Year: 905 WE
After receiving a letter from Earl Dregard, our small, rather peculiar, group made its way to the Thorpe of Oakhill. They contacted us regarding concerns of a necromancer residing in a nearby cave. When we arrived in town, the locals pointed us toward the cave, and we set off through the trees. The closer we got to the cave the townsfolk had warned us of the better we heard this strange buzzing sound reverberating from within. Darvin, Erevel and I thought it might have just been a particularly large wasp’s nest, but Trissa and Asakku pointed out a collection of massive, fly-like insects hovering over a corpse lying at the mouth of the cave.
We conferred for a short time about strategy before launching our attack. The insects fell quickly but not before Darvin was stung. When I first inspected the wound I saw nothing of note, but after seeing the state of the corpse—it looked like something had burst out of its chest—I became concerned. Erevel, too, examined Darvin’s side, and the three of us agreed it would be better safe than sorry in case one of the monsters had laid an egg in him or some such horrid fate. Erevel and I took Darvin back into the tree cover, and Asakku and I cut carefully into Darvin’s side near the wound.
You cannot imagine the relief and horror I felt when I saw the egg nestled up against his ribs. It was only about the size of a field mouse, but if the corpse lying by the cave mouth was any indication, it could have been so much worse than a wound to his side. Asakku and I bandaged Darvin’s side, and Erevel offered him a healing potion. I have no idea where she found such a thing, or when, but it certainly came in handy.
Following our impromptu surgery, Trissa stripped the body of its chain mail, deciding to use that instead of her scale, and I dragged the body off to the side while she changed. After saying a short prayer to Bahamut for the dead man’s soul, we headed inside. Erevel paused by the entrance and put down a neat stack of copper coins; I’m not sure what her purpose was in that. Perhaps it was tribute to the dead?
The moment we stepped into the dim murk of the cave, the overwhelming stench of rot filled our nostrils. Asakku and Erevel—who had taken point—told us they believed the stench came from further in. They scouted deeper into the cave’s darkness, and Triss, Darvin, and I discussed the revolting and concerning possibility that the insects may have been killing people and dragging them into the cave in order to feed, incubate young or—worse—supply the necromancer with fresh bodies.
When Asakku and Erevel returned, they told us the next room of the cave played host to three, chattering skulls that hovered, spinning slowly in the air. Concerned they could be some form of foul alarm system, we paused to discuss our strategy. We struggled with several possibilities, the uncertainty of not knowing the nature of the strange skulls causing worry, until Darvin broke off from the group and charged into the room ahead of the rest of us.
Weighed down by my chain mail, I barely reached the room when Asakku, Triss, and Darvin finished off the skulls. I scolded Darvin for his recklessness. Unlike me, he wears no armor and looks like a stiff wind would blow him off his feet. While I applaud his bravery, there are better things to do with one’s life than waste it in foolish haste. After the conflict, Erevel turned to me and handed me three gold coins. I stared at her in confusion, but she only smiled and said, “I don’t want your money.” I asked her why she took it, and she shrugged, telling me, “There are reasons.” She is such a strange woman. While I appreciate her returning my gold to me, I don’t know why she would have taken it in the first place if she didn’t desire it. If she needed gold all she had to do was ask me, and I would happily have given her what I could offer.
Darvin paused in the center of the room, muttering to an incantation of some kind. Moments later he reeled, his face pale with horror as he told us that something great and terrible lay further in. He recommended withdrawing and leaving this place, but I couldn’t do that. I told them they could leave if they wished, but if this really were a necromancer causing havoc to the town I couldn’t stand by and allow it to happen. As we spoke, all of us but Darvin—who had focused on his spellcasting—spotted Erevel reaching into Asakku’s pocket. While she is usually light-fingered (a trait I both admire and disdain), she must have miscalculated. Perhaps she forgot how well most of us can see in the dark. Asakku and Erevel agreed with me, and we reluctantly pressed on after I slapped Erevel upside the head for her troubles. “For Bahamut’s sake, woman, we’re in danger here. It’s no time for games!”
Less concerned about stealth now, after the conflict with the skulls, I took point and led us into a room with a massive, ancient door. I guessed it to be of elfish make. Unfortunately, none of us saw a way to open"the darn thing. Erevel and I examined the door, touching it only with my chain mail gauntlet, for well over an hour but came no closer to a solution until, in weariness, she leaned on the door with her bare hand.
Red runes spidered out from the place Erevel touched it, and we watched in awe and horror as they spilled into a massive text with a red line splitting it down the center. Surprisingly, Erevel couldn’t read it. I thought all elves could read their language, but… I cannot judge. There must be a reason for it. Asakku studied the runes, informing us they were a long-extinct dialect of Elvish. He could not read them, though he picked out the words “great” and “king” from various points of the text.
After more discussion about how we were to handle the door, I decided to attempt to open them. Pressing my gauntleted hands to the stone, I pushed inward and nearly fell forward when the door dissolved into dust, vanishing into the yawning darkness further on. My guts turned cold as I second-guessed the wisdom of opening a door sealed by such powerful magic, but the thought that a necromancer might be further in, preparing to wreak havoc on innocent people, strengthened my resolve. I glanced back at the others, my concern and unease mirrored on their faces, before facing the shadows.