Into the Maw

Session 1 Devil's Contract

A small, exploratory, tiefling vessel is blown off course and lands on The Maw because they lost supplies during the storm. The captain and two mercenaries get on land and prepare to hunt for food for their return journey. Meanwhile, at the edge of the forest, Dusk, Galxis, Regyr and Siren, who were hunting and scouting, see the ship approach and hide. When they see the men on shore, Dusk reveals himself and moves to meet them. Galxis stands between Dusk and the woods and Regyr and Siren stay hidden at the forest’s edge. Dusk discovers that the tieflings were caught in a storm and need food. Eventually, Dusk calls Galxis, Regyr and Siren over and they exchange some meat for the sword the tiefling captain had.

Two months later, Mortis and Sahir are employed by the Empyrean Commercium and were just told to meet with Dagnia Taggart, the guild’s head of operations. When they arrive outside her room they hear her arguing with her brother Jamnul Taggart about something. When jamnul leaves, Dagnia calls them in. She has reason to believe that a trade post on The Maw would benefit her business. She wants Mortis and Sahir to make sure the expedition goes smoothly and becomes profitable. Not without apprehension, they accept.

Two months later, Dusk, Galxis, Regyr and Siren are relaxing in The Whispering Warriors’ village when they can see a commotion on the other side of the village. When they go to investigate they see Bahyrae, Chieftan of The Divine Speakers Tribe, demanding to see their chieftain, Hyraer. Bahyrae heard about the trade that was made with the tieflings and he warns that if they continue to deal with outsiders he will denounce them and possibly take further action. Unsure of how to proceed, Hyraer decides to wait and see if the tieflings return to decide how to deal with the situation.

Two months later and a few days before they leave for the Maw, Mortis and Sahir return to see Dagnia in her office. When they approach her office they can hear heated conversation between Dagnia and Raelini Dannashold, their shipwright. When she leaves Dagnia tells them that one of the three ships they were expecting was bought by Aeleon Mouch, the son of the Aurex. This means that they will have half the mercenaries they were expecting and less supplies as well. In addition, the fact that the son of the Aurex is interested in what they are doing doesn’t bode well, especially since the Aurex, Willisa Mouch, is very isolationist. Dauntless, Dagnia tells them that they will proceed with setting up the trade post, but with caution.

Two months later, Mortis and Sahir arrive on the Maw and meet up with Dusk, Galxis, Regyr and Siren, as well as Hyraer. At first negotiations are led by Beretum Scudder, the businessman sent by Jamnul Taggart to make the deal; however, after the chieftain, Mortis and Sahir get sick of his bumbling they tell him to leave and negotiations continue without him. Dusk sees Daray at the edge of the trees; when he approaches Daray explains that he is their to observe this historic event and to tell him that the nagaja, Sahir, has more significance than he or the other’s might expect. After one last comment about how he isn’t the only one watching, Daray disappears and Dusk returns to finish the negotiations. With Regyr acting as translator, eventually they come to an agreement; the gnolls will protect the trade post and give them business and the tieflings will pay them in weapons for the land. Dusk looks over the contract because he is the only one who could read tiefling and after he is deemed trustworthy, the chieftan agrees to the terms of the contract.

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Session 2 Cloak and Dagger

After the contract was signed the tieflings began to unload the ships and build some shelter. Hyraer leaves Dusk, Galxis, Regyr and Siren as well as several other Gnolls to watch the tieflings while he returns to the village to organize a hunt and a feast. Regyr sees an opportunity to test the strength of Mortis and Sahir by working with them to clear a cave that would be ideal for mining. They agree and all six of them along with Edson Willers, one of the tiefling soldiers, go to clear out the cave while the rest of the gnolls and tieflings guard the colony. Inside the cave they encounter four feathered raptor creatures who attack as soon as the party enters. During the fight Galxis and his serpent are able to slay two of the beasts while Regyr and Edson finish off the others. Both Regyr and Edson are injured, but Galxis heals Regyr and Edson is able to bandage himself up.

