Following is a scribbled line, and then, the rest of the journal is blank. No author is named.
What started off as a casual walk in the wilds, hunting for breakfast, turned to a discovery of a tent abandoned. Skulking around the campsite is a raggedy halfling, later declaring his name to be Duvurd Risolk.
In order to avoid the elves, the halfling agrees to head to Elimond, to lay low and help out, of course. Fearing that whoever was in the tent had been kidnapped by the elves, Tilkaz spoke with Muggor Rithfeng and arranged to attack an approaching caravan. Tilkaz, unfortunately, found herself busy, and couldn't attend the attack. While all returned home, none emerged uninjured. The taskmasters, it seems, are fallible, but deadly.
The attack on the caravan, though, had consequences, as an ages-old alliance brought Shau-Borean hunters onto the humble farming village. Three armored agents patrolled the village, sowing fear and disarray among the populace. While two of them continued the front, the third stole away to the Cloister, brashly investigating the chapel before being fended off. Meanwhile, Tilkaz sparred with one of them, stopping shortly, and within the next couple of days, the agents had all departed.
Tilkaz started helping out around the village, building a rapport, and establishing a reputation for herself. She fended off a creeping flower/vine creature, delivered a bouquet of golden flowers to two goblin camps north of the village, captured a spindly underdweller- and handed over a Grimhook dagger that it'd dropped- that had been causing problems for the livestock on the edge of town.
With discussions and arrangements being made for a journey south, at the behest of a vision by the newest oracle in Elimond, and a potential war brewing north of the village, Tilkaz sets about learning and continuing to help the village, even finding a hunting ground for a large, ebon wolf-thing.
After accepting a posting from the jobs board, Tilkaz set out to find a missing scout, and came face to face with an old bogeyman story; a plant that can consume the living and create thralls. One of these thralls, a zombie of sorts, had slain the scout, and was in the process of eating him as she arrived. One harrowing battle with the emaciated, vine-ridden corpse later, she reanimated the scout and hobbled back to the village. Rithfeng, hearing of the return, came to observe the final rites, but makes sure that Tilkaz was justly rewarded for her deeds.
The sickle she was gifted held a strangeness about it; it caught the light and turned it a pale blue. Seeking answers, Tilkaz first showed it to the smithy, and then was directed to Mohr, the local mystic. Mohr identified it as 'existing between the physical and spiritual'. The old gnoll, as well, agreed to be a mentor for Tilkaz, teaching her eventually in the ways of other schools of magic.
After learning how to harness mind magic, and using it as a means of opening communication, Tilkaz sought to question the spindly creature in jail, who revealed, after his chameleon camouflage was peered through, that he was "Geldat", a "Skulk". With plans to possibly set Geldat up with the local smith as a mentor, Tilkaz heads out to rest for the big day coming up: the caravan ride south!
Awakened bright and early by Shalirr, the two eat a solid breakfast, Tilkaz shops around and fills up a waterskin, and the two meet with the strange half-elf, Yuan, at the caravan parked right outside Rithfeng's tent. With fears of this being a slaver caravan allayed by the half-elf's word, they load up, supplies and all, and set off on the journey. It's a long, and by the mid-point, stiflingly hot, journey, but, driven by the pursuit of knowledge and spurred by Shalirr's visions, they press on. The caravaneers, though, are not machines, and thus, a third of the way into the trek, they pull the carts into a half-circle, and rest, keeping watch in shifts.
Tilkaz is awoken fairly early into the watch, and while she patrols, she spots something flit across the moon above, a silhouette in the air. Thankfully it does not approach the campsite, and her shift finishes up shortly.
By morning, the caravan is on the move again, but it isn't long at all into the next leg that the waking gnoll spots... movement. Shapes among the dust, gaining on the rear-most cart. The human she'd met calls out for a halt, while Sothyra, a bard she'd become acquainted with, and an orc warrior hop out and prepare to intercept what they presume to be an oncoming attack. A correct presumption, as the first shape bursts out to attack the rear cart, one climbs out to meet Tilkaz and her new allies, and the third of these scorpions burrows around to face the front cart.
