Day 7 on the March to Drezen – the gibbering swarm
Nurah says: “By noon we should reach Drezen. We should make preparations.”
Aron says: “Me and Nurah will prepare a map of the city”
Sosiel says: “Lets all praise Shylin!”
As the army draw within 3 miles of Drezen, one final obstacle stands in your way. The Ahari gorge ahead is filled what appears to be a seething, filthy green cloud of pale vapor, but as Zeldir and Aaron head forward to inspect it, it becomes immediately obvious that this “cloud” is in fact a mass of dozens and dozens of swarming Abyssal verminravenous creatures known as vescavors. Marching the army into the swarms is certain death.
Fortunately, a Nurah suggests a solution for the problem. The swarm before you is unusually large, which implies the presence of a vescavor queen nearby. These large monsters typically lie at the heart of an underground complex, where they spend months repeatedly spawning ravenous swarms before exiting the caves to hunt and seek a new lair. When a vescavor queen is deep in her spawning, the surrounding area becomes inundated with the swarms, as the you are witnessing now. If the queen can be found and slain, the swarms will quickly dissipate, allowing the army to move onward toward Drezen.
Aaron and Zeldir head out again to look for cave openings. Soon they return after observing the swarms emerging in and out of several large holes spread throughout the riverbed. The closest of these holes is a 5-foot- diameter opening that drops 40 feet down into the cave below.
You manage to climb down the shaft and into a natural hollow in the bedrock. Warm air fills the crystalline cavern. A continuous, high-pitched noise issues from tunnels ahead, a disconcerting drone melded with the discordant buzz of an angry crowd . The walls, floor, and ceiling of the caves glisten with moisture and are caked with a thick red resin resembling dried mucus. The walls are crawling with infant vescavors, feeding on the rasin as they slowly make their way out through the cracks and fissures at the cave’s ceiling. Finally, in one of the rooms the vescavors crawling on the walls form into a swarm and attacks. The creatures cover brant and Lann, gnawing and biting their equipment and flesh. With your weapons useless against them, you have to flee back up to the surface.
You return to camp to prepare for another excursion into the caves on the next day.
Day 8 on the March to Drezen – problems at camp
Another attempt to face the swarms of vescavors in the caves has failed. Defeated, you return to camp to find it in disorder. Arles Jhestander has been spreading despair among the soldiers, and some of them openly speak of returning to Kenabres, as clearly you do not have the power to overcome the swarms and reach Drezen. Again, Brant spends time speaking with Arles and reassuring him things are under control. This time Arles doesn’t swallow the pill so easily, and only after Brant promotes him to his personal messenger, Arles begins to cooperate.
As if that is not enough, Aaron is in a bad state. His claims that everything is ok, and its only a blow he took during the battle of Keepers-Canyon doesn’t make sense anymore. Using spells, some diplomacy and a lot of convincing on Sosiel’s part, you discover that Aaron was once addicted to Shadowblood – a drug made of demon’s ichor that many crusaders fell victim to. He tells you that after the battle at Villareth Ford he found 5 vials of the drug in his backpack. He tried to resist the urge to drink the ichor, but after the battle of Keepers Canyon, he started using again. He already used three of the vials.
Shadowblood is an exceedingly addictive drug. A creature under the influence of shadawblood or suffering from shadowblood addiction takes is weak and receptive to all sorts of possession and enchantment type effects made by demons. Moreover, the drug prevents the user from gaining the benefits of protection spells against evil.
After a long talk with Sosiel and Brant, Aaron breaks the last vials of the dragonblood, but immediately after enters a state of regression, as he fights his old addiction.
During the night you wake up suddenly to the sound of shouts, following screams and wines. It appears someone released a few horses and sent them galloping into the swarm of vescvors.
Day 9 on the March to Drezen – Killing the Queen and Reaching Drezen
The next morning you return to the caves, this time with a better plan to reach the queen and put an end to her. The plan worked, and the vescavor queen was killed. On the way back you discover that someone has cut the ropes you used to climb down into the caves. You use magic to get out of there.
A few hours later the vescavor swarms dissipate and leave, and the road to Drezen is clear again. By the afternoon the Hammers of Kenabres reach the outskirts of the ruined city and make camp.