The storm was coming. Bigger than any of the Alliance members have ever seen. Bigger than some of the Terra’kan have ever seen. The entire travelling group stood there, stupefied as to what could be done.
Of all people, Kip SalvoKip Salvo remembered during his latest night of revelry, which happened to be last night, he discussed some survival techniques with the local ‘Kan at Fe’ree Hold, one of which was particularly relevant. They could use the lee side of the mountain for a natural protection from sandstorms.
How did Taima and his people not realize this?
With that, the group rushed to the nearest sand dune and started setting up their tents. Crix Vane and Kos, the Tarnished paired up to erect their tent together, and got done surprisingly fast. M@-33 and Kip chose to take a slower, steadier approach. Worried that they were constructing it poorly and slowly, Kip put his trust into M@ and pushed on.
Kip and M@ barely have enough time to rush inside the finished tent. The storm hit. It hit hard. As they exit, relieved that the tent held, they notice there were only mere scraps of fabric strewn about where Kos and Crix setup theirs.
The two were nowhere to be seen.
All but Kos and Crix started to realize they were being surrounded by a familiar people: more Terra’kan. These were of another Hold, the Jar’yun Hold. While Taima and Kar’deen, the Shal of the Jar’yun begin to talk, M@ is able to find Kos and Crix buried under two feet of sand. They did not do as good of a job building their tent as they thought.
Relieved to be out in the fresh air, Crix grabs for some water and rinses his mouth out. He then spits the water onto the ground.
The entire camp goes quiet.
Kar’deen flies into a rage, berating Taima for allowing these weak outlanders to travel with them, much less take them to the Ha’keem in Ahda’kaz. He insists that the Alliance group are not only worthy, but are outright disrespectful to the traditions of the Terra’kan, and thus, the ’Kan themselves.
M@, trying to rectify the apparent tragedy, collects Crix’s spit from the ground, places the soon to be dried up mud into a test tube, and approaches the standoff between Kar’deen and Taima. This seems to create an uneasy and temporary peace between the ‘Kan of Fe’ree and Jar’yun.
The Fe’ree, along with the Rebels, press on with the Jar’yun following close behind. During the next few days, Kip talks with Taima trying to learn more about the Raza. Only the ’Kan can initiate the sacred duel, and Kip should be aware that he will be tested by those wanting to show the strength of the ’Kan against such weak Outlanders.
Meanwhile, Kos approaches Myski in attempt to learn more about the politics and function of the Terra’kan’s hierarchy. He learns that there are many Holds across the desert, each with one Shal and one Hold Mistress. The Shal comes to power through the right of Raza, and appoints his own Hold Mistress. Trying to press to learn more of the intricacies, Kos was fed up with Myski’s condescension and left the conversation alone.
On the fifth day of travels, Taima looks up and exclaims:
“We are here. Ahda’Kaz.”
At the entrance, the Jar’yun are left to wait to allow Taima, the Rebels, and the rest of Fe’ree to enter Ahda’Kaz. They learned only one group of Terra’kan may enter at any one time. Other groups are allowed to enter, permitted the Ha’keem feel there will be no violence between the two.
They descend into a valley, where they notice half of the cliff face looks to have doors carved into the wall. On the other side, are slopes with more permanent looking tents set up. There also seems to be a fairly large group of terraces used for agriculture. There may even be a hint of green.
Taima leaves the group to talk with the Ha’keem, instructing the Alliance soldiers to stay close to Myski. While the core group are refilling their leather bladders, Kip notices two strange things. The first is a matte black solid being collected high up on the valley with a bucket. When asked what they were doing, Myski became very defensive and angered that an Outlander would even ask that. It is not to be known!
The second odd occurrence is the material of the rock wall where the doors were carved into. Upon second glance, it even looked somewhat familiar. M@ casually gathered a sample of the wall and analyzed it. It seemed to be of spaceship grade metal. Not something usually found in deserts like this.
Taima eventually returns alerting everyone that the Ha’keem are ready. Kos, Kip, Crix, Buurski, and M@ enter a room immediately getting a pungent smell of must and incense. In the middle of the roof was a circle, where the light shone through, creating a circle of light in the middle of the room. There were 7 elderly women sitting at the far side. One sat higher than the others. This one is named Madji.
Others were there, some just bystanders. Kar’Deen sat off in the corner, hoping for the death sentence of the Outlanders.
She asked of the group what their intentions were. Madji specifically was interested in Kip and his answers. She asked Kip if he knew what to be ’Kan meant, and was dissatisfied with his stock answer of strength, honor, and wisdom.
Madji went to confer with the rest of the Ha’keem and came back to ask the group if they were truly connected with the source.
Kos walked to a sickly, coughing man, reached out to the Mist and healed him in front of everyone. The ground began to rumble, but just as sudden, began to calm down. This seemed appease Madji.
Kar’deen, unhappy with the groups parlor tricks, demands Raza against the Outlanders, one by one. Taima steps in and insists that Kar’deen is too scared to fight Taima. Madji quickly puts a stop to the bickering and empties the room.
With only Madji sitting in front of Buurski, M@, Kos, Kip, and Crix she delves into some the secrets of the Terra’kan, elucidating why the Alliance mining is so detrimental to their way of life.
The spice, Fala, can be mixed with that black substance the Rebels noticed being collected earlier, Ur’fala. This can then be brewed down and drank in a ritual all ’Kan must enter, The Joining.
This allows all of the ’Kan to literally be one, essentially a hive mind. Without the Fala, the children of the ’Kan cannot participate in this ritual. Their way of life would die out quickly.
After Kip assures Madji that they will stop the mining in hopes of coexistence, Madji relays a prophecy to the group.
Someone is to come to the Terra’kan and deliver them from the desert to a better place. Could this be Kip?
She gives the party back over to Taima who leads them to one of the doors carved into the cliff made of some foreign metal. The group sees that a hallway leads to darkness and asks Taima if he could lead them down it to look around.
Taima refuses and suggests that the they ignore what’s down there.
Of course, they don’t.