Flint is considered an adult in the small town of Flow having completed his coming of age trial and is given a small plot of land near the outskirts of town. It is roughly about an acre, not too distant from Holgast’s Tower. It consists of a single room lodge with loft, a small shelter for a cow and a plot for a garden. It slopes gently down towards the river.
Patrick is also rewarded with lodgings of his own but they are buried deep in the rocks and caves descending towards the The Grotto. He has three rooms all to himself, a bedroom, front room, and a small kitchen with hearth that keeps the entire area comfortable.
Ugly Ivy had all but disappeared. Until one night, the sound of a rock on Flint’s door roused him. Another rock hit the door and Flint moved to check and see what was going on. Opening the door and peering out, Flint didn’t see anything…then dashing out from underneath the cow, a burlap wrapped figure flew at Flint and burst pass him, closing the door.
Ivy was breathing hard and had a wild, terrified look in her eye. “They will kill me for this for sure!” she managed to gasp. Not following her exclamation, Flint calmed Ivy down and slowly pulled more details from the terrified girl.
Walking through town, she noticed many of the villagers suffering from hacking affliction. She then “saw” that the affliction would spread like the plague and many of the villagers would die. As the superstitious townsfolk tended to blame her for being a witch and most of the ills that befell them, she was sure that she would end up being burned for the plague that was about to hit the town of Flow.
Flint encouraged Ivy to keep a low profile and hang out at his farm. He would venture into town and try to find Patrick and they would see what they could find out. Flint found Patrick working at the dwarven forges and persuaded him to follow him. Flint updated Patrick about what he had heard from Ivy.
At first, Patrick was not that concerned, Lucca Earthbow would cure it. As the priest for Erastil in the community, he had often come to the aid of the villagers when they needed it. They would start there first, but Patrick’s face grew more somber and serious when they heard that the old priest had also fallen ill and was not able to help. Father Rantal Prasst had taken over the duties of the cleric, but was tending to the older priest without much success.
Rumours about the town quickly confirmed that local remedies had proven as useless as the prayers of Lady Cirthana and the church of Iomedae, goddess of valor, justice and honor. Also confirmed was that wise town elder, Meridith Hollystave had been claimed by the wheezing death.
Having lived in the town their whole lives, Flint and Patrcik turned to Roots and Remedies. Roots and Remedies was a herbal shop ran by Lynx and Laurel Orivias. Since the towns leaders show little ambition to stop the wheezing death, and the clerics seem to be unable to cure the disease…the townsfolk lay their medical concerns at the feet of the local herbalists.
Creeping ivy and full window boxes cover the facade of the rugged-looking, two-story shop bearing the faded sign, “Roots and Remedies”. A line of twenty-some somber looking townsfolk—some with pale, wheezing children, others seeming to be precipitously near tears—stretch from the open doors.
Careful not to upset the feelings of their friends and neighbors, they indicate they are wanting to help and not cut line, Flint and Patrick make their way inside the small shop. The smell of burnt earth and spicy incense chokes the air of the cramped, mud-tracked shop. Bunches of dried herbs hang from the ceiling, along with dangling pots, presses and alchemical apparatuses, and glassware of more arcane purposes. Pouches of rare plants, jars of colored glass, and all manner of dried, preserved and jellied animal parts fill high shelves and tables doing double duty as displays and workspaces. In the shop’s rear, Lynx Orivias busies himself between an overpacked rack of herbs, a table covered in stray powders and measuring equipment, and a pot loudly bubbling over with thick gray froth. Over the din of his work and without looking up, he impatiently shouts, “And what’s your problem?”
Flint volunteers to help and moves to grind roots while pulling information from Lynx. Lynx says his wife is a smart woman. “She’s traced the source of the malady to Brookman’s well, a small spring on the edge of twon, and a rare fungus called blackscour. The town constable banned the use of the spring to prevent further infection, but such measures offer little respite to those already afflicted.”
Flint picks up on the name of the fungus, “Blackscour? What is Blackscour?”
“Just a fungus that’s not good for anything. Hard, bitter, and sharp, it likes the water and gets you sick if you drink it down. Never heard of it growing around these parts, though, until now.”
“And the taint?” Flint prods…
“It’s the sickness, almost like any other, but you get the mold growing in you. It starts eating away in your chest and belly and is damned determined to stay. Your body near turns itself inside out trying to hack the stuff up, but all that does is cuts your guts up…bad.”
“That’s horrible, and most of the town have it?”
“Well, more than thirty, honestly, though at least least three times that think they’ve got it.”
“What about a cure?”
“Cure! Not around here. I’ll get these folks what I can and we’ll see what good it does.”
The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Laurel Orivias. She has overheard part of the conversation and interjects. “My grand mother’s book has a brew in it that says its good for this kind of thing. A wierd concoction that sounds more like hoojoo than real medicine.” She pulls her back tightly in a bun and adjusts her spectacles before moving to relieve Flint of his knife and continues to chop herbs.
Flint turns to the rail thin woman, “What’s in this medicine?”
“Some rare roots and concentrations, most of which I have here, but there’s three I do not. Elderwood moss, which I’ve never heard of, but granny says the stuff only grows on the oldest tree in a forest. A specially pickled root called a rat’s tail, again, sounds like hoojoo to me. And seven ironbloom mushrooms, stunty little things that only grow in dark places thick with metal, a favorite among dwarves…”and catching the sight of Patrick, quickly adds, “or so I hear.”
