An Outbreak of Strangeness

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Spring 806 - GM: Scott Raymond
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  • Starflower Female elf/dragon maid mage - Party leader and Military Scientist
  • Rowan Female elf binder, accompanied by her usual entourage
  • Phaeton - Male human solar celestial mage and healer - Scribe
  • Brunhilda - Female giant solar celestial
  • Lizette - Female human namer and another master healer

1st Thaw
It was just after the Guild Meeting, and after most the employers had collected their adventurers, we received word that there was a late comer who needed a team. I was in the mood for a change of scenery after the Lunar Games so I decided to investigate.

Waiting in the meeting room with me were: Starflower - an elven female mindmage. Rowan - an elven female Binder, accompanied by her eyeball on a stick called Eylor. Brunhilda - a female giant and another Solar Celestial. Lizette - human female Namer and another master healer.

Once we had introduced each other, a lady literally glided in. From her accent, and manner of dress, I soon deduced she was from Shoji, an offplane country I had been to twice before.

All she really said was the Emperor wanted to invite a group to his realm. Something odd was going on but she wasn’t privy to the information. I guess we were going to have to be discrete.

3rd Thaw
We had a day to prepare then we met our guide in the courtyard. She flicked her fan at us and we were literally blown away, landing in a field outside the Imperial City. We then headed in and had an audience with the Emperor followed by a feast.

4th Thaw
It wasn’t until our private audience with the Emperor, the next morning, that we found out what he wanted investigated. There was an area that had two problems, which may be connected. One was an outbreak of oni attacks. The only description given was large and with claws. The other problem was a disease. It started off with the same symptoms as a mild cold but then resulted in death. There was no known cure. Naturally I was intrigued.

Of course, it could not be seen that the Emperor had actually employed outsiders to look into the problem as that would not be good politics on his part. Instead, we were going to just casually go there and make it look like we had stumbled on it by ourselves.

We had the rest of the day and the following day before our transport was ready so shopping was done. Starflower decided to test her drake shapechange. What she changed into was what looked like a winged snake, just over 25 foot long, a four foot wingspan, with tufts of feathers at the tip of the tail and a head which looked like a cross between a lion and a dog with fangs. She was also covered in fur. We weren’t able to determine if she was potentially poisonous but she was definitely a constrictor. Also, when she finally changed back, feathers were still in her hair.

Meanwhile Rowan was presented with a terracotta golem to try out. Once she got it going, she wanted me to keep an eye on it to see how long it would stay going. It was still going by the time we were ready to leave.

6th Thaw
The trip to the affected province was by boat, down river first, along the coast then up another river. In total, it took 8 days and a change of boats. Along the way, people were trying out their spells ... sometimes with amusing results as spell effects differed here. Meanwhile I was briefing the others on what to expect.

14th Thaw
When we arrived, Rowan’s golem was still going ... and going ... and going. None of us had expected it to go this long. She named it 'Uruwashi' being Shoji for warrior.

Starflower was insisting that we act as discrete as possible so we acted as curious tourists. One of the sites we saw was the Thousand Dragon Wall. It was a section of wall that was built to keep out the barbarian hordes long ago and was supposed to meet up with the walls being built on either side of the province. Unfortunately there was a mistake in the survey and the walls never met. It now looked like a chunk of the completed wall had been displaced sideways a thousand dragon lengths, which was just over 300 miles.

The monastery here was where the disease victims were being looked after and, after a while, we wandered up there, presumably to pay our respects to the local abbot. After all, it was the polite thing to do. So we went up there and managed to manipulate the conversation where I wanted it.

All they could really do was to keep the victims comfortable. All, but a few, had come from the same area. It didn’t seem to be contagious but the abbot was showing signs of a cold, which matched the early symptoms. So, Starflower and I got to work. I also enlisted Brunhilda to help with her DAs.

