Snowdrop is excited today. Very excited. She’s bouncing all over the place because today I’m taking the adventurers to Hero’s Hollow for their expedition. I’ve been trying to keep her occupied but she’s currently running laps of the house.
Before we get to that, though, I put some of my silver to good use. Earlier this week I bought back one of Auria’s beehives! She sold the bees to one of the villagers who has managed to do very well off of them and grow their numbers significantly, so was more than happy to sell me a hive back. It cost 50 silver but most of that was for the hive itself. We managed to literally move an entire hive so it’s already running and producing honey! Snowdrop has been sneaking licks which I’m sure hasn’t helped her energy levels stay manageable but I’m looking forward to its medicinal properties as well.
Back to the quest at hand; following my surprise meeting with the adventuring party last week we’ve arranged to go delving today. They still won’t tell me what we’re after until we get the dungeon itself but that’s okay. They did tell me the name of their group; Swordsbain. I asked why they were called that and they all looked really embarrassed! Apparently when they were founded their original leader had a flail that was enchanted to destroy weapons and would use it to shatter people’s swords so they couldn’t fight. Hence Swordsbain! But they’d retired and the ones left didn’t want to change the name and couldn’t find another weapon like it so the name didn’t really work anymore.
I reassured them I still thought it sounded good.
I’m as prepared as I can be, I’ll bring the journal and my wand, Snowdrop obviously, and have a few hiding charms at the ready. I’ve already discussed with them that I’m not a fighter and they said that was fine, that’s what they were for.
We’re currently taking a break in Hero’s Hollow. The Swordsbain have set up a little camp with a smokeless fire in a side room. They’ve chosen one with a door so they can hide the light and keep swapping out patrols.
One thing I’ve learned from them is how seriously they take it and how lax I’ve been in here. One of their party is skilled at traps and slowly tests out everything on the way in, while the others support them. We’ve not run into any creatures yet, and apparently that’s perfect for the group. They’re doing what they can to avoid a fight, and at first I thought it was because I was with them, but they explained any fight avoided is another potential injury avoided. Very true!
I found out what we’re after at last! According to their research there is a circlet in Hero’s Hollow made of the bone of whatever died here. It’s worth a staggering sum of silver but it’s also got one of the strongest enchantments I’ve ever heard of on it. Once a wearer has bonded with it anyone they consider their ally will b protected form harm by a magical barrier as long as they’re within about 200 metres of it. That’s huge! A barrier effect like that is rare enough but to cover any number of allies for free? The barrier will only take a few hits before it breaks down and they’ll need to test how much, but they’re sure it will keep them all safe.
I can understand what the need for secrecy was now, something this powerful will make them a target once they’ve got it, but by that point they’ll have it’s protective effects to help them.
They seem to have done some research and discovered the history of the circlet, and that it’s last wearer entered the dungeon and never returned. They had their own base camp which was hidden and it seems that’s what we’re looking for.
It’s not been entirely without incident so far, Snowdrop is loving the exploration again. Particularly having more people around to play with, she’s been bouncing all over them and taking delight in trying to stalk and spook them.
We’re about to head out again for the rest of the work.
I’ve got a lot to write and Snowdrop is being very helpful reminding me what’s happened. This it rushed but I Wanted to get my thoughts down before I head off. I’m outside the dungeon at the moment, Swordsbain are heading back down to the village, but under strict instructions to quarantine and not touch anyone.
We continued on from out rest area and headed through the route their research suggested. We’d been delving deeper for about an hour before we came across a barrier to our search; a room that held a bound demon. He was the whole deal; at least ten meters tall, muscled, bare head with twisting black horns, and fire dripping from his mouth. He was chained to the floor by a truly massive set of manacles that clearly left no room for escape. There were two around each limb, one around his abdomen, one around his chest, and another round his neck. The chains themselves were mighty and each link was as long as my arm, and the bar as wide.
Everyone just froze, we needed to go through the room, could see the passageway on the other side, but even chained nobody was going to trust the room.
Then he spoke. He called out; “Little witch! I can feel you there! You may be young but I’d recognise that power anywhere, come; chat!”.
