The sun was beginning to set when the settlement finally came into view. Like most villages in the high plateau, this small community would have few amenities. The steppe was vast, and far from authority. In these places the village reeve was responsible for administering justice in the local region, which made him a king in all but name.
Blackroot drew its name from the darkwood trees that thrived in the region, their gnarled limbs bent in fealty to the all powerful wind. The village sat in the windward shadow of a rocky outcrop. Orcs, humans, and half-orcs worked together in the fields, eking what they can out of the ground, and ranging far and wide with their flocks of goats. The villagers seemed like the Blackroot trees, permanently bent by an omnipresent force. None of them seem particularly pleased to see strangers. It seemed that many of the huts were unoccupied, judging by which chimneys were spitting pale smoke into the biting wind.As they neared the main drag, a looming, muscular orc wearing a fur trimmed hat walked out to me the weary travelers. His skin was weathered, and streaks of gray could be seen in his stringy black hair. He bore no weapons and wore loose peasant clothing, but he carried himself with confidence and quiet strength. “Greetings,” said the tusked savage. “I am Toraash’Dorrm, Reeve of Blackroot. I don’t know what brings you here, but we’ve no inn, no tavern, and no time for strangers. I suggest you move on.”
Geth Corvine did not believe the orc’s words, and nodded to his friends.
At the hut, the party quickly took to investigating, for it was obvious that this was a household left in haste and perhaps under duress. Driemz found a pendant like a glass eye-ball and a fragment of verse.
“The Eye of Hunger!” said Ares. “I have read of this in book of Mithras and Danzig.
When madness and night align
And innocent blood waters the dark tree
The noble soul must claim the Coat of Eyes
And bear this burden for the good of all.
Making their way up to this sinister rock, the party found a well worn but hidden pathway amongst the scree fields, coming finally to a cave flanked by Blackroot trees and guarded by two orcish farmers and two cowled miscreants hidden in the trees. Diplomacy quickly turned to war, and the visitors proved themselves a force to be reckoned with.
The cultists who had fallen were cultists indeed for their cowls hid strange disfigurations: boils on their faces and hands that looked like eyes. They wore Eyeball Pendants under their cloaks, and they bore strange daggers of black obsidian.
The cave yawned more darkly in the waning light of dusk. Enter, if you dare. A deep throbbing chant could hardly be heard, drifting on the air…