Dying Earth

Saving Karankawa from The Great and Powerful Douchebag, Alec.

When we last checked in on our heroes, The Four Lokos—that delectable foursome of seemingly disparate adventurers who found themselves parading across the land looking for life, love, loot, and a bottle of Captain Morgan—Karankawa was manacled for coming down with a touch of Lycanthropy in the middle of gladiatorial combat in the arena of Akhen.

Jasha’s past made a surprise appearance: Alec, taking a break from waging a religious war in Ferradden, strode in unawares to the Four Lokos and was ready to take Karankawa with him and administer the “cure.” Unsurprisingly, the group refused to let Alec take their brutish but loveable friend away from them—the shark grease had begun to grow on everybody—and they stood their ground and drew their swords (and daggers and crossbows). They weren’t prepared for the ass beating Alec was about to hand out.

Mazirian—typical Mazirian—was the first to go down. His weak frame sustained major damage from Alec’s magic casting and he lay limp for most of the battle. Occasionally an odd whimper could be heard wheezing from his lips. Nobody had time to heal him. They had their hands full. The only consistent attacks from our band of heroes came from Swift, switching between his crossbow and longsword and dealing considerable damage. However, Alec remained unassailable, healing when he was critically hurt and dishing out pain and suffering to everybody around him. Blood flew everywhere. Light feebly emanated from Jasha’s morningstar, symbolic of our heroes’ fragility in the face of Alec.

When all seemed lost, Jasha remembered a box they had picked up many weeks ago. A box that contained an evil force. The box cast a wide-reaching feeling of doom, gloom, and was said to cause much disturbance in the bowels. Jasha noted upon receiving the box that it made her fingers tingle. Or “burn,” if she’s allowed to continue and be hyperbolic, as is her wont. Upon taking out the “demon box,” as the group had begun to fondly call it, Alec protested with Jasha to put it away. He chastised her and expressed his disapproval at Jasha resorting to such methods. Before leaving, he asked to be given the box so as to dispose of it properly “by Orders of the Emperor!” but the group exchanged glances and agreed Alec was a tool and shouldn’t be given anything so destructive and powerful. Unlocking Karankawa, he fled on horseback but not before glaring at Jasha.

By now, Karankawa had turned back into his human form and slowly lifted his head, dazed and not entirely sure what had happened during the last twelve or so hours.

Stay tuned next week when the group courageously goes after Swift’s sister, knocking heads in the process and (hopefully!) murdering more Hamliks!

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Chillin' at the Manta Ray Inn

We rejoin our adventurers, bruised but not beaten at the hands of Ferraden Priest and all around douchebag Alec. Choosing to fight rather than give up their newly furry friend Karankawa to certain pain and almost certain death, the Four Locos learned a quick lesson in biting off more than they can chew (this comes up again later). Threatened by the terrifying “demon box” and bored with how easy the fight is, Alec rides off to tattle to the emperor, making sure to look incredibly upset so everyone notices.

After picking themselves up and busting open a few healing kits, the Four Locos dramatically look west towards the desert and the Blacklands, choosing to follow the slave caravan that might hold Swift’s kidnapped sister Linda. Also they are pretty much done with Akhen. Nothing but bad memories.

It dawns on our adventurers pretty quickly that one horse will not get five people through the desert, so they find a camel merchant. As each one looks sadly into their empty pockets it becomes clear that camels must be acquired some other way. Arcturus suggests selling Swift’s horse, Epona (pronunciations vary), to a butcher. Tears begin to well in Swift’s eyes at the mention of horse meat and it is decided to trade Epona instead. An incredibly, almost cartoonishly, ethnic gentleman tells them he will gladly accept Swift’s steed in exchange for a 3-legged camel affectionately referred to as Hippity-Hoppity. Karankawa, in an immediate decision to cut the bullshit, employs the bargaining tactic known as “choking a guy” and demands 5 camels in exchange for Epona. The combination of imagining himself on a grand steed and being choked really hard convinces the merchant to give our heroes 4 camels. They gladly accept because nobody cares about Mazirian and whether or not he gets to ride a camel. As it turns out, Mazirian cares about Mazirian, and he quickly conjures up illusory gold to buy his own non-illusory camel. Everyone is pissed at Mazirian for not thinking of that sooner.

