Savaged Kith'takharos

Adventure Log Links
Sessions 1-30 Sessions 31-60
Feb 18, 2009: Session 1 Mar 24, 2010: Session 31
Feb 25, 2009: Session 2 Apr 07, 2010: Session 32
Mar 11, 2009: Session 3 Apr 21, 2010: Session 33
Mar 25, 2009: Session 4 May 05, 2010: Session 34
Apr 08, 2009: Session 5 May 19, 2010: Session 35
Apr 15, 2009: Session 6 June 02, 2010: Session 36
Apr 29, 2009: Session 7 June 23, 2010: Session 37
May 05, 2009: Session 8 July 07, 2010: Session 38
May 19, 2009: Session 9 July 21, 2010: Session 39
Jun 03, 2009: Session 10 Aug 04, 2010: Session 40
Jun 10, 2009: Session 11 Aug 11, 2010: Session 41
Jul 01, 2009: Session 12 Aug 25, 2010: Session 42
Jul 15, 2009: Session 13 Session 43
Aug 05, 2009: Session 14 Session 44
Aug 26, 2009: Session 15 Session 45
Sep 02, 2009: Session 16 Session 46
Sep 16, 2009: Session 17 Session 47
Sep 24, 2009: Session 18 Session 48
Oct 07, 2009: Session 19 Session 49
Session 20 Session 50
Session 21 Session 51
Session 22 Session 52
Dec 02, 2009: Session 23 Session 53
Dec 16, 2009: Session 24 Session 54
Jan 06, 2010: Session 25 Session 55
Jan 20, 2010: Session 26 Session 56
Jan 27, 2010: Session 27 Session 57
Feb 03, 2010: Session 28 Session 58
Feb 24, 2010: Session 29 Session 59
Mar 10, 2010: Session 30 Session 60

Session 51

Exploration of the ancient ruins of Tarass Shar Orn continues…

Rikard Castleberry: “So, what you’re telling me Reess, is that all we have to do is push something on the portal first, then we can walk through it ourselves?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well it seems that way for the first one. Each may differ though.”
Ian Aedan scratches his chin, “Why would they create a portal that sends the first person one place, and the rest somewhere else?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I see. It would explain why when we all walked onto the one here before, nobody went anywhere.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Hmm, not sure Ian, they must have had their reason, and I do not know Rikard if that is how it works. Did you try one at a time or did you all hold hands and you know…” Reess swings his arms forward and bends his knees to visualize his word. “Jump?”
Rikard Castleberry: “We all walked on at the same time. There was no hand holding…”
Reess Whitesmith: “Don’t be ashamed. It is dark and scary here…”
Ian Aedan: “Heh.”
Rikard Castleberry: “In any event, there are some chairs we can roll onto it. We should try that, and if it works, refill our water skins and such from the entrance.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Follow me.”
Reess Whitesmith follows.

A black metal pole about 10 feet high rises from the floor, topped by a golden globe the size of a man’s head.

Reess Whitesmith: “What was that Sarrag? Oh nothing? Thought you were about to say something. My apologies.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Whoa….”
Ian Aedan looks up at the pole, “That’s a pretty nice globe up there.”
Ian Aedan examines the globe more closely, looking for markings or what not.
Reess Whitesmith: “This is one like the post we met the old man through after Hoyt died.”

There are no markings; however it does appear to be similar to the guidepost that led you all to this place, though it is 10’ shorter in height.

Reess Whitesmith gets close and studies it to confirm that hypothesis.
Reess Whitesmith: “Mind if I try to activate it?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Uh. Sure.”
Ian Aedan takes a few steps back, “Shouldn’t we explore more before teleporting elsewhere?”
Reess Whitesmith rests a hand on the post and thinks first of the old man met before.
Rikard Castleberry: “But Ian, teleporting is exploring!”
Ian Aedan chuckles, “True, but there’s still so much here. Think of all the lavatories we haven’t discovered.”

Reess thinks of one of the creators of this place- Zzhastor Brune. An assault of names whirring by in symbols he doesn’t understand flies through his head until the vision rests upon one set of symbols. His name, perhaps?
Long moments pass as Reess touches the black rod.
His eyes suddenly flutter but stay closed.

Reess Whitesmith slowly opens a left eye and looks about opening the right eye a moment later.
Reess Whitesmith takes his hand off the black rod.
Reess Whitesmith clears his throat.
Ian Aedan leans forward, “I suspect that’s now how it’s supposed to work?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well that was interesting.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I know what Zhastor Brunes name looks like as written in their symbols.”
Reess Whitesmith: “That is all. Let’s keep going.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Uh. Great.”
Ian Aedan: “That should come in handy if we stumble upon some writings.”
Sarrag: stands before the globe and speaks, “I am Sarrag, old ones.”
Sarrag: “Yes, thank you.”
Reess Whitesmith groans.
Reess Whitesmith: “I didn’t think about doing that.”
Sarrag turns to the others. “The ones say we may go down this ramp.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Er. What ramp?”
Ian Aedan nudges Reess, “See, that’s how you’re supposed to do it.”
Sarrag: “The old ones may not speak to thin skins.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well that’s good. Guess I will have to work on my calluses.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Lead on Thick Skin.”
Rikard Castleberry looks to Ian, “I thought we didn’t find anything in the center?”
Sarrag walks toward the ramp down. He seems sure of his path.
Ian Aedan: “That was the other room…first time I’ve been in this one. But Sarrag seems to know what he’s doing.”
Sarrag: “Soon they may tell us why we were called to this place.”

There is a dark deep hole.
The ramp is light gray at the top and leads down.

Rikard hears movement to his right but sees nothing. It’s like bare feet slapping on the stones very quickly.

Sarrag: “Be careful, this place may be unkind to thin skins.”
Sarrag: “I will try to explain that you are friends.”
Ian Aedan looks over the ramp, “So you’re saying a place where we teleported into, in the dark, then got attacked, then separated, MAY be unkind to us.”
Sarrag: “Yes. You understand. You may yet gain wisdom of the swamp.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sounds like fun.”
Rikard Castleberry glances to his right, takes a step back from the edge, and tries to listen for more steps.
Sarrag: “They fear us meeting the old ones!”

Suddenly, Reess, Sarrag and Ian see a two-mouth rush out from between two pillars…behind Rikard. It lunges at Rikard.
This two-mouth seems to be going for taking Rikard off the ledge with it. Both hands grapple Rikard and they both start over the edge.

Sarrag lunges to grab Rikard’s arm!
Rikard Castleberry desperately tries to hold on but tumbles off the edge with a bewildered look on his face.

Rikard Castleberry and the two-mouth grapple as they plummet down the pit. He manages to maneuver the two-mouth under him just before they land. The two-mouth hits hard, splattering on the ground. A second later, Rikard hits chest first, bouncing off of the two-face, and rolling off. A second later, before losing consciousness, he notices that somehow he managed to survive another unbelievable event, but there’s no way his opponent did.

Sarrag takes off at a run down the ramp.
Reess Whitesmith: “Move!”
Reess Whitesmith picks up the light with his shield hand and runs down.
Ian Aedan shouts over the edge, “Rikard?” He starts after the others.

It takes a while to spiral down a few times before finally arriving about 100’ down to the bottom. Two unmoving bodies lie on the floor. Neither are moving.

Sarrag kneels beside Rikard. “Old ones, here me! Help me save the thin skin!”
Ian Aedan knocks an arrow into his bow and looks about while Sarrag checks on Rikard, “Careful, there may be more of those things.”
Reess Whitesmith runs to Rikard and check for a pulse.

He is alive, but unconscious.
No man should survive a fall from that distance.

Ian Aedan keeps his bow pointed upwards and scan the walls, “How is he?”
Reess Whitesmith: “He is alive.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sarrag, can you tend to his wounds if we had some water?”
Sarrag: “I will.”
Ian Aedan: “Check that two mouthed thing, if Rikard survived, maybe it did too.”
Reess Whitesmith checks the two-mouth.

