Kandaja (Donna) - Balam Galacean Thief
Pekkar the Strong (DavidW) - Cimmerian Pirate
Salali (Kendall) - Tamarac Adventurer
Ediwa (Crystal) - Otesi Slave-in-Exile
4th Du'uzu, Year 506 Meta Kataklysmos (M.K.)
As the natives rush towards the player Heroes, Ediwa raises her hand and speaks a commanding word in an ancient tongue! The natives stop their headlong rush towards the Heroes, and kneel before the slave girl, saying, "Ediwatala has returned! All praise the Goddess!" Salali demands to know from her travelling companion what's going on, but Ediwa merely smiles, and tells her she'll know soon enough. When the seeming leader of the natives, who tells her his name is Parvash, asks what her bidding is, she tells them to take the player Heroes and imprison them... she's got plans for them. As he is led past her, Pekkar the Strong spits in her face, and says that she has betrayed them. For his efforts and words, Pekkar is struck hard to the ground by one of the natives with a spear. Ediwa says that she was never his friend, and thus there was no betrayal. The Heroes are led away, and stripped of their possessions and equipment.
Escorted to one of the buildings by seven guards (both male and female), Kandaja the Lean sees that the Heroes' possessions are placed in an adjacent structure, that she posits as being a storeroom or perhaps a treasure trove. She notes there are two guards with spears and knives protecting that structure. Ceremoniously dumped inside the building, the Heroes find themselves in a relatively large, 3 metres x 4 metres chamber that at one time served as a meeting room of sorts. Broken furniture, mostly of stone, rotting torches in sconces, and other items litter the area. All of the windows into the room have been sealed over, using wood and mud. Pekkar says he thinks he can break out of the room through one of the windows easily enough, but Salali tells him they've got time. She expresses disbelief that Ediwa (if that's who she is) has betrayed them this way, but both Kandaja and Pekkar make her see the error of her ways, particularly in light of how the natives treated Ediwa(tala). Salali tells the others that she doesn't know anything of the ruins of Kinjohla or this Ediwatala from her knowledge of lore, and the others are just as bereft as she is. Shrugging, the Heroes explore their prison for the next several hours, the two women dozing off at times, and Pekkar sees that the day is reaching its end.
The door to their prison opens, and Ediwatala greets them, accompanied by eight of her guards, led by their leader, Parvash, and an individual whom Salali tells the others is obviously a shaman or priest of some sort. Ediwatala tells the Heroes to follow her, and the some procession moves through the ruins to a structure of stone and wood that seems to have been recently restored. Many of the Kinjohla natives watch the Heroes closely, more curious than anything else (thinks Kandaja). Entering the opulent structure, the Heroes are taken through several chambers to what was once a dining hall. Restored to a primitive form of its former glory, Ediwatala bids the Heroes seat themselves at several of the chairs.
As several native women and men bring out food for their ediification and several guards watch the Heroes from alcoves (noticed by Kandaja), Ediwatala tells the Heroes her tale: Born a slave girl, she was discovered to have potent magical abilities, and came to rule her tribe. Offered power by one of the "ancient gods" (though she will not tell them who, when pressed), she has become relatively immortal. Over the centuries, Ediwatala learned of the tales and legends of Kinjohla, and realised that she was actually one of the priestesses of the ancients who ruled there, reincarnated. Parvash interjects, much to her annoyance, and tells them some of his peoples' history and tales, and then Ediwatala says that she can achieve her heart's desire - a return of Kinjohla to the days of its former glory. With herself as its ruler, of course. However, certain events must come to pass before that is possible, and at that point, the Heroes feel faint and go weak in the knees. [They have all been drugged with a powerful sedative brewed from a local plant.] Both Salali and Kandaja succumb to the drug, but Pekkar's Cimmerian constitution allows him to merely feel dizzy for several moments, but that is enough. The Heroes are trussed up like turkeys, and returned to their "cell". They sleep for a bit, due to the soporific.
