The Dead Lands of Athas

Life in the Dead Lands!

Having been separated after the horde of undead in the city of Kyron turned hostile before nightfall, each group was forced to find their own way out of the city. Three of their number were lost to the hoard (Akulaa, Ceirenia, and Nevaro), their fates unknown.

They circled back to their camp outside the city to retrieve some equipment and supplies, only to find it ransacked. Both Urza and Ceirenia’s mounts have been eaten, their bones and chitin picked clean. Ceirenia’s palanquin has been ripped apart and what belongings remain are strewn about the camp. The living tree which she kept within is missing as well.

They then realize that they are still being pursued by mobs of undead. They skirt the eastern cliff face to limit the direction which they could be attacked, and to avoid the Trees of Death and the Gray Tear.

Still pursued by undead for miles, the adventurers head northward, until they spy what they first believe to be a mirage. A lush oasis 2 miles in diameter with a massive tree at its center. As they draw nearer to the oasis, they soon discover the undead have ceased in their pursuit – they all stop within sight of the oasis and will come no closer.

Sierra’s skeletal minion doggedly follows her onward, but she soon realizes that it will soon be destroyed if it continues. She instructs it to flee westward until it can no longer see the oasis, and then head on northward for five miles and wait for her.

When they approach the verdant break in the Obsidian Plain, it appears as if the very plants beneath their feet are alive with a directed intelligence. A path opens amidst the tall grasses, and fruit of all sorts drop down from their vines. There is plenty of water and edible plant life to resupply their stocks.

When they settle down to rest in this strange place, they share a vision of a young druid who chose to sacrifice himself to a powerful Spirit of the Land to stop the spread of the Obsidian Tide. They assume that the intelligence directing the plantlife is the druid they saw in their dreams.

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Exodus from Kyron
The City of Kyron Awakens, part II

Those adventurers who remained with Amion continued to inquire of the dead lord about the Dead Lands and the living visitors they believe to be the Agents of Nibenay. The ancient preserver continues his tale of how the Dead Lands came to be.

Quith refused to continue her research into the Gray, as the rent they had made was spilling death and decay across the countryside. The The Warbringer killed her for disobedience, and forced her into a state of undeath. She later escaped his dungeon, knowing full well that her apprentice Gretch would continue their work with no restraint.

She sought out an order of Druids, and convinced them to help her against Gretch, in spite of their restraint towards her being an undead abomination in their eyes. United, they devised a means of using the power of the four elements to seal the tear. While the tear was (mostly) sealed, the union of all four elements mingled with the negative energies of the Gray created a new substance with malign properties. The Obsidian Tide was formed, and began to kill all in its path and coat everything in a layer of black glass.

The druids paid with their lives to stop the Tide, and succeeded before it was able to rise out of the Basin. Unfortunately, what was once the Ulyan Basin had been completely covered in molten obsidian infused with the negative energies of the Gray, and soon the dead began to rise from their glassy tombs…

After the tale, the remaining adventurers began to hear strange tones issuing from above them, and a worried shout from Amion warns them that Kyron awakens early. It appears that Evar-li‘s forces have been alerted to their presence, and that soon the city’s grisly population would be upon them.

Amion and his supporters helped aid them out of the city, but sudden-strike attacks along the way led to the loss of Lady Ceirenia and her servant Nevaro before they were free of the accursed place.

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The Eminence of Prominence
The City of Kyron Awakens, part I

As half of the adventurers work to reunite with the rest after their excursion through the undead city of Kyron, they begin to notice the wide, sweeping lines scored into the ground at their feet begin to gleam with a blue-green flame. A Gray haze begins to rise from the minute flames like smoke, and they hear haunting tones resonating from the lines.

The undead in the vicinity clearly react to the haze and the music, abandoning their normal routine and begin forming into structured militaristic lines. They then turn their attention towards the living — Willem and his team.

