Scribed by the hand of Zahar Al-Zakariya, Acolyte of the Dawnflower
I have been chosen to reclaim Saranrae’s ruined temple from the sands south of the lost city of Kelmarane. I cannot think of a higher honor for one so young as I (22 years as of this writing). The lost secrets I might recover, the forgotten treasures I may unearth…they drive me as much as the guiding warmth of the Everlight, as Saranrae is sometimes also known.
Joining up with Caravaneer Garavel and Merchant Princess Almah, on their way to Kelmarane, I met Salim the swordsman and Almut the secretive. Both are also seeking something on this trip: Salim to further his knowledge of swordplay; Almut for reasons he is keeping close to his heart at this time. Salim is an openly pleasant man who, despite his obvious skill at arms, seems to place a very high value on all life. Despite his darkly secretive manner, Almut seems a religious man and has shown great interest in me while remaining tremendously respectful of my holy station. I feel
confident in my success if I can continue to count these two as friends.
Although, I will admit to being just a little more than simply intrigued to learn more of Almut’s motivations.
There was an explosion and fire in the alchemist’s wagon. I truly hope that old man died quickly and did not have to suffer. All who worship Saranrae understand the healing warmth of flame as well as we do the all-consuming danger of it. The event seemed so sudden as to warrant investigation, lest we allow a saboteur to remain among our ranks. It was during our rounds of questioning immediately after the blast that Samir noticed a skulking figure among the wagons.
Confronting the man, Samir learned he was a mercenary named Dashki. Being slow-of-wit and somewhat infatuated with Merchant Princess Almah, Dashki was the object of ridicule amongst the caravan’s other fighters. He claimed to be an expert on gnolls and tracking. And most interestingly, claimed the alchemist met his star-crossed demise due to the presence of pugwampis.
Laying the blame at the feet of little gibbering monsters from children’s tales only fanned the flames of scorn and derision. However, Salim and Almut and I were willing to join Dashki on a late-night hunt for these creatures. Our hopes were to simply rule out any outside influence while being able to speak freely about our suspects. Never in a lifetime of sunrises did we think Dashki was right!
We were ambushed by a pugwampi in a cactus thicket near a ravine. We prevailed, but it was a hard-won victory. The tiny verminous creature used some type of lethargy toxin on its weapons, dulling all physical coordination in its victims. Worst of all, it seemed to exude some sort of bad luck aura. I am a martially-trained devotee of Saranrae and no stranger to training grounds, even if I am somewhat less than battle-hardened, but I have never for the life of me seen so many dropped weapons, tripped attackers, slips and slides, and near-misses.
Puwampis live underground and come out only at night. They shun the touch of the Dawnflower as if it were anathema to them. And that is the reason they are cursed. Of this there can be no doubt.
Back at the caravan, Merchant Princess Almah called for the wagons to make for a ruined monastery just south of Kelmarane. There we are to make camp, providing a defensible base from which to retake the lost city
But first, a party of brave souls must venture ahead of the caravan to clear the monastery of any current inhabitants…