The cave’s occupants now removed, the group investigates a smaller room and discovers a table covered with papers, a wooden box and something scratched into the wall in Tiefling. The message on the wall says “Beware of those who hate innovation” and on the box the words “Rearden Metal Smithing” are carved on the top. When Mortis investigates she finds the papers make up some sort of log and are at least twenty years old, with most pages simply being illegible. The box contained a dagger of fine craftsmanship and of a metal that no one had seen before. It appeared to be lighter and stronger than their iron weapons and Regyr takes it as a prize. Confused as to how and why this stuff was hear they decide to find out what the Rearden Metal Smithing company was by asking Beretum Scudder. When they leave the cave to find Scudder, they see that another ship had arrived.

When the group gets back to the beach they find Scudder talking to Aeleon Mouch, the son of the Aurex. He demands to know what they are doing and they tell him plainly that they are setting up a trade colony with the gnolls. Attempting to appear as if he’s giving advice he tells them that they should give up while they aren’t too invested. He warns that the gnolls are dangerous and that forming trade relations with them is not a popular descion with the Aurex. Mortis, in an attempt to show the colony is worth the risk, shows Mouch the dagger they found in addition to the journal entries and the name Rearden Metal Smithing. When she reveals this Mouch is taken aback and despite his efforts to hide it he looks shocked and uncomfortable. He makes one last plea that they leave The Maw and then he gets back onto his ship. Still confused, the group gives the journal entries and the dagger to Scudder so he can sail back to Dimos to tell Dagnia Taggart what they found and search through the archives for any information on the company or the metal.

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Session 3 Dragon Tales

After Aeleon Mouch leaves, the group heads to the village for the feast. Along the way Scudder pulls Dusk and Siren aside. He offers them a deal, if they make sure the colony lasts, he will grant them a pardon for whatever crimes they committed. After thinking it over both Dusk and Siren agree to the deal. When they arrive at the village many of the other Gnolls stare as the Tieflings enter. Hyraer gathers everyone around the animal carcasses from the hunt and declares the feast in honor of the new alliance with the tieflings.

While the feast is going on, Regyr takes Siren and Galxis away. He questions Siren, with Galxis as translator, if Dusk can be trusted. Siren assures Regyr that Dusk is trustworthy. When the three of them return to the feast, they hear rumors that gnolls of the northern tribes saw dragons flying inland. Unsure of what to think of this they meet with the chief who tells them that they have a lot more pressing issues to deal with than rumors of dragons on the other side of the continent. Hyraer asks for their council on the matter of allies; he doesn’t think much of their chances against the Divine Speakers and even less against the rest of the tribes. Three tribes call them friends: the Beast Heralds, the Forest Shades and the Ardent Seekers. The Beast Heralds are close, but small and their strongest ally, the Ardent Seekers are the farthest, but they have limited gnolls to send if they want the village defended.. Regyr, Dusk and Galxis advise that they should get aid from the Beast Heralds who are close and send an emissary to find Garx to possibly win him over.

The sun now setting, the group as well as the gnolls gather around for the storytellers to begin their art. One such storyteller begins with the ancient gnoll tale of the great hunt. The gnoll race, still young, was willing to prove itself and Karaso wished to test their strength. Karaso took boulders from the mountain and fire from the earth and fashioned a monster of rock and fire, the fire giant. He spoke to his children, if they wished to prove their strength and their faith in him they would have to slay the fire giant. Dauntless, the gnolls fought the fire giant for days until Garx slew the beast. Garx was gifted the powers of the divine becoming Karaso’s avatar and the fire giant fell into the earth creating a smoldering rift which smokes even to this day. Upon completion of the story the storyteller asks if anyone else would like to share a tale. Galxis stands and tells of the first dragon slaying. The Aasimars had been preyed upon by the dragons since their creation, but once, when a dragon appeared before them, the aasimar’s tricked the dragon into landing and they slew it and feasted upon it, gaining its strength. When Galxis finished Mortis stands up and tells of the birth of the tieflings. In the realm of The Abyss demons roam the wilderness, but in one moment in a cacopheny of fire and pressure several demons were launched out a flaming mountain and heard the voice of Barsaborak. When they awoke they began to build, to conquer this new land and in defiance of the voice that brought them here.