After riding six hours into the desert, our adventurers come upon the oddly named Manta Ray Inn and decide to stop for the night to rest and drink. The barkeep, Arran, takes good care of our heroes and all but Jasha promptly get drunk. While Arcturus sings and dances with the bard and Karankawa strikes up a conversation with Blind Bill, a stern looking man with a dog enters the bar. The tenseness in the air is immediate and the patrons begin leaving one by one as the man sits at the bar. He announces that he is the Emperor’s Bloodhound and our heroes are very confused as to why he is the Bloodhound and the dog is not the Bloodhound. The Bloodhound has been sent to arrest our heroes for attacking a Hand of the Emperor (douchebag Alec) and to retrieve a magical item known only to him as “the box.” They can either spend two weeks in jail or pay a fine of 50 gold. He warns them that they are surrounded by soldiers and he will take what he was sent for by force if necessary.

Jasha tries but fails to warn him of the dangers of passing the box over to Alec and she is forced to hand it over. As she thrusts the box at the Bloodhound, a cool and clammy hand brushes hers and she looks up just in time to see Karankawa, the mildly powerful Frog Amulet around his neck, grab the box from her and leap off into the desert night. Frozen in place at the sight of such valor, our heroes are forced to watch as Karankawa frog leaps away from the soldiers in an effort to create a diversion. Unfortunately, the horses’ gallop proves to be quicker than the frog’s leap and Karankawa is caught. In a last ditch effort to save the box, Jasha tries to convince the Bloodhound that it was the amulet the Emperor wanted all along. Considering she was already in the process of handing over the box and looking upset about it, the Bloodhound saw past her lies and left with the box and 50 pieces of their gold.

This is where we leave our adventurers. Boxless, broke, and defeated. For this one night they will sleep under a sky tainted with failure and know exactly how Mazirian must feel most days.

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Mummy's Day Adventure

When we last left our heroes, they were rubbing ointment on their skinned knees and bruised egos at the Manta Ray Inn. Karankawa, embarrassed and only desiring a warm bed and a fresh pot of shark grease, was notably off his game. Deciding to leave the Manta Ray Inn well behind them, the Four Lokos headed west in search of Swift’s sister.

After a few miles, they passed through a camp site which was oddly grassy despite its presence in the middle of a vast desert. Apart from an offhand remark by Jasha, the adventurers paid no mind to this oddity and ventured towards the camp fire where they saw Blind Bill from the Manta Ray Inn. Blind Bill gave them directions to the Gates that opened to the Blacklands but warned them of the danger present there. Instead, he suggested the Four Lokos accompany him for some good ol’ fashioned treasure huntin and who knows, maybe they’ll find an alternate route past the gate.

Arcturus and Karankawa laughed at this, exchanging glances and murmuring to each other, “Oh, Blind Bill” before marching westward, leading their loco caravan to the Blacklands. At last, they found the gates, but engulfed they were in an ominous cloud that burned anything passing through it. After sacrificing local flora to the gaseous hindrance, they each turned one by one, tail between their legs, and returned to Blind Bill’s campsite.

Blind Bill led them to a cave which was blocked by a boulder, too heavy for anybody to move. Karankawa, shy at first about suggesting any sort of plans after his last one going so awry, stepped up and asked the group if they thought it a good idea to tie up the boulder with some rope and hitch it to one of their camels and see if they could lug it out that way. To his surprise, it worked, restoring a sliver of his confidence. Karankawa looked at the ground sheepishly, kicking up little clouds of dust as if to say, “No biggie, you guys. Anybody could have figured it out.”

