Dark Sun: Into the belly of the beast

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.

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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.
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/da/ca/82/daca823bd94a8a0cc226bfe05cbc724d.jpg
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.

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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…”

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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.

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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.

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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;

“Fascinating…”

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