Between the three of us, we came to the conclusion that this disease had a demonic component and appeared to be some sort of curse. Starflower came to the conclusion that it involved some sort of soul draining so she decided to try her Panacea spell in an attempt to detach the effect. Cast out the demon within she called it. So I decided to use my empathy to monitor the results.

As she cast the spell, both of us were flung backwards across the room. I impacted some of the beds before hitting the wall resulting in a few broken ribs as well as severe bruising. It was going to take a couple of days to fix. The spell also resulted in a dead patient. Somehow, Starflower spontaneously transformed into ‘dragon’-form and went completely through the wall. I’m not sure what happened to her after that but she turned up, in elf form, looking a little disorientated a few days later.

18th Thaw
I was healed up and Starflower was back. Now we were ready for more experiments. At the moment we were theorising that the disease was some sort of vampiric linking life force effect so we decided to employ Binder magic. Plus, Rowan could only divinate objects so a victim would be petrified.

I took life force DAs before Rowan put a victim in a Bubble of Force. When the spell ran out, I took another reading and concluded that being in the bubble did not block the effect. Meanwhile Rowan was divinating a petrified victim, What she got was a collection of Shoji symbols. Actually they looked more ancient than modern Shoji and, after she drew them, I attempted to puzzle them out. They didn’t seem to make any sense so I passed them on to the Abbot to see if any of the scholars could figure it out. Then Rowan un petrified the victim and we got a surprise. The victim’s soul had actually regenerated while under the petrification. It wasn’t a cure, but it could offer a respite while we sought out the demonic entity responsible.

Meanwhile, Starflower had sneezed, and was in drake form again. So she sought out the Abbot who recommended meditation techniques.

While Rowan was busy petrifying all the victims, I was researching in the library to see if there had been any other instances of this phenomena. However there were lots of scrolls, most concerned with administration trivia so, as many monks as could be spared, were enlisted to help. Also a message, detailing our findings, was sent to the Emperor.

Starflower was using a crystal ball to map the area we were planning to go to, while Brunhilda was questioning people looking for stories that might provide clues as well as practicing Shoji calligraphy. Meanwhile Lizette was attempting to divinate the live ones but all she got was an effect similar to being slapped in the face with a wet fish.

23rd Thaw
Finally we were ready to go. With it’s food source cut off, we theorised that this demonic entity would be hungry for more so we had to hurry. So I attempted to cast Wings on those that needed it, including Rowan’s teracotta golem .... which was still going. We figured it was somehow an entity in it’s own right.

The Star Wings spell was acting very odd. The wings on the golem were 180ft span, but they still worked, mind you, it might need all that span to lift the weight. The wings on Brunhilda resulted in some sort of portable rocket pack while my Wings resulted in some sort of mechanical flying device. That, I will have to tell Mortimer about. Lizette’s set resulted in some sort of walking spider creature which could run on air. Meanwhile Rowan’s Install Flight on her carpet resulted in a carpet with a seat and a steering wheel.

Once we had figured out how to make these things fly, we took off to the affected area.

It took a little while to get there but we finally landed, or in a couple of cases, crashed, about ten miles from one of the affected villages. I suspect that people were rather nervous of our group, especially since three of us were oni and we had a terracotta golem as well as two wooden Golems with us. The village was surrounded with stakes, pointing outward.

We went in and knocked on the door of the largest building. Starflower decided to ask the questions but we didn’t have much luck until I reminded her that, here, she was considered an oni and hence of a lower social order. Once I took over, we were able to find out that the magistrate’s house was two over and to the right.

Once we got there, I introduced us as being emissaries from the Emperor, sent to help them deal with their problem. The monster had started sniffing around the village three days ago and tracks were left. So Starflower and Lizette went to examine them. The tracks told them that it was roughly six foot tall and walked by brachiation, similar to a gorilla.

They were lucky to find a tuft of hair which Lizette DAed. She discovered that the GTN of the creature was Coalura and it’s plane of origin was Haarn but with an added mark. I suspected a shadowplane.