With the rock out of the way and an entrance cleared, the Four Lokos followed by Blind Bill and—oh yes—Mazirian (up till now Mazirian had just been lollygagging around) lit their torches and cautiously entered the cave. It was dark, but they forged ahead often knocking or bumping into each other, their torches clattering to the ground and mumbling apologies to each other. To their left, they found themselves in a tomb. Three coffins were lined up in a row. After inspecting the coffins for traps and such things, Karankawa and Arcturus cautiously slid the lids off of each coffin and found nothing but long-since dead mummies. Jasha, a religious cleric, made known her objections to her party’s disturbance of a burial ground. She found her only support in Mazirian which most likely hurt her chances at convincing the rest of her crew.

They continued on, wandering through the cave and found themselves in another tomb, facing four coffins this time. They found bones and rusted swords, but before opening the last coffin, Karankawa asked Blind Bill to step forward and open the last one. Karankawa eyed the blind man suspiciously and stepped back. Upon opening the coffin, a mummy lurched out groaning and swiping his dead arms at those who disturbed his peace. Scared witless, Blind Bill nearly fell over himself in trying to retreat from the mummy. It is said that a faint odor of urine was smelled coming from his pants, but nobody could be quite sure. The Four Lokos readied themselves in their battle stance. Swift, heading up the rear, hurried to join the rest of his adventurers.

Although, things got off to a bad start with Karankawa being overcome with fright at the sight of a mummy, the battle was entirely one-sided: the mummy, stiff and slow from centuries of lying in a cramped coffin, was hardly prepared for the onslaught of attacks coming at him from all directions. The mummy reached and swiped but came up with handfuls of air. It is possible that it was simply trying to get our heroes’ attentions or reaching for some human connection, but The Four Lokos only brought forth destruction. Arcturus set the mummy’s shoulder ablaze and stepped back, roaring with laughter as the mummy stopped, dropped, and rolled around to put out the fire. Jasha came forward and repeatedly sent magical attacks from her morning star soaring through the air to erupt in the mummy’s face. The mummy crumpled to the ground, and The Four Lokos cheered. Mazirian, skulking around the cave walls, crept forward when he was sure all the danger had vanished and joined in on the cheering. He was quickly reprimanded by the group. Jasha voiced concern at the Four Lokos harsh treatment of Mazirian, but she was shouted down. Mazirian agreed to do more from then on, but Swift, Arcturus, and Karankawa remained skeptical.

Jasha, despite her protests about disturbing ancient burial grounds, found it appropriate to loot one of the coffins and leave with an ornate burial mask.

Mazirian expressed concern over the validity of Blind Bill’s namesake disability. He explained how Blind Bill had expertly navigated away from the Mummy, holding out his hands to steady himself and keep from crashing into any walls. “Not typical blind behavior,” Mazirian said. The group agreed and then agreed to keep a close eye on Blind Bill.

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The Chameleon

Our adventurers, having bested the mummies in the cave, continue deeper still in the hopes of finding an alternate entrance to the Black Lands. With Blind Bill and Mazirian by their sides they make their way into a room littered with dozens of pieces of rusted and discarded plate armor.

As Karankawa pushes the armor aside with his foot to make a path, pieces begin to rise up and assemble into the shape of a man. An 8 foot tall, hollow man made of random pieces of armor. Thinking quickly, Karankawa readies Splinter and strikes at the golum’s hand. The sound of metal hitting metal echoes through the cave as the sword slices through where the gauntlet meets the arm and it crashes to the ground. Any celebration is cut short with another gauntlet flies from the ground at reattaches to the golum. Undeterred, Swift swings his sword with all his might straight through the torso of the golum. A wound that would otherwise be messy is instead met with a soft woosh of air as Swift’s sword passes halfway through the armor and gets stuck on what can only be some sort of invisible spine. While Swift attempts to unwedge his sword from the golum, Arcturus begins dragging pieces of armor outside of the room in an effort to diminish the supply. The task proves to be to much, akin to removing balls from a ball pit one at a time, and Arcturus realizes that he must switch to plan be and join in the fight.

