In the small desert village of Talv, the Revengers meet Khanufasa, a desert rider who will guide them through the Valley of Echoes to the cave of the hermit Mahara. They set out on the camels they purchased back in Muluk — including Georgie, Bertram’s all-white mount.
They travel by night and rest during the day. Ervendio makes food, water (and holy water) to preserve their supplies. As they approach the foothills they hear the caterwauling of hyenas — always terrible, always ahead.
While making camp, a thunderclap erupts in the middle of the group. A dao appears and poses them with a riddle:
A wealthy sheikh is on his deathbed. He has two sons. He promises his wealth and his estate to the son who owns the slowest camel. The sons set out on a race from Umara to Muluk, slowly meandering across the desert for days. They rest together at an oasis, each never letting the other lag too far behind. Finally, they both realize what they must do. They race to the camels and mount them, then they both break for the finish line as quickly as they can. What have they realized?
The Revengers confer together. Teks offers a solution: the brothers steal each others’ camel, so the winner of the race will be riding the camel belonging to the other brother. The genie, seemingly unsure of the answer, says That might work! and commands the Revengers not to go anywhere. The genie turns to mist and departs. He never returns — the Revengers eventually break camp and move on.
As the trail to the hermit’s cave gets narrower and rockier, the party leaves Paqi and Shayjar to watch over the camels. They continue up the path to Mahara’s Vale. They hear what sounds like a terrible hyena attack just up ahead — but when they investigate they find nothing except tracks leading into the wilderness. They ignore the tracks and stick to the path.
Khanufasa is jumped by a larger-than-average hyena just before reaching the vale. Though trapped in a single-file line, the Revengers attack and kill the hyena — who transforms into a dwarf as he dies. Another dwarf and a hyena approach the Revengers and profess they want to leave the vale without trouble, assuring the party that the hermit they seek is nearby.
After exploring the caves and finding several stores of coins, gems, and a few magical items, the group finds Mahara — already dead. Though the Revengers do not learn the truth directly, their correct answer to the riddle resulted in the hermit’s death, as he had been holding the jealous and evil genie at bay with a “riddle contest” that the genie had been unable to solve.
The party buries the body of Mahara and makes camp in the vale. The next step will be to continue on to the lost city of al-Anwhar….
The Hermit’s Riddle, 3000
Group Total 5000 Individual Awards 1000
Bertram 1750 (Chromatic Balloon 750, Group 1000)
Ervendio 1750 (Holy Waterer 750, Group 1000)
Jongle 1750 (Magic Missiler 750, Group 1000)
Khanufasa 1750 (Desert Guide 750, Group 1000)
Teks 1750 (Riddler 750, Group 1000)
30 gems, worth 50 gp each (total value: 1500 gp)
gold ring (worth 250 gp)
pearl earrings (worth 300 gp)
1 burned out ioun stone
1 off-white ioun stone (the bearer doesn’t need to eat or drink)