine that."
Kherohal laughed. "What...are you fucking crazy." he looked behind him to the spire...angled away from him. "Yeah...it is sort of a prow when you look at it...perhaps we should name it so."
"Why not." Lazar smiled.
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Enigma



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Location: Zanarkand

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 2 Ranging

Lazar briefed Mak on his first ranging task. "There are 9 others out, another 2 will follow after you. See those two peaks, one shaped by a pillar to the left of the escarpment...one shaped like a spike on the right of the escarpment...that is your ranging area, using the spire as the apex. Go no further than 3 hours, then build your post as you will overnight as of tomorrow. You have cold rations from the kitchen...be back before dark."
"What if we find anything?"
"Avoid it for the moment and report back...especially if it has a purpose in mind. Like the 3 nomads we have been watching...you should see them from the escarpment. If you are concealed, just monitor and note for report later. We will have communication amulets available as of tomorrow."

Mak nodded and with his equipment headed across the rim of the escarpment. Within a few minutes he saw the 3 nomads...and their mounts, large lizard like creatures with thick desert coloured hides and large whip lash tails. One of them, with the gnarled staff, turned away from the encampment and in the distance Mak saw something burrowing beneath the desert towards the nomads. A few minutes later a pale worm like creature perhaps 2m long emerged from the desert, its many red eyes regarding the nomad. For a time they seemed to communicate then the creature turned and disappeared into the desert dunes.

Looking around Mak could see another scount wathcing the 3 nomads from the top of a nearby dune. Looks like they are covered.

He continued along the escarpment using the two markers in the distance timing himself to the movement of the sun. At the 3 hour mark, the dunes ended and beyond lay a vast plain, craggy barren mountains in the distance, the plain dotted with dead trees...this area was once fertile...with dried riverbeds of stones just a few hundred metres away...it looked to Mak as if the desert was expanding into this area, as the dunes had surrounded a group of gnarled trees near him. Here he set up his post using the tarp to provide cover. Once done he ranged for an hour and saw in the distance 3 large wagons and 12 nomads, riding the lizard creatures he had seen before. They were moving westward...he was observing them from the south.

Once they had passed he decided to return to the camp and report...he had to be back before dark. He returned and reported to Lazar. One of the others had encountered a large crab like creature and the others nothing...except for the Draza, who had been watching the nomads...he retold his story of the sand worm until he found himself alone...everyone else had gotten sick of his bragging.
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Enigma



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 3 Magnetic storm

As the sun rose...its first light touching the land, the storm began. It began abruptly and awoke everyone in the camp. Rushing wind and driving sand, rolling in a south eastward direction moved across the rift valley. Mak joined others as they climbed the rope ladders to the top of the ravine...what a sight.

The storm rushed down towards them...an air of sand, yet it did not touch them...it curved hitting the edge of the ravine and gouged out more sand rolling it SE where at the far end it struck the escarpment with with force...before some of the sand caught in the storm began to rise....higher and higher curiving over...then descending back to where the party was. It was a huge ball of sand, many thousands of feet high...driven by something...energy crackled...the hair of the party tingled.

"THis seems magical...to perfect to be a natural event." Gailan shouted over the noise of the storm.
"Energy." Dreanna "No...this is not magical, it does not detect so."
"Then what is it?" Kalnar shouted.
Dreanna thought for a moment...it could be. "This may be a magnetic flux storm...the rift valley is an impact site...there must be meteoric iron beneath the sand itself."
"How is it moving?" Kalnar shouted.
"Opposites attract...one to another, postive to negative, or the opposite...that is the theory...and the sun's radiation must somehow be involved...it began right on dawn."

Lazar smiled. I am surprised they knew about magnetic energy...now determined by Dreanna as non magical...as it is, purely natural, but this effect is unusual.

The storm raged on throughout the day...the sound howling sounds of wind and sand, deafening many in the expedition. Most remained in their tents, covering their heads and ears with anything that could stop the DAMN NOISE!!!!

Darkness...the last dying rays of light disappeared...then silence. The rushing wind stopped and for a moment nothing could be heard, then sand rained down on those watching from the top of the ravine...getting into clothes...hair...everywhere. After a few seconds it stopped and the night sky was brilliantly visible. Ears were ringing and the expediton members were numbed by the experience.

