08
Apr
14

Hârn: Genisis – Entry 20

HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 20
PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 19
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 21

2nd of Azura in the year 720 TR (cont.)

We crawled into the mine and lit torches as the tree’s roots closed up behind us, sealing us inside. We explored the network of mine shafts, finding their supply room and tracks that led up to the collapsed entrance, a few limbs could be seen protruding from the rubble. Falcon seems particularly troubled around dead bodies, though he managed to perform a quick ritual, hastening their spirit’s journey to the other side.

Deeper in the cave, we came upon our first clue. The tunnel opened into a small chamber with a large, round, well like hole leading down. Using ropes, Merrick climbed down the twenty or so feet first to investigate, finding more tunnels. I jumped down into the hole after him, landing light on my feet and proceeding after him, while the others picked their way down. Echo’s heavy armor clearly did him no favors as I heard him tumble off the rope and down into the hole, grunting and cursing, a few moments later.

Following the tunnel on, we found a body cast on the floor. It looked like it had been torn at, by hands or by teeth I could not tell. Falcon stifled his urge to throw up and we continued on into a larger chamber. Over a dozen bodies lay about the room and rocks in various positions. Some looked like they had fallen there, bent and lying uncomfortably over large rocks, others like they had laid down to sleep.

Merrick and Marcus were the first into the room, sifting through the bodies looking for clues. I trailed after them, my torch aloft in one hand to light up the room and my sword in the other. It was Marcus’ scream that caught my attention first.

From where they lay, two of the bodies reached and clasped towards Marcus. Falling back on instinct, I surveyed the room. Merrick was also being accosted by one of the bodies that had suddenly sat up and reached out for him. Around the chamber, a number of the bodies were beginning to stir. Finally, though, my eyes set upon a crack on the far side of the room. Between two walls, too narrow for any human to squeeze through, some sort of rippling flesh was pushing through.

Falcon had picked up some lamp oil in the supply room and cast it on the ground, dropping his torch into it and creating a bonfire that lit up the room fully. Talon was already shouting out about the creature, clearly the largest threat, though the shear number of animated bodies was also concerning.

While Echo and the others ran to the aid of Marcus and Merrick, Talon and I crossed the room towards the beast. Talon went wide around the edge of the room, avoiding any of the overturned bodies, while I cut a more direct route. I could feel the Savage scrambling for control again, the Voice urging me to let him in, and, this time, I let him. The violence of the Savage surged forth with my adrenaline as we hurtled across the room.

I was vaguely aware of the bodies grasping at us. The Savage struck each one with barely a sideways glance, fixated on the eight foot mass of bone and flesh that was extricating itself from a crack far too narrow to fit its mass. The screaming. I could hear the screaming through everything. At first I thought it was my allies, being torn asunder by the bodies we were ignoring, but I later realized it was the bodies themselves. Every time the Savage struck one, it fell to the side, screaming.

In moments, we were upon the beast. Blood and flesh dribbled from its mouth as it swung at us. We easily dodged its lumbering strikes, pricking and cutting at it with our sword in one hand and our axe in the other, the torch we carried discarded somewhere in the chamber. The occasional body would join the fray and the Savage would turn and strike, quickly ending the threat and turning back to the creature. Then, a voice.

Not the Voice, but another, powerful presence, one remembered as though from a dream. The Being from our dreams that had visited us over the last few weeks, speaking to us. Urging us to calm. The Savage responded instantly, his arms falling limp at our side. This creature was the being. He held our promise, our future, our salvation. At his urging, we turned back to those I had called allies, clear to me then that they were truly our enemies.

I fell victim to the Nolah’s Charm spell. Unfortunately for my allies, I was probably the most dangerous party member for this to happen to, since few had a chance of going toe to toe with me in melee combat. Fortunately, they were quickly able to free me from the creature’s grasp.

Talon was nearest and we advanced upon him, but Echo saw our turn from across the room and the collar suddenly constricted tight, burning like some holy fire against our skin and driving us to our knees. He shouted at us, commanding us to slay the beast and, somehow, it made sense. I was confused then, but I sensed this creature was not the Being, though I had been sure only a moment earlier. The Savage was not so quick, but soon even he turned back on the creature, who seemed surprised at our betrayal.

Between our surgical strikes and the spells thrown by the Talon, the creature quickly fell. The Savage turned on the nearest screaming bodies he had left cast down around us, silencing them quickly. At first I did not mind, perceiving them as threats, though as the truth donned on me I struggled for control to stop him far too late. They were not threats, but victims of the creature’s influence as I had been. Now their deaths way heavy on my spirit as do the many other victims of my uncontrolled rage.

The Clerics and Shek-Pvar saw to treating the wounded. Most had at least minor injuries and nearly all were dehydrated and starved. Some showed signs of having eaten, though I hesitate to even think about what they had feasted upon. If they are lucky, they will not remember either. Among the survivors, an equal number of dead lie half eaten by the creature.

We took the survivors and led them up to the entrance before returning to the mine proper, intent on scouring the remaining tunnels for any additional survivors. We found one final chamber with another Ivashu brooding inside, this one a different, smelly and disgusting creature. Though I am certain I have never seen such a beast before, it felt strangely familiar.

It roared and I leaped in to attack before it could engage any of my party, intent that they should come to no harm. Our strikes against the creature seemed to heal nearly as quickly as we could impart them, though I felt my strikes drawn to its chest, wounds that seemed to bother it the most. Quicker than we expected, the massive beast fell to our strikes. Talon identified the creature as an Aklash, apparently they had encountered one before in the wilds.

With the creature slain and the mines cleared, we returned to the survivors and led them out through the tunnel reopened by the tree. We emerged to cheers and celebrations from the other workers who rushed to aid their friends and family as we emerged. Echo trumpeted our successes, laying credit for their survival to Larani. The Voice was clearly angry, bubbling deep inside in indignation.

We returned to Goshen with the survivors. Falcon called a meeting with the town elders and, as I suspected, was easily able to convince them to retire the mine. We shall see if their conviction sticks. We found Ferrin being escorted from the tavern to give him the good news. I saw a light in his eyes, not just from his intoxication, and it seemed a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders. I hope one day to feel the same sense of relief.

As the night drug on, we stopped by Craig’s home, but he did not answer our knocks, and we finally made it back to an inn for the night. Much later, we were awoken by bells summoning the guard. Talon, Marcus and Falcon went out to investigate. They returned a short while later, Falcon looking quite pale, with news.

Some of the survivors had seen that Craig was the one to collapse the tunnels and a mob of townspeople had gone to his home to confront him for his crimes. When they broke through the door, they found Craig lying in the middle of his home in a pool of his own blood. Several empty skins of ale lay on his table, a bloody knife on the floor near him and two deep gashes across his wrists.

PREVIOUS: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 19
NEXT: HÂRN: GENISIS – ENTRY 21
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