Plans secured for weeks, many of them with newly purchased items or enchanted ones, the group held itself tight. It had been too long since they worked together “in formation” as the paladin Dassadar referred to the group and somehow felt very comfortable. He had selected six volunteer journeyman soldiers carefully, knowing going into a new environment would present unique challenges for them. Yet none of them had connections so if they were lost in battle it would not cost him politically.
Galdahad flew down for the last time, it was always hard to say goodbye to people she knew here, both humanoid and avian alike, yet each time she traveled she learned more. She knew she wasn't ready for her birthright challenge, thus she continued on, preparing for her destiny.
Arun had long since prepared, having a bit more experience in arid lands than the others, yet this was the legendary Phastian Desert, part of the original Empire that ruled the land, secrets to be discovered and potentially more evil to be vanquished. His colleague, his brother-in-arms, of sorts, waited to be summoned out, to do good works in service to his colleague and companion.
The Tenderfoot (Halfling) rogue, like Arun had prepared for coming here but by speaking to her contacts, learning about the pyramid traps and the denizens inside. She had long hoped to get a chance to explore the ruins and other locales as much as she wanted to see an old friend. She knew her own kind were there in smaller numbers, and she had heard terrible rumors of dark servitude to undead lords.
Lastly, the psion Hervandos sat in quiet meditation, sometimes he wondered why he even went on with this group, but knowing he had nowhere else to go and the group sometimes did provide entertainment was justification enough. Knowledge or enlightenment the aim when he was younger, now it just seemed to be finding contentment of any sort, even if ever so briefly.
They waited just a few minutes longer until the prearranged time, as they saw the effect, the obelisk starts to glow its mystical colours, then they stepped thru. As they come out they find themselves immediately wet, in a public fountain, and alone as their old comrade is nowhere to be seen. Arun uses simple magiks to dry themselves off, then they realize the predicament they are in, stranded in a town, without a guide nor any apparent caster able to help send them home.
They are not exactly alone, as their mini spectacle was enough to cause the local folk, Phastian humans, to stop and watch them for a moment or two. The groups beseech for help, but their words fail as they share no tongue. Using his spells, Arun quickly learns enough of their language to communicate. They have arrived in the town of Gortauncho, south offers the Sea of Stones in the Phastian Desert. This Fountain, is the local equivalent of an obelisk, the center of clerical magic. While not immediately familiar, some of the townsfolk recognize the description of the group's wayward colleague, the cleric Arlel. Eventually they find a citizen who reveals where she stays. They hire a guide, and start to learn about the town.
Fesselin is propositioned by a well-dressed tenderfoot, but she turns him down. Hervandos is warned in mind-speak that they are here illegally but categorically confirms they have paid entry fees: he doesn't know if his bluff works but the questioning ends. Galdahad speaks to several avian comrades, they tell her about the wind routes to the sea but know nothing about her land friend.
Proceeding to Arlels house, there is no response to their knocking, so the group heads to the law enforcement. Situated nearly out of town, going towards the largest stone object and building, as they approach they realize it is beneath a huge statue of a winged lion, a sphinx, more than 300 ft at the base with doors to underground caverns of some kind.
The local forces recognize Dassadar's insignia, and show respect to the paladin and his colleagues. They wear badges of faith to a Goddess of Light, they swear by Zalia, that the group believes is the same as the goddess Quanna in the North. The soldiers reveal little more than what the team has already discerned, at least as it relates to their missing comrade...they knew the young woman by reputation only, she had few acquaintances, caused no trouble, no one for them to be concerned with. When discussing their next options, they decide their next step should be to examine her home, and the desert folk give them permission to enter her home but not to take anything.
As they speak with the authorities, Galdahad notices one of the men particularly enamored by her, she begins a conversation with him. A little embarrassed, he reveals a fascination, her skin colour is like nothing he had seen before. Even for the Sea folk to the North of them, her pale skin is so much whiter than any of her comrades, Galdahad admits she is not human but a Phaetox, then opens her flame wings. The soldiers of law, kneel in bewilderment...they had not known of her kind before. She is a little shocked, she thought everyone had heard of Phaetox, at least in the North they had.
Heading back to Arlel's house, the halfling determines the lock, opens it and the door...right away three shades suddenly appear, the finder rolls back taking shelter behind the Phaetox, as Arun summons three celestial archons, heavenly balls of light to intercede. A quick battle forces the shades to retreat into the walls. Seconds later, Arun is hit by a powerful shock, immediately releasing his summoned servants...he realizes this small town has a formidable protection a ward of some sort around it, most likely the huge sphinx statue is the center. Perhaps Arlel's decision to make a home here makes sense. He also wonders what would happen if he released his main ally, what could happen?
They enter and carefully investigate er residence, casting of detect magic reveals the feather stylus has a slight evocation. The papyrus has no markings. A small stylized stone obelisk carved with personalized engravings, the paladin wants to hold on to it, but the others remind him of their vow not to remove anything. Eventually the paladin submits, putting it back. Meanwhile the psionicist tells them he sensed a powerful evil presence for seconds, something far evil than he's ever felt before, who was apparently watching everyone; nobody is quite sure what that means. They are unsure if they have gained any insight as to where their former companion might be.
Night seems to take the party quickly, and they retreat to the lodging and equipment acquired by the paladin's soldiers, a small bevy of local cuisine and equipment as well as services of a tattooist, who can provide a Mark of Phastian Language Skills (OOG +5 to Phastian Language plus INT bonus +10 non-roll bonus for calm speaking scenarios.)
Arun wants to learn about the town's fountain obelisk, and spends most of the night in a library within the sphinx. Galdahad spends much of the time drinking, sharing stories learning lore of the Sea, and of rumours of what is hidden beneath the pyramids. The halfling watches the room carefully, sipping her mull, and tries to gauge the people...they are being watched but only generally. Hervandos, returns to their room, slipping into quiet meditation. The paladin also goes back to the shared room, to spend some time with his soldiers, sharing an ale and ensuring their morale is high. Eventually they all slip out first some drinks and camaraderie.
The next day the Phaetox takes to the sky to look for any signs, and one interesting aspect is of a simple hut with some petitioners or students outside of it. Wanting to learn, she spends the day in contemplation. Arun, continues his intense study of the fountains and its connections to obelisks and the various local faiths. Fesselin takes a careful watching spot, hoping to see if their action last night raised some suspicions, enough so someone takes any action. Dassadar wanting to have a better understanding, starts to walk, south, and eventually finds the edge, they are on a spire, essentially a cliff island, perhaps a mile or more high. He sees far away many pyramids, as well as other spires. They could spend years looking for their former comrade, but she had promised them a great opportunity to vanquish evil.
At the end of the day, an old man comes out, and gives each of the petitioners the object, they are looking for, then finally looks at Galadahad and says, “You were looking for the cleric Arlel, then we we need to talk.”
Active Characters (GP = Game Points)
35 G.P Dassadar Aasimar / 8th level
31 G.P. Fesselin Halfling Finder / 8th level
28 G.P. Galdahad Phaetox / 7th level
28 G.P. Hervandos Psionic / 7th level
26 G.P. Cassie human sorceror / 7th level
23 G.P. Arun / Wizard / 7th level
Adrian 10 W, 3 B
Karen 22 W + 3 B
Serena 15 W, 2 B
Senthil 13 W, 2 B
Curnette 12W, 0 B
Rob 5 W, + 3 B