The Red Desert
Approximately 965 HKV
With Bathsheba watching in an observation box over the arena, a dispassionate expression on her face, Vorlos, Guin, Keyleth and Shade stood back to back, unsure of what to expect. The middle platform raised, and the party looked into Bathsheba’s eyes, with but a cold expression on her face. It seemed as if she did not care whether they lived or died.
In her tightly-gripped hand was the silver Artifact.
The announcer called for the beginning of the match, and the middle platform lowered in time with the gates rising, the horrors behind them freed from captivity.
Suddenly seven great hyenas sprung from the tunnels, attacking with speed as their companions, four lumbering half-ogres, followed behind with heavy weapons in hand. The party fought hard, the crowd gasping and cheering as they cut through the dangers before them.
Midway through the battle, the middle platform dropped out, the party luckily not upon it. One ogre attempted to tackle Guin and Shade, but the two rogues leapt out of the way, causing the ogre to topple over the edge to his death, far, far below.
With Bathsheba’s attention focused on the arena, one of the guards behind her snatched the Artifact from her grasp, throwing it into the arena, the silver rod landing on top of one of the stone pillars within, twenty-feet tall. The guard rushed from the box and leapt into the arena, moving with an unnatural grace for someone in heavy plate.
As she lands, her appearance changes to that of a changeling which the party had never seen before
Bathsheba herself leaped from the box after the Artifact, landing expertly, but unable to get to the pillar. The middle platform raised back, now carrying two wargs pulling a wagon, driven by none other than Dakka and Rayleesh, who call to the party to leap on.
As the party climbs hastily into the open wagon, Dakka prods the wargs, and Rayleesh leaps quickly onto the pillar, grasping the artifact before leaping back into the wagon bed. The crowd roared as Dakka pointed the wagon directly towards the open gate, and Bathsheba grabbed onto the side, still trying to get at the Artifact.
The wagon made its way to the open desert, but the party was still being pursued by Thri-Kreen riding strange-looking locust mounts, firing poison spines. Guin’s crossbow was drawn, firing back at the pursuers, and as the insect creatures leaped into the wagon to battle hand to hand, Vorlos, Shade, Bathsheba and the changeling were able to dispatch them handily.
The final thri-kreen mount fell, and the party rushed into the dust.
The changeling introduced herself as Sooth, an ally of Dakka, Rayleesh, and Shade, who had been necessary to get the party into the arena, and to get a chance at obtaining the Artifact.
The wagon finally stopped at a small camp just north of the Thri-Kreen settlement, and the party unloaded, still unsure of what was going on, and still watching Bathsheba warily. Two aged shifters approached them, each rather familiar, but much older than the last time the group had seen them.
Bonebreaker, the former sheriff of Lansing, greeted them as he tended to the Wargs, and Captain Drift of Tetradias invited them into the camp’s main tent to explain the situation to the bewildered adventurers.
Drift explained that bringing the Artifact through the red portal had created a magical storm of some kind, a red storm which slowly began to grow larger and larger, decimating first the city of Thokk, and then Tetradias, and then further and further south as it continued to consume Lusionia for the past thirty years.
The party incredulously acknowledge the passage of time.
With the storm continuing, the survivors that could ventured further and further south, down to the Red Desert to escape destruction, but many had lost hope, simply wandering into the storm instead of attempting to barely survive.
Nine months ago, however, Shade arrived, providing some insight into the possible cause of the storm itself, and a possibility of resolving it.
Shade had explained Bathsheba’s presence, with the necromancer gaining great reknown in the arena for the past year, her ability to pull the very souls from victims regarded as a great talent of interest to the Thri-Kreen, offering her a method of survival in the desert wasteland.
The adventurers realized that thirty years had passed since they stepped through the portal, and that this was the future that had been created since. In order to return to their present, and to stop this nightmare future from occuring, they would need to pass the artifact back through a portal located in the heart of the changeling slave camp they had passed the day before.
Right through the hundreds of thri-kreen guards.
But, the camp had several warriors of their own, and a plan was forged to make a desperate battle, with the party entering into the portal chamber to turn back the clock and save the future.
As the others left, Vorlos and Guin spoke with one another, unsure of Bathsheba’s allegiance. Would she be able to be trusted? Could she be trusted?
Questions in their minds, they settled into rest, with a great challenge close on the horizon.