Absolution is yours... Seize it!

Get a grip(pli)

After a fitful rest on a new world, the pair checked their surroundings before moving on. There was still no pursuit in sight but after peeking from behind a ridge they spotted a solitary figure moving through the sand. It was child-sized and appeared to be in some distress, meandering along and, if not injured, at least disoriented.

A short discussion ensued and Stroth and Roux decided to catch up to the figure. If it was a native, perhaps they could find civilization and at any rate, it appeared to be too weak to pose a threat. Still moving carefully in case of pursuit, they caught up to the wanderer in short order.

They didn’t have much time to investigate their target because at the moment they caught up a burrowing creature launched a surprise attack. The creature appeared to be some kind of insect but it was easily large enough to make a meal out of them. Their quarry was in no shape to fight but tried anyway, and the duo decided to step in.

After a short battle, the small figure collapsed and the two got their first good look. It appeared to be a brown humanoid, but with frog-like features. It was also obviously suffering from exposure and lack of water, so they helped with some of their own supplies. The frog creature started speaking excitedly in a language the pair couldn’t understand, but when Roux spoke to the creature in his own tongue, the creature perked up and started answering in Roux’s language.

The creature thanked the two of them for their help and explained that her name was Appia and she was indeed a native of this world. She had come from a village and could help them reach it, but couldn’t return until her quest was complete. She had been sent out to acquire relics of her people that were in the possession of some lizard men. Roux and Stroth agreed to help her in exchange for guiding them to her village.

After giving her time to recover, the trio made their way across the desert toward’s Appia’s destination. As they traveled she told them that the relics were the bones of an ancestor and that she had tried unsuccessfully to recover them twice. Not long after they began walking Stroth noticed a smell in the air that reeked of rot and, after a small discussion, they decided to investigate the source, although Appia seemed to already know what they would find.

The source of the stench proved to be the corpse of a person and his pack animal. They left almost immediately, but not before Roux noticed a ring on the corpse’s finger that he took with him.

After their minor detour the three of them continued on to the cave the lizard men had occupied. It was a small opening in the sand dunes, with a pair of torches lighting the entrance. The heroes made ready to go inside.

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A heap too far

Our heroes, Stroth and Roux, having been unceremoniously shoved through a magical portal, were rather surprised by what was on the other side: a rather clumsy fall. Apparently a vertical doorway that is floor level on one side doesn’t have to be either of those things on the other side.

The two found themselves falling from a doorway in the sky onto the boxes recently delivered by the golem. They were also awash in heat as the world they found themselves in was very arid and bright. The boxes, having broken open upon arrival, cushioned the fall enough not to cause lasting problems for the duo, and they picked themselves up to take in the surroundings.

They found themselves on what amounted to a small mountain of weapons, armor and other gear that the exiles ahead of them had already started picking through; perhaps their captors had some slight compassion. Some of the boxes, those at the bottom of the pile, had evidently been there for some time and had started deteriorating in the sand and heat. Their earlier suspicions confirmed, it appeared that the entire group that had been pushed through the door were no strangers to violence, and they equipped themselves with practiced hands.

For their part, Roux and Stroth gathered food, some odds and ends and some spongy looking stones. They asked the remaining exiles what they were planning to do, since Pig seemed to have already left the midden heap and clouds of dust could be seen approaching quickly from several directions. Some left or were leaving already, but some planned to stay and see what this was all about.

Not willing to depend on the mercy of the approaching dust trails, Roux and Stroth decided to strike out on their own and to go in a direction they considered safe. Roux was even familiar with an environment similar to this world, and found a direction that would hide them from anyone spying from the heap that luck would have it was also not in the path of any of the incoming groups. Taking a native, branched plant to cover their tracks, the two of them left the remainder of the exiles to their own fate.

Some time later, they discovered that the world they were on had enough suns that night would never truly come; only a dimmer daylight. This would prove to be helpful because daytime was too hot to travel in, so true darkness would not be able to bar their progress. They made camp in a depressed area of the sand and took a look back at the heap. Many people were there now, and even Pig was in evidence as he seemed to be having an animated conversation with someone else. It was hard to tell at this distance but the heroes guessed that the few who had stayed behind had been slaughtered or possibly incorporated into the groups that had arrived.

