The story so far…
- Jorn, Stubbs, the girl and the archer take off down the southwest canyon on the wagon. Stubbs decides he really doesn’t need the archer and pushes him off the cart. The archer manages to roll to his feet and runs up the west bank of the canyon, disappearing over the ledge.
- Meanwhile Darrius runs for the high ground and then begins to sneak his way south in the last direction he saw Stubbs and Jorn going. As he moves along the canyon edge he hears approaching riders and spies three riders on strange beasts that appear to be large lion-like animals with the head and beak of a bird of prey. As he drops to a stealthy position in the rocks above he accidentally triggers a small rock slide that alerts the riders to his presence.
- Darrius makes a run for it, sprinting as fast as he can but hears the approach of one of the riders cresting the hill. Realizing he can’t outrun the rider he turns, flourishes his cloak and confidently holds his ground. The rider is suitably impressed as he approaches and decides a diplomatic approach might be in order. The rider states he is working for Cassius and is searching for some men who may have stolen something that belongs to him and then asks if Darrius has seen anyone out here.
- Darrius bluffs and tells the man he has not seen anyone. The man seems satisfied and in a hurry and leaves to join his companions leaving Darrius to himself. Darrius breathes a sigh of relief and takes off to the south in pursuit of his allies.
- After riding for 10 minutes, Jorn spies a small outcropping of stones and decides to stop the cart. He then spurs the horse on alone down the canyon. Jorn reattunes his spell matrix to Fun With Doors and then run for cover. While he and the girl run for the outcropping Stubbs take a few seconds to try to hide their tracks.
- Jorn and the girl build a crude doorway out of rocks at the entrance of the outcropping. As soon as Stubbs makes it into the cramped hovel Jorn casts Fun With Doors to hide the entrance.
- The girl points out that if they’re discovered she doesn’t want to be caught unarmed and asks Jorn if she can borrow a weapon. Jorn refuses, however Stubbs let her look through his pack and she takes one of his hammers as a weapon.
- Hiding in their hovel the group can hear the riders outside searching around but after a few minutes they leave. After waiting a bit Jorn removes the illusion and they head outside to discuss their next move. The girl introduces herself as Tanya and says that they should be safe if they can make it to Thadizar (which Jorn and Stubbs have only recently learned is somewhere to the north). While they are discussing the plan Jorn hears the sound of the riders returning.
- Stubbs decides he should go out alone and try and lead the riders away and then try to reunite with the group later. Tanya tells him to try and find her father, Kane Telvarri, in Thadizar if they can’t find each other (Jorn suggests that they try to rendezvous at the “orkiest inn” in Thadizar). Jorn and Tanya then retreat back to the hovel while Stubbs once again tries to mask their tracks. Then Stubbs climbs the west bank of the canyon and waits.
- By this time Darrius has caught up to the rest of the group and hidden on the east side of the canyon. The riders below return to where they lost the trail but after a few minutes of searching give up and continue north down the canyon.
- Feeling it’s now safe, Stubbs and Darrius climb down and are reunited with Jorn and Tanya. The sun is high in the sky and the group is concerned that the riders might return and so the group heads into the hills to make camp. Stubbs manages to construct a small shelter for the group and they rest, keeping watch in shifts.
- At the camp Tanya explains that her father is a wealthy merchant who is currently residing in Thadizar and she suspects a rival merchant house may have had something to do with her abduction. She is originally from a large city call Khaldera but is travelling with her father. She appears to have a slight infatuation with Darrius and once again asks if she can have a real weapon in case she needs to defend herself. Darrius lends her his broadsword and observes that while not entirely skilled she does seem to have some training with a blade.
- Jorn weaves a thread to Trumpkin, the matrix item he was given by Ceres, and learns he can make the stone elephant dance with a spoken command. He tries to impress Tanya with this new trick but she seems irritated by the gesture as if he’s treating her like a child. Jorn and Darrius trade a few verbal jabs with each other to Stubb’s irritation but eventually the group manages to get some sleep throughout the afternoon and early evening.