Nothing in your training, your bargains with the polite Dark Rules, meeting the Elves…. Nothing prepares you for this. A voice loud enough your bones hurt. The rumble and heat of the darkest flames washing over you even when you’re not there, the force of will of a creature so old it watched your continent form.
I’m proud to say I didn’t shake or run away, though my adventuring companions did, and looked at me like I’d turned red and put on a few meters of height to match.
After a moment of furious silent debate I stepped out and looked at him fully. I could see him looking me up and down as well, and glancing at the suddenly very well behaved fox beside me.
He grumbled as he knelt on the floor slowly, wincing as the chains pulled taunt and restricted his movement, and then started to chat with me.
I was expecting threats, insults, bargaining, I didn’t expect him to open with how nice it was to have some good company after all these years. I was wary for a trap, and Snowdrop assured me she was analysing everything he said for any potential double meanings, but he seemed bored. Bored and lonely.
He wanted to know about me, how long I’d bee a witch and what my village was like. He knew a lot about how witches operated and was surprised I didn’t have a guide to train me further. He was a lot more reassured when I saw I had the journal, he said it had some good enchantment on it and hopefully some valuable information.
We talked for about half an hour maybe, I kept trying to ask why he was here and if he wanted anything, but he kept dismissing that with comments like “I just want to talk” and “it was a long time ago, and I’m not going anywhere”.
Eventually I mentioned we were here trying to get something, and he sighed. he seemed deflated that I was going, but he did say we could all freely pass through as long as I tried to stop by for a conversation if I was ever in the area again. I agreed and like that we carried on.
Swordsbain seemed to treat me even more carefully after that, once we were out of earshot they pressed me for what we talked about and said that they hadn’t been able to hear anything from outside! I said we chatted and he agreed to let us pass, and that was it.
It wasn’t long after that we found the base camp we were after. It was quite cosy, actually. The floors were carpeted, there were drapes hanging as if to cover a window, some bookshelves and a side table… strangest of all, though, was a magical fire that burned away merrily in a full fireplace!
At first we were unable to step in, but luckily there had been a pass phrase in the journal of the original owner and on saying it suddenly what was an empty doorway became traversable again.
Two of them searched inside while the others stayed outside on guard. I helped search but was so distracted by all the books they found it before me. Hidden behind the fireplace in a false-brick, they found it. It was tense, exciting, nervous, but they quickly confirmed it was real and the nervousness turned to cautious joy. We weren’t out yet, but they had it!
It was a creepy looking thing, to be honest. It looked like a ring of bone, possibly a cross-section, that had been hollowed out to make a circlet. Someone had then spent a lot of time etching interlinked skeletal hands around the outside of the rim with such detail it did look like tiny skeletons linked hand in hand. It was potent too, once they pulled out out and the fire wasn’t hiding it any more (clever trick I’ll have to remember!) I could see the magical glow of it.
We left pretty quickly after that, and it was uneventful. We traced out steps backwards but as is so often the case with this dungeon we ended up a different way. We didn’t see the demon again, but we did get out a lot quicker.
It was as we were discussing things at the gate I noticed it, thankfully.
One of the party kept glancing back in, and almost dancing on the spot. After a while they suggested we go back in and see if we could get anything else, and of course everyone else was against the idea. Why would we? But they got angry about it and said we had to go back in, they were sure there was more to find.
I asked if I could check something and if they could take off their shoes, they obliged and I spotted the tell-tale rash forming on the soles of their feet; Adventurer’s Rash.
It’s a strange condition that starts as a physical rash but also manifests mental effects; the sufferer has a compulsion to go adventuring and exploring. For these people, dedicated adventurers, that wouldn’t be a problem. If a farmer or a child caught it? Much worse. And it’s highly contagious. Luckily it’s only spread through touch, so i told them to return to the village, to not let anyone touch them, and I would bring them a potion by tomorrow evening to fix them up.
They were worried, and it bought the celebratory mood about the circlet down, but their leader took it in good humour and said they were lucky they’d invited us after all, that I’d saved them twice now.
