Dark Sun: Into the belly of the beast

Off the chart

The Eladrin sat on the sandy rooftop and moved a volcanic rock, the better to pin his 3rd chart down. This one had been drawn on a transparent vellum made from the egg sack of some chittering creature out in the deserts, he didn’t ask how, the fallen ones had their filthy ways, but their wares were useful, this one could be laid over his master Horoscope and the variations in the stars compared.

There was his star, not in ascendance, or building toward spectacular supanovic-self-destructive, like those of the younger races. Instead, fixed, a graceful orbit, never deviating or changing much in 3 centuries. Most of the other bodies that moved through the firmament in a similar fashion had winked out of existence many centuries earlier, and those that still persisted did not trouble their neighbouring constellations over-much. Thus now and again he would check his own course.

A few weeks ago his star had shifted ever so slightly into the orbits of the Sign of the Golden Ram, bringing he and it into complicated interactions with the Scyth of Luan and the Thri-kreen’s Belt. It had lead him to other secret mysteries hidden on his pages of paper and vellum, other wonderous eye opening calculations predicting dangerous and curious possible futures, paths that he now found himself mixed up with. So he almost looked forward to his nightly check on the stars, and the charts, for a fleeting glimpse at what the future may hold.

Now though. Now, this was beyond curious…. Where was his star tonight? Search as he might amongst the maps, or indeed in the celestial dance above him, he could find no sign of it. He willed a spy-glass into being and peered into the closer distance wondering if it was simply obfuscated by the sandstorm blowing up on the horizon, but no.

His star was simply gone. Here was the six armed lady, here was the devil with a secret, he could see their orbits, their paths, he could assume his fate would be caught up with theirs… and yet, his star was gone.

He was literally off the charts.

With the raise of an eyebrow (that caused the tip a foot away to crack upward whip-like and swat away a small fly) the long fair figure breathed;


For later consideration

Gallard reached the safety of his office, and closed the door behind him. Then turned the key in the lock.

He took the pages he had torn from Rolthos’ diary from his inner pocket as he walked to his desk, and sat down to read them again.

Admitting to magic use. And not just that, but writing it down!

Gallard’s heart beat a little faster in his chest. The sheer possibilities that the Tiefling’s confession brought to him…

And the request for help.

Yes. He would have to think about that. Mull. Consider.

So many options.

Gallard opened the secret compartment in his desk, and added the latest acquisition to his hoard.

Excerpt from the diary of Rolthos

For what I in mind have, there several considerations are. Tieflings mistrusted are. I to my advantage could use that; by fear lead, even for benevolent ends. Or I trust create could; some incident engineer that my race in a good light paints.

The latter a much harder task is; to the opinion of an entire city change, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. My race to ourselves to others endear not much done have. It curious is; I the only one with this itch for more born cannot be, yet most with piracy and banditry content are.

For the former, I the fear to direct need. The people that they our piracy to their own ends could use convince. That our banditry a replacement for their former King’s might could be. Perhaps I some goods that to from a Tiefling raid be purport fence could.

Another, perhaps more insipid problem. The people content with the current arrangement are. And nobody a return to the old King wishes. Yet. Lord Hemtel (the appearance of) stability provides.

What stability Lord Hemtel provide cannot? Simple. He no magical power wields, either direct or indirect. In the face of an arcane threat he powerless would be. So I a magical crisis create. Not obvious; not overt; a few mysterious deaths here and there a renewed suspicion create should. And if I by magic use them cause can, all the better.

The existing bureaucracy useful would be; to an entire machinery of state from the ground rebuild? Unthinkable. And that where you come in is, Gallard. Yes, Gallard, I that you reading this are know. You that obvious always are.

I the inner workings of the city navigate cannot. I you for this need. And this me in a vulnerable position places. With this information what you will do.

There's a bad moon on the rise.

Dax walked the compass across his most recent chart. Try as he might he couldn’t make sense of it.

Oh he could see the prince’s star in ascendence, there it was, right as he had described, rising in the sign of Luan, but it hadn’t been there in the last chart, in fact, at this time of year it wasn’t due to be visible at all!

Sitting cross legged on the sandy roof of their pokey (okay that was relative to the residence he had last left) building, he rolled out three, four more charts.

Then he checked again.

Then he focused his psionic energies into his centre, because being around all these apparently subtle magic users was obviously triggering withdrawal symptoms again.

But there was no denying it, the stars that had lead him away from the cloak of his ancestral city, the last of the Veiled Ones he called kin, the signs that they had called him mad for following and that had lead him to the human cities…. Those stars, that moon, had not appeared on any chart more than a year ago.