"Look" came a cry from the ravine. Mak joined others at the top going ot the edge and looking down...they saw a long black metallic rectagnular object partially protruding from the sand...the storm had uncovvered it.
"This is amazing." Kalnar said excitedly. "Oh yes...lets have a look now."
"Tomorrow, Kalnar." Dreanna returned. "Let us wait until light to investigate...we need to rest after the effects of the storm."'
It took some convincing but Kalnar agreed.

The others returned to the camp and Lazar establihed two extra watches at the mouth of the ravine.
"What do you think it is, Lazar?" Mak asked.
"Something that this expedition is not prpeared for." he replied.
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Enigma



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 4 Discovery...

The morning brought a hive of activity as everyone went out ot the mouth of the ravine to view the large object, partially uncovered in the sand. They could also see the rift valley had been transformed...gone are many of the dunes...tall spikes of brown rock, glittering with specks, from the sunlight.
"I have to get samples." Gailan said.

Kalnar moved to the bulk of the metallic structure...smooth and seemless. On either side of the object were two slender plates...30m tall, 20cm thick and 70m long...both angled away from the structure. It was measured at 500m long, 35m wide and 8m showed above the surface. The length of the object...was pointed towards the ravine itself...could it be.
"We have found something." one of the excavation team shouted from the entrance. "Near the foot of the spire."

Lazar turned to Mak. "Better head out...I will join you this evening. Do you have rations for overnight." Mak nodded. "Then go." Mak left the climbed the ropes to the north post and waving to the 2 on watch headed out of along the escarpment looking at the dramatic change in the rift valley below. Always scanning...the desert was quiet about him and reaching his watch post he enjoyed a meal then ranged westward for 3 hours spotting another of the ranging scouts, confirmed by the red flag. He made himself familiar to his slice of the cake...2 peaks angled back tot he spire he could see from the top of the dunes.

Towards dark he rested at his camp. "Mak." he turned to see lazar approaching...he is so quiet, I did not hear him...he did not leave any tracks at all.
"What di they find at the camp?" Mak asked. "Just as I was leaving."
"They have found a door of some kind...but have not been able to open it."
"Perhaps I could...I am an artificer and can manipulate metals to a certain extent."
"That is why I am here...but will your magic work? This object...is not magical Mak...and may not be affected by it. The others have failed to open it using magic."
"I can give it a go."

Lazar nodded. "Fine..let us leave now."
"Now!!!"
"Why not...it is a still night...starlit, cool...mind you stay away from the night creatures...we should be fine."
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 4. ...tragedy...

Mak and Lazar returned to the encampment. "As I expected." Lazar remarked. "They are still trying...Kalnar's enthusiasm can be infectious."
Climbing down the ropes they joined the expedition members crowded around...whatever it was...Mak could not see. "Kalnar...I have someone here who could help?' Lazar said.
The crowd parted and Kalnar looked at Lazar. "Really...we have tried everything...short of using offensive magic."
"Mak here has a rather unusual talent...in these parts...let him try."
"Do you think you can open it?" Kalnar asked hopefully.
"I'll try." Mak replied.

He saw an excavated area, where the stones had been removed and 2 feet down an exposed part of the object, 3mx4m and with his eyesight he could make out a circlle...the cerated edges, like that of a coin and looking closer he could make out concentric circular ceisns...meeting at 4 points...this is not natural, someone made this. He checked for possible traps...finding nothing...but...with this, I could not be sure. "I can magically damage the structure in a small area...then repair it again the following day."
"Oh yes...excellent." Kalnar said excitedly.
Mak determined 80% of the material was unknown and it did not seem magical. He effected damage and it did not resist...feeling around he found a very slight indentation between 2 of the points...of what looked to be a star...so he repeated the spell...and heard a click. The circular section depressed suddenly and disappeared...revealing a dark hole...now slowly illuminated by blue light along the edge of what was a shiny metal tube 2 m deep and ending with perhaps another door...Mak was not sure.
"Oh my." Kalnar said.
"Is it trapped do you think?" Lazar asked.
Mak checked the edges of the the tube and found nothing...this is so different to what I am used to...something strange. "I do not think so...but I cannot be sure."

"I am going down." Kalnar declared.
"No Kalnar...we must check more, before anyone goes in."
"No." Kalnar replied. "We could discuss for hours...something has to be done." With that...he climbed down using the light tubes...stepping down to the landing.