With deftness and a rough coordination, they assail the oversized arthropod, bringing bow, blade, and dark arts to bear against its chitinous form. The orc takes the brunt of a swing, before retaliating in kind, while Sothyra and Tilkaz sling spell and bolt at the thing. The gnoll weakened the beast with necromancy, sapping its energy some, and from there, the bard, figuring it best to quiet the fight, casts a tune to put the beast to sleep after the orc warrior cleaved through the armored hide. From there, Tilkaz approaches with spell prepared, and delivers the finishing blow with the sickle she was gifted.
With a glint of pale blue light, the sickle swings down, cleaving into not only the opened wound, but snagging some of the beast's essence as well, leaving behind a smoky blue trail, in addition to the splash of ichor, as she draws the sickle's blade. The scorpion tenses, struggles, and falls flat, tail finally limping to the side.
After a little incident involving the orc, congratulating her on a job well done, getting sapped of energy through mere contact with Tilkaz's charged body, Sothyra and the orc recuperated, Tilkaz set about testing her limits, and channeled her learned powers into the felled beast, spurring its still warm limbs to twitch and bringing it to rise again. This, of course, came at a cost, for while she was able to raise it, she had to put a lot of effort into maintaining it, straining her mind for the next hours. Yuan, after inspecting the carts and the people, noticed the strain, but let it be for now, and pressed forward. It wasn't until the caravan was at its next stop that she came over and helped the ailing gnoll.
Helped to sleep and allowed to rest until the final leg of the journey. Tilkaz awoke, loaded up, and spoke with the others in the cart. Some hours into the journey south, the caravan enters the misty marshes of Singewater, and the cart that she's occupying is slammed by a giant leech, which is notable, for leeches aren't known to leap. Seeing as the caravan had been slowed down due to poor visibility, she reasonably had no qualms about jumping out and investigating, trying to possess the creature with seemingly strange properties to it. In the end, it turned out to be quite normal. What she had done, though, was scare it off with the necromantic power.Another morning, another meal, and another venture to the gillkin land. Tanaru meets the group again, and leads them to meet their leader- by circumstance, according to their own claim- Zari. Negotiations commence, opening channels for the gillkin and the caravaneers. Tilkaz, after finishing talks with Zari, explores the village, helping a broad-fingered individual with finishing up a kelp-woven net. Heading home, the gnoll would later discover that a gillkin, named Cora, had followed her to the camp. With that discovery, Cora is introduced to Lady Yuan, and her entourage of scholars take painstaking notes. End of the day, with discussions of what to officially call the gillkin started, but not resolved, Tilkaz turns in.
The rest of the journey to the designated spot was relatively uneventful, other than a notable formation in the mists, made all the more notable when something fell towards it from the sky. With mental note to investigate later, the crew pressed forward, spotting some kind of elusive thing in the mists beyond along the way. Rather than engaging with another thing, the crew decides to stay inside. The caravan parks in its standard half-circle formation, but this time around, it becomes more permanent, as the crew, after a 3-day journey, disembark and unload the various supplies. Within the late afternoon to late evening, what was once a clearing on the edge of the mist had become a proper campsite.
Lady Yuan, after being fickle with her tent placement, had promptly set to the command portion of her task, doling out assignments and maintaining a presence. Scouts out front, surveying the land around, scholars at camp, archiving and maintaining the incoming discoveries. Tilkaz, Sothyra, and Shalirr are assigned to a group set to explore the east-northeast area. When questioned about the formation, Yuan assured the gnoll that the half-elf would be overseeing an expedition there, personally. With that, the trio gathered gear, reanimated a monitor lizard that was discovered that morning, and set out on their tasks. At a steady pace, the group proceeds to their area. Sothyra, taking advantage of a larger rock, climbs up and gets a vantage, claiming to see some kind of 'spires' piercing the mist a bit up ahead. Figuring it was a sign of something, the trio regrouped and continued their trek, coming up to a stone formation, whereupon the gnoll dropped concentration on her lizard skeleton, and focused on listening in. Hearing faint shuffling, and distant muttering, like the sound of someone, something talking, she sneaks out of hiding, accompanied by her companions, and just before she could think about chasing the distant voices, she spotted a figure propped against a tree. Using the magics she'd learned from Mohr, she reaches out with her mind, gathering linguistic insight from the lone, self-murmuring figure, and emerges from the sneak in the most friendly, least threatening way she can muster.
