March 20th, 2016
Day Two, Nightfall
We awaken from our rest, still weary from the night before. The night is cool and the sea by our sides is still. Above the cliffs, patrols can heard searching the forest. There is no way of knowing just how many lie in store for us, but we can’t remain in hiding any longer; a plan must be made. We gather some supplies and convene for a moment, before scaling the cliffs to execute our strategy. The patrols have spread out to the farther reaches of the forest; now is our chance. Keira perches herself above the mouth of the cave, and Fae and I take point in the tall trees on either side. Holding ground in the center of the formation, Itab casts a spell of illusion centered on the mouth of the cave. Radiating from an invisible source, loud hoof beats and creaking carriage wheels fill the wooded night. The sounds of shuffling footsteps and clanking weapons prove our plan has worked. Emerging from the cavern nine Kobolds strong. We waste no time. A volley of arrows and fireballs careen towards them, as Keira leaps down, sword in hand. It takes mere seconds slay the last of the small beasts.
As we regroup at the mouth of the cavern, a voice in common beckons us inward. We are unsure of how to proceed. Horrors of the ambush from the day before cloud our judgment, making us leery to enter the cave, yet we know the patrols are still out there. Dole Featherstaff enters appears seemingly from nowhere, but we don’t have time to ask questions. A barrage stones from the outlying patrols fall upon us. Our decision is made for us. We sprint for the heart of the cavern; towards the depths were a howling pain could earlier be heard. It was time to face whatever darkness lie in store for us.
The heart of the dark cavern is dimly lit; the only light source a few candle stubs nearing their end. The round room is filled with books, crumpled parchment, vials of varying substances, and an array of small tools. Draconic symbols are etched in the walls; the same phrase over and over, “The Ashwood staff is wreathed in flames.” Lying on a table in the back are two dead and mutilated townspeople. Standing ominously in the center of the room is the hooded figure. As our eyes meet his gaze he lets out a raspy cackle, “I’m so happy you were to join us,” the figure croaks, as a small scaly hand rises from under his cloak, motioning towards the large wooden beam beside him. The dim light didn’t allow us to take notice of the horror when we first entered, but it was clear now the origin of the shrieks of pain. Nailed to the top of the beam was the town’s fur trapper. His arms were splayed out as he hung from them. A large cavernous void lay where is abdomen and chest once were; he had been gutted from throat to groin. What monster could have done such a thing? The figure cackles loudly, “We have been working so hard, and I think you will enjoy our wondrous creations.” Before we can say anything a black, inky shadow emerges from the void in the trapper’s chest, slithers down the beam, and disappears into the shadows of the wall. Stirring behind the figure with a loud moan, the two townspeople from on the tables sit up and begin to limp towards us. The hooded figure drops his cloak to reveal his scaled Kobold skin, and takes flight into upper heights of the cavern. We waste no time attacking our enemies. Hoping the he is the source of our foes newfound life, Fae and I direct our bows at the flying figure above. After a few carefully placed shots the Kobold falls, but his creations do not follow. The undead are unarmed and prove no difficulty to Keira’s faithful sword, but the shadow is much more elusive. Itab casts a fireball spell, but it backfires and turns him into a sheep while Fae, Keira, and I struggle to the land a blow on the on the inky enigma. In a last ditch effort we throw one of the green vials at the shadow. The acid-like substance burns the shadow, which let’s out a screech and retreats into the shadows of the walls; but the sizzling burns make it easy to track. In its weakened state it is unable to avoid the last volley we deliver upon it, and our enemy falls, defeated.
The cave is still once more.