Little more than a ring of tents barely able to cast a shadow, those formerly known as the Wanderers lay as the dead about the camp. It had been seven days since they drew water from the source within the ravine. It had been three days since the beasts of burden expired, and only two nights past when the band could continue no further with the evidence of plague all about them.

The Healer and his assistant moved through the camp, bringing water and treating what wounds of the disease they could. A game of attrition. The wasting could be deterred, but proved more than capable of enduring any effort to cleanse it. What had begun as an audible malaise, had swiftly ended many stories.

Each night they withdrew from the group, afraid that whatever luck had set them apart would fade if pressed upon too much. The dreams would manifest all the same regardless, a field of green trembling intermittently as obsidian protrusions of corruption would pierce and tear apart the earth, flora, and fauna. Darkened figures would emerge from these wounds to feed upon and drag those that dwelt above away from what light could reach them. The same thrum always called the assistant away from these dreams as the sun would rise and command effort renewed.

Variation this time, no odor of the diseased and dying to greet the waking senses. No healer, no tents, no people – only an overgrown stone portal, entangled within the roots of many trees leading down into the earth. The thrum now entirely alive, a voice now just beyond the limits of audibility – calling.

To be continued…


Dungeons and Dragons Naoki