7th of Froar to 10th of Froar
Puck, Ignis, Yolu and Nestrin attend
After the success of our previous excursion into Maephoon, I had hoped to once again gather a group of capable Skullwalkers to assist me in a few other areas of interest that caught my attention while I was researching the crystal mines.
My call to adventure was answered by two faces I recognised from our delving into the mines; Puck and Nestrin, they'd already proven themselves capable warriors and a new face amongst them, Yolu. Unfortunately with such low numbers and limited knowledge of the dangers we faced in fighting the Master's foul remnants, I felt it better that we find another pursuit on this day. Little did I know at this time the danger and cost this thinking would lead to.
Puck mentioned something about helping frogs kill spiders, I wasn't so sure about the idea but I'd not encountered anything about either of these creatures before now other than an almost incomprehensible 'report' from master Gigo and was curious to find out more about them.
We made our full days travel along the road leading South-West from the Blooms Peak skull landing. The trip was a peaceful one thankfully and as the evening drew in we began to set up camp alongside the river. Sometime during setting up the tents we noticed some strange movement within the water. This seemed a familiar phenomenon to Puck and also apparently the thing we travelled there seeking. Several strange humanoid frog creatures came out of the water, quickly making way for a single hulking toad which moved straight toward Puck who had at this point produced some sort of strange amulet.
The toad who had up until this point looked like a mindless creature suddenly had a strange look come over it's eyes and it began to speak. It tasked Puck with bringing it the bodies of dead spiders and also of the spring further upstream, lamenting the disappearance of it's previous lizard occupants. The magic involved with the possession of this creature seemed unpleasantly familiar to me and has come up a few times in my research. However I knew Puck to be an honourable man and trusted his judgement in this matter, putting my concerns down to mere paranoia.
At first light we set out on our way toward the spiders territory, progress was extremely slow but we had to be careful not to get spotted moving around before we were ready and lose our element of surprise. By nightfall we'd moved into an advantageous position to begin picking off spiders relatively unnoticed the following morning. The night passed uneventfully and we began moving further into the spider territory. As we travelled something that Puck identified as one of the Spider's assassins appeared in the distance; it seemed to know we were there and started to approach us although it didn't seem to be showing any signs of aggression.
When the creature drew reasonably close it began to speak, informing us that it was merely inhabiting the body of one of the spider queens creations. It identified itself as Birme; one of the few remaining members of the old guard and spoke of a council previously formed of the Seraphs of Maephoon during the height of the Master's tyranny. This council contained Opocalia; god queen of the spiders we were currently hunting, Cirial; the necromancer recently freed from a madness that caused him to decay the forests of Maephoon and my lord Raknajel; the first phoenix. There were apparently more Seraphs than this on the council but these are the only ones we currently know the whereabouts of. Birme went on to say that we should not help the frogs by bringing them spiders because the frogs are using powers left behind from the Masters and whatever it is that possessed the toad we spoke to was the direct cause for the remnant Master's magic spread across Maephoon. He called the creature 'The Eye' and said it was split into crystals spread throughout Maephoon. I asked if Birme could arrange safe passage to Opocalia to negotiate some sort of cessation of hostilities so that we can pool our resources in fighting the only threat that has ever mattered. Birme said he'd do what he could but commented that his relationship with Opocalia was more strained these days.
Puck was not happy about going to speak with the spider Seraph as he had some unpleasant interactions with her in the past. Apparently she had tried to eat him on their first encounter. I'd hoped that such pettiness could be put aside when the threat of the Master's was involved.
Birme had abandoned his vessel showing his true form to be that of a small serpent. He hopped into Puck's boot and lead us safely through the spider territory to Opocali's brood. As he promised we were able to reach the spider Seraph without any bother from the spiders that scuttled around the forest.
Talks with Opocalia didn't go quite as I'd planned, it seems her time away from the other Seraphs has left her quite unstable and the death of her spiders also seemed to have factored into the unreasonable attitude she had. I thought after she looked into my mind she would see the wisdom in joining forces to take on the blight still maligning our shared land but then she looked into Puck.
Needless to say I think I may have misjudged Puck. The expedition has revealed that he is both willing to side with those known to be furthering the Master's plans and has also made some questionable choices in the past.
All that being said Puck is still my friend and seeing Opocalia intended to kill him, crushing him to death before our eyes we had no choice but to fight the spider god. I blessed Puck with the protection of Raknajel and made one last attempt to reason with the spider but she wouldn't have any of it. Her spider minions began to move in around us and Opocalia herself proved to be a powerful sorceress. I summoned all I had into inflicting the ashen grasp upon her and Nestrin employed a similar power using a spell gem he'd found in the crystal mines; both of us guided by Yolu's predictions were able to wound the Seraph grievously. Unfortunately Nestrin was not experienced enough in facing such a mighty foe and was quickly slain after proving himself a true threat. Puck also fell unconscious to Opocalia's focused attacks that even Raknajel could not protect him from. Luckily Puck seemed to have his own god's protection and came back in the form of a large wolf. Seeing my companion was okay I unleashed several bolts of Raknajels fire into the nigh impregnable armour of Opocalia rendering her silent.
Birme informed us that this wasn't the end of the spider Seraph and that we would be wise to leave before she regained her strength and created a new avatar. We raided the lair for anything that might be of use to us and began making our way home. We stopped along the way to bury Nestrin, we owed him that much. I left a note with Opocalia in hopes that we could still work together against the frogs and any others furthering the Master's prerogative. I warn any other's venturing near Opocalia's brood to be on guard, I fear this breakdown in negotiation will have made the spider queen and her minions hostile to any skullwalkers she encounters from now on.
May you forever walk beneath the wings of the First Phoenix.