The gaping maw of the immortal’s cavern laid waiting, bidding Aldo and Targ to enter. Inside was dark, but the sights of Whisper Gnomes and Half-Orcs are well suited to darkness, and their vision pierced the veil. Inside, the ceiling was covered in stalactites. On the ground, the occasional stalagmite. The two slowly made their way inside, heads on swivels watching for danger. The cavern was divided into two split-level sections. On the left was what seemed to be the Sandwalker‘s lair. An ancient stone arch dominated the center of the back wall, perched upon a stone stepped dais. Dry, dead, desert grasses were piled on the dais underneath the arch, and seemed to form the beast’s bed. To the right, following a wide ledge, the cavern stretched on angling sharply out after a ways. The natural stone floor here was utterly strewn with the corpses of what were unmistakably sailors. As many as twenty could be seen dotting the floor from where the party stood to halfway down the stretch.
Aldo descended down the short drop which lead to the archway, while Targ began searching the bodies for anything of use or value. He noticed that the majority of the corpses were Dwarven, the rest human. The dwarves had pale skin, and heavily adorned beards. Their armors were furs and hides, and the weapons they wielded were mostly axes and javelins. Targ’s eye was caught by the gleaming pendant in the shape of a hammer, hanging from the neck of a snow-white haired dwarf. He bent over to look closer when he saw the man’s chest move. Startled, he took a step back and watched closely. Yes, There it was! It moved again! “This one’s alive!” shouted Targ to Aldo. He quickly used what harsh life in the jungle had taught him to stabilize the Dwarf, pulling him back from the edge of death’s borderlands. Suddenly, the Dwarf’s eyes fluttered open, looking bewildered. His mouth opened, but only a stream of so much gibberish poured forth, and Targ could not understand.
Aldo caught up with the two and attempted to speak to the dwarf in common. He had little success. He tried his native gnomish tongue, and the dwarf’s wizened, beady eyes lit up. Wincing with pain, he pulled himself to his feet. He spoke with Aldo for a time, introducing himself as Solvi Mithrilfist. He told a harrowing tale which started with him replacing a fallen countryman on a gunnish knarr as ship’s cleric. When the ship sailed, her purpose was to deliver a shipment of grains to West Sephyll, and pick up a crate of powerful scrolls which had been smuggled out of Isric Islar. However, off the eastern coast of Calydon the crew was struck by a fierce sea squall, which pushed the vessel far off course. The captain found himself much too far south, in strange Arabiyyan seas. When a glimmer of light in the distance was spotted by an oar man, the captain made the decision to investigate. He directed the vessel to the shadow of a rocky mountain range flanking the sea. Upon close inspection, a previously hidden alcove came into view revealing the mouth of a cavern. The captain ordered the small knarr shored, and the crew disembarked to explore. The dwarven love for all things subterranean would be their undoing, however. As the captain approached the ancient stone archway, the sandwalker returned to it’s lair. Seeing the intruders in it’s home drove the beast into a defensive frenzy, lashing about the cavern and flinging the crew of the Gunnish knarr about like so many straw dollies. Solvi watched as his captain was pinned to the ground, the beasts massive stinger bearing down on the poor man again and again. Then the beast turned to Solvi. Charging forward, it clubbed him with a closed claw, sending him careening into the cavern wall. That was his last horrible memory prior to waking.
He thanked the party for saving his life and offered to repay this debt by joining Aldo and his comrade on their travels. Aldo accepted. This dwarf reminded him much of his fallen friend Norvi, and he had a good feeling about their new partnership. Solvi surveyed the eerily quiet cave, and remembered the carnage that he only barely escaped with his life. He moved about the cave, reciting last rites for each of his comrades to aid in their journey to Valhalla. Targ looked over the bodies as well, as Aldo moved back toward the ancient arch. The stones were dusty, and cold to the touch as Aldo ran his hand across them. The traces of his fingers revealed the markings of a rune, and he quickly uncovered it. The arch was made of stone blocks, 25 in total, each with it’s own unique rune. Aldo hurriedly copied them to a spare piece of parchment for deciphering later.
