LSJ: The Withering

Feathers are withering among winged creatures and peoples. A call for adventures has brought Kurgan , Shuk , Jenestra vonStumpwasser , and Axel vonStumpwasser to the cottage of Kier near Rosewood . Kier is a well-known druid in Amthydor . Two days ago he discovered a small bird devoid of all feathers. Some kind of withering disease has struck the birds of the forest and possible might spread to the city. Kier has spend several hours following its path for the previous day, but did not find anything along that path to suggest a cause. No magic or healing has be able to restore this effect. It is not a fatal disease, but a bird without its feathers will soon perish. He suspects the bird might have contracted it in the Delambar Mountains . He gives us horses with magical horseshoes that will take us to the mountains. Once there we release the horses as the terrain is too treacherous.

The path is narrow so we use Kurgan’s Rope of Climbing to keep us together. The weather is near freezing as we rise higher in the mountains. As we crest a rise we see a large swarm of wasps rise above us – sparks of fire dancing along their wings. The swarms hellwasps descend on us. We are barely able to fight off the swarms requiring Kurgan to detonate a neckalce of fireballs in the middle of both swarms. The battle barely over six young sky elves descend from the sky. They are carried wooden toy weapons and are uncomfortable answering our questions. We finally manage to wring out of them some answers. They take us to Father Cloudclimber for answers.

We travel to Telesaaaulaapala the enclave of the sky elves. The Eyrie of Aurelian slowly rocks back and forth with the strong wings that blows through the valley. We are set down on a large platform where healers are tending to scores of sky elves afflicted by the withering. The younglings gather an elder to speak with us. A week ago one of their rangers found a hawk afflicted with the withering. A few days after that the withering began to affect the elderly in the village, now it strikes down younger adults – so far the young are not affected. A month ago a man entered the village and demanded a relic of Aurelian that the village keeps safe. We I rebuffed his demands he vowed that a withering plague would arrive and would damn us to extinction. A week later swarms of hell wasps arrived and while we drove them off many were poisoned. The healing powers of Aurelian could not heal those afflicted.

Unfortunately the Sky Elves are wary of outsiders, even more so since the withering began, and so the elder gives us his blessing but he cannot command anyone to help us. We travel to a small inn at the edge of the valley where those few outsiders stay. The inn is in the the largest nearby tree with sleeping platforms nearby reachable by rope bridges. The inn is run by a sky elf with satyr blood in them. He is glad to have news from the city or in fact anyplace outside of here. There are several elderly men playing dice games and a few sky elf constables. The rangers will probably be returning in the evening, so we go and speak with a herbalist who lives “earth down” from here.

The herbalist is an sky elf that has not been touched by the withering. She is burning all manner of leaves and drinking a special mungus tea. We try the tea, but Axel just cannot keep it down and spends the next hour puking and coughing. The herbalist does not remember any stranger arriving in the village a month ago nor does she know of any hidden artifact in the enclave. We discover the tea not only tastes terrible but has medicinal properties. It does wonders for those sky elves afflicted by the withering – if they can keep it down.

That evening we earn the trust of the rangers and they give us directions towards the stream where the birds were found. It is near a treehouse blind they once used when water elementals came to the waterfall. We gather our supplies and head out to search for the stranger. Near the waterfall is a path that has been tread on recently. The path angles up to the towards a waterfall. The treehouse itself is sheltered by rows of thin conifers and needle pines. Shuk turns into a gargoyle and sneaks up to the treehouse. There are no hell wasps, but drops of blood outside the door with smeared boot prints. Once inside he finds the house in disarray, a dead owl in the middle of the room fly buzzing around. Our huntsman companion follows the tracks which he determines is a human male.

We follow a path to the top of the waterfall where we discover a cave. Shuk leads us into the cave wary of traps – not wary enough as he trips a sharpened wire triggering a flame strike on him. This was a warning as two men covered in boils charge from the darkness surrounded by a glowing nimbus. They get overrun by the horde of earth elementals that Kurgan and Jenstra summon up. We manage to take one of them hostage. They are clerics of Karios the evil god of plagues. There is a heavy locked chest that we break into by sheer force. Inside the chest is a sky elf, badly wounded. He was hunting in the area when he saw the cleric dump a barrel of poison into the waters, but was not able to escape. He warns us we must return to the eyrie for it is in danger from Red Locust, High Priest of Karios.

By the time we return the followers Karios are already engaged in battle with the few hale sky elves that remain. We see Red Locust is locked in combat with Father Cloudclimer. We reach the base of the great tree when Cloudclimber, burning from fire spells is forced to withdraw. Red Locust sees us and charges into battle. Ice storms lash the ground as clerics on both sides call down the power of their gods to destroy their enemies. With Red Locust defeated we meet with Cloudclimber who survived his fight with the priest. With the knowledge we have gained he is able to cure the withering. For our help he gives us the pottery shard that Red Locust was after as it has become far too much trouble for the village. We sell pottery shard to one of the prominent nobles in Amthydor.

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