Episode 8 : The Desolation
 

Day 52. Before dawn Pecan spots a group of raiders attempting to surprise the party. Grog and Hildegard are roused just before the attack is sprung. The raiders turn out to be seven Dark Knights lead by Lord Crager Bloodholt, they are known as a formidable band of special forces trained to travel fast and strike with maximum disruption - very likely they are the vanguard of a much larger force tracking the party.

The ensuing battle is fierce and desperate, little has been done to refresh the spells from the previous night and the party is almost overwhelmed. Grog is struck a sickening blow from a Dark Knight trooper, the force of it all but cleaving him in twain. Moon springs to his sides and risks casting a healing spell from an advanced scroll but Grog has already departed this life.

As the party look to be beaten, Pecan remembers and uses the feather whistle that she was given. Three giant eagles immediately appear and the battle is turned. Finally the last Dark Knight falls, the party loot and hide the bodies and a gentle repose is cast upon the remains of Grog. Moon borrows the ring of wisdom (+2) from Grog, publicly avowing to return it when he is restored to life.

The party move on into the mountains. Pecan is able to briefly spot a large force of dark Knights following their trail, they are estimated to be half a day behind the party. They camp that night without a fire.

Day 53. The party arrive at the Desolation. This once fertile plain has been warped by the Red Marauder during her assault on Kendermore. It is now a desert of black sand and boiling lava flows. The sky is stained black from smoke, the acid rain has made the sand corrosive to skin (as tested by Pecan). Elijayess advises that the daytime temperatures (even in this winter) would quickly kill the unprotected, only by travelling at night could the party survive the heat but then the creatures come out to hunt....

The party devise a plan to travel during the day, using magical protection to ward themselves from the heat.

At dawn protective spells are cast and the party attempt the desolation. Elijayess mentions that the Oracles of the Desolation may have the power to restore Grog, but nothing can be certain when dealing with them.

At midday the party is hunted by a desolation giant, it attacks doing extensive damage but is eventually killed. Moon fights as though she has a death wish.

In the evening the party is ambushed by four monstrous trapdoor spiders and only just manages to reach a safe camp.

Day 54. The party moves on. At mid afternoon they are attacked by four flamestone panthers. Many in the party are badly injured.

The injured party staggers on to heal up and make camp in the early evening.

Day 55. In the early hours of the morning the camp is saturated with poisonous volcanic gases. Shiloh is quick to cast a rope trick and the party escape into it. At dawn a gust of wind is used to blow the gases away and the party leave the area quickly.

In the mid morning they meet a hunting party of Phaethon scouts - out looking for Slig. Their leader, Saragan Windflame, is impressed with the hospitality offered by the party and shares their food and drink. Before leaving they describe to Elijayess where the Oracles of the Desolation may be found.

The party change direction based upon the new instructions and continues onwards. In the early afternoon they are surprised by 8 Slig scouts. In the ensuing battle only Hildegard is left standing, all others being knocked unconscious. Hildegard pours random potions down Moons neck until she recovers enough to attend the other party members.

They stagger on, in the early evening they stumble upon the cave of the Oracles. They are three beautiful women named Sorrow, Mourn, and Lament. Elijayess is uncomfortable in their presence. They warn the party not to enter the cave, but agree to restore Grog to life if the party will do three things for them. Hildegard agrees and is tasked to carry and wear an amulet for 30 days. Next he must deliver a message to Grigolthan, an Ogre Mage said to be lurking around the peak of Malys. Lastly he is asked to sacrifice a valuable magic item to the Oracles - after some discussion and negotiation the earring (containing a stone of invisibility) of Pecan is offered and accepted. The Oracles agree to let the party rest in the magically sheltered compound outside the cave while they take the remains of Grog.

Day 56. Grog is returned to the party by the Oracles. Moon returns the ring she borrowed from Grog. The Oracles reveal:

"You are close to the end of this journey, but a new one shall soon begin. In the shadow of the volcano you will find something you seek - but the answers are not in Kendermore, they lie within the belly of the beast. In a place of darkness and fire you will find a tool of light. Without the light you will curse the darkness. What begins in fire shall end in ice...."

When asked of The Quarrel they reply that "that knowledge is not for your ears...."

The party leave the Oracles. Around midday they are attacked by a pair of desolation drakes. Grog finds himself knocked unconscious while enraged - rendering him rather dead (again).

A gentle repose is cast upon Grog and the party moves on, doing their best to heal as they go. As evening falls they camp.

Day 57. Around midday the party are ambushed by a group of 6 Harssaf raiders. In a surprise move Shiloh casts a rope trick, luring members of both parties into the space before dispelling it to cause random confusion. In the chaos that follows Shiloh skilfully hypnotises Hildegard in order to seed doubt into the minds of the raiders.

Unfortunately the Harsaff prove resistant to Shiloh's tricks and skilfully slaughter the party members. Finally however Elijayess and Moon win through with the help of a few motley summoned creatures.

The battered party moves on, eventually leaving the desolation in the early afternoon. As they move through slightly less blasted terrain they come across a clear spring and again meet Lament.

She sadly tells the party:

"Be brave, for in your hands you hold the fates of many. Your steps will lead you far from this desolate realm to places you cannot imagine. You will see things that very few have been graced to see.

Your quest is a noble one, although you know not all that it shall entail. There shall be many triumphs, but there shall also be many losses that you suffer.

In the end know this: Fate has chosen you but it is you who must choose your destiny.

I have argued with my sisters and I have been allowed to warn you thus: Beware the barbs of the arrows for they know not friend from foe, soon they shall return for the hunt!"

With that she disappears. The party (with the exception of Elijayess) advance to the next level.

The party camp at the spring to rest and heal.

 

 
(c) 2007 Dragonlance Roleplaying Campaign Journal by Chris Burton  
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