Salvation

Sandstorm

The Sand Circle isn't everything the group expects it to be.

Truday, 11 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group leaves Karna early in the morning to head south to find the Sand Circle. As sunlight wanes, the group encounters a friendly goat herder named Abbas who invites them to stay at his farmstead overnight in exchange for helping him with his chores. Abbas and his wife Ozra feed the group and Abbas regales them with stories from his adventuring days. He gives them a handful of trinkets and potions he has kept as mementos of those days hoping that they will come in handy for the group's future endeavors.

Norday, 12 Whitefall, 6934 EY: Walking through the wilderness of the Bratanan deserts south of the Gypparra mountain range, the group eventually discovers an enormous sandstorm. Althoug initially worried that this natural disaster would move their way, Tomren studies it from afar to see if it is moving. As he discerns that it is remaining still, Haseya knows instinctively that that is where the Sand Circle Grove is hidden.

The group enters into the sandstorm, where they manage for a while, but eventually lose Misae, who collapses and fades from vision. Arnold is swept away by the powerful winds. Haseya desperately tries to keep everyone together by tying rope. Ubah and Taegon both lose consciousness, and Haseya attempts to pull them out of the storm, but eventually gives in to the fury of the storm. Tomren is the only one standing and makes a desperate dash for the eye of the storm. He nearly makes it, but finally loses strength and consciousness.

The group awakens to find they are being cared for by a dwarven druid. A tall, muscular sun elven woman enters the mud hut they are in and introduces herself as Sift il-Abreen, demanding to know what the group is doing in the Sand Circle. The group is confused, as they had been under the impression that the Sand Circle needed help. Sift arrogantly explains that the Sand Circle is composed of only the fittest and finest druids in the world and would never have need to 'call for help.' She offers to let the group meet the archdruid, which Haseya initially declines. Sift responds by calling it the cowardly way, and Haseya gets pissed and agrees to meet the archdruid.

The group is led into the Sand Circle's heart-tree, which is a gargantuan cactus that has been hollowed out and used as a place to house the majority of the druids here. Walking a spiral staircase all the way to the top, they end up in a lounge room occupied by a gnomish woman with wild green hair curled up with an enormous clouded leopard. Sift introduces the group to the gnome, who is named Archdruidess Daphissa Beestinger. Daphissa is just as arrogant and haughty as her subordinates, and quickly puts to rest any notion that the Sand Circle needs help. Sift mentions that perhaps this confusion has to do with "that human druid" who came through a few weeks ago. Daphissa is furious that Sift has spoken out of turn, but is trapped by the group who demand to know what's going on.

Daphissa explains that Moras came through, and he was sent on a trial to prove himself. She refuses to tell the group where they sent him unless they can prove their strength by receiving a venomscar tattoo. Many of the group volunteer for this task, but because Arnold seems the most eager, he is chosen first. Because of his dwarven resilience, Arnold takes the venomscar tattoo without losing consciousness. Daphissa seems angry, but is true to her word, and tells the group that she sent Moras to Karamezra to steal a gyppa egg.

The group set out immediately southward to find Karamezra, making their way through the mountainous terrain of Gypparra. Eventually, it becomes obvious they will not find the city before nightfall, and they set up camp. Tomren has a dream where he meets a talking crow named Lot. 

During Misae's night watch, the ground begins to rumble and quake. Misae moves to be at the ready just as an enormous dune worm burrows through the rock and knocks down Haseya's tent, attempting to eat the woman inside. Another dune worm attacks Tomren in his tent, and a battle ensues with the group exiting the victor.

As the group huddles and patches up their wounds, they are suddenly visited by a half-dozen winged scavengers. These gyppa, vulturefolk, work quickly to hack into the savory meats of the freshly-killed dune worms. They make snarky comments to the group, until their attention is caught when they begin to get asked about Moras. When the group shows sympathy toward the gyppa, agreeing that stealing their eggs is wrong, the gyppa reluctantly agree to show them the way to Karamezra.

Venday, 13 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group travels through the night and arrives in Karamezra, exhausted. They learn that Karamezra is an entire city carved into a cliff face. Because the gyppa can fly, there are no ropes, ladders, or stairs to scale the cliff. A few consider scaling the cliff face, but Haseya transforms into a crow and flies to the top of the cliff, where it plateaus into a courtyard leading up to a magnificent palace, also carved into a cliffside. There, she finds Moras in a cage, who urgently shoos her away, saying he's thankful help has come but that if it looks like druids are helping him then the gyppa will turn their wrath on the Sand Circle and, while the Sand Circle are "dicks," he doesn't want to see anyone die on his account.

Tomren produces a 24-foot ladder from his robe of useful items and uses it to scale the cliffside city. The rest of the group follows behind him and eventually reach the top, exhausted and breathless. The guards here demand to know what's going on, and with a few quick words from Arnold, the group is granted an audience with Kha Ga Jakadi, leader of Karamezra.

Ga Jakadi proves to be a menacing, vicious, and angry creature who has every intention of eating Moras after several days of suffering. He goes on at length about his hatred for sun elves and the druids, and how their stealing gyppa eggs as sport could lead to the ruination of his very short-lived people. The group shows sympathy for his plight, and Ga Jakadi is surprised. He reluctantly agrees to release Moras if the group will go to a village called Arakoy, the last village to rebuff Ga Jakadi's attempts at unification, and serve as his emissaries to convince them to join his nation. He also knows they have recently captured a king vulture and desires the bird as a mount, and says the group should return with this animal as proof of their successful mission. The group is allowed to stay in the palace that day and evening to recoup and sleep. Arnold has a dream where he meets a rose-colored dragon that calls itself "The Warden."

Taursday, 14 Whitefall, 6934 EY: The group set out in the morning westward to find the village of Arakoy. After nine hours of arduous and perilous travel, the group finds what they think is Arakoy—but they find it in absolute shambles. The buildings are smoldering ruins, and gyppa corpses are strewn about, some burned, some half eaten. As the heroes begin to piece together what happened here, a terrible roar can be heard alongside the beating of wings, and a drakirant—a corrupted orange dragon, a dragon of zeal—lands near them, launching into a pompous tirade before issuing an attack.

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