Slaves of Sargon

What the Hell, Kid!

Na na na na na na na na

Warned about the incoming flood of dark dwarves, the Red Butchers send the party northeast, to the plains of Silvergrass, to seek the help of the plainsmen and their spirit walker, Bhenkadra. Along the way, the party is set upon by a pack of dire wolves. Thrall sets the thick, dry brush ablaze to drive the wolves out of cover, and though the party sustains some heavy wounds, the wolves are all killed.

Soon after, they are met by a plainsman warrior, who had seen the smoke from a distance. He is wary and distant at first, but impressed when he learns that the adventurers have defeated the dire wolves (and made a cloak of their pelts, in Thrall’s case). He leads them to plainsmen’s camp, where they meet the chieftain, Orin Pathfinder., and rest.

The next day, they approach Pathfinder and Bhenkadra to convince the spirit walker to join them in their fight against the minotaurs. Bhenkadra is sympathetic to their need, but tells them that were he to go with them, the plainsmen, no friends of the Red Butchers, would consider it a kidnapping and respond violently. Riza asks if there is anything they could do to reassure the tribe of their good intentions, and the spirit walker tells them of the disturbing—and sometimes fatal—dreams that have been besetting the tribespeople of late.

They speak to Takleshim, Nascha’s son, as well as some of the other members of the tribe, to learn more about these nightmares. The tribespeople tell them of huge, hairy spiders, as big as wagons, approaching them ominously within a twilight dreamscape filled with small pools of foul liquid. The spiders are a deep blue, almost black, bearing a remarkable similarity to some (much smaller) spiders that the plainsmen had come across when gathering berries nearby.

The adventurers quickly determine that many of the individuals suffering from these dreams had been previously bitten by these spiders, and go hunting for them, first in the supply tent where the gathered berries were kept, and then out in a ravine where the berry bushes grow. Working in concert with the tribespeople to dig a fire break around the bushes and set them alight, trapping the spiders within, they destroy most of the remaining spiders, except for a few clusters that sail away from the blaze on balloons made of spiderweb and sent soaring by the updraft from the flames. The surviving spiders make it into a small crevice in the hills to the side of the ravine; Riza and Thrall begin piling burning brush at the cave entrance to smoke out the remaining spiders.

Meanwhile, Malcer heads around the hill to see if there is another opening through which the spiders might escape. He finds an opening; and emerging from it, a strange, bat-like person with leathery wings and sharp fangs—a man-bat, if you will—engorging itself on handfuls of the spiders. It sees Malcer and attacks.

Hearing Malcer’s shouts, the party heads around the hill to join him in combat, leaving Riza at the mouth of the cave to ensure the remaining spiders do not escape. Together, they are able to dispatch the strange creature, just as Riza crushes the last cluster of surviving arachnids. Inside the cave, they find a spear and shield that had once belonged to Orak, a warrior of the tribe known for a scar he had borne across the side of his face—a scar remarkably similar to the one borne by the bat-thing (bat-boy? man-bat? there’s got to be a better name).

Thrall, as is his wont, skins the bat-man and turns it into a terrifying cloak.

Heading back to the camp with the rest of the tribespeople, they tell Bhenkadra of the spiders, and the creature that was eating them. He thanks them for their help, but tells them that there quest is not yet done; while the spiders have been eliminated, those who were bitten by them will continue to suffer from the terminal nightmares until the spiders are defeated once more—within that nightmarish dreamscape. With the help of some remarkably potent mushroom spores, he sends Riza, Malcer and Thrall into the dream to face the spiders among the pools of liquid death.

While Leira, Harvek and Bhenkadra watch over the dreaming adventurers, Bhenkadra tells the others that his visions have shown him that an assassin approaches. No sooner has he spoken then a tear opens up in the very air, through which emerges a minotaur ready to slay the spirit walker. The minotaur assassin is taken by surprise when he finds more than just Bhenkadra awaiting him, and Leira and Harvek set upon him at once.

The dreamers awake, having destroyed the spiders, to find the corpse of the assassin lying in Bhenkadra’s tent. Riza searches the body to find a sigil of House Minato, largest and most powerful of the houses of Sargon. Bhenkadra tells them that in House Minato, there is someone else like him, through whom an invisible being of great wisdom and power works, but he does not seem to know what the end goal of this entity is—or even of the voice that speaks through Bhenkadra himself.

The tribespeople are grateful to the adventurers for dealing with the spiders, and the nightmares that had plagued them, and are finally willing to let Bhenkadra journey with them to Bastion, and the Red Butchers.

But when they return, the find Bastion ablaze, and the sky filled with the smoke in the wake of a minotaur assault…

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