Chapter Two – Abbor-Alz and The Bright Desert
Toughest Foe – Two Greater Displacer Beasts that can apparently paralyze with their tentacles
Most Spectacular Kill – a Jackalwere levitated to 70’ and dropped
Biggest Waste of Magic – using two charges from a Wand of Fireballs to dispatch a small camp of gnolls
Camped upon one of the hillocks, the watch noticed movement and woke everyone as three silent men, reeking of age and in decrepit, mouldy clothing entered the firelight. Darmok immediately detected evil and Chees called upon Idun, Rebamac upon Nepthys, to turn undead; their efforts were successful and the wights reversed direction, at which point the characters attacked with missile weapons, swords and axes, felling the creatures outside the camp.
In the morning the rain stopped, camp was taken down, the wagon and horses mounted and the track followed into the Abbor-Alz. All was quiet, though dark and gloomy, until near day’s end, when orcs and worgs ambushed the party. After decimating the raiders, characters discovered elven goods and hands among the orcs’ loot. After another couple hours they made camp and were again attacked by four undead, who were turned by the clerics and dispatched.
The gloomy, brooding storm clouds still darkened the skies the next morning as the group continued on the trail through the hills, and in a narrow pass heard the falling of rocks behind them. Paddy and the barbarian climbed the steep canyon wall to the top and were confronted with a huge, gangly warty humanoid creature with bristly hair. Assuming it to be a troll, Paddy prepared a flask of oil as Garath went one-on-one with the beast and the archers peppered it with arrows and magic missiles. With all attention focused on the troll up top, a second troll leapt over the fallen boulders behind the party and attacked – Darmok and Allynfred pushed through the spellcasters to stand between them and this second troll. As each troll fell, oil was splashed on it and lit, so the bodies burned to regenerate no more.
As the sun was low in the west the party rounded a bend only to come face-to-face with a huge black cat, which promptly leapt at them – that’s when they saw two tentacles and six legs! The beast roared as it attacked, and with all their attacks focused on the slightly-hazy beast they stopped it in short order, just as two more of the monsters appeared and attacked from the side and rear. The smaller beast jumped into the back of the wagon, where Allynfred and one of the spellcasters defended themselves. When these other two tentacle cats were dead, Trathonax and Garath tracked their prints for twenty minutes to a rock overhang. A haze seemed to permeate the lair, for when Paddy would try to take hold of an item of treasure in the nest his reach would be off by a foot or so, but he persisted and eventually collected all the treasure he could see. There were many shiny, glittering gems and jewelry and a couple crystal vials, and a short (6”) bluish-white metal rod, oddly grooved at one end and with three gold prongs at the other; it had several runes inscribed on one side. It went into the loot bags with everything else.
Into The Bright Desert
They trouped on in the morning, as the desert began intruding between the lower and more scattered hills, and then elected to follow the border westward in order to stop at the town of Al-Bakkar, a walled enclave on the eastern shore of Woolly Bay. Knowing this was their final stop before entering the Bright Desert, they stocked up on water and rations and bought garb ideal for the desert – long white robes, bandanas and scarves, and extra footwear. Locals knew nothing of Pazar save for the old stories, but suggested the desert nomads near the Brass Hills, due east, could tell them more – they would have to skirt the north slopes of the hills.
Before too long trekking due east the party chanced upon a camp of eight nomads in white turbans and robes who parlayed to join the party, as the desert can be a dangerous place. Our group declined, yet the nomads persisted, and the characters became suspicious; weapons were drawn, and the nomads gave intense stares, at which point someone dropped off to Sleep. A battle ensued, and the nomads shape-shifted into jackal-men, slicing with scimitars and biting with gnashing jackal teeth. The party came out victorious on the other side, they had collected 12 gp and 8 waterskins.
The party rested until nightfall, and moved under the moonlight for the next three nights; on the second night they saw another group dressed in desert garb far ahead and chose to trail them, not getting too close. The next night they came upon the group again, who appeared to be on foot. When daylight came and camp was made, Paddy and Garath tracked the travellers to their camp, then returned with news that the nomads were tall, canine-looking humanoids with a huge lizard beast of burden. Paddy convinced Exex and Bobill to cast Invisibility on him and his pony and loan him the Wand of Fireballs. Paddy then approached the gnoll camp, snuck up within 100’ or so, and let loose with a Fireball that left three of the creatures burning and attempting to crawl from the site. Paddy would have none of it and shot off a second Fireball, putting an end to the poor creatures. Once Paddy returned to camp, the others snatched the wand from him, chastising him for wasting a valuable charge.
Also encountered: giant starfish-like creatures hiding in the sand, and a sandstorm that blasted the party for forty minutes, leaving two large tentacle cats that attacked them.
The last night our group encountered a camp of dervishes, very nearly getting into a fight with the scimitar-weilding zealots, though cooler heads eventually prevailed and Rebamac approached the dervishes’ cleric for information. She was told that the dead city of their quest was nearby, following a straight route between the twin mesas known as the Two Sisters, and was also informed not to steal anything from any tombs in the dead city, for the dervishes are sworn protectors of such sites. With that, the two groups went their separate ways, though presumably to the same destination.