The Awakening – Act VI
Written by the EM Team
The grass beneath his tread was soft, and covered in the morning dew from a sun that was rising in the east. Each step was taken without any specific destination, and there was no greater purpose in these steps beyond wandering; the land was unfamiliar and strange, and there were no clear landmarks to guide the way, and no signs of any sort…so he wandered. His robe dragged along the ground, fraying its edges as he went…but he paid it no heed. Finally at the end of his energy for the moment, he dropped to his knees in the soft grass, and meditated. An answer would come, or a path would be found. As he grew accustomed to the scents and sounds all around him, a new and unfamiliar sound crept to his ears. He drew himself up and brushed grass from his robe, before altering his direction…and headed in the direction of the wail of anguish he’d heard.
It took some time, but eventually he saw a thin wisp of smoke rising in the air; soon after, the smell of cooked meat reached his nose. Thinking to find himself at some sort of gypsy outpost, he was far more confused to hear noises that could only be associated with the sick and dying, and he hastened his pace. He stopped suddenly as he saw a red and white sign affixed to an ankh in front of him. While the ankh served to give him some minor comfort that he was not in completely alien circumstance, the sign brought confusion and curiosity to the forefront.
Quarantine Area! Danger! Entry Prohibited By Order Of Queen Zhah
There was a fence to lend credence to the quarantine order, but the gates were missing, and he found no guard barring his entry. Were it truly this dangerous, would there not be more stringent measures taken? And what of this Zhah, whom the sign ostensibly claimed to be a Queen? It had seemed there was far more to know than he could have imagined.
He was close enough now to hear the coughs and moans of the dying and deathly ill, and looking at the sign once more, he strode brazenly past the fencing, paying the sign no more attention. Perhaps the people here could answer his questions, he thought. It was only to find yet another shock as he approached, to see that what lay before him in the area were naught but gargoyles…and not even gargoyles as he knew them. He observed the strange gargoyles carefully and was already mentally cataloguing their symptoms in his head as best he could, despite his unfamiliarity with them. As he walked through the makeshift camp, he stepped onto finely grained sand and rounded the corner of a building before blanching at the sight before him, and realized that his initial assumption earlier wasn’t too far off about cooked meat. His sight was consumed by a funeral pyre, tended by two healthier looking gargoyles, who even as he watched silently threw another limp body atop it. His jaw set with determination at the sight, and despite his curiosity, he knew what had to be done.
All initial attempts and conventional remedies had failed him; his magic was equally ineffective in curing these gargoyles of their affliction. It had been…an indeterminable amount of time since he had needed to apply himself in such a manner as this, and certainly even longer since being presented with one that would require his knowledge of alchemy. Still, with as focused as most alchemists had become on only the most basic potions, the archaic way he approached it had opened up new avenues, and he checked over the list he’d come up with. He wasn’t absolutely certain it would work, but he knew it was a better chance than they’d had before. Still, it would be dangerous to gather some of the ingredients, if they could even still be gathered. He was unsure if the Blightborn slimes could even be found, but he was fairly certain that Orcs and Terathans were too hardy to have vanished completely. Add that to sugar and vanilla, which any horticulturist should be able to gather, and a cure should be able to be fashioned.
The problem would be with the disease itself; it seemed to constantly change itself and stop responding to what few treatments they’d already used to stifle it, so that meant that the cure wouldn’t be consistent. It was possible that with different quantities of each ingredient mixed in different fashions, the same ingredients could continue to be effective for some time. He now only found himself with one major problem; being without anyone to assist in finding and gathering the ingredients.