Lands of Dust, Cities of Ash

Butchery in Nibenay

2/11/2010 Session

Prologue

House Shom is one of the oldest Trading Houses in the Tyr region of Athas. They have slid into decadence and laziness on the believe that Shom is superior to any other merchant house. Once, this may have been true, but Shom has experienced an increasingly steep decline under the poor leadership of a series of weak leaders. Giovvo Shom has lead the house for more than 20 years of the recent decline.

As the campaign opens, Giovvo Shom was meeting at the House Shom Estate in Nibenay with the most senior agents of the house. Many know this is not common in recent times; Giovvo rarely has met with the senior agents as all he cared for was reveling in his own wealth and pleasure, leaving the agents to pursue trading opportunities at their own ambition (leading to mixed results, including frequent conflict within the group). Only when a truly critical matter arose would the group come together to try and push Giovvo Shom to guide the house on what should be done.

During this meeting, Giovvo Shom and all of the attending senior agents except for his longtime friend Kashel were brutally slain.

Fearing the lax security and wanting to force a decision on the election of new leadership by the newly minted senior merchant agents, Temvya Shom decides to move all critical staff, along with all possible supplies and all Shom caravans currently in the city, to nearby Fort Inix. As part of this, she sends several Shom retainers to collect her youngest brother and famed instructor of The Way, Larkyn Shom.

Exalted Path Monastery

After getting past a bit of chaos caused by Larkyn leading Thrad Redev to believe that a rival instructor’s ornate study was filled with Larkyn’s essential belongings, the group heading out in the brutal mid-afternoon sun to start on the trip to Fort Inix.

Winding through the claustrophobic streets of Nibenay, the group was ambushed by a group of elves. During the fight, one of the attackers was observed pointing to Larkyn and shouting “there he is!” in Elvish.

After a tough fight in which Thrad and Kelek valiantly absorbed the brunt of the first two rounds of attacks from the attackers, the adventurers emerged victorious. A quick examination of the corpses of their foes had tattoos indicating they were of the Sky Singer Elf Tribe, who maintain the Elven Market of Nibenay in Nibenay. No other indication of their motives could be discerned as all of the elves were slain in the battle.

Fort Inix

The party decided to press on to Fort Inix, where they were greeted with chaos. Thrad, Uzmati…well, basically, everyone except Larkyn noticed Jonnas, the majordomo of the House Shom estate in Nibenay (and now acting as such for Fort Inix) display a look of shock or surprise upon seeing Larkyn. While mingling, they also heard rumors that Giovvo’s advisor Kashel was in some way responsible for the assassinations, and that Larkyn had been summoned to help investigate the situation.

Temvya asked Larkyn to join a dinner party to discuss important house matters. Larkyn intentionally misunderstood and caused a bit of a stir when he invited his entourage to the event and required that they be seated.

In between other faus pax, such as Uzmati telekinetically moving dinner courses about the table, the party learned that the oldest of the Shom siblings, Jabea Shom, had refused Temvya’s invitation to meet at Fort Inix. According to Temvya, Jabea claimed he had no need to attend and that he was already clearly the new head of the house. Temvya was clearly furious and asked Larkyn to go to Cromlin to convince Jabea to come to Fort Inix; otherwise, a legitimate vote of the new senior mercantile agents of the house could not take place to elect the new head of the house. Temvya observed that a caravan bound for Cromlin had been diverted to Fort Inix since the previous leaders of the caravan were amongst those slain with Giovvo Shom. Larkyn agreed to accompany and lead the caravan to Cromlin.

After the dinner, the party accosted the majordomo to question him. When they were away from other observers, the man began to twitch and stammer. Within short order, Larkyn recognized that the majordomo’s facial muscles were re-arranged to resemble those of his childhood mentor, and only survivor of the slaughter at the Shom estates, Kashel.

Larkyn understood that Kashel had forced a psychic imprint upon the majordomo which triggered when he saw Larkyn and forced a compulsion on him to speak to Larkyn as soon as they were relatively alone. The majordomo proceded to speak with a facsimile of Kashel’s voice: “Larkyn – beware. I do not know who sent the assassin, but he knew we had come to meet with your father. We were discussing a critical matter – something so critical, I cannot risk imprinting it in the mind of this lout where it might be easily picked out. I am sure, though, that there is a traitor in House Shom.”

“The assassin was one of the red devils, and he carried a blade of shining steel. He killed everyone he could, and stole what he had obviously come for. I only kept my life when I was able to shadow my presence in his mind while he was distracted with your father. Regrettable, but I could do little against this killer, and felt I could best serve the House by living.”

“I am not entirely certain who to trust, but Jabea and I were in agreement on certain important matters which you will learn of. I ask you, come to Cromlin; the security in the Nibenay estate was, as you know, regrettably lax. Your brother has not made the same mistake.”

After speaking, the majordomo shook his head and, confused, asked to be excused due to a painful headache.

