The Measure of Man

Missing Villagers, Strange Clues

Caliam and Tabris returned to Elinvale in hopes of meeting up with Valerian and to gather their things for a trek into the unknown. Eager to discover what the scarecrow was up to and where the missing farmers were Tabris left Caliam at Chance’s Cups to gather a few odds and ends from his alchemical lab. His purpose cut short as upon returning home along the outskirts of the village he noticed a disturbance had occurred within. His parents were no where to be found, signs of a struggle could be found along the floor in the common room. Tabris found a bit of shell broken off in his parents lab and fearing the worst hurried back to ask Caliam for assistance.

With Valerian in tow the group headed to Tabris’ home. As they had passed through the village they had picked up a couple of followers, some of the children that had pranked back and forth with Tabris. They stayed well out of way and did not disturb the party who carefully looked over the home and began to understand the recent assault. Caliam tracked down the path out that the creatures took. He saw that Bris’ parents were drug out to the stable and loaded into a wagon that was then lead off down the road out of Elinvale. They decided to follow the tracks from this point, heading off down the road warily, pausing only to scare of the children from following them into a bad situation. It was then that they learned that one of the more rambunctious of the children was missing as well.

For hours they followed after Caliam, coming into his own feeling all the training he had received in the past gel in the need of the moment. Onward the trail twisted and turned running in a westerly direction dipping slowly to the south. Deep into the forest they traveled and finally came upon a clearing in the tree line and a low row of hills near the edge of a tributary of the Erindere river. In the dim light of dusk no shapes could be seen as the air hung quiet save for the bubbling stream. Caliam eased ahead, proving the most skilled at stealth of the group. Weaving his way between a pair of the hills he noticed a small passage cut along the base of the hill leading into the earth between two fingers of the tributary. He noticed as well that the wagon tracks didn’t cut as deep into the earth after passing past the passage and surmised Bris’ parents had been off loaded and taken within the earth.

Caliam returned to the waiting pair and together the covered the distance and entered into the earth. A chamber spread out before them dominated by a still pool of water with a crescent of land circling it leading to a passage on each end. Strange sounds could be heard along the passage to their right clicking or gibbering too faint to be clearly understood. Valerian stared into the water intrigued by its slight violet hue. He reached down and dipped his finger in feeling nothing beyond the expected coolness of the water. He licked his palm and could detect no unique flavor in the liquid. They decided to check out the quieter passageway to their left before disturbing whatever was making the sound along the right side.

Valerian trailed behind half a step still pondering the still pool and what secrets it could hold. When a golden hued form flashed before his eyes, startling him. No features could be made out just a humanoid form. This shape seemed to be following after Caliam walking mere inches off his right shoulder. Valerian called out to Caliam, warning him of danger which neither Tabris nor Caliam could see. Ardent in what he was seeing Valerian described the shape to the two of them inciting Caliam to draw his blade and slash out around himself to hopefully catch the entity. To Valerian’s eyes it seemed to follow Caliam’s strikes with ease moving minimally and staying ever at Caliam’s back. Then as suddenly as it was there it vanished from Valerians eyes in the matter of a blink.

Another chamber lay just a few steps down the passage, it was clear save for a wooden stand in the center of the room. Caliam and Tabris readied themselves, recognizing it as a likeness for the one they had seen the scarecrow they had encountered earlier step down from. Another chamber could be seen through a small passage at the far end of the room. Silence answered their quickened breaths as they continued to the back room. Inside could be seen a large mirror with wooden frame dominating the center of the chamber. Along the walls could be seen several tables and crates with shiny bits laying upon them. As Tabris and Caliam circled around the mirror to observe the shiny bits Valerian approached the mirror, and much to his curiosity reflected within was a different chamber with a suit of armor standing at attention along a stone wall. Valerian reached out and touched the window wondering if it were a portal to this other room, the moment his finger touched the silvered glass the armor took a step off its stand and oriented itself toward the mirror.

Quickly the armor crossed the distance to the mirror and stepped through into their chamber, as Valerian called out quickly to get Tabris and Caliam’s attention. The armor, elaborate full plate turned to face the three purple light could be seen glowing through the helm’s eyes. It drew a longsword from its sheath and combat was joined. Valerian took a vicious swing and dropped while Caliam managed to work a blade between its guard. Tabris deciding that more threats could still be coming started working his alchemical knowledge to shatter the magical portal. Which drew the attention of the armor and with quick steps and a heavy hand laid the young alchemist low. Caliam withdrew to the rooms entrance drawing his bow hoping to draw the armor away from a killing blow. A shatter resounded about the room as the scarecrow stepped through the mirror expending the last of its strength causing it to shatter behind him.

With a command the armor halted and the scarecrow sighed at Caliam, entreated him to see first to the aid of his companions. Once death was halted and Tabris returned to consciousness the scarecrow apologized for his guardian’s zealousness. Questions were answered, the missing villagers were being held for observation under the strange affects of the still pool. The scarecrow entreated Caliam and Tabris to share in the villagers ordeal and offered them each a vial of the liquid to consume. Which they did, each having a vision like experience seeing far off places happening or yet to happen. The scarecrow produced a ledger and hastily wrote down their experience nodding and whispering to itself. At Tabris’ mention of his vision the scarecrow frowned and suggested that they would be needed for observation. The Scarecrow left for a moment, returning with a pack of creatures that had so vexed Caliam’s tracking. Mongrelmen each with a myriad of animalistic features no two alike their tracks difficult to ascertain. With a carried Valerian they were led back to the still pool and around to the chamber where earlier they had heard the strange sounds from.

Once within the chamber they were greeted to the sight of goblins with twisted malformed heads bulbous and ugly with sores. Tentacles burst from varied locations about their bodies, mouths snapping open and closed with terrible fangs along the tendrils. The scarecrow shared his fear that Tabris may turn out like these vile creatures and lead the group out into the open air and to another of the hills. Entering within they passed by a guard chamber with a few more of the mongrelmen watching over and came into a vast chamber deep in the earth, lined along the edges with sturdy wooden polls forming a cage along each wall. Several of the villagers could be seen in the faint light as Tabris and Caliam were lead to the center of the room. Caliam bristled at their imprisonment and demanded their release, with which the scarecrow shook his head no. Tabris realizing their situation momentarily startled the mongrelmen by calling on his heritage and flooding the room with brilliant light shaking off his captor’s hands and running for the chambers exit.

The mongrelmen gave pursuit and quickly subdued the young alchemist carrying him back to the chamber and tossing him in the eastern will with the largest population. Caliam stood his ground refusing to enter captivity, causing the scarecrow to have to strike him senseless to get him in a cage.

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