The Jeweled Desert

Session 3: Trial & Error

Sariel wanders through a forest, mist curling around her, tracking someone who is very good at hiding their tracks. She can sometimes see glimpses of red in front of her as she moves, tracking mostly in instinct to keep up. Howls and growls sound around her in the darkness, the moon massive and full in the sky. When her quarry finally stops, she barely has time to react when an arrow flies right past her face and embeds in a tree behind them. The tree drips dark liquid from the wound. The figure who shot the arrow wears a long red cloak and red traveller’s clothes—a young Sariel, from years ago. She smiles, and her teeth grow long and sharp and her eyes flash yellow and beastial. The howls around grow louder.

Ecstasy is in prison again, trapped and claustrophobic. A guard comes for her and leads her down a hall, walls lined with the corpses of her old gang in cut-outs in the walls. She is led outside, finding herself standing on a stage beside an executioner. As she is pushed down to be decapitated, she finds that the crowd around is nothing but more corpses, unable to listen or help her.

Mira stands in the Temple to Bahamut, staring up at the statue. It has grown in size, becoming so large that she cannot even see it’s head. It’s claw is as tall as she is, and wickedly sharp. Thunder and lightning shake the world around her, and she doesn’t have time to react before the ground underneath her opens up and she begins to fall into darkness. A voice echoes past her, “Watch your back, Frosty” as the hand of Bahamut stretches down towards her, claws gleaming.

Sariel wakes up with fabric over her head and hands tied behind her back. She is drowsy, the effects of whatever the drug still wearing off. She can feel other bodies around her, and kicks at one to see if it will wake anyone up. Then she manages to wriggle her hands to her front and pull her hood off, allowing her to see that she’s sitting inside a covered wagon as it rumbles along. Eventually, the wagon stops and the back is opened up, revealing Levi and his two friends, who just look annoyed that she is out of her hood and replace it.

Everyone begins to stir as they are carried from the wagon and set on the hard ground. Levi, his halfling friend with a large maul, and his half-elven friend carrying two scimitars free everyone in silence, then exit the large room they are all in and close the door behind them. The party finds themselves in a large stone room with one pillar in the center, one door, a chest, two sets of armor, and two swords on a weapons rack. There are three other initiates in the room as well: a human woman, a human man, and a short man who looks like he’s made of smoke.

Darius’ voice booms through the room from an unknown source, explaining that their goal is to leave the room through the door. He tells them that their things are all in the chest, and that this is their first trial. Sariel remarks, “Fuck yes, escape the room! Most people pay hundreds of dollars for this.”

Ecstasy doesn’t put her equipment on, but instead goes up to see if she can pick the door’s lock. She finds there is no lock, and Sariel discovers there is an arcane locking mechanisms. Sariel then looks over the armors and swords, touching a sword that begins to float, then swings at her. Ecstasy runs over to put her equipment on in a panic as the sword barely misses Sariel, who does a super sick backflip like in the Matrix to dodge. Ecstasy and Mira are unimpressed.

The two suits of armor animate to become Animated Armor, and the two swords become Flying Swords, moving to attack the group of six. The team struggles to hit and the fight drags on, where Mira complains that this is embarrassing to watch. Eventually, they manage to destroy the armor and swords, the party not taking any damage in the process. The other initiates rest for a little bit to recover as the party searches the animated objects, to no avail.

Outside, they find themselves at the bottom of a huge canyon, the building they just exited behind them. Sariel spots a tripwire and shouts “It’s a trap!”. At the end of the canyon, they can see a sort of opening. They move forward and all cautiously step over the tripwire, and one steps on a button. Mira hears rumbling right underneath her, and she runs towards the rest of the group. The earth erupts beneath them and a huge, roaring Sandwyrm.

As they run, helping each other along, they hit plenty of tripwires as they go, causing the canyon to explode behind them with the Sandwyrm. They manage to all work together to get to the threshold of the larger clearing, the walls collapsing behind them and the Sandwyrm smashing into it, roaring, then slowly rumbling away.

Sariel kisses the ground in relief. Three humanoid figures pull themselves out of the wall, made of stone and coming from indentations in the walls. There are twenty small pillars surrounding the wall, each with small stone figurines on them. In between each pair of pillars is another one of these stone golems, not activated at this point.

Mira tells the group: “don’t fucking touch anything.” Sariel notes the first stone object is a teacup, and says, “Oh shit, fancy! We got some posh assholes in here.” She tries to communicate with the golems by saying, “suh?”, to no avail. The shadow rogue tries to sign to the group what he sees on one pillar, making some incredibly phallic charades in the process.

The entire group argues a bit as they try and figure the puzzle out, until the man, Marcus, and Mira notice that the backs of the golems have indentations. They all find out that the rogue’s name is Shadow, which Mira makes fun of a bit, and the woman’s name is Lucia. The team works together to put the objects in the indentations of the golems, getting hit only when they get to close to them. The golems power down once all the objects are in, and then power back up to replace all the objects where they go.

