After coming across a wrecked group of wagons and the road and coming under attack by ssurrans, the party notices a dazed gnoll guard – another employee of the merchant house, wandering confusedly nearby. Knowing strength lies in numbers, the gnoll, dragonborn, mul, human and elf decide to join forces. Any attempts to get to know each other are cut short though, before the disastrous trip gets a little worse.
A lone rider appears on the horizon, riding toward them from the northwest at top speed. As he nears, they see he is wearing the clothes of a House Wavir guard.
“Make your best time forward!” the rider calls out. “What’s left of the caravan is under attack!”
The party does just that, pushing their sole remaining crodlu to his limit to make up ground, although they’re not exactly sure how far they have to go.
As it turns out, they were just a few miles behind the front of the caravan, which seems to have survived the storm, albeit in bad shape. Those few miles were one too many, however. They see dozens of riders on kanks, swirling around the wagons, then galloping off into the desert.
Four bandits riding war-trained kanks remain – greedy stragglers. They quickly regret their decision to stay behind, as the party sets upon them, killing them all, down to the last surviving beast as it attempts to flee.
Among the frightened and wounded survivors is a guard, lying in a pool of his own blood, who ashamedly tells them that this was the work of the Black Raiders, and that he doesn’t know what happened after he was knocked out.
One thing is apparent – there don’t seem to be any high-level Wavir merchants here. Belana Wavir is notably absent, almost assuredly a kidnap victim.
As the party is investigating, one of the thri-kreen scouts Wavir had hired to help the massive caravan trots in from the north. He points out the easy-to-follow trail the raiders have left. They apparently number in the scores, and have taken the giant hollowed-out beetle carapace, full of hostages, and the mekillot that pulls it.
The party sets off after the Black Raiders, but not until they had extracted a promise of a reward – one wagon’s worth of profits – from one of the low-level merchants remaining. By late afternoon, they find them: three guards around a small campfire, and a wagon full of bound hostages.
Pyotr’s attempt at stealth fails, as the sharp-eyed guards notice the vampire skulking behind a rock. The fight is on. Two human bandits fall, leaving a huge goliath enforcer with his back to the mekillot, swinging his greatclub in rage. The end is in sight, until three latecomers arrive in camp: a pair of kank riders and a huge, sneering slavemaster wielding a vicious scourge.
The newly arrived gnoll runs over to intercept the newcomers, but they are too much for him. After laying one of the riders low, the slaver’s scourge finds its way through the barbarian’s defenses and tears his throat open. Already poisoned by one of the kanks, he dies there, writhing silently in the sand as his new companions look on in horror.
The fight, far from resolved, goes on …