The blue lights increased suddenly then hundreds of blue and red beams of light issued forth...right into and through Kalnar...ripping his clothing, his body into thread...tearing flesh and bone impaling right through him...hundreds of beams, red and blue. The blue light intensified blinding everyone then after a few moments fading back to the the light emitting from the blue tubes. Kalnar...nothing of him could be seen.
"By the gods...NOOOO!!!!!" Dreanna screamed weeping. The others looked on in shock and horror, some of the students faces pale with fear.
"What did that." Suanas asked.
"I don't know." Mak replied. "I did this...I killed him...I should have found the trap."
Lazar took him away from the crowd. "It was not your fault...this was not a trap that could be detected by magic...this was different, mechanical...high technology."
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 4. ...Revelations

"What do you mean...mechanical...like a construct of some sort."
"No...more like a large vessel." Lazar replied. "Not like the Zxphyr Breeze as that is powered by magic...this is not." Lazar motioned Mak to follow and they climbed the rope ladder and passed outpost 3 and walked out into the desert for a time.
"How did you know about this...vessel?' Mak asked.
"Because I do know...there are things in the world and others that defy your laws of magic...because your laws do not govern nor have every governed their development. Some cultures use magic...because the world has the essence to use...other worlds do not. So they rely on technology...which could be seen by the likes of you as magic, but it is totally different."
"So this is a vessel from another world...like the planar worlds around Ebberon."
"Another world yes...but not a planar world, one where where magic does not exist." Lazar replied. "See those stars in the sky Mak...do you think your world is the only one that orbits a sun..."
"We orbit the sun?" Mak said surprised.
"Yes...one of the natural laws of the void...there are other stars with worlds too many thousands...some of whom, like Eberron has life, flora, fauna...human, non human...a myriad of races, some lizardlike others insectoid. Each world has its own special uniqueness...but at the same time, there are elves here...as there are on other worlds, Greyhawk...Krynn, for instance. I come from such a world."

Mak was surprised...but that was what Lazar was leading towards. Another world...not a planar world at that, but one that orbited another star, up there somewhre. "Why are you here?"
"To select a candidate...and bring him or her through to my world, Elithaan. The person I serve has the power to walk between worlds and every so often he has the need to test his power against the gods...so he bbrings in candidates who, as strangers to our world, are unleshed to see whether ripples in advanced history...time...already known to him, is affected by the new arrivals. That to him...is success...whether it be for the good...or ill of those around them. This time he is bringing in 6 candidates from this world and I am to chose one of them and send him...or her back at the appointed time."
"Am I a candidate?" Mak asked.
"Not initially...you are now." Lazar replied.

"You are elven aren't you?" Mak asked. He did suspect as such...but Lazar hid himself, physically and demeanor as a human.
"Yes...but I am unlike the elves of your world. My race has evolved...we were the first and now have transcended beyond the need for physical bodies...attaining a powerful spiritual...ethereal form. However we remain tied to the land...the world from which we journeyed to in times past. That can and will never change for our people. In Ebberon I am equivalent to a Wood Elf...my race, the Valandor, are referred to by local humans as wood spirits...benevolent, we try to help them as we can."

"What happens to these candidates when they enter your world?"
"They are given some assistance...but the concept is for them to make it on their own, out of the last 6...4 were dead within the first year...one became a member of the Exalted Order of Westland and the other, a successful merchant. So it can be done...it takes courage and survival...people with that special edge...good or evil, Khios does not care to much."
"Why do you serve him?"
"Not out of loyalty." Lazar smiled. "I serve the Dark Sorceror because...it is the best way to get close to one's enemy. I am a spy...and within his presence, it takes all my power and will, to ensure he does not find this out. The Dark Sorceror is one of a number of Greater Powers that is seeking control of the world...the others are the Gods themselves, Stormwing, Kharagh and my own race to some extent...we are a power unto ourselves but as with me...we protect our existence from the likes of the Dark Sorcerer. He does not know about our race and that frustrates him...all the moreso to conceal my identity and purpose when in his presence."
"Then...who do you serve?"
"My High King and it was he who tasked me...as among my people I am what you would call a rogue, a very rare concept among us. Now tomorrow Mak you are ranging out for an overnight patrol...I will join you. In the meantime think on what I had said."
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 5. Proposal

Mak leff the next morning on his ranging mission. The encampment was quiet...the death of Kalnar had affected them all...many were still trying to comprehend it. He heard that Cordorvar College had been contacted and there were discussions on wether to continue or...no one knew what other option there was. If they did not continue...others would find it. There were plenty of mercenary groups in Zanarkand eager to crawl over a artifact like this.

