Autumn Frontiers

The Marshes of Despair

Autumn Frontiers, Session 7

After a bit of dithering in Delen, the four adventurers (Prometheor, Everitt, Jalez and Balthus) departed, hoping once again to reach Naspers and unlock its secrets. They chose to cross the Great River and head south, plunging headlong into the region’s thick swampland. It took the party nearly a day to journey to the swamp’s northern borders, where the land grew spongy and soft, and moss grew thick on the rocks and boulders.

The swamp itself was shrouded in mist, and indeed the clouds quickly gathered, threatening rain on the four adventurers. Still they soldiered on. Gloom closed in as twilight fell. Soon the rogues were stumbling through knee-deep muck, keeping a wary eye on the clouds. Earlier that afternoon, Everitt had spied dark shapes speeding through the clouds high above their heads, as if watching them. Mindful of this distant threat, the adventurers pressed deeper into the swamp. The light rain intensified, becoming a frigid downpour that drenched them to the bone.

Soon the characters stumbled onto a low, broken stone wall that ran roughly east-west. Following it east, the four heroes came across a stunning sight: a tall, spindly tower reaching high into the steel-gray sky. Great holes were gouged in its side, and the whole structure appeared to be slumped haphazardly in the marshy land. The party quickly decided to seek shelter inside its walls. The original doorway was almost completely submerged, but Everitt the enterprising thief found a way inside.

As the heroes squirmed in through the opening, a dire threat made itself known. Lurking in the belfry of the tall tower was a group of stone-skinned gargoyles. The vile beasts launched themselves at the invaders, resulting in a fierce, desperate battle in the tower’s depths.

Though the four adventurers fought valiantly, Everitt was greviously wounded. He fell the ground, still clutching the enchanted Curnithan tuning fork that gave off intense illumination. Drawn to the light source, the gargoyles fell on Everitt, smashing his body again and again into the rubble of the tower. His blood stained the rocks. He was dead.

United in grief, the heroes fled the tower, dragging Everitt’s broken body with them; Jalez’s arcane magic dispatched one of the gargoyles during the escape. They plunged into the swamp with only a vague idea of where they were going. Soon, shambling zombies loomed out of the mist and rain, drawn to the chaos of the retreat. Only the holy faith of Prometheor and Balthus pushed back the undead horrors.

Deeper in the swamp, Balthus’s horse Bluebell was attacked and poisoned by a huge, voracious spider. This multi-legged beast was quickly dispatched by the paladin, and the four heroes were astonished to discover a hollow tree that was mercifully dry and vacant. They spent the night there, sheltering from the horrors of the swamp.

The next day, rejuvenated but still mindful of Everitt’s sacrifice in the ruined tower, the party made its way back to Delen. The swamp had proven to be more than a match for the four explorers—but they were determined to return and plumb its secrets.

Comments

Balthus the Brave stood stalwartly in the center of the crumbling tower, looking up to descending terror. He readied his lance in both hands, and issued forth a battle challenge to the winged gargoyle plummeting from the heights. Like with Everett, the stone beast slammed into the paladin, the lance absorbing most of the weight of the monster. The long pike exploded with the impact, barely scratching the beast, while Balthus rolled away drawing his sword in a fluid motion that belied his unease at confronting the magically armored gargoyles with only a mortal blade. Calling a retreat from the tower, Balthus grabbed the Curnithan tuning fork and the shattered body of his fallen comrade, and beat a hasty retreat. It is not often that a paladin of Ocellot the Sounding Sword is beaten in combat, thus shame filled Balthus’ heart. Someone must avenge the death of his friend, but Balthus knew it would not be himself.

The Marshes of Despair
PatrickWR

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