The two-mouth is quite obviously dead.

Reess Whitesmith kicks it.

The two-mouth moves one last time.

Pillars ring the circumference of a circular chamber 50 feet in diameter. The central portion of the chamber is a large shaft leading deeper underground. A spiral ramp winds clockwise down the shaft in a gentle descent. The ramp is wide enough for two people to comfortably walk abreast, with the inside edge protected by a 3 foot wall.
Half a circle ahead, the long ramp finally nears an end. The interior curve is lined with statues of Swamp Men twice life size. As the ramp descends, the heads of the statues rise above the edge.
The statues are carved from a gray stone and polished until the light sparkles from the surfaces. The Swamp Men stand in various postures, wear clothing from robes to tunics to armor, and hold many different implements, some of them obviously weapons or staves, others unrecognizable.

As Ian and Reess check out the statues and room, Sarrag works on Rikard. After several minutes of work, he manages to staunch several wounds and return Rikard to consciousness!

Rikard Castleberry: “sonfoagoddamnitihatethisplace.”
Rikard Castleberry groans audibly, struggling to stand up.
Sarrag: “Stay quiet for a moment.”
Sarrag listens carefully for a minute or two.
Ian Aedan: “Rikard, you do know there was a ramp to get down here, right?”
Rikard Castleberry: “This guy wasn’t gentlemanly enough to escort me down slowly.”
Sarrag hisses, “Quiet!”
Ian Aedan hushes up.
Rikard Castleberry slides over to one of the statues, and uses it to pull himself up to a standing position, leaning on it.
Sarrag listens once more.
Reess Whitesmith gets closer and studies the two-mouth closer. What is it?

The two-mouth is a spindly humanoid that is almost 7’ tall in height. Its skin has a translucent quality the color of oxygen depleted blood. The limbs and neck are sticklike. The head is however elongated and accommodates two mouths one atop the other. Each mouth contains rows of jagged teeth coated with a thick fluid.

Rikard Castleberry goes through the motions of stretching out, seeing if anything feels broken. How did nothing break? He must’ve landed on his head….
Ian Aedan hisses, “Don’t touch the teeth, they have venom or something.”
Reess Whitesmith takes an empty vial from his pack and fills it with the creatures’ blood.
Sarrag watches the corridor.
Rikard Castleberry leans back, and uses the back of his hand to wipe off his mouth, still breathing hard, sore all over.
Ian Aedan turns his gaze to the corridor, “You hear something?”
Sarrag: “No.”
Rikard Castleberry glances up at the statue he’s been leaning on, pats it with a hand, “Thanks buddy”, then moves over to the two-mouth, and spits on it. “Yeah, now what?!”
Ian Aedan lowers his bow, “Well, we’re down here…I vote we explore down here.”
Reess Whitesmith uses a spoon from his pack to remove the creatures’ eyes and stuff them into another vial.
Sarrag: “Those may go well with grubs or fire ants.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Or may help me see in the dark like they can.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Are we ready to move again?”
Sarrag: “Yes.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Unless you’d like to look at the statues more.”
Ian Aedan pauses a bit to update the piece of paper he’s been scribbling on as a map, then stuffs it in a pouch, “Ready.”
Reess Whitesmith glances at the statues.
Rikard Castleberry: “Ian, do me a favor?”
Reess Whitesmith: “They will still be here later. I don’t expect them to tell a thin skin like myself anything at the present anyway.”
Ian Aedan: “Hmm?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Draw a giant arrow on the map that shows the more ‘direct’ route I took down?”
Sarrag: “There is hope for you still.”
Ian Aedan pulls out the paper and scribbles on it again, “Here there be Rikard-a-vator.”
Sarrag: “Come, I sense I must go this way. The old ones invited me.”
Ian Aedan: “I hope they don’t mind you bringing guests.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Apparently my name wasn’t on the invitation.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s get going then.”
Rikard Castleberry stands at the front with his spear out, ready to fight this time.
Sarrag: “I am with you. The thin skins shall be welcomed I think.”

The incline becomes gentler before flattening and opening into a large corridor that runs straight for 50 or 60 feet. The end of the corridor divides in two, one part curving left and the other curving right.
As your light moves forward, three more two-mouths stand waiting. As you see them, they turn and flee into the darkness…

Ian Aedan readies his bow again, “Dang it all.”

The corridor to the left abruptly ends in a pile of shattered blocks that extend from floor to ceiling. The rubble recedes as far as the eye can see, interspersed with random points of light that must be buried gems.

Rikard Castleberry: “They don’t seem so tough without a pit or pure blackness to fight in.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Wait. Let’s see if we can acquire one or 2 of those gems.”

The gems are like the one you have in your hand. You might be able to dig a few out with some effort.
Though it would likely be easier to just pry them out of the walls.
They are placed about every ten feet or so on both sides of the hallway.
Some work, some don’t.

Reess Whitesmith touches the gems on the walls.
Ian Aedan points to the walls, “Let’s grab a couple from there.”
Rikard Castleberry works at pulling out some gems.
Reess Whitesmith turns all that work on and pries one of the brighter ones out.

As Reess touches the gemstone it turns on.
After a few minutes of prying and digging you each have 1 more working light gem. It casts a 10’ light sphere with shadows out to 20’.

Reess Whitesmith is happy he can see like it was daylight now.
Reess Whitesmith looks up suddenly; the extra light lets him catch something he hadn’t seen before.

_Like spiders, you see a group of 4 two-mouths using their hands and legs to hold the ceiling and cornices. They are looking into your eyes and as they lock on, they all drop to the ground in unison. Their mouths are open in the shape of ecstatic howling, but there is no noise.

Reess Whitesmith: “SHIT!”
Ian Aedan: “Oh hells.”

Round 1

The first one bites and claws at Reess. The bite is aimed perfectly, but Reess overcomes the poison leaked out from the fangs.
The claw misses Reess as he spins out of the way.

Sarrag whirls around, bringing the spear into the creature’s gut. The two-mouth deftly fends off the stab.
Rikard Castleberry turns around, and angrily lays into the one that fell right in front of him.

The Two-Mouth staggers, spins and falls, oozing blood from long deep wounds in the shoulder and abdomen. Then it stops moving, eyes glassing over.

Ian Aedan spins as quickly as he can and fires off the arrow he had knocked. The arrow pierces the upper mouth and stays there, quivering as the creature drops.

The next Two-Mouth bites at Reess and misses. He follows it up with a claw that leaves Reess shaken. Then it decides to run away, drawing an attack from Sarrag. The attack goes wide, however, and he starts to run down the hall.

Reess Whitesmith clears his head. Then he lines up a shot from his gauntlet and fires. The Two-Mouth manages to dart out of the way before being struck.

Round 2

Sarrag hisses, “You shall not have the old ones, foul creature!”
Sarrag steps forward to finish off the two mouth. He stabs at the two-mouth with his spear, landing a shot in the abdomen.

The two-mouth hisses silently at the new combatant, and manages to deflect the attack at the last moment.

Footsteps are heard rising up the ramp in the dark distance. The two-mouth is escaping.

The last two-mouth bites at Sarrag. He scores a strong hit, but Sarrag comes away relatively unscathed, thanks to his thick skin.

Ian Aedan jogs down the hall, knocking another arrow, “Come back here you two mouthed bastard!” He fires off the arrow, to little good.
Reess Whitesmith fires off another lightning bolt at the runner. Frustratingly, it manages to evade the attack yet again.
Rikard Castleberry puts on a solid run, and dashes up towards the two-mouth, catching sight of it, but unable to yet close in on it.

Round 3

A Two-mouth misses as it rushes hard into Sarrag from behind.

Ian Aedan pauses, takes a deep breath, and fires at the fleeing creature. The arrow flies true and strikes its target, but it doesn’t fall. “Curses.”

The other Two-Mouth lashes out with both bite and claw, but fails to connect with its target.