Mazirian attempts to lightning touch the golum but the ensuing electric shock startles him enough to make him retreat to the corner of the room, completely out of other ideas. Inspired by Mazirian’s action (the touching, not the cowering and failure), Jasha rushes to the golum and seizes him by the wrist. Channeling the power of Pelor through her fingertips, Jasha inflicts enough damage that the armor of the golum is visibly weakened. Reinvigorated by that critical blow, Karankawa bull rushes the golum, sword first, to both tackle and stab. Again, due to body parts and/or forces still unseen, Karankawa’s sword gets stuck in the mouth of the armor. The sudden force causes Karankawa to be blown backwards by the hilt of his own sword. Our adventures go on like this for what feels like an eternity. The golum sustains minor damage but continues to reassemble from the pieces on the floor. Mazirian finds enough courage to rejoin the fight and uses his magic to raise a mace high above the golum’s helm. The mace drops with a mighty clash but the golum is unharmed. Instead, it is really pissed off. It lunges at Mazirian, punching him square in the chest with a crack. Silences passes over our adventurers as they realize just how serious a blow Mazirian has sustained. For a brief second, he is viewed as a fallen comrade and not the resident boob. Jasha rushes to heal Mazirian and is able to bring him back from the brink of death, but the emotional reaction is too strong for her and her next attempt at fighting the golum fails.

Still, the fight rages on and our adventurers seem bested. Arcturus decides to again change tactics and, instead of moving the armor away from the golum, tries to move the golum away from the armor. Moving behind the golum and pushing him towards the door doesn’t do the trick. Slumped on the floor and desperate to do his part, Mazirian conjures an image of himself outside the room. The golum, intrigued and no doubt eager to cause Mazirian more pain, rushes towards the illusion. As he steps outside the room the armor crumples to floor. The Four Locos (and Mazirian) raise their voices in shouts of celebration. Unfortunately, all that celebrating masks the sound of a second golum reassembling behind them. The new golum raises a sword high above his head and swings it at Arcturus. Their reaction to Mazirian’s near death experience is nothing compared to the sight of their fellow party member lying bloodied and dying on the floor. Jasha rushes to his aid just in time to stave off Death’s cold embrace. Arcturus feels a hand on his and looks up to see Blind Bill by his side. Though disoriented, Arcturus sees that the cloth covering Blind Bill has gone askew, revealing two blue, and perfectly healthy eyes. Arcturus cannot find the strength to warn the others, moving his mouth but making no sounds. Blind Bill leans in close to Arcturus and whispers, “The guild has found you,” before sheathing his dagger between Arcturus’s ribs. Arcturus is able to croak out, “the Chameleon Assassin” before falling back into the land of the dead. The Chameleon Assassin flees the room.

There is a flurry of action as the scene registers with the rest of the Four Locos. Enraged at the constant death of his friend, Karankawa grabs Arcturus and drags him to safety (which also happens to be the direction the assassin went). Swift follows and shoots an arrow at the Chameleon Assassin, sending it straight through his knee. Jasha, left in the room after the fray, dodges the golum (he’s still here!) and pulls a scroll from her robes. Unwilling to tolerate another death, she uses the scroll to cast Sanctuary on Arcturus, ensuring his safety. Back in the previous room of the cave, our adventurers follow the trail of the assassin’s blood to an oddly shaped rock in corner. Karankawa knows it to be the assassin in disguise and throws the full weight of his body at him. Pinning him by the arms, a blood thirsty Karankawa invites the others to unleash their fury on the assassin. Swift readies his sword and skewers the Chameleon Assassin straight through the gut. Jasha, her back to the bloodshed, again brings Arcturus back to life.

Arcturus opens his eyes and gathers all his strength, crawling towards the assassin so he can watch him die. Ever the savage, Karankawa offers Arcturus the head of the Chameleon Assassin. Arcturus

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