The second of the fragmentary journals kept locked away in the archives of an Aerdi sage, these passages reveal more of the exploits of a hero from the Sheldomar Valley, and more hints of the darkness that has seeped into the very land itself in places.
Author: Sam Weiss
Fragments of the First Journal of Devon Marasheth of Dyvers, HearthTender of Berei, Prophet, Explorer, and Madman
by Sam Weiss (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
It has been over a month since I took pen in hand to record
my thoughts on the nightmares I have been having and my experiences
with the warrior Pharos. Much has happened since then when he
returned from the Circle of Cahervaniel and what was beneath it.
Of most significance is what we have learned, how and from
whom. But first I should clear up a small item I left unresolved
in my first Journal.
The Statuette and the Unicorn Mizar
As I recorded, Pharos and his companions found a small statuette
of a unicorn infested with some mysterious rhizomes deep within
the passages under Cahervaniel. Taking it with them for further
investigation, they dismissed it from their thoughts during the
final battle against the spider creature that was serving the
As they returned home, they were suddenly attacked by a creature
they thought they had destroyed earlier - the black unicorn/centaur
from near where they discovered the statuette. Defeating it handily
again, they once more dismissed it from thought and continued
on their journey.
And it attacked again.
[[ed note: is it just me, or don’t they get hints very
Appearing from nowhere, the creature attacked three more times
over the next three days, and though Pharos and his companions
were victorious each time, the creature nearly slew Sunblayze
and Thaddeus on different occasions.
Having returned to Haven, this became the first order of business.
Reviewing the events of the expedition, they suddenly connected
the statuette and the creatures appearance. The solution was then
obvious - destroy the statuette. Surprisingly, this was easily
accomplished. But more surprising was the sudden appearance of
a shining white unicorn that spoke to all present. It named itself
Mizar, and thanked us for freeing it from a hellish imprisonment
and servitude to the Foundingstone. An imprisonment that had lasted
since the death of Pyorrhea an age ago when the Foundingstone
destroyed him. Mizar also promised to aid Pharos at some time
in the future when he most needed help.
I suppose the thought of having finally accomplished something
made everyone a little giddy then, and we celebrated at least
one triumph before returning to he horror that still threatened
As we turned ourselves to a deeper study of what had happened
and what was to be learned, we all could feel a deep and abiding
dread building within us. The things we learned and things they
pointed at were truly hideous, making us all fear the more deeply
for what was to come. But we could not turn our backs on this
situation. We had to continue.
At first we could make little sense of it all. Alaxus was at
least somewhat understandable to us, but Pyorrhea was beyond our
comprehension at that time. As such, we sought out others with
more knowledge, and in one case, were sought out due to a kindness.
Through Thaddeus, a companion of Pharos and scion of a minor
member of House Cranden-Guarhoth of the Great Kingdom [[ed.
note: now what was one of our agents doing so far away? And just
who was he working for, anyways?]], we gained an introduction
to the Master at Mathghamna one Japheth the Arcane. After hearing
our story and being convinced that we were sincere, he filled
us in on many things he knew of Pyorrhea and Alaxus as well as
Drake, a former student of his turned servant of the darkness
we now fought. The things we learned were incredible, but they
filled in so much we had already had hints of. We learned some
of the history of all three of these sorcerers as well as some
of the history of the Vale. And we also learned that there are
horrors waiting out there to feed on an unsuspecting world and
all its inhabitants. We also learned that others might know things
even he did not. We learned of the Restorers and their presence
in the Vale. I had some rumors of a group with beliefs like theirs,
but now it was confirmed. And I wondered, they sought to restore
a Power, how strange was it to consider that the Outer Ones would
seek to be restored to this Oerth of ours as well? Not at all
I had to conclude. Some things unfortunately do not die.
Our next goal was of course to contact these Restorers and
seek more knowledge. This was done for us as I mentioned through
us being sought out instead. As we traveled to the Brichtwood
where we believed we would find a local Coven, a unicorn confronted
us one night. At first fearful, we were surprised then pleased
to learn that this creature was not only the Guardian of the Brichtwood,
but cousin to Mizar whom we had so recently freed. As a show of
gratitude, it would not only grant us passage through the Brichtwood,
but would also introduce us to the local Coven, good friends of
his it turns out.
