This is a guest post written by my patron & friend Saevrick, as part of his fantastic “The Wanderer’s Journal” series. He is a huge fan of DarkSun and Planescape, and there will be more from him about these subjects in the future. Enjoy folks! You can find Saevrick on twitter by clicking his name. If you have questions about Athas he is the man to ask. To be honest I was really tired this weekend after running a game, and had nothing prepped. So Saev took over.
Just outside the base of the Ringing Mountains, the city-state of Tyr, our story begins with the opposing figure of Kalak, Tyrant of Tyr. The sorcerer-king and his High Templar of the Games, Tithian of Mericles, inspect the process of the grand Ziggurat’s construction. The multi-leveled and ornately painted structure bears witness to the the High Templar, suspected of working for the Veiled Alliance (an underground movement of preserver wizards) in a plot to depose the king, and meets her end at the hands of Kalak. Tithian is not only charged with the task of uncovering the plot, but also tasked with the completion of the Ziggurat.
The slave pits are near over flowing for preparation of the structure’s final stages, and also with the gladiatorial games to celebrate it. One slave in particular and one of Tithian’s own, Sadira, is suspected of being an agent for the Veiled Alliance. Tithian muses that he had knew of the implication long ago, and sets for to uncover what the Alliance had in store for the sorcerer-king.
Within the gladiatorial pits, the mul, Rikus, the human, Neeva and the halfling, Anezka discover the remains of a fellow slave who has fallen prey to the terrifying Gaj, a creature caught by Tithian for use in the upcoming games. Angered by the scene, Rikus confronts the pit master Boaz. The argument is quickly squelched, and in exchange for punishment, Boaz tasks Rikus to fighting the Gaj, but only with a pair of singing sticks (a coupling of springy wood, roughly 2 ½ feet long, and make a shrill noise when twirled, thus earning their name).
Rikus does not fair well during the fight, as the Gaj’s own mind powers and brutal strength nearly end the combat. Sadira, watching out, uses her magic to turn the tide. Boaz, both outraged and horrified to see a magic wielder in his slave pens, quickly imprisons the sorceress and awaits Tithian to dull out final punishment upon her.
On the estate of the noble Agis of Asticles, Tithian arrives to visit his childhood friend. After some pleasantries walking the noble’s farm lands, Tithian unveils that he knows that Kalak is planning for something nefarious after the completion of the Ziggurat, and if the nobles plan to survive, they should not interfere. The conversation quickly turns south as Agis sees the true meaning of the visit, as Kalak’s need for slaves reaches now even into the noble’s pockets.
The entirety of Agis’ workers is marched off to the Tyrian slave pits, except for his closest friend Caro.
Choosing not to wait her punishment at the hands of Tithian, Sadira once again calls upon her magic to escape her bonds, and aways to find her mentor, Ktandeo, a Veiled Alliance member. She divulges a plan to convince the gladiator Rikus to help her assassinate Kalak, but Ktandeo dismisses her quickly, and tells her to leave the city as soon as possible. She is quickly found by elven slavers, and is taken away to be auctioned.
Against and several nobles congregate and decide to find the Veiled Alliance and aid them in killing Kalak, but their meeting is cut short when a riot breaks out. Agis is saved by the wizard Ktandeo, who quickly flees after exposing the illegal magic to the noble.
Back at the Ziggurat, Tithian and his fellow templars uncover a hidden throne room within the structure, littered with obsidian orbs. The Tyrant, goaded by a pair of talking, floated heads named Sacha and Wyan, convince the king that the group is their to kill the king. In a fit of rage, Kalak slays them all aside from Tithian. He once against reinforces the High Templar to find and stop the Alliance. It is revealed that Caro is a hired spy by the templar, as Tithian distrusts his old friend, to find out if Agis had any contact with the Veiled Alliance.
Within the slave markets, Ktandeo sets to purchase Sadira from the elven slavers. Agis, too, is within the crowd, and seeing Ktandeo, digs deep into his pockets to outbid the wizard. Winning the sorceress, Agis releases her in good faith, and asks for an audience with Ktandeo so he can meet and get aid from the Veiled Alliance.
Tithian, knowing the aid Sadira had paid to the slaves, threatens Rikus, Neeva and Anezka within the gladiatorial pits. The Gaj, peering into the mind of the templar, warns the slaves of their danger and that their friend Sadira travels with Agis, and that they are in danger from Caro. Rikus schemes to escape the pens, and along with his companions, flees into the Tyrian fields to find the estate of Agis of Asticles.
Convinced of Agis’ genuinity, she convinces Agis to acquire information from Tithian. Meeting, the noble displays his strength in the Way, and quickly learns of Kalak’s throne room and the orbs. Tithian admits to funneling the information to Agis, and knows that he is working with Sadira and the Alliance. Despondent, Tithian realizes that Kalak is going to slay everyone at the games, regardless of his devotion, and agrees to aid them.
Agis and Sadira set out to meet Ktandeo, and informs the wizard of Kalak’s plot. The Templars are made aware of the meeting though, and quickly force their way in. Ktandeo leads them into a passage and under the streets of Tyr, the remains of the old city deep in the heart of the sands. They retreat to a place named the Crimson Shrine, where only the pure of heart may enter. Agis is refused entry from a wraith of the Crimson Knights.
The templars lead by half-giant warriors give chase, due to a copper coin that Caro had planted on Agis and they storm the trio. Ktandeo uses all his power to fight off the force, and using the last of his strength, finally defeats them. Dying before the shrine, Ktandeo tasks Sadira to find the halfling druid Nok, who is devising a weapon to kill Kalak. Sadira tosses the copper coin into the shrine to fend off further incursions.
