Leon, Pawe, Pyhora, StitchesGeokahn – Hunting Cultists
The company I keep grows more and more strange, and our encounters stranger. I fear that by my autumn years I will have seen too much horror to tell and too little of what wonder the world holds. I will lay such concerns at the feat of the Seasons, but it is difficult to not think of such things when one is choked by the growth of spring.
Our travel discovered first a stone along the road, a hand-mark and arcane symbol upon it glowed as the sunset. The boy Leon knew its nature was that of travel, but more he could not say. It was good he spoke at all; he is of the tender age when one first senses the cold of the world, and wishes to guard themselves closely under cloaks and silence. We left the stone be, our goal being to find the maleficar of Tsaran.
The following day we departed from the road and found another stone, tall, carved, and covered in moss. It was there we met with Mason, follower of Lathander, and his companion Davis. The two protect the areas near the Neathy Woods and had heard tell of the people of Tsaran who desecrate holy areas. They bid us seek the Zachary brothers deeper in the wood, and so we parted. May they take care.
It was into the wood that young Pawe found two children. While they fled the large black cat he gave chase, and after catching them soothed their fear with his flute. Once calmed the two told tale of their sick mother, which neither Pawe nor I could let be. We followed to the shelter of a cave where it seemed the mother had been blessed with many children before her husband’s early winter. I knelt at her bedside and sensed something amiss, her skin marked with bites and her body weakened by no common illness. Leaning to listen to her unsteady breath her parched lips parted to utter her last word: “Run”. Time was all at once. The sorrow of the children became a wail of hunger, their stomachs growing large – [distending] – and entrails thrusting forth like snakes. I begged the Seasons for her protection, but there were too many. “You will be our new mommy,” they said, their gore winding tight around my neck despite its wet slick of blood. Winter’s night greeted me.
I woke whole, Pyhora having taken watch for myself and Leon, who also neared his end. I was told of Leon’s impressive sweep of fire, of Pawe’s courage in trapping the creatures under rubble, and Pyhora’s skill in field medicine. I wish we might have put the woman to rest, but can make no complaint in the circumstances. I owe my companions much and was able to repay Pawe and Leon in short time, but Pyhora has little need of me. May he always take care.
The final portion of our journey led to yet another tall carved stone, standing proud atop a flat raised area in a clearing. There, six figures in split-color robes prayed to their dark god. Leon hailed the strangers in a tongue none of us spoke, and they answered in kind. He raised his hand and unleashed his fire upon them, and they answered with caustic green spittle. The constitution of the boy does not match the intensity of his fire, but the Seasons mercies kept him from his winter many times throughout the following battle. Similarly I do not know if Pawe’s people are rumored to as many lives as their smaller counterparts, but the way he fights I expect no less. The battle was almost won when one of the corrupted humans grabbed me with his tentacled arm, dragging me towards the stone and its surrounding corpses. Pyhora sought to strike him down and entered the cursed shrine in my place. My blood ran cold as dark magic surrounded them, consuming the two, but Pyhora remained standing as the dark flames subsided. Watching his platinum hair settle around his shoulders called to mind the heroes as I envisioned them in my childhood tales.
Despite our success in battle one of those in robes managed to escape. We failed to capture any of the maleficars we encountered, but all bore the symbol I have drawn above. Regardless of whether these are the followers of Tsaran we sought, any who bear the symbol should be treated as unholy.
Our return trip was quiet, and we pushed to make our way to the inn during the night. The sky was clear and the stars bright to guide our steps, sparkling off the frost which transformed the hush of grass underfoot into a muted crunch. The seasons are changing, as are we all.