Salali wakes in a bit of a daze to find herself bound, stark naked, on an altar in what appears to be an ancient shrine to one of the gods of old. Seeing that she is awake, Ediwatala tells her she should feel humbled and honoured that she will be the bringer of Kinjohla to its rightful place of glory in the modern world. Several other villagers, obviously tribal acolytes, go about various tasks, glancing fearfully at times at Ediwatala. Salali tells her that she will never cooperate, as she struggles to free herself from her manacles, but Ediwatala advises her to cease her struggles, as there is nothing that she can do. She shows the restrained Hero the dark blade with evil runes carved on it, saying that her sacrifice will be "soon". With that, she jabs Salali with a [tavis] thorn, and the Hero soon relapses into a stuporous state.
Pekkar and Kandaja wake sometime late in the night, to realise that Salali is missing. From outside, the Balam thief can hear the sound of chanting, and she and Pekkar draw the only conclusion they can: Ediwatala is going to sacrifice Salali to the old Kinjohla gods! The Cimmerian decides the time to act has arrived, and he proceeds to smash through the wood and mud material blocking one of the windows, but this does not escape the notice of several of the guards. As the two Heroes clamber through the window, Kandaja brings her natural claws and fangs into action, and takes down one of the surprised guards. Pekkar engages with two of the others, using nothing but his brute strength and a wooden plank that he picked up after destroying the material blocking the window, and they take out a second guard. Before the two can act, another group of eight guards appears around the corner of the building, accompanied by the shaman/priest [Hepesh]. While all seems lost, and Pekkar prepares to defend Kandaja to the last, events take a surprising turn [at least to the player Heroes] when the priest, Hepesh, tells the Heroes that he is there to help them stop Ediwatala at all costs. Leading the Heroes towards where they're belongings are stored, Hepesh says that his people are pledged to protect the ruins of Kinjohla from the fate that Ediwatala would bring down on them all.
Reaching the building where the Heroes' belongings are being held, Hepesh orders the two guards to allow them access, but is denied, and the arrival of Parvash and several of his guards turn the scene into one of combat and bloodshed. Parvash tells Hepesh that they must serve their new Goddess, but the priest refuses to acknowledge this, telling Parvash that that this goes against everything their culture has stood for. Parvash and his men attack, and the Heroes and Hepesh and his men defend themselves. One of Hepesh's men falls, and Pekkar snatches up his spear, and wades into Parvash's men, and attempts to get to their leader. Kandaja strikes down another man, and snatches his spear and knife, and then the two Heroes lead Hepesh and his men and take down Parvash and his men. Finally facing Parvash, Pekkar offers him one chance - tell him where Salali is, or he will kill him where he stands. Parvash tells him that she has been taken to the Shrine of Kashivi for sacrifice "when the moon is high". Hepesh tells them that their friend will be sacrificed within the next couple of hours, and Kandaja tells Pekkar there's no time to waste. Before they can do anything else, Parvash attempts to strike down Hepesh, but Pekkar kills him with a clean spear blow before the priest can be harmed. The priest tells the Heroes that he owes them a debt for their actions.
The two Heroes snatch up their weapons from where they have been stored, and Hepesh leads them to the shrine dedicated to Kashivi, and they realise that time is running out. The Shrine is dedicated to a being of evil, and both Heroes feel a sense of dread and repulsion at the sight of it [but succeed at Resolve checks, Kandaja having to spend a Hero Point to do so]. Hepesh leads the Heroes to the shrine's entrance, Kandaja seeing his steps being forced one at a time, and she tells the priest that he has done enough. It is up to her and Pekkar to rescue their friend. Using stealth and brute force when necessary, Kandaja and Pekkar make their way into the shrine, where they see a terrible sight...
