The party leaves Grant and the Valleylands behind, and turns towards the Holy Empire of Que’edal, seeking to travel to Gyr and visit the Great Library. They arrive at Sandpoint, a small town at the edge of the Dragonsands desert where the party makes preparations for the week long trek along the Snakeroad that lies before them. A new companion, Octavian Van Helsing, joins the party. Preparations are difficult, the journey is hard, and getting attacked by a sandworm doesn’t help either. Hasan Khaled rescues the party from an attack by a second sandworm, and guides them out of the desert in return for carrying his artifacts and supplies to Gyr. Now, the city and the Great Library lie ahead.
The North Road
After deciding to leave Grant and head north to visit the Great Library at Gyr, the party started off down the North Road, the major thoroughfare linking the Holy Empire of Que’edal and the Valleylands. While traveling, the group encountered a group of Que’edali paladins, and Eric and Rustiford hid in the bushes while Metis continued to walk calmly down the road. Metis recognize the paladins as the 16th Division, and its two leaders as Ezra Dran and Griygin Karr, his wife and ex-best friend. Neither Griygin nor Ezra recognized Metis now that he had been transformed into a woman by his belt of change gender, however Griygin seemed to be suspicious or uneasy when speaking with Metis. The paladins pounded off down the road after asking Metis a few questions about the state of affairs in Grant, leaving the party to reunite and continue north.
A New Companion
The party arrived in a small Que’edali town called Sandpoint after a day of uneventful travel along the North Road. They took up residence in an inn called the Empty Barrel and immediately struck up a conversation with the barkeeper, Sina, a jovial half-elf who, like all bartenders, obsessively cleaned drinking glasses with a rag. Sina expressed a lot of interest in the party’s previous adventures, especially in Metis, after the group fumbled to provide an alternate name for him in his female disguise. The group told Sina that they were headed to Gyr to visit the library, and were overheard by a man named Octavian Von Helsing, who mentioned that he was also headed to Gyr. Octavian was offered a place in the traveling party for safety on the way to Gyr, and accepted. The group then began preparations for leaving Sandpoint.
As Metis was leaving the Empty Barrel Tavern, he noticed that the barkeeper, Sina, handing a note to a young boy. The boy then took off running, and Metis, suspicious, gave chase, catching the boy and holding him against a wall. After threatening to break the legs of the boy’s prized horse, Biscuit (who was the fastest horse in the village!), the boy confessed that Sina had hired him to deliver messages to the Inquisitory in the next town over. Metis took the note, gave the boy 20 gold pieces for his troubles, and read the following message:
Suspicious travelers out of River Duchies to Gyr. Possible sighting of M.
P.S. I am expecting my payment
After an encounter with a raging feminist seamstress, Alison, and her depressed husband, Wes, the party acquired clothes suitable for desert travel and Metis and Rustiford bought full sand gear including goggles just in case they ran into a sandstorm. While talking to Alison, Octavian discovered that Sina had been in contact with the Inquisition, and was likely being payed as an informant. After informing Metis, the two decided to torture Sina for information, and after burning his face to hide his identity from the Inquisition, sent him off along the North Road to die. Rustiford had significant moral issues with torturing Sina, and attempted to help him as best he could and ease his pains when possible. Octavian discovered that the Inquisitors that had recruited Sina were part of a special task force called the Order of the Garnet.
The party further prepared for their impending journey by purchasing supplies one by one from local general store owner, Iqurith. Iqurith was incredibly eccentric, weaving long, incomprehensible stories about dire bunny attacks and insisting that the Scati that the party tried to rent from him choose them. After a rather traumatic series of deals with the strange man, they had all of the trail rations, water, and mounts that they predicted they’d need to pass through the desert, and set off along the Snakeroad towards Gyr.
The first few days through the desert were uneventful, but Eric and Octavian successfully predicted that there would be a sandstorm in four days. They decided to travel through the storm, the party members who did not have sand gear riding inside of their bedrolls lashed to their mounts while the other adventurers steered the caravan.
The party’s movements attracted a giant sandworm, which they subdued after sustaining significant damage from its electrical attacks and losing all of their mounts either to its teeth or the sandstorm. Thinking they were safe, the party attempted to take shelter inside of the worm corpse, in which they found the remains of another traveling caravan and lots of treasure and rare gems.
Unfortunately, the vibrations in the sand caused by the first sandworm attack attracted a second one, which was quickly dispelled by an ice storm spell cast by a mysterious figure on a horse, who approached the party over the dunes. He lamented their idiocy for traveling during a sandstorm (the only time worms hunt) and not carrying a wand of some ice spell (which the worms hate).
The man lead them to a bunker-like base made of an old sandworm’s segments. He explained that his name was Hasan Khaled, and that he was in the “acquisitions business,” and was traveling to Gyr to sell off some artifacts he’d acquired during his travels in the south. His caravan had been eaten by sandworms after being attacked by bandits during the sandstorm, which attracted the beast. He escaped, but lost most of his artifacts. Luckily, a stone that would allow the scholars at Gyr to decipher the language of the Ancient Valleylands civilization was saved from the attack.
Hasan gave the party a choice: Help him carry his things out of the desert and he’d guide them to Gyr, or refuse to help and be left to die. The group decided to help him carry the artifacts, and Hasan guided them to Gyr and left them in the city.