Buried in Backwater

Day 44 and 45

Evening arrived on the wings of the ever present mosquito’s and other bugs of the swamp. We hear the short guttural barks now every time we turn around and we are all on pins and needles. We decide to travel throughout the night as there is no where to build a fire and no trees big enough to support us high enough out of the swamp to deter predators. It is just as well for stopping would surely mean being surrounded by the pack of velociraptors that the rangers are sure are hunting us now.
Soon enough we hear something large crashing through the brush in our general direction (the barking falling silent) so Dimmed Sum moved out ahead of the party to head it off. Out of the gloom shambles a cyclops who looks at ease playing Blaster to a hag riding his shoulders like Master. Luckily she was in a negotiating mood and bartered with Arctos to neutralize the poison coursing through his veins from the spiders we had encountered earlier. Having none of it and not liking the barbarians attitude she demanded we leave her swamp. Antidote be damned. Though she did warn us not to stop or the raptors would take over take us.
Realizing we could not likely defeat the cyclops and hag in our present fatigued condition we moved on. Eventually we came up with the idea to leave the predator attracting spear in a tree. Thus hopefully letting the raptors think we had camped out in the tree. Hoping for any respite or help getting a lead on them was worth a try. The barking louder and more frequent now. As we leave push through the last of some dense foliage we see the mountain ahead of us an enormous cylcops looking statue a couple of miles farther down the line of where the swamp meets the mountain. As the heroes made haste for the entrance between the statues feet someone glances back and makes out the forms of at least 9 raptors breaking from the treeline in pursuit.

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Day 44

The morning of the 44th found Fenssill in better spirits as he was clearly able to shake off what ever the putrid proboscis of the stirges had infected him with, while Isla could barely be roused from her slumber. We administered a dose of cure disease from our precious stock and the priest attempted to purify the wound as well. One way or the other, she was back on her feet in no time, if not spry and hearty.
The heroes broke camp and had barely made it 100 yards before something rose up out of the water next to Ahkiell. A slimy burbling morass that he cut in half, creating 2 slimy masses that both acted against separate members of the party. Another one split when it was hit ans we had 4 of the things attacking us. Remembering the slimes we fought in the cavers below the Abbey of Angels some of the party resorted to blunt weapons and we were able to smash them into Ochre Jelly oil slicks. Searching the remains of the vanilla pudding like monsters we discovered an amethyst half the size of a mans fist.
It was only a weary hours travel after that Dengal found himself zigging around a tree the rest of us zagged around and was encased in webbing that came shooting out of one of the large trees around us. A second shot of webbing coming from the trees mercifully missed everyone and made it possible for us to triangulate when the webbing was coming from. Not that we needed the geometry lesson as looking into the canopy above revealed numerous very large spiders scurrying into attack positions from whence to shoot more webs at us.
As one of the spiders came scurrying down a tree behind Fenssill, the bard set his spear to help defend the archers back. Seeing this, Fenssill cast grease on the tree and the spider came sliding down the tree onto the braced spear. With no real way of trading volleys with the spiders, the barbarian started to climb a tree to go after the spiders. Sensing that the party needed to take the fight to the spiders the bard tossed a rope up into the trees and tricked it down to us. Aluca raced up the rope to help the defenseless, climbing barbarian who ended up getting bit and poisoned for his trouble. The bard then outlined one of the spiders in glowing fire so the archers would have a better target. Then, with Aluca in the canopy, the bard tricked the rope to coil itself around another one of the spiders so it could not retreat from the hacking blades of Arctos and Aluca. He then summoned an illusion of a 20’ pterodactyl to appear in front of another spider that was creeping up behind the heroes in the canopy, causing it to scurry away in terror of what must be a natural predator for it.
Meanwhile Ahkiell and Dimmed Sum saw to it that Dengal did not suffocate or get snatched up as a morsel by any other spiders.
Shortly after midday the group was shocked when the swamp came alive under Arctos and swallowed him into its leafy embrace. Looking for all the world like he was being hugged by a giant swampthing. Fenssill immediately put 2 arrows into it and was also drawn into its crushing embrace for his troubles. Moving quickly, Aluca and Dimmed Sum tore it to grass clippings before it could do much damage to the heroes in its leafy moldering embrace. In the detritus we found what could only be described as a golems heart of some sort.
Within 200 yards the party was were not surprised by the pair of anacondas that dropped out of the trees. One missed landing on anyone and was decapitated for its foolish actions while the other anaconda dropped onto and started to wrap its constricting body around Ahkiell. The heroes were able to kill it before it could squeeze the ranger into a pulp. Its scaly body unwinding and sinking silently into the murky depths below. Inside the other snake we found a mostly digested native and his gorgeously crafted obsidian greatclub which looked immaculate for coming out of a snakes intestines. To be continued…..

