While readying the Tireless Wanderer for her maiden voyage an official message arrived from the head of the Brelian Exploration Society, commanding the captain and the ship to make sail for the inner system moon of Coal, and to investigate the ruins of the ancient city identified as Zalu. No reason or definite goal was given in the message, only that it was vitally important to Brelish interests. Once supplies and crew are aboard the ship departs on their mysterious mission.
Thanks to the skill of those aboard the Tireless Wanderer made excellent time to the system’s innermost world. In orbit around the world’s second moon (and the ship’s ultimate destination) they encountered a tradesman crewed by a lone elf. Pleasantries were exchanged and the elf captain warned them away from the moon, stating that as the shifting of the sun draws closer the activity of both the undead and fire elementals that make up the only remain inhabitants of the charred moon is on the rise. The elf mentioned that his crew was currently investigating the surface to determine the cause of the catastrophe that destroyed the moon. The captain of the Tireless Wanderer thanked him for the warning but proceeded with the mission he had been charged with.
It was not long before their destination was spotted. Rising from the surrounding desert and half buried by its sands were the ruins of Zalu, the fallen city. Its once majestic towers had crumbled and fallen inward on the city to form a cone that shielded the interior. In the distance massive Roc-like creatures composed of flame floated in the oppressive heat of the moon’s atmosphere. With Coal’s utter lack of water it was impossible to land the Tireless Wanderer, so the captain took members of the crew to the surface via the ship’s dry lander, and ordered the Tireless Wanderer to maintain a ready position.
Once on the surface the crew were troubled almost immediately. The dry lander had sunk nearly a foot into the surface dune, and the growing winds threatened a sand storm that would strip the crew to the bone if they did not retreat to the shelter of the ruins. Bones were also a concern, as digging itself out of the sand was a burning, undead abomination, the general shape of a man, its four arms sprouted from odd angles from the pelvis and the eyes of its jaw-less skull were absolutely dark even surrounded by its own unnatural flame. It was quickly dispatched by Edward Morgan, ship’s quartermaster.
Within the darkness of the ruins the air was stale. The crew stood upon a plateau formed of rubble and surrounded by ancient towers that leaned precariously against one another. The crew opted to ascend into the closest of those towers rather than to start their explorations descending into the darkness. Millennia of decay had left little to be found in the strange structures. While investigating a glint spotted in the ruins the crew were again attacked.
A smoldering skull lay at the center if the creature, surrounded by a tumbleweed like cage of ribs. Connected to the cage were over a dozen bony arms of various lengths, almost bleeding a greasy black smoke. The crew were shocked to discover that their position on a higher level offered no protection as the monster rolled to a wall and climbed as if it were a gravity defying ball, the black orbs that passed for the creature’s eyes remaining locked on Mr. Morgan as it made its way up the wall and across the ceiling, lashing out at the crew with many arms. Everywhere a shot pierced or a sword blow landed true an unholy flame would erupt from the wound. The creature eyes seemed to absorb the light from the crew’s torches and its fists rained hammer blows against anyone foolish enough to brave its reach.
The battle was swift and the crew sent the monster to its final rest with no loss of life. Now free to investigate what drew them to the lower chamber they discover the fragments of a gilded statue of an unknown warrior. His strange features were similar to elven, but did not match any race of elf the crew had previously encountered. Etched into its surface the crew found a tale written in the oldest dialect of celestial about this “warrior of the heart” and its defense of the city against some manner of “burning peril.”
With a find that could be proudly displayed in any museum or collection in the sphere the crew could have turned back, but chose to press onward into the darkness.