posted by wererat
June 7, 2009, 08:56
Category: Merla's Journal

Sarenith 7, 4709 AR
Forest near Falcon’s Hollow

It’s not terribly surprising that I don’t miss Ustalav at all. I found the easiest way to meet people, earn a little money, and get as far away from home as possible was to hire on to guard a caravan. And I did meet some interesting people: Thorab, a dwarven paladin of Torag, Liake, a gnome obsessed with arcane magic, birth and dragons, and an elf called Kethsalar (in spite of spending so much time with him, I don’t think I’ve actually learned anything about him). We were the only non-humans in the caravan, so we eventually started gravitating towards each other by default.

We noticed something almost immediately after arriving in Falcon’s Hollow. Nearly everyone in the town was coughing and looked to be in generally ill health. After a little research we learned that the well that served as the town’s water supply was tainted. We eventually came to find the town herbalist at Laurel’s Roots and Remedies, and, after waiting in line behind twenty ailing people, were able to ask her if we could provide assistance (well, Thorab and I thought it would be a nice thing to do— I think Liake and Keth would have been just as happy to move on to a healthier town). It turned out that the black scour fungus in the well was a more virulent strain than her remedies could fix, but she had a list of ingredients that would do the job:

Elderwood moss, which only grows on the oldest tree in the forest,
Rat’s tail, a pickled root she knew nothing about, and
7 iron blue mushrooms, only found in dark places among metal.

She told us that a man called Milon Rodam at the local logging camp could point us toward the oldest tree. We also learned that there was a witch living in the woods— she might know where to find rat’s tail (though whether she’d help us was debatable). The mushrooms, we hoped, would be found in an abandoned dwarven monastery not too far from the other two destinations.

The logging camp was a 16-mile hike from the village, so we left immediately, hoping to get there before nightfall. We didn’t quite get there before dark, but continued on, causing plenty of commotion at the closed palisade until we were able to convince the woodsmen within that we were on an important quest. Rodam himself came to us and described where we needed to go, and fortunately, the loggers let us sleep inside the wall till it was safe to travel again.

We left early in the morning and started our walk towards the old tree. In spite of being an elf, Keth was either unable or unwilling to blaze a trail for us, so he brought up the rear of our party, and as such, was the first to get attacked from behind. A bat-like mosquito creature called a stirge attached itself to his neck quite quickly— I’m not sure if it ultimately flew off because of our attempts to kill it or because it had eaten its fill.

Later, we came to a lake, and, following the sounds of whimpering, found a fire foot fennec trapped in a really nasty steel trap. I went to free the poor thing while Liake talked to it (and I think she was really having a conversation with the creature). As I did so, I felt a sharp pain, and found an arrow sticking out of me! We all turned to see a humanoid form in a hunting blind reloading a bow. Lucky for us, Keth is handy with a bow and slew our attacker before he could hit anyone again. I cast a healing spell for the fennec and myself before the little creature ran off.

The humanoid turned out to be a hobgoblin with a cleft palette and a very stinky blind. He probably came from elsewhere, but we were unable to find a trail to a yet stinkier hovel. We used the location to camp for the night, and luckily, the night was quiet.

In the morning we headed off toward the tree. We saw a rabbit resting on top of a pile of grasses. Heading forward to see if this was another of the hobgoblin’s traps, we figured out that it indeed was, when Thorab fell through a covered pit along with the (dead) rabbit. We quickly got him out and continued on, with no further incidents of interest until we made it to the old tree.

We found it— it was old, and it was huge! Keth climbed it easily enough, though he was perturbed to see three humanoids hanging further up the tree, and, before he could scrape any moss off the trunk, discovered that it had a rather aggressive occupant coming right for him and had to scramble back down. The creature had a dragon-like head, snake-like body, and two arms; a sickly green mist wafted from its mouth as it clawed its way down the trunk towards us. Liake tried to trick it into thinking we were gone by creating the illusion of ground about 10′ higher than the actual ground; unfortunately, we attacked through the illusion, spoiling it and the creature continued down, grappling me and nearly squeezing the life out of me. My companions continued to attack it, and it finally released me, jumping back onto the trunk of the tree, where it just hung for a minute— we finally realized that the last spell Liake cast at it killed it.

We dragged the creature’s body out of the tree and got the moss. I asked if someone would please pull the human forms down as well, and Liake managed to get that done handily. They appeared to be woodsmen. We looked for any form of identification on them, finding one wearing a signet ring with a flaming hawk symbol on it. We took what few rations and equipment they had and gave them a proper burial, and plan to report what we found when we return to town.

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