The group arrived in a windswept landscape, cold and harsh with mud up to their ankles. Long valley of dire abandon, with only a single point of interest for miles.
Walled and with a keep at its pinnacle. It stood out against the backdrop so vivid with grey walls against bland browns.
The group turned about and looked to each other. Tal’iel and Toorin had found the journey hard on their bodies and they felt its effect to their fullest.
Feathers from Era littered their hair and the ground, the erupted lingering effect of the bird’s magic.
“Well, we’re here!” chirped Era happily, their plucky attitude full of vigour and hope.
With grumbles and moans the group moved on to the city in the distance.
Reaching the town, they found the gate shut and the guard from above the gatehouse hollering at them in a strange language.
“Can anybody speak this language?” asked Kara.
“I can understand him,” said Cragwyn.
“That’s because of me!” happily chirped Era. “My magic helps bridge language barriers.”
The short plucky owl plucked a feather from his wings and flew over to Kara and placed the feather behind her eye. Instantly, the shouting above her in a guttural unknown transformed to crystal clear.
“— Hello? Are you listening to me? I said you can’t come in because of the plague!”
“Plague?” stuttered Kara.
The group paused, concern growing across their faces.
Each taking a feather from Era and placing it behind their ears, while earless Sunwalker held Era to gain the effect, the group spoke to the guards and discovered that the land they were in, Theadrin, was under the bewitchment of an unholy plague.
Refused passage, Toorin stepped in, using his noble lineage to persuade the guards that he was in fact a travelling noble who required to see the Duke of Theadrin; Duke Melvyn.
The guard, being successfully persuaded, opened the gate and the party entered the city proper.
Inside the buildings appeared abandoned, boarded up and ‘X’s placed across their doors.
People moaned and groaned in the street, a sickly greyish pale to their skin and complexions.
They moved towards the party, asking for aid from their suffering and the party had to act swiftly.
Darting and dashing away, they aimed for another gate, another portcullis that barred their way. Beyond it the castle rose tall and defiant.
In the corner of her eye, Tal’iel caught the movement of colour. Not grey and dreary, but small and suffering. The elf pursued the motion that snuck quickly away, and the party followed. The shambling sick did not follow as the group lost them in the tight twisting alleyways of Theadrin.
The chase brought the group to a dead end, where a barrel sniffled and quivered. Lifting the lid, the group found a small, dirty orphan child, cold and hungry but not sick. She’d survived the past six days from the sick and the tainted.
Her name was Shea.
With the girl in tow, the group head to the castle gate, Cragwyn using his cleric powers to keep the unnaturally inflicted at bay. There, Toorin tried his same trick again, aided by minor illusions by Kara.
With a little trickeration, they manage to get inside to the castle and here they find guards and other servants moving about freely.
Something wasn’t adding up.
The doors to the castle opened and out stormed a tall drow woman, fierce eyes and straight back, she approached the group flanked by a half a dozen guards.
“Who comes to Thedrin under quarantine?” said the drow with wickedly stern tongue. “Who approaches the court of Duke Malvyn?!”
The group looked about them, orphanage girl by their feet.
Theadrin guards surrounded them and the castle gate closed, the sick and infirm desperately pleaded for aid.
They were… surrounded.