In a moment of clarity, A’el’ruen considered his actions. A rash decision for an Eladrin is one weighed up for less than 25 years, he couldn’t actually pinpoint the time when he started making decisions in the time frame of the child races, but here he was, an Eladrin in a human city in political meltdown, apparently guided to a person who couldn’t even speak the human language correctly, and stank of magic use on an almost daily basis.

What am I doing here?

Following the charts, look again, it’s all there, see the pole star of the Butcher’s Hook moving through the third quadrant of the Lost Shepard’s belt?

It was all there. But it hadn’t always been. A’el remembered one of the many tomes of his ancestors his people had studied religiously, while not trying to desperately renew the wards guarding their libraries:

“The movement of the celestial bodies over Athats can demonstrate no discernible connection to the arts-acana, and the multiverse, and there-fore are the superstitions of the child races and hold no baring on the lives of the Fair Folk or the Home Realm.”

But then all the divination magics in the world hadn’t predicted the short lived races could, in but a few of their lifetimes, gain the secrets of magic and abuse it to the point of destruction.

What did they know? His generation had entirely regenerated the Eladrin people, no longer craving that sick arcane filth, they had a purity of purpose, a focus of the energy of ones self. He needed no divination magic to function, he had the stars to guide him.

The first winds of the sandstorm took his most immediate chart and scattered it to the street below, he had barely packed up before the sandstorm hit.

Ducking down inside the stairwell he mused:

“Well I didn’t see that one coming…”

something wicked this way comes
Season 2 esp 3 previously on Darksun

As the party attempted to get the prince safely back to the city, the party is forced to make camp. In the night, something comes creeping threw the darkens, the scuttling of many legs. Giant Cilops attack the party.
The Party was victorious over these vicious and relentless little critters. Now all that stand between them an safety is a days journey across the desert.

Written in the Stars.

Dax looked up at the stars from the Great Ballroom. He didn’t actually remember it ever being a ballroom, but that wasn’t to imply any less greatness.

The deco was sweeping organic-style pillars and arches, the banquet table was finest rose-wood. He would, in the interest of fairness, entertain that it had seen better days, but it was still a chamber fit to host the nobles of the courts. At least, that’s what he’d heard, in truth he knew a great deal about the past, but only that which was written down, and therefore only that which had survived what the child-races had done to the world. What they’ed done… what they’ed done to his people, the Broken Ones… he didn’t know how he could forgive them.

Yet he must. Or at least set aside his grievances.

He looked at the charts again, there was no doubt, two new stars had appeared in the constellation of the Scythe of Luen his mission was clear… For a moment he chuckled: A hundred years ago, when he was still suffering, he would have mocked the truth of the stars, but now his mind was clear, now his mind was powerful, he knew what the signs meant.

Reaching out his right hand a golden cup slid across the lacquered table and slipped into his hand. He sipped. He was pleased, his mind was sharper than any of his people when they had had the easy life.

His recovery, his self-training almost made up for what he’d lost, what they’d all lost.

The water was fresh, cool. The wells inside the Ancient Forum where still unpolluted by the efforts of the child-races. He couldn’t always count on this though, he was the last guardian of his city, and now he had to leave it. The stars were not wrong, there was a wielder of the old power that he had to meet, had to protect.

The stars were not wrong, but it did mean leaving his city, leaving it unguarded save for the camouflage spells that still lingered around the old stone work… the only thing that had kept the child-races from poking where they had no right.

So he must follow this man, to a child-race city…

The man is a user… (he could feel his nerves itch at the thought, he could never escape, he could never escape it, it was the nature of his being). That would bring problems. He needed focus.

Dax left his ancient home, for the lands of beggars, tyrants, and defilers… the best the child-races had to offer the world.

Rewards for a job well done!

Keon didn’t need to be asked twice. He pushed her back into a shadowy corner, his hands grasping for the buckles on her armour. Fianna almost always wanted to celebrate the end of a job this way and he had no qualms about abetting her, whatever their location.

This time they found themselves in a darkened corner of a temple, having fought off the last of the raiders who’d been terrorizing this reclusive sect. They had only stumbled across this small community by accident as they journeyed between jobs. One of the monks had realised that the weary travellers they’d offered hospitality to were the best chance they had at survival and implored the head of their order to request their aid. The monk’s account of the repeated attacks on their community convinced both Fianna and Keon that the raiders needed to be stopped. And as Fianna enthusiastically exclaimed “They were the team to do it!”

That had been a few days ago. The raids were regular and frequent according to the monks – resistance was not expected. They’d wiped out the first raiding party before they’d realised they were under attack. The group sent to investigate that night were warier, but soon succumbed to Fianna and Keon’s co-ordinated efforts. Aware that things were about to get tricky they enlisted a couple of novices to hide and keep watch nearby, so that they would get as much warning as possible of the raiders’ approach. They then used a mix of obstacles, obvious and hidden traps, to coax the attackers to traverse the area to the defenders advantage. When the attack came, their improvised plans worked. Despite several retreats to regroup, the raiders never recovered from their chaotic first attack. Their arrogance and overconfidence had been their downfall. When Fianna removed the head of their leader it was only a matter of time before the rest fell.

