We’ve received this report from an explorer from Chult, who recently returned to us in the Sword Coast. What follows is his account in his own words of his experience. His name has not been mentioned for his protection.
Transcription of His Account
It was exactly 32 days ago that this took place; 6 days into our expedition. We were on the hunt to to find a lost shrine to Ubtao near the waters of the river Tath and had been having little luck and were close to turning back towards our ship. At that moment I saw a human corpse float by, no more than 5 feet away from myself. I took notice of this immediately, as I thought the flesh eating fish of the river would surely have devoured it by now as they have proven to do with the carcasses of our game kills that we deposited into the river. As I looked closer, to my surprise and horror, I saw that this “corpse” was still moving – it was indeed an undead creature and far from the designated danger area of my map.
Fearing for my life, I shouted to the members of my expedition (9 total, not counting myself) and ran from the river bed, pointing back towards my discovery. Our guards immediately stepped forward, as they have been trained to do, and struck at the corpse in the river, disassembling it with ruthless efficiency. It ceased its movements.
Over the next two days, undead sightings became more and more common. It was an unanimous agreement that we head back to our ship at once, lest we stumble into a proverbial nest and be overcome. The Emerald Enclave sent a guide with us for this expedition, and he told us that it would take another 7 days for our return.
The trip back became more and more harrowing. We lost half of our expedition to an undead, four-armed creature that our guide shouted at us was a “girallon” before he was torn to pieces. 3 other members of our party were beaten to death. Losing most of our equipment, food, and medicine to that monster, we began to succumb to food shortage and disease.
At the end of the 5th day, lost and now alone after failing to rouse my last companion from his long sleep beside me, I set out in the direction I thought was safety. It was safety of some sort, but not what I expected. For after many hours of wandering, I stumbled upon a lavish encampment of undead being directed by several Red Wizards and their living men. I collapsed instead of fighting, not expecting to draw breath for more than a few seconds.
To my surprise, I awoke again still very much in control of myself. I was inside a lavish tent with water spilling into my mouth. Choking at it a bit, I sat up abruptly, although my muscles ached as I did. A manservant was attending to me, my gear (what was left of it) situated in the corner, and an elven woman of dark and grim demeanor.
She inquired about my business and readiness of which I told her as much as I could – I had nothing to hide. She seemed satisfied and instructed me to recover the rest of the day, and the following day she would show me about their campsite and then provision me for a return out of the jungle. I hastily agreed and then lay down again, sleep overtaking me.
When I was somewhat recovered the following morning, my elven ward once again returned and took me on a tour of their grounds. Their expedition were many in number: humans (both wizard and labourers), undead, and animals, likely numbering at least 50 or 60. Arcane instruments that I dare not conjecture as to their purpose were being utilized by a congregation of bald Red Wizards. They seemed to be attempting curious experiments upon a wild undead in a cage, which was gnashing its teeth at them through the bars. I was steered away from that area by my escort.
As we walked, the elven lady recounted how they were here to conduct business on behalf of all of Faerún; to eliminate the cause of the terrible death curse that has overtaken the land. I wondered aloud how they knew its source resided in Chult, of which the lady smiled but did not answer my question. Instead, she told me thus: the powers of the north, with the exception of Thay, seem barely to have noticed the catastrophe. Partly because, unlike the Sword Coast, the jungles of Chult have little strategic importance in their grand schemes. It is heavily forested, small, incredibly dangerous, and has little in the way of established trade routes outside of Port Nyanzaru.
At that point, as if to confirm the lady’s words, an alarm sounded, and several guards dashed into formation near us. Arrows flew into the bushes, were answered from those by more, and my ward pushed me behind her, muttering arcane words with invisible results. As she pushed me, her hands felt cold, as if no blood flowed through them. At that moment, my head cleared and I immediately realized what I was keeping company with. My more sane side prevailed and I did not call attention my discomfort by crying out or pulling away.
Within seconds, the skirmish ceased and one of the guards lay dead, felled by small arrows with colorful feather fletchings. The remaining guards, still great in number, rushed into the bushes and returned with several dead goblins. I was familiar with these batiri: the native goblins of the jungles of Chult. They were likely caught spying on the grounds right before this skirmish broke out.
One of the Red Wizards moved over to attend to the bodies, drawing several foul smelling reagents from his pack as he did so. A cold hand on my shoulder and a telling smile from my ward told me that our business was done here and I had seen enough. We moved onwards as she resumed her dialogue.
She explained that despite the unwillingness of the factions to do much in Chult and the death curse, Thay is bringing hope. No too long ago, the Thayan government signed an agreement with several organizations and individuals to ensure peace while they investigated the curse; offering them a share of power and the results of research that would come from this curse. In doing so, they’ve won the support of many powerful leaders which helped back this expedition.
Although I had a healthy amount of mistrust in her words, if what she had said was true, Thay was doing work to better the citizens ofFaerún, despite what are undoubtably motives to uncover the secrets of this death curse. With a curse in which almost all the victims are innocents, what can we say against work that serves to ultimately defeat it in a place that is inhospitable to even the most capable heroes in Faerún?
Our tour seemingly done, we came to a stop near the entrance of the camp. True to her word, there were provisions on a beast ready for me, and I was given instructions back to the edge of the jungle from their location. The journey back was eventless and I returned to the ship and back to the north.
In our meeting with the explorer when he turned over his story to us, this reporter had a feeling that there were things he had witnessed that were left unsaid. There was a great pause followed by a hesitant “no” when I asked if anything else had happened in their camp. When pressed about the issue, he refused to say anything else about the subject and then left the building, complaining of a headache.
We now have eyewitness testimony that Thay is operating in Chult, allegedly in response to the death curse that is keeping many of our younger adventurers behind closed doors. If true, it would mean a great deal for (or to some, further complicate) relations with Thay if they were credited with the removal of the death curse. Many of the factions have been slow to act regarding the death curse compared to other incidents in the past years. Perhaps what the Thayan representative said is true? Time will tell.