West Marches field report by Capt. N. Greywood
To be delivered to King Godric I
Dates: 13th through the 21st of Froar, 1186
Attending: Capt. Nevin Greywood, Jin, Virgil, Pahgigoth, Selarmin
Assigned to establish communications with the monastery of Mystwatch, I once again had to lead a group of primarily unprepared “adventurers” (with the exception of Jin, who did not seem to deserve the reputation he has around Santaur) into unknown dangers in the realm of Maephoon.
We made our way to the skull platform, climbed inside the waiting skull, and traveled without incident to the first landing in Maephoon. Following the directions provided to me by Scarloc, we followed the road to the east for a small while, then north, and then west.
During our travels we passed by the tree of Kalas and had a short conversation. She reported that the nightly darkness slowly destroying what was left of the land continued as before. She also suggested that if we were to help her, as well as others like her, the darkness might be stopped.
I asked her about the monks of Mystwatch and she said that they have vaults filled with artifacts that were left behind by the old rulers. They gather them to keep them safe so they may not be misused. They would be helpful to fight off the darkness but they are too dangerous for us to use. Even the monks might not be able to use them.
She also spoke of 2 more skull platforms in Maephoon. In addition to the 2 that we have already discovered, there are at least 2 more: One to the east by the city of Torreket and once far to the south on a mountaintop.
The Fyr used to visit Kalas but it seems they have a new god. The Fyr decorate their equipment and land with images of a man with the head of a rooster and the body of an insect. Kalas does not know the name of this god, and it’s possible that it is a seraph.
Kalas gave me a few acorns to plant so that more shrines to her may grow and we continued on our journey until dusk. As we prepared to make camp for the night, Pahgigoth tried to convince the rest of us – including 2 actual wizards – that he can conjure axes but it was obvious to all watching that he was just pulling them from his coat. I do not know what Pahgigoth’s goals are or why he pretends to have magical abilities (or why he thinks anyone would be convinced) but it is difficult to go into battle with a man you do not trust at your side and I most definitely do not trust such a foolish liar.
That night, our camp was visited by a strange humanoid with black skin and crab-like claws for hands. Selarmin informed us that it’s a Meenlock, a creature that feeds on fear and can teleport from shadow to shadow. They don’t like light, so we scared it off with some fire (Pahgigoth threw a torch at it and claimed to be casting fireball) and it disappeared, never to return.
In the morning I forage in the nearby forests and find enough berries and melons to feed all 5 of us for the remainder of our journey. Pahgigoth and Virgil asked to see one of the seeds of Kalas and when I handed it to Pahgigoth he promptly ate it. I believe it made him ill for a moment but after his stomach settled he said he felt full and refreshed.
We had north to the river and make our way along the riverbank to the west. The water is dark blue and black. There is no movement and no fish or birds until a few miles later, when a large shadow appears under the surface. It seemed to be rising from the depths but it soon descended back down again.
We continued on and came across “the eternal campfire,” as Scarloc had called it. It was indeed curious to see a fire like this with unburning logs and no one to attend to it but we did not stop to examine it. The river ended but we continued west until we reached the base of a mountain and made camp for the night.
Hearing noises during his watch, Pahgigoth went to investigate and found a group of chicken-like creatures (which I later learned were called cockatrices) attacking a giant blueish-white spider. The bites of the cockatrice were having a strange effect on the spider and it was slowly beginning to turn to stone.
Now the best course of action here would be to ignore the skirmish and only prepare to defend ourselves in case they moved closer to camp, but the fool Pahgigoth decided he wanted the spider as his “familiar” and attacked the cockatrices.
No sooner than he decided to join the fight, the spider vanished, most likely by some form of teleportation, and then it was the cockatrices vs Pahgigoth. We all joined in the fight but Pahgigoth took the majority of the 8 cockatrices’ attacks. It was only with his orc-like fortitude that he was able to avoid being turned to stone like the spider. Between my arrows, Jin’s fists, Pahgigoth’s axes, Virgil’s grease, and Selarmin’s fire, we slew the entire lot of them in an impressive group effort.
Our victory was short-lived, however. Once the battle was over, we returned to rest for the night and a few hours later were awoken by a loud rumbling, growing closer and closer. Suddenly a massive creature that looked like it was made of stone emerged from the ground and landed Pahgigoth. I attempted to stab the creature but my sabre was unable to penetrate its rocky skin. Jin knocked him back but the creature leapt at us and landed on Selarmin, crushing him. Jin finished off the creature and we looked to our fallen comrade but there was nothing to do. He had been killed instantly, utterly crushed by the foul beast.
Without much else to do, we decide to bury him there but first Virgil did a strange thing. He took out a vial and collected some of the deceased’s blood. He said it was part of a study on how magic tended to run in families but Jin seemed suspicious of that story.