From the Coven we learned even more. their knowledge was more
specialized than that of the Master of the Academy, and they filled
in many things he could not. As well, they were most pleased as
he had been by what we had discovered, including being entranced
by the Lament of Pyorrhea which we could pass along to them.
But oh the things we learned! The ineffable horror of them!
I do not record them here save in hints and suggestions. I have
begun another book, a secret book, wherein I will record the secrets
I have become privy to. Perhaps some day I will share that with
others, but for now, the fewer people that know of such things
the better. For the sake of their sanity if nothing else.
I now move on to our expedition against the Jebli of the Burning
Hills. Little did I know then how it would turn out. it was instead
a mission against the Horror under the hills.
We had reports from Kleine about grave robbing, ostensibly
by the Jebli of the nearby Hills. Why they had suddenly turned
to such was a mystery, but given the recent events and the known
preference for undead of Alaxus, we felt we had no choice but
We further had decided that I would accompany Pharos and his
fellows to gain a deeper understanding of what was unfolding,
and perhaps find a way to end the continued horrid nightmares
I was having.
We arrived in Kleine early, as the morning mists were still
burning off Lake Ostrel. The people, remembering the earlier heroics
in regards the Eye of the Wyvern, were pleased to see Pharos again.
They seemed confident he could soon solve any difficulty they
were having. the mood shifted though as we examined some of the
recent graves affected. It was obvious they had been exposed deliberately.
Oddly though, it seemed to us that they had not been excavated
using shovels or other tools, but rather dug out with bare hands.
Such did not seem typical of Jebli, but such beasts are never
Resupplying ourselves, and gaining the likely location of the
goblin lair from scouts, we headed out again the next day. the
journey was more onerous than we had expected however. We had
been told the region was more active than usual, but were not
prepared for what we encountered. A foul stench pervaded the region,
invading our lungs and making breathing a chore. As well, a vile
yellow haze spread through the air, given a more ominous cast
than usual to the stunted trees and warped growths of the Burning
Hills. We would discover later that the clothes we took were forever
tainted by the air and had to be burned.
We came upon the lair late in the afternoon, and despite the
hour, chose to enter immediately. Perhaps we all thought to find
a less offensive air within than without.
The lair itself was an old silver mine long abandoned by the
local peoples. The Jebli it seemed lived in the upper reaches
and galleries and avoided the old mine facings below. We briefly
considered checking those facings first, to see if we could find
a secure resting place, but as we gazed into the blackness of
the shaft leading down, we all must have felt the same dread I
did as we unanimously voted to get about our expressed business
and see to the Jebli.
This we did, and we quickly cleared several chambers of Jebli
as well as assorted vermin that had made the place their home.
Oddly, we had found no sign of females or young, and began to
suspect that this could not be the main Jebli lair, but merely
an outpost of some sort.
We were growing tired, but as none had yet escaped us, decided
to press on in hopes of clearing the entire pest hole without
having given warning. Fortunately, after clearing one more large
guard chamber, we found ourselves at the heart of the complex,
and the first horror we had to deal with.
Later examinations showed us that this place had been the primary
Jebli lair, but they had recently moved to a Noniz digging they
had taken by surprise. As such, all their females and young had
been moved there. They had returned here for some obscene ritual
purpose, as we discovered within a priest of some sort performing
a depraved ritual upon a helpless Noniz before a smoking and stinking
alter stained with an accumulation of blood from numerous sacrifices.
Frozen for but a moment, we quickly moved into action, and despite
the wolves and warriors backing up the foul priest, we were able
to slay them all without loss. We were unfortunately too late
to save the hapless Noniz, though from the outrages already performed
on him, perhaps that was a mercy more than anything else. Likewise,
we were unable to take any of the goblins prisoner. We were able
however to secure a number of papers apparently belonging to the
priest who must have been literate.
These included not only a map to the Noniz delve, but also
a ritual and invocation of some sort and some recent notes made
by the now dead priest. If it is to be believed, then the Jebli
are not responsible for this rash of grave robbing, but rather
something else. It was obvious our quest was not done yet, so
we cleaned a small chamber as best we could and settled in to
rest before continuing the next day.
