The Demon Wastes

Chapter II: The Demon Wastes

Having departed Blood Crescent, the Expedition made its way North and West as guided by the Blood Crescent scouts. This area of The Demon Wastes is not as volcanically active as more northern areas, so the difficulty was primarily traversing the desert sea of sand and ash. They did not get to miss out on the sharper aspects of the wastes as at one point they did have to travel between the remains of two volcanoes which provided easier travel through the valley formed between their stony remains. After a few days of travel they arrived at the dune they had sought, with a corner of very obviously worked stone sticking out at the top.

The expedition set up camp that night, posted guard rotations and bid farewell to the Blood Crescent scouts who had their own jobs to do. Arrangements were made for the scouts to pass by on a regular basis and accompany Carriage back and forth between the site and the outpost.

The next day work would begin at uncovering what the Dune held. The camps location had been left up to The Acquisition Team, who placed it in this case on the NW slope of the dune. To their chagrin the structure beneath that they found proved large enough that they had to move the camp at least two more times.

Over the next two weeks the expedition made a great deal of documentation of the area and what they found. The parties map maker and scout realized that the structure had been built beside a former lake in its day. Time and the Demon Wastes having taken their toll, the lake bed itself is now filled in nearly completely with sand and ash rather than life sustaining water. Only a vague outline marks its presence, and on the far side a mountain, once no doubt grand, today it has been worn down and looks no more than a very large dune.

The structure itself hidden by a dune turned out to be what Whistlyr has recently termed a Polyovalith. An upside down diamond shaped structure made of at least two types of stone that once stood upon a base. Its narrow neck had long since broken, and now the main structure rests on its side toppled and buried by the wastes dark sand. Estimates place it at nearly 100’ tall in its former glory.

Around this structure are the remains of a settlement, and the more scholarly took it upon themselves to seek out any method of identifying anything about it they could. Roads were found, as well as evidence that while the permanent settlement was small (particularly to support the main structure), the roads extended for some distance to accommodate a greater nomadic population.

Along with these roads were found markers, the symbols unrecognizable by even the most linguistic of the parties members. The professor had speculated that perhaps the hieroglyphs were a written form of Druidic. Judicious use of Comprehend Language allowed the party to translate the individual symbols. The attempt itself was still difficult until they realized that the symbols were street markers. The less important streets marked with names of trees and bushes such as Ash, Mahogany, Oak. The closer and more well maintained streets had more specific symbols which could not be translated and are thus far assumed to be symbols of specific people, hero’s or high priests. Two main roads intersect the entire settlement just east of the “temple” running north/south and the other heading east away from the temple. These two main roads were the largest and most well paved. The symbols that marked them were the symbols of two lesser known nature deities: Obad-Hai and Ehlonna.

The settlement showed sign of abandonment more than anything else, though little remained of any of the structures. Primarily just foundations of wood, though some pottery and a few other treasures were found. What remains there were did show signs of fire, its what was missing that led the Professor to suggest the settlement was abandoned. There were no signs of bodily remains, no signs of interrupted living, all the houses were empty save what few items had been found. Considering the entire Wastes burned when once it was a lush forested area, the burns are not unexpected nor indication that the settlement was destroyed until after the area was abandoned. Even the area outside the permanent structures did not leave behind anything suggesting remains of tents or other temporary dwellings. The area seems simply abandoned and left to the ravages that later took what is now known as the Demon Wastes.

The primary structure took more work to uncover. Its size alone and the amount of sand needed to be moved dictated a great deal of work effort, not to mention repeatedly moving the camp as the structure itself was uncovered. When an opening was found, even that was packed with sand and ash and what water had crept in managed to mix with the ash and somewhat solidify. Out of ease the team did not immediately uncover the base of the structure, instead leaving the dune above it as ramp to this hole that once was the stairwell up into a vertical structure.

During this time there were a few encounters, a basilisk had found its way into the camp, as did a couple of Djinni, and later a pack of Sand Hunters.

The Polyovalith

As the stairwell to the structure was uncovered, one of the difficulties was then clearing out the stairwell. The sand in the area is mixed with ash, and while the desert doesn’t get much water, it does still get water. So the ash/sand that had filled in the stairwell was also mixed with water, creating an almost cement-like cap. Stump was called in and given a pick, his dwarf-like build and strength a natural fit for the task at hand. Cin also proved useful when she pulled out some vials of acid that would eat right through the hardened ash. Luckily enough the stairwell followed a circular progression around a central stone pillar, so while the first landing was filled in, after that the structure remained sealed from the elements and clear to be walked.

Inside the structure The Aquisition Team found two rooms that appeared to be meant for worship or prayer service, one dedicated to Obah-Hai, the other dedicated to Ehlonna. Further up was found a room for practicing more martial arts. Hidden sconces held long rusted through scimitars, and on the floor was a design that Stump suggested might show the footing for practicing Kata’s. Further up, a room that seemed peaceful, almost serene. Once Aegon was able to inspect the room, he determined that a magical aura remained that used very little energy to very little effect. Which might account for it retaining its functionality while the fountain in the room had long since stopped producing water.

As the party ascended the structure, and I must note here that the structure was on its side, so the ascent is only accurate in relation to how the structure once stood. Following a stairwell on its side requires rope, as did much of the exploration of these rooms. Towards the former top of the structure the stone foundation became more and more unstable, Stump was struck once on the head by a stone but the Halfling managed to find any further hazards. A great deal of tent polls had been brought in by the end to secure many of the more problematic stones.

The top most room appeared to be a summoning chamber. Magical runes scrawled along the wall, formerly the floor, showed Druidic aptitude not expected. What other summoning implements had long since fallen and gathered at the lowest corner former wall, now floor. Two secret chambers were discovered, short stairways to bed chambers “above.” All in all a great deal of archaeological treasure was found, from the symbols of Obad-Hai and Ehlonna, to the runework along the benches and the inoperable fountain above. The rusted scimitars showed incredible craftsmanship, each hilt was embedded with a gem, and if not for the rust, legible runes might have been found along the sides of the blades.

The most increadible find however was in the topmost room, in one of the bed chambers. A book, a small leather bound and very frail book. Aegon and Professor Irieaga quickly worked to secure it lest it fall apart, and even now they seek to copy it as accurately as they can.

Like the village surrounding, the structure appears to have been abandoned. A mystery was revealed however in the summoning chamber. The walls, floor, and ceiling around one of the magical circles shows signs of burns, as if something had exploded there. Furthermore, once the team had sorted through the items that had gathered in the corner floor, beneath it all was a stone pillar that had obviously dislodged from nearby the same summoning circle. Beneath that pillar was found the remains of a body. Or at least the skeleton of a body. Well, the shattered remains of a skeleton. Whistlyr was kind enough to find a container within which he gathered as much of the skeleton as he could.

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The Demon Wastes

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