After several more epic tales of gnoll heroes with questionable accuracy the tieflings return to their colony and the gnolls to their huts. Later that night, Mortis and Sahir awake to the horrifying scream of one of the tiefling mercenaries. They rush out into the dark and find the colony under attack by what appeared to be hunched, sickly gnolls; however, when they attacked they mutated and altered their limbs into blades. Regyr, Dusk, Galxis and Siren wake to a gnoll shouting of an attack. They find similar monstrosities looking like members of the Beast Heralds, shooting acid and morphing into weapons, in ways that were similar to Siren’s powers. After dispatching most of the creatures the group meets along with Hyraer. They quickly discover Siren’s peculiar similarity to the monsters and the fact that none of the creatures were hostile to him. Tired, confused and agitated they put Siren under watch.

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Session 4 Visions and Visionaries

After the attack by the aberrant gnolls, everyone just tries to get some sleep. Regyr wakes early and goes to check on Siren, and Galxis wakes up a little later to check on the wounded. While Regyr assures Siren that he doesn’t think he intentionally caused the attack and that he told the chieftan his viewpoint, Mortis arrives. She asks for some samples of Siren’s skin so that she can compare it to the flesh of the aberrant gnolls, hoping to prove his innocence Siren agrees and Mortis returns to the colony to study the samples. When Mortis leaves Galxis meets up with Regyr and Siren and asks if either of them have seen Dusk, neither of whom did. As the three of them are talking the gnolls of village slowly wake up and Hyraer tells them his decision. He tells the three of them to go with Mortis and Sahir to find a diviner on the outskirts of the Divine Speakers territory. The diviner will have a vision to determine if Siren is responsible and what actions they should take. Hyraer also cautions against telling anyone they meet about the colony just to stall its discovery. The three of them agree and go to the colony to get Mortis and Sahir.

Galxis, Regyr and Siren find Mortis hard at work with vials of liquid and a large book of formulas. They tell her about the mission and she and Sahir say they will go along. Mortis also reveals that while the sample are similar in structure, the only differences are probably between Aasimar and gnoll biology, the aberrant gnolls seem to have a stronger or more invasive form of the affliction though. She also discovered that it is not something parasitic, it permeated the entire body. Still unsure of what all of this could mean, the group begins the week long trek north, leaving Willers in charge after Scudder returns to Dimos.

After six days of traveling they come to a hut in the wilderness that Regyr knows belongs to Aerhae one of the gnolls that helped raise him. At the hut they see another gnoll emerging from the woods, Grrner, one of Regyr’s friends when he was just a cub. They great each other warmly and reminisce on how they went their separate ways, Regyr to the tribe of his father and Gerrner to become a priest of Karaso. Aerhae emerges from her hut and greets Regyr with surprise. She asks about the aasimars, tiefling and nagaji that are following him and he tells her that the aasimars are his companions and the tiefling and nagaji are prisoners. Mortis interrupts him and tells Aerhae the truth to which Regyr explains the entire problem of the tiefling colony. Aerhae, unsure of what to think, asks them why they came and they explain that they were sent by their chieftain to have a vision about Siren, the tieflings and what their next steps should be. Aerhae agrees to have the vision and when she finishes preparing the herbs she needs, she throws them into the fire, inhaling their fumes. She reveals that answers are in the old temple, a cave where the Divine Speakers resided until it nearly collapsed. She also says that the old temple holds answers for Galxis. When she finishes speaking she opens her eyes and immediately falls backwards in horror. She points to Sahir and talks about some sort of darkness surrounding her. Regyr and Gerrner quickly go to help her and when she calms a little, she explains that she saw this dark aura around Sahir, but it seemed like it was not from her, but following her. When the group makes sure that Aerhae is fine, they head to the old temple, a few hours away.

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Session 5 Dungeons and Dragons

The group arrives at the temple and begins to explore it. The first large room they come upon is filled with rubble and has three hyenas. Grrner, approaching cautiously, speaks to the hyenas and tells them that they won’t attack them and don’t mean to invade their territory. When they advance further they come upon a smaller room where they are attacked by spiders. They quickly dispatch the spiders with only minor wounds that were easily healed. Finally, they enter the main chamber and begin to look around. Regyr discovers a leather-bound journal written in aasimar and calls Siren over to look at it. Siren reads through it and discovers that is the journal, or at least part of the journal, of Erer, Galxis’s master. He mentions something about an unusual skeleton that has some sort of connection to Siren. Siren tells Galxis about the journal, giving it to him, and then begins to search for the skeleton. After some time they find the skeleton hidden in one of the corners of the room. It is an aasimar skeleton, but the interestingly it is black. They find nothing else and take the skeleton with them as they leave.