- At dusk the group packs up and starts heading north being careful in case the riders are still about. Jorn and Darrius can see fine by starlight. Tanya, being human sticks close to Darrius in the dark. Darrius suggests that Jorn use his light spell:
Darrius: Why don’t you just cast that light spell you have to help her see?
Jorn: Are you nuts? And just give away our position to anyone who’s looking for us?
Darrius: Can’t you just make it dim and cast it at our feet or something?
Jorn: I don’t know. I’ve never tried that before and I’m not going to now.
Darrius: What if you just put it in your pants to kind of make a glow?
- Stubbs scouts ahead and as they approach the dust bowl valley where they first encountered the bandits he spies the heat signatures from the riders and their mounts in a small camp. In total he counts four men. He quietly returns to the group to find them discussing the versatility of Jorn’s light spell and warns them of the camp up ahead.
- Not wishing to encounter the riders again the group heads east and gives a wide berth to the dust bowl before heading north again. The rest of the evening is uneventful and late in the night they spy the city of Thadizar in the distance.
- As they approach the city a horn sounds and the gate opens as six mounted soldiers ride out and surround the group. Tanya speaks to the guards telling them that she was rescued by the group and they should be treated as heroes. One of the guards scoops her up and rides back to the city with her. The rest of the soldiers escort the group into the city which looks to be heavily fortified with thick stone walls lined with watch towers and possibly built on the ruins of an ancient fortress. Jorn begins to babble nervously.
- Once in the city the captain of the guard questions the group to find out how they came to be in the company of Tanya. Darrius tells him the truth to Jorn’s frustration as Jorn does not trust anyone and wants to share as little info as possible. In the discussion they reveal to the captain of the guard that the group has left a still sealed kaer though they do not state where it is located. They learn that Hanurai has passed through Thadizar two days ago but not much else. The guard speculates that Hanurai was most likely headed towards Khaldera which is near somewhere called the Sand Sea. Eventually the guard releases the group and puts them up for the night in a local inn.
- At the inn Jorn asks his companions to stop telling people things they don’t need to know and then orders some food from the innkeeper who is not pleased to have been awoken. Jorn manages to barter him down and feels pretty proud of himself though Stubbs and Darrius argue with him whether bartering brings more or less attention to the group.
- The next morning the group hears a knock at the door and open it to find a well dressed man who states he is a servant for Kane Telvarri, Tanya’s father. Kane has invited the group to his home to be properly thanked. The group decides they should do their best to clean up though Stubbs doesn’t give it much though but eventually is convinced to dust off a bit. They decide to have breakfast at the inn before leaving. Jorn, being in a much better mood even tips the innkeeper. They then follow the servant across town to the Telvarri manor.
- The servant shows them to a parlor with some luxurious couches and tapestries. A pitcher of water has been set out and Stubbs decides to refill his water skin. After a few minutes Kane Telvarri enters. He is an elderly man but seems quite friendly and thankful for the return of his daughter.
- Kane promises the group a reward. Darrius mentions that they are searching for a water crystal and bends the truth to say that Hanurai is an old ally who has stolen the crystal from them. Jorn is shocked that Darrius is being so free with this information. Kane says that he can help them track down a water crystal but that it won’t be easy or cheap. He estimates that a water crystal large enough to supply a village could cost 2000 gold coins. The group is somewhat astounded at the value of the water crystal and ask if a broken crystal could be repaired. Kane thinks it could be done and depending on the extent of the damage might cost half the price. Stubbs, who has been carrying the broken crystal in his travel bag, realizes that the crystal could definitely attract the wrong type of attention if they’re not careful.
- In addition to the information about the water crystal the group asks for transportation to Khaldera. Kane offers to let them travel with his caravan but lets them know he doesn’t plan to leave for at least a week. The group is unsure whether to wait and take his offer or leave earlier. Before they leave Kane’s house he asks them to return that evening and join him for dinner. They agree and then head out into the city to see if they can learn more about Hanurai’s stay as well as visit the local craftsman and merchants.