Sabatine the 18th, 1216
Strength placed Gramorn on the ground. Gramorn has been bleeding profusely, drenching Strength’s armor in dark pools of blood. Valentia did what little she could to help stop the bleeding, but unless they managed to find a physician or apothecary, it looked unlikely that Gramorn would survive the next few days.
“We need to take the White Olive Root to the cairn we found,” Strength said to Valentia as they hiked through the forest back north. He continued, “Perhaps Solisma will be able to do something about Gramorn”.
A few hours later, they arrive back at the mysterious cairn. Strength buries the strange root creature next to the stones. The creature wriggles and begins to dig itself deeper and crawls out of sight into the earth. Moments later, thick roots shot out of the earth and formed a circle around Strength and Valentia. Saplings began to sprout nearby, forming a young grove similar to the one on Solisand. A small sapling emerged from in front of the cairn, right where the root had dug itself. The tree had a familiar countenance, resembling Solisma, the beautiful and mysterious Dryad.
“Thank you for giving me a new home. This grove should serve well,” Solisma said to Face. ” Strength felt the Solisma’s appreciation and gestured in adoration. Solisma and Strength began to discuss the tasks that she had in mind for Strength, which is when Valentia interupted their conversation.
“Our friend is dying. Will you please help him?” Valentia pleads.
“I am a young sapling. It will be difficult for me to accomplish such a task in my current state,” Solisma replies, “But to accomplish the task at hand, you will need all the help you can get. Strength, grab a branch from my trees and place it next to your friend’s wound.”
Strength removes the branch and upon placing it near Gramorn’s wound, the branch twists and braids itself into the shape of an arm and attaches itself to Gramorn’s shoulder, becoming a living wooden arm.
Gramorn awakens, feeling the effect of Solisma’s magic flow through him. Solisma greets Gramorn and tells them that they only have 5 days left before Gau the Souleater is brought into this world and consumes the souls in his realm, which include Gramorn and Valentia’s soul. Strength thanks Solisma for her help and the three begin their trek south, deeper into the woods in search of the Gau’s Cult and Gramorn’s daughter, Kelia.
By late afternoon they come upon a hill overlooking more wooded area. Strength sees some smoke emerging from the forest about a quarter of a mile up ahead. Gramorn and Valentia agree that it looks like it could be a small campfire that was extinguished recently. Forming a plan to approach unnoticed, Strength gets bored and decides to sprint toward the smoke. Valentia and Gramorn follow him.
Arrving at the source of the smoke, they see a small makeshift campsite. They looked through the camp, but found nothing of note until Valentia tripped over a bump in the ground. She looked down at the freshly moved earth and immediately realized there was something buried there. She dug into the dirt until she uncovered a man’s face. After digging a bit more she found the rest of the man, cut into pieces and thrown into the pit.
Gramorn speaks, “I think we are getting closer. These men must have been affected by whatever awful plague Gau is bringing into this world.”
They head further south, hoping to find the people who made the camp, but they instead find an area filled with torn off faces nailed onto various trees. Strength found a ripped off face on the ground. He bent over to reach for it. When he picked it up, there was a man with a removed face lying in the ground. He jumped up and attacked Strength. Strength grabbed his arms and subdued him. The man was frothing at the mouth and was shouting jibberish all while trying to attack Strength.
Unable to get any useful information from him, Strength quickly snapped his neck and dropped him on the forest floor. Suspicious of the growing madness that seemed to be affecting the area, they were all very alert as they continued down south.
They set camp a few hours later off the path amongst a dense vegatation. Late that night, Valentia awoke from a terrible dream. Two goat-like creatures speaking in unison. One a stern but calming voice, the other a deep demonic voice. It was maddening. When she awoke Gramorn was also awake.
“Did you see them?” Gramorn asked.
They spoke about their shared nightmare and Gramorn revealed a large wound on his back in the shape of some type of Rune. He was sure it was infecting him. He warned her to keep an eye on him as he is not sure how it will affect him as they draw closer to the cult’s influences. They awake the next morning as the sun rises and continue south.
Sabatine the 19th, 1216
About an hour later they reach a steep cliff overlooking a small valley below. Down below they can see a rock wall with a stone altar in front of it. They decide to head down the winding path to investigate the altar. Approaching the altar they realize that the altar is surrounded by a few tents, a lectern with some benches, and a few tables. The three searched the area for any sign of Kelia or something that could lead them to the Cultists. Nothing.
While Valentia searched the tents and Gramorn looked through the tables, Strength took a look at the book on the lectern. The book contained passages on living life in piety and doing good toward your neighbors and family. However, after staring at the words for a bit, they began to fade and transform into detailed passages describing how to disembowl people, the specific number of sacrfices Gau needs from his followers, and various other morbid details. The illusion dissolves, and the scene around them is transformed into a grim arena of death. A pile of bodies and body parts in front of the altar were the centerpiece of this revealed area.
Strength found a small hatch next to the pile of bodies. Valentia and Gramorn opened up the hatch while Strength prepared an attack in the event that something was hiding underneath. However, instead they found a set of spiral steps leading down into the earth. Strength stepped down followed by Valentia and Gramorn.
They followed a winding cavern that opened up into a large cavern with a large chandelier hanging from the rocky ceiling. They chandelier was in the shape of the wound on Gramorn’s back, the Chaos Rune. Suddenly Gramorn’s eyes rolled back and revealed a blackness. Valentia called to him and he came back after a few moments. Valentia and Strength were worried about what might be happening to Gramorn, and Gramorn was sure to tell them that he does not know what is affecting him. He warned them to keep an eye on him because he felt that he was not able to control what will happen to him.
Fearing that they have walked into an ambush, they did not want to exit from the way they came. Instead they continued forward, crossed an underground river, and ran into a dead end. That is until they searched and found a small crack in the wall that seemed to be leading to another area. However, the only one small enough to squeeze through was Valentia. Valentia dropped her bags, and squeezed through the crack. As she moved through the opening, she ran into a skeleton trapped in a tight spot of the crack. The guy must have starved to death…
She pushed the skeleton aside and continued down the crack. It led to a small room with a small altar. The altar had 5 vessels, each made from a different material. Valentia traced a rune into the air and used Witchsight to see within the vessels. A scrawled note, a small gem, and a pouch were in 3 of the vessels, but the other two were obscured… Suddenly, blood began to ooze out from the altar and the room was filled with a terrible scratching sound…
Meanwhile, Strength and Gramorn had their weapons out, prepared for the battle in front of them. While Valentia was squeezing through the crack, they were confronted by faceless beings able to climb and adhere to the walls and ceiling. 4 of them had dropped in front of them from the ceiling while a fifth remained clinging to the ceiling. A terrible screech emerged from the creature’s mouths as they rushed forward.