Mak had been informed by Lazar that more nomads had been sighted watching the encampment. "I will join you this evening." It was hard to keep concentrating after what he had learned last night...yet it facinated and intrigued him. I am one of the candidates...but I knew already of his task, did the others know...there were 3 others that he had told me.

Reaching the edge of the desert he could see a group of nomads were encamped about a km from his post...and Mak detected no tracks in or around his post...they had not patrolled out this far. There were 20 in the encampment, their beasts roaming free nearby. he returned to his post, using a small tarp sheet to conceal his tracks and shortly after darkness was joined by Lazar. "Why do you have to turn up at night?" Mak asked.
Lazar smiled. "My people are facinated by the stars...the night has a stillness and tranquility that many of our people enjoy. I see you have company nearby."
"Yes...have they moved."
"No...but they will soon enough...something will interest them further down the valley and they will investigate."
"Leaving us alone...convenient."
"Very." Lazar smiled again, sipping on a gourd. "The wine on this world is not bad."
"What is your world like?" Mak asked realising that was what Lazar wanted him to ask.
"Different that Ebberon...yet similar too. It is a magical world...where humans are the predominant race."
"What about goblins?" I hated them.
"There are goblinoid races...some live underground, others on the surface...all twisted and evil."
"Good" Mak muttered.

"There is another reason why I am here. The High King feels irrespective of the Dark Sorceror's own agenda, that such an individual could be beneficial for the empire, vital to the future of our world. In about a year from now, will begin what is called the long winter...6 years, an event that occurs every 2,500 years or so. During the Long Winter...Kharagh the god of evil is at his most powerful and will begin a series of wars along 50 or more battlefronts across Elithann. But the most important empire lies directly before his borders...unless he successfully takes control of it, he can never win."
"Why one empire has the fate of the world on it's shoulders?"

Lazar thought about it for a moment. "For the Powers of Dominion lie all around it. Kharagh lies to the west, The Dark Sorceror to the south west, Stormwing presides in the mountains marking the empire's eastern border and the Sulthalion, of which my race is part of and the hall of the High King likes in a great forest on on the northern border, between the Storm Mountains that run north south and the Tarascon Mountains lying east to west. The empire is also strong of mind and will...ruled by powerful aristocracy, and the ruling family is blessed by divine right to rule...by Elenmire, the Star Goddess and Queen of the gods herself. There is also a powerful clerical order, whom the gods actively support...so their involvement touches the empire as well. In this aspect, the Empire of Karthan is ringed by the very great powers of which Kharagh is himself one. And this is very unusual...Elithaan itself is twice the diameter of Eberron, so to have all that power concentrated in one area...and the reason for that is something that only our High King knows."

"So...the High King thought about something like what this other one is doing?"
"Correct...and that is where you come into the frame as one might say." Lazar replied. "How would you like the chance to visit my world?"
"Will I be able to return?'
"Yes...you have the word of my High King...he will return you home should you desire."
"What will I do?"
"There are places to see...and things to do. You desire adventure...or training...both can be arranged. But like anything else Mak...I have to put these arrangements in place...you are an artificer, in my world there are true alchemists, the Tordagh....you call them dwarves here I think...I have not seen one to date on this world. They are naturally skilled, work the essence to make items of power. There is one such realm, unknown to the empire....secret and biding its time, waitng for the coming war. My High King knows its ruler, Bali Foehammer, he has a seat and position of power and respect within the council of the Quiseraen, or Earth Powers. It can be arranged for you to visit his realm...and work with the Tordagh. But you might not like to well...be shut up in their underground mansions for long...so you need a place to move and explore. South east of the realm is a forest of Woodmen...and places are there to be discovered, long lost in previous wars against Kharagh. The Woodmen do not go to these places...they are a simple people and enjoy life and try to stay out of the politics of the empire. There are 3 of my people in the vicinity of one village I know of...all 3 are considered wood spirits and they watch over the forest with others, attending to the land, flora and fauna. Our people do that Mak...all but a rare few like myself who tend to wander into more human pursuits...and relishing the experiences."

Train as an alchemist...now that would be me...learning the magic of another world. "Can I learn the magic of your world."
Lazar nodded. "Yes...you see when our race evolved Mak...we learned the physiology of our own body structure. What was discovered suprised us and we are still learning. But it seems that every world that has the essence...what life is evolved is well...structured to use that essence. Of course it takes intelligence...and sentience to manipulate it, and even then only a proportion of any such race can use it. We have called this ability...a receptor, part of our brain...but part of the very essence that makes you an half elf, Kherohal a human...and me what I am. The High King can adapt your physiology adding the receptor...the codex needed to manipulate the essence of Elithaan. This will mean you are attuned to the essence...but you will have to learn to manipulate it...learn the spell lists...and there are so many magical professions now.