Applause sounds from above them as they see Darius, Levi, and various other members of the Wolfshead framed by the sun. Sariel shouts up to them, “That looks dumb as hell, you cretins!” Levi shouts back down, “Fuck you!” Rope ladders get thrown down, allowing them to leave the canyon. Mira compliments the trials, and flirts a bit with Levi. Ecstasy winks at his halfling friend, who winks back.

They notice they aren’t too far out of the city, just south of it. They also spot the Emerald Tower in the distance, which they learned about in the library and from others as being cursed. Darius congratulates the initiates, and says they will return to the Wolfshead. Ecstasy worries about getting back into the city, but is reassured by the halfling. She and Sariel get the feeling of being watched. Ecstasy turns into a jackal, using her cape.

The entire group begins to head back, riding in the wagon and getting through the south gate without issue. They are applauded within the Wolfshead as congratulations, and Ecstasy unjackals. Darius passes out six Wolfshead cloak pins, inscribed with the names they were given, and are informed that they are used to identify members of the guild for their benefits, such as collecting bounties within the city walls without getting arrested. They are also given rooms, paired up with roommates. Sariel and Ecstasy room together, and Mira and Lucia room together.

Ecstasy feels something hot on her chest at some point, and takes out the topaz necklace she stole from Sharina. She finds that the eye pendant from the One-Eyed Khan seems to be glowing and moving somehow, and then it stops. Ecstasy surmises it’s some kind of spell to watch them. She wraps it in fabric and tucks it in her bag.

They go to the bar, and Mira flirts a bit with Levi. Sariel annoys Creed again by ordering a mango margarita because elves have “fine taste”. The half-elf man sits next to Sariel, laughing at that. Ecstasy heads over to watch the halfling and Welles, the man who had the basilisk’s head before, and looks really cool.

The group decides to get in a barfight. Mira invites Levi to come with. Ecstasy walks between Marcus and Lucia to ask only Lucia to come with them. Sariel invites the half-elven man, and the group finishes their drinks and heads out. They search for the shadiest bar they can find to start this barfight, finding a hole-the-wall called The Jolly Horse, where a drinking contest is going on.

Sariel decks the shirtless bartender, who tries to hit her back. Ecstasy goes off to join the drinking contest but Sariel protests, shouting, “No, we’re fighting!” Ecstasy joins the drinking contest anyways. Mira takes the strongest looking drink she can find from someone’s hand and downs it. A series of comedy of errors begin, where Sariel, Mira, Ecstasy, the half-elf, and Levi start to fight various people in the bar, knocking the bartender out and stealing some various bottles. Sariel considers stealing from the till, until thinking better of it. Ecstasy jumps over the bar and now acts as bartender. Ecstasy jumps on someone’s back, then falls flat on her face. Sariel hits someone in the gut with a barstool and Mira knocks a guy she’s been fighting out with a glass. Lucia plays the banjo really fast on the bar, and they hear Piano Man being played.

The police show up and someone shouts, “Scatter!” The group all flee out the back as people are getting arrested, ending up towards the center of the city. Sariel trades the bottle of whiskey she stole for the bottle of margarita mixer that Mira stole and drinks from it. Mira also drinks from the bottle of moonshine she ended up with. The half-elf is bleeding from the nose, and Sariel heals him. They learn his name is Lorcan.

Sariel notices Cyrus walking into the Temple of Ioun and runs up to him. He’s bewildered and Mira asks why he’s out of the House of the Dead because she “thought he couldn’t leave.” “I mean, I can leave… it’s not like I can’t. It’s that I don’t..,” he replies. Ecstasy hits him on the back, and Mira introduces Levi to Cyrus. He fumbles to shake Levi’s hand.

Cyrus wonders aloud what they’re all doing here. Mira invites him to join them on a barcrawl and offers him some moonshine. He takes a small drink and chokes on the alcohol burn. They tell him that they are staying in the Wolfshead, and he flees into the temple.

The group decides to go to a nightclub, called The Monkey and Bull. They get their weapons and spell components confiscated as they enter in a coat check, except Ecstasy manages to sneak in a couple of daggers. They disperse amongst the people, and hear some karaoke being sung in a private room. Levi and Mira grab a drink, Mira attempting to ensure Levi is just as drunk as she is. They all dance and party in the club. Ecstasy “looks for girls”, unsuccessfully.

Sariel gets the sense that she’s being watched, and grabs Lorcan to ask him to look around too. Ecstasy gets pulled over as well, and notices kind of a breeze that seems unnatural. They also drag Lucia over and she manages to dredge up a rumor of an invisible stalker that the One-Eyed Khan sends to follow people and keep an eye on them before he hires them.

They all eventually return to the Wolfshead. Lucia sleeps in Marcus and Shadow’s room so that Levi can stay in Mira’s room. They all eventually sleep through the night.

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