His body buried, we continued our journey southwest along the base of the mountain until we found the valley Scarloc described and traveled it to the west/northwest. Along the way, we spotted in the distance some large flightless birds, similar to an ostrich but with a parrot-like beak. We steered clear of them and continued until we found the path into the mountains.
Decided to press on, we took the path to a fork with 2 roads. Knowing that the road to the right would take us dangerously close to some wyverns, we took the left road. Along the way, we noticed the runes Scarloc mentioned and continued until we found a cabin carved out of the rock in the mountain. As nighttime was approaching, we decided to use it for shelter and slept inside.
The night passed without incident and we continued down the road in the morning. When we reached the end of it, a strange feeling of serenity came over all of us. It was as if we were in a place where everything was in order.
Up ahead was another hut made of stone and as we rounded the bend we saw the monastery of Mystwatch towering above. We had finally arrived!
Outside the hut a massively-furry bovine with a cart stood nearby. On the cart was an enormous statue of a bull with a ring through its nose. The material of the statue was strange, and it looked like the bull’s skin was made out of metal plates.
Jin spoke with the locals around the hut and they explained that they found the statue by the river, as if it had been washed ashore. Since Virgil was now our only wizard (despite Pahgigoth’s inane insistence to the contrary), he went up to the statue and used his magic to try and discern what it was. After about 10 minutes, he told us that it was a creature that had been petrified but was due to recover in about 3 hours. Given the size and nature of the beast, we determined it would be best to get it away from the local villagers before this happened. Jin sent a local to get one of the masters from the monastery to help us and we had the furry bovine take the cart to the edge of the nearest cliff.
After a short while, a regal looking man, bald and with a long beard, came down from the monastery. He wore gold and jewels and sat atop something that looked like a donkey. He dismounted his ride and walked to the petrified creature, his sandals making oddly loud crunching sounds on the ground.
He turned his attention to us and blamed us for bring the animal. He didn’t trust us because explorers from Midgard had previously lied to the monks. I apologized for the behavior of the earlier visitors and explained that the villagers brought the creature up here. He seemed to accept the explanation but still wanted nothing to do with us. With nothing left to do, Jin kicked the cart off the cliff and it crashed far below so that the creature would not be anywhere near us when it awoke.
The master eventually agreed to converse with us the next day and returned to the monastery. We found a villager who would let us spend the night in his barn and rested.
We awoke in the morning and we were met by a monk student who led us to the door of the highest tower in the monastery. It was a metal door and featured the image of a woman holding a torch, which was radiating a magical warmth. We were announced as visitors to the master Kassandros and were allowed inside. The tower smelled of perfume and spices and there was a metal staircase leading up about 30 feet. At the top is a wooden door to a room with thin walls of translucent material.
As we climbed the stairs, they were worn and marked, as if something extremely heavy had been using them for quite some time. At the top of the tower was one big room with large windows. In the middle were a large yellow and orange mat and a great table. At the end of the table is the same bald man with the long beard that we had met the day before.
We sat down to speak with him and I immediately thank him for meeting with us and apologized for the actions of the previous visitors from Midgard. I explained how the high risks of exploring the newly opened realms attracted a mix of people with a wide degree of motives, many of which did not appreciate the order that the monks work so hard to achieve.
Pahgigoth told Kassandros that he wanted to establish trade between their two worlds and the monk was agreeable to the idea. He mentioned that they needed food.
When asked about the darkness affecting Maephoon, he said that it had been there much longer than he had, though the monastery pre-dates it. Most of their knowledge about the past has been lost to the ages, but it is believed that a malicious entity ruled the valley a long time ago. It robbed it of its resources and then left. This entity did not bring the darkness but the monks believe that they left the valley in such dreadful shape that there was room for something to take its place. They survived because of ancient and powerful wards but they don't have records as to what the wards are or who put them there.
Jin asked about the artifacts that the monks kept. Kassandros said that they were secured from the ruins of the old masters. They are guarded and few have had much luck going getting to them but the black elves and their horrible servants seem to not be affected too badly so they have taken many of the monks’ ancestral tombs as their homes.
The dark elves were slaves to the masters but now roam free without purpose. They have taken control of some artifacts that relate to elemental forces that they use to create servants. They don’t come out in the daytime so the elves might have a dislike for sunlight.
The monk also spoke of the Fyr goatmen. They take up new traditions quickly and forget old ones. They’re easy to sway and take up new gods to find someone to protect them. They’re currently allied with a not-so-friendly force that appears to be an upstart deity who rose after the darkness came.
I asked Kassandros about Kalas but he said the monks are not terribly familiar with her. When I requested a tome for her, he said he would have the monks try to find one.
