Unearthing the Past

Marienheim's Last Hope

Over a month had passed since Dyne, Niene, and Uthad had ventured into the ruins and fought the kobold raiding party. They were hailed as heros and were the talk of the town. They were bought drinks and invited to tell stories at the tavern and it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone recounting how they had slain an entire army of kobolds and spit in their dragon master’s eye.

As time wore on though, things slowly started to return to normal. Every now and then the group would have someone nod to them on the street or a pat on the back, but after a while the town returned to business as usual.

After another shipment of food was running behind from Marienheim, Huln Deepiron requests the group accompany him to town as he meets with the mayor to find out what is going on. As the party arrives in town the see several graves being dug outside the gates. As they travel through town the group saw many people coughing and wheezing along with a large line of individuals outside one of the buildings in town.

Huln returns from his meeting with the town gavel, Thuldrin Kreed, and informs the party that the citizens of the town seem to have a disease called Blackscour Taint. A town crier announces a reward of 15gp per person that will retrieve the ingredients for a cure for the disease. The party proceeds to the town hall to speak with Kreed. When they arrive they find a short line of individuals that are after the reward as well, including one little old woman. Upon speaking with Kreed, he informs them of the need of Ironbloom mushrooms, “rats tail”, and Elderwood Mold. Unable to provide the party with specifics he directs them to speak with Laurel, the town herbalist and sends a messenger boy with them to allow them to bypass the long line outside her shop.

Laurel, dismissive at first, tells the party what she knows of the disease and cure ingredients. The disease is spread by the Blackscour mold. According to her, her grandmother learned her herbalism skills from a old witch in the vale named Ulizmila. Laurel has been brewing a variety of potions and salves to cure the disease though she has little luck so far. There is one potion she has not tried, but she does not have the time to gather the ingredients and is unsure of their exact location. She informs the party of what she knows about each of the missing ingredients. Elderwood Mold is reported to grow on the oldest tree in the vale, Ironbloom Mushrooms were reportedly grown by the monks at a Darkmoon Vale Monastery on the other side of the woods, and the rats tail may be found in Ulizmila’s hut. She gives the group a rough drawing of the region and circles the area where she believes the tree is and marks a lumber camp on the map telling them that she believe the loggers may have a better idea where to find the exact locations.

The party sets out for the logging camp and meets a man named Milon whose young nephew is ill with the Blackscour Taint and immediately takes them to the foreman, Jarlben, who who after some prompting by Milon, finishes filling out the party’s map with what he knew of the area.

The party sets out toward the oldest tree in the vale, however along the way the hear the whimpering of a small animal. As they get closer it becomes apparently that a small Darkmoon Firefoot fox has become stuck in a trap and is close to death. The party frees the creature, but the creature was the bait for a larger trap set by a hobgoblin hunter and his two pet crows. Quickly dispatched, the party heals the young fox and begins to move on. It however becomes apparent that they have gained a new party member. As they continue on they discover the body of a dead pixie. Investigating the site it appears that someone had captured and killed it, believing that upon death its body would turn to gold, however being a woodland creature it instead turned to wood.

As the party travels, the dense trees and thick brush of the forest give pay, parting seemingly in respect for the titanic darkwood tree that dominates this clearing. Several times taller than a temple minaret, in on the direction the obviously ancient tree reaches into the sky with branches like a giant’s arms, while in the other it plumbs the earth with roots thicker than a man’s waist. Its limbs broad and strong, its bark thick and so richly colored as to almost be black, and its leaves the size of bucklers, the giant thing is less a tree and more a cathedral of boughs and branches.

While approaching the tree, three bodies are seen hanging from one of the lower limbs. Slung over by some kind of animal, Uthad spots a reptilian creature slithering down the trunk of the tree to advance on them. The creature, a Tatzlwyrm, is quickly dispatched. The party discovers the entire base of the tree is covered in the mold they are looking for and after collecting more than enough for their needs, the proceed to take down the bodies (those of several young men that had gotten drunk and disappeared weeks ago) and give them a proper burial.

The group set up camp for the night, however during Dyne’s watch a loud buzzing is heard from the far end of the clearing. The party investigates to find a giant mosquito moving through the woods. Preferring caution over valor, the group allows the beats to continue on its way. In the morning they set out toward where the loggers had marked the location of the Darkmoon Vale Monastery. After traveling for little over an hour the ruined monastery comes into view. Made of simple stone blocks, worn smooth with the passage of time, the stout building is falling apart. Sections of the slanted shale roof have collapsed and the portions of the outer wall have crumbled. Weeds and wild thorn plants run rampant across the field leading up to the place, leaving only the slightest indication of a path that ends at the ruined front doors.

After scouting out the yard the party finds the remains of a unlucky adventurer next to the well. Alerted by the Darkmoon Firefoot growling at the door of the watch tower, the party tears the door open to find Graypelt, a worg who was something of a local legend for terrorizing villages with his pack of wolves. After a fight that seemed to last ages, the party strikes the worg down and takes his pelt as a trophy. Moving further into the ruined building the party faces off against a kobold watchguard, a pair of darkmantles that had roosted in the ruined alter room, and a pair of skeletons in a makeshift prison. While searching for clues the group finds a tunnel leading through the ground through the cellar. Both in the tunnel and the library above the group finds mold covering everything in sight. Knowing if they don’t return soon the number of dead in Marienheim will grow, the party chooses to save exploration of the tunnel beneath the monastery for later.

With the hours getting late the party the party sets up camp in the makeshift prison as it appears to be the sturdiest room available to them. Sometime in the middle of the night the party hears scuffling out in the courtyard. Looking outside, the party sees an undead kobold walking slowly across the courtyard. Uthad, follower of Pelor cannot such an abomination go and charges in for the attack. Swinging at the creature it gives no resistance, or even signs that it is aware of what is going on around it, and is easily dispatched with a single blow. The party disposes of the corpse and in the morning travels to the location of Ulizmila’s Hut.

As they approach the location on the map that indicates the location of the hut the sounds of the forest become suddenly distant as the trees part, opening into a small, almost perfectly circular glade. At the center squats an ugly straw and stick hut. From the thatched roof dangle bundles of gnarled roots and old dried carcasses, all clattering together like gruesome wind chimes. A dozen or so crudely crafted scarecrows stand guard over the glade like silent watchmen for the witch’s home.

Mindful of the idea that a witch might lay in wait for the party, Dyne reaches out with his mind and searches for any traces of magic in the hut. After several minutes of searching only two things in the hut show any signs of being magical, a small spherical item he believes to be on one of the shelves of the hut and the cauldron in the middle of the hut. Studying the cauldron, Dyne is able to see three strands of magic running through it. He plucks the first string like that of a banjo and the cauldron comes to life but seeing nothing in the hut disturbed it immediately goes back to sleep. Trying again, he is able to sever the first string. While severing the second, the cauldron sprung to life and went mad, bursting through the wall on the far side of the hut and escaping into the forest unhindered. With the threat gone the party are able to collect the rat’s tail and any other items of interest uninterrupted. The largest item of interest was a small shrunken dwarven head, fashioned into a necklace and radiating with a faint aura of magic, a few tribal sculptures and statuettes, and a pouch of materials that Dyne feels are most likely used in some sort of magical ritual. Having gathered everything asked of them, the party sets their sights on returning to Marienheim.




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