I would never have believed water could run black. It is the strangest thing, as downstream the water appears clean and is safe to drink. However there is a cloudiness that appeared steadily as we followed the creek, like the outer reaches of smoke dissipating into the sky. It gets thicker and the water grows darker with every passing hour.

It reminds me of the mist created when magic is in heavy use.

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The water itself gets no more viscous, there is no property that changes save its color. I only hope the supply we carry with us is enough to get us through because I will not be drinking from this creek. Unfortunately the leeches don’t seem to share our distaste for such waters. Pulling them off makes for the low point of too many evenings.

We must be crossing into the territory Bantish has sent us to, and yet there is no sign of the menace we hunt. The trees do appear sickly. The farther we go, the more of them we spot weeping a dark green substance. Some is so dark it appears black. Starlark sniffed at one of the afflicted trunks, his knees buckled and he coughed for the better part of an hour.

Needless to say, we now give such trees a wide birth.

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What wildlife we had grown accustomed to seeing, mostly birds and small lizards, have disappeared completely. It leaves my stomach unsettled, for where animals vacate is rarely a place one wants to visit.

The scent of the dead lingers in the air, something apart from the rotting trees and blackened water. I’m accustomed to it, which is why I knew it before I realized what I was smelling. Somewhere in this jungle there is an accumulation of death, and I fear we are walking straight towards it.

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