This "Meerowmee", as Sothyra later remarked(though officially the species on the documents are referred to as "Gillkin"), is a bit standoffish at first, but surprised and softens quickly when hearing that the gnoll speaks their native tongue. From there, the three hours of open communication are taken full advantage of, from the exchange of a legend of Hokenian origin, all the way to exchanging some basic Gnollish words that could later be used as a foundation of furthering the culture exchange. With the last of the Mind magic, she wished them well and returned to camp with the others. After filling Yuan in on the discoveries, they started to relax, and recuperate before dinner. While searching for things to do, Tilkaz noticed something bathed in shadows on the campsite's perimeter, and silently approached, but spoke out in an attempt to cordially greet the creature. Unfortunately, whether through a lack of want to communicate, or an inability, the being of apparent shadow reels back and opens conflict with her. She's made to call upon Keeana's wrath, rending the creature's essence bit by bit, though it did get a good hit in during the first moments, sapping her of her strength, even while she lay in the spirit realm. Ultimately, the thing was rent to its barest, and cowered back, surrendering and then running off to hopefully not bother another soul.
The next morning, Tilkaz meets with Yuan and discusses matters, and with no new assignments on hand, she walks the camp, discovering a gillkin among a crowd of white-robed figures. They seemed to be studying the creature, and documenting things. With a quick spell to understand, she chats with the gillkin, and along the way, the scholars scribble and jot. Figuring that she'd introduce the concept of magic, she called upon the caravan's only known cleric, a mysterious shrouded figure in layered robes, carrying a massive tome of spells. A cleric of Obir. This figure, explains matters of a mystical nature; how it ebbs and flows through the very fabric of reality, how it can be harnessed with proper training. After the spell of translation had expired, she spoke with this cleric, on matters of her near-undead nature, to whether or not scrolls simply become plain parchment, or erupt in magical flame upon use.
A good week of straight effort passes, the dictionary of the gillkin is well underway by now, with many words and people practicing its speech regularly. The gillkin, or meerowmee, as some have called them, may well join the rest of the world in due time. Feeling that she'd done her part, Tilkaz hopped aboard a cart heading north, and returned home.
At home, Tilkaz hears from the Gravetenders about a rumored tunnel network under the region, though they knew only that an entrance to the network existed somewhere near the lake north of Muzlot. Knowing the danger, the head oracle implores her to find a traveling companion.
Tilkaz, with determination, set to find a companion, and met up with a quiet, but strong gnoll, named Rolwaz, and with Keeana's blessing, she and her new friend made the journey to the cave entrance. Inside, they found a fountain, a pile of rotten fruit, a strange crab-thing, and, most importantly, a pair of what they'd later learn were duergar. Despite having never fought together, the two worked wonders together, making swift work of the foes, and stopping what seemed to be a profaned rite of destroying knowledge and lore.
The Gravetenders set to work on piecing the torn scraps together, after they were given them. The scraps contain various scripts, from the flowing elegance of Elven, to the harsh geometric runes of Dwarven.
Another delve into the cave, a day later, brings Tilkaz and her new traveling companion deeper in, finding carvings all throughout the deeper reaches; horrifying faces, hastily scrawled words, etc. Among one set of carvings, though, a trio of masks, including one with an almost skeletal aesthetic about it, thrumming with unknown power. They were all taken, and eventually given to the Gravetenders. With them stowed, the two set deeper still, finding what seems to be a small dead-end with a funny pungent smell. Groping around in the darkness, one of the gnolls finds that one of the rockfaces has some give, and together, they push it open to reveal a hidden tunnel leading deeper in. With a shared look, and with a moment of preparation, the pair head inside, keeping their wits about them all the while.
