From the Journal of Azoth
Several days prior I had been approached by Peren, he told me of a mysterious disappearance several years ago. Lt Roth, a war hero by some accounts, a savage by others, had gone missing nearly a year beforehand. Him and his company of nearly 150 heavy infantryman, gone, without any signs. Until recently. A gravestone was discovered on the road south, from New Blainsport, belonging to one of the 150 men that rode south with him.
His obsession with the obliteration of all non-divine resulted in his exile from the landing, but the imminent threat presented by the ghouls requires every fighting man and tactician the empire has to offer. While I do not think I’d ever be able to agree with the man; he is needed for a mission that far exceeds personnel preferences.
The morning we began our expedition I met the rest of our company. Aiden, Valen, Brennus, and of course Peren, who had organized this expedition. These men were well travelled in these lands, their input would be greatly appreciated. Especially for one as new as myself, a well-traveled Dragonborn, but a stranger in this strange lands regardless. We departed Mariners Landing and made our way to New Blainsport, passing the aforementioned tomb of one of Lt. Roth’s men. The road was uneventful and provided us safe passage.
In New Blainsport, we helped the guards with an infestation of an odd fungus that was capable of locomotion. While they did not appear threatening, I was warned to keep my distance while they were burned and shot. The guards provided us little information but pleaded for aid. Bullywogs had grown more arrogant with their attacks on the town, posing as a constant threat. Several towers had been constructed to act as lookout but defenses and rudimentary, and guards were pressed thin.
Our mission was not here though so we made our way south, across the vast grasslands. Eventually these gave way to rolling hills. Finally before us stood the Fey Forest. Stretching further than the eye could see in either direction. What trail there was went onwards into the forest, but this path was far too treacherous for the heavy infantryman of Roth to make much distance. Plus, something in this forest made me uneasy. I did not trust it, it reeked of strange magics.
What was equally curious were tracks that ran parallel to this tree line, eastward. They were of no natural beast, appearing as great ox hooves, 10 feet wide each, reportedly seen by others of our party. A grand ox. Last time they saw it, it was being harried by a goblin hunting party. The land was trying to overtake them but they proved much too large. Perhaps these were around when the company came through? With the company’s crusade for the arcane, this seemed like a logical path to follow so we did. For many miles it hugged the tree line and so we followed it, nearly 3 hours we traveled until Peren spotted something in the distance. A cloud of dust with shining objects at its epicenter. It looked far too small to be the creator of the tracks we followed, but naturally curious, and careful, Peren and Aiden scouted ahead.
Many moments pass, the objects approached us until a brilliant light and a loud bang drew their attention away from us. Valen, Brennus, and I had ducked behind the hill crest at this point and waited for our scouts return. They hasted back and informed us of our need to run. The shining ahead of us were a set of Gorgon’s. Metallic bull-like beasts. Very aggressive and very powerful. With few options, we fled into the woods. The trees would create enough difficulty for the gorgons for them to hopefully pass us by.
We pushed into the woods further, until the darkness of the canopy provided us cover. It was at this moment that Aiden started to wander off. Next thing we hear is him arguing with a tree. Evidentially he was almost victim to a trap, armed by a little man inhabiting the tree. Nowhere to be seen. Ever diplomatic I knocked upon the trunk and spoke out in elven. It seemed an obvious choice. The knock shook the tree, far more than my meager strength would’ve caused. The shaking went up the tree, reaching the canopy. It continued, going from tree to tree, deeper into the forest.
Brennus followed this, and I after him. As one would expect, these woods grew darker as we ventured further in. What was not expected was the brilliant light that was before us, emanating from behind a grand tree. Unsure of the nature of this glow, Brennus readied his weapon while I circled from a distance, ready to strike. Our caution was perhaps misplaced, the light came from a shrub, from which sprouted glowing berries. Brennus grabbed a single one before we returned to the others. Which we found, 2 of them firmly standing on the ground, while Aiden fell from the tree. The thud echoed through the woods.
He had climbed the canopy to find the little man, who he apparently had indeed found. The little man pointed us southward, saying the company had headed that way, taking much the same path as we were. This was good, finally a lead.
We reported our findings and Brennus presented the glowing berry, which Aiden swiftly grabbed and licked. In that instant, he vanished, blinking back into existence a moment later none the wiser. Brennus took back the berry and kept it out of sight. This was something worth looking into upon our return to town.
Now with some guidance we returned to the great ox tracks and followed them further. The gorgons were nowhere to be seen. The next day was uneventful, save for passing what appeared to be a Minotaur’s labyrinth but we dared not enter it. Instead we pressed onwards. It was that night that our watch first heard the ground shake beneath our feet. Getting closer and closer. The great ox approached, though we believed it to still be quite distant.
The next day we learned how wrong we were. On the horizon we saw the horns rise up. It would be upon us by days end. Around its feet was a large dust cloud, perhaps the goblins were still present. With limited options we forced march perpendicular to the path, hoping to avoid the beast and the goblins at its feet. In our haste, we had failed to cover our tracks. Goblins upon wargs were upon us and a fight ensued. 4 wargs, each with 2 riders charged at us. One to the left, one to the right, and one straight at us. The last one seemed to argue over a peculiar arrow that had been shot towards them. I had taken two arrows and had frozen a warg to death when I looked up and the fighting had ceased. The quarreling goblins came forth, and Valen to meet them, his holy symbol raised high.
These goblins had indeed seen the company, further south. Nearly 1000 miles by our estimate, past the King’s River, in wetlands yet to be discovered. They had set up fortifications and continued to harass the goblins to this day. We had found our company, but they were too far for us to reach with our current provisions. The goblins also spoke of the bullfather, warning us to keep our distance. This must have been the great ox we could clearly see in the distance now. Perhaps it was some form of deity to them? Regardless, it was very precious to them and they were intent on keeping it protected. They left, under the pretense that we leave the bullfather alone.
With little to show for our adventure, we decided to head back to the labyrinth we had seen before. It rose nearly 20 feet high and its entrance led to wide passages leading left and right. Valen, Brennus and Peren pushed leftward, while Aiden and I took the right. That was until Aiden used his gauntlet to try to burn through the hedge. I tried to put it out but it spread too quickly, cutting me off from Aiden. I doubled back and tried to follow the path taken by the others, hoping to warn them. That was the least of their concerns, in the distance I could hear the snarl of the Minotaur as it charged them. The clashing of steel on armor and flesh was apparent. I finally found my way to them, to witness the Minotaur take up its great ax and bring it down upon Brennus. He stood, stalwart, trying to protect the others before he finally succumbed to his injuries and collapsed. With that, Valen yelled out and with his weapon removed the monsters head from its shoulders.
Victory was short lived, as he rushed to Brennus’ side to revive him. With air in his lungs we looked around, the fire had surrounded us. There was no means of escape. Desperate, Brennus took up the beasts ax and with all his might cut through the hedges. We followed until we found the maze’s center, where we took refuge while the fires died out. We brushed the soot off of ourselves and dug through the ash, hoping to find what we could. Our pickings were meager but well earned. A halberd, a damaged holy symbols, arrows that emanated some strange magic, and some gems.
We collected ourselves and head back to town. Any sense of accomplishment was short lived. With plenty of time to think, we came upon the realization that the bullfather’s path it now took would bring it to New Blainsport. Our pace quickened. We had to warn them. We had to ready the defenses.