Chapter 1: Chaos in Saard, Episode 1

Sabatine the 8th, 1216

On a warm Autumn day, and roughly one month after the events that unfolded with Varoteg and his bandits, Valentia, the rogue Jekkarene Scout, was to meet her friend Face for a serious discussion about some bad news that was revealed to her. She remembered the past month as she made her way out of the Floundering Turtle and toward Salty Mary’s, where she would meet Face.

Her time spent training with Bossip Yester, the Covenant Mystic in the Thennalt Highlands had been enlightening and frightening all at once. The Blood Oath she made with the now deceased Valsus was more sinister than initially thought. Bossip taught her of the Chaosium and of Gau the Soul-Eater, the demon likely the current caretaker of her spirit. The old mystic taught her what he could in such a short time, but he knew that she would have to muster the talent on her own if she was to save herself from the inevitable doom brought upon by Gau.

Face sat at the bar enjoying his suds early that morning. His fame had grown amongst the local sailors and degenerates in the past month from his successful ability to overpower opponents in the nightly wrestling matches held in the cellar. Despite the success, he still lacked any coin. His desire for the Gareg’s finest armor had taken quite a toll on his coinpurse, but still he sat happily at the bar with not a coin to his name. He recalled last night as he finished his drink.

Taking a stroll by the docks and enjoying the salt in the air, he felt a familiar wind rush by his ear, which spoke with a gentle and tender voice.

“It is I, Solisma. Do not be frightened. I seek your help, my champion”, whispered Solisma the Dryad through the winds. Face smiled as he continued to listen to his fair lover.

“My White Olive Tree is withering. Without it, my grove shall dry, and my branches become brittle. I ask of you to seek out the roots of a White Oak Olive Tree to seed a new grove for me to guard.”

Face felt an urge to do anything he could do to help.

“The White Olive root can be found in the Forest of Saard to the South East of Thyrta, on the south side of the Quickwater River. There, you will find the root and a test of our love, my champion. Please, save me.” Solisma’s voice slowly faded as did the wind blowing toward his ears.

Back at Salty Mary’s, Valentia spoke with Face about seeking passage toward the Forest of Saard to seek out a man who is rumored to know about the Chaosium and the Cult’s whereabouts. Seeking to help his friend as well as his love, Face could not see a reason to object, since they were both in the same direction. Face and Valentia both got their gear ready and began looking for a group of travelers also headed in the same direction. Unfortunately, no one seemed to be heading out to the forest anytime soon. None at all… except for a handsome ranger type Korantine by the name of Gramorn. He seemed eager to head out soon and only charged 2 silver pieces and meals as payment for an expedient and safe trip to the forest.

Valentia was suspicious of Gramorn. He carried a shield and sword, akin to a typical Korantine soldier, but Gramorn had asserted that he had no allegience with the Korantines, and held no quarrel with the Jekkarene. Satisfied with his answer, the three headed out toward the forest a few hours later.

Sabatine the 9th, 1216

It had been a day since the three left Thyrta. Their first night was spent with some loggers on their way back from Saard. They carried White Olive logs, which intrigued Face. However, upon speaking with the locals, Face learned that White Olive Trees do not in fact have roots, but are an aquatic plant that floats along rivers and lakes. Had Solisma mispoke? Face was confused, but maintained his trust in Solisma’s word. The loggers and our three travelers spent the night peacefully as they shared stories, rumors, and drink. Gramorn however, was noticeably absent from the conversation. This caused growing suspicion from Valentia.

Sabatine the 10th, 1216

Gramorn has been leading the way to the forest, but today he has picked up the pace quite heavily. Face and Valentia both kept up with the Korantine’s speed, but the growing suspicion led Valentia to confront Gramorn about his true intentions. Defensive, Gramorn indicated that he was just doing the job he was hired for, nothing else. Valentia was not satisfied with his response, but they continued on just the same.

Sabatine the 11th, 1216

Gramorn continued his excessive speed toward the forest. In the evening, Valentia used what Bossip had taught her about the mystical arts to attune herself to the natural surroundings to sense life. She touched Gramorn’s shoulder in an attempt to feign a concern, but instead examined his lifeforce. Upon touching him, Valentia’s mind was assaulted by a moment of white noise, screams, and disease. She had seen that he harbors something debilitating in him… something… hollow.

Sabatine the 14th, 1216

The travelers were descending toward the valley where the forest lay, when they encountered a traveling apothecary who sold them salves and a special brew that will apparently cause an erection moments after drinking. Valentia bought Face a vial of the brew for him to use with Solisma.

Sabatine the 15th, 1216

Finally in the valley, they encouner a homely cottage just outside the forest’s borders. A creek behind the cottage splashed and bubbled against the silence of the forest. The cottage gate was open, as was the front door. Face disliked the situation, drew his club, and slowly moved into the cottage. Warm ashes, a messy bed, spoiled meat on the table, and the faint smell of a burned herb or incense filled the room. Valentia followed, feeling the grooves of the door until she saw fingernail scratches on the inside of the door frame. “Someone was forced out of here”, she said. Face was making sense of the situation when Gramorn alerted them and quietly said, “There’s someone in the trees”.

Face was alerted and exclaimed toward the hidden entities to come out. The shout caused the spies to rush out of their hiding spots amongst the trees and toward the forest. In a moment they were gone. Gramorn and Valentia moved toward the creek where the men were hiding. Face followed behind them but saw a dead body lying against the cottage’s wall. The body’s cheeks were nailed against the wall to force a large overextended smile, and his tongue was removed from his mouth and nailed onto his forehead to mimic some type of horn. It was a disgusting sight. Face covered up the body with a blanket he found in the cottage.
Gramorn took Face and Valentia to a cave not far from the cottage, but off of the road to discuss what they had seen and to make camp for the night. Something was out there in the forest, and they are about to find out what that is.

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