From the Journal of Zivilyn, Windling Magician: An Invitation
I received a letter recently inviting me to meet with others interested in dealing with the scourge cult that has been spreading across barsaive. I've recently become quite concerned about leaving this sort of thing to fester, although I worry that others may not share my concerns to quite the same extent. The letter was from one Tiabdjin, a scribe whose name sounded vaguely familiar to me, but really you meet so many people in the Library it's hard to keep track of them all. And the invitation was to go to the middle of nowhere in the Scythan Mountains. Well, not like I haven't been there before, so I started off at the appointed time.
Along the way, I came across Zil, a fellow Windling Elementalist who is also a Purifier and Questor of Garlen, riding on a goat who said her name was Nanny, who was heading the same way. Shortly after, we caught up with Daldorer, who now that I see I believe I have in fact met them once before, a couple years back, who has since I last met become a Scholar. When we arrived at what was, as best we could tell, our destination, we came across Jael, who still travels with Selina, and the Dwarf scholar Tiabdjin, who still looks more or less vaguely familiar but not much more than that (although I am sure I will recognize him if I ever encounter him in the future). Tiabdjin was sharing around some pickle sandwiches, which are a little strong for my tastes. He also had something he called lemonade, which was much more enjoyable. I shall have to make a point of having some at least once a year. I was a little bit worried that only 4 Adepts showed up, as the letters (and the scholar) indicated that many more had been sent out, when to my surprise Norg dropped down from a drakkar that was passing through. No doubt Norg caught a ride on the way to collect some more supplies for their "experiments" (ie fooling about with their new cannons), and also caught a great deal of their ale along the way.
Still, 5 were not as many as I might have hoped. At this point, Norg mentioned that a piece of a distant mountain peak had split off and was coming towards us, which is a new experience for me. Tiabdjin seemed unworried, so I wasn't excessively worried myself, until I noticed a Dragon flying our way and recalled that they do not appreciate people wearing wyvernskin armour. I quickly ducked behind a rock and got changed into my nicest robe, as Tiabdjin eventually indicated that the Dragon was his patron. On landing, the Dragon introduced himself as Vasdenjas (which I recognize as one of Barsaive's Great Dragons, particularly known for accumulating knowledge), plus a dozen titles which he is known by. Personally, I mostly kept my mouth shut. He was obviously pretending to have not noticed I had been wearing anything he found distasteful, and so was I.
It seems there was a ruined city on the eastern edge of the Scythan Mountains where the scourge were doing some unspecified thing that he found extremely distasteful. I gather he didn't want to discuss the matter exactly, but he wanted us to destroy any records of their experiments, and seemed offended that they had additionally in some way stolen some forbidden draconic knowledge or something like that. Again, pretty vague. Thankfully, he was at least quite specific in providing us a map so that we didn't have to check every ruin we came across in a ruined kingdom.
The trip was relatively uneventful for Adepts of our stature. Zil provided metal wings when we encountered obstacles, and otherwise we simply rode or walked along through the mountains. We got there and spent some time talking to various spirits about what might be in the city, and didn't get a lot of information. At least it gave me a chance to practice speaking Air Elemental though. What little we learned was that an airship had passed through a couple of times recently, bringing "more than 5" people, and that the unusual phenomena in the city (stone buildings that were on fire and an immobile cloud of smoke) had been there for a very long time. Given one of our employer's titles, I'm guessing it was Dragon magic, and that he caused the ruin.
On our way through, we encountered some mercenaries who were fool enough to work for the scourge (seriously, what kind of loon works for someone who warps others into monsters and want to bring back the scourge) and some monsters that had previously been the leaders of the mercenaries. Each of the resulting creations were intriguing in a way I suppose, but were definitely no longer Namegivers, and were probably insane. We told the mercenaries to get out of town, did our best to ignore the warped former-mercenaries who seemed content to leave us alone so that they could concentrate on killing each other, and headed for the centre of town. Personally, I think we should probably have done something about the experiments ourselves, but was outvoted on that. I suppose in fairness the mercenaries had managed to get a signal off that required us to move quickly to catch our quarry. Still, as I mentioned, I'm getting tired of leaving problems to later, since they always seem to get bigger by the time I get a chance to do something about them.
We arrived at a tower we had noted as being less on fire than the rest of the buildings that might be suitable as an airship dock, just as an airship did in fact arrive and was being loaded by workers at the top of the tower through a makeshift door enchanted with illusion magic. There were a pair of magicians on top of the tower, a few groups of mercenaries who foolishly did not run when they were told to, and a lot of fire (which I protected us from, leaving Zil to continue providing his more powerful Shield Willow and Air Armour).
The mercenaries proved to be a nuisance until they eventually broke and ran. The magicians were more dangerous, but we were fortunately well shielded from magic. And then a hydra popped its heads out of a hole in the middle of the plaza we were in. I had just enough advance warning to prepare Wyvern Oil, but it didn't help much as the beast still got me in its jaws, as well as taking a chunk out of Daldorer and Selina while Jael, Norg, and Zil went up the tower to stop the cultists from getting away with their cargo. Or so I am told; mostly I saw a lot of teeth and a tongue. Thankfully, the hydra had a difficult time getting through all my armour, because as I later found out it was extremely venomous. Daldorer and Selina were less fortunate. I had enough time to take Kelia's Antidote, but I gather Daldorer had not previously encountered much poison and didn't have anything on hand.
I am told Jael killed the two magicians (although the the Illusionist got away anyways. The Nethermancer who had been mutating people was less fortunate). Zil knocked the crew of the airship out of commission. And both of them were quite thoroughly surprised that Norg rammed the airship into the hydra, which I mostly experienced as a lot of shaking around and myself being flung out of the hydra's mouth (which was unpleasant, but still a superior experience to being *in* the mouth and chewed on). Zil dropped down and did something to cleanse the poison out of Daldorer, Jael used Kelia's Antidote on Selina, and the idiots who were crewing an airship for the cultists died in the crash.
Most of the idiot mercenaries got away, though I shall be keeping an eye out for their insignia in the future to give them a piece of my mind (and make their lives just that extra bit more miserable), and the workers that were loading what turned out to be hydra eggs onto the airship just *might* be smelling like skunk spray for the next few weeks once they get home. Or possibly months. Not. Sorry. At. All. The favours I owe that Skunk Spirit are well worth it. I think the mercenaries are going to get a good helping of that when I figure out where they are, plus a nice massage from a Poison Ivy Spirit, and maybe I can find a Spirit willing to serenade them all night, every night, for a while, because apparently the drawbacks of working for an insane cult that wants to plunge the world back into the middle of the scourge again are an insufficient deterrent.
In the meanwhile, I have come across another piece of what I am Naming the Regalia of Hadritha Haytrish gifted to me by Vasdenjas, this time a gem-encrusted golden knuckle duster. My research suggests that it encourages one to get dangerously close to things. Would've been useful when I was stuck in that Hydra's mouth. I am somewhat less excited that it seems to encourage me to get into situations where I am more likely to find myself in that situation in the future, though.
On a side note, the rewards for working for a Great Dragon are proving to be quite persuasive that I should not get on their bad side. It pains me that we were obligated to destroy the Nethermancer's notes, as some of them may have been of interest, but I can't imagine a Great Dragon would fail to notice that.