       Starflower to Lizette: I think I’d prefer you didn’t banish our only decent sized piece of evidence.

We then discussed how we were going to catch it. Various traps were constructed around the area. Starflower also had a set of magical stones that would make any opposition stay around to be hit. I also checked to make sure everyone had adequate personal healing. Brunhilda ended up with two of my healing potions and a Waters of Healing. As far as I was concerned, she could keep them.

Also we wanted arrow slits in the walls so we could shoot out. Rowan started to make the first one but something went wrong and she lost all her spell potential for the rest of the day as well as being hyperactive. I had to use a combination of a Soothe Pain and a couple of acupressure points to render her unconscious. The rest of the treatment involved a rather peculiar item that Starflower had in order to accelerate the resting process. Once she had recovered, a few hours later, she was fully rested and able to create the arrow slits.

       “We have a hyper Binder - Stand well back” - Phaeton.

Meanwhile I used my planetarium to do a reading the night sky ritual, even though it was late afternoon, to determine if the creature was going to appear tonight. What I got was ‘The propensity for tiredness is inherent in your actions.’ At least it wasn’t a haiku. I prefer to leave those to Silverfoam.

Night fell and we settled down to wait. I passed the time doing some sketches.

24th Thaw
Half past midnight, the creature showed up. Rowan had created one way transparencies so we could see it. She had also heaped up piles of stone and wood so she could create golems on the spot as soon as it turned up.

When it appeared, we could see it was a skinny and long creature which appeared to look like an emaciated elf crossbred with a gorilla, all covered in hair. I attempted to DA it and was completely stunned and confused by the combination of three auras. Fortunately Lizette had better luck.

  • Aura 1: Coalura, long lived animal, Counterspell to banish - None
  • Aura 2: Orhon, sentient, Plane of Origin - Tutorus
  • Aura 3: Rook, weak immortal, Plane of Origin - Home

All the traps had been missed but Starflower’s stones were doing their job. It was soon obvious that the creature wanted a way in to get to us. Maybe it sensed we were more delicious.

A Mental Attack bounced and a Web of Light was absorbed by the creature causing the hair to glow. Starflower then tried a Phantasm which went out, looked confused, and vanished. Her Demon Within spell rebounded and there was nothing that could be sensed by telepathy.

Brunhilda’s Light spell was also absorbed before the creature suddenly split into four. One leapt onto the roof, the second went around the corner while the third plucked hairs from it’s body and the fourth started concentrating mana. I tried a Holy Bolt of Starfire but there was no effect. Starflower had better luck with her fan though. Lizette also smacked it with a sling. Rowan's piles of wood and stones formed into golems.

The hairs that the third one had plucked out had somehow turned into throwing javelins so we had to dodge a barrage of those. My Sunray also had no effect while Rowan’s golems were beating up the fourth one. Her other golems were still in the room standing by. Then Lizette succeeded in destroying the third one with the last charge of an invested dragonflames.

My grey bolt managed to damage one of the entities but there was nothing special. So much for the hypothesis it was some sort of weird construct. Meanwhile #1 had got on the roof and was ripping off roof tiles. Then Lizette used her sling again and #4 went down. We had no idea where #2 had gone.

Finally it got through the roof. My black bolt hit it and there was an odd effect but I wasn’t sure that black was it’s actual anthesis. It jumped into the room, much to Brunhilda’s delight as she was able to wade in and thump it. In fact she thumped it so hard that she smashed it’s skull completely and bits of brain splattered all over the room. I Daed for the effects of the black bolt and all I got was confused.

While the others were outside searching for the missing monster and Rowan was repairing the roof, I was taking samples off the body. All the hair had the Colura aura and it was still alive. The rest of the dead creature was Orhon. There was no sign of the Rook aura which made me wonder if it was incorporeal.

It was soon apparent that, despite Starflower’s stones, the last creature had fled. So we cleaned up the bodies and put them to the flame. Some bits were left for Lizette to divinate. While she was divinating, Rowan and her golems had the watch and the rest of us were snoozing.