Sarrag cries, “You do not belong here!”
Sarrag lashes out with not only spear, but also tail.
Sarrag braces for a flurry of poison as he stumbles and misses with tail and spear.
Reess Whitesmith shouts “Rikard! Get the one fleeing, I will help Sarrag!”
Reess Whitesmith runs up the one of the beasts which was distracted momentarily by Sarrag. Reess stabs upward with his rapier through the lower mouth, through the upper, then through the skull.
Rikard Castleberry moves up to the fleeing two-mouth and tries to put it down.
Rikard Castleberry trips up the two-mouth with his first attack, then manages to swing just over its head with the follow through, barely missing its head.

The fourth two-mouth slips back against the wall, obviously in sincere pain.

Round 4

Ian Aedan spins on a heel to face the two mouth to the east. Nock, raise, aim, fire. The arrow strikes the creature in the head with a sickening ‘THUNK!’

Bone bits splatter across Sarrag’s chest.

Rikard Castleberry still remembers the fall a minute ago, and charges the two-mouth, intent on some violence.
Rikard Castleberry steps up, with murder in his eyes, and slashes it across the abdomen, then follows through and slashes it again through the neck as it’s falling down.
Rikard Castleberry grunts in satisfaction.

One two-mouth has slipped up the ramp. There is no noise from above.

Sarrag: “Any of you hurt?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I was uninjured by these things.”
Rikard Castleberry: “They seem to perform much worse when there is adequate light around them.”
Ian Aedan shakes his head, “None got close to me this time.”

Session 50

Reese finds himself separated from the others, currently unable to follow. The others find themselves in the aftermath of fighting the two-mouths.

Reess Whitesmith touches the bluish color on the circle. Nothing happens.
Reess Whitesmith sits down on the circle and concentrates, forming a picture of his friends in his mind. Again, nothing happens.

Sarrag: “I will check on that one.”
Sarrag points to Ian
Rikard Castleberry: “Drag him away if you would, a bit away from these things.”
Sarrag: “I might need you to suck out the poison.”
Rikard Castleberry: “…”
Ian Aedan lies stiffly.
Rikard Castleberry: “Do you suppose I should just off these things since they’ve stopped moving?”

After about sixty seconds Ian begins to stir and is able to stand after another few rounds.

Sarrag: “At least restrain them, though they did not give Ian any choice.”
Rikard Castleberry looks to see if he can find the one he stabbed previously.
Sarrag: “How are you feeling?”
Ian Aedan stirs and groans, “Reasons like this are why children are scared of the dark.”

The critters you stabbed left blood behind and one dead body. You know there were at least two though in the darkness it was hard to say for certain how many there were.
Only one of the corpses is on the ground now.

Rikard Castleberry picks up his light gem that was left on his pack and holds it up higher, to let more light spill into the room.
Sarrag: “Do you think they carried off the one called Reese?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m not sure Sarrag. We will have to see if there is sign of a struggle or drag marks.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ian, how are you? Hit your head?”

The room is roughly 50 to 60 feet on a side. A row of stone posts and metal bars divides the room in two. The central bars lie bent and twisted upon the ground. Beyond the broken barrier, an opening in the wall leads to a descending stairway.
In the corners on either side of the stairway; a circle has been carved into the floor. The circle to the left of the stairway is black, while the circle to the right is multicolored in all the hues of a rainbow.

Reess Whitesmith stands up, and paces around the area, looking intently for anything that would give a clue. He starts to wrack his brain, and can’t remember much of what happened before, only that he went first. He then decides to drop down to his belly, and get an up close look at the circle, to see if there are any clues- perhaps a footprint or disturbed dust.

Ian Aedan sits up, slowly and rubs his arm, “Foggy, bit dizzy, but I’ll be fine.” He looks at his arm, “That’ll sting though.”
Rikard Castleberry picks up his pack and throws it back on, and walks around the room, letting everyone see what’s in all the corners.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well guys, should we go for the dark circle or the rainbow circle?”
Ian Aedan sits cross legged, rubbing his arm as he looks around at the light Rikard provides, “Did we just appear in the middle of this room? Or was I dragged here? I don’t remember much.”
Rikard Castleberry: “We just sort of appeared here, when we stepped on that one rainbow circle.”
Ian Aedan: “So then that circle in the corner, that’s not where we ‘came in’, then?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Er. Doubt it.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Probably a bunch of 1 way things.”
Ian Aedan: “That’s what I was thinking. Guess we’re stuck exploring then.”
Sarrag: “We could just take the stairs.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh that’s just no fun.”
Ian Aedan: “Come on Sarrag, we have magic…who takes the stairs?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I suppose stairs are safer though. We can always walk back up them.” Sarrag: “Stairs do not lead you into middle of hand-eaters”.

Reess Whitesmith discovers after several minutes of intense scrutiny that he’s discovered nothing new. The dust was very limited, and with all the walking, it’s been scattered around. He decides that he can learn nothing else, and decides to toss something on the floor. He sits down and rummages through his things, looking for the right item.

Rikard Castleberry: “Is there anything here we can arrange into like an arrow, in case Reess comes this way? We can point to where we are going.”
Sarrag: “How about – an arrow?”
Sarrag points to Ian.
Ian Aedan pats his quiver, “That’s what I was thinking…but maybe we can get something off that gate.”
Ian Aedan rises to his feet and checks his balance before heading over to the gate. He starts to tug and rip off what pieces he can.
Sarrag: “Will that not look like debris? How will he know it is from us?”

Ian pulls loose a long 6 foot rod of the gate.

Rikard Castleberry: “If you like, we can take off enough to write, “Ian was here” on the floor.”
Sarrag looks confused.
Ian Aedan sets aside the one piece and then tries to get at least two more pieces.
Rikard Castleberry goes to the gate and works with Ian on pulling off 2 sections.
Ian Aedan: “I think we can make it look ‘manmade’ enough that he’ll be able to tell the difference.”
Sarrag watches for Hand-eaters.

Ian wrestles loose two more rod like pieces, nearly the same length.

Reess Whitesmith takes out a vial of Bart’s blood, and sets it down in the circle. It vanishes! He dashes over to the other side of the room, finding it in the center of the circle. Reess chuckles to himself, in happiness that he finally has some progress on figuring out the problem.

Ian Aedan takes the pieces to the center of the room and lays them out in a —> shape, pointing towards the stairs.
Ian Aedan thinks for a moment, then takes puts a hand in the blood from his arm and tries to make a palm print at the base of the arrow.
Ian Aedan: “Hopefully that will be enough of a clue.”
Rikard Castleberry: “He’s a smart enough guy. Shall we go down the steps?”
Ian Aedan: “We better…that’s where the arrows pointing. Go another way and we may really confuse him.”

The wide stairway has broad steps about 1 foot deep. Although the descent is fairly steep, each step provides a broad platform with sure footing.

Rikard Castleberry: “Hm. Some proper stairs. I like it.”
Ian Aedan follows, bow at ready. “Let’s hope everything is straight, we’ll need to leave bread crumbs otherwise.”

The stairs continue for about 50’ or so, descending into the deep. At the bottom you see it reach a spacious landing and sense an opening into a different chamber.

Rikard Castleberry: “Well, this looks promising.”
Ian Aedan preps an arrow to his bow and advances cautiously, “Indeed.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Keep an eye out for more of those light gem things.”
Ian Aedan: “I have a lantern, but I can’t hold that and use my bow at the same time.”

You see diamond shaped columns and steps leading down beyond them, you sense more leading out into a very large chamber.
Diamond shaped columns surround a rectangular depression about 10 feet wide and who knows how long? Three shallow steps encircle the basin and descend to a central area about 4 feet deep.

Reess Whitesmith picks up the vial, and tucks it away. He tries all manner of facings in the circle, hopping, and spinning. The result is always the same: he keeps teleporting across, one leads to the other, over and over. Growing tired of this, he tries a coin, setting it down in the circle in front of him. The coin vanishes. He checks the other side, and predictably finds the coin on the center of that circle.

