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Upon close inspection of the oasis Q'elhash found that there was a large crack in the cliff-face and that it had become clogged with silt.

After digging out the silt, water flowed freely for a few minutes and then slowed to a trickle.

 

As Q'elhash led the way into the cliff Abdul was wondering what would happen if he got stuck. After mucking their way through hundreds of yards of dark, muddy passages the group came upon a room large enough for Abdul to stand comfortably. On one side of the room water was oozing out of several cracks and slowly collecting on the floor. Again our heros dug their way through silt and stones and found that the water had been flowing through natural caves deep within the cliff.

Abdul carved his name on the wall near the hole that they crawled through saying "so we don't get lost". Sadly, "A" was all he could spell of his name.

The commotion attracted the attention of a giant albino cave toad that thought Azim looked tasty.

A couple minuets later the party was on their way, stepping over a scorched toad carcass.

As the group continued to follow the path of the underground stream, several of them noticed small fish, insects, and crustaceans in the water, all of them white with red or pink eyes. After several more encounters with cave toads and spiders, Q'elhash thought he heard the unmistakable sounds of a battle echoing through the cave. Picking up their speed the party found that they could see lights in the distance. As Abdul rounded a corner he saw a man standing among his fallen comrades trying to hold his ground against a gigantic white snake. As Abdul and Q'elhash charged the snake, Hosni and Azim used their particular talents. Finally, after several close calls, the battle was at an end, but as the snake fell so too did the lone survivor of this other party. Abdul tried to heal his wounds but could not stop the poison the snake had injected. As the party watched, the man uttered his final words: "must...find ...water...". After saying this the last breath from his body became a ghostly eagle and flew upstream into the dark caverns ahead.

Hosni proceeded to collect the dead party's belongings "for safe keeping".

After Abdul said a prayer for the dead and buried them in a side room, Q'elhash found that they had come from an other branch of the stream, he and Abdul agreed that now they must not fail, for now they had to save TWO cities.

Proceeding along countless corridors, Hosni glimpsed out of the corner of his eye a glint in the darkness of a side passage. Leaving the party he crept into the room, becoming immediately transfixed by the glimmering gems and crystals that filled this room. Azim, not trusting Hosni at all, went to look for him and found him standing, hypnotized by the shifting colors and patterns of light. Hosni had to be dragged out of the room by Abdul who said "the water is more important now". The party was very tired but decided to press on when they noticed that a slight breeze could be felt coming from upstream. After climbing a steep and very slimy hill they found the cave's opening. The water had been supplied by the largest lake any of our heroes had ever seen, however the water was now too far below the opening of the caverns. The sky was dark and cloudy, loud thunder could be heard nearby, and powerful winds were blowing through the strange trees. The group made camp but got very little sleep that night.

When they decided to break camp, the ghostly eagle appeared and flew out over the wind tossed water, though still dark due to cloud cover a large tower could be seen on the peak of a mountain across the lake. As Azim watched the eagle fly towards the tower he noticed that all the lightning from the storm was hitting the top of the tower but not doing any damage. He also found it strange that such a violent storm would not have rain.

As none of the party could swim, they decided to go around the lake to the tower. After following the coast for several hundred yards they found canoes and rowboats pulled up onto the shore. It was not the safest but it was the fastest way to the tower. Abdul was the first to try the canoes, severely weighing it down and almost getting swamped several times. The rest of the party all climbed into another boat and made their way across the lake.

On the other side of the lake the party found a trail that led up towards the tower. Upon reaching the top of the mountain the group could see the other half of the giant lake. A gigantic water elemental was towering over several ships which appeared to come from a large city on the edge of the lake. As the lightning came down from the sky, it was transformed into magical energy and flowed down the mountain and added strength to the elemental. Now the party could save THREE cities.

The tower door was locked but Abdul made short work of that. After picking their way through a kitchen, dining room and bedroom the group found a door that led to the roof. On the roof was a large glass and metal structure which contained a tall, pale man reading magical incantations from a large book floating before him. Abdul charged the mage swinging his huge mace, but was repelled by an invisible barrier. The mage turned and said something not even Azim could recognize. Q'elhash began to break the glass of the wizard's lightning- structure, which caused the lightning to stop hitting only the tower and a heavy rain to begin falling. The wizard grabbed his book out of the air, shouted something unintelligible at Q'elhash and vanished. As the giant elemental collapsed back into the water it sent waves which violently rocked the ships and crashed into the shores of the lake, returning the water level to normal.

 

More to Come