Shadow on the Sand


For twenty-five days, the Vassagonian galley sails on a steady course for its home port of Barrakeesh, with only a brief stop at the Durenese harbour of Port Bax to break a safe but monotonous voyage.

You use your time aboard the ship to good purpose, learning the Vassagonian language from the ship’s crew. They are only too eager to teach you, asking only in return tales of your adventures in the Lastlands—for many of the sailors, these are the most exciting stories they have ever heard. By the time you reach Barrakeesh, you have both mastered their language and won their respect.


It is early afternoon when the ramparts of the desert capital are first sighted on the horizon. You push your way through the cheering crew, and join the envoy at the prow of the ship. Beaming with pride, he hands you a telescope and invites you to view the land of his birth. The sight is indeed breathtaking. You stare in fascination at the golden domes, minarets, and green-tiled roofs shimmering beneath the desert sun, and marvel at the splendour of the Grand Palace, which dominates this magnificent city. Then you notice that from every golden turret of the palace flutters a long, black pennant. You ask the envoy of the meaning of the black flags. Horror floods across his face as he snatches the telescope from your hands. ‘By the spirit of the Majhan! He is dead … The Zakhan is dead!’

As the bad news spreads through the ship, you pray that the peace treaty will be signed and honoured by the Zakhan’s successor. However, the envoy is less than hopeful.

The harbour of Barrakeesh is deserted save for a handful of citizens clad in black, and the only sound that greets you is the toll of a funeral bell, echoing through the harbour on this day of mourning. Then a horse-drawn carriage enters the harbour square, escorted by the cavalry of the Palace Guard. It halts, and a dour man in turquoise robes steps out to meet you.

‘A thousand greetings, Lone Wolf, I am Maouk, and I welcome you to our city on behalf of my master, his most sublime magnificence, Zakhan Kimah.’

The envoy gasps upon hearing the name of the new Zakhan. He turns to speak, his eyes wild with fear. ‘It is a trap, you must … ’

His warning is cut short by the blade of Maouk’s dagger. Suddenly, scores of black-clad warriors emerge from the shadows; they are Sharnazim, élite Vassagonian bodyguards. They close in, surrounding you on every side. You must act quickly if you are to survive this deadly trap.

If you wish to stand and fight against these overwhelming odds, turn to 36.

If you wish to surrender to Maouk and his warriors, turn to 176.

If you wish to run back to the galley, turn to 104.

Project AonShadow on the Sand