For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Awakening from dreams most harrowing, the adventurers found themselves nevertheless rested among the morlock caves; gathering up their gear and the remnants of their findings, the group set out from their recess within the tunnel ascent and doubled back down to Tsar proper below. Refreshed from their battles the day prior, the party set out towards the Dread Swamp–making their way through the back-alleys of Tsar and managing in their brisk jaunt to avoid any undesired encounters; by mid-morning, the mists which hung over the swamp had come into view as the group arrived at their destination.
Among the slums of the Grunge, the Dread Swamp dominated the northern third of the temple-city’s lowest tier; here, the terrain had sunk considerably, a sharp slope leading down to unknown depths with only the intermittent roofs and tower peaks visible among the muck. Murky swamp water and boggy terrain stretched out ahead of the adventurers–who wasted little time producing the magical folding boat they’d acquired weeks prior, deploying it to make their way north to explore the swamp. As a precautionary measure, all present were bestowed with magic to walk upon the surface of the waters–lest they fall or be dragged overboard unexpectedly.
Not far into their expedition northward, the party came upon a suspicious log in the water which Meryk identified all too readily as a dire crocodile; as the man gave warning, however, a second dire crocodile attacked the boat from its flank–and swiftly the pair were engaged in battle. Together, the two dire crocodiles proved strong but relatively manageable foes–and after a brief exchange one lay slain and the other ready to withdraw; just before relief would be had, a sudden salvo of arrows struck Meryk–a greater ambush had been sprung!
From top a high vantage Ichor Humansbane was spied, firing upon the adventurers with deadly arrows of their bane; front and center reared the mighty morekareth, the monstrous Heroes’ Bastard which drove the party to the brink of defeat in the desolation weeks prior–back from the many miles to which he had been banished by Meryk’s fateful shot then. Together the pair would make for a formidable fight–but they were joined as well by an unseen arcanist who loosed a powerful fireball upon the party while a chain sprang from obscurity to lash about Meryk and entangle the man–a battle most dangerous begun.
Zantric, Emma and Gothroc charged ahead to engage the morekareth while Anselme and Leone dealt with the remaining dire crocodile; Meryk attempted to return fire on Ichor while Cassandra maneuvered to level her own spells afield–but the sorceress was swiftly the recipient of a great many arrows from Ichor and the unseen archer both. Before long, it became apparent that the Erinyess encountered in Kirash Durgaut had formed a makeshift alliance with the morekareth and the troll–and that the source of the spells was the aranea found within the tomb of the sleeping knight in the ashen wastes.
A brutal melee was engaged, with Gothroc blown clear onto his back by powerful blows while the Heroes’ Bastard leveled fierce swings against Zantric in turn; Emma, made larger with magic, engaged the beast at length with her sizeable ranseur before the weapon was smashed asunder. As the morekareth maneuvered against a growing tide of adversaries–a dire lion summoned by Anselme joining to flank the fiend–Ichor’s exchange of arrows with Meryk grew further pitched still, the ranger driven behind cover of the boat–but the troll knocked prone by an expert shot in turn.
Pandora worked quickly to serve as an impromptu medic, wrangling her healing wands and helping the severely wounded to withdraw from the front of the fight for their recovery; Brother Vang strove to keep his allies standing in the face of devastating wounds–but even with the cleric’s best efforts, Emma was laid low and winded and Gothroc sent not far behind her. Zantric lay unconscious, Cassandra badly wounded and Anselme on the verge of death himself; the tide of battle was faring poorly for the adventurers–until Emma and Gothroc pressed on against the Heros’ Bastard, beating him back in a brutal exchange of blows.
Emma was toppled and knocked from her feet, laid on the cusp of death’s door–while Gothroc was driven beyond such, managing once more through determination to borrow a precious few moments to continue the fight. Between Gothroc’s fevered assault and Meryk firing from afar, the morekareth was at long last slain–and with Ichor struggling to recover from his exchange with Meryk, the tide had begun to shift. Cassandra was turned unexpectedly to stone, a return of the aranea’s most wicked of spells; with the heaviest hitter slain however, significant attacks were now being levied against the unseen.
Ichor Humansbane broke to withdraw, becoming invisible once more–and with this, the aranea moved to join the erinyes–both leaving the field through teleportation that they might fight another day. With many among the party unconscious or dying, Brother Vang was filled with a sudden fervor–and determined to ensure Ichor did not escape, the crusader raised a field to purge invisibility about himself and charged after the wicked troll. Pandora and Brother Vang moved together to pursue and engage Ichor–catching up to the ranger before he could make his escape again and continue to torment the party.
Soon enough Anselme and others from the party managed to join the fight and surround the troll–his escape blocked off, Ichor grew mad with rage and tore bitterly into Brother Vang. While Vang’s endeavor had indeed prevented the troll’s escape, Ichor’s retaliation laid him low–and as the cleric’s allies descended upon the huntsman, Brother Vang was slain as the troll’s final furious act of defiance. Two of the four lingering foes of the party lay slain–but in exchange, so too did Brother Vang, Gothroc and Leone–with Cassandra rendered unto stone, her statue sunk beneath the surface of the swamp. Together, the party recovered the bodies of their friends before utilizing the golden draught from the city of golden death to restore Cassandra that she might teleport the survivors home.