Rikard Castleberry: “This is kinda interesting.”
Sarrag: “What is the reason for this?”
Rikard Castleberry: “A large bath?”
Ian Aedan: “Audience chamber?”
Ian Aedan moves a bit further south.
Rikard Castleberry keeps up with Ian and Sarrag to give them light.
Sarrag: “Shall we follow the trough?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sure. But let’s do it on the steps, not inside it.”
Sarrag: “OK.”
Sarrag moves back up to the steps
Ian Aedan continues to follow the trough, "This is one long trough…. maybe 45 feet long…”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah it is. Rather excessive I would say.”

Reess Whitesmith picks up the coin, and puts it away, mumbling about his fate. He decides to head back to the room at the beginning with water, and wash his face. He finds the rest and water quite refreshing as he washes himself and relaxes for a couple minutes, considering his options.

Rikard Castleberry: “Well then, nothing remarkable here. Shall we check around the walls? Maybe Reess didn’t come this way…”
Ian Aedan looks back, “It looks like there’s an alcove or something over there.”
Sarrag: “I see nothing that looks like the dreamers are connected here.”

The corridor runs straight for 15 feet before turning left. Just beyond the turn, a stone privy rises from the floor, with a marble seat connected by steel hinges so that it may be raised and lowered. The hole is only about 5 feet deep, empty, and very clean.

Ian Aedan looks down into the hole, “Reess, you down there?”

Ian’s voice breaks the silence of the shitter.

Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t think he is.”
Sarrag: “Does Reese frequent such holes?”
Ian Aedan turns and walks back the other way, “Only if he’s in deep shit.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I have the distinct feeling he didn’t come this way.”

Reess Whitesmith takes off his pack and places it by the eastern circle. He then steps onto the circle. He reappears on the other side as normal, but his gear on the ground did not follow.

Sarrag: “Do we check the room out completely?”
Ian Aedan: “Probably….want to bet there’s another one of those around the other corner?”
Sarrag: “We could do so quicker if we split up and had more light.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sure, but if we don’t find him, I really think we should go back and take that rainbow circle.”

Reess Whitesmith, growing tired of walking the same path, uses the teleporter to get back. Not surprisingly, he teleports back to the side with his gear. He decides to glance around at the walls and ceiling.
The walls are composed of black trapezoidal blocks about 3 feet wide on the long side and 2 feet wide on the short side. The blocks alternate orientation in an interlocking pattern.
The cracks between blocks are so thin that the slimmest blade could not fit between them, and the ceiling is 15’ high.

Ian Aedan pauses and starts to dig out his lantern, “Can you carry this Sarrag?”
Sarrag: “Yes.”
Ian Aedan hands Sarrag the lantern after prepping it, “Here you go.”
Ian Aedan follows Sarrag, taking advantage of the larger light radius.
Sarrag: “Are we staying together?”
Rikard Castleberry: “We should.”

The corridor runs straight for 15 feet before turning left. Just beyond the turn, a stone privy rises from the floor, with a marble seat connected by steel hinges so that it may be raised and lowered. The hole is only about 5 feet deep, empty, and very clean.

Sarrag: “This is a huge toilet.”
Ian Aedan: “Be thankful they’re using these alcoves and not that large trough."
Rikard Castleberry starts heading back to the stairs. “We can explore this more later; I really think we should go try that circle. I don’t think Reess is here.”
Sarrag: “OK.”
Ian Aedan: “I dunno, if we take that circle, there’s no telling where we’ll end up…as is, he only has one circle to go through to find us.”
Rikard Castleberry: “But why wouldn’t he have taken it then?”
Sarrag: “He went before we did.”
Sarrag: “The hand-eaters may have taken him.”
Rikard Castleberry: “And yet we haven’t seen any sign of him at all. That’s what bothers me.”
Ian Aedan: “Oh…do you think he may have gone through the circle?”
Rikard Castleberry: “To run away from those things? He probably could’ve seen it.”
Sarrag: “Something made them leave, maybe they got their meal.”
Rikard Castleberry: “No blood on the floor though.”
Ian Aedan looks around, “Though I still think we should check out this area. If we go through the portal, there’s no telling if we can get back here.”
Sarrag: “I am fine with either path. Both seem equally likely.”

Alcoves hold statues atop small pedestals.

Reess Whitesmith, having learned nothing new decides to go take that rubbing of the door he was intending to do previously.

Rikard Castleberry: “I hate statues.”

The fully revealed statue: A Swamp Man stands with feet apart and arms upraised. The figure wears a long and complicated tunic composed of vines and leaves. One hand grasps a large object shaped like a f’lunin pod, the other the skull of a small animal. This statue is almost twice life size of a swamp man and goes almost 14’ high.

Ian Aedan looks up at the statue, “Nice, very well done. Obviously someone of great importance. Sarrag…anyone you recognize?”
Rikard Castleberry puts down his gem and pokes the statue closest to him with his spear.

Four alcoves hold statues atop small pedestals. All appear to be representations of Swamp Men nearly twice life size. The statues are carved from a gray stone and polished until the light sparkles from the surfaces.
The next Swamp Man statue wears a simple tunic. The face is tilted upward as if looking at the sky, and one arm points in the same direction as the gaze.

Ian Aedan takes the obvious approach and looks in the direction of the gaze.
Sarrag studies the statues to see if their bearing or weapons remind him of any legends.

The next Swamp Man wears a robe. The head faces forward and is tilted down, as if inspecting all who pass through the corridor. One hand holds a book, the other grips a staff topped by a many faceted gem.
The last Swamp Man is muscular, and carries a double-bladed spear at the ready. An intricately worked breastplate covers the chest, and greaves the lower legs.

Rikard Castleberry: “These are rather interesting.”
Sarrag: “A link to the dreamers?”
Ian Aedan: “So…we have….a hunter….a ..commoner? A priest, and a warrior.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Wouldn’t it be wild if these guys were the actual dreamers?” Rikard looks at the statues, “Hey wake up guys!”
Sarrag hopes they aren’t as grumpy as he is when awoken by someone screaming.
Ian Aedan grins, “I don’t think that’s how it works….”
Ian Aedan: “Can you imagine the gunk in their eyes from being asleep that long?”
Rikard Castleberry picks up the gem again.
Sarrag: “Are there more?”
Rikard Castleberry: “It appears just the 4”.

Rikard, Ian, and Sarrag keep exploring, looking for Reess. They head south from the large room they were previously in. The corridor opens up into a large room. There are metal tables and metal chairs on wheels visible to you.
The tables are 12-foot by 4-foot rectangles. Beneath a light layer of brown dust, the silvery surface shows no blemishes or rust spots. Chairs of the same silver metal are tucked beneath the long ends of the tables, neatly spaced so that every table has an identical number of chairs.

Rikard Castleberry: “Is this a classroom?”

A single sheet of silver metal blocks the doorway. To the right of the doorway, at about chest height, a black circle two inches in diameter appears painted on the wall.

Ian Aedan follows into the next room, “Dining hall?”
Rikard Castleberry: “It would make sense.”

The corridor passes the statues and opens into a room about 35 feet wide and 25 feet deep. Four rows of metal tables extend the width of the room from front to rear. Each row is composed of two tables separated by a central walkway.
At first glance, the chairs appear to be of the typical four-legged variety, but closer inspection shows a large circular hole in the back, just behind where a person would sit, and a small metal wheel at the base of each leg.

Reess Whitesmith keeps trying. He puts down a coin, and then immediately follows it himself. He appears on the other side. The coin is there, but he is not standing on it. Feeling a spark of ingenuity, he unloads his bag of coins over the circle, to cover more of the circle. He hears them fall on the other side of the room. He jumps onto the circle, and appears a few feet outside of the circle. Reess decides to walk to the other side, and set his bag down, and then follow it.

