The power of the moon was waning on Avechary 7th, the year 660 CE, when an expedition headed by Feenol Leihm, Professor of Biological and Botanical Studies at the Gorlognal Academy, reached Muhanlesh Caverns. Accompanied by Research Assistant Phuslik Meshglog, the Professor sought to determine whether the old research facility still held any research notes worth transporting back to the Academy or, perhaps, held any subjects worth studying. As successors to the Balach Institute of Magic and Science, the Academy is most interested in following up on the projects of old, most notably Project Touchstone which was carried out within those very caverns.
What they found upon arrival, however, exceeded expectations. Passed out on the floor around a mystical circle were Etilla Leihm, the Professor’s newly-found kin, and Melpith Saelth. Blood trickled from their eyes and ears, and a peculiar scent hung in the air. Puzzled, the expedition sought information on what occurred there, and indeed help arrived in short order but answers were harder to come. Tridemon Regalis of Celest was first on the scene, with Regent Xiran Stormcrow and Huskii Myeras of Serenwilde, Warlord Uzriel d’Vanecu of Magnagora, and Arch-Preceptor Eiselle Mes’ard and Pyawr of Gaudiguch arriving soon after.
The investigation uncovered little, to begin with. While Xiran lent her healing prowess to stabilising Etilla and Melpith, others debated the usual goings on within the caverns, and the goal of the two unconscious researchers. The general opinion held that the place was considered dangerous and the cloier, a creature often accidentally summoned by the duo, was something to be avoided. Throughout the discussion, the overpowering stench of sweat and decay held in the mirrored room until Tridemon could take it no more. But it was Huskii who ended up discovering the source – a small glob of ooze smeared upon one of the mirrors. Leaning close, Huskii sniffed at the air around the globe to verify the finding… only to be obliterated instantly. As Huskii leaned down, the ooze reached out, spread, and enveloped them whole, eating away at flesh and cloth alike until nothing remained – neither the ooze, nor Huskii.
While the gathering was still recovering from the shock, Huskii returned, not so easily defeated as a demigod. While Xiran continued to work on the unconscious researchers, theories were put forth regarding feeding objects to the summoning circle in hopes of closing it, as well as numerous methods of waking up those affected. In the end, a bucket of cold water to the face applied by Huskii did the trick for Melpith and one applied by Tridemon woke Etilla. All hope of sense and logic evaporated with their awakening, however, as Melphit was near incoherent with fear, repeating over and over “Make it stop!” and “I didn’t want to!”, even with Eiselle’s consoling. Meanwhile, Etilla was awake but catatonic.
Once Melpith calmed down sufficiently to say more, it was surmised that they were influenced to perform the ritual and summon a cloier intentionally. And though Melpith wavered between it feeling like his idea and it not being his idea, it was clear to those investigating that the researchers were in some manner possessed to do someone’s bidding. “We were summoned. And we summoned.” – as Melpith put it himself. And sure enough, a cloier had been summoned to the Prime Material Plane. It was not the first time, for the duo’s research sometimes resulted in the summoning of the behemoth from the aetherways, but the cloier – confused and unsuitable to survive away from its usual hunting grounds – would stay within the caverns and would eventually be slain, even if with difficulty. This time, however, the cloier was summoned, and it was not in the caverns.
The cloier was in the Grey Moors.
Much to the delight of Professor Leihm, who thought only of the research opportunities a beast such as that offered, the cloier was rampaging through the moors, slaughtering every animal and krokani in its path. Those investigating quickly reorganised and hurried after the cloier, including the Professor, leaving the researchers in the hands of the Research Assistant. Tridemon was the first to find the cloier rampaging through the courtyard of Castle Djarrakh, much to his dismay. The trouble in the Grey Moors brought this disturbance to the attention of the Basin of Life at large, leading to Lady Grey Sapphira, Harbinger Kalas Freja, Primarch Shango D’Cente and Alysi Diluculo of Magnagora joining the investigation, alongside Finnegan of Hallifax. The group was also soon joined by Nimuire Duskbloom and Thes Erurozea of the Fellowship of the Roots, whose outpost sits right beneath the castle itself and who, for once, were not brought there by dreams but by screams.
It was quickly discovered, through a dangerous face-to-face inspection, that the cloier in question was a much more powerful being than usually encountered. Either the rampage or something else has empowered it and any attempts at slaying it were moot. Uzriel did notice a peculiar green light amidst the grasses but the source eluded him for the moment. And so, the cloier continued on towards Paavik, with a worried entourage keeping its distance. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the moors rallied to protect themselves, with Kar’chen, the Castellan of Djarrakh, ordering a barricade, Ciarrus, leader of the aslarans, shutting down the camp, and others locking their doors and shutters to avoid a potential incursion. As the cloier reached the outskirts of the village, those gathered at the rallying point, including the Fellowship, made a valiant attempt at preventing the impending slaughter but were rebuffed.
