The Twin Kingdoms

After tossing around various names for our company, we settled on “The Pathfinders”. I’m not aware of any previous adventuring company of that name, and yet it seems somehow familiar.

I have spent most of the last month immersed in my work. It’s been hard going – securing peculiar ingredients, finding the patterns to lock the magic into permanent form, and not infrequently rinsing soot and sulfur out of my hair.

(Hm. I could undoubtedly afford to hire a maidservant to do the rinsing for me, and that would free up more time for pondering Ye Mysteries of Ye Eldritch. Or perhaps I could BUILD one! Maybe better practice the control mechanisms first.)

I did make time to take the junior wizards to the Celestial City, which is much greener than when we left it. The new temple forming in the central district is nearly complete now.

Faye, inevitably, attempted to make money by selling her transport services to rich sponsors. Zakaroth made himself scarce, presumably doing something or other shady.

Just after midwinter, a messenger came to me with word that the town of Sanidine had been having trouble with people disappearing. It’s one of the ones we passed on the way home, and we had already activated its portal stone – a coincidence that might be considered either “convenient” or “suspicious” depending on how one sees it.

I sent word to the rest of the Pathfinders, and we gathered at the Adventurers’ Guild, then portalled (is that a word?) to Sanidine.

Zakaroth wrote a contract for our investigative services, but I refused to sign it. Not without taking the time to read it first, and very likely not ever, where a disciple of Asmodeus is involved.

We found that six people had disappeared in the past week: a trader, then two farmers, then three other family members who’d gone to search for them.

The country is mostly flat farmland here, but with a hilly patch near where the disappearances had happened. It had recently experienced some subsidence, so obviously we decided to explore that.

Our first stop was a farmhouse where most of the missing people had lived. There was no sign that they’d left deliberately. Chrysta found some rocks containing a little gold, which makes them rather more interesting than normal rocks; they looked rough and dirty, more likely to have been dug from the ground than to have washed up in a river.

From there we went on to the site of the subsidence. The road had been built straight through a hilly section, and we found humanoid tracks leading down to a point below the road. Here we found humanoid tracks leading down to a point below the road, where we saw several people standing absolutely still.

At this point we started to throw around words like “petrifaction” and I sent an air elemental to scout. It reported back that there were statues, and lizardy tracks, which narrowed the options considerably.

We agreed to wait until daylight and Vall nipped back to the big smoke to get mirrors for all. The next day, we returned – rather cautiously – to find that we were indeed dealing with six statues that resembled the missing folk. We also found two sets of large tracks, and several smaller ones, leading to and from a small cave.

I’m happy to say that nobody felt any romantic obligation to principles of “fair play”, so they all assented to my plan of hanging a blanket over the cave mouth and smoking the scaly horrors out, assuming that they were currently inside. And if not, well, Faye had painted a fake face on the back of her head in case they snuck up behind us.

I cast a flight spell and hovered at a comfortable distance above the action, to watch in case the smoke revealed a second exit from the caves, and also in case any of the basilisks should come back from hunting and attack us.

Not long after that, the ground crew heard noises inside the cave, and then a basilisk attempted to burst through the blanket.

To cut a long story short, all the basilisks appear to have been inside the cave. They emerged one at a time, and we killed them very efficiently with no injury on our part. (Yes, the babies too; I would have been curious to try raising one but it seemed unwise.)

Inside the cave we found the remaining statues, and a vein of gold – presumably people had followed it, to their misfortune.

Folklore says that fresh basilisk’s blood can reverse the creature’s petrification ability, and so it was; we were able to bring all six people back to life, although we didn’t have quite enough to do the horse as well.

Some were rather injured, apparently having been nibbled by the basilisks while petrified, but Chrysta did what she could to heal them. Then we headed back to town and collected our reward. Job done!

Shiny points: 16 carried over, +1 for summary = 17.

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GeoffreyBrent

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