Sextilis the 20th — Year of the Seal
The following is a documented account from Thurdan Iansalor, a paladin from the Order of the Owl and confirmed by Tugos, an agent of the Divine Council. The report is of an encounter with an unknown creature deep within the forest near the small town of Histria.
I was dispatched to investigate the emergence of a creature that has been terrorizing the citizens of Histria, a small farming community near the edge of the Empire. The reports and description of this creature do not match any known beast or animal. The Order is sending Tugos of the Divine Council along with me to document the investigation. My orders are clear, to investigate, locate and determine the intent of the creature. If this creature is a danger, then it is to be put down. By Athena’s grace, this shall be done.
We arrived in Histria and began our investigation. There were multiple reports of livestock and citizens being attacked and killed. We started out the investigation by speaking with Antia Silvana, the slave of a local farmer. Antia was attacked by this creature while tending to her master’s crops. Her body literally shook in fear as she described the creature and recounted the event. It was as tall as two gladiators, the head of a horned goat, leathery bat-like wings, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail. The woman was out in the field when she heard a loud, blood curdling scream coming from the the treeline. Panic stricken, she looked around and could not see anything. After a few moments had passed, she cautiously went back to her task. Then the scream came again, but this time she seen the creature flying above her. It dropped down and started to attack her. She was able to fend off the attack and fleed for the nearby villa, but the creature gave chase. Her cries for help had aroused the villa guards, who came to her aid and the pair of soldiers engaged the creature. Unfortunately, the creature killed the guards, leaving their eviscerated bodies in the field. After the interview, we searched around the fields and treeline where the attack occurred, but no further evidence was found.
After we left the villa, we went to the town’s mill. There was a report that the creature was flying around the building and harassing the workers. The report goes on to state that when the workers at the mill seen the creature, they threw stones at it to keep it at bay until the guards arrived. When the guards moved to engage the creature, it fled back into the woods. However, when we arrived at the mill, the workers refused to discuss the events of that day with us. I was getting the distinct impression that they were fearful of this creature and possibly thought that if they spoke of the incident, then it would happen again. We left the mill without pressing the issue further.
Disappointed in the progress we have made thus far, we grabbed a room at the inn for the night. We reviewed the reports and stories we have received and started to notice a trend. Luckily, the inn had a map of the area that we could purchase. We laid out the map on the table and started marking out where the attacks and sightings took place. Based on these locations, we determined that the creature may have been holed up in an old house in the woods just outside of town. I asked the innkeeper about the house and he told of the local legend about the place.
According to this legend, the family that lived here was a large one. The matriarch of the family had twelve children already. Most of these children were sold off to slavers as a way of making ends meet. When she was with her next child, the thirteenth one, rumor has it that she was cursed by Hera for her actions with her previous children. The child was born on a stormy night and after it was born, it changed. The baby rapidly grew and taking on its hideous form. It killed the midwife that helped to give birth to it, fled out of the chimney and into the woods. Shortly after that, the residents of the home were found slain, presumably by the creature. We decided that our next step of the investigation would be that home and will head there in the morning.
That night, Tugos woke me from my sleep. We heard the loud scream that the town folk have reported to come from the creature. It was a sound that I have never heard before and there really is no way to accurately describe the sound. However, the night was dark and we were unable to see the creature. I decided to let Tugos sleep while I kept watch the rest of the night, though I doubt the mage slept much. When the dawn came, we packed up and left for the house in the woods. For a farming town, there was very little activity that morning. It was eerily quiet. Perhaps this creature has indeed instilled a greater fear than I had originally thought. I said a little prayer to Athena as my resolve strengthened to free these people from this terror.
The trip was much longer than I had anticipated, taking many hours. The terrain through the woods was dense and impassable in some places. After many detours, we were finally able to reach the house. It has become decrepit due to the lack of maintenance and upkeep. The yard has become overgrown with weeds. The house itself had started to fall apart. Ivy has crept up the side of the stone walls, which were starting to crumble, while the wooden support beams have succumbed to rot. Parts of the shingled roof were missing and the rest was covered with moss growth. The chimney, which the creature escaped through, was still standing. The top of it was damaged and missing bricks, lending credit to the legend. The windows were broken, along with the door, allowing easy access inside. The steps up to the doorway creaked and seemed close to giving way under the weight of my armor. I drew my sword while Tugos illuminated the inside of the building with magic. I said a prayer of protection to Athena and entered the building.
