It’d been awhile since I had left the confined area of White Moon Cove. Word and fear spread about the approaching gnoll onslaught…or perhaps the last mission scared me more than I would like to admit. Soon my worries faded with time or perhaps I was getting crazy wanting to explore this continent more but I needed to get out. So I assembled with a small group of newer people looking to risk the oncoming storm. Our group consisted of the following people:

  1. Dec – once again, the goblin trouble troublemaker
  2. Zugal – brutish half-orc fighter-type
  3. Og – Goliath thug of a fighter
  4. Oros – Half-orc holy warrior of some sort
  5. Lokir – Someone that consorted with a patron of unknown origin and had a weird puppet.

It was Lokir that suggested we visit a weird gnome in the Ishah Plains not far from the Spider’s Reach Outpost to seek aid in the oncoming war with the gnolls. Apparently this gnome was some mage of sorts which I assumed to be the case since he lived out in the wilds away from civilization. Looking at my companions I wasn’t sure how we would fare as we were missing anyone who could aid us in healing outside of Oros who seemed more focused on killing things (which one would expect from a simple half-orc). 

As we headed out, it was clear that there was a massive storm on the horizon which skirted the edge of the road that led to Spider’s Reach Outpost. We opted to not transverse the storm once we hit the crossroads but to trek across the plains in poor weather away from the storm. There were murmurings and conflicting stories of the storm but we erred on the side of caution. I personally didn’t mind the plan on bypassing the road but I was worried of the dangers that may be present when not on the road which is normally patrolled.

Our journey to the cross-roads was uneventful but as we hit the area, we discovered a hot spring of sorts had sprouted up. It was seen as a boon to refill our waterskins but as our scout approached we soon discovered that jackals were at the watering hole as well. Normally this would not be a problem as such beasts would just avoid humans but from what I was told, these beasts came with the gnolls and were far more aggressive than expected. So we quickly had to defend ourselves from these wild animals but made short work of them in less than a minute as we were on edge.

Jackal Sketch

So our journey continued and it was foolish to think that the jackals were alone for within an hour we came upon their masters…a small pack of gnolls! This was an ambush that we were not prepared for luckily our scout caught wind of them before they were on top of us but not an ideal situation by any means. Mind you this was the first time I had ever encountered these creatures hearing only rumors and third hand accounts of them. The engagement was swift but we prevailed having our frontline was able to meet them head-on which allowed me to stay at range calling upon my Mistresses gifts. With that victory we pressed on.

Gnoll sketch

When we made camp that night thinking the worse had passed but were still cautious enough to still post watch. It was when I was in my restful slumber that I was woken up in a call for alarm hearing a thunderous clap. I must thank my Mistress for gifting me the ability to see in the dark far beyond my normal means. I was able to quickly survey our surroundings and ascertain we were being ambushed by gnolls once again while Lokir’s weird marionette was casting a beacon of light for visibility I did not need. The fighting was fierce, I took cover in the roots of the large tree we were sheltered under to snipe at the gnolls for most of the fight using my Mistresses gifts. It was not until the end of the fight as several of these gnolls were dying on the ground was I emboldened enough to press and advance on our remaining foes. After they fell we returned to resting but the lingering fear of another ambush was still there. Luckily that was not the case and daylight eventually came.

The rest of the journey to the gnome was uneventful. We arrived at the gnome’s abode and I was sure not what to expect as most gnomes seemed fey touched and a bit “off”. What we did see was the old man working on the farm with his children. It was surreal to see this as hours before we were fighting for our lives tooth and nail but here was this little slice of civilization in the middle of wilderness.

After dismissing his children to the inside, I became very apparent that the gnome saw us as intruders and did not take our word that we were from White Moon Cove. I could see in the gnome’s eyes that he was about to assault us with some sort of mighty magic…the same that was holding the gnolls at bay. In a panic, I realized that I had my armband showing my allegiance to White Moon Cove and flashed in hopes that it would hold his hand….which is thankfully did and we had a civilized conversation. I came to learn this gnome to be Ezekial who had a checkered past with White Moon Cove but with some persuasion with Lokir, we were able to enlist his aid. 

I thought the aid would be in the form of him coming with us but was I wrong. Instead he volunteered one of his creations which he called forward. I was not prepared for what I saw next. This man was some sort of necromancer that was obvious with the “help” he presented but not only that but he experimented on them: a twisted amalgamation of flesh from many strange creatures. I wish I could describe or even sketch one of these creatures but my eyes could not linger on these things. With some discussion, it was decided that a horrific creature that had the body of a bear much like a centaur, with the torso of a man but with tentacles for arm and a head of some creature I could not identify. What was more horrifying was to learn this was a body from someone from White Moon Cove who this gnome had collected. I wonder what Ezekial would do if we were to bring him the body of a kobold he wanted for his experiments. 

In any case, we took Grax with us to fight in the war effort. I will add Grax not much of a conversationalist who could only say “Grax” which seemed to pain him to even speak that much. So we headed back confident that our newly acquired ally would help us in the event we were assaulted by gnolls again. Unfortunately such predictions came true as we were ambushed by what we thought was a lone gnoll but quickly discovered that he had allies as well: winged black kobolds! 

Winged Kobold sketch

Our fight was long pressed and well fought. It became abundantly clear that these kobolds much like their chromatic dragon counterpart could spew out acid. I must report now that our companion Lokir did fall to the acidic breath of these kobolds melted into a pile of flesh and goo. I am thankful that I had stuck to the middle of our march and did not get targeted by these creatures and much to Lokir’s folly, he demanded not be near anyone….which he swiftly ignored as his little marionette was being targeted. In any, we were victorious….barely. One misstep and I think this would have been the end of us but we prevailed and if it were not for Grax we would have been dead for sure.

In hindsight, perhaps such a trek into the wilderness whilst on the eve of a war was pure stupidity…and I’ve come to believe that after seeing my ally melted into the earth. We were able to make it back to White Moon Cove uneventfully after that. Grax delivered with one ally fallen….but what disturbed me more was the notion that crossed my mind for a moment in taking back Lokir and the kobolds to Ezekial in an attempt to curry favor. It was thoughts like these that I thought I escaped long ago in the Underdark under the cruel enslavement to the drow.