Andreth, Human Cleric 1/Warlock 4 (Niko)
Devros, Half-Elf Warlock 4 (Cosmic)
Grin, Human Rogue 3/Bard 1 (Bevie)
Pierre, Halfling Druid 2 (Mem)
Scarloc, Wood Elf Ranger 5 (VRH)
Report of the events of the search for ruins of the first city of Santaur, from the 6th to the 8th of Plenth, year 1186, under the banner of Lord Westingford’s Men, by Andreth Norian, deacon in the Church of Kastus in Santaur, Westmarch.
To my beloved temple brothers and sisters.
Not yet had the dew dried off in the morning sun when we took to the road. Scarloc had called together an accomplished company of men, save for the lively newcomer Pierre. A halfling with the wild in his veins and a memorable way of speech. Our mission was to locate the ruins of the previous settlement of Santaur which fell to the mysts some 800 years ago when the durability of the 1st wall came to its end. Rumored to lie half a dozen miles east of the original Pelias and on the northern bank of the Surannos river the old town ought to be easy enough to find, we figured. The arcane skull few hours from Wall’s End functioned as our one way free ride to Skullmeet. The dreary objects’s platform strikes the sky with a vibrant grassy color when it is to head there, I heard. The shine’s shift to a bright red sharply an hour after marked our departure. I had not taken this route in the past and so the havoc that our grim carriage wrecked as it passed over and partly through the terrain was certainly an experience.
Though the skull’s landing spot on the northern side of Surannos was seemingly clear of the influence of Morrendeep and Rishilgrin, we lingered not a minute longer within eyesight of the hold than we needed to. A cobblestone road partially sunken under the turf was the first clue for the direction of our target. Eased from his rangerly duties for a moment, Scarloc took the opportunity to explain more of the dicey situation at hand. Relations between the seraph’s who are responsible for keeping the Pelias Wall standing are cracking. If their pact of hundreds of years crumbles our stony barrier will share that fate. He gathered the group in the hopes of uncovering clues on how to bring the godlings to an agreement once more.
Hardly an hour had passed when we found ourselves in harsh rainfall. Hardy as we were there was little to be done against a shower which cuts your visibility to only a few feet. At first a gathering of trees looked like suitable protection against the elements but soon the storm began bombarding us with painful ice pellets. The donkey was hastily covered in blanket and bedroll and a sprint to the nearest solid shelter commenced. A now dry riverbed lead us to the mouth of a cave. Nothing more than a cursory glance was needed to tell that the hollow was inhabited though expansive. It was reasoned that if luck was with us we might avoid confrontation and pressing on in the rain was not sensible. I employed a spell to dry off most of my gear as the others used the traditional method of huddling around a campfire. Devros sent his magical pet bird to seek out and report back of any dangers deeper within the complex and it soon returned. It informed us of magical runes and bears coming towards us from deeper within. Others took battle stance as I ran to lead and tie the donkey outside, hopefully beyond the reach of the beasts. Thanks to the early warning we were able to take down the first animal charging towards us before it got a chance to even scratch anybody. Pierre unleashed his nature magics and warped himself into a shape mirroring the bears’. One by one the animals dropped lifeless and the fight would have concluded with us all unharmed if it wasn’t for a mishap on Devros’ part. A rogue evocation surge dislodged a part of the cavern’s ceiling causing a cave in which while taking out the last remaining bear also nearly buried Grin with it. He managed to dodge the better part of the dropping stones but ended up isolated on the other side of the narrow pathway. By the time the still bear formed Pierre managed to dig us a path through Grin had in his usual habit wandered off on his own. Scarloc rushed in to fetch him back. I stood watch by the cave in for the small while they were gone.
As they returned they noted a large pool of water having formed in just mere moments and an odd translucent shape forming at the bottom. None of us could identify the thing as anything we were familiar with. Cautious of the area filling up with water we returned to our campfire in the cave’s mouth. Grin thought to pile some of the rocks back in place so no creature could easily pass to or from deeper in the cave. A fine plan if it wasn’t for the our next adversary’s liquid nature. Just as we breathed a sigh of relief for the rain having calmed a massive pitch colored ooze surged through the small openings between the rubble. It caught Grin with one its many battering strikes injuring him and his armor alike. The creature’s bulk was considerable however we judged ourselves quicker. Backing away, relying on arrows and channeled blasts worked well enough however just as it seemed we had the battle won the monster unleashed another kind of an attack. A bolt of thunder struck one of my companions from the jelly and leaped between us in a flash of an eye. I unfortunately did not manage to ground myself in time and took the full brunt of the hit. The spell fell our pack animal and nearly had all of us join it at death’s door but we endured. With aching burns and cramping muscles we continued to fight for our lives. Both Scarloc and I saw an opportune moment when the pudding like creature slithered out to the cave’s mouth and decimated the thing in but a few seconds. Luck and talent combined into a deadly volley. After the stretchy creature’s demise was confirmed we all slumped next to each other to finally get some rest in.