More undead begin emerging from the ruined buildings and join the fray, all moving in jerky, rhythmic movements back and forth and side to side as they march on towards the party. Willem suspects that the strange, dance-like movements are indicative of an internal struggle for the undead to regain control of their own actions.

Though Willem had already cast an enchantment to conceal themselves from undead, he and his team can easily tell that the increasing hoard appear to be heading in their direction. Akile leaps up to the building tops hoping to avoid the undead entirely, while Ascher, Akulaa, and Sierra remain with Willem, weapons drawn but eager to flee…

As they prepare for the worst from the oncoming horde, they hear a hauntingly enchanting dirge in tune to the notes emitting from the ground sigils. Undead begin to step aside as an imposing figure in a suit of red and black leather armor parts from the crowd. They fall in behind the new undead being, and those within the immediate area begin to mimic his own dance-like movements as it continues to sing.

Sierra struggles to command any undead around her, and resorts to raining fire and brimstone upon those nearest to the adventurers. Ascher and Akulaa are cutting their way through the hoard the best they can.

The Maiden speaks to Willem, and tells him that he must destroy the undead lord before them, known as the Eminence of Prominence if they are to safely escape. Hoping to disrupt the Dirgesinger with a countersong, Willem quickly withdrew his lute and matched the awkward dance the undead lord was making with one of his own.

Not only did the countersong seem to confuse the undead around them, but with Willem’s aid Sierra’s repeated attempts at controlling them suddenly proved fruitful. Soon they had their own cadre of undead shielding them, each mimicking Willem’s dance instead of the Dirgesinger’s.

A contest of wills commenced between the Dirgesinger and the adventurers, until Willem came face to face with the Eminence of Prominence. The undead lord lashes out with cold, wicked talons that sapped strength at the slightest touch. With The Maiden springing forth from his hands, Willem slashes twice across the Dirgesinger’s chest. As the corroded blade cuts deep into undead flesh, an ethereal silver flame drips from the wounds and lingers.

While Willem continues to battle the Dirgesinger, Sierra takes advantage of the distraction to take control of more of the undead around them while Ascher and Akulaa battle those still against them. Willem takes some serious wounds from the Eminence of Prominence, but withthe aid of The Maiden he is able to strike a final blow. The Dirgesinger crumples to the ground in a flash of silver light, leaving nothing but an empty heap of loose armor upon the obsidian ground.

They quickly flee the city, but in the chaos loose Akulaa to the raging undead horde.

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Searching through Kyron
The hunt for Nibenay's team continues...

Although a few of the adventurers wished to confront and question the evil leader of Kyron known as Evar-li, the group as a whole decided against it for now, considering the ruler’s penchant for cruelty and power to control entire cities of undead.

The adventurers learn from Amion that another group of the living passed through the city of Kyron a short time ago. He did not speak with them directly, but knew that they combed through the ruins in search of something, most likely treasure hunting.

Urza proposes that they split up and search over the same area that the others traveled, to look for anything they might have dropped that he could use to track them via scrying. Akile and Ascher volunteered to venture out, confident that their skills in stealth would protect them from detection by rogue undead, while Sierra offered her services in controlling and destroying undead in case they were detected.

In the southeastern quarter of the city, where they were informed that the latest visitors were spotted, Akile discovered a torn strip of cloth clinging to a tattered doorway. The cloth was clearly torn recently, and indicated that the other team must have passed through the archway recently. They discover a cellar, clearly searched through —and as pointed out by Sierra, occupied by undead.

The elven woman made use of her clerical powers and her obsidian fist to gain control of the pair of skeletons hiding within before they had a chance to attack. Little of worth was found within save for a few scraps of decaying metal.

Willem spotted another location recently disturbed, noting where a decaying cart was pushed aside to gain access to another ruined building. This building reminded him of an Alliance bolt-hole, complete with an underground wizard study. Here, they discovered a glass rod emanating magic, and an apparatus that someone had broken attempting to pry it loose. It was clear by the splattering of dried blood that they had cut themselves in the attempt.

