As my eyelids shook and allowed the morning-light to work it’s own magic on me, my thoughts began flooding with the events of the night before. The Golden Eel Inn, as quaint and kept as it is, could not house my thoughts, fears and wishes of the last few days.
I clattered my armour together and prepared myself for the day’s outcome, remembering briefly just how close to death we – Azeria, our new comrades and myself – truly came.
Downstairs the patrons were nervous, their eyes darting all around looking for some corner to hide from and avoid what could erupt – it appeared we had guests. On one side of the inn with two well-kept, trained and loyal guards sat a tall, slender man. He had a feeling about him, perhaps years of work kept him wise or maybe an event that left scars also brought knowledge. Whoever he was, he was here for us.
The man explained himself as the Baron’s brother and seemed more than a little disgruntled about having the task of fetching my comrades and I. Armed with the wit and persistence found in those that farm or kill, the message was clear. The Baron wanted to see us immediately in his home.
The Baron’s residence is one of wealth for this small town – two-storey, gated and guards on each entrance – and seemed neither welcoming nor distant. The guards acknowledged our existence and left it at that; we walked straight to the door with no effort required, to find an enormous door-knocker bolted firmly to a single, massive door. Who is this gentleman?
A stiff knock.
The Baron was waiting behind and we all knew, but the politeness often speaks more than words – especially to people with money as I have learned. As he welcomed us inside, the red carpet, tapestry and stairs spanning upwards emitted an atmosphere of pressure and power, hidden and rightly so. The Baron is not all he seems.
After a brief discussion on the events of the night previous, hands were shook with Arman Ligart and a deal to investigate these incidents was struck.
‘Sir, I mean.. uhm, quick! A fight! In the town!’.
He was barely a guard, how are they training these children?
Sure enough in the center of town a brawl was taking place. No foreigner to a scrap, the team pushed their way through the crowd of merchants and townsfolk to reveal a large, strong farmer on the edge of his emotions. Morgan was blind with rage towards a sleight tiefling. This tiefling hardly flinched at the blows directed towards it’s direction.
I immediately restrained the gentleman and my cohorts calmed the poor guy. Upon further discussion, one the Baron seemed less than interested by, we learned of a death within Morgan’s family – one that proved suspicious enough for him to seek help.
Returning to the house he stayed in with his half-brother Thrain (A giant of a man! What strength..), it is clear now we should have been slightly more skeptical of the situation. The shared-house was dark and poorly kept, but was home for someone. A large table filled the room with three chairs, but a very obvious problem lay in the bed.
Under a sheet the brothers had covered her with lay Nat, an old lady of the town known to be hardworking and caring to those around her. Her skin was tight and translucent, her body was similar to dried meat, it was clear her liquids had been drained. Magic? A horrible operation? We found out shortly thereafter.
Upon further inspection before we decided to leave, I noticed a faint movement in her chest. Surely not! How could such a body in that condition still be alive?
Within seconds the situation evolved into a panic. The door was sealed from some kind of magic, one we had little chance of overcoming and less chance of understanding, but that became less important as a ghost of Nat rose from her body. Clearly unhappy with how she died, this malevolent being truly wanted revenge.
After a brief fight, we came to the conclusion the ghost escaped, but not after controlling half of the team and bringing poor Thrain into a situation he was neither mentally or physically prepared for.
Outside, we had the perfect opportunity to inspect this tree that seemed to be the catalyst for the problems plaguing this town. Using an enormous magical effort, Ulfgar managed to uproot the tree and reveal the cause of the problem – a necrotic magic-link to neighbouring areas!
Our initial attempts to sever the veins pushing the necrotic liquid were met with resistance, from the tree. It seemed something deeper and far more powerful was controlling this town.
As a team we managed to draw our efforts into a combined hit that triggered the host to be rejected. A Black Pudding! Terrible creatures, foul to the core, was feasting inside.
Our team fought bravely and long, we were not without injuries and the battle served as a wonderful reminder of spirit, strength and determination.
As we planned our return to the Baron, something was awry – a few short hours ago we were not given passage through to see him in his home, instead being told to return in the morning. What a joke. I’m sure the Baron will have a reasonable excuse for this.