It had taken two days or so to clear out the entrance to the temple. during wich, the howling was becoming increasingly bothersome, the men only staying on site to dig after I threatened to withhold their pay, they refused to work at sundown, however, and so I’d relent at that point.
By day 2 of the digging, we were a man short. Olunson had grunted, “They say the woods took ‘im. poor bastard was drunk las’ night an wandered.” Well, maybe he’ll show up to help dig, maybe not, we’re not doing so bad off that the absence of one worker will effect us negatively.”
“Whatever you say Boss.”
The workers soon had uncovered what looked like a se of large ornate stone doors, depicting Daur, just as the sun started to dip.
Olunson approached me as the men started to pack up despite my protests. “Ye don’t work in the Stillwood after dark, come on, I’ll buy ye a drink.”
I humored him, and returned to the town, we went to one of the local pubs, the one most of the workmen frequented. But that night, I approached one of the men who had scoffed at some of the stories about the Stillwood. And offered him a bonus if he helped me get the doors open that night. Tolson was his name, he agreed.
We returned to the site under the full moon. Ignoring the occasional howl for the most part, the forest was silent. Between the two of us, we were able to push the stone doors open.
I had to fight a bit with the lantern to get it to light, but once there was enough illumination, I went to turn to Tolson, who was nowhere in sight. It was entirely possible he ran off while I was distracted with the lantern, except his shoe was laying on the ground where he stood.
Being used to strange dissapearances on an excavation by now, I took note and turned back to the doorway, shining the lantern in.
The interior was a large, stone room, the walls as I shined the lantern around, carved to resemble twisted vines and roots, with faces resembling the Duar on the doors.
There was a dias in the center, I went to approach, and tripped on something. Shining my lantern, I saw the floor was covered in bones. Shining the light around me, they seemed of various species, some even humanoid.
I picked myself back up and continued carefully so as not to trip again.
Reaching the dias, it rose a good 10 feet from the floor. There was a small stone ramp leading up to it. As I went up the ramp, I saw the top of the dias.
It was a fountian. Whatever liquid flowed from it having long dried away. the fountian had more releifs depicting roots and Duar, and some sort of canine-like form emerging from the roots.
At this point the howling picked up again, after a moment, I realized it was coming from the room. I turned and saw the rootlike carvings writhing like snakes. Taking a hint, I made my way to the door, when I was tripped again. shining my lantern down, I saw one of the roots had left the stonework to wrap around my leg, slowly tightening. I realized the roots weren’t carvings, but actual vegetable matter, possibly a relation to the stonewood trees of Madigascar.
I heard the howling again and looked up, the roots on the wall were starting to pull away from the temple stonework and form themselves into a shape, wich was becoming vaugly wolf-like. Shining my lantern around, there were a few root-wolves forming in the structure.
I focused my attention back on the stoneroot. Extending the blade from my cane, I hit it, and it was just like hitting a rock, definatly of the stonewood category then. Taking a dofferent tactic, I fished in the pockets of my coat, finding my portable alchemical kit, I pulled it out and extracted a vial as the rootwolves howled, fully formed and pulling away from the walls, they were the size of mastiffs, I noticed as I smashed the vial on the root that held me, the plant shuddering as it released me, Stonecutter Acid from the glands of the Stonecutter Wasps.
I hurredly got to my feet and reguarded the rootwolves circling me. Fascinating phenomenon, I would have liked to study one in a more lab-like environment, but now was not the time.
I tensed as one of them started charging at me. As it leapt for my throat, I jabbed the end of my cane between roots in it’s chest, and using the cane and it’s weight as a lever, managed to throw it over the dias.
The other wolves froze and watched as I heard a smashing and clattering, and a woman’s voice shouting ‘NOOOOO!” from all around. I turned my head to look. The rootwolf had smashed into the empty fountian, and was picking itself up, as the shattered stump of the fountian started trickling, then gushing. The water geisered up into the air soaking me and everything around me.
I noticed as the water gushed, the rootwolves seemed to sag a little, as if their roots were becoming unwound. Taking the chance, I raced for the door. past the collapsing rootwolds, the sounds of inhuman shreiking behind me.
I darted out of the door, as water streamed out. The water filling the hole we had excavated around the temple. I climbed up as the water pooled around my ankles. and pulled myself out, looking around me, the trees were thrashing, branches whipping everywhere. I caught sight of Tolson, impaled on one branch sadly. I made a start to try and sprint by, but remembered something.
Taking an empty sample bottle from my belt, I quickly scooped up some of the water that had now filled the excavation site, and submerged the temple. Capping it and putting it back in the pouch. I ran.
I ducked and dodged branches. unfortunatly one of them caught me upside the head with poor Tolson’s body, the weight of the corpse snapping the branch and tossing us both. I got up and noticed my head was at an odd angle, apparantly my neck was broken. I would have to fix it later. I hefted Tolson’s corpse over my shoulder, and made my way out, using him as a sheild for the whipping branches, until I saw the lights of the town.
I was met by a group of the townsfolk who had heard the shrieking. The ladies shreiked themselves at the sight of my lurching toward them carrying a corpse with a stick through it. I have to imagine I wasn’t a pleasant sight, especially with the angle my head was at, everything looked sideways.
Olunson pushed his way through, seeing me, he shooed away the growing crowd. “Nothing to see here, we have injured men, let me get them to the clinic, out o the way! go home!”
Olunson lead me to the small clinic, owned by a Dr. Heathecs, who had also, previously been ‘taken by the woods’ for some time. The clinic had been locked up, but Olunson had taken out a fairly large keyring filled with keys and managed to unlock it. The equipment was dusty and covered in cobwebs, but it was all still there apparantly.
I managed after a bit of finagalling, to repair the damaged vertibra in my neck, reinforcing the fracture with a steel clamp, and stitched back over it, and turned to look at Tolson, Olunson was holding his hat to his chest in respect to the dead man “e was a good worker, bit too much a skeptic though.” I pulled the branch out and set it aside, and looked at his wound. “I’ll need some supplies from my hotel room, and do you have a morgue?”
The next Day, I let Tolson out of the lab, torso bandaged up, and no memory of what heppened past being suddenly grabbed up into the air as I was messing with the lantern. I had to water down the serum a bit, as I only really had enough for one treatment, and I needed some as well. But he seemed to suffer no ill effects from it.
Olunson stood by as the pengi loaded the Sparrowwood with my luggage. “Well, sorry ye didn’t get much outta that Boss, I’ll be keepin’ me ears open for anyfin’ else.”
“actually to the contrary, I now have a sample of an apparantly undiscovered strain of stonewood, though after testing the temple water, it sadly was just water, I’m not quite sure yet what the reasoning for it was, or what all had happened. But I don’t beleive I am through studying this ‘Daur’ .”
Olunson nodded “I’ll keep watch over th’ excavation site fer ye, I cn have it pumped an drained ifn’ ye need?”
“no, better not, at least not until I know more about what we unburied there. just keep me informed of any new developments.”
“Will do Boss”
And with that, I left Ichor Falls, setting up the lab onboard the airship to study the branch as we traveled to Mondrago.