Emerging from the tunnel first, Rolwaz had just time enough to reel back as something comes launching down from the cave ceiling. A darkmantle, whipping and shrieking, the pair together make relatively quick work of the creature, giving them some breathing room. Whether placed intentionally, or coincidentally roosting there, it was guarding a door set into the stone wall.
With the creature felled, the pair make for the door. Locked. Tilkaz, leveraging an ability her origins had granted her, phases through it and unlocks the door from within, pushing it open. With the way open, the pair carefully proceed through the much more distinctly manmade hallway. They pause and inspect when one of the tiles knocks a little against their feet, lifting it and revealing a dusty mechanism set under the tile, with some tinctures and a pouch of antique coins lying tucked in the space around the mechanism. Surely a trap, they had noted, and avoided it entirely, and proceed carefully into a large, circular chamber, with half-columns and a pedestal at the center. Upon the pedestal, a box of some kind, and beyond the pedestal, a chair overwhelmingly caked in web, obscuring anything that might be there. As the two inspect and pick up the box, though, movement catches their eyes, as an aged skull rises from the web, a raspy voice calling from it, asking who they are and what they're doing.
Unflinching, they explain themselves and assure the out-of-touch skeleton that, despite being gnolls, they are not of the Grimhook clan, allaying a rising tension and calming matters quickly. They convinced the skeleton, Shasys, to accompany them as they take the box from the chamber, to watch over and ensure that it's not being handed to 'blasted kobolds', or otherwise falling into 'wrong' hands. Shasys and the Gravetenders look into the box, after ol' Mohr had disarmed a fiery trap contained in an enchanted gemstone. The gnolls made for lunch, and relax for the rest of the day.
With Shasys now more or less a fixture in the Cloister, brewing and stewing over the fact that the slavers have taken over Thren Belanore, her apparent home in life. A return to the cave, the duo discover a number of things, from a kobold setting traps, to that same kobold being assailed by a spindly, malicious creature dead-set on choking the life out of things, to even a den of kobolds, the Voskaa clan- presumably the same clan that Shasys was protecting the box from. After saving the kobold, Vunk, from death by asphyxiation, the pair are introduced to the chieftain, an old kobold who seems to be in the twilight days of his life. After it was revealed that the box had no treasures, and in the midst of some crisis of conscience, the chieftain took up their offer to carry him to the village, intent on making things right with the elf-guard, Shasys. With some discussion, the pair do make amends, though the skeleton will take time to adjust to the new notions. That night of slumber was harrowing for the gnolls, who feared he might pass in the night, but come morning, he was fine as can be, if a bit blinded by the sunlight.
After returning the chieftain home, the gnolls set about to explore the rest of the cave, discovering a strange rectangle of dustlessness on the ground, running into a strange, lizard/insectile creature which seemed to be feasting upon discarded armor. Avoiding it, the pair head to the far end of the place, finding skeletons chained, though some of the chains had been rusted useless, and then to a smashed table, with a bloodstained journal, some scattered treasure, and a surprisingly untouched longsword.
With discussions over a soul-seeing ritual set in motion with the Gravetenders, the gnolls set out to explore the final leg of the cave, this time with the mystic, Mohr, they discover that the rectangle without dust is in fact a hidden chest- invisible, in fact- and after Mohr had cut her finger on an unseen blade, Rolwaz manages to break off the blade and then push the thing open. Inside, gemstones, potions, and the scattered 'diary' of a madman, some refugee from Telhoken or something. Heading to the last unexplored area after pocketing what they could they discover more chains, and a set of torch sconces, the trio are accosted by a duo of puffy, blue gremlins, who attempt to mug them. Tilkaz, acting fast, disarmed the situation, and informed them of the elven caravans, which would surely be bustling with treasure and goods. With a gem given to seal the deal, the pair head home, selling off the rest of the gems they'd obtained, and resting.
