Having finished some very boring work for uninspiring pay as caravan guards, our new-found adventuring group (as of yet un-named) was interrupted one evening on the road.
A gigantic, ancient fortress, resting upon a massive stone base, and carried along by 6 insectile legs stepped on their camp fire. Lady Bururu, Estellia, Jaxx and Jonas took cover in the tall grass near by.
Leaving a 20 ft wide, man-deep circular “foot print” in the middle of their camp, the behemoth structure settled to the ground.
As dawn peaked over the treed hill over which it had just stepped, the adventurers minds struggled to comprehend this enormous thing which had passed over them.
Estellia remained hidden in the grass and simply breathed her way through a wave of primal fear inspired by the awesome sight. The wave passed and she looked with curiosity at what had just passed over her.
The others did not fare so well. The Dragonborn Cleric Bururu dashed off toward the trees away from it. Jaxx, the 7’4" human barbarian screamed incomprehensible curses and threw his torches at it in a fit of rage. Jonas peed all over his ninja pants, dumbstruck.
Shortly after recovering their dignity, the un-named foursome encountered a grey-haired human who introduced himself as Professor Andrew Glass from the University of Balmal in Arcanumat.
Trailing the professor was a string of riderless horses, apparently his fallen comrades’. He explained that days hence they attempted to breach and investigate the frightening fortress. Hid job as a scholar was to study the enormous mobile fortress and report his findings to his superiors.
He offered the team a job delivering a scroll containing this report to his superiors at the university. After some negotiation, the players agreed to accept payment of 40 GP each up front and 200 GP each on delivery of the scroll to the High Council of the University of Balmal (with the addendum that the scroll remain un-opened by them).
The party went forth with gold filled pockets, a wax-sealed scroll, a signed document promising additional payment from the university and instructions to seek out the well-known “Elf-Road” through the ancient Greenwood Forest (Famous as the homeland of the elves).
So far, no one has suggested opening and reading the scroll.
Two days travel down the “safe” road, the adventure-seekers encountered a horse galloping toward them dragging the still body of a dead man. Beyond being dragged by horse, he appeared to have been killed by a crude arrow. The party looted what they could in the way of rations and coin from the saddle bags and moved on.
Proceeding cautiously down the road, with Jonas Peter scouting ahead, the party spotted a small group of goblins, the apparent killers of a gnome merchant and his two guards. Unable to surprise the goblins due to the dragonborn’s jingly chainmail, they fought to avenge the fallen folk by ridding the world of these foul creatures.
A brief by decisive victory was won by the allies over a pair of goblin archers and some skirmishers. A single goblin was able to run away into the bush.
The party looted all the corpses, with the barbarian taking a cask of lamp oil from the wagon in the hopes it might be useful or valuable.
Days further along the twisty frustratingly slow to travel Elf Road, the part encountered some kind of psychic distress call.
Quickly deciding to investigate, they left the road in the direction of the call. Jonas in the lead once more, he happened upon a gruesome scene.
In a grassy clearing, lay a barely alive unicorn covered in its own blood and entrails. It was surrounded by a group of robed humans, some kind of weird cult. They were torturing the poor beast.
As the group arrived on the scene to take action (again stealth not working out for them) the cultists were not surprised except by the unicorn which managed to skewer and kill one of them even while prone with its sharp horn.
A hard fought battle was won, though multiple members of the group were knocked unconscious from the wounds inflicted by the cultist’s daggers.
With its last living moments, the unicorn demanded the group “purge the corruption” with a psychic demand / plea. Its horn detached from the unicorn’s brow, the last of its natural pure magic stored within. It was evident from the psychic message that the horn could be used in the purging.
After the battle the group rested to take stock and recover from their wounds.
The unicorn’s body while gravely wounded by the cultists seemed to have suffered the worst wound from a hit by an evil looking arrow. Knowledge checks by the still un-named party suggested that the arrow was an arrow of unicorn slaying, an extremely rare item and likely far above the means of the rag tag bunch of human cultists such as these appeared to be. It was also observed that none of the cultists seemed to have had a bow. A mystery for another time perhaps.
They found an ugly brown sludge had entered the river adjacent to the clearing and it seemed to be killing the plant life along the shore as well as fish and small animals that had tried to drink from the river.
Offended by the desecration to nature and fully rested, the group decided to set off to find the source of the sludge and see if they could stop it.
They followed the trail of goop up river to a feeder stream that seemed to be made up of the stuff. The stream lead to a natural looking cave. Lady Bururu and Estellia cast illuminating cantrips on some sticks and used proceeded into the cave.
Walking up hill they came to a pool and found that stalactites and stalagmites were preventing them from walking along side the disgusting stream any longer. Braving the black waters they made their way deeper, avoiding exposure to the fluid as best they could.
At one point the cave and stream widened. A body was spotted on the far side of the stream. As Jaxx and Jonas waded across to investigate, a being of pure shadow rose from the depths of the dark stream to attack them. The undead shadow, likely the spirit risen from the near-by corpse attacked the group. Jonas was nearly slain before an attack spell of radiant energy from Lady Bururu hand finished it off.
Recovering from the near deadly encounter and completing their looting of the corpse, the party obtained a Magic Ring, a Fine Scimitar and pouch of 8 uncut gem stones worth about 50 gp each.
The cave opened up to a hidden grotto, a once magical and very special place in nature that is open to the sky but surrounded by walls of rock. Once mighty trees slain by the corruption, the group found evidence that some form or profane ritual had been performed. It appeared someone had corrupted the hidden grove on purpose.
With the druid guardian slain, nothing had prevented that corruption from spreading through the spring waters.
Tossing the unicorn horn into the spring destroyed the corruption, however the group perceived that the holy magic of the place was forever gone.
The group rested in the grotto and took stock of their journey so far.