"But remember this...time is short Mak...if you leave in 7 days time...when you arrive, you will have 400 days before the Long Winter begins...and war. You will have to bide your time carefully in whatever pursuit you decide upon...you cannot find pleasure in becoming an alchemist and pursuing that course for the entire period...it will be wasted. You are not going to learn what you want just overnight...it takes time. Some things you will never learn unless you survive the war and chose to remain...it takes years to become a powerful user of magic.

"But...there are things in the area where you will be long lost to man...to Kharagh...to the gods...even to my people, that upon discovery could affect greatly the outcome of this war for the good of the Empire. In the end...not myself, nor my people wants Kharagh to win...it will mean devastation on a scale unimaginable." Lazar paused and took a deep sip of his gourd. "Think on it Mak...take a couple of days...but I must get you there before my candidate for the Dark Sorceror goes through...the longer you are there the more time you will have to learn...and explore. Hmm...I will check on our nomad friends." With that he left...leaving Mak alone in his thoughts.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

5E877 (5637AD) Sector Prime - Sieyeror Sector - Outer Marches

The officer waited until the door opened then he entered saluting smartly. “Admiral, I have received a report from Sensor Array 77B on PS445-66.”
The Admiral looked up and motioned the officer to his seat. “What is it this time Lt, more K’Kree activity.”
“No Admiral…we have received a intrusion alert from one of our vessels…ZZN14667-B. The vessel is a Class 77 Heavy Cruiser that was lost in the vicinity of Jhonrollar sector…160 years ago.”
The Admiral was surprised. “What…160 years ago...that would be during the war against the Triansians." He remembered his father had been involved...serving on a Class 82 Dreadnought.
“Yes sir…the vessel was thought lost during the Tri-Lan war, but now we have received an alert and it has originated from a Amber Status world, PS7781.”
PS7781...that is familiar. Recently he had deployed vessels there to check possible K'Kree activity. He checked his reports on the holographic screen before him. “Flotilla 1274...they have deployed into the system…and begun scans of the system worlds. Why have they not picked this up?”
“I believe it could be because of the interference that the surface world might be creating with its…unusual method of simulating technology.”
The Admiral brought up the file on PS7781, yet to be named. “Ah…magic, no wonder it is an Amber world. These people will never learn that magic will never get them to the stars and beyond.”
“Magic seems to be world specific, Admiral.”
The Admiral nodded. “Let’s keep it that way. Contact the Cmdr of the flotilla with my regards to the Cmdr and request him to check on the location of the intrusion alert and he is to monitor what activity is occurring at the location...this will be mission designate PS7781-Z334. He is to report directly to me.”
“Yes Admiral.”

After the Lt had left the Admiral activated his contact psi-screen. "Barros, who do we have that specialises in Amber worlds...notably those categorised as Magic."
"Standby Admiral...the Grand Duke Gerrandor Planetagenir. He presides over a extensive Emperium colony on Tshallos IV, a world where magic exists. This is the only world we have extensively settled with such a phenomenon."
The Admiral nodded. "Get me in contact with His Grace immediately with my compliments. We have a situation building on another Amber world...class magic. We will need his advice on matters before we proceed further. Also provide access to all files on Tshallos IV."
"Yes sir."
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 6 - Decision

Lazar joined Mak shortly before morning and Mak confirms he will go. “If I deemed worthy. Who are these strangers that are watching us…why are they interested.”
“The nomads you mean.” Lazar rising preparing to leave.
“Yes”
“They are locals and obviously drawn to the expedition…no one may have been out this far north before.” Lazar leaves saying “You are worthy…and you will prove it before you leave.” He has a sardonic smile on his face.

Shortly before Mak leaves he notice a group of nomads and their lizard mounts moving very close to where his post was located…about 400m away. He was nearly caught out…as he was preparing to leave and return to the site. He counted 20 nomads, 3 of them bearing gnarled wooden staffs, covered in silver runs and 11 lizard mounts. All of them are armed with curved long knives and longbows are slung over their shoulders, with the accompanying quiver of arrows. They are moving towards the nomad encampment sighted the evening earlier.