Having withdrawn from the temple-city, the party saw to resurrecting their fallen friends and recovering from their many injuries; several days were spent within their stronghold, and during such time Pandora and the others approached Emma to discuss the young barbarian’s problematic anger issues. Having lashed out against her retainers and patrons at the boarding house as well, Emma’s anger and frustration had grown destructive among her friends and allies–an issue which needed to be addressed. While within their stronghold, the party worked to ready themselves for another foray into the Dread Swamp–and Iramine and Anya shared the fruits of their respective research of the recovered disciple statue in Tsar’s history.
Now confident that a second statue was yet to be discovered and recovered within the Dread Swamp, the party returned once more and resumed their efforts of exploration. A great many dire crocodiles were observed and avoided; as well, the party laid low and endeavored to avoid unnecessary confrontation. An immense mossy island was found within the swamp–which emerged to reveal itself to be a colossal and ancient turtle; Anselme was quick to parlay with the titanic creature and the party was able to part its company without a raise of hostilities. A waterfall was discovered into the swamp as well, deduced to be an outlet from the underground river discovered in the morlock caves; avoiding this, the party continued on to the darkest reaches of the dread swamp.
Within a murky grotto and beneath a darkened sky the party proceeded near the deepest region of the swamp; there, more dire crocodiles were witnessed to lurk ahead–yet before the party could maneuver against such, a colossal tentacle broke the water from below as an immense shadow rose among vast froth in the swamp. Covered in terrible tentacles and boasting a terrifyingly huge maw, an ancient swamp tyrant attacked the party–seizing Anselme, Brother Vang and Gothroc alongside Leone, beginning to crush and chew. At the same time, fully five dire crocodiles engaged those who remained on the boat–a panick overtaking the party.
Zantric was grabbed and swallowed by a dire crocodile as he fought–Emma seized between two, and Pandora by a fourth, soon swallowed up herself; Meryk quickly took to the sky with magical flight to evade the many snapping jaws–while a fireball struck the party from afar, cast by a spirit naga lurking nearby. Zantric fought his way free from within the belly of the crocodile he fought while Pandora freed herself via dimension door, joining Meryk in the air above; Gothroc was quickly rendered unconscious by the tyrant, with Anselme and Leone not far behind him–but Brother Vang utilized the magic of his armor to teleport a short distance away and free himself from the grasp of its tentacles.
Brother Vang scarcely had a change to heal his allies before he was seized by another of the dire crocodiles, no longer occupied by Pandora; struggling with the immense creature, the cleric was soon swallowed up as well before being dragged beneath the surface of the swamp. Zantric managed to slay the crocodile he fought, only to be taken up by the swamp tyrant with the tentacle Vang had vacated–while across the battle Emma slew both crocodiles who had engaged her, proving once more her incredible martial prowess. By now, Leone had been killed by the tyrant, with Anselme not far behind the feline; Meryk loosed salvos against the immense creature while Emma and Pandora scrambled to pursue the crocodile which had swallowed Brother Vang.
The pair were too late, however; the cleric had been dragged deeper still beneath the murky waters, and with the magic which kept the two afloat they could not willingly pursue him past the surface. Instead, efforts were turned to recovering Anselme–and once conscious again, the young druid took the form of a huge squid much to the swamp tyrant’s surprise; as a dire crocodile subtly snatched Leone and fled with the dead lion’s body to eat elsewhere, all efforts were focused on the tyrant until it withdrew beneath the waters–leveling devastating blows against Pandora and Anselme in parting and shouting a warning that the party would regret further transgressions against its territory.
An effort was made to locate the lair of the dire crocodiles, but the endeavor proved unsuccessful at present; Brother Vang’s remains were returned to the party by a sudden emergence of Kaa, the mysterious traveler noting further services rendered with the man’s obtuse contract held. Together, the remaining survivors sailed further in the swamp with Brother Vang’s body at hand; at the furthest, final reaches of the Dread Swamp a final island was discovered–its shores slathered thickly with tar.
It was here that the group encountered a tarry demodand–a strange winged outsider who, much to the party’s surprise, was both willing to parlay and did not detect with an aura of evil. The demodand revealed himself to be The Broken One, an exile who had once been summoned among many others to do the bidding of Orcus’ high priests; the Broken One scarcely held any love for the denizens of Tsar any longer, and revealed to the party that he possessed the statue which they sought.
In exchange for providing such to the adventurers, the demodand requested an opportunity to talk with Brother Vang at length, that they provided for him a magical greatsword of great power, and that they would provide accommodations for him back at their fortress. Agreeing to these conditions after brief consideration, the party gathered their new and most unusual ally along with the disciple statue he possessed–and with this, the party had collected two of the nine disciples! Returning home, the adventurers would begin their preparations to delve deeper into the temple-city of Tsar–and once recovered, Brother Vang would have a great many questions to answer…
To see what Pandora left in Emma’s diary this session, go here!