Since pursuit seemed unlikely the two exiles examined their camping site a little closer and they ended up stirring up a nest of beetle-like insects. After a skirmish that left the bugs dead, the source of the beetles was found to be a box buried in the sand. The two of them were able to get the box out of its resting place and found it to be a coffin, with corpse in residence. The corpse decided it didn’t want to stay dead, and, looking straight at Roux, started chanting “BURN!” in a gravelly voice.

The two heroes had to deal with the undead and after an intense fight, laid it to rest a second time. In amongst the beetle carcasses and the corpse, the duo found a leather bracer that seemingly withstood the test of time, and a stone that intrigued Roux. They also found what looked to be reddish-green rocks that looked valuable to Stroth, so he scooped them up and put them in a bag for sale later.

This would prove to be a mistake.

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What's behind door number one?

Now that the “witnesses” had served their purpose, they were led out of their cells and down several corridors that finally let out into a hall full of doors. The hall had doors in every direction, with many different styles and most of them closed. There were several golems in evidence and much foot traffic as well, but the “witnesses” couldn’t tell what all this activity was for.

The group finally arrived at a door with a golem standing in front, and a judicial figure started announcing the fate of those gathered. Apparently, being sent back to where you came from was out of the question. Instead, all of the “witnesses” were to be left on a world where they would have to fend for themselves. As the judge read through his proclamation, the golem was steadily pushing crates through the door.

Throughout this speech, Pig looked smug and confident, but the judge turned to him at one point and said that this time would be different and Pig became very upset. Stroth, seeming to notice that Pig thought he had a deal worked out that had now fell through, tried to get the congregation riled up enough to confront the judge and Pig so as to find out what kind of deal they had, but some guards kept events peaceful.

After this final bit of outcry was over, the door was opened by using the key kept on a chain on the golem’s neck. The guards then herded the soon-to-be exiles to the golem who, with a massive hand, inexorably pushed each person through the door. As escape seemed more and more impossible, Stroth and Roux pondered their fate from the back of the line.

The congregation quickly dwindled and just when the heroes thought that their turn had come, time stopped! A womanly figure wearing a mask appeared and approached Stroth and Roux, speaking to them, or perhaps forcing words into their minds.

“You have been cheated but all must be forgiven.”, she said. “You alone can put an end to the Deep Ones’ plot! Absolution for all is in your grasp. My gift to you is like the nature of water, it will ebb and flow in the wasteland. You will despise it and learn to love it. The warp of chaos will not stain your soul if you are strong enough to resist it!”

Afterwards, she bestowed each of the heroes with a stinging, frostbitten kiss and disappeared, as time returned to normal and several things happened at once. Stroth was pushed through the door while a scream could be heard as of someone approaching. Roux took the opportunity to snatch the key from the golem’s neck and pocket it. As Roux was taking his turn, the noble that was on trial managed to bellow “Forgive me!” before impacting the floor and staining Roux’s clothes on his way out the door.

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In The Beginning

Stroth and Roux regained consciousness in what appeared to be a prison cell, surrounded by several other people who were also out cold. Upon investigation it appeared that everyone was abducted from wherever they called home, with no rhyme or reason.

As time passed, everyone was let out of their cells for food. During this period, a severely ugly dwarf named Pig attacked a halfling (just for fun it seems) and was on the verge of killing the poor guy with the help of his cronies when Stroth and Roux stepped in. The halfling was saved but in critical condition, and all parties were put back in their separate cells. Pig had paid special attention to the people that interrupted his fun though, and the remainder of the day he taunted and tried to intimidate his rivals.

Before any more violence could erupt, the cells were all led before a court and all prisoners were asked to give minimal testimony. Instead of prisoners, they appeared to be witnesses! After giving their testimony the court adjourned briefly and then returned with a surprise outcome – the person on trial for abducting all these people was found not guilty. All the “witnesses” were returned to their cells.

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