As soon as we got back to Corkirk, the elders called us into a room in the Rooster to hear our report. We told them everything we saw. The bones. The ash. The demon symbol. I made sure to let Branigan know that the treemappers need to start keeping a closer watch on the forest.
I'll say this, when the elders all focus on something, it gets done. The next day, there was a huge shipment of logs and the town was already beginning to work to set up defenses. Amatus got a look at one of Father Dake's books, and the symbol we saw at Stones End is very close to the one Othalath uses. According to Amatus, he's a minor demon who really likes slaves. Our group met up and decided that we could do more help traveling to Finnmaela than staying in Corkirk. We also decided to travel straight through the Grimarden instead of going down to Stones End to save a few days of travel time. That turned out for the best.
This trip through the Grimarden was much better than the last one. The only thing of note was when we heard singing again. After our last experience, none of us were interested in following it. Except for Kevin. He vanished and we were left sitting around until he finally showed back up. The singing was coming from a cottage in the middle of the woods according to him. Apparently there was also an apple pie in the window. Not sure why that's important, but it's something Kevin made a note of. I was more focused on getting to Finnmaela, but if we come back this way, maybe we can find out more about the cottage. We were able to make it out of the Grimarden before nightfall luckily. We were still three days out, so we made camp there to keep the horses healthy.
The rest of the journey wasn't interesting, but when we got close to the village, we noticed a strange fog coming in. I've grown up in the forest, but I could tell the fog wasn't natural. We saw Finnmaela through the fog and there was a column of fire moving through it. No decision had to be made. We all urged our horses into the mist.
The village itself looked like a slaughter. The worst thing I saw was a mother slumped over a cart with a spear through her. It looked like she tried to protect her daughter, but both were stabbed through. As we made our way further in, we found the source of the fire. It looked like a giant fire serpent was rampaging through town. It turned out the serpent was an illusion and it was actually a bunch of soldiers with torches. When a group of them noticed us, they broke off and it looked like a second serpent split from the main one. The fight was easily the toughest one I've ever been in. Someone was using magic and kept pelting us from the fog. One of the soldiers got a really good hit on me. I don't think I would have survived if Darvin hadn't healed me. Thank Koed. There was something that happened in the fight though. I'm not sure what it was, but when I nearly died, it was like I knew exactly where my body was and how it could move. It's hard to explain, but I was able to strike faster than I ever have. I've also felt lighter ever since we left Corkirk. Like I can move easier. I'm not going to worry about this for now. There are more important matters.
In any case, the fight was tough, but we survived. Darvin and Malik didn't realize we were fighting people until the fight was over. According to them, it looked like nothing was hurting the snakes. Though some of the snakes did float away during the fight. Probably when the soldiers died. Speaking of the soldiers, they were all tieflings. This is the first time I've seen one. I can see why the kid said demons attacked Stones End. Reddish skin, yellow eyes, horns. They certainly look like demons. They all had the same symbol tattooed on their shoulders. It's the same one we found at Stones End. I've heard that some armies do this to form a sense of unity. And so they can find deserters. Their gear looked surprisingly good. I took one of their cloaks. It's not fancy, but it would sell for a good price at market. Whoever or whatever these tieflings work for, they're wealthy enough to keep them well supplied.
Oh yeah! Malik can use magic! I don't know what he did, but there was a flash of color and two of the tieflings started acting like they couldn't see. I'm not sure what to say about this. It'll probably depend on his explanation. He hasn't said anything yet, though. If he takes too long, I'm going to bring it up.
It seems like our arrival surprised the invaders. After our fight, the rest of them left very quickly, along with the fog. The death count is a lot lower than I expected. A lot of the fishermen are dead, but most of the fighting was limited to the dock area. This town is going to take a hit, but I think they can survive with a little help. Amatus and Darvin have gone off to find who's leading the town. I'm doing what I can to help the injured and thinking about ways to fight whoever these tieflings are. The biggest problem is that whatever magic they're using makes it look like any attacks do nothing. Even when they die, the illusions stay there. Without a way to see through that, fighting them will be tough. Fighting is one thing. Fighting something that looks like nothing hurts it is something else entirely. While it is important to get back to Corkirk, I want to stay here and try to find as much information about this group as I can. I think I'll head to the shore and see if there's anything there.
This isn't related to anything, but I just remembered. Amatus stole Father Dake's book. Well, steal might be a strong word. He did take it without discussing it with Father Dake. I didn't think he had it in him.