Fortunately, Willem knew that a sample of the blood should be more than enough to direct a proper scry spell, and signaled his team to leave.

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Kyron, the City of 10,000 Dead
Sneaking through Hostile Territory

The adventurers ask Goran about any other living visitors he might have heard of lately, hoping to gather information about the team sent by Nibenay. He tells them of a group who passed through nearly a month ago (which matches what they learned in Ceilk), and that they were headed for Kyron, and were seeking out the Gnomish settlement known as Small Home.

He warns them that not all undead in the Ulyan Basin are as stable as his city, and that many loose their rational minds after dusk, becoming ravenous beasts. It is implied that the ruler of Kyron, Evar-Li, has something to do with this.

The adventurers depart for Kyron seeking answers, and are told to seek out someone he calls Amion, who might help them on their quest. When they near the city, they see that it swarms with undead, and heed Goran’s warning. They wait for dawn before nearing the city, and find it eerily quiet, though incorporeal shades wander the city oblivious to their undead state. The adventurers take pains to avoid them, as they were also warned that confronting the shades could awaken their wrath.

Before they reach the meeting place, they catch glimpse of a pair of undead who are not mindless, who clearly take notice of them before fleeing deeper into the city. They assume that these are Amion’s people, and heed it no mind. Later they reach the courtyard described by Goran, and soon see a hooded zombie who bids them to follow.

He leads them to a room where Amion has been awaiting them. The short, impish looking creature greeted them cheerfully and did what he could to make them feel comfortable. When asked about Gretch, he told them of how the Dead Lands were created, for it was Gretch himself who was directly responsible.

It was only by the efforts if the sorceress Qwith that the negative energy unleashed by Gretch did not kill off most of the life on Athas.

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The City of Whitewood

Whitewood, or Biga’fe’tye in the native Orc tongue, is situated close to the Silt Sea and is surrounded in a shallow of silt, which eventually . A path of large blocks of cut obsidian rises from the shallows and leads to the main entrance to this large city. The city sports a strange and wonderful architecture, and except for the Obsidian Way it is completely free of the black glass that coats everything else in the Dead Lands.

The adventurers soon feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of undead within the city, as they are in the thousands. But many seem overjoyed to see the party and greet them kindly, while others simply ignore them and go about their business. A few undead bolt as soon as they notice them, and soon after a well-preserved undead wearing a newly made embroidered longcoat comes toward them upon a hoovering platform.

He formally introduces himself as Goran, Merchant prince of Biga’fe’tye. He states that he is the closest thing to a ruler of this city, and has been directing his people for the better part of 3000 years. True orcish rulers possessed great spellcraft, but were personally destroyed by the Orc Plague, and their souls never rose after the Obsidian Tide washed over the Ulyan Basin. He has worked hard to chip away the obsidian from the city, and has contacts outside of the Ulyan Basin with whom he trades.

The adventurers are well treated and provisioned, although everything has a price —be it gear, services, or information. Goran himself provides information on a group of adventurers who passed though about a month ago, who said they were heading to a place called Small Home. He warned that many undead of the Dead Lands go through periods of madness, especially towards the living and during the night hours.

Goran was inquisitive about the Thri-kreen, as such creatures where considered non-sentient when he was alive. When Willem mentioned their mission, Goran was willing to trade much for any information about how undead might circumvent the Gray Veil.

After establishing a place to stay and trading for provisions, the adventurers broke off to explore the city. Goran has mentioned that nearly anything could be acquired here for a price, and Perditus asked if any prostitutes were available. He purchased time with 3 tall orcish zombies, and may have contracted the Zomb-AIDS.

