1. Through the Horned Gate

Roland awoke with a start as fetid water splashed on his face and ran down his body. After a night of drink and fight, he had been rounded up by the local militia and thrown in the brig. Freed by a familiar face – Trimark – she offered her old commander a job guarded a caravan headed out of Dago Town the next day. Roland accepted and agreed to help recruit additional muscle.

At the Halfshell, a tavern and inn inside an enormous tortoise skeleton, he found Marco Maestarr, an elven mage with a far-away look in his eyes. Roland recruited him to the cause and the two soon witnessed a tough Halfling ranger take out an Orcish bully in short order. Eli Bookof was ushered into the group as well. A peculiar Gnome Paladin named Brok Goldenleaf attempted to heal, cheat and then join the group, having seen the slaying outside. Eventually, they agreed. Finally, outside, the team was joined by Kevril Silentread AKA Duke Rope, a rogue and con-artist with sticky fingers.

The group prepared for their journey and drove two wagons pulled by Mandoos out through the enormous horned gate and into the Xanzilisa. The first leg of the journey was briefly interrupted when, while trying to track down a strange metallic clinking noise, Kevril discovered four giant centipedes attempting to devour the team's rations. The problem was dealt with quickly. Besides this event, the only thing of note was that Trimark's group seemed rigid, professional and more battle-ready than your run of the mill mercenaries.

That evening the group made camp and took two-person rotations all night long. During Kevril's first watch he discovered the source of the sound – military weapons stored and ready in the false-floor of one of the wagons. During his second shift, some hours later, the camp was set upon by enormous bats being ridden by elves in dark desert garb. They fought with lances when mounted, and scimitars on foot. Their leader, overheard to be called "Lord Commander," wielded a spectral blade that could appear in his hand at any time and which glowed with a blue-white vapor. He cut down two soldiers and proceeded to oversee the ransacking of one of the wagons, before Brok engaged him in combat, sensing that his sword had an evil nature.

The mysterious Lord Commander fled, perhaps frustrated that his search turned up nothing he was looking for (it should be noted he left the weapons, gold, armor and other personal effects of the caravan untouched). He called down a bevy of arrows from the dozen or more riders still circling in the sky and made a move to withdraw. As he tried to flee, Eli tagged him with a poison arrow and got a quick glimpse of his face, scowling in indignation. A giant bat rider carried him off.

Trimark was badly riddled with arrows, but Brok was able to stabilize her. The group heard her tale: 

King Luka, the regent of Rahar had uncovered an object which was stored in the secret compartment in the front wagon of the caravan's driver's bench. Once recovered, Marco was certain it was a powerful Primal artifact, but stopped short of messing with it too much. Trimark explained that the King felt that it was adamant that the artifact travel to the Tormaline Valley and reach the hands of a being called the Ard Ra. 

Uncertain of what to do with this information, the party salvaged a partial wagon and two Mandoos to carry Trimark and the surviving three soldiers back to Dago Town. They set out into the desert, intending to meet up with the soldiers back in Town that evening and decide what to do.

Rewards: a few small arms salvaged from the weapons cache, and 30 arrows poisoned with giant centipede venom (Eli).

XP: 300 (per character)



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