After Hours

Excerpt from Milan's report to Mother Shael

Following our skirmish with the Inflicted, we surveyed our surroundings; while more of them were in the area, the fate of the two we killed seemed to deter them from engaging us further. Evidently, they have some sense of self-preservation. Subsequently, introductions were made between our group and the two newcomers. One is Gorbash, a dwarf (who rattled off a list of his lineage which I cannot remember), and the other a human named Nova; both are professional fighters, so their presence was welcome. Lumi having been wounded in the fight, I applied healing to her wounds.

While we were discussing our next course of action, Cirrus noticed what appeared to be a trail of blood on the ground leading through the tannery yard, entering from the west and departing to the north (or vice-versa). Upon closer inspection, however, the fluid proved to be purple ink. For reasons not clear to me, this excited Lumi, who hared off following the trail westwards. She was pursued initially by JD who was apparently remonstrating with her in Elvish. The rest of us set off towards the crater in the center of town, following the trail of ink spots along the way. By the time we reached and descended into the crater, JD rejoined us.

The lower half of the crater gave the impression of having been some kind of… arena, perhaps? From the bottom to halfway up the slopes, we found tiers of what appeared to have been holding cells, while at the bottom itself, we found the ruins of what had once been a domed, open-walled building, much like a large stone gazebo. This structure had what had once been warding glyphs carved into its pillars, and apparently, bars of energy had once blocked off the spaces between the pillars. Both Cirrus and Gorbash estimated that the entire complex might be as much as four thousand (!) years old, and Cirrus stated that the central structure emanated strong but dissipating traces of enchantment. But part of the reason I surmise the central structure was some sort of arena was that the floor of the complex was littered with hundreds, possibly thousands of corpses of humanoid creatures of demonic appearance, many up to three times the size of an adult male human. The bodies were of a wide range of antiquity, ranging from possibly thousands of years old—almost as old as the complex, in fact—to comparatively fresh, as in perhaps a week old. It’s worth remarking that no decomposition had occurred, and the older bodies were thoroughly desiccated. All the bodies I examined displayed claw and bite marks, similar to those that would have been inflicted by the creatures themselves, only generally larger. Similar claw marks were to be found on what had been the inside of the central structure, again, ranging from thousands of years old to comparatively fresh.

In the center of it all, we found one living soul: a studious looking human male, making notes in a book. Later examination found that he was either copying the glyphs from the pillars, or writing something in the same script (a script unknown to any in the party). We did also notice that he was writing with purple ink, and we gauged him to thus have been the source of the ink trail. Unfortunately, we were unable to gain much useful information from him directly. He appeared to be quite insane, stating that we were not “the cavalry” and accusing us of having caused the cataclysm (on the basis that I was carrying the obsidian tablet we acquired from the tanner). He then challenged Gorbash to a duel to the death, in which he intended only to use his quill. Gorbash hit him twice, once with the shield, once with the warhammer. The latter blow was a mortal wound, but I was ready to step in and managed to leave him unconscious but stable.

Feeling that we had completed our investigation of the crater, we collected various artifacts (including the head from one of the demonic corpses) for later examination, and while Gorbash, Nova, and I returned to where we had left the mule and cart, Cirrus, Diero, and JD made a quick foray to the temple of Lathander to search its small library. They returned empty-handed. At the cart, we found Lumi, who told us a rather incredible story of having been trapped in the local herbalist’s house by five Inflicted, but managing to escape. Presumably, the herbalist was the fellow whom Gorbash beat up and whose bacon I saved. When he recovers, he probably won’t be too pleased about Lumi burning down his house, even if (as she claims) there were five Inflicted inside.

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