Ringing Mountains, 190th King’s Age, Year of Priest’s Defiance, Month of Sorrow, day 3
Having gotten a good view of the Ringing Mountains west of Tyr, the group heads away from the small plateau with the magician’s home and back to one side of the very rocky hills. As it is late in the day, the party settles in for a night among the hills. They find a narrow defile on the west side of one of the jagged, rocky hillsides, and do their best to make a comfortable and concealed spot.
Several members of the team go hunting, and they return with spitted lizards, cactus fruit, and even a pair of fat snakes.
Late in the evening, as Chak-ik-tik watches the lazy humanoids wasting time, a heavyset creature approaches the camp. At first it seems like the minotaur lizard has returned, but as it comes closer it becomes apparent that this giant lizard has no horns. Instead, its low-slung body and long, whiskered snout show that it is a fire lizard — out for its once-per-fortnight hunt.
Chak makes a rasping noise to awaken the party and leaps to attack the gigantic lizard. He manages to land a few blows, but the creature is so massive that his first swings have little impact. The team scrambles to their feet as the beast blasts flame from its maw. Zarasmina manages to avoid the cone of flame, but other members of the group aren’t so lucky.
Cookie flies into a rage and leaps at the lizard to slash and stab at it while Zarasmina sneaks around behind it. The combined attacks of Cookie, Chik and Zarasmina manage to injure the lizard badly, but not before the beast snaps up Chik in its mouth and, with a sickening crunch, crushes the carapace of the thri-kreen warrior like an alligator lizard eating a locust. The team kills the lizard, but not without cost.
Somberly, the party puts Chik’s crushed corpse over the back of one of the crodlu, and they continue on their mission after sunrise. In only a short hour’s time they reach the famous tarn — a bright lake of clear water that trickles down from the top of the Ringing Mountains into a shrouded valley filled with twisted trees and scrubby bushes.
The party can find no sign of any habitation, but Kissik reminds them that druids have little use for houses or tools while in their favored lands.
After watering their crodlu and making sure that they don’t conduct any hostile moves, the party is startled when one of the druids appears in their midst. The druid cautiously tells the party that they are welcome to help themselves to water and grazing land on the tarn, but must move on the next day. Kissik greets the druid as a fellow brother guardian and explains the nature of the party’s quest: A hope for alliance with the druids, or at least the promise of some help for the now free city of Tyr after the army of Urik smashes into the city and leaves wounded people in the wake of war.
The druid is skeptical at first, but a second druid — a human female — appears and cajoles him. The druid explains that he and his compatriot share the duty of watching over the tarn due to some unusual circumstances. The druids become exceptionally skittish when they learn that Vasharian is a wizard, but they acknowledge the sacrifice made by Chak-it-tik in the quest to find the tarn, and grudgingly agree that when war comes to Tyr, they will help to heal the survivors. The druids refuse, however, to leave their guarded lands, or to become directly involved in the war.
Though G’rshun offers to reincarnate Chak-ik-tik, the party decides that the mantis warrior would probably be very uncomfortable in a different body, and instead they bury him in a cairn near the lake.