The Stuff of Nightmares
24 Season of the Zephyr 1329 AE
The last thing I remember is the moonlit forest going completely black as the angry screams of the centaurs became distant, then quiet. The spider’s poison climbed its way through me and I could feel my heart slow as unconsciousness overcame me.
I dreamed that I was in a cold stone cavern, ice creeping up its walls and shimmering with the golden light at its center. A statue of a dwarf seated upon a frozen throne stood off to the side, a large two-handed hammer held aloft effortlessly in one hand. Next to the throne, another dwarven statue held open a large tome from which it appeared to be reading. But as I listened closely, a quiet murmuring echoed through the chamber, and I realized the figure was reading from the book. Its stone lips moved to every unintelligibly muttered word, its sightless stone eyes flicking back and forth over the pages.
“Listening carefully human, our time is short here,” the stone monarch rumbled. “The Mists have gifted you with the abilities of the legends who came before you. I am but the first to lend you my aid, but there will be others.” He pointed over to the golden light, within which could be seen a tablet wrapped in vines and blossoms. Behind it on a grassy hill stood the barely visible figure of centaur, silhouetted by streams of sunlight. Then I swear I heard my old friend Quinn yelling to me, trying to warn me of something.
I awaken in Eldvin Monastery, an establishment devoted to Kormir, the goddess of truth. They are impressed with the fact I carry my own charm to the goddess and seem happy enough to treat my wounds and cure the poison. I feel obliged to return the favor, but a centaur attack interrupts our work. The savages quickly make off with much of the monastery’s ale.
I climb a nearby hill to get a better view of the monastery and the surrounding countryside.
However, I am distracted by the asura Kappa whose miniature moas are in danger of becoming breakfast for the nearby raptors.
With the mini moas safely penned, I continue south through dangerous basilisk territory. Their eyeblast can easily render their target immobile and frozen in place.
My journey continues until I find a human standing amongst a group of Ettins. My last encounter with Ettins led me to believe that they were not the most friendly towards humans. The man, Ludlow, is surprised to see me on my feet so soon. Apparently he and the scout Delilah found me unconscious in the forest. It was Delilah who managed to get me to the monastery to treat the spider bite, while Ludlow’s Ettin friends chased off the centaurs.
Apparently the Tamini have taken over the Ettin’s territory and now Ludlow is stuck trying to get the brutish clans of Ettin united to mount a counter attack. He came close a few days ago during my rescue, and I pledge to help him. Ever since the dream, I have been able to summon the centaur’s tablet to heal myself and others which should give us the advantage in this fight. We will fight fire with fire! Others join my campaign and we quickly clear the area of the centaurs, leaving the central hub of power freed for the taking.
Searching for any valuables, I stumble upon a complex cave system. Hopefully the Tamini have not hidden the stolen ale here! Kiterin, a woman who is apparently trying to get over her fear of heights by jumping across the vast expanses here, claims she has not seen any centaurs here. Not even the tablet can heal me in time to stave off the attacks of the bizarre dark skelk protecting these passages.
I make a hasty retreat back, wishing Kiterin good luck with the place.
I find myself recovering from my injuries at the monastery yet again, only now I’m informed that the stolen ale has been located. I meet up with Abbot Mathias and quickly relieve the centaurs of their ill gotten goods before it can all be drunk.
To return the favor, Mathias advises me of a strange darkness lurking within Godslost Swamp, which may point the way to the beast I have been sent to document. I head immediately into the swamp and spot several large green portals spread throughout the zone. Other explorers can be seen attacking the portals, forcing them to collapse and reveal large shadow beasts the others call Aatxes.
History is steeped deep within this swamp as evidenced by the Temple of the Ages, which contains statues to all six of the human gods. It was sunk when Orr rose from the sea and caused a tidal wave to sweep through the area. I carefully dispatch a veteran marsh drake before claiming the area’s power source for my own.
Necromancers are here too, studying ancient spirits and texts found around the area.
In particular, a Norn studying spirits has found something known as a Fleshreaver, creatures who harvest the flesh of the living and add it to their own horrific forms. No one knows much about them, but another one is accidentally summoned at the old cottage where some scholars have taken refuge. I help them fight it off as best as possible.
The power of the Mists here is so strong that I can almost hear Jalis Ironhammer chuckle under his breath as the final portals collapse. A crowd of adventurers, wizards, explorers, and thrill seekers have gathered around a central area. The world seems to shake apart as darkness flows around us. Before my eyes, the black mass takes shape and Jalis seems to whisper something about being prepared for a challenge. At last the creature is formed as the Shadow Behemoth looms over us, its massive talons punching holes in the earth. With a tremendous roar, it announces its intent to annihilate us. A hundred battlecries rise to meet it!
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