Moonday, 27 Pharast, 4723
That fucker Balthus Hunclay was into some really vile shit. I can't help but admit that the kobolds were right to kill him, even if it was done for the wrong reasons. Given what we've come across today, though, I fear that the many evils he trafficked in have not yet been laid to rest. now that I've scrubbed the stink of rotting brains off my hands, let me summarize the day's findings
After a night in the wizard's manor, we set out to investigate Hunclay's "save cave." The trail was unmarked, but relatively easy to follow. As we neared the cave, however, we spied some vultures circling overhead. Gypaetus Barbatus, I believe. We warily advanced to find two badly manged human corpses lying near a pond. The bodies had been gnawed upon by wolves, which were still lurking near the kill. The pack consisted of two timber wolves (Canis Lupus) and a dire wolf (Canis Dirus). Steel, spells and arrows put them down quickly and Tagnus set to skinning the dire wolf.
Once we were ready to proceed, we waded through the pond to reach the cave. It was immediately noteworthy that no creatures appear to have laired in the caves. The wolves gave it a wide berth, and nothing else seemed to dwell there. Knives crept inside to investigate, finding an entrance to a larger cavern in the tunnel, with the air growing uncomfortably warm. Aldern detected a magical aura about the cave, being used to regulate the temperature in the cave leaving it hot and dry.
Knives heard a skittering sound in the darkness deep within the cavern. Aldern cast a light spell upon a stone and tossed it into the room, trying to provoke the creature. The monster lurched about, but did not approach. The light revealed it to be an enormous crab-like being, its shell a good ten feet in diameter, with transparent globules rising out of its chitin in which brains of various sizes floated. Lennox hit it with an arrow and it lurched about again, but failed to recognize us. Aldern used a web spell to pin it down, but the spiderweb filled up the chamber so that Lennox had trouble hitting it. We decided to wait out the spell until the webbing had vanished, at which point Knives strode out confidently to strike the seemingly oblivious creature.
That was also the moment that the light spell ended, plunging the room into darkness.
We heard Knives cry out and say that the creature was attacking her. Fearful for my friend, I rushed towards the sound with my sword drawn. This was in retrospect very foolish, as I could have struck Knives. At the time though, I figured I was more likely to hit the monster's bulk and in this I proved correct. The fight was harrowing, even after Aldern got the light spell going again, but in the end the abomination was laid low. Up close the stench of decay was unmistakeable. The thing was a mindless undead creature, which explains its lack of response until Knives entered the chamber, no doubt triggering its commands.
With the guardian dead, we scavenged the chests in the room. The spoils included four rare volumes on astronomy and a strange, tattered volume called "Secrets of the Dreaming Dark." The forward claims it was a translation of a much older book. According to Aldern, it is written in the foul language Aklo, with complex star charts, maps of strange distant worlds and illustrations of monsters and gods. Flipping through, it is clear that chunks of the book have been ripped out.
Aldern's face scrunched up adorably as he looked through the book, then lit up when he realized it was written in Aklo. His excitement was all the more entertaining, since he couldn't actually speak it. Maffei, who is fluent in Aklo, says it would take years of intense study to really understand what it is really about in any detail. We asked her to study it in an attempt to give us the gist of what is within and how dangerous the text might be.
I warned the party that the book was likely too malign to sell on the open market, and we agreed that it should be sold only to an entity like a university which could properly secure and study it.
We've since returned to Belhaim and Talia Orem has gotten Maffei set up in the cellar of the Wise Piper Inn. We have decided not to tell the baroness that the mansion is secure until Aldern has finished his "survey" of Hunclay's texts.
For the next little while, I have also decided too serve the section of the sky that was blocked out by the Witch Tower. After all, Hunclay is obsessed with the heavens and he was in a rush to bring down the tower after many years of complaining that it was blocking his line of site. There may be some sort of stellar even with arcane implications that may transpire in the near term. After all that has happened, I don't intend to be caught by surprise.
Toilday, 28 Pharast, 4723
Following the baroness' advice, I also returned to the Shelynite temple to consult with the priest Nilos about the town's history. I approached with some trepidation after our last awkward encounter, but the cleric was a perfect gentleman. He told me about how many centuries ago, the famed dragon slayer Tula Belhaim and her mercenary company came to the Dragonfen to slay the dread black dragon Aeteperax. They apparently had a terrible battle in the marsh, and Tula returned with her surviving companions.
After the battle, Tula was made baroness of the region. Unfortunately, her life took a tragic turn, with the early deaths of her children. She became obsessed with building an enormous tomb for herself out in the Dragonfen. After her death, the barony passed to her relatives, including the awful Canteclures, before it was taken up by the current Devy family.
It was noteworthy that at no point in the story did they describe Tula bringing back a head or other proof of the dragon's demise. This is a stark difference from the practice in my fatherland, and a discrepancy I should raise with the others.