Rikus, Neeva and Anezka find the Asticles Estate, but only find Caro. They explain they are their to warn Sadira and Agis of a spy within his walls. The slave turns on them quickly, and lets Tithian’s guards into the compound. Returning from the under streets, Agis and Sadira arrive during the ensuing conflict, and the group dispatches the guards easily.
After meeting and explaining their respective stories, the group decides to venture out to the Ringing Mountains and find the halfling Nok in the Forest Ridge. Agis finds the device that Caro used to communicate with Tithian. Agis contacts the templar, and Tithian nonchalantly admits his dealings with both sides, playing them off one another. However, Tithian also explains that while he is tasked to stop the group, he will let them continue on if they truly have a plan to assassinate Kalak.
The companions travel forth from the city-state of Tyr and into the Ringing Mountains. A love triangle is revealed between Rikus, Agis and Sadira. The two men come to words, and the rivalry nearly gets them killed a few times as they venture to the Forest Ridge. They are found by a group of halfing hunters, who reluctantly take them to Nok.
Anezka admits that she only accompanied the group to offer them as a tribute to the tribe to regain its good graces after her time in enslavement. Unconvinced of their loyalty, the halflings test the group several times, and nearly kill them in the process. Nok, finally convinced of their trueness, gifts Rikus the Heartwood Spear, the weapon he was fashioning to kill Kalak. He also gifts Sadira with Ktandeo’s cane.
Nok reveals Kalak’s plan into sapping the energy of the Tyrian populace, draining them of life and feasting upon it to become a Dragon during the Gladiator Tournament, using the Ziggurat as his focus. He asks only that they return his gifts when the deed is done in exchange for his help.
Tithian agrees to help the group when they return to Tyr, and enters the gladiators Rikus and Neeva into the tournament. Agis joins Tithian in the templar’s box within the coliseum, and Sadira tries to ventures into the lowers stands. Tithian turns to Agis and forces the noble’s hand, and agrees to continue only when Agis agrees to help Tithian become the new King of Tyr once it is all said and done.
During the final game, Rikus and Neeva draw close to Kalak’s box. Agis leads a psychic assault on the would-be dragon, and Sadira dispels the magical shields protecting the king. Rikus stands before the box and hurls the Heartwood Spear into the stand, surprising the king as it rips through his body. He quickly is ushered away as panic erupts.
The company, led by Tithian into the secret throne room, witness the evolving Kalak in dragon form, swallowing the obsidian orbs. The group assault Kalak physically, magically, and mentally. Heavily wounded on both sides, Kalak finally falls to the floor defeated. Tithian takes up the Heartwood Spear, and rams it through the dragon’s skull. Tithian then takes up the golden diadem that once belonged to the Tyrant of Tyr, placing it on his own head and thus ushers forth the new monarchy.
* * * *
A new age began for Tyr that day, as the only free city-state in all the Tablelands. The companions may have uncovered the plot of Kalak, but many sinister dealings were already brewing outside Tyr. They would begin with the warrior- and sorcerer-king, Hamanu, the Lion of Urik…
I hope you enjoyed this synopsis of “The Verdant Passage”. Next time we’ll take a look at the second book in the series, “The Crimson Legion”, and see what lies for our favorite rag-tag group of the Athasian wastelands. If you’ve any suggestions for further wri–
Wait. No. I have something special for you!
Below, you’ll find the D&D fifth edition stats for your very own Heartwood Spear! I hope you enjoy, and please join me next time for “Beyond the Prism Pentad: The Crimson Legion”, and as always, hail to the new King, Tithian of Mericles!
The Heartwood Spear
Wondrous item, unique, requires attunement
The Heartwood Spear was created from the Last Tree by the halfling druid, Nok. Both willingly gave a part of their own life essence to form the artifact. It’s sole purpose was to slay the Tyrant of Tyr, Kalak, to ensure no other dragon would arise to terrorize the world of Athas. This spear was fashioned from a single piece of smooth wood, and is tapered to a point at one end. It is wrapped in leather at its midsection, harder than any steel, and can puncture most armor and magical fields with ease.
It was gifted to the mul gladiator, Rikus in the year of Priest’s Defiance of the 190th King’s Age by Nok himself, with the promise for its return after the sorcerer-king Kalak met his death.
It can only be sundered by smashing it against the great Obsidian Plains, or if halfling blood is spilled by it. Should it be broken, it can be thrust into the ground and watered for a day. The remnants will grow strong roots and sprout leaves. Any missing pieces can be reattached after that point, to where the leaves will wither and fall off, leaving an intact spear in their wake.
The Heartwood Spear acts as a spear +4 and has the following abilities:
- Keen Point. The spear ignores any armor, regardless if it’s of magical origin or otherwise (dexterity or class bonuses are still applicable to AC). The spear can also penetrate magical barriers (i.e. wall of force). Should the spear hit an armored opponent and the maximum damage of the weapon is dealt, nonmagical gear must make an DC 15 saving throw or be destroyed permanently. Magical gear must make a DC 10 saving throw. Magical barriers are instantly destroyed.
- Dragon Bane. The spear deals double damage against foes with the Dragon type. It also secretes a sap that is particularly harmful to dragons. If the weapon deals damage to a dragon type creature, it must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or become immobilize. The sap also inflicts an additional 2d10 poison damage (which cannot be resisted regardless of immunities) and deals another 1d10 poison damage at the start of every round thereafter. A successful DC 20 Constitution saving throw can be made at the beginning of the opponent’s turn to break both status effects. The sap is usable 6 times per day. The charges refill at sunrise the following day.