The Search for Seryth

Chapter 14: He came across a camp of rebels before he came across the farms supposedly entertaining warlocks. They hid in the hills above the farmsteads, and Ezran learned they had been raiding their old home frequently throughout the months since Seryth had turned their simple lifestyle on its head.

The rebels were headed by several men who had been distrusting of Seryth from the beginning, though violence hadn’t erupted until proof of demonic experiments had been stumbled upon in a cave outside of the town, in the form of several sick transient children who had been sheltering there.

The once-farmers told Ezran the story, how they had gathered at the town center to make their voices heard about the tragedy. The gathering had begun to turn restless as noon turned to dusk turned to night without any of the town’s leaders coming to speak to them, when suddenly the mayor opened his doors. Unwitting, many of the townsfolk had filed in, thinking they would finally get the chance to speak, but instead, they were ambushed in the halls by demons.

The resulting riot had burned down part of the town, and those that had the means fled into the hills. Now they raided their once-home for supplies and for vengeance.

Ezran participated in one of the raids. He saw no demons, though something about the people still inside the town made the hair on his neck rise; something about them seemed very off.

In the storehouse the raiders targeted, Ezran found barrels of a liquid he couldn’t identify stacked against one wall, though it smelled faintly of the fel. One of the rebels told him dourly about his witnessing similar concoctions being forced on others living in the town. Ezran took a bottle of it to study later, though he now thought he knew what the potion likely did.

Back in the rebel camp, Ezran put some of the strange liquid into another bottle to send on to Fordrellon and his priests to study. The remainder he examined himself.

There was demon blood in it; he figured that out almost immediately from its taste and smell. There was another compound in it though, which he couldn’t identify so easily.

He joined another of the raids the following day, pushing deeper into the town to see if he could find evidence of the lab or alchemist who had brewed the thing.

In the push, Ezran became separated from the others. He found several women and a couple children caged in one of the old cottages, on the upper floor. The children showed signs of demonic corruption already, and Ezran’s blood ran cold; he had seen this type of experiment before. He ran through his litany of healing spells, though he knew it wouldn’t stave off the corruption forever.

Unlocking the secrets of the compound might hold the answer instead. He accompanied the freed prisoners back to the rebel camp, giving careful instructions to the town’s displaced priest on how to look after them. Then he struck out for the cave where the whole thing had apparently started.

He found basilisks in the cave, who stalked him by scent. Whenever he killed one, a horde of tiny raptors, perhaps a species that had migrated up from Stranglethorn, leapt on the corpse and tore it apart.

He started to wonder if the transient children had just been a red herring, when he tripped over a broken vial in the darkness of the cave. Someone had been here; he wasn’t just imagining it.

He heard voices and had seconds to hide among some mushrooms before men, proceeded by torchlight, came down one of the passages. He followed after them, squeezing down a crack he hadn’t noticed before, and there he found what he had been looking for: the lab that had produced the liquid.

Crushed blue crystals lay on the table next to alchemical equipment. The men were very careful not to touch any of it, speaking in low voices and gesturing to their set-up. When one them began to smash the equipment, Ezran acted. He couldn’t let them destroy the evidence.

Ezran swept the crushed blue stones into a pouch, and he could have sworn he heard it whispering. He brought it back to the rebels, but they of course didn’t understand what he had found, and he ended up sending it with the rest to Fordrellon. The men he had fought matched the descriptions of the mayor and his cronies however, and the rebels were now confident they could retake and rebuild their home.

The peace was only to last a couple of days, unfortunately.

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