The night passed uneventfully, and despite the foul condition
I believe we all had more rest in that place than we had outside
the previous nights. This made us all less inclined to continue,
especially when we emerged and discovered the day was already
overcast, an storm seemingly brewing to add to our misery. Our
duty was clear however, and we set out.
Two days later we found ourselves outside the Noniz delve shortly
before noon, and after a quick consultation proceeded in. Niles
scouted ahead, and reported some guards seemingly distracted by
something within the caves itself. We swiftly overran them and
prepared to head further in when Darkblade ominously commented
they seemed to be watching for something from within as opposed
to anything from without. We should have taken better heed of
that warning while we could.
Moving deeper, we discovered two other groups of guards, they
likewise seeming to be watching within rather than without. Moving
down a tunnel near the second group, we also discovered something
disgusting. A discarded skin from a Jebli it seemed. The victim
of some depraved sacrifice we thought. Such fools were still.
Leaving, we headed deeper still, passing abandoned living chambers
and workshops and the like. In one side chamber, we discovered
the hideously slain bodies of several Noniz that had apparently
been taken alive and were being kept as slave labor. it appeared
the Jebli had savagely torn them to pieces with their bare hands.
Oh the horrific truth of it!
We still had not discovered any of the females or young, or
even any appreciable gang of Jebli and were preparing to take
a ramp down to the lower levels when suddenly a lone Jebli boiled
up from the depths. We feared he might be leading a counterattack
of some sort against us, but it quickly became obvious he was
alone. Darkblade grabbed him, and we all moved to hold him fast
and question him. At first he seemed terrified of us, shrieking
piteously as we held him. However, his darting eyes looking down
the ramp he ascended and the way he looked past us while screaming
and struggling made it obvious something had driven it insane.
Darkblade delivered a sharp smack across the creatures face attempting
to bring it to its senses. the Jebli's eyes focused briefly and
it seemed to become aware of us. Whereupon it shrieked even more
hideously than before in its foully accented Keoish, "The
teeth, the teeth, THE TEEEEEETHHHHHHH". At which point its
sanity fled it fully and permanently. Having no choice, we put
the pathetic thing out of its misery, and reluctantly turned to
head down the ramp.
We discovered more abandoned galleries and chambers below.
As we found more skins of goblins, burst as though from within
these seemed. None of it made sense. Or perhaps, our minds knowing
better would not allow it to make sense. Would that we had listened
and not found the truth.
In a room below we found some Jebli at last. No more than 10
clustered together and staring at some hideously swollen corpses
of men in a corner. The corpses, obviously those of the robbed
graves had seemingly been defiled by the Jebli in some perverse
way, and this band seemed set on defiling them further, cutting
into them vilely with their spears. Outraged, we attacked and
slew them without mercy, ignoring their pleas to listen. We did
them an injustice I must confess. But we paid for it. Oh we paid.
We continued down the corridor we were in, intent on ending
this horror once and for all. In a room that had once been the
feast hall of the Noniz and had been taken as such by the Jebli
chief, we discovered more than a dozen discarded husks strewn
about. As we examined them, They came. Short, furred and with
more teeth than anything natural possesses or should be allowed
to posses they came. An endless gibbering wave of horror they
lapped at us.
They were not the best of fighters, but they came in such numbers.
In the dark recesses of the cave, the only thing beyond the endless
waves that could be noticed was the baleful flickering of the
Blade of Runes as Sunblayze wielded it to effect against that
horde. They are not of the Oerth, we know that now. And still
they came. To us, it seemed like the came in the hundreds, yet
a count afterward showed a mere 28 bodies. Plus that of Elanna.
She had fallen when we could not see for the press, and they had
torn her apart before anyone could move to help. Had we not slain
those goblins, perhaps they would have helped us and she would
still be alive. But the worse horror was still ahead.
Behind a door we found the females and young of the Jebli we
thought had to be about. They lolled about a room, swollen as
the corpses we had seen earlier. We might have thought they were
with child had it been only females, but it was the young as well,
male and female. We looked on unknowing when suddenly one of them
jerked. With a ear shattering ripping sound, her body ripper apart,
and one of the gibbering things that had assailed us so recently
stood amidst the ruins of her skin. We stood shocked, until the
thing moved and began tearing at Niles whereupon we slew it quickly.