Sarrag: “There are other exits.”
Sarrag states the obvious.
Ian Aedan pushes one of the chairs back and forth, “Interesting. I’ve never seen something like this in a dining hall. Nor such fancy tables. The silver is usually reserved for the forks and knives.”
Rikard Castleberry: “This is truly odd.”
Sarrag: “At least the chairs look comfortable.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I still feel we should go try the circle we passed by. We haven’t seen or heard of Reess in a long time now. Certainly he wasn’t brought this way.”
Sarrag: “OK.”
Ian Aedan wipes his hands free of the dust from the chair, “They certainly haven’t been used in a while. Let’s see where these two exits go, then head back?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok, but at some point if we don’t see anything, we should go back, even if the hall just keeps going and going.”
Ian Aedan: “Agreed.”
Sarrag: “Where to?”

Reess Whitesmith teleports further away from the ring, but still across, and in the same room. He decides that more mass is perhaps the answer. He looks into the half circle room at the pillars.

They are carved as if from the stone. They go floor to ceiling and oddly there are no cracks visible.

Ian, Sarrag, and Rikard look down another hallway. There is nothing of note to be found in this area.

Ian Aedan: “Well….that wasn’t very exciting, was it? Peek down the other hall, then back?”
Sarrag looks to Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry glances at Ian, “Last hall to peek down, mister!”
Ian Aedan trudges along, “Yes, Dad.”

You’ve entered a 15’ room with 3 other exits. The walls are curved.

Sarrag: “Strange that we have seen no other circles.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah, unless it was designed that way, so people could only come in from 1 direction?”
Ian Aedan looks at the numerous exits, “My curiosity is getting the better of me…but reluctantly I have to agree. We’re taking too many twists and turns for Reess to find us down here.”
Sarrag: “Shall we head back?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok, let’s take a look for him past the rainbow circle, then come back down and get around more?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah.”
Ian Aedan follows, humming, “Someday we’ll find him….the rainbow connection…”
Ian Aedan: “There was a passage to the north of this room. Shall we peek since it’s along the way?"

Reess Whitesmith decides to employ some Telekinesis to solve the puzzle. He removes all the fragile and breakable objects from his bag. Then he draws his bastard sword and activates the power. As soon as the pack hits the circle it vanishes. He glances next at his frying pan. He slams it against the circle quite hard. It disappears, and he can hear a distant clattering.
Reess Whitesmith quickly jumps in the circle, and lands as the pan finishes settling next to him.

Rikard Castleberry: “We will hit it first thing once we come back down this way.”
Ian Aedan mutters, “Kay.” and follows along, a bit disappointed.
Sarrag: “We should go together.”
Ian Aedan: “Wait, before we do the circle….”
Ian Aedan takes the lantern back from Sarrag, “One moment.” He heads back to the center of the room and grabs the rods for the make shift arrow.
Ian Aedan returns, handing Sarrag the lantern, then lays the rods out in an arrow shape, pointing at the circle.
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh good idea.”
Ian Aedan: “Would have confused him slightly.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Shall we?”
Sarrag: “Do we hold hands?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Nah just step on at the same time.”
Rikard Castleberry: “On 3?”
Ian Aedan: “Wait…is it…1, 2, 3, then go? Or, 1, 2, go on 3?”
Rikard Castleberry: “On 3.”
Ian Aedan: “Right….”
Rikard Castleberry counts to 3, and steps onto the circle.
Ian Aedan does likewise.
Sarrag enters the same time as Rikard.

All three of you step onto the colored circle. After a few moments you feel somewhat silly looking at each other.

Rikard Castleberry walks over to the dark circle and steps onto it.
Sarrag: “Is this what was supposed to happen?”
Sarrag follows the light.
Ian Aedan: “Somehow, I suspect not. Does that one work Rikard?”

Rikard steps into the black ring…he does not wither and die.

Ian Aedan: “Maybe…one at a time?”
Rikard Castleberry: “On the rainbow one? Sure.”
Sarrag: “We came together.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, I don’t know.”
Ian Aedan scratches his head, “Okay….back the other way?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I wonder….”
Rikard Castleberry “Goes to check on the 2 mouth things.”

Though there are a few smears of blood…there is no body.

Rikard Castleberry: “Ok now this is weird, where did the bodies go?”
Rikard Castleberry looks around the whole chamber.
Ian Aedan gathers up the rods and points them back to the stairwell. “If Reess came this way, he had to have gone up the steps.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok. Let’s go back down then.”
Sarrag: “I don’t know where the Hand-Eaters disappeared to the first time.”
Ian Aedan: “Knowing our luck, we find Reess; we’ll find the hand eaters.”

Reess Whitesmith thinks on his situation, and decides to collapse a pillar. His plan is to wet his rope, then wrap it around 2 of the pillars tightly until all the rope is used up. Then he inserts the flat of the blade of his greatsword against the rope in the center, and twists the rope using the sword as a lever. He turns it over and over, tightening the rope. Just as it feels as the rope could not take another turn, he hears a crack, and a few pebbles and some dust falls from the ceiling.
Reess Whitesmith braces his weight against it and casts a lightning bolt at the top, where the crack and pebbles came down from.

Ian, Rikard, and Sarrag head back to the large room, and start searching around the north side.

Rikard Castleberry: “Let’s go around this way now, ya?”
Sarrag: “Good as any other.”
Ian Aedan: “Maybe we should start shouting for him….”
Sarrag: “If I am stepping into another crapper…”

Reess Whitesmith strains to hold on as he casts his energy into the pillar. It snaps like a twig. Then the rope, sword, and stone go in different directions. The pillar falls, but unfortunately the rope flashes at him like a massive spell powered whip. It cuts into his chest, wounding him. He looks at his work, and sees that the pillar has broken into several parts.
Reess Whitesmith pushes a large chunk of pillar to the teleporter. It disappears, as predicted. He follows it, and to his joy, does not appear on the other side, but rather, into pitch darkness.

Suddenly there is a short staccato rumble felt through Sarrag’s, Ian’s, and Rikard’s boots!

Ian Aedan stops and reaches into a belt pouch, pulling out a piece of paper and a charcoal pencil, “It’s like a maze in here.” He starts scribbling a quick map of the way they’ve come."

There is a passage going left and right.

Rikard Castleberry: “These folks really like this sort of passage.”
Rikard Castleberry walks around the path completely to make sure it’s another circular one like the others.
Rikard Castleberry: “Yep. They certainly seemed to have a thing for this sort of architecture.”

Reess Whitesmith fiddles with his cloak clasp, and activates it. It immediately turns fiery, and produces 10 feet worth of light.
Reess Whitesmith starts searching the room. He finds blood smears where he appeared. The room is 50 to 60 feet on a side. A row of stone pots and metal bars divides the room in two. The central bars lie bent and twisted upon the ground. Beyond the broken barrier, an opening in the wall leads to a descending stairway.
Reess Whitesmith quickly hurries down the stairs, knowing he doesn’t have long with his current light source.

Suddenly, there is the sound of footsteps behind Rikard, Ian, and Sarrag. They all turn around.
There is a happy reunion… Reess has made it!

Reess Whitesmith: “You would not believe what I had to do to get here.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh well, it appears we were not looking in the right spot. Unless, Reess, did you come through a classroom?”
Ian Aedan comes around the corner and sees Reess, “Hey there. Maybe you can help us. We’re looking for our friend. Blacksmith fellow, goes by the name Reess. Seen him?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Classroom…wha? NO! That damn teleporter put me on the other side of that hallway.”
Ian Aedan: “What hallway? The giant circular place? Before we came here?”
Reess Whitesmith: “When I got back to the side I started on, you were gone.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yeah.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah I showed up in a dark room and started getting attacked by crazy things.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Took me forever to figure out how to get through to where you guys went.”
Sarrag: “We kept moving.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Rikard can you look at this wound?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sure.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I took a rope to the chest after I collapsed a pillar.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Er.”
Rikard Castleberry: “A rope?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sit down. I’ll fiddle with this as you tell us about this strange place.”
Ian Aedan: “Do you just go around collapsing pillars as a hobby?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yeah. I used my sword as a lever and never mind. I brought a goddamn pillar down to drag a big chunk of it to fool that teleporter into thinking someone teleported first.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Took a bit of work.
Reess Whitesmith slaps his forehead.
Reess Whitesmith: “I could have grown to 6 times my size and probably just punched the damn thing.”

