Thanks for the notes, Sara!
In the Desert of Raduun, just outside the oasis town of Desheb, five lone travelers happened upon a vicious carriage attack. Unable to turn away for such barbarity (well, except for Rooke who was feeling skeptical about the situation) they defeated the carriage attackers one by one: Musushi, the dwarf still adjusting to the above ground landscape, wielded his great spoon with fearsome strength; Thomas the half-elf ranger set loose his arrows with deadly precision; Elythia the young human sorceress used arcane forces to halt the villains; Rooke the human fighter cautiously looked on and provided emotional support to the newly formed team; Layla the half-elf cleric generously healed the injured victim of the carriage attack. The now healthy merchant named Ishak gave the party a small ivory and copper token and instructions to seek shelter and a meal at The Ambersand in Desheb. As Ishak left, the party rooted through the remains of the attackers for loot. Musushi generously (naively?) gave his share of gold to Elythia, who found the dwarf’s ignorance of above ground customs funny and full of opportunity.
Inside The Ambersand, the travelers were underwhelmed by the dingy accommodations and surplus of rats. Musushi, seeing the silver lining in this infestation, seemed eager to capture some of these vermin for noodles. Luckily there were alternative meal options. Greiz the innkeeper seated the group and took their food orders. He also informed them that Ishak’s token is from a merchant’s guild called the Ivory Clan. While waiting for their food, Elythia pounced on the opportunity to share some recently overheard gossip: Greiz’s daughter went missing when the vultures left (?!), and that there is a nearby wizard gone insane over their research. Mulling over these bits of information, Layla found it impossible to let go of the fact that Greiz’s daugher was gone and he seemed unperturbed. There was some confusion over the meaning of vultures, and an unfortunate nearby patron of the inn was brought in to the discussion which had no fruitful conclusion. They may be birds, or possibly a warband. Greiz returned with the food, and a quest: Find and eliminate the source of rats. The reward would be worth their time.
Greiz’s instructions led them to the Temple of Three, a once great stone temple long abandoned. They gingerly picked their way through the rubble. Layla detected a faint magical presence but no obvious signs. Once inside the temple, Musushi began striking the walls. Wall tiles clattered to the ground and sent up clouds of dust. Thomas cleverly noticed that the dust was not acting as it should – unless there was a room behind the wall. Musushi redirected his blows, and a hidden doorway was revealed! …and also a hoard of angry rats! They fought off the rats easily, kicking them away, but a particularly vengeful rat bit Musushi.
The group was about to venture further into the hidden passage, but Thomas noticed as strange settling of debris on the cavern floor. His keen sense of perception saved them all when he detected and disabled a pit trap. (This guy is pretty handy!) They next entered a small chamber which held the remains of a man and his adventuring gear. He was surrounded by the bones of several large rodents. All of the bones had been “picked clean”. Thomas found a silver dagger, a string of beads, and a vial of an unknown liquid among the bones… Continuing along the dark tunnel lit only by their torches, they saw an eerie message written on the walls: He sees me with nine eyes. No one could make sense of the unsettling words. Musushi led the way deeper down the narrow tunnel, barely detecting yet another trap. Who set these traps and why?
The adventurers continued along the dark tunnel until it opened up into a large cavern. A beam of moonlight fell upon the floor of the cavern, revealing a large and hostile dire rat. The group defeated the rat together, but before they could breath a sigh of relief, they had an immediate and uncomfortable feeling that they were being watched. Collectively turning around and looking upwards, they were greeted by the sight of a hideous rat-like monster looming over them. Rooke’s and Thomas’ arrows struck true but did no great lasting damage. Magical damage appeared to self-heal. Layla hurled her flaming torch at the monster but it didn’t seem to care. Despair began to creep up on the group as they wondered how they could possibly defeat this beast. The giant rat monster leaped down from its perch and rounded on Musushi, and then on Elythia. In desperation, Elythia blinded the creature with a blast of overwhelming colors. The beast staggered back, clutching at its eyes. Seizing this opportunity, Thomas slashed at it with the silver dagger which left lasting damage! Emboldened by this success, he struck it again and again until at last it was defeated by a blow to its spine. The monster’s body dissolved into a writhing black tar which then melted into a still dark pool. The ichor seeped away into the ground, revealing the corpse of a man. The party was disturbed and confused by this development. They gathered the treasure and trinkets left behind by whatever or whoever the man/beast was, and hurried back to the Ambersand to confront Greiz.
Greiz thanked them for their assistance, and claimed to have no knowledge of the were-rat or other trials within the Temple of Three. Before the group could further interrogate him, he led them down into a beautiful villa which overlooked a large underground lake. An old regal woman with facial tattoos and piercings greeted them. Muini, a representative of the Ivory Clan, gave each of them a weighty bag of gold as reward for their troubles. The eradication was good for the merchants as they are expecting a highly important shipment soon.
Musushi, Thomas, Rooke, Layla, and Elythia were also given lodging for the night by Greiz, who noted that there appeared to be a falling star in the sky. Just as they were starting to turn in for the night there was a violent roar and rumble as a shock wave moved through Desheb. Looking out the window, they could see a harsh glow from the direction of the city of Memphun…