Willem spoke of his kidnapping, and showed Goran the sword, saved his life. Goran knew of the perpetrator, who had been waning in sanity for many years. Once Goran realized what the sword was, he quickly told Willem to put it away, as weapons designed to slay undead were considered contraband. He spoke nothing of confiscation, and was even willing to have a sheath crafted to hide such an enchantment as long as Willem agreed to keep the blade packed away while he stayed in Whitewood.
Willem then purchased a chitin shield, and after seeing a shipment of wood pass by, commissioned for a wooden flute to be made, though Goran seemed very reluctant to part with anything of wooden construction. The orc actually was willing to purchase any wood the party might have for an exorbitant rate.

Seeking out information on ancient psionics, Kheldar found himself at the far end of the city where a small fleet of ships lined the harbor. The vessels were almost completely made of precious wood instead of more practical materials. It must be here that all that wood was brought. Other ships appeared to be in construction, and its building was overseen by master psions who were willing to speak to Kheldar about various psionic techniques. He asked about a Mnemonic Crystal he had found that gave him instant knowledge of a power he had never heard of. He learned that such crystals were used at the height of the Green Age, but fell out of favor because they re-wrote the user’s mind with a piece of the crystal’s creator.

Urza sought out a library hoping to discover some ancient secrets, while the others rested or traded for better gear in the marketplace.

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The Windfire Sea

Clearing the ash clouds and the undead that dwelt within, their guides state that they are soon approaching the undead city of Whitewood. Along the way, Ascher spots what appears to be a heat mirage: The obsidian ahead of them appears to be rippling like water.

As they approach, the adventurer’s noticed an abrupt increase in temperature, making the already unbearable Dead Lands even worse. It appeared they were approaching a lava caldera, but stretching for miles lay a heaving sea of inky black liquid undulating in the hot breeze and boiling from the heat. Perditus was first to investigate, and attempted to throw a massive bolder into the expanse to see how it would react. It was too large, and nearly smashed his foot when he “threw” it. When he attempted a more reasonable stone, it lightly bounced before slowly sinking beneath, a slight gout of flame surrounding it as it sank.

Urza then came up behind Perditus and began to summon water above the caldera in an attempt to cool some of the molten obsidian. A cloud of steam immediately washed over both of them before the black magma itself lashed out at them and attempted to draw them in of its own volition.

While Urza was attempting to kill he and Perditus, their Magma Cleric Sierra found the location fascinating. She approached the shores of this strange Liquid Obsidian with trance-like determination, bent down, and thrust an arm nearly to her elbow into the molten obsidian. Her screams echoed throughout the basin. Immediately Urza stopped messing around and attempted to pull her away and heal her, though when she withdrew her arm it appeared as if her arm was replaced by a well carved and polished obsidian fist. At this point the adventurers were certain that she was mad.

Soon after, likely because of Sierra’s screams, the adventurers discovered a pack of running toward them. The creatures were clearly hostile and displayed tactics which revealed their intellect, hammering them with both physical and psionic attacks. Just being in their presence was mentally draining. The battle was long and drawn out, with Perditus becoming gravely wounded, but in the end the adventurers triumphed.

Surveying the wounded, they realize Willem is nowhere to be found…

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An Ashen Haze

After spending the night in the Temple of the Wailing Waters, the adventurers decide to travel only during dusk and dawn to minimize their contact with undead and the merciless rays of the sun.

As they begin their journey towards the undead city of Whitewood, the adventurers notice heavy clouds looming off in the distance, spanning too wide a distance to avoid.

Soon, the mist and ash overtook them. They immediately notice the sudden decrease in temperature, and would find comfort in it were it not so difficult to breathe within. Though their visibility was vastly reduced within the ash clouds, the adventurers began to notice several humanoid figures begin to coalesce out of the haze.

As the figures close in around the adventurers, they can see the bright green glow of the mysterious figures eyes and the loose gray skin hanging from their gaunt frames. They attack with claws and teeth that seem to sap their very strength.

Willem quickly sets several on fire with his splash-globes, while Perditus and Ascher close into melee with the creatures. They concentrate their efforts and one-by-one bring the creatures down. Each time one of the gray zombies is struck down, it quickly evaporates into more mist and ash.