Sarrag and Rikard work on Reess, but don’t seem to be able to fix his wound. He is, however, wrapped in many bandages.

Rikard Castleberry: “Ok, you look right as rain. Shall we move ahead?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, wrapped up anyways.”
Reess Whitesmith “No no… I think I will be fine…”
Reess Whitesmith: “Seriously, you are not helping.”
Ian Aedan stands back from it all, “You look like a mummy I discovered one time. Only…he was healthier.”
Sarrag: “You have worked on a softskin before?”

At head height, steel hooks project from the walls at regular intervals. The floor below the hooks is raised a few inches, so that a platform perhaps three feet wide lines the walls.

Rikard Castleberry: “A coat room?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Meat locker?”
Sarrag: “Back to the dinner hall?”
Ian Aedan: “Cloak room here. Guest greeting just south, then the dining hall further south.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, this is a flub, let’s head back down to the dining room.”
Sarrag chases after Rikard going the other way.
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m curious if the next room will be a kitchen.”
Ian Aedan follows, keeping an eye behind.
Ian Aedan: “Hope so…wouldn’t mind a bite.”

A black metal pole about 10 feet high rises from the floor, topped by a golden globe the size of a man’s head.
Pillars ring the circumference of a circular chamber.

Sarrag: “Finish off the other room first?”
Ian Aedan pauses occasionally to continue his makeshift map. “I think we’re going to find something interesting no matter which direction we go, Sarrag.”

Session 49

Examination of the Tree and surrounding area are continuing. All evidence points to the extraordinary presence of the great old dead tree. Yet, there is no resounding answer as to why here, why the tree, or even what’s its purpose. The only sure facts are that it is artificial, immune to tests of burning and cutting, and upon arrival, ending the knowing sense of where Tarass Shar Orn was supposed to be located.

Rikard Castleberry: “So Reess, this is looking different down here.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yes, yes I see that.”
Reess Whitesmith: “It makes me think more and more that there is a passageway inside.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I wish we had a proper shovel though.”
Reess Whitesmith: “My frying pan not good enough for you?”
Rikard Castleberry: “The quality is good, but the size could be a bit bigger for this job.”
Rikard Castleberry keeps digging.
Reess Whitesmith: “I would very much like to speak with the swampman that got away.”
Sarrag: “Let us grab a body and head in that direction.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Can you follow tracks?”
Sarrag: “Not particularly well. Can you?”
Reess Whitesmith: “About as well as I can needlepoint.”
Rikard Castleberry: “You do realize their clan will probably look upon this badly if we show up with a dead member of their tribe that we killed.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Oh I know, that is why I haven’t left yet.”
Sarrag: “We killed them either way. We are showing respect by bringing them to them and informing them of their error.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I almost would rather keep going at this. At least we know something here.”
Sarrag: “That is fine. You make a good latrine.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yes, maybe there is a door buried below.”
Sarrag: “A doorway to what?”
Sarrag knocks on the tree’s base as he walks around it.
Rikard Castleberry: “Inside whatever this is down here.”
Reess Whitesmith: “This tree is 10 feet in diameter, and it is stone below the earth line. To me this looks like a tower in its own right.”

Though there is evidence now that the tree is artificial; the sound of the knocks is uncannily that of old dead wood.

Rikard Castleberry raps on the stone in front of him for a comparison sound.

The stone is clearly dense and strong.

Reess Whitesmith: “I know it sounds stupid to me too Sarrag, but I am out of ideas here.”
Sarrag: “This is a dead stone tree. I see nothing more.”
Reess Whitesmith: “All I have left are dumb ones.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Trees don’t normally come as stone though.”
Reess Whitesmith: “How many other stone trees do you know of?”
Rikard Castleberry keeps displacing earth as he talks.
Sarrag: “I do not know of this one and that itself is strange.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Why would the feeling go away when we stepped under its boughs?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I know you don’t necessarily have the answers Sarrag; it is more of a point of discussion.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Granted, this does make me wonder how they would get air down here if there is something inside, but, well, hopefully they figured that out.”
Sarrag: “There is some linkage to the dreamers but I do not know what it is.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Maybe they’re ‘dreaming’ in there? Hehehe.”
Rikard Castleberry laughs at his own joke.
Reess Whitesmith: “Neither do I know. I mean, this is very frustrating.”
Sarrag: “I was not being light. This tree is a forbearer artifice and I know not of it. It would be like finding the throne of one of your gods sitting on the roof of a tavern in your city and not know it.”
Ian Aedan comes back from the woods where he’s been the past couple minutes. He’s buckling his belt and looks down, “I would have been back faster if you just let me use this hole you dug.”
Rikard Castleberry shoots a glance at Ian that could be interpreted as “Um, no.”
Sarrag yells “You who cowardly left your companions to die. Show some honor by collecting their bodies. You shall be safe.”
Reess Whitesmith: “The swampmen here. You recognized them as warriors, but not that they would be hostile. Do you know the tribe markings?”
Sarrag: “I know not of them. I have not seen them before.”
Ian Aedan sits down next to the hole and starts pulling out some old scrolls from his pack, “Maybe there’s something similar in the history texts I have. Granted, I can’t carry the entire library, but I tried to bring a number of texts relevant to the swampmen.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Feel free to check the stuff out while I’m doing this. Unfortunately we don’t have more tools to make this easier.”
Reess Whitesmith: “They had dots on their faces. Let’s get a better look at them.”
Sarrag goes to say some last words over the fallen warriors giving them the honor that was their due.
Reess Whitesmith moves to one of the dead swampmen and shoos away the flies.

They are spartanly equipped, each wearing green dyed leather armor a small leather over the shoulder case, that once carried two to three spears.
Their faces are painted with three circles of color: a red circle on the right cheek, a yellow on the forehead and a violet on the left cheek.