“How much time do I have to retrieve the ingredients?” Flint hopes for a day or two at least.
“None! Folks are dying every day! All we can hope to do now is treat who we can and hope to save the gravedigger some work.”
As Flint prepares to leave the shop, Lynx pulls him to the side and whispers to him warning him…“Laurel’s grandmother traded her sight to Ulizmila, the witch that lives deep in the woods. The old witch gave her only a few pages of what she knew, and that was years and years back, and I don’t know a soul who got any nicer as they got older. You can never trust a witch or anything a witch gives you. Be careful going for these ingredients.”
Flint left the shop with Patrick, at least they had an idea of what to get, but no idea where to look. Patrick thought maybe one of the hunters at the Hartsman’s Lodge might know about the woods and it’s environs…and if they were lucky, maybe Arnama Lastrid would be there. She knew a lot about the area.
Luck was not with the party, and Arnama hadn’t been in touch lately, and they were looking forward to a hunt. They had a new guest that had arrived about two ago. A gentleman named Thuldrin Kreed. Kreed appeared to be an eccentric aristocrat but had many odd behaviors which seemed to put off the serving girls. Still he had paid for his entire stay upfront in gold.
Flint and Patrick did some mental calculations and found that Kreed had shown up at the Hartsman’s Lodge about the same time as the sickness hit the town of Flow. Thinking it might be significant, Flint tracked Thuldrin Kreed down and took him to Seven Silvers tavern for a couple of drinks. Patrick meanwhile slipped away and returned to the lodge to look through Kreed’s room.
Patrick was surprised to see that most of the primitive belongings had not been used or even touched. The wardrobe was bare of belongings and the entire room had the scent of “wet dog”. What he did find though was a rude map with a large X near the forest. He pocketed the map and went to find his buddy Flint.
Flint and Kreed were exchanging small talk and pleasantries, being served by Asina Silvers. Her father, Trelvar Silvers seemed almost as interested in Kreed as Flint. As Kreed paid for his drinks and food in gold and didn’t care about his change, Trelvar kept sending his daughter back to the table repeatedly to keep their cups full. Kreed smiled as he eyed the young lass but watched his consumption carefully.
As Patrick entered the Seven Silver Tavern, Kreed sniffed the air and turned to look at the space where Patrick had tried to slip unseen. This struck Patrick as most unusual and he began to suspect maybe Kreed was a shapeshifter of some sort…After drinks with Kreed, Patrick showed Flint the map.
Thinking it was worth investigating, they decided to get horses and Ivy journey into the woods. Patrick noticed as they left town a set of deep, goat-like tracks. He determined that whatever made these depressions walks upright, and easily followed them. The tracks persisted for about 50 feet before mysteriously disappearing. Since the Feywood is full of Fey type creatures, a faun or satyr would not be too unusual, but having one this close to town was a bit odd. Not sure if it was a clue or not, they tucked it away in case it ever came up again.
It took the majority of the day to get the horses and to retrieve Ivy. Ivy whispered in her horses ear and it calmed immediately to let her ride bareback on it. It was about fifteen miles outside of town and moving on horseback, the three party members made good time. When they arrived at the “X” location on the map, they were surprised to find a small lumber camp.
Lumber Consortium Camp sat in the middle of a clearing of fallen Darkwood trees. It cut an ugly scare of stumps into a dense stand of proud darkwoods. Five sturdy-looking log buildings—seemingly a bunkhouse, meal hall, office, barn and smithy—stand with numerous wide carts and sleds amid the sawdust-covered clearing. Patrick immediately went to the camp clamoring to see whoever was in charge.
He was shown to the office of foreman Jarlbeen Trookshavits. The office was filthy and thickly decorated with taxidermies of fierce forest animals. While he didn’t find out all the information he wanted, Patrick did find out the folks were employees of the Lumber Consortium that had originated out of Cheliax. They were simple folk, paid to do a job of lumbering and focused on darkwood trees. They didn’t know any of the politics of the region or any pacts with the fey folk around here or the town of Flow.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of camp, Flint and Ivy caught the eye of Milon Rhoddam one of the woodsmen from the town of Flow. Not wanting to blow his cover, Milon hit on Ivy stating even an ugly strumpet beats the knot hole of the tree out back and he’d be back in a bit. When alone, Milon was fairly angry to be singled out and hoped his cover hadn’t been blown.
Milon was normally a blunt, quiet man. Now his dander was up, as his nephew had taken ill with blackscour taint. He said this camp showed up about the time the taint showed up. He was here to find out if they knew anything about it, or even had a cure. Flint stated they were also looking for a cure and needed information about the forest. Since Milon was one of the most experienced wanderers and woodsmen in the region, he marked the map for possible locations for the missing ingredients.
Patrick returned to the group. Milon returned to the logging camp. On the way out of the camp, they happened to notice a dead tree streaked with multicolored fairy blood. Three sprite-like creatures, known as keld piskies, were pinned to the tree, their exsanguinated bodies turned to gnarled wood. The tree was marked to be cut down and placed in the lumber pile with the piskies still attached like limbs.
Ivy gasps in horror and says, “stories say that fairy blood can turn lead into gold.” Patrick’s eyes glisten as he remembers the servants of the Hartsman’s Hall saying, Kreed paid for his entire stay in gold…