Utja quietly pens an addition to the log, then walks away, adventuring pack and staff in hand. It reads thusly:
In all my travels and studies, I have rarely encountered a tale that began with so little to mark and ended so full of dismay and destruction. Never have I myself lived such a tale. Until now. Though my custom and worship so often leads me to hold stories and secrets within, rarely disclosing them, I share this story to the knowledge and growth of all who read it. Know the fear and danger is real, understand the threat we may not live under, and be a stronger adventurer in its light.
At a time in the past of which many are already aware, Quom’s Bowl, the holy water source of the Seekers of Quom, was corrupted, causing all the water within and from said source to turn to blood. Understandably, the Seekers looked to hire adventurers to travel to Quom’s Bowl and attempt purification of the holy water. Several members of Competence Limited answered the call for aid, to wit: Dra’alde, wizard; Eruantion, arcane duelist; Zephyr Quinn, ranger; Utja, cleric; and Rona, the ranger who was.
Though we had striven to proceed on this adventure alone, six of the Seekers insisted on accompanying us. Such was our lot, and so we traveled. For three days we traveled across the desert toward Quom’s Bowl in seemingly uneventful manner. I say seemingly, for much was revealed later that we failed to give its due significance at the time. The first day we encountered a group of ragged beggars along the side of the road, as one too often does it seems. We though little of it at the time, but gave them what food we could spare (muffins, it would seem, so many we carry with us). During the first night there was an odd noise that none of us thought much of. Nothing seemed strange until the morning when one of the Seekers, Jonas, seemed rather like an automaton. It was strange, but what was there to be done. Over the next night, there was another strange midnight disruption, and in the morning, more oddly monotonous behavior and speech. Yet, again, we were mostly preoccupied with the mission, the surroundings, ourselves; and had when Rona mentioned discrepancies in the number of Seekers, there was no longer any clear evidence of anything untoward, just the odd behavior. Do mark this. Had we heeded this seemingly minor strangeness, our adventure would have ended much differently.
On the third day of travel, we again encountered a group of ragged beggars. They seemed strangely like the first group, and yet it was impossible to tell if they were the same. Despite our arguments to the contrary, the Seekers insisted on incorporating these ragged beggars into our group. We did not trust them, but our basis for this was our increasing unease rather than evidence, so our caution was weak and ignorable. Thus the ragged group joined us and traveled with us. They took over the cooking, but most of us avoided eating the food they had made due to this growing unease. During this night, I was on watch when the disturbance occurred again. I saw a sand dune explode with impact and near silence. Something had impacted the sand at a great speed. I drew the attention of Rona to the strange event, and she agreed we should wake others and apprise them of this strangeness. We members of the guild discussed the situation, discussed the strange behavior of the Seekers, pondered options. Eru and Zephyr sought answers and information, discovering that we were in grave danger. It would seem our group had been deeply infiltrated by wight wolves—wight wolves that were hunting us.
Soon too much of the camp was awake, Seekers, beggars, all. Before long, the Seekers appeared before us and suggested that we travel on immediately. In the middle of the night. They then insisted.
It is here that the timeline becomes hazy, for many things happened, confusion was rampant, fire sowed chaos, and soon our tale became one we would not have chosen to tell. Around this time, Rona deemed it wise to consult with Death, and informed us that, as we had begun to fear, the Seekers were no longer themselves. In fact, only one, a small, energetic boy, was still a human. Yet Death gave us no word or warning regarding the wight wolves. Beware, those of you who walk with death, most of all: Death cannot see or perceive these creatures of destruction. You ignore this warning at your peril.
The young boy, being the last of the Seekers left to guide, became of high importance. Some of us went to great lengths to preserve his life in the oncoming chaos. It was in these next few moments that several things happened: the “Seekers” and beggars were set to sleep, the boy argued out of ignorance, a fireball was used to awaken those who were no longer human. There was a battle. The undead revealed their true faces reluctantly. They were strong and sought to destroy and assimilate. The wight wolves joined by mummies carrying evil daggers of bronze (beware these daggers, adventurers), advanced and endangered us all. The mummies sought sacrifice and curse. The wolves sought destruction. I will not elaborate on the darkness and gruesomeness of that battle. We fought in near desperation. Several died. Through prayer, through fire, through last acts of courageous guild members, through strong actions, the evil beings were defeated, but the cost was heavy. Of all who left to purify Quolm’s Bowl, only Utja and Dra’alde have returned whole and alive. Rona has returned as well, but is not whole and is in a state that is neither death nor life awaiting knowledge and care for healing. We entered the desert dulled by our confidence as adventurers. We left the desert aware of our weaknesses and loss. Mark this, adventurers. Mark the intrusion of creatures of death into this realm. Mark their subtlety and strength. I have gone to great lengths to share this knowledge to demonstrate how easy it is to miss the danger in front of you. The results of said danger need no elaboration: they speak grimly for themselves. Beware this tale. Know it is true because I have lived it. I have seen the dark creatures of death that seek to devour and assimilate. I warn you with my tale, my knowledge, that you, readers, may be stronger, honed by your wary fears, and not fail as we have.