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Buried in the Forest

General Summary

Shroud Field Report #M10-4
Date of Report: Month 10, Week 1, Year 910 Location: Koulan Forests
Report Author: Samira Kayhane
Anomalies Detected:
  • Several Tier-2 Fiends
  • One Tier-3 Fiend
  • a Sardivelian-produced Eldritch Machine
  • ALL THREATS NEUTRALIZED
Summary:
  The Shroud's theories about an uptick in extraplanar activity following the conclusion of the Oda-Kiri War proved accurate. Investigating several reports of disappearances in the region led me to a lumber town annexed by Sardivelia known as Mokazai, where one of the companies had lost touch with its logging camp after months of fierce blizzards. The same company was also suspected by the Shroud of working on a dangerous new magic device known as an Eldritch Machine capable of immense power, allowing us to kill two birds with one mission for my superiors.   Urged by the Shroud to keep a low profile, I hid my affiliation with the Shroud and joined a band of adventurers to investigate the missing camp. Members included:  
  • Axel Palajko - A paladin from the Holy City of Dhamma seeking to preserve ancient traditions around Pescat. Though The Ageless One may have ambivalent feelings towards The Shroud's patron, Axel proved a reliable ally during the mission.
  • Blackwood - a dark-elf ranger with experience navigating the Koulan Forests. Without his guidance, our journey would've taken twice as long and proven much more lethal
  • Itakshir1 - a bard specializing in tarokka readings and spiritual meditations. He proved effective at diffusing situations with some of the Forests' inhabitants.
  • Qraka - an aarakocra monk from all the way down south in Rel-Avery. I would suggest more outreach to the aarakocra community, their flight capabilities make them valuable allies in scoping out threats in the surrounding area.
We journeyed for thirty miles north into the interior of the Koulan Forests. Despite sunny weather the Forests appeared dark even at noontime, Blackwood explaining that this was not anomalous and simply caused by Koulan's dense canopy. Anomalies first detected at the ten-mile mark, deer and ravens disfigured into horrid abominations. Multiple rows of fangs, supernatural strength, and violent aggression all indicated that some external force had corrupted the Forest's local wildlife. Detailed autopsies of the deer and ravens are provided in Appendix A of this report, would advise to cross-reference autopsies with those taken on creatures encountered during the Fairouz Terror in Gameth.   At mid-day the party came across the corpse of a human woman, identified by Itakshir as one of the loggers from the missing camp. Casting 'Speak With Dead', we learned that the woman had tried to escape from the camp after a massive coffin was unearthed beneath the trees. She froze to death during one of the blizzards, but prior to expiring she had time to craft a couple of silvered items to be used against creatures corrupted by whatever lay within the coffin.   Silvered items were distributed to Axel and Qraka when out from the shadows a wood elf woman sprinted towards us and attacked Blackwood with supernatural strength. A tense encounter ensued that would have turned deadly had Itakshir not defused the situation through diplomacy. The wood elf, a druid by the name of Nyana, agreed to let us continue with our mission on the condition that we leave the Forests as soon as possible. She declined our offer to join the party and disappeared back into the dense foliage of the Koulan Forests2.   After twenty-five miles of hiking and another encounter with anomalous creatures, night was falling fast and the party agreed to rest for the night. Blackwood spotted the logging camp just a few miles away, and while our group could press forward towards the camp that night it was determined that the move would strain our resources and party endurance after a long day of fighting. Itakshir provided us with comfortable accommodations for the night, and with Blackwood patrolling the surrounding area we were safe from any further anomalies that night.   The next morning we completed our trek to the missing logging camp and discovered three gaunt-looking survivors. Our employer had told us that there'd be six loggers at the camp: one froze to death in the woods, another one sacrificed their life to close the coffin, and another one disappeared several nights prior after running into the Forests in a frenzy. Itakshir and I discovered the Eldritch Machine, a massive circuit-board that filled the entirety of a tent powered by mysterious power cells. My attempts to determine the inner workings of the Machine led to an accidental power surge, after which extreme levels of psionic energy could be felt emanating from a gorge on the other side of the clearing.   Fellow party members managed to resist the psychic force, but I am ashamed to admit that it broke through my mental defenses and pulled me into the gorge. I found myself opening a coffin three times my height with runes and Abyssal markings carved along its font: 'Abandon all hopes and embrace the chaos of the Abyss.' My hands pushed the coffin's giant slab open, finding myself staring down a gigantic humanoid with pallid white skin and shark-black eyes. His clothing was unlike anything I have ever seen, I've provided sketchings of his outfit and fabric samples in Appendix B of this report.   The psychic force compelling me forward transformed into an instinctual fear that left me rushing from the gorge and back towards the party, a fight ensuing for the survival of our party. Blackwood and Axel delivered devastating amounts of damage, and Qraka risked his life to fight the giant face-to-face. The giant humanoid was capable of immense strength, slamming Qraka out of the sky and nearly swallowing him whole by unhinging his jaws to reveal a sea of fangs. I suspected that at least one of us would be killed by the monster, but after several rounds of combat Nyana appeared from the forests and helped us take down the so-called 'Forest God'. Nyana nearly lost her life in the process, and Blackwood was needed to revive her from the brink of death.   As the party regrouped I went to check on the Eldritch Machine, only to discover that Itakshir had removed a giant section of machinery and set the remaining pieces on fire while the rest of the group was distracted with the Forest God. Two of the three loggers were killed in the chaos of the fight, leaving us with just one logger to return to Mokazai. None of the party members were able to find any sign of the remaining logger, presumed dead after days on their own in the dangerous Forest.   We returned to Mokazai the following morning to collect our reward and part ways (notably, Blackwood returned to the Koulan Forests to assist Nyana in defending the Forests). Itakshir said he would travel with the tabaxi caravans for a while3, in the meantime I will continue with the commencement of Operation Scholomance. Chusei University has made clear their desire for capable adventurers to assist in their research projects, and my recent accomplishments should ameliorate any reservations the faculty may have about my background.  
1 It would've been nice to know that I was working with a fellow Shroud agent on this mission. I'm sure he was rewarded generously for confiscating the Eldritch Machine, and in return I get to file paperwork for the both of us.
2Encounters such as this lead me to conclude that Nyana would not be a suitable ally for the Shroud. She is fiercely loyal to her homeland of the Koulan Forests and is capable of casting powerful druidic spells, requiring no patronage from our group's benefactor. Should future incursions into Koulan be required, the Shroud would be better served contracting Nyana as a local guide.
3No doubt being tasked with a new mission, one for which I will be once again left out of the loop

Rewards Granted

  • Each party member received 2,200GP for rescuing survivors from the Sardivelian lumber camp
  • Axel Palajko obtained a silvered rapier
  • Qraka obtained silvered hand wraps

Character(s) interacted with

  • Elena Matarella - a Sardivelian businesswoman who tasked the party with investigating a lumber camp deep in the Koulan Forests 
  • Nyana - a wood-elf druid and famed adventurer. Originally hostile to the party, she eventually assisted them in their battle against the Forest God and formed a bond with Blackwood 
  • Vittorino - the lone surviving Sardivelian lumberjack from the timber camp
Report Date
26 Oct 2020
Primary Location
Secondary Location
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