After all the gray zombies have been defeated, Perditus charges into the gray haze, and begins fighting with something no one else can see. Most think he has lost it, though at one point it appeared as if he were floating in midair while he madly swung his psychic blade around. Finally Perditus falls to the ground, landing on his feet and claiming that there was a great beast he fought.

Most write it off as one of their companion’s many eccentricities….

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In the Cluches of Evil
Charnelhouse of Tforkatch River

Having approached the barracks known as Charnelhouse and declaring he sought to defeat the Dead Lord Gretch, Perditus was blissfully unaware that they were loyal to Gretch. He was then escorted to a holding cell for further questioning under the pretense of waiting to meet with their ranking officer. Because of his exposure to the Block of Perditio, he has a unique aura which undead perceive as one of their own, which is why the undead did not simply eat him. They are a bit confused as to why their necromancers are not able to control him.

Meanwhile, Akile reports back to the rest of the party that he suspects that Perditus may be in trouble. Willem has already learned from the Raaig in the Temple of the Wailing Waters that the location is hostile, and comes up with a plan to retrieve him, hoping to bluff their way into and out of the compound.

Akulaa shares a few potion fruits which she says will mask the aura of those who eat them to appear as if they were undead, which Willem and Ascher further enhance through makeup and disguise.

Lady Ceirenia offers her knowledge of the region to aid in their bluff. “You must be confident —arrogant. Tell them you serve Lord Abthor, who is one of the Dead Lords who studied under Gretch.” She also produces a token supposedly bearing the man’s heraldry to legitimize their claim.

Approaching the undead barracks, Willem provides a fictitious name and rank to the guard stationed there. He tells the guard that he is on a mission for the Dead Lord Abthor, and that one of his own soldiers had wandered into the barracks (implying that he was not very bright).

Kheldar uses his mastery of the Way to pierce an anti-psionic barrier and communicate with Perditus. He tells him that they are their to save him (Confirming Perditus’ suspicions that he might have gotten himself in over his head). When the skeletal soldier watching Perditus in his cell refuses to speak with him, he decides to get frisky and undress the skeleton… The mindless undead repeatedly bites him in an attempt to fend off the unwanted assault). Perditus manages to remove a bracer from the skeleton, though its bony arm came along with it.

About this time, Sergeant-Commander Reklez (the Fallen Legionnaire who had escorted Perditus through the base) returned to retrieve and release him into the custody of Willem and his companions. Their ruse appeared to work, but they had their apprehensions about the ease in which they left…

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Across the Black Silt River

The adventurers discuss where they should head next, and decide to travel to the city of Whitewood, a city predominately occupied by a race once known as Orcs. They learn from Commander Iskender, who once hunted their kind, that these orcs are tenacious merchants of duplicitous nature.

While travelling Northeast towards Whitewood, they come to the edge of a silt estuary hundreds of feet across, black as obsidian instead of the normal pearly white color. Lady Ceirenia points out that this was once known as the Tforkattch River, and that a massive battle occurred here in the Green Age, and they might want to look around for treasure.

Looking around the estuary for a means of crossing and anything else of note, they discover a ruined temple nearby. Across the estuary and to the west, a large chain of low-lying buildings are spotted. Perditus and Akile investigate the settlement across the river, while the rest inspect the temple.

The temple ruin appears to have been dedicated to some river “goddess”, and Willem and Ascher refrain from looting the shrine’s wealth for fear of inciting the wrath of a Spirit of the Land. Willem cautiously searches the temple for the presence of undead, and discovers a Raaig guardian.

Across the river, it becomes evident that the chain of buildings is a garrison of Fallen Legionnaires. Being that his first encounter with such beings was positive, Perditus goes to meet the soldiers while Akile remains hidden. They react as Iskender did, and request his rank and purpose for being there.

He learns that the place is called Charnelhouse, and has been invited to speak with someone called Vizier Sthonkho.

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