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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Rewards for a job well done!
NSFW

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Street Rats!

Keon grimaced, rats…why were there always rats. He kicked a dead rat across the room in disgust. Tiny critters got everywhere.

Alexander had hated rats too, but Keon suspected this was partially due to food being scarce when he was young. The young man almost had a compulsion to kill them if he knew they were near. Still – it had given the young men some basic hunting practice….very basic.

The memory of the two of them running about the streets, picking up odd jobs and brawling for change made Keon’s heart warm. Those times had been tough, but they’d had fun. Alex had shown him what the city streets were like and he had adjusted. To this day he didn’t know what it was that had led Alex to take him under his wing, but he appreciated it. They’d been like brothers – sometimes told people they were too. There were few girls who couldn’t resist those lithe, blond, young men when they aimed the full force of their charm. Those had been interesting times.

Now was not the time for such rememberings though. It wasn’t safe here, Keon could sense the danger like a lovers caress. Scanning the area for threats, he turned to where his companions had headed and made to catch up.

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S01 E05 Oh Rats!

Behind the broken plaster there of a dark corridor. The pealing frescoes are poorly preserved, they seem to depict the old world, with people working and flowing water. Again the strange graffiti seems to cover the human figures, replacing them with strange child like scrawls.
At the end is a dilapidated and rotten wall that easily gives way, revealing and empty room with an earth floor. As the confident newcomer strides confidently across the room, un-quiet spirits rise up from the ground, attacking and possessing the adventures.

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As the spirit flow in threw the eyes and mouth, the party find them selves fighting their friends as well as their enemies. Some of the party run forward to unlock the door while others fight of their horrifying touch, while their weapons appear to be made of spirit smoke and pass threw the flesh, it still cuts and rakes the body with freezing pain.
The malevolent wraths are put down for now, but one day in the their souls will congeal and return to this spot to haunt it once again.

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After putting their hand threw a rat hole to get the final bolt on the other side (and being grabbed by a rat for your pains) the door gives way and the stranger yet again surges forward.
You are met by a room filled with Rats ‘As it said more taste morsels are here’ one says. The stranger demands passage or he will ‘Kill every last man, women and child’, a lead dire rat seems to consult a great door at the back of the room in a whisperers before declaring ‘Attack’! The dire rats have a myriad of armer they must of taken from generations of victims and the small rats swarm you, getting into your own armour, gnashing and biting your unprotected flesh.
As the fight comes to an end one of the last rats left throws open the doors and a strange squeaking can be heard over the clashing of bone blades.
As the stranger steps upon the last tiny rat and cries, ‘I told you, every last man women and child!’ a huge silhouette falls across his, an abomination fills the door. Rat KIng a creature made up of fused rats creating one monstrosity. It has formed great arms and legs, it rides on wheels to help drag immense deformed body across the ground. Rat faces peer out from a cloth holding the body together, straining as if attempting to escape. Is all lost?

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Elementary my dear Bully.

The last blow to rocky sent a primal backlash through their bond, even as the squeaking grew louder Finley blinked furiously try to dismiss the psionic feedback.

Bully watched his mother and father pack up the cart, they were talking with the village elder, the Shaman, he was the one making Bully’s parents take him away from his home… he didn’t understand why all the other goblins liked the old fool. Bully didn’t have any time for the tale of a rich and verdant land where the goblins had been as connected to the world as the elementals were here, no mortal creature was connected to anything, they were just waste, floating on the wind from one Plane to another.

He felt a flash of heat at his back and turned to face his current playmate, a fire elemental he’d paled around with for several weeks now. The elemental seemed to know Bully was sad, he tried to engage the goblin boy in their games of play and chase, but bully didn’t join in. He stared warily at the swirling mass of primal energy that would take them to their new, old, home.


Bully collapsed on the edge of the forest, He was clinging to a hat as big as he was, it had meant something important.. The boy was thirsty beyond belief, the sun made him feel better, the heat didn’t worry him, but the thirst, he had to drink! He didn’t know when he came too, but he knew what triggered it; a mouth full of sharp teeth sunk into the flesh of his shoulder!