Travel to Cromlin

As the caravan assembled the next morning, the group realized that, while there were sufficient pack animals and supplies for the journey, all of the staff were junior or green. Tamvya and her advisors did not want to spare any senior guards or works from protecting Fort Inix.

Thrad used his fame from the pits to convince the captain of the Fort Inix guard to assign a senior sergeant and some additional guards to the caravan, increasing confidence in the success of the venture.

The party used their skills to guide the caravan via orientation, to keep it prepared for dangerous weather, and even to protect it from a pack of Gith raiders. Finally, they reached Cromlin…

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No Desert for Old Men

Short session as Time Bums exploded (Robert was in late and Charles had to leave early).

Cromlin

The party finally arrived in Cromlin. All were a bit surprised by the chaos and apparent lawlessness, but Ka’lek noticed that throughout the teaming crowd, there were hard-eyed individuals clearly watching people go about their business.

The party reached the House Shom lodge in Cromlin, where Jabea’s headquarters, as well as the offices of the local Trademaster Harkll Crost, were located. Jabea greeted his younger brother warmly but was anxious to see if he had Larkyn’s support and loyalty in his efforts to command House Shom and eventually restore it to prominence in the Tyr region.

Larkyn expressed some skepticism about Jabea’s methods, including the laws of Cromlin, which were both pragmatic (in attempting to foster the village’s viability as a regional black market, Jabea understood that certain cutthroat elements were unavoidable) and brutal (Jabea requires process be followed around trade, taxes and profits, and while publicly he cultivates the illusion that Shom has no real control over the village, privately everyone who regularly does business there understands that theft or avoidance of taxes is punishable by execution without trial).

The party was provided quarters in the lodge for a rest. The lodge itself was overdecorated in the common Shom fashion, with the exception of Larkyn’s reserved family room, which had been maintained for him in his expected spartan fashion.

Visions

While getting situation in his room, Larkyn touched one of the furnishings and experienced a vision.

  • First, his old mentor Kashel’s face, with a concerned expression
  • Next, an image of a strange dangerous looking individual and a feeling of fear
  • Finally, a view of a run-down tavern inside Cromlin, and a group of old men and women inside

Larkyn realized that he had received the vision via a psychometric imprint, presumably from Kashel, who would have to had been there to place it. Some masters of the Way know this technique, which allows them to instill impressions into an object such that another sensitive individual might see them. Though this technique can be done quickly by those who know how, it does not allow complex messages to be conveyed.

The lost wagon

Larkyn had another conversation with his brother. Larkyn would not immediately commit to supporting Jabea due to a drive to discover who had murdered Giovvo. Jabea said that he wished to do the same, but needed to get some things in order in Cromlin before he could proceed on the matter. Larkyn agreed to assist Jabea in the interim with a wagon lost in the same sandstorm which the party encountered on their way from Fort Inix. Jabea was particularly concerned with an ornate box that was on the lost wagon, which he claimed they should locate, but not open.

The Old Men

Before departing to search for the wagon, Larkyn suggested the visit a tavern. He did not offer an explanation on why this was important or why it had to be a specific tavern, so the rest of the party agreed it was a fine idea.

Inside the tavern, Larkyn spotted a group of elderly men and women of various races through a doorway to a back room; he recognized these as the folk from the third part of his vision. After the rest of the party ordered food and drink, Larkyn went back to talk with them.

Some of the elders looked familiar, and Larkyn quickly realized that their leader was Bexel, who served as Commander of the Guard for House Shom in Larkyn’s great-grandfather’s time.

After some discussion, Larkyn was told that Kashel had come to Cromlin but left in a great hurry without giving them details on what had frightened him. However, it was clear that the Cromlin secret guard had been looking for Kashel after he fled. Kashel had asked Bexel and the elders to assist Larkyn, which Bexel had agreed to do – if they felt Larkyn was worthy.

Bexel interviewed Larkyn, curious to find his quality as a descendent of Kyset Shom, his great-grandfather. Kyset was named for the man who originally brought House Shom to glory some centuries ago, Kys Shom. Though his time as head of the House was short, the Kyset was an astute, but above-board trader who sought to restore glory to the house. Bexel also questioned Larkyn’s companions about his loyalty, leadership, and cunning, and decided Larkyn and the party were worthy of the elder’s aid.

Uxmati learned Bexel’s Iron Stance, and Thrad learned Credea’s Warrior’s in Arms technique. The party was also gifted with four Everfresh Figs from a special grove of trees in the forest beyond the Ringing Mountains. They declined to learn Closed Mind from the mul, Vir.

Silt Runners are NOT kobolds, damn it!

Afterwards, the stalwart band mounted some kanks and started tracking the lost wagon into the desert. Along the way, a band of Silt Runners tried to ambush them. Accurate arrows, mental dominance, strong leadership, and Uzmati’s early adoption of the Form of Mountain’s Thunder made swift work of the ko…Silt Runners in a rather one-sided battle.

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