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Day 43

Upon rising the morning of the 43rd Fenssill and Isla had clearly contracted something from the filthy wounds caused by the stirges. Sluggish to rise and with a clearly pallid hue to them, neither felt much like breakfast nor slogging through the humid, insect ridden swamp. With 2 of their number clearly the worst for wear, it was little surprise they were caught off guard by a giant crocodile that emerged from the vegetation laden swamp, grabbed the bard and started to death roll. Luckily for the bard the other heroes were quick to act and killed the monster before it could get very far. Mmmm gator for lunch. Slightly after midday it was proposed that the party rest in some shade out of the sun and during the warmth of day while the weather held.
The party found another suitable hillock though it barely had enough room for half of them to rest around a small fire while the others stood watch. Several hours into the afternoon a barking sound could be heard off to the east, echoed on the west and moved closer to the weary band of heroes. The guttural barks were short and always answered by another from one side of the heroes camp or another. As it started getting dark it was decided to stay where we were as it was dry and comfy enough what with the smoke keeping the bugs away for the most part. Arctos and Delgan were out gathering more firewood in the fading light when they were set upon by 3 Velociraptors. With Delgan protecting his blind side, Arctos was able to remove ones right shoulder from it’s left hip. An often fatal wound. It was lightly argued what gave the remaining 2 velociraptors more pause. The carnage wrought by the grinning, howling barbarian or the rain of arrows falling on them from the 4 archers in the party.

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Day 42
Breaking camp we were startled by the emergence of what could only be called a giant meandering flying frog. despite the aches and pains the heroes made ready to defend themselves from yet another twisted denizen of the swamp when it stopped in mid air, floating more than flying as it’s diaphanous wings could not feasibly support such a rotund torso. It turned to Ahkiell and spoke to him in fey before conversing with us in sylvan. Greetings were exchanged and he introduced himself and “Watcher”. Watcher spoke to us in the cryptic ways that fey are wont to do and gently pointed us in the right direction before moving off into the swamp chuckling to himself over our lack of knowledge with all things in the swamp. Not far into our continued slogging we warily approach a crashing racket through the swamp that as luck would have it was not heading in our direction. No, this racket was perpetrated by a pair of enormous cyclops who were busily knocking down trees and stacking them up. Not wanting to confront two giant cyclops in such treacherous environment the heroes gave them a wide berth. Unfortunately traversing a route around the cyclops was made treacherous do to patches of quicksand that we luckily recognized before anyone was lost to it. As we finally made it back to heading in some semblance of the right direction the swamp exploded in froth and vegetable matter as an enormous lizard creature with 6 legs burst from the swamp. First to recover from the spectacle was Isla who locked eyes with the beast amidst the cascading water and foliage. Time stood still for her from that moment on as the basilisks gaze worked it’s foul magic on her. The beginnings of a marble sheen coating her fair skin. Fenssill was able to put one eye out and the heroes slew the laid into the beast with great vengeance. Such was their desire for revenge on for their fallen comrade that Fenssill did not have time to even try and shoot out the other eye, before it was a quivering mass of reptile, leaking it’s foulness back into the inky black of the swamp from whence it came. Blessedly the bard saved the yet another member of the heroes from a horrible demise by rattling off the various known facts about a basilisk. one of which was that coating a fresh victim of the gaze in it’s blood may reverse the petrification effect. Thankfully that bit of lore we were able to confirm first hand. Isla was returned to us, bewildered that the lizard she had last seen launch itself out of the murk at her was now a bloody husk, seemingly instantaneously. With Fenssill’s tracking skills and some quick thinking the party was able to track the basilisk back to it’s lair where Fenssill and Arctos put on the water breathing nautilus shells and searched under water in the the muck of it’s lair for anything of value. Finding only a platinum ring and a tribal necklace after almost an hour of searching was enough call off the search and head for a dry camp site. Such was not to be as the heavens opened up on the band of adventurers, brightening their spirits for a moment as it sluiced the stinking filth of the basilisks den off them before crushing the flicker of light with a constant downpour of cold, grey rain. Reminding them that they are far from home and other than these few friends, very alone in a harsh, harsh environment. each of them hoping to avoid deaths gave for another day. Slogging on into the dull grey of the afternoon? or evening? One cannot tell as the sky has been the same color of turbulent rain cloud seemingly unending for days. A noise reaches the ears of Isla who beckons the others that something approaches. We huddle together to appear like a much bigger animal in the limited visibility of the pouring rain. It does not matter to the 5 stirges that wing our way and attempt to drain what little warmth they can get from our bone wear bodies. The dejected heroes attacks came more and more sluggish as the stirges leeched the very life from those they attacked. Four of the magical pests were squashed before the 5th escaped in the mist and fog produced by the constant rain. Gone from sight in the space of 20 feet so poor was visibility. The heroes marched on through the downpour, no end to the swamp in site. When they came upon a large hillock rising out of the swamp some 3 feet. A veritable mountain compared with the landscape of the last couple days. With the rain draining down either side of it the heroes crouched under their cloaks. Miserable , wet, wounded and stinking. Their rubbery, waterlogged flesh pruning from the constant moisture. They huddled together and dreamed of better days.
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Day 41 cont.