What Lizette got from the hair was the following:

  • The hair is a benign symbiote and is bonded with the host.
  • Adds two points of natural armour including endurance damage
  • Adds 60% magic resistance
  • In a brightly lit environment it can heal the host of 2FT per hour
  • The host has to eat 50% more food to maintain the symbiote
  • If the host doesn't eat then the symbiote will start to eat the host at a rate of 2FT(or EN) per hour starting 24 hours after fasting.
  • The hair absorbs light based magic
  • It is vulnerable to sonic vibrations.

The hair was still alive except for the original tuft which had died. I decided to experiment with various coloured lights to see if it preferred various colours. All the bolts I fired at it was very much the same effect, i.e. none although it loved the black bolt. Must have somehow been more delicious. Meanwhile Starflower shifted into drake form and was singing at a sample. One really high note turned the sample into goo. Rowan stoned another sample for later analysis by the Guild.

I wasn't keen on any of these hairs getting out on the field. I was sure that this stuff on a bunch of rats, for instance, would be an ecological disaster. So it was finally decided to let the remaining hairs die.

Also, sometime during the morning, Starflower, as a drake, was being used as a climbing frame by the local children.

After lunch, we followed the trail that the one which had fled, had taken. It led us through the outlying rice paddies, fortunately along the ridges, not in the fields themselves. That night we camped and Starflower managed to get healing potions out of her teapot - ten points per person. These were bottled for later use.

Watches were set up, with the watch order being Lizette, Brunhilda, Rowan, Starflower then myself. I was attempting to cast Witchsight on Lizette when a saucepan, suitable for sauteing, appeared in my hand. Last time it had been a non stick frypan. This one was complete with pricetag and DAed as coming from a plane called 'Dirt'. It was also marked with the name 'Jamie Oliver'. I guess somewhere on Dirt, there is a shop with one less saute pan. It was non-stick so I gave it to Starflower who accepted it with glee. I wonder if it matches the frypan that Silverfoam got on my last trip?

25th Thaw
It was decided to fly as, according to Lizette, there was no sign of these creatures within 180 miles of our position. Of course, that is assuming they weren't under a scryshield. However, we discovered that my Starwings spell was acting as a 'Summon Flying Device' spell as we got our strange conveyances back again. So we took to the air and Starflower, in drake from, resumed tracking.

After a while I could see a small hill to one side which was a landmark on our maps. So I flew over to check it out .. and something was launched at me from the top of the hill.

     "Throwing up is always difficult" - Starflower.

Starflower spotted a hole in the top of the hill and it opened just enough to launch rocks at anything that flew near. From what we could tell, the hill was full of these creatures and, once I calculated our flight time, we discovered that the hill was around 200 miles away from the village, just outside of Lizette's range. So Rowan possessed her little golem and prepared to go down the hole while Starflower flew around looking for another entrance.

Rowan managed to get the golem to drop down the hole as the hatch opened. It dropped down the shaft to the bottom. As it picked itself up, another rock dropped on it. Rowan found her self back in her own body as the rock was launched at Starflower. Brunhilda's Walking UnSeen was also targetted as well as Starflower's Indetectability and Mind Cloak.

Brunhilda provided a target as Rowan sent another golem up the hill . Once there, it created a slab of rock over top of the hole. It worked for a short while until the rising hatch cover, and repeated impacts, pushed the slab off. The second attempt piled more slabs on the hole which allowed Brunhilda and Lizette enough time to get there and jam the hatch.

During that time, Starflower was at the base of the hill and discovered a small hole which spat an acidic liquid at her. So she stuffed rocks in it which seemed to have interesting internal effects. She then found a man sized entrance nearby. Lizette went to DA it, and was promptly cursed with a perminant uglification curse. I guess I'll get around to lifting it .. when I feel like it. Just in case there was a trap, the rag & string golem opened it, with the help of Lizette's belt of strength. Starflower screamed a high 'G' note down the tunnel and a puff of dust blew out.

