Seeking funds, Aakuu and Kravos traveled to Tyr and found jobs as guards for an Elven merchant caravan (moon-runner tribe) that was soon bound for the output of Altaruk. The caravan leader was an elf named Kalderas who led his wife, son, and 5 other elves. Aakuu and Kravos were wary that a third, unknown guard — a wildman named Karoe — had been also hired. But coin is coin.
Chatting up the locals and buying a few drinks allowed Kavros to learn that it was Kalderas had recently been cheated out of a large sum but was unable to do anything about it.
Kalderas’ recent history was not the only mystery as Aakuu began to suspect that the cargo was not as it seemed. Unfortunately the elves watched the guards closely and no opportunity presented itself to investigate the true contents of the carts.
The caravan proceeded well enough along the shifting road. Both Aakuu and Karoe proved their worth by finding and avoiding obstacles that would have significantly delayed the caravan. A lifelong city dweller, Kravos, struggled in the harsh desert but managed to keep up.
Ambushed by Desert Raiders
The groups sense of foreboding ambush grew as they entered into tight canyons. Scouting ahead Aakuu discovered 11 raiders. After reporting back the group, the heroes hid while one of the fleet elves attracted the attention of the would-be-ambushers and brought them back for an ambush of the PC’s own.
The enemies consisted of 8 minion-raiders and two leader-types (who enjoyed grappling …. and stabbing).
Arrows flew straight and true while Aakkuu dispatched the minors (all but 1) and Kravos (killed 1 leader) and Karoe (killed 1 minor) battled the leaders.
The battle was close — with both Karoe and Kavros down — but, in the end the raiders were defeated and the injured guards restored.
The rest of the journey was without problem.
The caravan squeezed into a chaotic bazaar at elven market in town. In the bustle, Kalderas attempted to slip away to get the guards payment. Kavros was wary and was set upon following but Kalderas would only allow him to wait outside the tent flap.
As Aakuu and Karoe were about to tend to the animals their keen senses revealed that other elves in the bazaar were “nonchalantly” approaching the caravan and fingering weapons. Seconds later, Kalderas came out of the tent and commanded those elves to attack while he and his attack bugs did the same.
A quick, but brutal, battle was waged between the wagons and tents that cluttered the market. Both Kalderas and his son fell, blood staining the hot sand. Aakuu was preparing to stand fast against the charging beasts when the City Guard streamed into the bazaar and commanded a halt to the violence.
It seemed the guard captain — Tellemon — believed Aakuu then Kavros’ account of how the elves had hired and then attempted to cheat and enslave them (to the arena). However, he could not be completely sure as the elf woman continued to screech about how they were escaped slaves, that the caravan had been hired to retrieve, that had revolted and killed members of the caravan in cold blood.
In a classic case of (lazy) frontier justice, the guard captain decreed that the two sides would battle it out in the arena to decide the truth of their stories.
For Your Amusement
The two sides — the 3 PCs vs 2 elves — were pitted against one another in a simple game of taking large disks from a central area and depositing them on “their side”. Well, it seemed simple.
Thanks to some good strategy by Aakuu and good ol’ fashioned running by Kavros and Karoe, the PCs were off to a good start when things became more deadly (and thus more interesting for the fans) — 2 lockjaws were sent into the arena to cause havoc.
Quickly the two moonrunner elves were maneuvered into becoming meals for the blood-thirsty beasts.
Luckily (for the lockjaws as one was almost dead) — the game was only 5 rounds long and the animals were chased back into their pens by fire arrows.
It seemed that the PCs could claim their pay — and other recompense likely — and be done with this affair. However, just as the lockjaws left the arena a shout of “MURDER!” went up from the stands.