The Light of a New Day

The Sandstorm and Mr. Wight

In which the heroes find a dead caravan, weather a sandstorm, and fall into a desecrated temple

Khalil, still feverish and barely conscious after the pox gifted to him from eating a poorly cooked cockatrice, largely sat out this day. When he learns the true events of the day, it seems likely they will quickly be added into his rotation of campfire stories, though he may see fit to include himself in them.

The tale started with Mash’al, tending to Khalil’s illness with tight lips and nary a word, heading into the desert to gather food and water for his companions. Zahirah, first confiding in Mash’al she smelled smoke to the east in her watch during the night, then sensing that Abdul may wish a break from camp and the sweaty, delerious Khalil, offered to stay behind and let Abdul roam the desert with Mash’al as he provisioned them. Abdul took her up on it, so that he could explore the dunes and feel useful.

Big mistake.

Mash’al tapped into a particularly fruitful water source to fill the jugs and waterskins of the group, as Abdul followed his nose to the faint aroma of charred wood. Over a few dunes, he happened to see a tiny bit of wagon wheel jutting up from the sand. He dug, and discovered that an entire caravan had been destroyed, and then an enormous amount of sand had been moved upon it. Alerting Mash’al, they surmised that a powerful desert creature had attacked, and Mash’al further speculated it was an older vishap, a dumb but dangerous flightless cousin to the dragon sometimes found in the lonely dunes.

Worse, Mash’al felt the barometric pressure dropping, and concluded a sandstorm was on its way. As he hurried to lead Abdul back to camp, he spied some tracks starting 500 yards or so away from the caravan, that he’d missed before. It seemed likely it was a survivor of the caravan, and he didn’t want to sentence the man or woman to assured death in the upcoming sandstorm. He pointed vaguely in the direction of camp, and told Abdul to go there. He would be along shortly.

Abdul, not wanting to look like a city-slicker putz, bit his lip and headed in that direction. In under 10 minutes, he was hopelessly lost. Panic started to creep up into his chest, and in the distance he could see a black wall of sand, stretching what seemed like all the way to paradise, coming from west to east. Trying to keep calm, he found a bare outcropping of rock, put his back to the leeward side, and hoped for the best. Forgetting to cover his face or mouth like a city-slicker pjutz, unfortunately, meant ‘the best" wouldn’t be particularly pleasant.

Mash’al found a handsome young man facedown in the sands, looking parched but not too bad. Mash’al gave him water, helped him up, and said they must hurry back to his shelter. The young man nodded and thanked him, introduced himself as Abdullah, and the two jogged back to the impromptu shelter Khalil and Zahirah had set up.

Mash’al realized Abdul hadn’t made it back, and felt terror for Abdul in his veins. He asked Abdul where he was telepathically, and Avdul started to answer, but was iunterrupted by the wall of sand and gale-force winds hitting him, choking him and making him lose any semblance of concentration.

Mash’al insisted on going out into the treacherous storm to rescue him, and Zahirah wove him a gauzy full body suit that emitted enough heat to burn some sand away, particularly from the face. Mash’al braved the torture of the storm, relying on the feel on Abdul’s soul to guide him.

Abdul, meanwhile, felt sand burning his lungs, coating his mouth and nose, calwing at his eyes. panicked he would suffocate in shot order, he instinctively threw himself to the ground and dug. Surprsingly, after just a few feet, the ground collapsed, and he found himself in a buried cave of some sort. He had protection from the storm above, which he could feel howling and whistling overhead, and immediately vomited up what felt like and endless amount of sand from his lungs and stomach. As he panted and coughed, he realized that this cave was incredibly dark. He then felt a finger gently draw across the back of his neck and whisper, “Mine…” in his ear. Weak as he still was, he drew his daggers and whirled, hoping whatever else was here wouldn’t attack, even if it could see in the dark.

He then backed up through the pure blackness until his back hit a wall. He then lit a torch, and saw he was in a very roughly carved natural cave under the sand. The wall was completely covered in stylized cave paintings that seemed to depict people worshipping a man in golden robes. Around this time, Mash’al found the general area, dug down, and fell into the cave with Abdul.

As Mash’al came into the weak nimbus of light from the torch, Abdul saw a 7 foot tall creature with blacked flesh, fangs, enormous talons, and a dull golden robe silently following Mash’al into the light. It purposefully held it’s talons over Mash’al for Adbdul to see, showing it could have ripped out his throat, then melted back into the dark, toying with its prey.

The two explored their small cave and found it was a crypt. A broken sarcophagus showed that the creature had been buried within and escaped, and the ring of cave painting throughout the room showed a people held more and more under the sway of a cruel and charismatic leader who demanded more and more sacrificed. These paintings and styles seemed to be just after Enlightenment, and defiled everything they believed in. Abdul started to search for a hidden door out, as surely the people who build this had tunnels to get in and out, while Mash’al prostrated himself to pray in this desecrated place.

The effect was immediate. As soon as he started to pray for wisdom and purification from the Enlightened gods, a blood-curdling shriek pierced the darkness, and a voice screeched in Old Midani, “Thou willt not befoul my dominion with such blasphemies, and willt pay the price with your very soul.” The creature with the golden robes flew out of the dark with unnatural speed, raining a serious of furied blows on still-kneeling Mash’al, eyes glowing red with fury and malice.

The wight was relentless in its assault on Mash’al, ancient sword and clawed hand surrounded in cold, necrotic energy carving him up until he was almost a husk. Both adventures felt their weapons be less-than-effective against the fortified, unded flesh of this monster, and they danced around the cave dodging its blows and trying to bring it down. Mash’al, tapping into his newfound well-spring of magical power, directed blasts of postive energy along with his scimitar at the creture, and tossed his torch to Adbdul so that cleansing fire could touch it. Twice the creature almost destroyed Mash’al, plunging it’s clawed hand into his chest to remove his heart, then around his neck to rip it out, but bot times blue-white light flared and burned the creature’s hands, giving Mash’al a brief reprieve. He jumped back and flung a particularly potent searing bolt of blue light through the creature, and Abdul’s felt the torch practically pulled toward the wight’s head to finish it off. The wight’s flesh burned immediately to ash, and its sword and robe fell to the ground.

While Abdul recognized the robe and sword would be extremely valuable when the returned to town, placing the robe at a minimum of 2,000 dinars and possibly much more, Mash’al convinced him it wouldn’t be right to take such evil things anywhere. The two waited out the howling sandstorm up above in relative silence, but feeling a slight new sanctity to their dark shelter.

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