Once Starflower stopped assaulting our ears, we headed down the 4 1/2 ft high tunnel. It was a bit cramped, with the Stone and terracotta golems having to crawl. Suddenly, the Stone, which was leading, fell though the floor. We followed it down and found ourselves in a bigger tunnel. I cast a Witchsight on Lizette then backfired on Brunhilda, resulting in hearing various musical tracks in my head. Some of them were not too bad either. The next attempt on Brunhilda was successful then a cast on myself resulted in an 'unfortunate' result - one I prefer not to detail and everything I was wearing turned transparent. So I turned my skin colouring to jet black .. hopefully that will hide anything obvious. The only thing that didn't change was the silvery scar on my left arm.

A short way in further, we encountered a cavern containing four more of those creatures. Naturally a fight started, with the golems at front engaging first. Starflower was able to go around to help, including getting past an acid pool. Brunhilda and Lizette also squeezed past to engage. It was a chaotic battle, mind you what battle isn't, but this one seemed more than most from what I could see. Basically it was won by a combination of Starflower's sonic attacks and the others getting in close and overbearing the opposition. Besides, I was stuck behind a pillar with Starflower's draconic body blocking one side and having to squeeze past Rowan on the other, something I was loathe to do in my current condition.

Once the battle was over I collected some samples from the acid pool. It may come in useful later.

We progressed down a tunnel .. and reached another cavern where more of these creatures were lurking. Starflower started screaming at them again while Rowan and I succeeded in putting up some walls in an attempt to restrict their movements. Not that it helped much, as we soon discovered that these creatures could teleport. One even teleported out of a force bubble Rowan had put it into.

Starflower was still using that earsplitting high pitched note to hit them with. I was wearing ear protections, for my own sanity. Maybe she should prepare her spells at that frequency and see what happens. We had previously determined that the note she was using was doing something to the creatures to remove their magic resistance so I attempted to fire on one with a very pale red Bolt of Starfire. Unfortunately the music in my head chose that time to rise to a crescendo and I lost the spell. I was setting up to fire again when another of these creatures leapt on me, nearly knocking me unconscious. Lizette, who had somehow gained the ability to heal major wounds at range at some point in her career, something I had been trying to do for ages, threw healing at me before diving on top of it to help. At the same time a huge one of these things materialized in the area. By now, Brunhilda had removed one of them from the combat and Rowan and her golems, with Starflower's help were dealing with the remaining, original, two.

Fortunately I always keep my selenium dagger within easy reach for just these cases and jabbed at the creature in an attempt to get it off. Somehow, the dagger was able to penetrate it's thick hide and do damage. It's blood dripped on me and I soon discovered that it had an unusual effect ... an aphrodisiac effect. This was not going to be pleasant. Already thoughts of my ex-girlfriend was filling my head. I resolved to bottle some for later analysis and to research an antidote. Neutralise poison was not helping. That was then I smelt ozone. Eeylor had fired a lightning ball at it.

The creature was having difficulty getting through my chimera hide armour so it turned on Lizette. Meanwhile the others were dealing with the remaining creatures until only the big one was left. Another blast from Eeylor blew the one on Lizette and I to bits, splattering the both of us with goo, which meant both of us were now feeling the aphrodisiac effects, a most undesirable outcome given our current circumstances. I used an empty potion bottle to get a sample before checking to see how the others were doing, all the time using every technique at my disposal in order to counter the growing urges. According to my DA, they were going to last for two days.

