The Return of Guistenal

The Heart of Thamarask - Part 1

After having spent some time in the gardens of Guistenal Asterion has some news for the crew. He has discovered that the gardens are well watered and should be thriving but they seem to be battling against a botanical malaise he doesn’t understand. Consulting the oracle pool in the Tower of Pragnost he has ascertained that an artefact, the Heart of Thamarask, will help restore the gardens.
So while T’Jown stays at Guistenal establishing his supremacy over the market place (probably through a lot of veiled threats and not so veiled voilence), Asterion, Marsh, Volkann, and Korrin set out across the desert to make the arduous trek across the desert towards the Cresent Forest where they locate the Heart of Thamarask situated in the Witchgrove at its centre. It goes badly.
They are beset by all sorts of hazards, getting lost, losing supplies, not taking the right precautions against storms and other such dangers. Along the way they did meet a lone aaracockra, looking as though he was heading for the Black Mountains, herding a small group of mekillots (opps, in the original printing they were supposed to be inix juveniles, not quite so intimidating) and the groups passed each other warily.
Later they discovered a large stone pillar which Asterion was keen to investigate and got shocked for his troubles. Then an adult silk wyrm burst from the sand to attack him. It is not long before noble, stout, strong, capable (he does have the highest bonus to attack) Asterion is bleeding on the sand (but apparently he has a glass jaw). Korrin manages to wrest control of the lightning pillar from the silk wyrm and together the group vanquish their foe. Korrin suggests harvesting the silk wyrm for valuables, food, oil, leather, all things which can fetch them some extra ceramic but unfortunately the going is so bad that they also manage to use up all these resources.
Finally reaching the Crescent Forest Asterion, Marsh, and Volkaan stand in awe of such giant greenery for they had only before seen stunted trees and barbed cacti. And the forest is teeming with life that seems to have a hatred for them. Using the clues they have been given they search for the Witchgrove. It goes badly.
They encounter a band of halflings that manage, in a few short rounds, to render all but Volkann unconscious (though Marsh did a fantastic mantis step that bloodied two of the halflings). Volkann, risking all, resuscitates Korrin who uses a powerful arcane spell upon the halfling leader without resorting to defiling. Bloodying the leader Korrin asserts his authority and the attack is halted. The halflings reveal that they are called Lostspears, escaped slaves from the army of the sorcerer-queen Lalali-Puy of Gulg. They state that they hate both Gulgan’s and Nibenese. Korrin secretly reveals his quest to destroy Nibenay and words of friendship are passed.
In the morning the group travel forth again and encounter several ssuran’s (lizardmen for non-Athasian’s) and, in a surprise attack, an id fiend. The ssuran’s die quickly at the skillful hands of the characters but the id fiend is more problematic with its snapping jaws and quick slashes more so than its mental assaults. They characters even manage to capture the beast alive and quickly tie it up. They find it a hard captive as it constantly tries to mind control them and animals nearby. Korrin calls upon the Lostspears again and over some nice roast ssuran they show how to brew a drug to keep the id fiend docile.
Continuing on the characters seem to have nothing else to fear, apart from getting lost, and after following the completely wrong trail markers end up at the west gate of Nibenay. Deciding not to get put out by it they enter Nibenay to try and sell their id fiend captive and perhaps eyeball the closest competition.

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