And now here they were….Keon’s hands sliding under Fianna’s now loosened armour to that soft skin that was such a pleasure to touch, while she wrapped those long, lithe legs round his waist. As their tongues sparred, he shifted them further into the shadows, making for a dark alcove behind a side alter. Who knew when the inhabitants would creep from their hiding place in the cellar to discern the outcome of the battles. He certainly had no desire to be interrupted and he doubted Fianna would react well.

With that in mind he eased them down behind the alter where they couldn’t be easily seen and got to work removing his lover’s garments. He soon found himself flipped onto his back, Fianna astride him, her nimble fingers divesting him of any remaining clothes. As they writhed together on the stone floor, Keon tried to internalise his exhilaration, but as her tongue teased the tip of his ear his focus slipped for a heartbeat. He felt her body freeze for an instant before a whispered groan demanded “Do that again!” He frowned, unsure what she meant, but as her tongue slid along his ear once more, he relaxed his focus again and was rewarded with a growl of pleasure. Awareness began to dawn. Keon let part of his mental barrier shift from the walls he normally erected to what felt almost like mirrors. Every sensation he felt he reflected back at Fianna, increasing her arousal as well as his own. He silenced her mouth with his own, conscious that they might be overheard. Their passion mounted swiftly, neither one of them able to hold back or slow down, every touch spurring them on. As their pleasure peaked, Keon felt a wave of elation burst from his mind before he could react. Collapsing breathlessly to the cold floor, Fianna sprawled in his arms, a stray thought zipped through his head – what would happen if he used the reflection idea when fighting?

As they took their leave of the settlement the next morning, Keon smiled wryly to himself. When the monks had emerged from their hiding place they had been full of optimism and cheer. They’d told the pair that they had known when the battle had been won and that they were saved, for they had suddenly been filled with holy exaltation and joy. Keon and Fianna had just smiled, for who were they to say it was otherwise.

Going home

She’d worked hard on this form. Anyone who thinks beauty comes easy just doesn’t know what’s involved. But as she approached Tyr, at the end of a mission well concluded, her thoughts turned ,as they always did at these times, to her form to come. An icy blonde perhaps, or maybe a dark-haired man, all toned muscles and puppy-dog eyes.

Admittedly, it was a little too soon to make a decision. The political situation in Tyr was febrile. Free distribution of water had been a radical move, but how long would it last? The best that could be hoped for was to push the city some way, some small but irrevocable way, towards a fairer settlement between the minority and the majority. A step in the right direction.

But until she got back into the thick of it, there was no way to tell how best to ensure this progress. What form would be most convenient.

Revealing the Executioner to the Templar (of course he was a Templar) had been a calculated risk. If he could really add to the myth, making a vigilante into a popular hero, then the risk could pay off. If not… well, Templars could die quite anonymously these days. And with the disappearance of Alakesse, even if the killing were to be investigated, no one would ever be brought to account for it.

Still, this form had worked out pretty well so far. She’d done well in combat, and found a pleasing young man to enjoy in those long nights under the stars. All in all, a very satisfying few days.

Perhaps she would keep this form a little longer.

S01 E06 Belly of said beast

As the doors swing open the most wondrous sight, no one has seen such a thing in thousands of years. Water, as far as the eyes can see.

S01 E06 Rat king

The Rat KIng is before them but this does not sway these seasoned adventures. Taking advantage of its lumbering form, it’s immense strength is no match for their lightening quick reflexes. Chopping and jabbing, rats pour out of the sides like a flood, swarming around you till it collapses, and all that’s left is a crumpled heap of rubbish and a few sharp teeth nibbling at your toes.
Now at leasure to search the room, they find a myriad of adventuring gear as if people had been coming here from all over the kingdom for a long time. Nothing quiet as fine as your current weapons but marketable.
The rope hanging from the ceiling now comes to mind. Climbing up it a small damp chamber is revealed with another hole in the ceiling, this appears to be a tunnel up to the surface. The floor is strangely crunchy and seems to move in the touch light, it is covered in insects and four giant bugs descend on the party.
Swatting and squishing their way to victory only one mantis remains, charmed by a good animal handling roll.
As this is happening one of the party has remained to investigate the rat room and succeeds in picking the first part of the lock, in doing so they observe knives spinning to the side, failure could have dire consequences.
The party joins there comrade and succeed in opening the ornate doors depicting oceans, a blast of cold damp air is released…………………………..


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