Jebs summons a new crabby companion, and with its help, our heroes resume their search for water. But just a couple of hours into their travels, they're dive-bombed by winged horrors, and wow does their charge pack a wallop! But it soon becomes clear that the creatures aren't there to kill; what they really want is the party's cherished canteens. The party kills off most of the thieves, but not before a couple of them escape with almost half their remaining water supply. With only a half-day of water left, the intrepid explorers might be in big trouble—but there's nothing for it but to push on.
And finally, that persistence is rewarded—there's an oasis up ahead! But it seems to be already in use—animals big and small line the edges, drinking their fill. Most of the dumb chums pay humans no mind, but a particularly hulking and sharp-toothed brute fixes them with a stare and watches their every move. Once it's alert, the other creatures silently disperse like fish parting before a shark. T'an Sen manages to establish a line of communication with the monster, but the beast is not open to negotiation. It thinks the oasis belongs to it, that the water is its hoard! The heroes, with no other sources of water on the horizon, have no choice—detente means desiccation. The battle is joined.
This critter is tough. Packs a wallop, spits acid, breathes slo-mo gas… he almost has our heroes for lunch! But in the end they pull through, and explore the dragon's hoard of priceless treasure—a lake-full of water in the middle of a desert.
But there's something unusual about this lake—a drain. A pipe is gradually sucking in water. It's much too small to enter, but it's not too hard to figure out which way it's going. An actual working human artifact seems a novelty on this bone-dry world, so the party, after refilling its water skins, sets off in their best guess as to its direction.
Over the dunes the party goes, and finally, off in the distance, a reward—another town, and this one looks populated! We don't know whether the locals are friendly, but we send T'an Sen and Arlen forward to let them know that we come in peace.
Amazingly, T'an Sen can actually speak their language! Not only are they friendly, but they want to whole party to meet their leader. And she's full of questions—about who we are, where we come from, and why we're here. At long last, with the help of some Informational Illusions, we're able to explain about Colo'shi and the CHADs.
The desert people had trouble with the CHADs once too—they came through their world, raiding and pillaging, and then disappeared as mysteriosly as they had come. She's all for our mission to wipe them out. Even better, she recognizes our Tokens, and has a couple almost like them herself, so we should be able to enter the spire on the other side. And best of all, she knows where that spire is—inside a network of caverns—and can send some guides with us as far as the cave entrance.
A night of hearty feasting and campfire stories follows, and the next morning we set off on the next leg of our journey!