We stood looking at the other Jebli, knowing what we would need
to do and hating the thought despite the foul nature of the victims.
Nothing deserves to die like that, not even Jebli. In the end,
our leader Pharos did what had to be done.
After, we searched through the possessions of the Jebli chief,
obviously one of the skins upon the floor, and whatever might
remain of the Noniz chief, the victim of the foul ceremony at
the abandoned mine. In them, we learned that the Noniz had recently
discovered the lost stronghold of the master thief known as the
White Rook, and that they had possibly brought something back
with them. Something that became their death. The Jebli had come
after that, and bought their own deaths even as they slew the
Noniz for their home and wealth. We will have to track down this
stronghold and see what is within. But not now. Now we need clean
air and clean places to wash away this horror. May Berei help
us find such.
The Nest of the White Rook
Having recovered in body and mind from the horrors we encountered
in the Jebli lair, we turned our attention to the map we had found
and the note indicating the location of the White Rook's Nest.
The White Rook was something of a local phenomenon. An alleged
master thief who had chosen the Vale as a place to retire to and
settle down. It was said that he had secret hiding place built
somewhere in the Burning Hills. One rumor even had that he had
commanded the local Jebli to build it for him. It seems that may
have been true, as one part of the Jebli chief's paper appeared
to refer to it as "the place forced from our ancestors."
We secured the services of a pair of passing warriors to bolster
our strength. An odd pair who gave their names as Melarvin and
Harbyold. They appeared to be near pure blood Suel and indicated
they were interested in gaining a sum of wealth from adventuring
in order to settle down as gentleman farmers. Together, we all
set out for the Burning Hills and the so called Nest.
The passage through the Hills was slightly less onerous than
before due to precautions we were able to take based on our previous
expedition, and despite our worries about the accuracy of the
Jebli map, we were able to locate a hidden entrance with less
than an hours work once we were at the indicated area. Lighting
torches, we proceeded down.
The place had a musty smell, reminiscent of a pile of decaying
leaves. It emanated in waves from a thin growth of mold that hung
like draperies upon the walls and flowed like a foul carpet across
the floors. In a corner in the second chamber, we discovered two
lumps that proved to be the mold covered and decaying corpses
of a pair of Jebli scouts. Forcing down our gorges, Niles and
I bent and examined them, and it quickly became apparent that
a trap of some sort had done them in. Niles looked, and located
a spent dart trap. It seemed that despite the remote location
and passage of time, the White Rook had taken exceptional precautions
to safeguard himself and that those safeguards were still intact.
We continued, more cautious now, with Niles checking our route
for any more surprises that may be in wait.
The layer of mold thickened as we proceeded in deeper, and
hordes of small creatures could be observed swarming through and
feeding upon it. Mainly small spiders and scorpions, as well as
other such vermin. As the stench also grew and threatened to over
take us, we held up briefly in what had been a storeroom to consider
our options. So far we had located little but dust and traps and
the ever present mold that seemed to be taking over the lair of
the former Master Thief. We wondered if it was worth our efforts
to continue and briefly considered leaving. We decided to press
on however, our two new warriors pressing us to locate at least
some small store of treasure to compensate ourselves for our time
and effort. Darkblade growled something about greed and what it
gains, but as usual we ignored his grumbling. For once he was
on target though, but fortunately the truly Evil paid the price
for all of us.
Forging ahead through the tunnels we passed several additional
storerooms as well as a kitchen and what may have been workrooms
at one time. We also finally encountered some living creatures.
Unfortunately, they were nothing more than the vermin we had seen
earlier grown to incredible proportions. We had heard of such
being found in dark places, but had never met anything like it
ourselves. Rats and scorpions and centipedes, and even two huge,
hairy spiders. Fortunately, we were able to slay them all without
injury, but they seemed to hint at some greater difficulty awaiting
us deeper below.