At the entrance of the cave the group hears what they discover is the beating of wings coming from a dragon. They suspect there are others remaining invisible and hide just inside the cave. Eventually, they hear the dragons land and Mortis figures there’s about five of them. As the group hides they hear the dragons speak in draconic which Mortis can only pick out a few words, getting the impression that something bad happened. Gerrner sends his pet squirrel to get a look at the dragons and it learns that there are five of them and four of them (presumably the ones who were invisible) are speaking to one of them. Galxis and Mortis move to get a better look and they see two of the dragons violently break the wings of the middle dragon. It roars in pain as the dragons make certain that it will never fly again. After this the other dragons turn invisible and fly away, leaving the injured one on the hill. The group unsure of what to do goes to move away, but when they look back they see the dragon looking at them.

They stay still and Galxis addresses it in aasimar asking if it is alright and it responds saying its fine. Galxis offers to heal it if it agrees to not attack them or other like them. The dragon agrees saying it would never eat sentient meat and Galxis and Gerrner heal his wings, enough to stop the bleeding. THey discover that his name is Tezcacoatl and that he was sent here because he is a murderer and in fact he is the first. Galxis leaves for the north to find his master and the rest of the group, along with Tezcacoatl, to see Aerhae to possible find anything else about the skeleton and see if Siren’s bones are black as well. When they arrive Aerhae tells them that she would be willing to do another vision tomorrow and they agree to stay the night. They also cut open Siren’s arm and determine that his bones were somewhere between the bones they found and regular bone.

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Session 6 More Questions than Answers

After cutting open Siren’s arm Aerhae tells the group that she will be able to examine the black bones tomorrow. They move away from her hut and settle down for the night. Sahir dreams that she is back on the front lines during the Dimo-Qurturbian War. The fighting and blood eventually ends and she is the only person left alive and the corpses seem to be staring at her. Tezcacoatl wakes Sahir with his tail because she was thrashing around in her sleep. After she walks around to calm herself down she goes back to sleep.

In the morning Tezcacoatl is gone and Regyr goes hunting. When they are about to eat four gnolls come out of the forest. Three are large and have crude spears and the other is thin and has a dagger. The thin one tells them to give them their possessions and Regyr attacks. The gnolls are quickly dispatched with one captured alive and only Grrner was injured. Appearing suddenly, Tezcacoatl runs out of the woods with Aerhae riding on his back. She informs the group that she was attacked by two gnolls associated with the ones they killed and that Tezcacoatl returned from hunting and killed them. Gerrner heals and they eat breakfast. After eating they question the surviving gnoll who tells them that they were exiles from the Blood Wardens and the thin one was a blooded of Karaso. Not wanting to kill him, the group lets the gnoll go and they go to Aerhae’s hut. She determines that the bones belonged to an aasimar prisoner who was sent by the samsaran and survived long enough to reach the old temple and was killed. The fact that he survived so long implies that he had similar powers as Siren and his bone color supports that idea.

The group decides that it is time to leave and Regyr and Gerrner say goodbye to Aerhae and promise to return. They get to know each other a little better as they travel and Sahir continues to have nightmares, but doesn’t tell the others. When they get close to the village they tell Tezcacoatl to wait for them and the rest of them continue into the village. Gerrner, Regyr and Siren go to the gnoll village where they notice everyone looking at Regyr with concern. When Regyr questions one of his friends he tells him that Hyraer sent his father and a few other gnolls to check on the Beast Heralds, but they haven’t returned. They find Hyraer and Regyr tells him that he is going to find his father and Hyraer knew he would feel that way. They also tell Hyraer about Tezcacoatl and while he is worried at first he soon sees the advantages and allows him to stay in a cave near where the tieflings are mining. Gerrner, Regyr and Siren then go to get Tezcacoatl and meet Hyraer at the cave.