Reess Whitesmith: “Don’t your people burn the bodies of the fallen?”
Rikard Castleberry starts working around the base increasing the size of the hole, rather than the depth.
Ian Aedan: “The idea that they would have had to dig out the tree in order to use it seems rather inconvenient, doesn’t it?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sure, but I doubt all this dirt was here when they made it, or even this tree.”
Sarrag: “Why did they make the fire so far away? It is not like the tree would burn.”
Ian Aedan: “Something holy to them perhaps.”
Rikard Castleberry: “They probably did not try to burn it.”
Reess Whitesmith: “This tree has no roots. You know how odd that is even for one that is perhaps magical and partially comprised of stone?”
Ian Aedan: “Perhaps it’s not a tree, but a statue, of a tree?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Covering something.”
Ian Aedan stuffs his papers away, “Nothing in these.”
Sarrag: “They are probably lower. This tree is old.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m not much of an arborist, but I’ve never seen a tower sprout any sort of plant life from stone.”
Rikard Castleberry: “And this looks quite similar to the other towers.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, minus a window or a door.”
Sarrag: “And the whole tree thing.”
Ian Aedan: “A variant on the tower then? How do the towers normally work? Maybe it’s just the same.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Cubes, running around in a circle.”
Rikard Castleberry: “But we went over them all before, and I don’t think we ever came here.”
Reess Whitesmith: “You probably wouldn’t have, those towers were made of bricks, not like this.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That is true. This reminds me more of a tomb than anything.”
Ian Aedan: “Reess, when you climbed, did you see any trees of similar height, or appearance?”
Sarrag: “Well why don’t you follow the ritual, and we will see if anything happens?”
Reess Whitesmith: “But I remember Bianca telling me that there were colored bands that you felt around with on the inside while holding the appropriate colored cube.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t see anything here yet that would work Sarrag, they all were previously inside.”
Reess Whitesmith: “No other trees like this that I saw.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Red yellow and violet.”
Ian Aedan: “I think Sarrag is right. Try this ritual; see if it does anything….it can’t be worse than digging a hole to hell.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sarrag, do face paint colors mean anything to your people? I understand that these were not of your people, but just as humans generally speak a similar language perhaps you share certain traditions with them.”
Rikard Castleberry: “But what color?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Red yellow or violet?”
Sarrag: “No – the markings mean nothing to me.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Odds would be more likely to be yellow, since that was the forehead color, yes?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Try em all.”
Reess Whitesmith: “And while you do we will sit here and wonder some more.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Why don’t you go get them and give it a go while I’m digging?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sure.”
Ian Aedan sits down on the remains of a fallen tree, “Much like my seat, I’m stumped.”
Sarrag: “Wait, these look to be blood scar warriors.”
Sarrag: “They hide their markings out of shame.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Where are their marks? On their backsides?”
Sarrag: “Which is why I did not notice before.”
Reess Whitesmith: “What do you think that means?”
Sarrag: “I have not checked there but you are welcome to settle a bet some of the clan has had towards the answer.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m just fine, thanks. So what do you know about these blood scar folks?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Are they the ruthless type?”
Ian Aedan raises a hand, “Why would they hide their marks….and what does that mean to the tree?”
Sarrag: “They mutilate themselves in some fashion. And their name gives you some idea about them.”
Rikard Castleberry: “But why would these folks be guardians? That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Most warriors don’t like to be guards.”
Ian Aedan: “Unless it was something of an honor guard?”
Rikard Castleberry hops out of the hole he’s been making.
Rikard Castleberry: “I need just a couple minutes to relax here.”
Rikard Castleberry sits down.
Sarrag: “Why guard an indestructible stone tree?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, what if the tree grew out of Tarass Shar Orn, and that is what is inside this stone building?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Because they don’t want us to do something. maybe they don’t know what we could do, but better we were dead than to try.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Anyone have a pick or something? Try to chip a bit at this stone, see if it acts like regular stone, or if it’s sturdier?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Give me a few minutes.”
Rikard Castleberry stands up and walks over to one of the uncovered tree root sections, and gives it a tug, to see if it feels any different without earth on top of it.

It is sturdy and doesn’t yield to your strength.

Ian Aedan stares at the tree. He has a look of brain strain.
Reess Whitesmith gathers up some of the blood scar spears and snaps their hafts off. Taking the heads in hand and lashes them perpendicularly to smaller lengths of shafts at each end. Then Rees lashes several of these together in a radial pattern and put a long handle on with a tee across the top.
Reess Whitesmith hops down into the hole with his new tool and starts breaking up the earth with great vigor.
Reess Whitesmith: “Just toss the soft stuff out of the hole Rikard and watch where you step, I would hate to stab ya in the foot.”

As you begin loosening the earth, it becomes rapidly apparent that the tool is not going to hold up for more than a few cubic feet of work.
But it works like magic for about 15 minutes before it begins to break apart.
You learn that the shape of the central area becomes more regulated after 8 feet down into a cylindrical 12’ tube like shape.

Ian Aedan wanders back to the tree and gives it a kick, for good measure.
Ian Aedan walks around the tree, giving it a close examination. He occasionally runs a hand over the tree, alternating between masseuse gentle and TSA rough.

After going over the base 6 feet to the ground, Ian is certain that he detects no new anomalies.

Rikard Castleberry goes back to work. He starts clearing off around the base off the ‘tree’ so there is a ring around it, exposing the stone on all sides.
Rikard Castleberry: “All I can think of here guys is to pull the dirt away and try to push it over again. I’ve never been good at this kind of problem.”
Ian Aedan walks away from the tree, sits down and stares at it. “Do you fellows know what the smallest tree in the world is?”
Rikard Castleberry: “A baby tree?”
Ian Aedan holds out his hand, palm up; “A palm tree.”
Sarrag: “The Blood Scar are not known for their subtlety.”
Ian Aedan suddenly sees from the angle of his hand a peculiar trio of old branch scars. They form a triangle about 15’ up the tree. They are clearly out of reach, but interesting none the less. The triangle is slightly on its side, with no flat base.
Ian Aedan picks up a stone nearby and chucks it up in the air past the tree. He watches the track of the stone then cocks his head.

The stone passes through the air, past the tree and lands as expected.

Reess Whitesmith: “This seems beyond my comprehension.”
Ian Aedan: “You gents see that?” He points to a trio of branch scars in the shape of a triangle, about 15 feet up.
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes Ian. That is the sun.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Triangle…wha?” He follows Ian’s hand to see what he is pointing at.

There is indeed a small trio of branch scars about 15’ up.

Ian Aedan looks for another stone to ping off Rikard.
Reess Whitesmith: “Why didn’t you mention that before?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t see them.”
Ian Aedan stands up and points, “I didn’t notice them before. It’s a triangle on its side, sort of. More at an angle. No flat base.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I remember Yavanna explaining to Christophe once while I was waiting for her to examine something of mine… well anyway, The Harlass Orn people she said, have this thing about threes and triangles and well that’s about it.”
Reess Whitesmith: “You’re right.”
Sarrag: “Then let us look for two other signs.”
Ian Aedan stands back and starts to look up at the tree for similar shapes.

After much searching, only the one triangle of scars is found.

Sarrag: “Shall we climb to the scar?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yes. Look for other triangles or things in threes.”
Ian Aedan: “It’s not that far up, maybe 15 feet or so.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Can’t see this scar, but he hopes he didn’t dig the hole right under it.”
Sarrag: “I am still not that tall.”
Ian Aedan backs away and starts to move, as if checking to see if he can ‘frame’ some important object in the triangle.
Sarrag starts his climb.

The trio of branch scars are under the area Rikard is about to dig up.

Rikard Castleberry: “So there might be 3 of these things on this tree?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I have no idea.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Use my rope and grapple.”

Sarrag carefully climbs and reaches the trio of scars.
Each scar is about 14" apart from the other points.

Sarrag feels around the scar and looks out to where the scar is framing.
Rikard Castleberry stops digging and watches Sarrag do something on the tree.
Rikard Castleberry: “What is it up there Sarrag?”
Sarrag: “Some scratches in the tree but since we couldn’t scratch it…”
Rikard Castleberry: “Try pushing on it.”
Sarrag: “There is something here in the corners.”
Sarrag adjusts his hold through use of his tail to allow him to use a hand to examine the scars.
Sarrag pushes on the rubbery things.
Sarrag: “There is something sap like here.”
Ian Aedan: “Sap? From a stone tree?”

Sarrag is touching each of the three tree wounds.

Sarrag: “There are something hidden in each of the scars.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Like?”
Sarrag pushes on the three in order.
Ian Aedan: “Elaborate?”
Sarrag: “Sap like bubbles with some resistance.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Can you remove them?”
Sarrag: “I am hoping that they open a lock if I depress them in the correct order.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That’s only a few options. Shouldn’t take too long.”
Ian Aedan takes a step or two back from the tree before Sarrag starts pushing things…just in case.
Sarrag keeps pushing in different combinations of three.

After some time you are fairly certain that you have pressed the circles in all the possible orders you can think of if the order is only three long.

Rikard Castleberry: “Is it possible to grab all 3 spots with a finger at the same time?”
Sarrag: “I can try.”
Sarrag uses his hands and face to push all the buttons.

Sarrag struggles to fit his snout into the final scar. He is slightly frustrated after a few tries.

Sarrag shifts to use his hands and tail.

Sarrag adjusts his position such that his hands are now over two of the scars with fingers pressing in. Then his tail snakes out and hits the third button.
There is a deep hum.

