At the start of the arc, Balasar Pulverus, Naivara,Phillip Scrimshander,Wilhelm Vorus, Kage, MacMiller, and Icki Ricki Rinko are in the city of Vindghast, doing mercenary work for Kodjif Ed Halzar, “the Fox”, an old associate of Artimus. The following are excerpts from the journal of Wilhelm Vorus.
5th day of Temerus, 19th year of the 37th King
In the morning we are summoned by one of Kodjif’s aides. Mac cannot be roused. According to my field guide, he may have contracted Eastern Sun Fever. He is left to rest for now, and will be fine; evidence has shown the dwarf to be near-unkillable, and fast to recover. In the Fox’s chambers (small yet ostentatious, like Kodjif himself), we arrive last to what appears to be a mission briefing. Gathered in the room are two other parties of adventurers like ourselves, a dwarf wearing the garb of an Untervostlaagerduund Mid-Commander, and a weasel-like man wearing a fanciful hat (I am later told that this man is a rival of Kodjif).
The mission is seemingly straightforward; we are to secure an oasis believed to be overrun by an unknown hostile force, possibly just Monsters. We are told to leave now to take advantage of the current lull in sandstorms. At the next lull, Kodjif plans to take a unit to the oasis, and pay a large sum for clearing out the hostiles. Displaying his usual cavalier attitude towards bloodshed, Kodjif has needlessly complicated this mission by hiring three more groups than necessary. All but one group seem as though they will have to be dealt with forcefully. After the other groups have left the briefing, I tell Kodjif that our resident holy man is out of commission. He introduces us to an alchemist named Philip to fill his shoes for this mission. As we turn to leave Kodjif also requests to hire Balasar as a personal bodyguard. Halfway through my explanation of why we cannot afford to lose the dragonborn if we hope to complete this mission, I see Balasar has already made his decision as he gnaws on a large ham hock lifted from one of the spreads in Kodjif’s chambers. I let it go – I do not trust the Fox and a man on the outside may save our hides.
There is a commotion outside. The street is in full-on melee as Fancy-Hat’s men are advancing on the adventuring party led by the large man in spiked armor. The large man dispatches them easily so they turn to strike at us as we leave, thinking us easier targets. We slay Fancy-Hat and his men as both other adventuring parties look on. The Untervosts are nowhere to be seen. We seek temporary respite in a building along the road, but the man in spiked armor tells us we’re next. Bound by honor, or perhaps more likely cursed with overconfidence, the man allows us to catch our breath. It is a brutal fight, but he and his comrades are slain as well.
6th day of Temerus, 19th year of the 37th King
We leave town but are hardly a day out when mild storms halt our progress. We are lucky it is not a full-on “BSF.” Griselda does not seem to mind the heat, but she detests the sand. I do not blame her.
7th day of Temerus, 19th year of the 37th King
We run afoul of the other party. The leader hurls his javelin at Philip the second he hails him. We slay the lot of them, as well as a troll drawn there by the smell of blood.
8th day of Temerus, 19th year of the 37th King
We are forced to hunker down again. I hope we can make it to the oasis before a big one comes. I try not to think about the possibility that its “magical, BSF-stopping powers” are merely a myth.
9th day of Temerus, 19th year of the 37th King
A strange creature blocks our path. It posits us a riddle to let us pass, which Kage bafflingly knows the answer to. The whole charade breaks down and it attacks anyway. It’s a difficult battle, and the creature escapes. I wish dearly to make it pay for its ruse. We also run afoul of, and defeat, a dangerous member of desert fauna which my field guide calls a “bulette.”
10th day of Temerus, 19th year of the 37th King
Gnolls have set up a shakedown point on the path ahead. I learned everything you will ever need to know about gnolls when I was young: they will kill you if they get bored of robbing you, and they get bored very easily. This time we make no attempt to parley, and slay the wretched beasts. Searching their corpses, I am surprised to learn that the Untervosts decided to pay the toll.