The next morn, a gloomy, raining morning though it may be, the Gravetenders have nearly finished preparation, needing only a few more candles and a location. Tilkaz takes it upon herself to obtain the candles, and runs into Algur, who now has a stall in the market. For only 2 copper, and with a gracious thank you for deeds done, Tilkaz returns with the candles. With a location set for south of the village, and preparations completed now, a group of Gravetenders, as well as Shasys, and the pair of intrepid gnolls, set out.
With three candles at 5 points, and with chalk drawn on the ground, Tilkaz takes up position at the center of the circle, and then, the ritual begins. Her soul is first reflected, and then split in two. One side of her reflection, a gnoll, her actual soul, while the other half is more vaguely humanoid, but lacking in definition. A voice, distant at first, but gaining power in the space of the ritual, introducing itself as "Garazhur", a being slain by a member of the mad cult, and two mercenaries. As the final gesture of the ritual, Garazhur recombined with Tilkaz's soul, though doing so in a less chaotic fashion had strengthened their bond. With the goal now of investigating Garazhur's old lair, the group return home.
Preparations for a journey east are undertaken by the gnoll pair, and come afternoon, they set out. Passing by the bloodied valley of Grimhook proper, and up to the gateway leading to the Rasilan steppes. Their first camp is set along the street of Rivergate. After sleep, the pair make for the Forlorn Ridge, the last known location of Garazhur's lair. Figuring that this leg of the journey would take a bit of time and effort, the two make for the village at the foot of the ridge, known now as Direfeld. The hunt for the lair is momentarily put on hold, as they learn that the river Isbryd is purportedly haunted. Seeking to put the restless souls to rest, Tilkaz and Rolwaz discover debris scattered along the bank of the river. While Tilkaz locates and attempts to grab some trinket, she's startled by a flash of movement before her reflection, but holds the obsidian bird token in her hands.
Closing her eyes, Tilkaz projects calm into the surrounding area. Despite her eyes being shut, the blurred silhouette of a crying figure, sitting upon the bank of the river becomes visible. Entering the spirit world, after getting over the shock of seeing so many figures afloat above the water's surface, she met with the figure properly, Mazatl, she introduces herself as, mourning the loss of friends, not because they're dead, but because they no longer acknowledge her. Much the same as Mazatl, the specters don't seem to acknowledge Tilkaz's presence. That was, of course, until she approached one, scythe drawn and prepared, at which point, the specter howls and rains hell upon her. Her strikes were vicious, potent, but the ghost's spectral weapon tore into her with ease as well. Fearing her death, Mazatl sprung into action, catching the blade and struggling to keep it, giving Tilkaz the opportunity to finish off the specter. Finally, the spectral feline seemed... happier, admitting "I'm... just glad I could save someone, finally." The gnolls, after discussing what to do with the "Obsidian Phoenix", head to Direfeld to recuperate, and spend the better part of a week in its midst, boosting morale and giving the people hope. Finally, the Ridge awaits...
Delving into the tunnel they'd uncovered while searching the Ridge, the pair traverse harrowing hallways, and avoid some of the most nefarious traps they'd run into up to this point; pitfalls, dart traps, even what looked like a swinging blade slot. The first foe they'd run into in these darkened hallways is three gruesomely risen kobold, which the pair made swift work of, sparing one to use as a surrogate body for Garazhur. The pair- or, trio, as it is now- head deeper in, working through aged, rotting doorways and leaping over perilous traps. Deeper in, the trio find a room, with chanting echoing from a chamber to the north, underlined by taunting and some wild roars. Sending the fading Garazhur in, they create a distraction, while the pair move in after a moment. They made swift work, knocing one dark-robed figure while Tilkaz cleaved the weakened kobold zombie, putting the body finally to rest, and this show of force understandably brings the other cultist to drop their blade and surrender, muttering about a High Priest Lulthoea.
