The massive Wavir caravan rouses to life in the cold predawn light. The merchants in their traveling cloaks eat a quick breakfast, harness the animals, tighten the lashings on the wagons, and then set off for the second day of the five-day passage. Within an hour the sun is up, turning the land into a murderous oven. A typical day, in other words.
The peaks of the Sharpshard Mountains dwindle behind the convoy as the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes stretch out ahead.
A couple hours before high sun, Hiccup starts to hear cracking sounds from underneath his wagon. Soon there is a loud snap: The axle has failed. The entire procession grinds to a halt. Belana rides back to assess the situation and frowns at the poor condition of the elven wagon. Hearing that it will take a couple of hours to fix, she assigns Arvin’s Man’s wagon to wait, assist and accompany the elf once he’s back and rolling, along with five guards. The schedule cannot be interrupted; the two wagons will just have to catch up at nightfall.
Two hours pass, and the axle is fixed. The small group sets off again. But soon the light begins to dim. The reason is clear to anyone who’s traveled the roads: A storm is coming from the south. Fast. The caravan barely has time to stop and unharness the animals before it’s upon them.
It’s a big one. The group finds scant shelter on the barren plain, and the storm does its worst, killing the guards and three of the four crodlus. The party is scoured by flying sand and debris, and most of the cargo is lost. But it finally passes. The five have survived, but are considerably worse for wear.
They set off again, and after a few hours of slow travel, begin to see remnants of the Wavir caravan. A wagon here and there – an occasional body buried in sand. Eventually they come upon what must have been a group of about five wagons. Nobody here survived.
But the party is not alone. A scavenging band of ssurrans, with a couple of pet baazrags, has noticed too. The ssurrans attack. When it’s over, the ssurrans are dead, and Piotr lies near death, but the party has survived, barely.
Rummaging amongst the wagons pays off. The party finds enough goods to fill their one remaining wagon about halfway (all the single surviving crodlu will be able to pull), plus enough food and water to keep them all alive an extra day. And, among the scattered remnants of a cargo of weapons, one ingenious pair of retractable wrist razors.
But it’s late afternoon now. Dark will come soon, and the party is alone on the wastes, days from civilization in either direction.