Staggering wounded into the Real City, the players made for the Crystalline temple of Pavis himself. As Xaraya had been declared a Champion of Pavis by the priesthood and she carried Balastor’s Axe (and Balastor himself) she hoped to get some answers from the demigod.
They approached the crystal orb that is known as the Room Without Doors. Through the darkness of the walls, they saw movement within. A weak voice called out to them, saying, “You must do what you were fated to have done. Aid me now, in my hour of greatest need!” or words to that effect. Weird tendrils of blue-green smoke emerged from the orb and enveloped the heroes. They found themselves lifted off the ground and passed out.
Grom was the first to wake up. He was face down in the mud of what seemed like the Zola Fel valley, and a morokanth’s claw was around his neck. He tried to resist but was too weak. He heard Morokanthi voices call out “A bull and two cows. The bull is waking, but I’ll fix that,” and he was knocked unconscious again.
The heroes awoke, stripped naked and bound with slave collars, in a Morokanth slave coffle. The women were put in with a group of herd women and two or three terrified Praxian women who could provide little information, but kept pointing at Skye and murmuring things about a queen. The only intelligent human in Grom’s coffle was a tall warrior of a people unknown to the Sartarite. His eyes were golden and his hair and beard blond, both wound up tightly in spiral patterns. He explained that he was Chaga Firegleam of the Pure Horse People, in an accent barely comprehensible to Grom. All Grom knew was that the Pure Horse People had been driven out of Prax long ago, and he began to think that they might not be in the Pavis they knew any more.
The coffle progressed northwards along the riverbank when they were approached by a High Llama rider of grim countenance. He wanted to buy a girl, he said, but would not explain why, only asking that she be mature and have magic. The morokanth slavers quickly singled out Skye and Xaraya from the herd, and the warrior chose Xaraya, saying only that Praxian would be more “acceptable.” He slung the helpless woman, bound and gagged, over the back of his mount, and set off across the river into the wastes,
After a couple of days, in which the warrior showed no interest in Xaraya other than feeding her enough food and water to keep her alive, and staking her out at night so she could not escape while he slept, the pair came close to a large rock, standing up from the desert with a small pool beside it, the only variation in the scenery for miles around. The taciturn nomad murmured, “Bad Rock,” and soon was close enough to dismount. In her helpless state, Xaraya could only see the nomad draw a stone knife from his belt and begin to make ritual chants and movements in front of the rock.
At this point, Balastor grew perturbed within Xaraya. “He means to sacrifice us to the Spirit of Bad Rock, a terrible spirit of the wastes,” he said, “But this cannot happen. At the appropriate moment, I shall take control of you, and slay this beast rider!” Xaraya readily agreed, as the slave collar sapped he magic, but did not affect the spirit within her.
The warrior lifted Xaraya off the llama, removed her bonds, and positioned her kneeling on the ground in front of the rock, pulling back her hair to expose her neck. As he readied himself to slit the hero’s throat, Balastor threw his magic at the nomad, knocking him back and causing him t drop his knife. Balastor/Xaraya was able to grasp the knife and use a combination of magic and the weapon to slay the nomad in a close-fought battle.
At this point, Xaraya and Balastor both found themselves pulled on to the Spirit Plane. There they encountered a spirit who resembled the descriptions of the devil Xaraya had heard around the campfire growing up – winged, fanged, clawed, with four arms and three legs. It boasted how it was a part of the devil that had survived the destruction when the Bull flung his truestone across Prax, and was growing stronger as it lured thirsty travelers to its pool and devoured them. Yet this fragment of the devil was facing two Champions of Pavis, and on the spirit plane, Xaraya was back at her full magical power, free from the confinement of the slave collar. Despite taking grievous spiritual damage, the two heroes were able to destroy the evil spirit, and free the Rock of its taint.
Recovering consciousness, Xaraya stripped the dead warrior of his bone breastplate, but turned up her nose at the stinking loincloth. She also found a solid bow and sword on the nomad’s llama. Quenching her thirst at the pool, she noticed a cave in the side of the rock. Wading through the pool to the cave, she found an assortment of bones and possessions, seemingly the remains of individuals lured to the rock and slain. Among the remains were a fine pair of Kralorelan silk pants, which proved to be a good fit, allowing Xaraya to be clothed for the first time in days. As she waded back out she also felt another spiritual presence. Going in to a trance, she found a weak and distressed water spirit, who could not remain her name, only that she had been suffering as the slave of the devil spirit for many ages. It was she that maintained the pool that drew the victims to the rock. Xaraya offered to take her away from the evil place, and the spirit agreed, manifesting itself in the hero. Her hair grew slick and wet, and a fine coat of sweat covered her body. She knew that she would feel no thirst as long as the spirit traveled with her.
As Xaraya mounted the llama, she looked back. the pool had already dried up. Bad Rock would trouble travelers no more.
One problem remained. Xaraya had no idea where she was. She had never heard of Bad Rock. Balastor only knew it as a legend out in the wastes. If that river was the Zola Fel, then Xaraya could only assume that traveling west would return her lands she might know, so she struck out that way.
After a day or so, she began to encounter more fertile ground, and soon came across a stream that flowed south west. Before long she spied another High Llama rider. Cautiously she approached him, bow in hand. The rider called out, “Who are you? Are you friend to Jaldon?” While Xaraya was unsure if the rider meant Jaldon the Black or the legendary Praxian hero, Jaldon Goldentooth, Balastor was in no mood to compromise. He controlled Xaraya to shout out, ’That bastard shall die by my hand!" The rider lowered his lance, and said, “Approach then, friend. We have meat and can share it.” While no longer thirsty, Xaraya had not eaten properly for days, and gladly accepted the offer.
The rider took her to meet his comrades, the ten survivors of the Scrintha High Llama clan, led by Harroven Red-Wool, a Storm Khan. Harroven’s people had accepted the peace between Waha and Pavis, and so were turned on and made pariah when the High Llama Council decided to join Jaldon. It was at this ;point that Xaraya realized that she was in the past, the Second Age no less. Harroven and his shaman Tenebors filled in Xaraya on the latest goings on, which enabled her to realize that she had come to a time at the height of Pavic glory.
Returning to more mundane matters, Xaraya asked her new friends about Morokanth slavers. Harroven said that a coffle was moving northwards towards Pavis, and that he had no love for these brutal raiders, who had taken some of his own as slaves in the past. On hearing that Xaraya had friends held by them in chains, he agreed to help rescue them.
The result was a foregone conclusion. The skill of the Scrintha scouts and the fury of the charge led by Harroven and Xaraya overwhelmed the Morokanth. Skye and Grom were freed and their possessions retrieved. Harroven then said that he and his tribe were seeking the protection of the walls of Pavis, and the Grazing within. The heroes were happy to accompany them, even as Harroven’s wife Nemarra noted that Skye looked just like the Queen…