The sun was became visible again after many hours of awful weather. There was no time to admire it however as the bear den’s dweomer imbued walls simply couldn’t be left uninvestigated for longer. Tunnels which curved south from the now stable pool area contained a collection of ancient carvings which lit up the corridor in a lush green hue. It didn’t take us for long to realize they were scriptings of spells. Having an specialist in the arcane with us would have greatly increased the amount of knowledge we could get from the symbols I suspect. Devros spent the following three hours copying the markings onto parchment as best he was able while we secured the cave and tended more to our wounds. We headed deeper and after a curve or two found the previously slain beasts’ sleeping place. Among the vast amount of hay and other bedding material we found skeletal remains of the animals’ victims. A few gold and most notably a ring and a gemstone. We thought neither was especially interesting until a few moments later when while passing by the glowing carvings sudden burst of lightning lashed out from the walls, separating us from each other. Judging by the just found jewel’s sudden shine, Scarloc entering the vicinity of a stone pillar covered in runes with it in his possession had activated a trap or mechanism unknown quality. Devros tested the barrier’s might by flinging a copper coin at it. The piece ended up on the other side as hunk of molten metal; we concluded charging through should be avoided. After a moment’s search Scarloc was able to spot a cavity in the surface of the middle pillar which fit the stone perfectly and with our instruction inserted the jewel. A minute of violent electrical activity passed after which the mechanism released us from our bind. As best as we could tell the event had loaded the previously barely detectable amount of magic inside the gemstone into full charge. Devros told us he could sense that device could be in the future be used again for this purpose, once it had regained its power. He indicated that the process would take some time. On our way out we noticed small lumps similar to the ooze creature forming at the bottom of the water pool. Their growth seemed extremely sluggish though I would advise anyone planning to visit the place in the future to be ready for an encounter with their bigger kind.
By the time we had concluded the cave to be of no further interest this time the sun was long on its way down so we stayed there for the night as well. In the morning we continued our trek on the road, following it northeast. After a while we saw the large ruins of a tower by a lake and a much traveled trail leading up to it. The building’s walls still stood 20 to 40 feet high but only the ground floor remained. By the lake under a tree rested the skeleton of a man with little to no flesh or cloth remaining on it. The flesh that was there was oddly only slightly rotted and likely somehow poisonous as a dead crow lied near it with a piece still in its beak. In front of the tower there was a corpse of a horse which appeared untouched by rot or scavengers’ tooth. Its nostrils were swelled which my nature inclined companions believed must have caused a suffocation death. Under the animal’s skin were corpse eating beetles, though they were deceased as well. Inside of the keep held a tent, a not long dead corpse of a man and a 10 foot pit dug into the floor. In the pit was a sizable chest which looked it it had been just dug up from the ground. Grin was very eager to fetch the prize and before anyone had a chance to say anything he was already preparing to climb down. He made quick work of the lock guarding the treasure, shoved it to a bag and tossed it over. As he was getting up I and Pierre called the company to take up arms. A gigantic serpent had arisen from the lake and was aggressively heading to our direction. By Kastus it was a miracle we survived. If the snake’s monstrous size was not enough of a threat it also unleashed two clouds of suffocating poison on us from its mouth. The first bow downed Devros and Pierre, the former of which I was able to awaken with a swift use of healing magic and the latter unexpectedly rose up on his own. Grin made a brave and at the same time insane stunt by leaping off the broken edge of the tower onto the serpent’s back. His boldness was rewarded with access to make clear cuts straight into the creature’s head. Though I speak of his actions praise in hindsight at the time I was terrified for him. One wrong step and he could have soon found himself in the thing’s gullet. The combat was fierce as both sides dealt horrible wounds to each other but eventually we brought the overgrown garden snake down. For some unspeakable reason Pierre had come up with the idea of contesting the creature’s strength in the form of a giant octopus, a form which he now used to swim in the snake’s watery domain. He came across the serpents sunken nest within it a large orange tinted crystal orb. He dragged the thing for us to see also taking one of the many eggs. When I saw the orb everything clicked into place. A book recovered from the man’s corpse inside the tower had been The Life of Culain Volume 4 which describes the later years of the priest’s life and among other things his tower and the item within. This was the long lost Orb of Kastus, stolen by the masters who also cursed the tower so the Orb could never be returned. And now we had found it, by chance even. From what we could gather from the dead man’s belongings he was a treasure seeker who had found a map between the pages of the precious book and lost his life to the guardian. We later found evidence the serpent having been a creation of the masters. Should a party capable of diving into the lake traverse the area in the future the remaining eggs should be destroyed, for the sake of every other living being’s safety.
We bedded down again and the evening and night passed without incident aside a battle scarred Auroch rampaging through the area with its cows in toe and Pierre nearly dying to a poison cloud which the deceased snake’s stomach puffed out after he stabbed it, truly idiotic. On the morning of the third day we continued our journey east, still on the road. We had made irritatingly little progress toward our original objective and only now crossed a bridge not more than half a day’s trip away from Skullmeet. Some Auroch were cooling off in the river but with Scarloc’s aid we passed by without agitating them. A steele on the bridge named it Stonebridge, the small river Aurus, the road Pelias Road and welcomed us the kingdom, city of Santus. We knew we were on the right track. A mile or so east on the road, by sharp turn, Scarloc climbed a hill distinctively different from the surroundings, perhaps old ruins now sunken into the earth we thought. There was however no time to wonder such things. He dove prone quickly after reaching the pinnacle and slid down to warn of us Tuskers among other bipedal creatures doing battle in what looked like the remains of a fortress a stone’s throw away. We were in no shape to take on this foe and made a speedy retreat. Inside he told to be a somewhat intact building, an interesting target for future expeditions perhaps. We believed to have finally located the place we came for even if entering at the time would not be in the cards. After some hours of traversing the wood around old Santaur we heard Tusker bands’ horns and knew they had caught wind of us. Again our wood elf companion proved his worth by shrouding us in his magic and leading us to safety. We arrived at the gates of the Wall the same night.
The Wilds Await
Thunder Cavern, Orb of Kastus and Tusker territory expansion