It must be close to the time of the sacrifice, for Ediwatala strides over to a small, raised plinth near the sacrificial altar, and removes a dark, obsidian (??) blade with traces of blood on it from a dark brown (or is that blood?) silken cloth. The two see the struggling, naked Salali on the altar, manacled to it. Two acolytes stand close to Salali's naked form, long, curved swords at their hips. As Ediwatala turns to face the altar, the three player Heroes can make out an unearthly glow in her eyes. With a savage cry, Pekkar launches himself towards the altar and immediately is faced with several acolytes bearing spears. Kandaja follows suit, using a more stealthy approach as the Cimmerian seems to be the centre of the attention of the acolytes. Dispatching his foes with relative ease, Pekkar turns his attention to Ediwatala, but sees that Kandaja has reached the altar already. Kandaja is attempting to free Salali, when Pekkar engages the two acolytes armed with swords that were defending the altar and about to attack her from the rear. Several more acolytes arrive to join the fray, but the arrival of Hepesh on the scene pits the various acolytes of Ediwatala against those loyal to Hepesh.
Ediwatala tells the Heroes that they are foolish, since they know not what she is capable of, and she unleashes some magic on Kandaja. The Balam ably dodges the spell attack, and manages to strike the priestess of the dark cult, but Kandaja is horrified to see the wounds instantly heal up! Pekkar, who has dispatched the last of his foes, races up to Ediwatala and strikes her with his longsword, but again watches as the wound instantly closes up. Ediwatala chants something in the ancient tongue, and prepares to strike at Salali, who has been partially freed by her friend. "Her dagger!" shouts Salali, "You need to use her dagger!" Seeing no alternative, Kandaja tackles the high priestess, and as the two hit the ground, attempts to wrestle the evil blade from her grasp. The touch of the blade is agonising to Kandaja [inflicting 5 points of damage per round], but she perseveres [with the use of Hero Points]. She finally strikes a wound to the evil priestess [again, using Hero Points], and in that instant all is revealed: a dark, misty *something* emerges from Ediwatala's mouth, as the priestess screams, and becomes trapped in the brass (for that is what it is revealed to be made of) blade...
Ediwa instantly drops to the ground, seemingly dead, but Kandaja and Pekkar have no time for anything else. Several more of the acolytes break through to them, and are slaughtered and killed by the Heroes. Salali, having freed her last two limbs from the manacles on the altar, strikes a terrible blow using one of the knives that she picks up to an attacker who was about to hit Kandaja from behind. And with that, the conflict ends.
Ediwa comes around, but the girl seems...different. The dark-haired girl is now a dark blonde, and her eyes have gone from an almost brown black to dark blue. Her bearing is also different. Sensing the difference(s) in her, Kandaja helps the young woman to her feet. They learn her name is Omolara of Hesperia, and that she's got terrible gaps in her memory. But that has to wait for now. The injured, but still functional, Hepesh comes up to the Heroes, and tells them that it is over. He welcomes the Heroes to Kinjohla, and bids them rest and stay with them awhile, as the Kinjohlans attempt to put things to right, and bring balance back to the region. And in that, he says, the player Heroes will be able to help. Salali, wearing Kandaja's cloak, says that she'd like to find her own clothes and get dressed, but can't help but smile at Pekkar's appreciative gaze. And the Heroes walk and limp out of the desecrated Shrine with the villagers who survived the battle, into a night with a pale moon.
Wednesday night's game session of Atlantis: The Second Age was one that I'll remember for a long time, as it had a bit of everything in it, but the main theme of the episode was betrayal. I'm not going into details here (you'll have to read the entry under the cut to understand what happened), but this game session had shocks, surprises, heart pounding combat, more surprises, and an ending that freaked out the players completely! Crystal was in fine form in this game session, and had a really good time (much to her own surprise), and has decided to continue playing for at least a little while more with the Wednesday night players, who really enjoy having her around (though as Kendall said, "...but we weren't sure for a while there!"). Donna, DavidW, and Kendall enjoyed themselves immensely, and are looking forward to going on with the game, though they're also looking forward to switching to Chill 3rd Edition when the time comes.
Overall, a marvellous game session of Atlantis: The Second Age, and I'm quite looking forward to the start of a new adventure with the Wednesday night players. :)