It wasn't long before the final creature was down .. and everyone in the party was splattered with goo. Once it was established that everyone was okay, I retreated for a while in order to try and meditate in order to control the raging torment I felt. Starflower had to do something to my mind in order to alleviate some of the problems. Normally I do not approve of mind mages poking around inside my head but, in retrospect, it was a logical course of action. But, when we got back, I resolved to find my ex .. and see if we could find a way to get around the physical distances between us .. partly due to the Dark Circle blocking off a portal and the loss of the Sea Goddess Haven. Rowan sent Titch over with a cup of soothing tea which was rather appreciated as I didn't feel like being in the party's company at this point as Brunhilda and Lizette were getting annoying with some of their jibes. I also noticed Bear, the wood golem, was also hanging around me, probably for my protection. Thanks Rowan.

The duration of Stony, the stone golem, expired and Rowan recreated it with a giant mace and stone shield. She also itemized the remains of the creatures as Starflower too was interested in the effects of the blood.

Thus fortified we continued on. Starflower noted that all the creatures we had seen so far were male, obviously so. Whether this was significant or not, it was difficult to tell at this stage. And we had still no idea if these creatures were responsible for the disease.

I was playing with my sling bow, speculating whether or not it was going to be effective against these things, as I was getting urges to hit something, probably the frustration caused by the aphrodisiac and the music in my head. When she saw that, Starflower suggested I use her Crossbow of Light. I thought about it a bit then it was a case of 'Gimme that!' and we continued on.

The next chamber we entered had lava pools, pools of bubbling hot water, and was full of acrid, hot steam, reducing visibility. Even the effects of a waterbreathing didn't help. Just then we saw the opposition. I ducked behind some rocks, braced, and discharged the entire stored charge into the largest creature, hoping to bring it down quickly. I scored a really good hit on it but it responded by teleporting behind me and scratching me. As it did, the music changed to something really annoying. The wooden Bear golem finished it off. Starflower had finally realized she could cast her spells in the high pitched tone she had been screaming and her mental attack caused another to explode. Stony and Brunhilda squished a third with help from Bear while the terracotta golem fought with two more, one of which I was shooting at.

Just then Stony was attacked by another of these creatures that looked more like the one we had encountered in the village. Another big one blinked in and attempted to bite Lizette. Brunhilda got her hip smashed and Lizette poured healing in at range, enough to fix the superficial damage but not the specific injury. So I moved to protect Brunhilda and lay down covering fire while Team Golem dealt with the nearby creature. Stony collapsed into a pile of rock but the other golems defeated the creature. Meanwhile Starflower and Lizette defeated the last one. The white deposits that were around the place was discovered to be rock salt. I took a lump as it might be useful later. This time, the bodies were dumped in the lave pools.

Rowan reconstructed Stony while I examined Brunhilda. I had to remonstrate Lizette for laying down a Soothe Pain into the injury area and messing up my empathy results while I was tracing the chi flows. Meanwhile Brunhilda was going on about wanting my 'pleasure touch' so I stuck acupuncture needles in her instead. Idiots! Between Rowan and myself, we reconstructed Stony into a flat transport golem we could put Brunhilda on so we could fall back to a safer area, which was made more safe by use of Fabricate spells to block potential trouble spots, for proper healing.

26th Thaw
Twenty hours later Brunhilda was up and about. Plus all my curses were gone. My head was quiet, for once, and I could see my clothes again. Poor Rowan had been feeling the effects of being underground so I got her to sleep under my planetarium so she could imagine she was outside under the stars. Brunhilda then renewed our Coruscades and, on one attempt, got a frypan identical to the one I had accidently conjured on the last trip. It was a match for the earlier saute pan and, most likely from the same set. Starflower acquired it with glee.

Now rested, we continued our downward descent.

And down we went, a rather long way, finally emerging in a chamber that was rather large with a vaulted ceiling and had some sort of fortress at the other end. And, of course there were more of these creatures waiting to deal to us as well as arrow fire coming from the top of the fortress towers. It looked really bad but we bravely stood our ground. This time Starflower, back on elf form, waded in with Severer and Monopole and started inflicting quite a bit of damage. Brunhilda and the golems also charged in while Lizette was firing her sling at the humanoids in the towers. I was not having much luck with Starflower's Crossbow of Light this time and it took me two attempts to get off a Quickness on Starflower, Lizette and Brunhilda. One of the creatures was advancing on me but it was quickly dispatched. It was left barely conscious and twitching so Rowan was making sure it stayed that way. Once the others were dispatched, Lizette was making sure that one was secured for later divination while the rest of the party advanced on the fortress. I also rushed forward, in order to ensure they had covering fire.

