After resting the party set off into the enormous red desert toward the mountains. During the first day of travel they saw nothing but the vast expanse of sand. Suddenly in the afternoon on the second day clouds began forming in the sky, eventually forming a swirling vortex on the other side of large dune nearby. Bobus climbed to the top of the dune to assess the situation and saw a tornado of sand touching down at the bottom of the dune. Within the eye of the storm he can barely make out four figures moving about. Bobus hurried back down the dune to inform his colleagues of what he saw.
Together Bobus, Bunder, and Thrumps attempted to stealthily traverse the dune but as they reached the other side the vortex disappeared, raining a light dusting of sand on the party and revealing several floating tentacle creatures that Bunder identifies as fell taint, aberrant beasts who feast on the minds of their prey. The frightening balls of tentacles seemed to have been attacking a masked warrior who lay unresponsive in the sand. Suddenly their focus shifted to the party. Bobus easily ran down the steep face of dune and charged in. He immediately dispatched one of the monsters with a single strike but soon became overwhelmed by the beasts. After failing to gracefully leap down the side of the dune Thrumps managed to kick himself onto his feet and aid Bobus with a majestic shout to cheer him on as Bunder rushed into combat. The rest of the fell taint soon fell to the party, exploding into piles of goo and sparks before fading back into another plane of existence.
After the battle the party turned their attention to the masked warrior, who near the end of the battle had gotten up from the ground. The warrior’s mask was black on the right half and white on the left. It offered no view of the warrior’s face, was completely lacking in openings, and appeared to be made of stone. Other than his mysterious black and white mask, the masked warrior was covered head to toe in dark leather armor which also appeared to lack anyway for the warrior to remove the armor. The warrior retrieved a smooth black stone from the sand and presented it to Bunder. The warrior then held it’s hands to face in such a way that it seemed to suggest that Bunder do the same. Bunder then lifted the stone beneath his nostrils and discovered it’s magical properties. Small flecks within the stone became illuminated and almost transparent when Bunder exhaled on the stone and when he exhaled a second time the stone became jet black once more.
The party then tried to communicate with the warrior with no luck. He simply stood blankly as if waiting for something to happen. Fed up with the strange silent soldier they marched on towards the mountains until night fall but as the heroes approached the mountains, the mountains seemed to be receding back. They rested at nightfall. Overnight the mountains had somehow ended up only a short distance in front of them. Their appearance now seemed to be that of a single enormous sheer cliff face that slowly rounded and leveled off on top, like a giant cylinder half buried in the sand.
Upon reaching what they had believed were mountains Bunder spoke out. “These are no mountains.” The obstacle before them was a living breathing creature, a worm of incredible size. Lucky for the party it was only the small tale end of the beast that blocked their path and they climbed on top of it without difficulty despite a failed attempt by Bunder to toss Thrumps to the top. Once on top they saw the silent warrior in the distance heading towards them at a fast clip from where they had been and on the opposite they could see that the next gate was close by but it was also partially buried in sand. They could also see a flame on top the gate. After some discussion they decided to wait for the silent warrior and rested on top of the worm.
When the warrior arrived he carried a second black stone which he again presented to Bunder and again put his hands to his face. Again flecks in the stone glowed. As the groups authority on the arcane Thrumps spoke “I’ve heard tales of magical ores that give off light. Perhaps these stones hold further magic.” Again the warrior stood silently. Bobus suddenly spoke a command to the warrior. ’Go that way!" It walked for several yards and then turned around and stood again as if waiting instructions. Overjoyed with the discovery Bobus insisted they take the warrior with them, since he seemed to be following them anyway, and the others agreed.
After safely disembarking from the worm the adventurers traveled on towards the gate. Bobus’s keen elven eyes spot the source of the flame. It was coming from the tail of a giant red scorpion who had made the gate it’s nest. Attempting to use stealth the party engages the scorpion. They quickly surrounded the beast avoiding it’s massive claws and tail. Caught off guard, Bunder suddenly found himeself between the claws of the great beast but just as quickly as he was grappled he assumed his serpent form and slithered from the beasts grasp. While the scorpion was distracted thus Bobus delivered a finishing blow from behind while the silent warrior assailed the beast with divine energies. The battle over, they decided to rest. Bobus instructed the silent warrior to dig out the gate and guard the party while they rest.
In the morning the party discovers that the sand around the gate has only been partially cleared and that the silent warrior has gone missing.