After their run in with the bandits, the group decided that heading south into the Desert to destroy the artifact quickly was the best course of action. After a few hours of travel, Ash noticed another set of tracks entering the path from the Twisted Woods. Several pack animals of some kind, the prints of which resembled a giant rat, and plenty of humanoids.
After some time, the group cleared the twisted woods and stood before the desert. One landscape melting into the other, as if some kind of malevolent power kept water from reaching the desert, so close to the Twisted Woods.
After some travel towards their destination they began to notice some strange flowers scattered throughout the landscape. Sensing some kind of power, Aramil stepped forward to examine them. As he neared the flower puffed up and exploded in a cloud of poisonous gas. Coughing and choking, Aramil began to get a wild look in his eye, and the Werewolves disease began to overcome him. Fatigues from a day of travel and the battle with the Bandit gang, Aramil was in no condition to heal himself, so in his last moments of sanity he begged to be knocked unconscious. Misrith complied.
Aramil on their backs, the group forged ahead through the minefield of poison flowers, using their keen eyes and magical senses to detect dangerous plants to avoid or destroy. Soon a faint light in the distance began to concern them, and as they got closer it was revealed to be the ghost of a middle aged man with a curved dagger in his back. He surveyed the group sadly, and motioned for them to follow.
Since he was headed in the same direction as the group, they complied. Finally they crested a dune and caught their first look of the noble temple of Draconis. Sadly the mighty statue to Bahumut had been defiled, and the mesa containing the temple was patrolled by a group of cultists and mutant rat creatures that were familiar to Ash. Agents of the Unmaker had taken the temple for some nefarious purpose.
Further down in the direction of the temple lay the group of individuals who had made the tracks the group had found. Several large mutated rat creatures carried peasants chained to their backs, and still others marched at sword point in front of the vile cultists. After a moment of deliberation, the group decided to intervene. Charging down the ridge, the group caught the cultists as they attempted to cross a river of quicksand.
As soon as the battle was joined, the beast master whistled a warning ahead to the scores of cultists at the temple, and ordered his men to attack. Two of the cultists began herding the marching peasants towards the temple, while the pack monsters attacked the group, citizens still chained to their backs.
Misrith, seeing the cultists marching away with innocents, but unable to reach them because of the quicksand river, tried to intervene as best he could. Bouncing his dagger off one mans sword into the other throat in an impossible shot, Misrith followed it up with another dagger eliminating all of the cultists across the quicksand river, allowing the peasants to make ready to escape as soon as the bridge was clear.
Meanwhile the first of the great Rat beasts was dispatched, cause it to fall upon the peasants on his back. Their cries of pain were cut short as they were crushed under its weight. “For the love of the gods, please get us off of here!” the other peasants cried as the battle continued. Without skipping a beat Karnak planted his spear in the ground, blowing a great wave of energy across the enemy, knocking them all back, including the pack rat beast. These other peasants didn’t have a change to mourn their death aloud, for the blast sent them into the quicksand, where they would never scream again.
As the fight continued, a woman appeared. Running from the desert, she leaped over the fight and made her way across the bridge, commanding the group to keep the cultists at bay with not even an introduction. The peasants on the other side of the bridge seemed to know her however, addressing her as Kylar.
At this point Aramil regained conciousness due to a blast of healing sent out by Ivan. Finding his companions in a fight, he did not take long to strike. Calling upon the power Lengis had given him, he began to lacerate his enemies with his power and blind them with bolts of light.
The Beastmast, blinded by the attack began to shout, “Why Master!? Why!? Have I displeased you? Why burn me so!?” before he expired.
It was at this point that the arrows began to fall in great clouds of death from the approaching army of cultists. Hundreds of men and twisted creatures with bows advanced through the blowing sands, their fire guided by the light of a single archer firing sunrods. As one such rod landed upon the peasants, Aramil used his mage hand to shift its position, keeping the few surviving men and women alive.
“Follow me to safety!” Kylar exclaimed, leading the group back through the desert. The cultists did not appear to follow.
Once out of immediate danger, the group began to ask Kylar where she had come from. She explained that her name was Kylar Felstorm, son of the late Arlen Felstorm. He was a warlord who led the people of Elkridge in their previous home, before moving them into an enchanted grove in the Twisted Woods to live a more peaceful life. He was murdered however, and after the enchantment fell off or was destroyed, cultists began raiding the town for villagers. Kylar’s sister, Skarn Felstorm had ran away from home when Kylar was young, but had returned with the bandits she had fallen in with to defend the village. However the bandits are not easily controlled and do almost as much harm as good.
When asked about the curved dagger she carried at her hip, Kylar responded that she had taken it from her fathers body. She intended to see his assassin slain with he very weapon they used to strike down her father.