Mak returns from his overnight patrol shortly after midday to find the excavation team in full operation. Some of the team are digging beside the long bulk of the artifact and areas are being marked with rope between the left side of the bulk and the left angled long thin black metal sheet that juts out of the sand…whatever it was.
Kherohal met him. “They have decided to continue and the College is calling in for assistance…I don’t know from whom or where, but they will be here in a week. It sounds like the Zephyr Breeze is not available…got caught up with the Arcane Council…and we have been warned to avoid any contact with Zanarkand and the Arcane Council. They are not to be trusted…and don’t ask me why.”
“Oh startling development.”
“Yeah…rumour has it the Zephyr Breeze attacked the city from what I have heard, something pissed them off. Anyway do you have anything to report? I heard Lazar was with you?”
“Yes he was”
“He never fuckin sleeps.”

Mak reports on the nomad sightings. “They did not appear hostile but were armed with long knives and some had staffs. I have one with me, in the hope of returning it to them. I wonder if they know something about this place.”
“Don’t know…but there has been discussion to communicate with them. Perhaps the staff you found could be useful for peaceful contact.”
“It could be this discovery is attracting them…our uncovering of it. It could be sacred to them. If they don’t want to talk they could get nasty, particularly if this site has some religious significance…they may know about its origins and we could learn from them.” Mak said.
“Well that is what they are hoping to do.”
“This is far fetched…but they live here perhaps they are descended from the original people…if this was a vessel.”
“AHHH…yeah right, but I will mention it...all ideas are welcome Mak. I will just make sure you claim credit for this one...not me.”
“I know it's pretty far fetched.” Mak remarks.
“Look…get some water…may make you think better.” Kherohal nods smiling. “I wonder if they are coming here…none of them have been seen observing us since the sand storm…or whatever it was. I will pass this onto our posts here…get yourself a good meal and rest up. I may require you to range out again to check on their movements. Just to let you know 3 other ranging scouts have reported back, seeing nomads today too…moving south towards Zanarkand. Some kobolds were in their company. One of them looked like a merchants caravan with 12 covered wagons.”

Mak enjoys a good meal and rests during the afternoon. Around him the excavation team is busy and there are rumours that gnomes are going to join them. Also the geologists have gathered numerous samples of meteoric ore for study and tomorrow there is going to be an extensive gathering of the ore for return to the College. Some of the senior staff has discussed Kalnar’s memorial and what sort of monument should be erected in his honour in the College grounds. There is division about whether to continue the excavation though they agree that if they do not…another group from Zanarkand may find and claim it themselves. They are beginning to believe this is the greatest find the College has discovered…and yes, gnomes are to join the expedition, that is confirmed.

After evening meal Kherohal asks Mak whether he could range out to check on the nomads the following morning. “Our outposts here have not seen them, if they are coming to the site, they would follow the escarpment as it leads directly to us and there is more cover in the dunes as it was unaffected by that fuckin storm. I will have two scouts, Talak and Myer ranging out in the morning too concentrating on the rift valley.”

Mak nods and rests for the night.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Day 7 - Encounters


The following morning, Mak collects his ration pack and with his equipment climbs the rope ladder to outpost 3 and waving to the team walks out into the cool clear brightly lit sky…it is a beautiful day.

An hour out Mak is suddenly attacked from behind…the creature attempts to grapple as Mak is forced to the ground but is unsuccessful with the shifting sands of the dune. The creature attacks twice missing and Mak is forced on the defensive using an effect by touching the creature inflicting minor wounds. The creature responds hitting him twice and Mak succeeds with the same effect. The creature misses him twice…Mak succeeds again, still on the defensive, they are both moving amidst the moving listless sands. Mak activates a defensive shield against evil and it seems to work against the creature, who attacks but does not break through…for 3 successive twin attacks. Mak unsheathes his warhammer and enchants the weapon. He strikes the creature and it staggers back…then charges forward and misses with both his attacks. The creature is stunned and Mak misses with his next strike…so does his foe…twice. Mak hits with his 3rd attempt and the creature falls to the ground.

Mak looks at his foe. 6ft tall, strong stocky build…wearing grey chain mail armour, red cloak, with sheathed large scimitars made of a black dull metal, curved and serrated and crossbow. Their faces...though humanoid, is grey skinned, with red eyes and four pronounced teeth, 2 protruding 4 inches upward from their mouths...2 protruding 4 inches downwards down their chins, like that of a snake.

