It has been a full day since the party set out for the ruins of the manor, and the mood amongst the travelers has soured. What was before an anticipation of future riches has become a brooding upon the monstrosities that fester within the ruins of the manor, the results of some sort of foul necromancy. The old magic has always existed within the cracks of the world, and whatever it is the elder Clarke opened has acted as a beacon for those unspeakable things. Having realized this, my fellow travelers have begun to imagine the nature of what we may be about to face. The corruption is extensive, and it amazes me that this squat hamlet has somehow been spared. Even the woods have a stink of corruption about them, the trees and branches all twisted and gnarled, warning off anyone who may think of entering.
While they have been gone, plumbing the ruins for the library, another traveler has wandered into the hamlet. This new stranger wears the garb and speaks with the accent of the southern continent, and he is laden with pouches and packs that bulge with scrolls and odd devices. He gave his name as Raziq, and requested the young master Clarke by name upon his arrival. There is a certain sect of scholars within the southern continent that dedicate their lives to studying the old magic – I can only assume that he belongs to such a sect and a thirst for knowledge of the forbidden has brought him here. Perhaps the young Master Clarke sent for him to help decipher what horrible machinations have been set in place, but I did not inquire any further than necessary, leaving him in the company of Maxwell and Blacksmith. The old soldier seemed uncomfortable around the student of this occult, but Maxwell did not seem to mind.
Fortune has smiled upon me in the form of the kindly old apothecary and his wagon. Within the hamlet proper, there is little in the way of scholarly works, and I would not be surprised if even the clergy proved to be illiterate. However, the apothecary and his wagon have proven to be most useful, having alchemical texts and medical scrolls along with a wealth of ingredients. He allows me to peruse his library of information for the small of fee having someone to talk to, and he has proved to be the one bright spot in this shadowed town. While I have followed the plague and only have stories of death and destruction, he has spent his life traveling the continents, occasionally serving famous alchemists and physicians. His stories were joyous ones and allowed me a moment to forget what abominations are festering under the very earth.
Within his wagon, I found a scroll detailing an alchemist’s quest to discover Alkahest, the universal solvent. He had ultimately failed, much like those before him, but buried within the formulas I found one that may prove useful against whatever abominations await me throughout the estate. The alchemist had discarded it as useless, but I believe it may help destroy and rot whatever I may encounter. I was able to purchase the ingredients from apothecary and they are brewing as I write this. I know not how I will be able to test it, but I can only hope that when that time comes it will be effective.
I hope that those four in the ruins return quickly and safely. No one has seen the young Master Clarke since he left the tavern, shaking with disgust over the obscene mockery of his family’s house. He may be exploring his ancestral homeland further, mapping out the extent of the corruption, though the task seems foolhardy without his man-at-arms. He is the only thing providing direction and unity to the travelers gathered here. If he were to perish, that all would be lost, allowing the thing his father pulled into our world to grow unchecked.