Game is scarce as the creatures adjust to the new predator in the forest. The single survivors he allows are obviously performing their intended task of spreading tales of death and horror lurking in the woods. He travels further each hunt as they give Sog an increasingly wider berth. It is inevitable given he is actively and deliberately terrorizing them but he had not anticipated the Prelacy would give up so easily. Less a month and a half dozen slaughtered patrols and the soldiers are more concerned with avoiding the dregordian than trying to kill him.
Kassegore bristles under the bear skin he has taken to wearing as he looks upon the dying land. His patience is a leaf. It falls to the ground, a shriveled dead thing. The lack of pressing business in Sog and hesitant enemies is chilled by the encroaching winter to produce a restless ennui. The Beast chafes under subtle psychic pressure and Kassegore fairs only slightly better.
Despite what he allows (purposefully misleads) his allies to believe Kassegore has experienced fall and winter. Intellectually he understands the annual cycle the northern lands suffer through is natural if unpleasant. His core primal essence still rejects it. He may never see Dregordia again but he still longs for it. He always will.
Quartermaster’s Log: 8 Falling Leaves
Our cooperation with the locals continues to increase despite the fact Artivan and Felosia have decreased their interactions with gather leadership. Magpie, Salvator, and I maintain relations with the community and usually receive news before it would reach us through any official channels. We will be the official liaisons once I finish drawing up the appropriate documents and convince the commander to sign off on them. To date he still remains wary of putting any responsibilities on me.
The most overt Ranger duty has become the investigation of any report that even hints at foul magic or corrupted creatures. As a practical matter what goblinesh magic practitioners remain in Sog are too busy identifying and training new adepts. The Prelacy purged most of them during the occupation.
In response to the most recent report of dying trees and strange growths I was ordered to bring Valitor, younger brother of Artivan, with our patrol. I do not know if Artivan is trying to keep a closer eye on me or wants me to keep his sibling alive. Either way it mattered little and changed nothing.
The sickened spot we found contained some undead milling about and those were summarily purged. The strange growth spotted had fallen to the ground and turned out to be a chrysalis of some sort, provided the thing emerging was the size of a human. Valitor identified it as a legend known a phoenix moth, a type of life spirit that brought fertility to the land and all the creatures that dwelled there.
From the warped and twisted appearance of the chrysalis and the trail of dying foliage it was readily apparent the phoenix moth had been corrupted.
Few know of his hunting trips and none are aware of the particulars. He quietly updates official inventory to account for newly acquired Prelacy gear and says nothing. If Cairos has noticed the discrepancies the eldakar has not voiced any suspicions. Kassegore knows the other Rangers wouldn’t approve, but they are not fighting the same war.
His body practically thrums with energy as he tracked his prey. The newly timidity of the Prelacy soldiers mimics prey and has only inflamed the Beast by reminding it of its own predatory nature. Holding back enough to leave even a single survivor has been difficult. Whatever lies at the end of this trail will be given no quarter. The Beast will be unrestrained in its fury.
The area we finally came to was infested with undead. Dozens of the skeletons and zombies wandered about a sphere of magical darkness at the center of them all. On the far side stood a tree radiating a rainbow aura with another chrysalis amongst its branches.
He knows few aevakar and on the whole it seems they are a fragile race, compensating for their physical weakness with speed and skill. He doubts there are more than a handful of aevakar in existence who are stronger than he is and Sky is one of them. After he is airlifted to the enchanted tree he silently dispatches the zombie clumsily hacking at the trunk and waits for Salvator’s signal. There is no way of knowing what lies within the darkness, though from Sky’s whimpers it must be bad or involve something with missing limbs or both. Regardless, it will fall to him. Salvator and Artivan are risking their lives for the distraction. He cannot afford to fail and he will not allow their efforts to be in vain.
Salvator’s first spell dispels the darkness and Kassegore berates himself for doubting even a moment. Of course his most trusted ally would clear all obstacles for him. Three Deniers cease chanting over a ritual as Salvator’s spell drops one. They are guarded by three minotaurs zombies, one of which is another arcmancy creation much like the ogre he encountered some weeks ago. Two of the three minotaurs and all the surrounding undead surge towards the champions of Light.
Also revealed is what he can only assume is the corrupted phoenix moth. Its compound eyes focus on Sky and its cruel mandibles click in irritation. The black chitin plates on its back part to reveal crude wings and it flies up to meet the aevakar. Its departure almost entirely clears his path. He delays to be sure nothing can stop him but in those few heartbeats Valitor almost falls to the tide of undeath and Sky narrowly evades some kind of decaying force breathed by the death beetle.
The remaining minotaur zombie falls swiftly as does one of the remaining necromancers to his onslaught. The last survivor pauses to kill the chrysalis on the tree knowing he lacks to time to corrupt it and flees. The phoenix moth lets out a shrill, piteous cry as it dies. The Beast turns to chase him down but is blocked as the death beetle intercedes. Its maw opens and the foul miasma spews forth directly at him. Everything it touches withers and dies but the Beast is indomitable. He roars in defiance as he charges through the cloud. The white silver of his kayakor burns through one clawed limb trying to defend itself and his jaws crush the aberration’s head. It tastes like death should taste and the body shudders once before it crumbles into ash. He memorizes it. Someday he will share it with his enemies.
Felosia has organized the local druids with some Ranger support to guard the surviving phoenix moth. I have confidence in her efforts, but signs indicate this will be a harsh winter. Since the Crimson Crusade was stalled at Thul the Deniers of Death have only become more active. Their forces require no supplies and are unaffected by environmental conditions. If we are unable to cripple their efforts soon they will strike in the heart of winter when we are at our most vulnerable.