As the cloier entered Paavik, the villagers scattered in a panic. Some were slain, their drained bodies on display upon the roads as the vanguard followed the behemoth, others fled for the manor. Here, a second attempt was made to prevent further ingress. The group was once more rebuffed, and the scent of death and anxiety hung in the air in the wake of the battle. With Paavik under Magnagora’s protection at the time, the Engine took to ensuring that the losses were minimalised. Alysi made the rounds, avoiding the cloier, and rallying the villagers to the manor. At the tanner’s workshop, he found Anya Vasili and a shepherd cowering in the back and ensured that they too were evacuated despite the cloier’s proximity. Once in the manor, Alysi also found Vanamin Vasili, the actual tanner of Paavik, sleeping off a hangover and utterly confused about the situation with the “closeter”. Were it not for Alysi, it seems the tanner’s wife would have become one more victim of the cloier.
While this was going on, the assault team reorganised in close proximity to the beast and theorised alternative approaches, much to the Professor’s dismay. He still hoped to observe the cloier, or at the very least get some samples to study in peace. Nimuire, who has been trying to slow down the cloier’s progress with thorny vines, argued with the Professor about the logic of keeping such a menace alive just to study it and eventually the Professor saw reason, in no small part due to Shango’s and Uzriel’s convincing tactics. A sample of the beast’s skin was needed to devise something to weaken it and a small contingent, bolstered by Kalas Malayn of Magnagora, Zinnia of Hallifax, and Cheliyi Lunarose of Celest, hacked at the cloier until a suitable skin sample was recovered. Thus equipped, Uzriel headed out to Gaaglin Swamps, to Professor Vleim Etloo of the Department of Alchemical Studies.
Once there, the usual pessimism of Professor Vleim did little to hasten the research. Uzriel, Sapphira, and Kalas Zagreus were able to procure the vleebgarglegush alembic for the Professor nonetheless and the study of the skin sample got underway. Meanwhile, back in Paavik, the scent of sweat and anxiety pervaded the village. As it wafted, Cheliyi reported an odd sensation in her mind but could not quite put it into words. Others did not report any such sensation, however, and assumed it was her telepathic prowess at work. The smell persisted and both the Professor and the Fellowship remarked it was familiar but still could not place it so Huskii reminded all of the lethal ooze found in Muhanlesh Caverns, which was the source of the smell there, and theorised that the cloier might be chock-full of the dangerous substance. Slaying it might not improve the situation of Paavik, if so. While they waited for results to come from the Gorlognal Academy, the group, now bolstered by Madungonga and Hiari Myeras of Serenwilde, and Etra Nightshade of Gaudiguch as well, continued to dissect the events. The identity of the being who might have compelled the researchers there to act was at the top of the list of mysteries – with the kephera and illithoid the main suspects due to their innate psychic powers.
Before long, Professor Etloo concocted an acidic substance from the blood of floating urns of the Aquarius Astrosphere brought to him and the team at the Academy was ready to get underway with an enormous barrel in tow. As they head for the Grey Moors, the pervasive odour abruptly lifted from the village of Paavik but there was little time to debate the meaning as the cloier itself was still there. Equipped with the barrel, the group assaulted the cloier for the last time. With the barrel thrown at the beast, its skin started to dissolve and numerous punctures appeared within it, letting gases escape. That was the beginning of the end as it did not take long for the cloier to be vanquished after that. The battle was less challenging than expected in fact, even accounting for the acidic substance trick up their sleeve. Nonetheless, the cloier was defeated.
In the aftermath, the Professor received a cloier organ for study for little else was left but a husk of corroded flesh, and happily took off for the Academy, leaving behind the Research Assistant to accomplish the work they set out to do, and not even checking in on his kin – Etilla. Some stayed behind to ensure Paavik was put to rights, while others left for Muhanlesh Caverns, where it all began. First to return, Tridemon was already there, making good use of Etilla’s recovery. Etilla, like Melpith, was certain she wanted to summon the cloier, not just conduct their usual research to retrieve that which was lost during Project Touchstone. The goal was to summon the cloier she insisted, and Tridemon was certain it was a psionically implanted idea, given the state of the both of them. Etilla even remembered leading the cloier out of the caverns.
What concerned Huskii most, however, was the smell. Given the subject matter, some speculated the Soulless God Muud could be involved, or Soulless God Crazen, or a fragment of the Soulless Goddess Illith, or even the Soulless God Zenos. Cheliyi worried the Eater of Flesh and Earth from Gaaglin might be involved, which is what made it click for the Research Assistant that the smell reminded her of Gaaglin Swamps, particularly when newcomers came to visit and the Eater was first empowered. That had Tridemon lay the blame squarely at the Elder God Blooredi’s feet, for both the Great Worm tended to by the Fellowship, and the Eater tended to by the Thaumaturges, were His works. Meanwhile, others thought to suspect the Fellowship, who were also new arrivals in the swamps at the time.
What mattered though was that the Grey Moors were saved, and the cloier stopped from becoming even more powerful and decimating the Basin of Life. On her end, Phuslik Meshglog decided to stay with the researchers, determined to be on guard should something be amiss during the next waning gibbous phase of the moon – a prime window for the summoning ritual.
With more questions than answers, the investigators dispersed to their homes, knowing well that something is amiss but unable to piece together this abstract puzzle for the time being.