The Hezzrat slaves arrived back at Altaruk, shaken by the loss of their recent comrade. after arriving at Hezzrats stronghold within the town, they were each taken to a cellar dungeon. While the story of Vos’s disappearance and likely death matched, the truth, by law, had to be extracted. In turn, each of them were brutally tortured to determine the truth. This did little to assist Nus’ mental health, but he and the others seemed to recover with the introduction of a new party member, a Human monk and gladiator named Razin. The slaves tested his ability to fight viciously and found it suitable for their tastes.
The party was told that they were to participate in a series of gladiatorial games off in Velmiran, a small town at least nine days away, and that a Mekillot caravan would arrive to facilitate the trip. About halfway they were to stop at an oasis out in the wastes. Several days later Barthomar revealed that no caravan was coming and that the perilous journey would have to be made on foot. He and another Half-Giant slave, Hurgen, would join them, both for managment of the tournament and for assistance in the trip.
Several days out the party was assaulted by Aarakocra, the vulture-men of the wastes. Their arrival had been heralded by kestrekel, small black birds that are a sign that death is on its way. The Aarakocra assaulted the party, wounding Mir and Nus and slowing progress. Their numbers were so great and they were so persistent that no one would sleep for several nights.
Nus tended to Mir as the remaining slaves happened upon a caravan towards the end of an Aarakocra attack that resulted in the death of the majority of the travelers. The only survivor was a teenage psion, who managed to fend off the Aarakocra with the party. She joined them, having no other way to survive the wastes, and continued onward
Very soon their progress was again halted by the Aarakocra, but this time it was a force too large to count or defeat, and included their supposed leader, an elder Aarakocra whose feathers had grayed and who carried an obsidian staff. In stilted common, he gave the party an ultimatum: if they left their food and water, they would be able to go on unassailed. Otherwise, the Aarakocra would descend and kill them all. The party was split as to what to do and unable to deter his threats. The Aarakocra thus left in order to give them time to muse. By dusk, however, they would return, and their choice was to be made.
The party could not come to a unanimous decision regarding what to do with their goods. Several options were posited: they could alter their packs to conceal some supplies, bury others poorly in order to distract the Aarakocra, or disguise whatever remained that they would not give as something else. Razin posited that Nus could poison the food they surrendered. Impressed, Nus conceded and everyone set about making the plan happen, poisoning all of their food, and hiding and disguising as much water as they figured they could get away with.
The Aarakocra eventually came for the supplies, thinking themselves smart for discovering the poorly buried goods, and left. The Hezzrat slaves continued on towards the oasis while their supplies lasted. In total, they had saved perhaps a days worth of water. maybe more.
Some time later the angry cries of Aarakocra could be heard off in the distance, seeking vengeance. The final contingent contained several spearmen, the Aarakocra elder, and a shaman, each of whom assailed the party with a wide variety of attacks. The elder summoned a pair of desert elementals and split the party such that they could not organize themselves.
The ensuing battle saw the fall of nearly the entire party, save Ka’tho. Between the efforts of Mir and Razin the Aarakocra elder was defeated and the last remaining spearman fled.
Everyone healed and righted themselves, thankful that no further Aarakocra threat would plague them. They continued on towards the oasis, confident they would make it there with the supplies they had kept.