With the fight dropped from the cultist, they make their way ahead, discovering a half-orc, and an elf lying in two remarkably out of place coffins. They then head east, and down a flight of stairs into a cavernous lower layer, finding a group of kobolds tending to some beast that almost matches descriptions of a dragon, but very much smaller than classical depictions. With a small bout of Rolwaz flexing his might and bravery against the beast, he managed to correct the uppity behavior, looking into the creature's silvery eyes. The group thank them for the help, and the idea comes up about escaping this place after hearing about the cultists being defeated. As a group, they head eastward, seeking a more straightforward path out of the place, running into a trio more of kobold thralls, though this group was surrounding a larger corpse(a wyvern?). With one of them distracted with the corpse, the other two were quickly engaged by the kobolds and the gnolls. While they did away with the risen kobolds, the third shambled towards the smaller orange kobold and the beast standing guard to protect them. Two mighty swings of razor sharp claws tore the kobold zombie to ribbons, and the group, shortly after, make their way down and out, finding many dead ends and false passages, before emerging into the early nighttime, taking in the fresh air. They all move to regroup at Direfeld, though the beast is watched warily by the superstitious villagers.
The next week or so is spent clearing out the lair, uncovering its goods, and slaying the uninvited guests. Tilkaz and co, with new arms and a refreshed spirit, now that the kobolds have shed their collars and shackles, delve deeper in, knocking the fight out of a shifty doppelganger, and uncovering the remains of both Garazhur's body and phylactery, and the latter was the first time the kobolds had heard the fallen lich's voice, as it echoed from the cracked gemstone. Under the phylactery, Garazhur revealed, rests scrolls that detail lich rites that were researched within these halls.
Deeper still, Tilkaz, Rolwaz, and the kobolds, discovered a dusty, even older section of dungeon hidden behind a secret stone door where the kobolds were being kept. Therein, a derro fighting against the madness instilled upon his people, was encountered. Further in, through perilous traps skillfully disarmed by their kobold trapmaster, they discovered a lone, one-eyed wight, sitting in a room of table, scroll, and research, as well as a mysterious pool at its center. Selephus, his name was revealed to be, loyal adherent of the necromancer Lanika, though the halfling disappeared into the night, never to be seen or heard from again. A shame, indeed, as Selephus had completed the necromancer's phylactery in the centuries that followed.
With serious discussions being made over performing the rite, and with Lanika, through means of speaking with the beyond, giving blessings for her phylactery to be used by the death-touched gnoll, Tilkaz sets sights upon gathering some assistants to make this ritual easier. Tilkaz, with heading set for Ailorasil first, and then Telhoken, is intent on getting this done.
Entering the city of Ailorasil, the pair of gnolls can easily feel the persecuting stares of the catfolk guardsmen, though they were allowed in with the condition that they "not cause problems". It doesn't take long for the pair to find what they're looking for, and wind up hitching a ride with a dwarf carriage driver en route to Telhoken. The carriage, drawn by runed rams, makes the journey, punctuated by nightly camps, across the continent. Through Sahuatl Pass, the group's camp that night is accosted silently by a trio of spindly 'catfolk'. Thanks to the carriage having no catfolk aboard, the trio bows and sprints off into the night, and the rest of the journey goes off without a real hitch.
Rounding the continent, and up through chillier valleys, the pair were introduced to the strange, pulsing crater known as Manavik. The dwarven driver makes sure to give the rim a wide berth, though whether it be superstition, or genuine concern is up for debate. Though they spot some twisted figures on the other end of the crater, the path leading up to Telhoken's gates are clear as can be. The gnolls step out of the carriage into the city of lights, aptly named for the teeming magical glow flitting through the skies within its walls. The pair walk around and seek out help for the ritual, finding an older elf by the name of Nandri, who quickly takes an interest in what they're planning. He agrees to help, and over the course of the afternoon, rounds up volunteers. Tilkaz and Rolwaz, meanwhile, head to The Horns, and purchase a hefty supply of embalming agents, something that the incantation demands.