Soon after leaving the carcasses of the caymans Ahkiell beckoned the party to quite as he detected the presence of something ahead and to the right of us. Though none if us could see it he said he just felt that it was there. Even the sharpest of eyes among us could only pick out a vague blurred image resting in the trees. As it was the only non threatening thing we had encountered so far we let it alone and proceeded slogging through the morass of the swamp, only occasionally finding the barest patches of ground to slog over. The water leeching form our boots and clothing, turning the little bit of dry ground to a muddy mess for the 3rd and 4th people trying to traverse it.
It seemed an eternity of slogging through the swamps but was likely only an hour before a buzzing sound reached our ears from out of the mists of the swamp. As the rain intensified, so did the buzzing. Rising at the same speed our vision through the rain was diminished. Dimmed Sum and Dengal barely had time to shout a warning before they were impaled by a pair of giant mosquito like creatures. Each the size of a condor. Quick thinking by the bard had Dengal outlined in faerie fire which caused the giant insect to disengage from him and seek a target that was not covered in flickering red flames, very likely saving Dengal’s life as the insect had drawn a full pint of blood from Dengal in short order. Dimmed Sum simply beat the insect to within an inch of it’s life before it disengaged but Dimmed Sum was able to crush it like the bug it was, before it could zip off into the mist it came from. Willingly putting yourself in a monks reach is definitely the sign of insect intelligence.
Continuing on the adventurers finally came upon a small hillock rising out of the swamp, not much space to get comfy and the heroes were starting to feel the miasma of the swamp in their bones. Ache, rubbery, wet flesh demanding dryness and numbing in retaliation when it was not to be had was felt by each and every one of the weary heroes. Huddled together to try and stave off the rain under a small tarp the bard had the forethought to bring. A miserable nite made for a miserable morning with everything to wet to lite a fire to cook with, let alone dry out by.

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Day 41

Blessedly the heroes awoke to find Shiralie standing watch over their defenseless, exhausted selves. No doubt saving them from becoming carrion for the numerous pterodactyls circling high above. The heroes thanked her for the rescue and protection she had provided them but found themselves now owing her doubly for their lives. Perhaps even beyond that as she gave us valuable information about the island we had been deposited on.
Through her we leanred of a Saughin war that she was on the cusp of under the seas. The giant lizard creatures we had encountered on the docks were the Shriss whom the natives of this island have been at war with for a long time. She let us know there is a passage way through the mountains surrounding our beach front location but it is several days travel through the swamp to get there, and warned us to beware the swamp Hags. Fenssill took a heading from her directions and fixed the direction in mind using the compass like ability of his magic arrow. Before the heroes could get more information out of her they were forced to make a run for it into the swamp as an enormous wave of crabs came scuttling down the beach towards them. The only thing missing was The Black Pearl riding it’s crest.
Around midday the party encountered a strange tree standing somewhat alone in the swamp, barren of leafy material but looking healthy none the less, emanating an odd odor. One of the more learned adventurers had evidently ran into this sort of flora before and pointed out that the odor actually attracted predators who feasted on the entrails of lesser animals enthralled by it’s scent, while it’s roots greedily sucked in blood seeping into the soil below. Not wanting to be confronted by any predators about but curious all the same we broke off a branch and stored it in an extra dimensional space to prevent the scent from lingering with us. Though we found the pitch nearly impossible to remove from our gloves. We were apparently unable to remove it all as we were set upon by 4 huge caymans that sprung from the surrounding waters. They quickly found we were not the typical prey attracted to the scent of the tree, even if seeming no more intelligent for done so. The barbarian Arctos recalled the hides of these overgrown caymans would make great hide armor if cured properly so we set about skinning the hides of the one that was not to damaged and the bard secured it in his handy haversack.

