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1212 RE-- Disappearance of the Guild Expedition to Petra's Hearth

Date: March, 1212
Outcome: 37 dead, 13 missing, roughly 1000 crowns in goods lost (including two homunculi)
Parties: The Cartographer's Guild of the Hulder, Chamneburg residents, Principalities guards, Physickers of the Hulder

When the ship bearing the symbol of the Cartographer's Guild of the Hulder was first discovered, it was naturally assumed to be an unfortunate shipwreck caused by the horrific weather that often surrounds the Isle of Storm Drakes. The ship had been discovered by a fisherman(1) from Chamneburg proper, who inspected the ship and found it full of bodies without the obvious signs of shipwreck-related death upon them. Not wishing to be cursed, as the people of the Skattenmark are often superstitious, this matter was brought to the town proper and explained to the guards. The squire(2) who received the report retained the aide of two physickers of the Honorable Guild of Physickers. The first physicker(3), a student of myth and legend, was called upon to search for any sign that something unnatural befell the people within. The second physicker(4), trained in the latest in humorial medicine, was called upon as an expert in the field of human physiology. Upon reaching the vessel, the group fell under a surprise attack by a small group of trolls that call the water home. These trolls, often referred to as scags by the various soldiers and mercenaries in this region of the Principalities, attacked the group savagely. The squire tossed his sword to the ground after it became engulfed in strange magic that energized it violently, causing continual pain to the arm holding it. He then grabbed a barnacled tent pole and barely managed to impale a vicious troll as it bore down upon him. Instead of dying, it seemed to turn into liquid and flow back into the waters whence it came. Emboldened by his display, the other soldiers pushed the creatures back until they retreated.

After the battle, the two physickers inspected the ship. The first discerned that many of the scrolls, tomes and artifacts in the ship were quite obviously magical, and that many of the unfortunate crew bore the signs of magical assault upon them. One of the dead appeared to have been turned into stone, while another bore the signs of magical remnants of Earth about the many, many holes in his flesh. One of other explorers appeared to have drowned, but possessed no liquid in her lungs when an autopsy was performed. Several others bore signs of magical trauma upon them. The second physicker determined that many of the crew died from claws of beasts rending their flesh, though they did not appear as the claws of the werewolves, or even normal animals. Others suffered more obvious wounds such as arrow punctures, slashes by swords and axes, and broken bones caused by hammers and clubs. The strange thing is that those who died of mundane means, and some of those who died of magical means, seemed to have died long before the other crew members, and the signs of blood that would be left behind if the wounds had been received on the ship were not present. The squire ordered the goods seized and held, and the bodies taken to Chamneburg until the Cartographer's Guild could claim the objects and bodies. The ship was left where it was, as none wanted to move or touch the seemingly cursed vessel.

Some time later, members of the Cartographer's Guild, including an apprentice who was also a skilled alchemist (and gained some note for protecting the Guild members from shades during their travels to Chamneburg) arrived in the city to claim the goods and bodies. The Guilds praised the squire and physickers for their respect and honor, and letters of commendation were delivered to Margravine Emily von Chamneburg on their behalf. While the Guild itself did not publicly speak of what was found in the ship or the bodies, it was soon common knowledge in the town of Chamneburg what had occurred. Several Guild members had been overheard discussing the matter over drinks in the Welcome Wagon, an inn just inside the city proper. The ship had been dispatched in the first place because an expedition sent to Petra's Hearth had not sent word in some months. This delegation was to check in on the expedition and provide support if needed. When the group arrived, they found the expedition slaughtered and the ruins empty, save for some other expeditionary groups from Tarsikka who arrived just after the second Guild group. The journals found on the ship indicated that strange things were occurring in the ruins at night that made them uneasy, such as unearthly moans, the sound of the wind speaking to them, and the sounds of grinding stone echoing eerily in the night. Several times the group fought off shades, and even scags a time or two. The goods the initial expedition possessed were all missing, totaling almost one thousand gold in value, if the cost of the two destroyed homunculi were counted. The journal ended with the group loading the dead upon the ship and departing again for the Hulder. According to the Guild members overheard, the total death count was thirty-seven dead, including the fifteen on the ship, and another thirteen missing.

The Cartographer's Guild has been heard to be in communication with the Council of Silver, the authorities in Chamneburg, and the Great Guilds since that time, working to set up another, larger expeditionary force.