The group reconvenes in the evening, and Nandri confirms that he's got helpers, and together they discuss where they'll perform the ritual. With the Keystone of Rholkan being discussed, the group decides on The Horns, where the Cloister of Death there would surely empower the ritual. Come morning, the group convenes at the courtyard of quartz, 48 members strong and being overseen by a wizened red dragonborn.
With a prayer to the Secretkeeper, and her shadow soon looming over the proceedings, the ritual commences as Nandri directs the group into a circle, and leads them in chant. At first a mess, it becomes unified, rhythmic, powerful. The first step, of course, is portioning out the embalming agents, and applying them to the body, which the dragonborn assists her with.
Tilkaz retrieved a silver dagger from Rolwaz, ironically used by the very cult who had slewn Garazhur so many years ago, and while the dragonborn had to fight the urge to stop her, Tilkaz's hands, being apparently guided both by the lich intertwined with her soul, and no doubt the watchful gaze of Keeana, pierce flesh and drags the blade downward, working against preservation instinct and the pain. Blood spills upon the cobblestone, and the fresh wound burns in the open air. Nandri steps forward, opening the box as she plunges her arm into her chest, gritting through the pain and pulling out her beating heart, placing it into the box as the magic surrounding the group starts to infuse her form.
She calls for them to pick up from there, as she fights against pain and injury; Nandri leads the rest though somatic gestures and incantation, and though her heart is no longer in her chest, while the last of the embalming agents is slathered upon the red muscle by the dragonborn, she can feel her lifeforce remaining strong, not draining away as the incantation proceeds to plan.
Nandri kneels down, placing the phylactery upon the ground and lowering his head in an apparent prayer, while the other magisters follow suit. Keeana's shadow darkens, as her presence manifests even stronger. With the shadow manifesting into a solid shape, a clawed finger reaches out from the aether, gingerly touching her heart and suffusing it with the final spark, and shortly after this finger withdraws, Nandri, without opening his eyes, closes the phylactery, and without any further effort on his part, the box seals shut, and the magic inside bounces off of the specially prepared surfaces within. In a moment, the energies adrift in the circle swirl towards her and wrap around her every limb, before tightening and infusing into her very fibers. It's cold, at first, as necromantic energies tend to be, but she feels a warmth as already, she can feel the wounds on her chest starting to mend. At the culmination of this all, the energy explodes outward, knocking everyone over and sending a wave of silence across the district. They all seem to be well, though, and are simply recovering while looking to her. Despite all odds, it seems that she has become what she's yearned for. The pain had subsided, and though she's a bit redder around the chest for obvious reasons, but her fur seems to have kept its grayed hue. Her flesh might start to desiccate in time, but, the embalming agents seems to have slowed that for the time being. Right now, no one would suspect her as being fully undead.
With no need for rest anymore, she proceeds to acclimate to her new body, and its abilities over the course of a couple of weeks, before setting out to investigate the Manavik Crater. Though the energies surrounding it had twisted previous visitors, it merely burns against her toughened flesh, though the burn does pick up as she nears the epicenter of the place. At the heart of the well, where the energy is at its strongest, she reaches in, finding crystalline shards of some kind, a bead of which had become embedded in her palm. Figuring it would be harmful to the living, she sets aside her find, and returns to buy a lead-lined container. Returning to the crater with the new purchase, she gathers up as much as she can, and takes the contents to the University. Just outside, she runs into Darkest Dawn, and a smaller catfolk, known as "Rala". Darkest Dawn seems to want to drop off little Rala at the University, to receive wizardry schooling, though it seems that she lacks in money to pay the entry fee. Tilkaz speaks of her home, Elimond, and how the Gravetenders may be able to help, or, failing that, Mohr could tutor the young catfolk. Darkest Dawn seems skeptical, of course, though concedes that Tilkaz's people must be different from the Grimhook gnolls, as she's "speaking rather than chowing", and ultimately the catfolk mother agrees to give it a spin, but walks away to get Rala some food.