Mak sees two others approaching him they are 100m away…Mak attempts to evade them in the dunes…looking back he sees they stop before their fallen comrade…one of them is looking at the tracks Mak is leaving in the dunes and they do not pursue. Mak moves quickly a “few dunes” across and drinks 4 potions of healing…and watches for signs of pursuit…there is none.

Mak decides after ½ hour to return to the encounter site and makes an angled approach around the site coming in from the opposite direction. There is no one there and 2 sets of tracks head north. Mak follows the tracks cautiously…and after about ½ hour sees them ahead, there are 5 of them now and they have stopped…in council? Mak sees tracks converging…he is about 200m away. They continue north and Mak follows looking around to see they have not doubled back…then he is hit by a crossbow bolt, from his left, the same direction as where the other creature attacked from. He backtracks looking around but fails to see the foe reappearing and firing…missing Mak by inches. Mak runs back about 200m, running in their tracks and attempts to hide. After checking to see whether the foe is following he backtracks another 200m and repeats the tactic. He sees two of these foe on a sand dune watching him, crossbow at the ready…they are 350m away. They disappear out of site over the dune. Mak waits ½ an hour then he follows the tracks northward…to see where these creatures are going too.

He follows the tracks to the edge of the desert. He sees them in the distance, moving NE…5 carrying a litter, made out of his tarp he used to cover his post!!! They are about 1 mile away. Mak goes to his encampment and finds everything has been taken…and there are 2 dead nomads, one of them carrying a staff which has not been taken. Mak examines the body of the fallen…skin is pale and soft, figures gaunt, they have been slashed across the body and neck. Mak determines the staff is not evil and it has useful abilities (Endurance, Summon specific creature and protection from evil). Since he knows the staff does not belong to him he intends to return it to any nomads he encounters. He buries the nomads in the sand.

Mak decides to remain and “rough it out in the open.”.
Night falls and after eating rations ranges out for about 200m every hour. After the second ranging he hears the flapping of wings swooping in towards him…he dives to the ground and looks up and sees a large bat flying away from him turning around and coming back and Mak attempts to fire 2 arrows but gets one of them caught in the string and does not fire. The creature misses him and rises to the air and comes back towards him…a thrilling sounds emitting as it does so. 2 arrows are fired…missing and the dire bat bites its claws dig into Mak. The creature is now on top of Mak so he pulls out his knife and attempts to hit it in the head and does so…and attacks again in the vital area…once again succeeding stunning the creature. Mak attacks again and unbalances the foe and he succeeds in throwing him off. Mak dives at it and attacks it killing the creature. Then he hears a sound…a whistling sound and something falls about 10m away from him.

“Are you alright.” Lazar says coming down a dune towards him.
“I have had some trouble today.” Mak says getting up. He describes the creatures…that they killed 2 nomads and stole his tarp to use as a litter. “I have retained the staff as I wish to give it back to the nomads.”
Lazar is shocked and asks again for the description. “They are Azgeyr…from my world. They are the humanoid servants of Kharagh, which he created long before the coming of man. You did not touch him did you?”
“Well no…yeah I did to inflict magic upon them.”
“Only brief touches though.” Lazar pressed.
“Yes…just enough to bypass their armour. Why do you ask?”

Lazar sighed. “Prolonged exposure to their presence is lethal. They are imbued with the wasting disease, that permeates the air, soil, rock, flora and fauna in the Land of Everdarkness and they are immune to it. It is not contagious, but prolonged exposure…such as being captured by them, would expose the captive to the disease with varying results depending on how long one is exposed to it…but varying it is…it always ends in death. The important thing is that they are here…how did they get here and why…I can only presume they know of Khios’s plans to bring people from your world to Elithaan. We have to locate them…determine their strength. The Azgeyr are more capable than their lesser counterparts, Osgeyr, at moving in daylight…but on this world the sun is not as large, so they would be more comfortable with moving in daylight than in mine.”
“I was tracking 5 to here and went out onto the plains.” Mak said pointing in the direction. “They took the body of the one I killed.”

“It could be that they are a scouting unit.” Lazar thinks aloud. He looks at a blue stone…and listens for a moment. “Raizil and Hanyeef, two guards at outpost 3 are dead. Their throats have been cut…including one of my candidates…Hanyeef.”
“What more Azgeyr?”
“They do not know who did it”
“Do they know the blade they used.”
“Serrated…typical Azgeyr weapon.” Lazar replied. “I do not know how common such blades are here.”
“Not very.” Mak says.
“Are you up to travelling?” Lazar asked
“Yes…but I am wounded.”
“Here are two potions…lie down and let me remove the bolt.” Mak lies down and without feeling it…Lazar removes the bolt and the wound is healed…Mak felt nothing…no pain at all.
“How did you do that?” Mak asks realising he had felt no pain from the wound.
“An effect of our people…you could call it magic on this world.” He replies.