Mortis and Sahir go to the colony and they see that another ship has arrived. Willers comes up to them and tells them that the ship brought the extra soldiers and supplies Dagnia Taggart promised. Willers was upset over Scudder getting to go home and explains that he just wanted to see his wife and daughter. Willers explains that the colony has built some more buildings and they are about ready to start mining. He also says that Dusk was translating for them and that he hasn’t seen him in a few days.

Everyone meets at the cave with Tezcacoatl and Hyraer greets him and welcomes him into the tribe. They agree that he will hunt away from their territory to avoid conflict and that he should avoid entering the village for a few days. Afterwards, they enter the village spreading the word of the dragon and that he is friendly. They also find out that Dusk was asking around the gnoll village about the rumors of dragons and that he hasen’t been seen for at least three days.

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Session 7 Truths

After getting Tezcacoatl settled, Regyr asks Grrner and Siren if they would help him find his father and they agree. Siren asks Sahir and Mortis if they would like to help and they also agree. To take his mind off his father Regyr decides to fight with Gerrner for fun and he is able to win each time even when Gerrner uses his divine magic. After wrestling, Regyr, Siren and Sahir go back to their respective beds, but Gerrner and Mortis stay to talk to Tezcacoatl. Gerrner simply wants to get to know him, but Mortis brought a mass of paper to take notes. They question him about many aspects of draconic life and his past. He reveals that the dragons are ruled by a senate of twenty dragons that are replaced every twenty years by a randomly selected group. Dragons worship Daray their creator and do so by proxy, they truly worship the wyrms, great dragons maintaining a saint-like status. Tezcacoatl himself was an architect and after some prodding he tells about his murder. He learned aasimar because he wanted to go to them and make peaceful contact; however, when he was going to fly there a friend saw him and thought he was going to attack them. They didn’t recognize the misunderstanding and tensions flared and eventually led to the friend’s death. Tezcacoatl horrified by what he did, waited for him to be taken away. After talking with Tezcacoatl for a long time Gerrner and Mortis return to their beds.

When they wake in the morning Mortis leaves Willers in charge while they are gone, much to his chagrin. During their travels Mortis introduces them to a Tiefling game where everyone takes turns asking others something about themselves or to do something embarrassing. The group agrees to play and decides to talk about themselves. Eventually the topic of romance comes up and everyone quickly asks about each other’s love life. Regyr reveals that he doesn’t have a female mate to the displeasure of the tribe, but he has been seeing another of the tribe’s warriors in secret. Mortis reveals that she hasn’t been involved in romance, but her necromancer colleague created a homunculus that fancied her, but was eventually destroyed. Sahir also reveals that she has been in an arranged marriage for many years, but after the Dimo-Qurturbian War they went their separate ways and haven’t seen each other since.

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Session 8 Cryptic Notes

As the group continues to travel they hear the scream of a gnoll in the distance. Unsure of what may be happening they move forward cautiously and they find six of the tainted gnolls attacking a wounded gnoll. Regyr, unsure of whether or not it may be his father, rushes into battle and the others follow. After a quick skirmish the tainted gnolls were dispatched and the wounded gnoll was saved. after healing him he reveals that he went out to kill some of the remaining tainted gnolls, but was overwhelmed. He leads the group back to the village, but he unfortunatly does not know about Regyr’s father, Vraen.

When the group gets to the village they find it in shambles and being constantly patrolled by several gnolls. They find the gnoll in charge who appears to have inherited the job recently due to his age. When they question him about Vraen he reveals that he an his men stayed to help them exterminate many of the remaining tainted gnoll. He then went with Dusk who he said arrived about three days ago. When the group questions him about Dusk he gives them a note that Dusk left behind for them. It was written in aasimar so Siren was the only one who could read it. The letter reveals that Dusk came to investigate the tainted gnolls and discovered an assimar woman by the name of Maiara who had similar powers to Siren. He also said that he, Vraen and Maiara went to a nearby cave that is considered cursed thinking that it might have been the cause of the outbreak. The group decides to follow and thye get a guide to bring them to the cave.

