West Marches field report by Capt. N. Greywood
To be delivered to King Godric I
Dates: 1st through the 3rd of Plenth, 1186
Attending: Capt. Nevin Greywood, Olgar Ironside, Bodi, Savric, Sheik Bronzebody
Using another strange flying skull, our party was transported to large valley of black and ash, yet there is a green forest a few miles wide in the very center of the otherwise bleak land. We arrive without incident and follow a treasure map in the possession of Bodi. We walked on foot for the rest of the day and made camp for the night.
The night was without incident except for the arrival of a couple of young blink dogs. Bodi’s companion, Dingus, greeted the dogs and Olgar played with all 3. It was an unusual but harmless encounter, and Olgar found a tube that had previously contained a centipede.
The next we travel on and soon arrive at the location on the map. There were old ruins there and hidden among some overgrowth was the entrance to a long dark tunnel. We tied up the donkeys and went inside.
The walls of the tunnel were covered in a strange mucus-like slime, not unlike the trail left behind by a snail. We soon came across a chamber that contained a few crates tangled up in vines. Olgar used his mighty strength to get them free and open. Inside each one was a strange seed-like thing that we could not identify. Olgar collected them in a sack and we continued on to a second chamber with 2 more crates. One had already been broken but the other had another seed, which was again collected.
Moving deeper, we turned a corner and came to a room with an empty sarcophagus. This had apparently been the site of treasure but someone had already looted it. Inside the room was also a strange urn which Bodi impulsively decided to open. It instantly became evident that this was a mistake because inside was a horrid-looking creature that looked like a cross between a slug and a human brain. It attached itself to Bodi’s face but the party was able to kill it before too much injury.
Exiting that chamber, we followed a long tunnel to its end, ignoring openings along the way and found a room with another sarcophagus, this time with a lid on it, slightly askew. Olgar, closest to the sarcophagus, informed us that he felt it pulling at him. Sheik, with senses divine, was able to determine that there was something undead within. He drew his sword and fought at something I could not see.
There was chaos and confusion as this invisible creature waged battle upon us and we heard the sound of breaking in other rooms back from where we came. Soon more of these brain slugs were upon us. Somehow we manage to slay the poltergeist that had been tormenting us but the battle against the slugs proved more difficult.
While their claw attack was substantial, the brain slugs’ real power was their strange ability to affect one’s mind. We attempted to fight them but we heard more and more of the urns being smashed and were soon overrun with the brain slugs. First Olgar, then Sheik, and finally Savric were overcome by their psychic attacks and fell unconscious. Bodi suggested a hasty retreat and I dashed down the hallway to the entrance of the room we first encountered one of the slugs. Now separated from the rest, I was not witness to the miraculous event that happened next, but I gather that the Bloodaxe god, of whom Bodi, Olgar, and Savric, all worship, was displeased with this battle. Turning what would likely have been a total party kill into a renewed fight, the Bloodaxe god awoke Olgar and Savric to consciousness – but in doing so left each with the wound of a very serious gash, putting them only one step away from death’s door.
The fight resumed so I returned with my longbow drawn and skewered what appeared at the time to be the last of the slugs. Olgar picked up the now unconscious Bodi and put him on Dingus, headed directly for the exit with his master on his back. Savric hefted Sheik’s unconscious body over his shoulders and began his retreat, as well, stopping briefly to fight when 2 more slugs appeared. He killed one of them and continued to carry Sheik to safety. Olgar, before he could escape, was pulled by an unseen force with great strength and smashed into the far wall. Knocked out once more, he was helpless as the remaining brain slug made its way towards him and disappeared within his being.
The rest of us made our way outside, beaten and shaken to our cores. Sheik remained unconscious but Bodi recovered. We decided we would go back into the tunnel to rescue Olgar but we were in no shape to do so and had no choice but to spend a night to recover from our wounds.
Bodi, as impulsive as ever, had the idea to taste the blood of the brain slugs that decorated our armors and felt his mind open. He scooped up some more and force-fed Sheik with the foul liquid and he awoke to consciousness, though he was not quite his old self. He was alert and able to move on his own power, but he did not speak or even give the sense he understood what we were saying. Regardless, he had enough sense for a fight, so after resting the night we once more entered the tunnel.
We knew from earlier expeditions to Maephoon that a brain slug had previously possessed one called Amber and in doing so was able to control her body, but after she was knocked unconscious during a battle, the brain slug crawled out, freeing her from its grasp. Our hope was to battle the mighty Olgar into a state of unconsciousness so that the brain slug might leave his body in the same manner. And then, with our new knowledge, we would feed him and Sheik more of the brain slugs’ blood so that they would recover more of their intelligence.
This time we approached things more methodically, moving from room to room, searching for urns. We found some and each time we did, we smashed it open and all attacked the slug at once, killing them usually before they even had a chance to move. We also opened a closed sarcophagus we found in one of the rooms and found a cache of gems, potions, and a special bow that would likely serve Savric well.
We did not attempt to search a hallway that branched to the north because its narrowness would have created a dangerous choke point. We instead placed a hunting trap there in the hopes that if anything tried to come our way it would be caught.
Finally we went to the room of our previous battle. The blood and remains of the brain slugs littered the room but there was no sign of Olgar. The sarcophagus that had originally been partially open was now fully closed so we all surrounded it. Bodi used a crowbar to lift the lid while we were all ready with our actions to attack what was inside. As soon as the lid was lifted, Olgar’s axe swung from inside, striking Bodi. The rest of us all attacked and Olgar was quickly knocked out. Indeed, as we had hoped, the brain slug crawled out of him and we slew it. We tried to awake Olgar but to no avail. Those with healing magics tried to revive him but it was not to be. Poor Olgar had perished.
We took his body and made our way to the north hallway that we had previously ignored. Recovering Savric’s hunting trap, we continued on to the entrance of a room and I carefully stealthed ahead to surveil its contents. 2 sarcophaguses were inside, one sealed, and one broken. There were also 2 unbroken urns, so we decided to go in to destroy the brain slugs that would be inside.
As we entered the room, Savrics stood too close to the sealed sarcophagus and was grabbed by an invisible force. He was unable to free himself and we decided that before we can help him we must destroy the 2 urns, lest we find ourselves in the same situation as the previous day. We did so with ease and then all worked together to pull Savric free. Our first attempt was a failure and Savric felt his mind being assaulted by an unknown power. Luckily our second attempt was a success and at that point we decided to get the fuck out of these cursed tunnels and did indeed do so, post haste.
We made it back to the skull without incident and once back in Santaur, Sheik began to slowly recover his mind. It seems that the effect of the brain slug was to completely block a person from any knowledge they had, including even their ability to speak. With time, Sheik slowly regained his mental faculties and was able to recall all that had happened. He told us that there was draconic writing over the last sarcophagus which said “Mitrax the Hungry lies here” and displayed the symbol of the Drorn Lords.
It is my recommendation that further excursions to Maephoon take heed of this tale and be wary of the brain slugs. Should anyone fall to their power, let it be known that it is the brain slugs’ own blood that will provide a cure. Why this information was missing from previous accounts is unknown, but if it had been included Olgar might still be alive today.