Khur is an arid nation of desert and badlands, flanked by Neraka to the north and Silvanesti to the south. The majority of its people are nomads divided into seven large tribes, with a few large cities. The Party will need to travel between 50-75 miles from Pashin to the ruins of Hurim, averaging 3 to 5 days of travel.
Southern Khur is a land of extremes, of great heat in the daytime and bitter cold at night. Clouds are sparse, leading a famous poet to describe the night sky as “a polished bowl of obsidian, scattered with a glittering spray of diamond dust.” The group had a couple environmental checks regarding heat exhaustion and stroke. They primarily overcame this by pitching a tent against a sand dune in the day and traveling at night.
The party grew in size in the first encounter when it met two Aarakocra who were being swarmed by a dozen strange mechanical creatures being controlled by a thin and gaunt humanoid who was intent on returning them to a well hidden underground complex. (Who knows what lies under these sands?)
The group attacked the creatures and saved the “bird men” who managed to escape in the process. While their tactics were reasonable, the sheer number of the foes combined with their sorcerous master proved too much for the party to overcome and resorted to guerrilla warfare tactics by hitting and running and hiding. The machines controller was having none of it, and refusing to allow his minions to be separated in a search returned to the dungeon below. The party (after a brief meet and greet with the birdmen) left the area.
The group traveled hard nonstop until they came upon the Miku Tribe.
In the distance you begin to make out the sounds of laughter, of voices raised in conversation and song.
You can spot the source of the noise. Situated in a dry gully is a large nomad encampment. Bright, colorful tents are spread like a field of windflowers, vivid even in the dying light of the setting sun. The camp’s arranged in concentric circles, the largest tents situated near the center, ringing an enormous bonfire.
Most of the campers are situated near the camp’s heart, where a celebration is being held. Scantily-clad figures wrapped in billowing scarves with gem-like hues dance about the bonfire, accompanied by a boisterous cacophony of dozens of instruments playing a raucous tune.
The Mikku are a tribe of performers who’ve traveled the length and breadth of Khur. They’re camping out in preparation for the annual Khur festival, months away but no less eager for practice. They were initially friendly and invited the group into their campsite by Alakar the Silent, the tribe’s leader. Alakar encouraged them to join in the festivities and feel welcome in the camp. As a sign of hospitality, they offered salt with their meals. A bond of salt signifies that the guests will come to no harm as long as they remain within the giver’s house (or tribe, in this case). This was actually a real-world tradition among Arabs in the distant past btw..
This did not last long as one of the young and brave defenders of the tribe (who fashioned a cloak from a bull) nick named “Minotaur” choose to challenge the party’s Minotaur to a fight. He was instantly gored by the Bull-Man and went down immediately. Frightened and shocked at the brutal response many of the Mikku left the area the party was in, including Alakar who helped carry away the young man who unfortunately died of his wound. Talk about a Kill-Joy! ::crickets:: ok…
The group turned in, but not before the groups Knight was approached by a seer named Asmara. She pointed at him as her eyes turned white…
“And one shall stand upon the backs of nature’s builders, walk across a floor that lives, and speak to a voice that is one above the many.”
This was not the last strange encounter he had either, as later in his tent he was approached by the apparition of a small girl, whom he demanded leave his tent at once! It however, wasn’t listening to his demands…
“You must hurry… the winds carry the voices of many spirits, and they are crying for help. You must keep the key safe otherwise all will be lost. In the temple of the betrayed, you must find the shard of light. It shall lead you on the path you have been chosen to walk.”
Before he could further insist she leave the sound of high-pitched whistling blew open the leather flaps of his tent wide and a whirlwind tore through the opening.
The group awoke to the noise (along with half the camp) as they were attacked by two Air Elementals. This was the lonest fight of the night and it was a knock down drag out. In the end almost the entire party was down (as well as numerous Mikku) before the Air Elementals were destroyed. The group’s previous encounter with “The Minotaur” seemed to not be forgiven, but temporarily forgotten for fighting the creatures off and saving some of the Mikku. After the chaos the group spoke with Alakar and discovered the ghostly child that visited the Knight was their daughter who died a week prior. This was seen as a sign and the Mikku offered to take the group to the Forsaken Valley.
The Ruins of Hurim
The Mikku stop outside the entrance to the valley proper. There is a citrus grove to the north of Hurim the Mikku will stop at, and told the group they will wait for a week for the them. After giving them supplies and a back-pounding slap on the back, Alakar prays that the Gods watch over them and that they might meet again.
Hurim is where things start getting serious. Undead are present, even at daytime (although in smaller numbers), and the curse suffuses everywhere outside the Shattered Temple with a Desecrate spell, buffing undead and evil/necromantic spells. At night an unnatural fog floats above the ground all across the valley. Monstrous scorpions, zombies, skeletons, wights, and kender are but a few horrors that dwell here…
The group fought off a Zombie bear, met a stranger Kender who speaks with the dead and apparently is staying in the area to determine its secrets. They managed to fulfill a Ghostly Knights oath that had kept him prisoner in the Valley for hundreds of years by convincing his subordinates who had become shades to “go into the light”.
As they made their way closer to the temple the kender warned the group of a strange Dryad who had been contaminated by the place and would not allow them to pass.
Her flesh is dark and knotty like tree bark, with a thick, sickly-looking moss spreading across her limbs. Her fingers end in long, thornlike claws, and her hair crackles in the breeze like the dead leaves of winter. Her eyes glow with an unnatural incandescence as she speaks harshly in the Common tongue. "Be gone now, or your flesh shall be flayed from your body, my pretty flowers shall drink of your blood as your bones are ground into the earth beneath my feet.
This encounter was a cake walk as the party slaughtered the Dryad with little care for her predicament, and made short work of everything else in the area. Onward!
After making their way to a high plateau and crossing a few bridges they arrived at the shattered temple.
The group advanced to level 4!!