Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster
-8th Flamerule, The Year of the Haunting
---I have said before that a day was interesting and this day was quite that. It was also very exciting, scary and shall soon prove to be educational I believe. But I am getting ahead of myself once again. I should pick up this narrative where I left off the last.
We left the Druid’s glade in the morning and made our way to the mountains. It was only upon arrival at the foot of said mountains that we realized our error. We had a steep climb ahead of us that our horses could in no way attempt and no place to harbor our steeds was at hand. We quickly rode back to the woodland and made our way toward the glade in hopes that the Druid might watch over our steeds while we pursued his quest. He did not appear to us but his voice sounded out from the trees to tell us our horses could be left in the glade safely. With that problem taken care of we made all haste back to the foot of the mountain.
Aedron and Illandria led us all through the preparations for the climb ahead of us, strapping us into climbing gear and roping us together. The slope was only a bit steep at first but then became more severe. I and my lovely but cumbersome armor almost dragged us all to an early end to this quest. I had placed my foot wrongly and lost all purchase, sliding down the rock face. Ever resourceful Meg heard my bark of surprise and was able to get several turns of the climbing line around a small outcropping to anchor and stop my fall. She shall have a special place in my prayers this evening. I suffered little more than a bruise to my ego thanks to her quick thinking.
We continued our climb without further incident. Aedron was first to achieve the crest of the cliff we were scaling. He stopped rather abruptly when he reached up to gain another handhold. I could only barely make out his visage from my vantage point. The look that crossed his face seemed to be a combination of mild surprise and disgust. He drew his hand back and showed us that the grip of his hand was slathered with a significant amount of clear viscous goo. Nia took one look at it and quietly informed us all that it looked to be ectoplasm, the residue of some psionic manifestations.
Aedron anchored himself and the rest of us were able to climb up even with his position so that we might all have a chance to peer over the cliff before actually cresting it. As we looked over the lip of the cliff we observed a rocky shelf and a cave opposite our position which entered the rock face. There was one thing that we noticed out of the ordinary about the cave. It appeared to have been little more than a fissure in the stone face originally but appeared to have been made somewhat larger fairly recently. From the marks around the cave mouth it appeared that the fissure had been excavated by at least one set of rather large and very sharp claws. And I do mean VERY large claws.
We approached the cave mouth and entered cautiously. The tunnel within also showed the marks of the large claws that had widened the entrance. Even Aedron was able to pass with little trouble. Which was of course not terribly encouraging since that would suggest whatever creature dug out the passage was therefore at least as large as Aedron, if not larger. The thought kept my shield and mace in hand and a spell upon my lips as we explored.
A short way within the tunnel we came to a pool of the ectoplasmic goo that was large enough cover the floor of the passage. We could see that the tunnel branched just beyond the pool. The pool proved to be an effective deterrent to keep any from passing. It clutched at the feet of any who stepped upon it. It also occurred to us that this being ectoplasm, it would work as a mental connection to whomever had cast or created it. We thought to use rocks from outside as stepping stones but the goo moved them around randomly. Finally, Aedron scaled the wall and began traversing toward the tunnel to the right. We observed the pool extend a tentacle of its substance up toward Aedron as he moved across. Nia used one of her mind powers to freeze and break the pseudo pod and Aedron was able to keep ahead of any other attempts. A rope was secured across the pool and Aedron assisted us all across. I felt virtually naked as I needed to shed my armor to make the traverse easier.
We continued along the tunnel until it opened into a larger area just around a bend. What we saw there brought us to a halt. Lying at the middle of the passage was a large dragon made entirely of the clear goo substance. We surmised this to most likely be something known as a psionic construct. Similar to the golems of more traditional magic but of course made entirely of ectoplasm. It was no less threatening for being made entirely of clear goo rather than metal or stone, I can assure you. We tried to bypass the apparently snoozing creature but was roused to the attack as soon as Sa’d approached the tunnel behind it. Sa’d and Aedron were both taken to the ground and Kaliki and I were injured as well before we finally defeated the creature. We applied healing magics all around and then continued forward quickly.
