^

“We set out from Ruined Oak toward the Bramble Wall.  An Orc guide was provided by an earlier party.  Our mission was an underground tunnel rumored to be a way beyond the wall. 

It was a short jaunt, cut even shorter by an old man crossing our path.  Feeble of mind and frail in body, he spoke of a large red-haired beast lurking nearby.  We followed him to his camp only to have him pull off his boots and show off some truly fearsome bunions.  I considered this prank alone worthy of a tale, but our groaning reactions saddened the ancient homesteader.  He offered us a slip of strange paper in consolation.

I took note of his meager camp and offered him a tent in trade for this scrap.  I’m well known across the island for my acts of charity.  As I was assembling this poor dodderer’s new home my hirelings were sounding out the contents of our new scroll.  I should have never left them unsupervised.

Suddenly, a hydra was attempting to move into this tent I had so expertly constructed; its many heads were inspecting the fruits of my labors.  They say that ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ but I wasn’t about to let my act of kindness be ruined.  I had my retainers fan out and assault this creature from all sides.  I lit the skies with all the spells I threw at the beast but for every head we killed two more took its place.

A good leader knows when his subordinates deserve credit.  This was one such rare time.  I forget his name but, but someone managed to chill the hydra which slowed the multiplying heads.  So just as this monstrosity was about to collapse under the weight of its many noggins, we were able to bring it down.

We left the old man to his bunions and continued toward the Bramble Wall.  By nightfall we were setting camp just outside of the storied tunnel.  I performed the rituals necessary to protect my entourages from the night and settled down to watch over them. 

Butterflies.  I had been watching for threats outside of my tiny hut all while these little bastards were multiplying within.  They were literally crawling out of my party as little worms and quickly sprouting wings.  Our druid Lyric, who I had brought on my adventures before, was able to communicate with these little bastards and I cleverly put some things together.

Out West near the Swollen Tooth lies and meteor.  I had encountered it before:

“We followed both trail and trace as the Mountains drew nearer.  It wasn’t long before we happened upon a large meteor and the trail of destruction it had left.  Expert analysis determined that the rock was not hollow and made mostly from iron.  It had the disconcerting tendency to billow black smoke any time it was touched.  Unfortunately, we exhausted our tools, and ideas, before learning all of its secrets.”  ((https://sleeperisland.eu/call-to-harms/))

On the wings of these butterfly is a pattern reminiscent of this meteor’s visage.  As Lyric translated, I learned that they’re researching their hosts prior to transport and storage.  The spoke of a “mothership” and several other things which, honestly, I was too busy leading to truly take note of.  Successful leaders know when to delegate tasks and our druid seemed more than capable of tackling this world-ending epidemic on her own.  From my best guess, those currently affected are: Cynder, Karash, Vraela, Xenon and Myself.  This is the definition of a “future me problem”.

Down into the hole we went on the following day.  We did our best to sneak along behind our orcish guide but soon found ourselves face to face with a giant metal dog.  As my party rushed in to defend me from its steely maw, it let out a screech that was truly stunning.  Our poor rogue was so frightened she stood stock still the entire fight.  I merely hung back as the others engaged, throwing out a few key magics here and there when required.  I good leader knows that he can’t effectively command if he’s entirely wrapped up by what’s in front of him.  You need a little distance to see the big picture and make strategic calls.

From here we made our way deeper into the tunnel.  Dust, or rogue, redeemed herself by finding a large stash of gold squirreled away in a forgotten corner.  Wary of such windfalls, I conducted a few very scientific and magical tests.  I was able to ascertain that the hoard was infested by little beetles.  We did our best to convince them to leave but conflict was inevitable.

These little beetles formed into large swarms and soon the tunnel was full of them.  You couldn’t swing a sword without killing a handful of them.  Due to their sheer numbers it exhausted many of our abilities to completely deal with them and my contractors refused to go any further.  I shoveled all the gold into my pack and let them lead me out, vowing to return with new help.”