With that, Tilkaz speaks with the magisters, and hands over the container, and after a little spat between the two, where one of them tries to open the container, they send it up to the Archmagister. The Archmagister, that same red dragonborn who was overseeing the rite, muses on how Tilkaz is restlessly helping out around town, and offers to pay the finder's fee for the Manavik materials. Tilkaz turns down the payment, and has the money handed to Darkest Dawn, in hopes that little Rala would have a better future. "Keep the container in the research hall, but don't let anyone have a crack at it until I'm back." Azita had called, and headed out into the city to deliver the coin pouch.
Starting the day with some rumors about a mysterious 'Sin Talon', Tilkaz hands in the Scythe of Unlife to be de-enchanted, and then wanders town. Along the way, more rumors filter in, these ones with regards to a strange, blue elf in the park. Heading there and meeting him, her and her companion spot the elf sitting alongside two wooden cages, each carrying an exotic creature. The cages, as would be found out, are a protection measure against poachers and cultists alike, sparking a conversation about local cultists. Apparently, there'd been a handful of kidnappings that the guards don't like to talk about.
Tilkaz and Rolwaz depart into the wilds in search of these cultists, and find a trio about to sacrifice a vargfolk to their infernal masters. The newborn lich promptly possesses the head of the ritual, and the others are quick to open hostilities. Though she's soon butted out of the body, she proves a measure of control with her new powers, and paralyzes two of the three cultists, while the third flees, getting tripped up and captured by her companion. The vargfolk, Roth, finishes the two cultists off with their own blade after being freed. Roth is given a new lease on life, and with the reward money from the task- and the third cultist handed over to authorities- they start to look ahead towards becoming a blade against cult activity in the near-future.
With dangers out of the way, the gnoll pair rent a market stall, allowing Rolwaz to practice tattooing, and earning some money in the process. While practicing his craft, the patrons gossip about some kind of magician practicing and performing in the park. Upon closing shop, the pair head to the park, and watch Monsieur Bellamy perform simple sleight of hand tricks, but then he throws everyone for a loop, when he reaches out and twists the shadows of the watchers, executing anything from a laughable scene to a horrifying monstrosity. After the show, Tilkaz discovers that this green-furred catfolk is associated with the Order of the Midnight Blade, an organization that many claim worships fiends. He puts these rumors to rest as best he can, but, he is sworn to secrecy, himself, and cannot fully dismiss the claims with evidence of what the organization does do.
Hearing rumors of an anomalous storm to the west, and tale of an army heading straight for it, Tilkaz departs the safety of the city, and meets the army that was hunkering down and tending to their wounded as lightning cracks through the sky and the wind howls across their ranks. Among the rank and file, she meets Daetris, the leader of this troop of Shau-Borean hunters. Tilkaz helps the wounded, and directs the hunters toward the city, at least until the storm blows over, or their wounded heal up, whichever came first. Daetris, after sharing concern about the Hokenian hospitality, leads her army east.
With that out of the way, she heads west a ways, weathering the storm and looking skyward. Miraculously, the clouds start to dissolve as soon as the army is out of sight, and approaching from the west road is a mild-mannered man, one arm wrapped tight in bandage and an exotic, curved weapon holstered at his waist. Suspecting him to be a dragon, especially after he claims to know that there's a dragon in Direfeld, she asks his name, and he introduces himself as Shanteng, but turns down the request to see his true form. He parts ways with her, heading to the Rasilan territories to inform the kobolds and their 'troublemaker' about the danger they potentially face.
With her part apparently done, and with a good month of stall rent still paid for, she heads back to Telhoken. Things remain calm, afterward, even despite the Shau-Borean hunters making camp outside of the city walls, though it seems that this mysterious Jatuun has gained confidence enough in the locals that he's allowed his strange animal friends to scamper in the park. In the late evening, she catches a burglar and prevents a nearby store from being robbed.
After a quiet day, Tilkaz sought out a meeting with the momentarily returned Lady Yuan, and there, she signed herself up for a future expedition with the half-elf. Yuan doesn't expect there to be an expedition very soon, but, though she hopes there not to be any scorpions encountered, she would be honored to have the gnoll's presence.