And that’s where I find myself. I needed two ingredients to prepare the cure; Old Blood, and some Driftwood Memories. Thankfully with all our delving it was only a matter of retracing our steps to find some old dried blood and scrape it into a vial. I’m heading to the Loch now for the Memories.
Today has really been a day of firsts. It’s early evening currently and I’ve got the Memories plus the blood so I’m ready to make the potion. I’ll get to that in a second, I need a moment to collect my thoughts first. Never brew while distracted or not in control of your emotions; that’s how you make mistakes.
I walked around the Loch only a short way before I found some Driftwood bumping against the short, caught in the ripples of the water. I used my wand to pull the energy from it, a time consuming process. It’s difficult to describe pulling memory from an object, but it’s similar to the Calling. I can only recommend spending time holding it, reaching out with your mind and power, trying to form a complete understanding of what it is and how it got here. Once you wholly understand it use your want to direct part of that understanding from the object to a vial.
In this case the Memories were of floating, of drifting along the water, of erosion, but also the deeper memories of the Loch…. cold, unbearable sapping cold, timeless depth, the weight of the water…
It was almost overwhelming, but I did manage to bottle it and break away. It took about an hour to do, having found the wood, and I was so stiff from crouching over it for so long.
As I was straightening and complaining to Snowdrop I saw the guardian of the Loch. This enormous serpent, deep crimson, with thick fins that could almost be wings. It was so far away from me, but I could see it from the shore. It wasn’t there for me, or for anything I’d done, it just… was.
Bàs Bàtà. The guardian of the Loch. The witch’s journal suggested he is a force of good, either born of the magic or the cause of it, she wasn’t sure. He is a protector, but also a strong force of destruction when needed.
And now he reared and roared at thy sky, a shriek that made the ground vibrate and scared away everything nearby. In that moment I could see nothing of the benevolent protector, only the terrifying destroyer.
After the roar I sat petrified, he called again, although there was little left to hear, before dropping back into the water. I left quickly after that and returned here. I hope I’m not out on the water when he does that next.
This is a relitively easy potion to brew, thankfully. If you don’t isolate the initial point of contact you’ll be making a lot of it.
Start by brining a small amount of water to the boil, a cup or so per patient. Once it’s boiling empty in all your dried blood flakes. They’ll need a little time to dissolve, sometimes you can speed it up by grinding them into a powder but I find it works well enough to just leave it. This will great a thick syrupy blood-like substance that will smell foul. It’s also slightly toxic, so at this stage I add something to neutralise that. Luckily my hive has honey available so a tablespoon of that will work.
Once the blood is all dissolved you will need to pour in the Memories gently, while stirring vigorously. The Memories will change the nature of the blood they touch, and if you don’t mix them well you’ll be left with a thick sediment at the bottom of the potion.
You’ll know it works because the blood-red liquid will gradually lighten and become thing and watery, turning a pale blue.
Once it’s done serve immediately.
I call this the Taste of Home; reminding people why they don’t want to leave just yet.
It’s very late but I need to write my entry now, before I fall asleep. Today has been very busy.
I met up with Swordsbain and they’d done exactly what I asked, thankfully. It was quick enough to cure, they drank down the potion and we watched for a few moments before the rash cleared up like it had been wiped away.
They were even more thankful, and were insistent I’d saved them again! They were also determined to reward me for it, much to my embarassment.
They paid me for the potion, but also for the support in the dungeon. Apparently this is nowhere near a fair cut for the work (their words) but it was all they had currently. If I wanted more they said they’d bring some back once they get to a city, but I said this was more than enough. I already knew Snowdrop would somehow make it a little more, anyway.
I thanked them and they said they hoped to see me again. That if they ever needed potions they’d come back…. that they would remember the Witch of High Rannoc and let people know I was here to help.
That felt good.
I’m going to go foraging in the Grove tomorrow to help calm things down. Goodnight.
- +165 silver (+55 extra)
- +1 reputation
- Other Met: Bàs Bàtà
- Upgrade Gained: Hive x1
- Reagents Gained: Scamble Bramble, Shieldcap, Songberries (2), Coffee Cap