8 Eleint 1372
1852 days have passed
20 days have passed since the Drow incident
There is something more than a minor disturbance in this area. Ghastly, otherworldly beasts of chaos roam this desert. Beasts that we are ill-equipped to fight. I do not know which was worse, the vicious birdlike creatures, or the horrifying nightmare sludge.
It started with the bird creature. First, one flying by itself lazily overhead as we were camped. We kept an eye on it as it circled us. I blinked and there were suddenly two. At first I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating from the heat, but sure enough, they landed a short distance away. Tuck had conjured an illusion of some giant ballista, but they weren’t convinced. The idea was good, the execution, poor.
Once they touched down, they began some weird dancing ritual. We all looked at each other trying to figure it out when the purpose exploded all around us. They had the ability to detonate explosions from their bodies at a considerable distance.
Sahil began by cloaking us in mist, then turning into a tree. I could somewhat understand the mist, though I’m sure that would not have stopped the explosions. I could not figure out the tree thing, however. Perhaps his mind had lept back to the tangle vine and he simply did what worked last time. Regardless, it was not helpful, but I couldn’t be too upset with him.
I stood at the edge of the mist, able to just make out their forms when soon there were many of them. This seemed different from when the second had joined and it made me suspect an illusion of some sort. Calling Hoar’s guidance to identify chaos, the illusion was ineffective to me. This creature would soon feel pain.
Danjo, Shino, and Tuck stood outside the mist, lobbing ranged attacks to no effect. I knew I had to stop the creatures as my companions were not making any headway. I charged into the first one and, pleading to Hoar, struck the beast to its core with my hammer. It shrieked a horrible sound, some language I didn’t understand, and I shouted back.
Enalda has joined me shortly thereafter, bringing her trusty shield arm to my side and fending the second from my flank. She called the aid of her god, and stood diligently by my side. And I needed her for the beasts’ assaults. One after another, the two rapidly tore into my body. As Danjo’s blade bounced off their flesh, Tuck’s arrows missed, and Shino’s flames only barely singing their ass hairs, it was clear the beasts were not concerned with anyone aside from my sister and I.
Twelve times. Twelve times I had nearly succumbed to my ravaged body only to be pulled back by Hoar himself. In the midst of all this, my sister suffered a gruesome wound to her throat that I treated as best I could immediately. As if it wasn’t enough, the beasts showered us in some sort of spore that cause vines to burrow deep into our skin and further peel the flesh from my body. I surely thought we were dead. Once Enalda and I fell, there would be nothing my companions would be able to do to them and they would be picked off easily. I knew they were trying, but they were entirely outmatched, and it was only divine intervention that allowed me to stand up to these things at all.
I made swing after swing at the beast. The second one disarmed me of my hammer, so I pulled the sword from my back and continued. Hoar guides my arm and hand, not my weapon. After another swing, one beast grabbed my hammer and vanished. Then the other followed. I nearly breathed a small sigh, the beasts were gone and my hammer was the only casualty. While I had grown fond of the weapon, and had worn grooves into the handle that fit my hands just right, it was not overly sentimental to me. My dagger would have been a different story.
As I was halfway through the aforementioned sigh, I was cut off by the vines pouring out of my body. I could see Enalda beside me, similarly entangled and worse, she couldn’t breathe still. Our companions helped cut the vines off, even tried burning them, but that only hurt us more and didn’t seem to phase the vines. We stood next to each other, calling forth the last drops of healing we could when the vines finally stopped. They were cut off shortly after, but we were horribly scarred from them. We had these disgusting growths all over and Enalda still couldn’t speak. I tended her wound with all the knowledge of first aid I could. I was able to open her airway at the very least, and get her to breathe fully. Her vocal chords were still wounded, but with proper care, I think she will recover.
The following day, we encountered another living nightmare. A semi-solid, tentacled monstrosity. This…thing did not hold a shape or form for long, as it rolled along the ground like a disgusting wave. Hoar told me right away that this thing was another agent of chaos, and a fierce one at that. It burst from the ground beneath Danjo and Shino. I stood my ground, ready to do battle when I witnessed a most unnatural event. Danjo and Shino had become a boiling pile of screaming sludge. It was completely horrific. Not only had they melted from just a simple touch from the beast, their belongings were seemingly gone as well. I had no way to fight this thing if it melted everything by touching it. If my sword melted, then I would effectively be unarmed, and I couldn’t punch it without melting myself. I had to cut the loss of Danjo and Shino and flee, before I fell to the same fate.
The creature was relentless, it would not stop chasing us. Thankfully for us, Tuck had discerned how to use one of our new magical staves to emit bright explosions of burning light. What a fantastic item, I thought, as long as it holds out. I knew staves only had a limited amount of power in them, and I hope it had enough.
As luck had it, the staff was able to destroy the creature after several blasts. Even better, Danjo and Shino were able to recover somehow and we even found most of their equipment. I cannot fathom what those two went through, but there is no way that this creature is natural to the desert.
We moved North after that, into the hills where we came across some Grigg Sprites. Curious and playful, it was a nice respite from the bloodthirsty demons we had been encountering. Even a small brownie came to greet us and we learned about the surrounding land. It was quite pleasant, a small wooded oasis, really. We even ran into a moving, talking tree who blocked our way, asked what we were doing and where we were going, then told us he wasn’t interested and that it didn’t matter to him. Curious, but no threat.
I had been picking at my vine pods that night when the memories of the bird demons rushed back to my mind. Seeing my sister’s pristine and caring face marred by these disgusting things and her throat slashed so I could not hear her soothing voice overwhelmed me and I lashed out at my companions, blaming them for this. I voiced that we should head back to Assur, that the things we are facing, we are not prepared for. I knew Assur would have it’s own problems, but I don’t feel like they would turn me into a humanoid puddle.
I was met with disagreement, Tuck and Danjo even had the gall to say I was afraid. Afraid! Had Hoar not brought me back from the brink of death TWELVE times, those demons would have had their way with you, you smug assholes. This isn’t fear, you ingrates, this is knowing when we are outmatched. I sought Sahil and Shino’s advice. I knew them to be the calmer, wiser voices in the group. they did not agree with me either, but Sahil did point out that our current locale was much nicer than what Assur would be, or Lastarr, or the desert. I couldn’t disagree with that, but we would not be here much longer.
I made my ultimatum: if Enalda and I were to be stranded in another fight like that, we were leaving back to Assur with or without them. You see, Hoar had rewarded my valor the previous day with a glimpse of his magical power. Magical power I could call my own. Magical power that would grant us passage through the desert. Enalda and I had a path back to Assur if we wanted it, and we weren’t keen about this suicide mission.
It’s easy to be tough and fearless when you aren’t being butchered.