Once at the cave the group begins to descend and finds many corpses of slain tainted gnolls. Upon investigation they do determine that they were dispatched with magic, most likely from Maiara and Dusk, a great axe, most likely from Vraen and a sword. The corpse decrease in number as they go deeper and eventually the cave ends abruptly in a small chamber. Upon investigation Siren and Regyr find something etched into the wall in a language none of them can understand. SIren identifies it as nihilian and Mortis believes she may be able to translate it at length with the books she brought with her. After copying down the writing on the wall they leave and return to the Beast Herald village. Regyr, Grrner and Sahir go along with a group to kill more tainted gnolls and Siren and Mortis stay in the village. Siren questions the gnolls about Maiara and he learns that she arrived about a month ago and has mostly kept to herself after being accepted into the tribe. Everyone regroups at dinner and they decide to stay for the night where Regyr befriends a stray domesticated hyena. In the morning, they talk with the new chieftain about the tiefling settlement and get his support although they couldn’t provide much military support. Once everything was settled the group begins the long trek back home.

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Session 9 Horror and Homecoming

The group arrives back at the Whispering Warrior’s village and Mortis goes to investigate the writing that was on the cave wall while Regyr, Grrner and Siren go to report to the chieftain. He informs them that Vraen returned with Maiara and they tell the chieftain that the Beast Heralds were hurt badly, but will give their support of the tiefling colony. The chieftain also reveals that representatives of the Divine Speakers arrived, but the presences of Tezcacoatl made them reluctant to make any statements and they are now sending word back about the dragon. Regyr goes to meet his father directly afterwards where they talk briefly about their experiences and their hopes that everything will calm down for a while. He also informs them that Dusk went to his hideout to think over the information that he found. After this they go to meet Willers to get some better equipment and supplies. After this, Siren and the rest go and find Maiara. They find her relaxing in the colony and after a brief exchange they discover that she left the aasimar’s of her own volition, went to Dimos where she became a opium addict and was eventually sent to The Maw for various crimes. She tells them that she got to the Beast Heralds about a month ago and stayed with a gnoll named Bihn who took samples of her blood as payment and was often not in the village.

After talking to people around the village, including Regyr showing his hyenna, Ripper, to Bhagrah, the group eats and goes to sleep. Sahir; however, does not have a pleasant night’s rest. She dreams that she is a a vast gray wasteland. Before her she sees her own rotted corpse wearing old, rusted armor. To her horror the corpse begins to stand and addresses her. It reveals that it is Barsaborak and that it was the dark force that was surrounding her. It speaks plainly that she will serve it and keep quiet or she will watch as everything she loves decays and dies for all eternity. When Sahir awakens the next morning she finds that her left hand has been branded by some symbol. She goes to Mortis who fell asleep doing research and it is revealed that Sahir can suddenly read, write and speak Nihilian. Mortis and Sahir work together to translate and decipher the text.

…For naught but Barsaborak could eclipse its might
It slays all life in its presence
Even the gods would tremble before its approach
the void knows its name
it whispers from the dark: ‘Apophis’…"

Mortis finds that the phrase was written by insane followers of Barsaborak who also would illustrate this “apophis” as a giant, dark, ophidian creature. This monster apparently has power that rivals the gods and is an instrument of Barsaborak to destroy the world. Unsure of what to make of all of this information in addition to Sahir’s brand they find Regyr, Grrner and Siren and try to figure out what to do.

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Session 10 Dusk's Return

The group decides that figuring out what Dusk knows should be their next step and they go to his hideout. When they get there they find him inside a large hollow tree where he was thinking. He explains to them his hypothesis of how everything they found fit together. The gnoll Maiara gave blood to disappeared for long periods of time and the only place of significance he could have gone to would be the cave they visited. Dusk believed that he was a part of some cult of Barsaborak, given the nihilian writing in the cave, and that they somehow used the blood to taint these gnolls, possibly as part of some ritual to summon Apophis. The group decides that they should investigate that cave once more and hopefully exterminate whatever created the tainted gnolls.

The group says their goodbyes to the people in the village and the colony and set out towards the Beast Herald’s village. One the second day of travel they immediately pick up the smell of carrion and they come upon undead gnolls and some tainted gnolls who appeared to have clusters of scales mixed with their fur. After the abominations were slaughtered the party realized the implications of more tainted gnolls and undead and decided that they should pick up speed the next day.

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