This mission began simply enough. We were to escort a non-vigilant Wizard to Axalalail where some tribal humans would tell him where to find a pre-scourge alchemical recipe. Our job was to make sure he got the recipe safely and to make sure he didn’t tell anyone about New MarreK. Why can’t any mission be simple?
The Wizards name was Ajirr* (*Note: Gordon made up his name on the spot and couldn’t remember it and didn’t write it down, so this is his name now). A seemingly absent minded old human, he was extremely focused in his craft to such an extent that it was hard to gain his attention on anything else. If you could divert him however, he was very scholarly on many subjects, although his tendency to need to check his notes before he did anything could be a bit annoying.
Axalalail is a T’skrang and Windling town about half way between Lake Ban and Urupa and is apparently entirely built in the trees. The only way to navigate through the town was by swinging from ropes with the occasional ladder or the even more rare rope bridge. Wynnar had a grand time especially at seeing a dwarf and an old human (Ajirr) trying to swing on ropes. We spent the night at an inn called “The Bower” and Ajirr met his tribal contact the next morning. After much conversation about the intricacies of alchemical formulas we were directed to go to a village North East of Axalalail near the foothills of the mountains to find the pre-scourge recipe.
We made our way slowly through the wilderness. Ajirr was unused to travel so our progress was slowed a bit. We finally came upon the village we were seeking only to find a hole in the palisade wall and many dead. The destruction looked like it had been done by a Hadrosaur, although these creatures aren’t known for attacking villages. When we searched through the village we found what appeared to be one living person in the grain storage hut, eating raw grain. When questioned all he had to say was that he was fine and then he would continue eating. Finding his behavior very strange I examined him on the astral (this was not easy as the village apparently lies in a tainted area). I saw that he was in fact dead and that another pattern existed inside the body, almost like a parasite. No one had ever heard of such a thing, although Ajirr continued to look through his notes for anything on the subject. Saif , who was not happy talking to an animated dead guy, attacked it only to find that it was very resilient and apparently very strong. It took Saif down with one punch from its fist and tried to escape the granary. Dederick and Kira tried to stop it by knocking it to the ground. I, on the other hand, was trying again to see through the tainted astral space to be able to target the thing inside the body. Luckily I was successful. I hit the parasite with a spirit dart and it abandoned the body and tried to hide among the grain sacks, but I could still see its pattern and directed Dederick and Kira to its location and they finished it off.
At about this time Ajirr piped up that he found it. The parasite was a Relan: a tentacled worm that lacks its own digestive system and thus “borrows” the digestive system of dead creatures. It apparently can also secrete a venom that greatly increases the strength and toughness of its host, so they can be very dangerous. Um…thanks, I think we guessed that.
While I was tending to the injured Saif, Wynnar and Camathon returned and told us they found a cellar where the women and children were hiding (the dead we found all appeared to be armed warriors of some sort). Dederick and Kira carried Saif and we went down into the cellar. The Cellar was actually a tunnel that lead out of the village. We found the women and children near the entrance of their old Kaer. We spoke to them and told them that we killed the thing that destroyed part of the village. They were saddened by the death of so many and asked if we could help them to rebuild. We told them about our purpose and they said that they did not know of what we spoke, but maybe what we were looking for was in the old Kaer. They did not go inside and dark things came out of it at night. They also kept asking if we wanted to bury Saif. When I told them he was not dead and would get better they just sighed and said that he will die.
We decided to settle down near them for the night. From where we were we could see the Kaer entrance. The dark things turned out to be Shadowmants, which have a very potent venom in their tail barbs. Saif did not recover much from the night’s rest and said that he suffered from terrible dreams. When I asked the villagers they said that he will die, it is the screaming death. When ever anyone in the village got badly hurt they would start having terrible nightmares and would not get better. I took a look at Saif on the astral (this area was even more strongly tainted than the village) and found that he was under some sort of enchantment. I asked Ajirr if he could try and dispel it (Wizards are good at that sort of thing). As Ajirr was attempting to dispel the enchantment Dederick informed us that he found small tracks that apparently came into our camp during 1st watch (both Wynarr and I saw nothing when we were on first watch). The dispel was successful, but Saif is still in bad shape and I don’t like the idea of staying in this village. There is something not right here.