“What monster sleeps in the deep of your story? You need a monster. Without a monster there is no story.”
At dawn the trio awoke and broke camp, following Fay’s compass towards the looming rock formation on the horizon. Drawing closer the path split; one half led up towards the overly-dramatic outcropping while the other seemed to lead off into the hills. Yuudai decisively set to scaling the slopes. However, the others felt quite strongly that they ought to strike out towards the foothills. From his vantage point Yuudai watched as Antonio and Arbezai dutifully walked into an ambush set by a large, insectoid desert predator. The ensuing skirmish was both brief and messy—due in large part to Arbezai’s unexpected transformation into a giant bee-man. This fact did not go unnoticed by the nearby Elacs-shomian scout who, both confused and terrified, sensibly fled the scene.
After a brief pursuit the gentlemen found themselves in the small desert community of Elacs-Shom. Recognizing an opportunity for heroics, Antonio quickly agreed to assist the locals who seemed to have their hands full with both a dried-up well and missing persons. The idea of saving a princess and the promise of legendary treasure certainly had nothing to do with his magnanimous gesture. Equipped with steeds and a guide the group set out for The Maw.
Entering the cave the adventurers came across the thoroughly distressed corpse of a research student from Iriswood University. A brief perusal of his journal suggested that the “dangers untold” and legends of the monster Nkosazana may not have been as exaggerated as hoped. A brief perusal of his pockets yielded a few useful items, including a makeshift monocle for Yuudai.
Undeterred by the grisly welcome, the party pressed on and, after a series predictably dangerous and overwrought trials, arrived in the main antechamber. That’s where things got a bit strange. The uneasy presence which had followed them through the lower levels was a small dragon. The small dragon was actually the missing princess. And the missing princess turned out to be a rather capable young girl on a mission to save her village. Their spirits only somewhat dampened by this series of increasingly improbable revelations, the group returned to Elacs-Shom.
Thrilled to both have Jade back home and a viable water source, much feasting and celebration ensued. Gifts were given, cheesy pick-up lines were used, and a good time was had by all. The following morning the compass led the trio back to the Journey Inn and a rather close encounter with the bard Ashede Zheer. Ashede had an uncanny familiarity with all three of their stories, but held a particular interest in the Tragic Tale of the Bee Man.
Antonio and Yuudai agreed that it was, without a doubt, the strangest thing they had seen yet.