  Starflower - "Oy! Stay with the party."
  Phaeton - "Hey! You were the ones that moved."

Between Rowan, Brunhilda, and the golems, the main gate was smashed in and they encountered a horde of humans. Meanwhile Starflower teleported up to the battlements to deal with the defenders up there. Many of the archers had already been knocked down by Lizette's special sling bullets but there were a few left. When she killed the first one she was happy to get a death buzz so she waded into the others. I attempted to use Star Wings so I could fly overwatch but ended up with a jetpack like the one Brunhilda had. Oh well .. I guess it's going to have to do. So I took off and got shot at. I DAed one of the defenders and discovered that they were Shoji humans. Ronin I suspect. Then I saw Starflower get hurt badly from a spearman, before she dispatched the last defender in the area. So I went in to help. Unfortunately my healing spell failed to go off. I will definately have to perfect that one. Lizette then used her ranged healing. Starflower then dropped off the parapet to help deal to the ones on ground level. She then realised that there were more defenders coming down off the tower towards me so she got Brunhilda to lift her back up while I headed for the air again.

Once they were defeated, we searched the fortress from top to bottom looking for clues. There were rings and other insignia's that would probably tell us who they were. We also found a scroll written in a strange language that may provide valuable information on these creatures. It was a very old scroll, 2434 years old, and made out of skin from the local elves. The ink was made from a kitsune. Definately evil I thought. I also suspected we would have to go back to the Capital City to consult with the Emperor's scholars. We also itemised some of the more important looking dead bodies for later resurrection and interrogation. Rowan also fixed the gate so we had somewhere secure to rest.

27th Thaw
It's rather hard to keep track of time underground as we discovered. It was decided that we should head back to the Imperial Capital and get this stuff looked at. On the way we stopped off at the monestary where Rowan itemised all the petrified victims so we could take them with us for more powerful treatment.

9th Seedtime
Took us another twelve days sailing by boat to get back to the Imperial Capital. I spent some of the time on the trip preparing a report scroll for the Emperor as well as making a few sketches.

When we got back, we presented our findings. The emperor recognised the insignias as belonging to a warlord who had opposed him before. The ancient scroll was taken away for translation. While that was done, we went out shopping on the Emperor's credit. I'm not sure about the others but I came back with more inks, coloured pigments, and scrolls on healing and herbalism. Lizette was also expressing a desire to learn the acupuncture techniques as well, while I was working on refining my knowledge of acupressure.

Finally the translation was complete. Some bits could not be translated and other bits were not safe to translate as the scroll dealt with the summoning and controlling of the incorporial, demonic, Rook. What we were able to find out was that it was a creature from a Hell, unfortunately we weren't able to determine which one .. at least in Shoji terms ... and would occupy a host creature. Once the host creature was killed it was effectivly banished. It was also the Rook that was responsible for the soul draining.

Now that the Emperor knew what he was dealing with, he sent some of the Imperial Army into the area in order to sweep it and make sure there weren't any more. Starflower used her Finding Ritual on a map of the Shoji Empire but was not able to detect any Rook. More of the host Orhon were detected but they were known to the populace and were harmless. Apparently some mage had summoned some a while ago.

The petrified victims were unpertrified and treated as best we could. Some of them had lost too much of their soul to survive but, even the survivours would never recover fully. Those that were well enough were sent home, the rest stayed for observation.

And that was basically that. I decided to stay a bit longer on Shoji as it was recommended that I pick up a defensive form of unarmed combat, but the aim was to return before the next Guild Meeting.