Lazar suggests that they cross the plain.
“And track these creatures?” Mak asks.
“Yes…we have to find out how they are getting to Eberron”
“What would be the standard way for these creatures to travel between worlds?”
“There is something that I have heard of...”
“Is it a common thing or rare.”
Lazar looks at Mak. “You would think it is common considering what is happening here…but it is not. Khios and my High King, Alnuathor are the only ones who have the power and knowledge to do so…outside the gods. And the gods…the Ilmaren, as they are called on our world, would never do this. For Kharagh…the Azgeyr serve him, he will need an artifact and there is only one that I could think of. A Well of Worlds...it is very rare and encountered once during my knowledge." Lazar paused for a moment. "If memory serves…during the Chaos Wars, there was mention of a Well of Worlds, believed to exist in the ruins of Darkhold…deep within Karthan, not far from Darkness Claws hold. He is the Lord Marshall of Kharagh and will lead the armies into Karthan.”

“Why would this Darkness Claw send these creatures here?”
“I can only presume he wishes to screw up Khios’s plans and would take great delight in doing so…such is the power and egos of these individuals. Khios forced Darkness Claw’s demotion some while back…using a subtle power of deception that attracted the attention of my people…the reason why I am in his…so called service. There is hatred between them…something that could be used in the coming war as Darkness Claw’s undoing.”
Lazar paused for a moment considering matters. “You also have to remember that if any candidates came through and were successful Darkness Claw could find his own strategic objectives being affected as there is a prophecy…recently made in the Empire by a powerful cleric of Elenmire, that Darkness Claw will die at the hands of a woman. And Mak…we do not take such prophecy lightly. Khios knows of this prophecy, so he has specifically tasked 2 of us to seek 2 female candidates. If Darkness Claw knows about this…he would want to slay the female candidates fearing it may be one of them…Khios knows it is not any of them…but the fear would force Darkness Claw to search them out…waste his resources, his time…and that to Khios is a weapon worthy of exploiting. I think Khios knows who is destined to slay the Lord Marshall and would never interfere…fearing the direct wrath of the gods, especially those who may be protecting the woman.”

Both Mak and Lazar follow the trail across the plain and 6 hours later they reach a large outcropping of craggy rocks about half way across the plain. Lazar suggest they split up with him coming in from the north and Mak from the west the direction they were approaching from. Mak asks whether we will be engaging.
“Observing for the moment…however get such ready if I loose an arrow that will be the signal”

Approaching the rock formation it looks to Mak he is seeing a great rounded rib bones of a dinosaur. Entering the craggy rocks he peers over the edge and sees below the floor of an ancient building, surrounded by 8 steps leading to rocky crags. The rib bones…hewed of rock as well…not bone arc over the floor of the building, some connecting to 12 pillars, in 2 rows of 6, each 20m tall, square in shaped and made of the same sandy coloured rock. Between the pillars is a well, about 2 m in diameter and 1m above the smooth slab floor. Behind it rose a dias on which is a statue of a lizard like creature, standing on its hind legs, its tail curved around its feet, large outstretched wings and four spiked horns protruding from the top of his long angular scaled mouth. The ruins seem to be empty, then something moves behind him and looking around he sees a large black spider 3m long, legs crouched on two of the “ribs” 4 m above him and it is spinning a web attempting to enclosed him…it spits at him and Mak ducks out of the way avoiding the poison.

Mak moves further north leaving the spider and circle around and finds another opening to look over the ruin below. He looks for more spiders but sees none.

Then from the well, Mak sees 8 of the creatures…Azgeyr as Lazar called them emerge out of the well. As they do…black creatures…large spiders leap on them from the “ribs” above the well with stunning speed, catching the Azgeyr completely by surprise. There are at least 20 of the creatures and a battle is fought, 5 of the Azgeyr are poisoned and cocooned. The other 3 are able to escape the web and 2 of the spiders are felled before the Azgeyr are outnumbered, bitten with venom and cocooned. The spiders move lithely across the temple floor to the opposite of where Mak is located, up the steps, dragging their helpless victims and disappear into a dark opening between two square slabs of rock…directly before a sandstone mound.
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