Notes of the expedition and subsequent experiments by teh sage Varus.
Varus is expressing interest in Marcus Cassius Aurestius’ account of the expedition to the Obsidian City. He has read Xenophus’ copy and is particularly interested in the effects the city seems to have on the local vegetation.
Despite Xenophus’ warnings, he outfits an expedition to see the city for himself, and, hopefully, take samples both of the vegetation and the soils.
The expedition travels up the Torion River without trouble and resupplies at Fort Eusebius at the foot of the Great Cliff.
A combination of magic and manpower hauls the expedition up the cliff; from then on the travel is more difficult, though not treacherously so.
Varus notes the increased presence of Mancaparu tribesfolk (not the Hinterlanders), though they seem content to just observe from a distance, and prove elusive when he tries to communicate with them.
The site is reached after nine days of hard slog, towards the end of the journey, several of the Hinterlanders hired as porters desert taking supplies with them. Varus description of the journey, and included map, are sufficiently detailed that it would be easy for others to follow his route.
The site seems to be everything Varus expected, though he expresses regret that Marcus didn’t give more detailed measurements of the barren area, as he wished to know if it has increased in size.
Varus repeats the earlier experiments transplanting vegetation into the clearing, with the same results.
After three days Varus expresses complete bafflement. He resolves to take soil samples back to experiment with.
The next morning the camp awakes to discover the sentries slain overnight. The nature of their wounds suggests local tribesfolk might be responsible, though it seems as if Varus is not writing everything down of his suspicions. He does mention ‘that damnable butcher’. This is seen as reason to return to Ravenscarp, though it is possible Varus may have deeper reasons he is unwilling to more than hint at.
Back at his tower the experiments continue with the soil samples. Varus’ notes become more cryptic, and it seems as if he is deliberately holding back with his discoveries. He does speculate on the nature of ‘it’s night-time efflorescence’, and ponders on how it might affect ‘the great specimen’.
He mentions several times being visited by ‘them’, and clearly fears that ‘they’ wish him harm.
“They say I have disturbed something precious to them, but I never went inside. All I took was some soil, but what soil. If I could harvest it I could control whole nations.”