At last in a large open chamber, likely a display room at some
time, we encountered what was to prove the first of the unnatural
creatures that had overtaken this place. They were large fibrous
growths. Huge leprous mushrooms, looming above the mat of lesser
fungus that was now a thick carpeting and so heavy upon the walls
they seemed to threaten to tear off at any moment. Upon our approach
they began a hideous wailing. Fearing for what they might alert
beyond, as well as for our own ears, we forced our fear down hacked
into them until they fell torn and broken and their abominable
incessant shrieking ended.
Again we paused to collect ourselves. As we did, what appeared
to be dripping mud flowed down one wall and towards Melarvin.
Thaddeus called to him to beware it, but we were all taken aback
when it suddenly reared like a snake and struck at him. With an
impact greater than that of the heaviest of mauls it slammed into
him throwing his body flew across the room, a smoking hole burned
through a portion of his armor. We all froze momentarily, overcome
by what we were seeing. But then the thin began oozing across
the floor to our fallen fellow and we broke free from our terror
and moved to attack it. We almost fell back again as our first
attacks resulted in weapons pulled back, dripping and rotting
from some caustic property of the oozing monstrosity. It was then
the horror multiplied, as the thing reared back again like a great
serpent, and let loose with a mind crushing blast of energy. Somehow
the thing possessed magical or mental abilities! We could not
afford to hold back now, and unleashed ourselves on the beast
no matter the threat to our equipment. Fortunately, despite its
ability to damage our metal items, it was not impervious to them,
and was swiftly reduced to a dispersing pool of fluid the color
of muddy water. Thaddeus secured a sample of it in a glass vile
as Mitchifer and myself examined Melarvin. He was severely injured
but not dead, and we were able to make him battle ready in a short
time. Despite his injuries both he and Harbyold were up to continue.
The rest of us, knowing how the horrors could multiply were
not as eager to continue, but agreed in the end.
Pressing on, we managed to locate a set of living chambers,
likely those of the White Rook sometime past. Searching them,
we located none of his famed treasure, but did manage to find
both his journals and a few other books of some note. One Melarvin
took up to read for us, surprising us that he was literate, while
I essayed the journals and Thaddeus what looked to be some other
minor papers. While we did, the others continued searching. The
journals were in some code and as I sat to attempt to decipher
it, I heard Thaddeus exclaim that his papers were a collection
of wanted notices for the White Rook concerning items he had stolen
as well as minor household invoices. Melarvin was silent about
the red bound book he had taken to read, and the others were finding
nothing except for Harbyold who had opened a panel in back of
a wardrobe and cried out.
We turned to see what appeared to be a mass of bright golden
fuzz in the back and were quite puzzled when he babbled about
the wondrous store of gold he had uncovered. Melarvin called to
him in an strange tongue, and Niles shouted to him to stop, that
is was just some mold, but he reached in before any of us could
move and began tossing handfuls of it about as though it were
a bunch of coins he had found and not something else. We watched
in shock as a huge cloud of spores burst from the disturbed mold
and settled upon him. Then he began screaming.
Faster than anything we had ever seen, the mold spores grew
on him, infesting his body and consuming him from without and
within. He thrashed briefly, then collapsed on the ground and
ceased moving. We watched horrified until Darkblade jerked suddenly
and began stiffly marching forward mumbling about the wonderful
gold he would soon have. Niles cried out and tried tackling him,
and Sunblayze moved to him, but the two barely slowed Darkblade
down. Mitchifer called forth a burst of magical light from his
patron Pelor to assist us in fighting the creature and a shocking
mental shriek issued forth from it. More intelligent mold of some
sort. That seemed to snap Darkblade out of his trance and before
the thing could recover Melarvin called to us to throw our torches
at it while he doused it with a flammable oil. That worked, and
the thing was soon a writhing mass of flames. Harbyold was still
coated with the substance, and we had no choice but to leave him
to the flames as well as we fled the room before we suffocated.
Closing the door behind us, we went back to a nearby storeroom
and again paused to regroup and consider our next move.