Thinking there must be a reason the creature was protecting this specific passage, we continued forward. The tunnel opened up into a common room/kitchen area with a fireplace and seating. We observed a small humanoid construct creature ladling some sort of stew from the kettle in the fireplace and then take the bowl around the corner. We followed the little creature, on our guard. The construct walked down a short passage and then into a curtained alcove.
We approached and found within the alcove a very sick man in his bed. The construct was feeding him from the bowl of stew. We could see that parts of the man’s body had apparently been replaced or covered over by ectoplasm. There were also patches of black covering parts of his body. He noticed our approach and weakly called for us to come closer, introducing himself simply as Raz. He explained that the black patches were a disease he had contracted somehow while traveling the outer planes. He mentioned that it might have happened while he was combating the Gith. He described them as essentially pirates and slavers of the ethereal planes. The disease had caused him to lose some control over his psionic abilities. For example, the large dragon creature we had fought was some sort of involuntary manifestation of his subconscious. Essentially, he was slowly losing his mind and his delusions were taking form and substance. It seemed evident that the constructs might become more numerous and more dangerous as his faculties slipped further and further into dementia and possibly insanity.
I attempted to diagnose his disease but it was beyond my knowledge. I had never heard of it; let alone how to treat it. And unfortunately, the Cure Disease spell is still beyond my ken and power at this point. We did not wish to simply kill the man so we voted to use the enchanted gem we recovered earlier in our adventures from the adventurers who had captured the snowbeast’s youngling. Our magical analysis of the gem had shown that it carried a great many magical curative spells against diseases and curses. The analysis had said that all who touched the gem when it was activated would benefit from its magics. It seemed a good precaution for us all to touch the gem.
The gem worked its magic and all traces of the black infections left Raz’s body. Raz thanked us for saving him of course and offered several items as reward. I was fortunate enough to receive a pair of boots that manifest a power similar if not identical to the Skate ability of Nia’s. They will make me a bit faster thank goodness. We noticed as he moved from his bed that parts of Raz’s body were actually made up of solid ectoplasm. The result of some massive injury it would seem. It was odd to me that the Regeneration spells contained within the gem did not quickly rebuild the missing tissues. I can only assume that the delay is caused by the massive severity of his injuries. The spells had worked normally on all of us, other than the scar that crosses Meg’s face. I asked her about the scar later but she did not know why it was unaffected by the magic nor did she care to talk about how she had come by the scar in the first place. I inquired no further.
Out of curiosity I examined the stew or porridge which Raz’s construct had been feeding him. It appears to be alchemical in nature and I surmised that it has some healing power to it. Raz verified my thoughts and allowed me to know the exact ingredients and processes to produce the stew. It is quite an amazing food stuff. Most certainly, it is only the consumption of this stew on a daily basis that kept Raz from succumbing to the disease.
After he had freshened up a bit, Raz gave us a tour of his cavern retreat. He showed us a lovely cavern where crystals in the roof passed sunlight through from outside to light his garden. Unfortunately, we noticed some of the plants showed signs of infection with the same disease that had struck down Raz. There was nothing for it but to remove and destroy all the plants and even the dirt. We offered to help Raz and his constructs with this chore. After the sight had been purified, Raz offered to let us camp within his caves for the night. Aedron and Illandria, being our best climbers, said that they would descend the mountain before dark and return to the woods to inform the Druid that we had succeeded in curing the taint. They will return tomorrow to assist the rest of us with the descent of the mountain face.
The clear ectoplasm that has taken the place of parts of Raz’s anatomy offers a rare opportunity to observe the inner workings of the humanoid anatomy. He has agreed to allow me to make sketches as the spells continue to rebuild his ravaged tissues. I have of course kept his face out of the sketches since Raz has asked for some anonymity. It seems these caverns are his retreat. I hope that my observations may allow me to gain some insights into the workings of anatomy and the regenerative magics. It is fascinating to see the inside of a body which is still going about its daily job of staying alive. The tissues have rebuilt somewhat even in the time that I was doing the sketches. Quite fascinating I must say. I only wish my artistic talents were more worthy of such a unique opportunity. Ah well, all things in their time as they say. I grow weary and my bedroll calls. By my Lady’s grace, I shall write again soon.