The building was a one room house and the floorboards moaned as we walked through it. The furniture was still here, but were mostly rotted. The couches were torn and moldy, the wooden tables had either already collapsed due to rot or was about to and the hearth was nothing more than a rusted shell of its former self. On one of the tables in the corner of the room, there were some books. Tugos inspected them and they were pretty much ruined, but were still salvageable with his magic. A quick cursory look into them revealed that they were accounts of the family’s history, including the birth of the thirteenth child. Tugos stowed these tomes away in his pack and continued searching the building with me. Then we heard the scream of the creature. The sound sent shivers of fear up and down my spine that seemed to affect me to my very core. We quickly exited the building, but in our haste, I didn’t see the spot on the floor where the boards were severely rotted. I crashed through the floor and into the dirt cellar below.
The screams of the creature persisted, with its shadow skating across the floor, as it flew overhead. Tugos grabbed a length of rope from his pack and used himself as an anchor. He tossed the end of the rope down to me. The impact of the fall injured my shoulder, which hampered the efforts to get out. After some excruciation moments, I was able to reach the floor and climb out of the hole. Just as I gathered my footing, the creature crashed through the ceiling and landed on the floor before us. The grotesque, hideous, monstrosity of a creature screamed. It’s ear piercing sound struck a fear into me that I have never known before. We both stood there, frozen from the fear, as the creature paced back and forth. Its cloven hoofs causing the floorboards to bend and creak, its leathery wings were outstretched and its deadly claws were in full view. The dark brown fur, with mottled patches of a lighter grey, stretched from its goat-like head all the way down to its feet and along its long forked tail.
When we came to our senses, the creature was still pacing the floor. It seemed that there was some hesitation in attacking us. Unsure of why this is, we launched our attacks on the creature. Tugos launched his magical attacks while I closed in to engage it. After going a few rounds with the creature, it became apparent that we were outmatched. The magic seemed to just wash over it and my sword would just bounce off its hide, leaving only mere scratches. Furthermore, its claws ripped and tore at my armor and dug into the flesh that it protected. Fearing that the tide of this battle was against us, I called upon Athena to bathe us in her glory. The room filled with a soft glow that both healed and empowered us. Likewise it seemed to weaken the creature. With a final scream, it flapped its bat-like wings and flew out of the house. The burst of air from the flapping wings kicked up the years of dust in the room, temporarily blinding us as its escaped. We rushed out of the building, but careful to avoid the gaping hole in the floor, but only seen the shadow of the creature as it fled into the woods. Since it was in flight, it was impossible to give chase.
We entered back into the room to continue our investigation. Close inspection of where the fighting took place revealed that my sword did take chunks of the creature’s hide. I collected the pieces while Tugos sat to capture the likeness of the creature on a sheet of parchment while the image was still fresh in his mind. Weary from the fight, we decided to head back to town. We followed the same path we took in, so the travel was much faster.
This was the end of the account with Thurdan Iansalor. However, the report continues with an addendum from Tugos of what happened next.
I felt, due to the events that occured the night after we fought the creature, that my recount of what had happened is needed for the Council. In the case that I do not return, this will also be sent via courier with the hopes that it arrives.
Thurdan and I came upon the town of Histria after leaving the house in the woods. There were screams of terror from the villagers, mixed in with the telltale, ear piercing sound of the creature. We rushed into town to see what we can do to help, when the creature ambushed us on the road, which was littered with the bodies of the town folk. Men, women and children were indiscriminately strewn about. There were some that were hidden within the safety of the walls of nearby buildings, but this didn’t seem like it was enough as the creature would grab and drag individuals out to their death. I lost sight of the creature as it rushed around the building. Its speed was incredible as it pounced on Thurdan before either of us knew it. The cloven hoofs knocked him down as those sharp claws punctured his armor and lacerated his body. It seemed within seconds, the paladin of Athena was torn to pieces and killed. I could only helplessly watch as the creature went from building to building, killing everyone it came across. I used my magic to hide from the creature in order to survive the onslaught. By the dawn’s early light, the entire town was decimated. After the creature left back into the deep woods, I searched for survivors of the attack. I was able to find only one. A young child, not more than 6 years of age, was hiding in a cabinet of the bakery.
After providing a proper burial for the paladin, I took in the child and began making my way back to the Divine Council to report the incident. In hindsight, the creature seemed to possess great intelligence and cunning to craft an ambush like that. Combined with its superior speed, ability to fly and an innate resistance to both magic and weapons makes this creature exceptionally dangerous. One bright spot is that the creature seemed to weaken when exposed to the paladin’s divine influences.
Included with this eyewitness account was testimony from the child survivor, the books salvaged from the home, the likeness that was drawn and the preserved chunks of flesh that were cut from its body during the fight. While the creature did not seem to match any other known creature of record, it was classified as a unique devil. Since this account, the reports of attacks by this devil have diminished and further investigation attempts have been fruitless. This account and the details of, what is now known as “The Histria Devil”, has been logged in the annals of history by the Divine Council.
~Gaelan Milonas, Chief Historian for the Divine Council