The water was the most amazing he’d ever tasted, and he’d had water elementals serve him a glass in the Chaos. His shoulder hurt, the pale small eared goblin-like people were talking about him in hushed tones.

They were cooking something tall and slender on a spit over an open fire. He, on the other hand, had been shunned from the group – dismissed apparently as not tasty, but not a big enough threat to kill. He wanted his mother, and father!

Finley caught a feeling of loss, two people, important people, now all he had was the tall hat, of crossing a desert, endless sand, endless heat, shelter under the hat, then the edge of a forest.

The small sized humans wouldn’t let Bully share their food, or water, they made him sleep outside of their group. Luckily, the water and fire were far more kind than people, wherever he went.

“Water, I’m very thirsty, and they are very mean, I have a cup here for you, would you please come over here?”
“Fire, I’m very cold, I have been friends with your element before, in another world, I’ve got some sticks for you here, will you lend me some warmth?”

And so the shorter paleskins paid Bully some attention, because the fire came when he called, and the water came when he called. Later all the spirits would come when he called, the Spirit of Life coming to Bully if he asked very nicely, Athas, the world itself, would lend some of the last drops of it’s life to heal the small paleskin raiders after their dubiously heroic battles.


Bully back-pedalled at full speed, the new tribe leader had him on his back, a stone axe soon to crash down on his skull. The moment had come, he knew it could never have been far off, he was Goblin, he didn’t belong with the paleskins. While they shared many traits smaller quieter races had over the full size humans, Bully wasn’t one of them. The assistance the spirits lent him made them suspicious and jealous, but he called on them now.

His hand found a stone, or, a stone found his hand. Bully took a look at the rock, what an odd shape!

“Tell me; does this look like a heart to you?”

The chief froze

“I, I think it looks like a heart to me, do you know I used to have a friend who was a fire? I wonder, If I believe it’s a heart of a big old rock monster hard enough, if he could help?…”


Bully looked down at the caravan below, the rag-tag band of paleskins who had followed him after he had left the tribe could barely contain themselves, they fell on the poor tall ones before Bully had a chance to think about it. They were already picking over the victims, literally, very uncouth! Bully spied an ornate looking carriage amongst the hall that the little hungry buggers had missed, and slipped inside.


Sir Finly La Cruix stepped into Tyr. No one would dispute his title, his signet (which was too large) and papers confirmed his noble credentials, and most importantly, the 4’ tall locusts he’d come here with had been stopped at the gates. He touched the papers of a gentlemen in one pocket, and the stone in the other, it really did look like a heart, that was important.


Shaking the memories out of his head, Finley La Cruix recognised the flood of memories as the Spirt of Life flowing through him! He knelt for a moment and planted his Totem into the ground.

“Elements of Life and Earth, Athas! I know you are not quite dead yet, not ready to give up the fight! Your humble servant calls to you once more for aid, Earth, harden our resolve, Life, bolster our efforts!”

Finley felt the rush of the spirt of Life, it leant it’s strength. He looked across the room at a collection of elemental rocks around one suspiciously heart shaped.

“Does that stone looks stronger to you, I’d say that looks like a stronger heart to me….”

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Thoughts in the marketplace

Kalak was dead.

Gallard heard it in the marketplace first, as he walked it at first light. A whisper behind his back. He turned quickly to see who it was – such sedition must be dealt with firmly, swiftly, and permanently – but whoever had spoken with such foolishness had clammed their mouth shut. It could have been any one of the dozens of customers and stallholders.

He made a mental note to report the sacrilege to the Chief Templar when he returned to his office. The markets, after all, had not been purged for a while. And with the death of Xiara, all of the old positions in the arena would be up for grabs. New space at the bottom of the pool would help the transition. After all, new gladiators need someone to practice upon.

Yes, he would recommend a purge.

The thought gladdened his heart as he strode up the golden stairs towards revelation.

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