Despite the loss of his friend, Melarvin still wished to push
on. By now we were all suspicious of him but given what we had
uncovered, we knew we had to discover the remaining secrets of
this place. I suggested halting until I could decipher the journals,
and also asked what Melarvin had discovered in his red book. He
said he had dropped it during the fight against the yellow mold
and also stated he felt we had no time for a full translation
but must continue immediately. Despite our suspicion of him, he
was persuasive enough that the others agreed with his suggestion,
and despite my wish to wait we continued on immediately.
We continued through more winding corridors and abandoned storerooms,
being forced to slay a growing number of the vermin that seemed
to be thriving despite the unnatural environment until we came
to a stair down. Below, we discovered a large door, heavily secured
and dangerously trapped. While Niles was able to again disarm
it, caused us a good deal of concern.
Sunblayze was also able to locate a hidden door near it while
Niles was making the door safe, and through that secret portal
we discovered a small treasure room. While the loot was taken
stock of, Thaddeus was able to correlate one section of his notes
and I was able to break the cipher in one of the journals. We
were able to conclude that this was the lesser treasure room of
the White Rook, holding coins and lesser items he had secured
through the years. The main treasure room was beyond the door
however, and beyond the trapped gauntlet the White Rook had prepared
both to keep himself in shape as well as deter any thieves. Girding
ourselves for a last desperate run, we opened the door and continued.
The gauntlet proved as onerous as we expected despite a number
of the traps having being triggered by the vermin that were swarming
over the ubiquitous mold that infested this place even more thickly
than above. As well, some of the devices appeared to have been
damaged by the passing of unnatural creatures, perhaps related
to the corrosive ooze we had encountered above.
Finally we passed the last trapped door into the inner chambers.
There we found a small library and sitting room, obviously for
the White Rook to relax and enjoy his ill gotten gains in. The
mold in here was even thicker, a carpet that tore and threw up
spores with every step. It coated the walls and shelves, having
consumed all of what may have once been priceless tomes.
And behind one shelf we found that it had claimed the great
White Rook himself. A long decayed corpse holding a small oily
gemstone in one hand.
Melarvin moved forward before any of us and pried the gem from
his hand. As he turned to us with a look of triumph on his face,
a patch of sickening emerald slime flowed down from the ceiling
onto him. He began screaming, and flailing about, dropping the
gem and racing about the room. As we tried to help him, a slithering
mass of jelly appeared from under the door, and we were forced
to defend ourselves or die. Fortunately for us it was vulnerable
to our weapons and though its caustic fluids severely injured
both Pharos and Darkblade, we were able to slay it. Unfortunately
Melarvin had been reduced to little more than a large puddle by
the slime that had fallen upon him and we could do nothing to
save him. As we consigned the puddle that had been him to flames,
Niles recovered the gem he had taken from the remains and Sunblayze
noticed a book upon the floor. It was the red covered book Melarvin
had claimed to have lost earlier. We took it with us, wondering
what could be in it that had caused him to lie as he did. As we
camped for the night upon leaving the ruins, Thaddeus was able
to read a small portion of the book and it became obvious.
The book itself was titled Red Cousins It described a faction
of a cult of some sort that sought to promote the Suel people
to rulership of the Flanaess. What this had to do with Melarvin
and the White Rook became apparent only when we had time to rest
and go over all the books in Haven.
Once there, we were able to examine all the books in detail.
There we discovered the other journal had been written with a
different, more complex code. The simpler one I had broken was
merely personal notes about the lair and daily tasks. The deeper
one depended on lines from the book Red Cousins.
It appears the White Rook was a member of this group, and likely
Melarvin and Harbyold as well. The White Rook stole minor items
for hire to conceal greater thefts to benefit this group. He would
send such items back periodically but it seems likely had not
sent anything for some time causing the leaders to send our two
erstwhile allies to see what was amiss. Being fanatics, they were
willing to continue the expedition no matter the cost.
Unfortunately for their schemes, the only ones to pay were
themselves and we escaped unharmed.
The later parts of the journal spoke of the White Rook stealing
the gem we had taken. It appears that shortly after that, he began
having difficulties in his home with some of the odd molds and
slimes we had encountered. The last entry indicated he had connected
the two, and was going to go to his inner sanctum and secure or
destroy the gem before his hideout was overrun with them. It seems
he had failed in that task.
Note: Bissel, CthulhuHawk, Thunder Vale