Targ and Solvi’s search for valuables turned up a few sparkling gems, a strange blue-bladed scimitar, and a pendant, all confirmed by Solvi to have magical auras. The sword was taken by Targ, the pendant by Solvi. The stones were split between them. Curious, Aldo tried to see if the stones interacted with the archway at all, but with no luck. Taking a shot in the dark (so to speak) Targ fired a spell at the thing. It was a mistake. Although visibly ancient, and looking quite frail, the archway seemingly had a very powerful shielding enchantment. The spell struck the shield, and imploded. The impact created a devastating sonic blast that knocked the whole party off of their feet. The cavern reverberated with the shearing sound, and stalactites fell all around them. Rubbing their ringing ears, they got to their feet just in time to feel the ground begin to rumble. They looked at each other nervously as the rumbling got louder and more intense. Suddenly,the cavern floor ripped open,showering everyone with rubble and debris. They watched in terror as the creature they had just driven off quickly resurfaced. It pulled itself out of the hole and began skittering toward Targ!
Thinking fast, Targ tapped into his divine druidic power, chanting an incantation that turned the floor beneath the monster into a sheet of solid ice. The creatures chitinous legs were not well suited for this obstacle, and it smashed clumsily to the stone cavern floor. As Aldo charged forth to attack, Targ cast another spell which caused toxic fungus to sprout all around the creature, releasing noxious gas. Solvi was determined to have his revenge on this beast. He raised his mighty hammer charged with a thunderous yell.
That battle was monumental. The party had the upper hand, as the Sandwalker could not move from the slick icy surface. But even in the sheltered darkness of the cavern, the heat of the Nasim-ul-Ghani Desert made short work of the ice, melting it in minutes. Soon the beast was mobile again, and none too happy about more intruders in it’s lair. It opened it’s horrid beak and a cone of skin shearing sand erupted forth, showering the crew. It lashed with it’s tail, and tossed the party about with it’s claws. Regardless of the beating it had taken earlier, the beast seemed to have returned stronger than ever. Aldo knew that this fight could not be won. But the creature stood between his comrades and escape, blocking the entrance to the cavern. “We must retreat! Follow that passage and regroup!” Aldo pointed to the cadaver strewn stone hall that wound into the darkness. Targ asked no questions. His ocelot Tusk had taken a bit of a beating, and he was worried for his safety. Solvi held out however. He found it very difficult to retreat, especially against the foe responsible for slaying his brethren. He renewed his attacks with more ferocity than ever. He was rewarded for his actions with a crushing claw picking him up and hurling himacross the cave. “Solvi, I said run!” Aldo cried as he ducked a snapping claw that nearly took his head. “I will hold him off, get to safety!” Solvi took one last look, hesitating for a few seconds. His glance shifted between the immortal creature, and Aldo’s pleading face. Resolute, he turned and fled down the passage after Targ. Aldo fought the beast one on one. His small stature made him a difficult target,and he was able to keep the creature engaged for a minute more.
But then, Aldo misstepped, and the sandwalker struck him with a heavy blow. Aldo was badly injured. Blood streamed down his face from a gash on his head, and he could feel broken ribs setting fire to his insides with each breath. He’d bought enough time he decided, and he fled down the corridor. The echoing chamber was filled with the sound of his pounding feet, his laboured breaths, and the horrible clicking of the sandwalker’s legs on the stone floor. He had no way of knowing how far ahead of the beast he was, and he dared not look back. Soon, he spotted light up ahead at the end of the tunnel. Unsure if this would be a way out or his imminent doom, he sprinted for it.
With the Sandwalker bearing down on him, he reached the light. It was a back entrance to the cavern which looked out over the sea. Aldo sheilded his eyes from the light, but when they adjusted, he could see that Targ was furiously unshoring a small Gunnish knarr and pushing it into the water. Solvi was tearing across the sand to reach him. With no further delay, Aldo followed as quickly as his broken body could muster. He reached the others, and Solvi pulled him in to the vessel. They pushed off, and unfurled the sail. The wind caught it and propelled them away. They had escaped the wrath of the Sandwalker. It could be barely seen in the darkness of the cavern, strafing back and forth. As Solvi cast some divine magic to heal Aldo, he cursed the beast under his breath. Aldo was in dire pain, but happy that he had not lost yet another comrade. Silently, the three sailed away from that terrible beast, and the blasted landscape it calls it’s home.
The party have effected a very narrow escape from the legendary beast of myth, the Sandwalker. What will the do now, and where will they go? Find out next session in The Land of Corra: Legends of the Churning Seas!