The Mystery of Summer Heat

A storm rumbled over the Skarch Desert, gathering clouds looming ominously over the dunes. The sound of thunder barely disguised the sound of cackling laughter, the first hint that something was amiss. On a cold day, the 3rd of Urlachmar in the year 661 after the Coming of Estarra, Huskii Myeras of Serenwilde was the first to find Exclii Ehc’zi, the outcast monk of the followers of Grandmother Scorpion within the Scorpion Caverns. He explained that another monk, a dracnari by the name of Summer Heat who had just returned from beyond the caverns, had come and done something horrible to the other followers of Scorpion, but that he himself had avoided attention. Not long after, Nimuire Duskbloom and Thes Erurozea of the Fellowship of the Roots arrived, claiming that they had been sent to visit and investigate Scorpion by another dream they had experienced.

It quickly became clear that something was horribly wrong with Summer Heat, and other monks down in the caverns. They were described, and had been seen, as having brown licks of flame emanating from their mouths, and their lips were brown and seared. Meanwhile, the other inhabitants of the Scorpion Caverns were incapacitated – irresponsive and holding on for dear life.

Exclii was an anxious bundle of nerves, and it would take encouragement from Xenthos An’Ryshe of Glomdoring before he could calm down, and explain more about the situation. When pressed, he revealed that he had taken the Key from Sandy Storm, a large crystal which she had fashioned into an ankh and which she had procured with no small effort driven by the prophecy of Scorpion about the Key and the Wayward.

The monk claimed he could use the ankh to go on some kind of spirit-cleansing journey. Although it was unclear what Summer Heat was doing, it was discovered that he had sealed himself magically into a tomb with one of the mummies, no doubt for some foul purpose. With no other choice, the exiled Exclii drew upon his knowledge of the secrets of Scorpion, and began a ritual that would span nearly an entire month. Many would gather to hear the tale, to aid, and to fight, including Xenthos An’Ryshe, Iazin Stormcrow, and Tirah Mzithrei of Glomdoring, Huskii Myreras, Eiselle Mes’ard and Xiran Stormcrow of Serenwilde, Uzriel d’Vanecu of Magnagora, Vyell D’Cente of Gaudiguch, Ayisdra Ysav’rai, Finnegan and Tikki of Hallifax, Tridemon Regalis and Cheliyi Lunarose of Celest.

Over the next several days, disturbed monks with seared lips would regularly come to interrupt the ritual and assault the precious crystal, and those protecting it hurried to repair the damage with elemental essence. Eventually, four manifestations of Exclii’s deepest insecurities would appear over the course of the month. Many died in defense of the ritual, but one by one they were each overcome. With their defeat came key memories believed to belong to the four mummies: Belay’i, Lerest’i, Asooth’i, and finally Shyust’i. Adventurers and the Fellowship sat with Exclii, keeping him safe throughout the tumult. The efforts of Huskii Myeras, and that of Tikki, who would remain with Exclii and took no rest, would prove especially crucial. For as each manifestation fell, the situation grew more and more dire, and without them, the efforts would have surely failed.

As the manifestations perished, Summer Heat was interrupted, moving from tomb to tomb and chased by Thes. Those inspecting were greeted by the stink of ozone and found each mummy progressively more and more desecrated, with brown stains upon their faces. Many began to fear what Summer Heat would do if they could not stop him. Nimuire and the gathered adventurers speculated as to the whys, the hows, and the what fors.

Why was Summer Heat doing this? What sort of stranger power was he manifesting, and what was he trying to do? Was Lord Blooredi behind all of this? Why was the Fellowship bid come to the caverns?

In the end, a tough battle with a manifestation of fear was waged, and Exclii would take on the aspect of Grandmother Scorpion. She exiled Summer Heat and demanded that the adventurers remove him from the Caverns. With the magical barrier separating Summer Heat from everyone else dispelled, there was nothing to do but take the fight to him. That feat proved to be a tremendously difficult one. Despite many of the Basin’s strongest engaging him, Summer Heat seemed to regenerate himself faster than any could harm him. Nonplussed, Summer Heat made an unceremonious exit from the caverns, surely to be a problem for another day.

And so, those gathered were left with many questions, for which few answers were forthcoming. A grotesque ritual altar of animal bones was discovered in the tomb of Shyusti’ containing strange, brownish crystals, which were collected and kept by some few. The remaining followers were awakened, and Wise Lady was apprised of events that had occurred while she was incapacitated. For his valiancy, the followers of Scorpion once more recognized the value of Exclii Ehc’zi. Exiled no more, the wayward former-Keeper was restored to his duties, and allowed to resume his previously-given name: Sacred Mesa. The large, crystalline ankh remains fixed in Sacred Mesa’s station. What role that will play in the future is uncertain, like many things.

One thing was clear: This was likely not the last that the Basin of Life would see of Summer Heat.