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Day 38 - 41
The crew set out south on a 3 day tour. A 3 day tour. Enroute to the island to the south the weather started getting rough. The medium cargo ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the heroes crew the cargo would be lost. The cargo would be lost. A thick fog appeared below decks. Strange in the extreme and laughter came rolling out of it’s smothering confines, as the heroes waded in to protect the startled crew they were reduced to entertainers for the troublesome Water Mephits. Knowing something about the fey allowed Ahkiell to deduce that laughter would turn out to be the best medicine when confronted by humor starved Mephits. Ass soon as they left the ship shuddered as it hit something? Or something hit it. Taking on water faster than the heroes and crew could pump it out. Fenssill pulled the tuning fork from his quiver and summoned Shiralie. Luckily for the heroes and crew, she arrived with several dolphins to help aid us to shore. Somewhere along the arduous journey to land the heroes succumbed to their fatigue. Awakening to the sounds of waves crashing ashore, gulls crying and something infinitely larger circling overhead……..
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Day 37
Dawn broke early in the seaside encampment, the smell of ocean air refreshing for the companions who finally got a full nights sleep. Dirt took Dimmed Sum to get tatoos while the rest of us went to meet with Vlim. From Vlim we learned of an islan 3 days to the south of us that is likely responsible for the lizardmen, saughin, scragnoth and beasts we had encountered. He gave us a sea chart showing how to get to the island as well as a tuning fork that could be used in water to contact a druid mermaid he knows named Shiraelie who could assist us. Another frightening portent was revealed to us when he said that the storms we had been encountering were not normal for this time of year either. We decided to see if we could talk the local Grand Marshal to convince him of the gravity of our quest and that it was in his best interest to assist us by perhaps giving us the loan of a ship in his fleet. He was in agreement with us as to the nature of our quest but could only promise to kite out a ship if we can convince a Captain to take us. With a writ in hand for provisions from the Grand Marshal we made our way to the docks and found only a brutish half-orc Captain foolish enough to take us into the unknown. Regrouping at the Dawnchaser, Captain Hamm offered us the services if his ship as he was inclined to help us with anything we needed after helping save his ship. Preferring the good Captain to the run down, aged half-orcs ship the heroes took him up on his offer and soon the ship was being prepared for the journey. As this would take several days the heroes turned to exploring the encampment and gathering the gear they felt they would need.
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Day 36

The heroes are almost to their destination, anchored in another cove for the night with several of the heroes helping with the watches. A resounding thud can be heard at the waterline as if the ship had drifted into something large. Above, a Scragnoth claws his way out of the ocean and onto the deck where it is assaulted by no less than 4 of the heroes. It has bitten off more than it can chew. Battle is raging on the fore deck as something slams into the other side of the ship, bringing the Captain storming on deck shouting orders left and right. We find we are taking on water from something bashing the hull in from underneath so Pawhl wiggles his fingers and makes a coil of rope slither overboard and entangle the creature below, giving the ship some respite from the hammering blows of the amazingly strong Scragnoth. Aluca, out of range and ideas hurdles the railing, dropping onto the 2nd entangled Scragnoth that was attempting to sink the ship. At the front of the ship Phlu Ger cut the 1st monster in half with a powerful blow sending a spray of troll blood to mingle with the salt spray of the sea. The victors then raced to the other side of the ship to see if they could help Aluca who was stabbing at the monster for all he was worth, not making much headway with the close confines of the thrashing entangled Scragnoth who was healing as the wounds as fast as Aluca could inflict them. Soon enough the entangled Scragnoth burst it’s hindrances and escaped.
Meanwhile below decks Isla was helping the sailors to stop the alarming flow of water pouring in through the rents in the hull caused by the Scragnoth. Roused from his slumber, Fenssill finally got his armor in time to go swimming in the bilge to help Isla with the repairs.
By the time the sun came up the ship was seaworthy again and they made it to their destination. The heroes made their way down the docks amongst a bustling military encampment. Asking directions they were pointed to The Stomping Ram as a place with rooms and were given directions to find Vlim as well. With stories overheard from the soldiers in the tap room about the elves making war and expanding their territories the party bedded down for an uneasy rest.

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Day 34

The morning starts with ominous red skies, the Captain finds a cove he had visited often to lay up in and wait out the weather.

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