Getting back to the dark elves, Kassandros asked if we could clear one of the tombs they have taken over. He warned us that many of the black elves have taken up necromantic practices and it would be horrible if they turned the monks’ ancestors against them
Kassandros then offered to take us to the vault where there were many artifacts stored. We descended the metal staircase, which creaked with each step that Kassandros took, as if it was under immense stress. He led us to a trap door and through a network of dark tunnels to a wide natural cavern. The tunnels twisted and turned and had many forks and junctions – without someone to guide us we would surely have been lost.
In the cavern he pointed to a seemingly random spot, knelt down and said an arcane word. Then he reached down and a blue light covered his hand. When he pulled his hand out from the air he was holding some sort of longbow.
As the only member of the party skilled in using one, he offered it to me but cautioned that each artifact can only be used by the right person – and if held by the wrong person the consequences might be dire. I considered his warning but something compelled me to accept his gift. He handed it to me and I saw a vision of a black glowing wisp that swirled around me. It made a scoffing sound and involuntarily dropped the bow. It seems the artifact did not want to be in my possession but luckily I felt no ill effects.
The monk took the bow back and placed it back into the nothingness from which he produced it. When he stood up he as now holding 2 arrows, which he again offered to me. A bit wary, I accepted his offer and took them in my hand. I once again sow the image of a black wisp but this time it lit up to a soft glow and I felt a wave of warmth across my body.
I had a new knowledge, as if rediscovering a forgotten memory though it was one I had never had. When the monks’ valley was still green, special arrows were made of mountain crystal. They were designed to slay beasts and would never break, so they could be re-used if retrieved. I thanked Kassandros for his gift and he turned his attention to Pahgigoth.
Despite my disdain for the false wizard, I pity want he went through next. Kassandros pulled out artifact after artifact but each time Pahgigoth attempted to hold one, he was rejected. He held no less than 5 of them – an amulet, a gauntlet, a ring, a sickle, and a blood red robe – and was rejected every time. The combined rejections took their toll on the simpleton and I fear that he has become quite mad as a result. It is possible now that the fool believes his own claims and actually thinks himself a wizard.
The sixth attempt for Pahgigoth was finally successful. A falchion that Kassandros presented to him finally accepted him and Pahgigoth was able to keep it.
Jin was handed a pouch with a shiny powder inside and, perhaps because he is a monk himself, was accepted by the artifact right away.
A younger monk delivered to us a map of the area around the monastery and we discussed with Kassandros the surrounding areas. As it turns out, the quickest route to Mystwatch from Midgard is to take the newly discovered smaller skull. From its landing in the brambles, there are 2 options. The most direct route is to travel west up the mountainside (passing the location where we found the entrance to the dark elves’ lair and the spot that Comet planted a shrine to Kalas) for about 7 miles and then climb the side of the mountain southwest for 5 more. An easier route, however, is to go west from the skull platform along the north side of the mountain for about 9 ½ miles. Then take the path that goes up to the mountain until it meets up with the paths we took to get to Mystwatch, but from the other direction.
He also showed us the location of the tomb he asked us to retake from the dark elves. It is located south of the mountain’s peak, through deep snow. He warned us of large men-like creatures with white fur that hide in the snow. It is hard to see them until they spring upon you so when traveling to the tomb we should be cautious of their attacks.
The young monk also gave me a book he found on Kalas. According to the tome, she was not a very major seraph (when compared to the other seraphs of her time) but she looked over the Fyr’s forest and was their most honored goddess. She kept the magical forest in check so it was clean and growing well. The book states that she required a lot from her servants, which might have led to the Fyr’s abandonment of her. The book did not specify what she required, but it was probably sacrifices, or work, or constant devotion and attention.
After our illuminating conversation had finally concluded, we broke bread with some of the monks (Pahgigoth ate a batallion's share of cake) and retired back to the barn at the end of the day.
The following morning we said our farewells and began the journey back to Midgard. We retraced our steps and traveled the land swiftly, without encountering any of the dangers that plagued our voyage west. It was as if the god of the realm had decided we would be able to return home without any further incidents.
Along the way, as we visited the spot where we had buried Selarmin, we found the petrified remains of a giant spider, most likely the one we had seen fighting the cockatrices. Pahgigoth claimed it was a different spider and that his familiar was fine. He was unconvincing, as usual, though I worry that with the toll of the artifacts’ rejections on his feeble mind, he may actually think he was telling the truth.
We passed by Kalas again and I placed the tome about her at the base of her tree. She seemed grateful and thanked me for my efforts.
Finally we reached the skull platform and only waited a short while for a skull to appear. We climbed aboard, returned to Midgard, and informed Santaur of Selarmin’s demise. I have seen Maephoon claim 2 of my fellow journeyers and twice that number gravely injured. I do not wish to return there any time soon.