Reess Whitesmith: “Son of an eel! It worked!”
Rikard Castleberry looks down the hole to see if anything there changed.
Reess Whitesmith: “Better get out of there Rikard.”

Without a sound, a curving section of trunk slides from left to right, following the contours of the tree. A puff of cool air escapes from a circular room that fills all the space within the tree. The room is about ten feet in diameter and ten feet high, with a floor of smooth stone.

Ian Aedan blinks. “Impressive. Let’s make a pact to skip the middle three hours of goofing about when we talk to bards.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Of course. This hole was here when we arrived.”
Sarrag: “Enter please – I do not know how long I can hold this.”
Reess Whitesmith runs inside.
Rikard Castleberry: “You could always insert spear heads.”
Reess Whitesmith on the inside looks around, but particularly for a switch.
Ian Aedan rushes back and grabs his gear before darting forward, jumping the hole, and landing inside. He immediately starts to look for a switch.

The inside looks like the inside of a hollowed tree, except the stone circular floor. There is hardly a seam even though you know the stone floor and tree are seemingly of different pieces and materials.
Ian and Reess have stepped inside. Rikard is still outside with Sarrag.

Rikard Castleberry: “Try letting it go Sarrag. If it closes, we can insert some spearheads maybe?”
Sarrag: “There is nothing to insert them in.”

The door slides shut without warning. The walls simultaneously glow yellow and the floor smoothly descends. As the floor drops below ground level, walls of wood give way to polished stone.

Inside, with Reess and Ian…

Reess Whitesmith pulls out the tiny dim light gem that Bianca gave him.
Ian Aedan’s eyes go wide, “Interesting. If we die, remind me not to rush after you anymore.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Heh heh heh.”

Less than a minute passes before the floor exits the shaft and drops into the darkness of a large room. A few seconds later, it settles to rest without the slightest jarring. The glow from the shaft above faintly illuminates a portion of the ceiling around the shaft. The air is less humid than the swamp above, as well as slightly cooler and tinged with the scent of water.

Ian Aedan’s eyes go wide and he whistles quietly, “Amazing.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I suppose we should find a way out of this shaft.”
Ian Aedan: “Agreed, though I’m darn tempted to explore.”
Reess Whitesmith: “So am I.”
Ian Aedan starts to take a step out of the light, then pauses. “We need to find a way back up so we can bring the others down here.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I imagine that they can reactivate the buttons and come down.”

A handful of heartbeats pass, and then yellow light fills a cylindrical chamber about 50 feet in diameter. The light emanates from small gem-like objects spaced along the walls at 10-foot intervals.
The floor that descended through the tree is actually a stone disk. It now sits in the center of the chamber. A pool of clear water surrounds most of the disk. A stone walkway extends from the disk to the doorway of another room. Fifteen feet above, the circular shaft has grown dark.

Ian Aedan: “Possible, but they have to have a way to get back up. I find it hard to believe there’s only one button.”
Reess Whitesmith goes across the stone walkway and looks around.
Ian Aedan stops by the edge of the stone disk and looks into the water. The water is clean, but not clear.
Ian Aedan “If we start going back up, I say we start screaming loudly as if we’re in pain.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Those light gems they are fully charged after all this time. Intriguing.”
Ian Aedan: “I need to get my hands on one of those light gems someday. They’d come in handy.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I am looking for a switch; there should be a control to let the inhabitants out.”
Ian Aedan looks into the water for a bit before stepping off the platform. “The water looks pretty clean for being in a hole so long.”
Reess Whitesmith continues into the room and follows the right edge. Looking for a control or whatnot.
Reess Whitesmith: “Stay close to me Ian”
Ian Aedan looks up, “Hm? Oh.” He trots after Reess.
Reess Whitesmith: “Are there any light gems imbedded in the walls that need activation?”

Suddenly, Reess and Ian can hear the lift rising.

Reess Whitesmith: “Good. Looks like they activated it again. Maybe it waited till we got off of it.”
Ian Aedan looks behind him, “We’re either trapped, or they’re on their way down.”

Reess and Ian glance around. The walkway from the stone disc leads to an open doorway. Light from the cylindrical chamber spills through the doorway, pushing back the darkness and suggesting another room of indeterminate size. The edge of the shadows sparkle as the light reflects from something inside.

Meanwhile, our outside heroes…

Sarrag: “Should we try to get them out?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Maybe, but not yet. They also probably are trying to find out how to open this back up.”
Sarrag: “Those two? I am worried that they are alone.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Maybe push them again and I will see if they are still there?”
Sarrag pushes the scars again.

Nothing happens.

Rikard Castleberry notes as nothing happens. “Well, I suppose you may as well hop down for now.”
Sarrag: “OK.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Perhaps they did something on the inside.”

Without a sound, a curving section of trunk slides from left to right, following the contours of the tree. A puff of cool air escapes from a circular room that fills all the space within the tree. The room is about ten feet in diameter and ten feet high, with a floor of smooth stone. Reess and Ian are not there.

Rikard Castleberry: “Sarrag. Let’s go in while it’s open.”
Sarrag jumps in.
Rikard Castleberry grabs his stuff, and runs inside.

The door slides shut without warning. The walls simultaneously glow yellow and the floor smoothly descends. As the floor drops below ground level, walls of wood give way to polished stone.
Less than a minute passes before the floor exits the shaft and drops into the darkness of a large room. A few seconds later, it settles to rest without the slightest jarring. The glow from the shaft above faintly illuminates a portion of the ceiling around the shaft. The air is less humid than the swamp above, as well as slightly cooler and tinged with the scent of water.

A handful of heartbeats pass, and then yellow light fills a cylindrical chamber about 50 feet in diameter. The light emanates from small gem-like objects spaced along the walls at 10-foot intervals.
The floor that descended through the tree is actually a stone disk. It now sits in the center of the chamber. A pool of clear water surrounds most of the disk. A stone walkway extends from the disk to the doorway of another room.
Fifteen feet above, the circular shaft has grown dark.

Ian Aedan whispers to Reess, “Okay, I’m gonna have some fun with them, cause I can.”
Reess Whitesmith chuckles to himself, “Do it!”

Rikard Castleberry “Well that was unusual.”

Ahead of you are your comrades, they are in another room looking at an intricate door.

Ian Aedan turns around and runs towards Rikard and Sarrag, a panicked look on his face, “RUN! It’s got Reess!”
Rikard Castleberry: “Run where?”
Sarrag: “What has Reese?”
Ian Aedan points, “A big, ugly thing!”
Rikard Castleberry steps forward, off the platform.
Sarrag starts jogging where Ian pointed.
Reess Whitesmith starts laughing from the hallway.
Ian Aedan snickers and turns waving for the others to follow, “That’s the problem with adventurers who rush into battle. No sense of humor. C’mon, this is amazing.”
Rikard Castleberry: “…”
Rikard Castleberry: “So how did you send it back up? In case you’re dead or unconscious next time.”
Reess Whitesmith: “We both got off.”
Ian Aedan: “Send it back up? We thought you two recalled it.”
Sarrag: “Ohh.”
Rikard Castleberry walks up to the door.
Rikard Castleberry: “So, is there a door handle?”

The room is a half-cylinder of the same diameter as the previous room, with the doorway centered in the straight wall. Opposite the doorway, a square stone door 10 feet on a side stands ajar, pushed out a few feet to reveal a corridor beyond. Four stone columns flank the door on either side, following the curve of the wall and spaced at equal intervals. Inlays of dark gray metal trace intricate designs over the pillars and door.
In bold curves and sinuous lines, the metal wraps around the pillars from floor to ceiling. The designs on each pillar seem to follow an obscure progression, as if the lines upon one pillar continue from the previous pillar and extend to the next.
The patterns on the stone door describe an even more elaborate motif, obviously related to those on the pillars, yet subtly different. A continuous design covers the entire door, weaving about itself while never crossing any line. The twists and turns are cunningly rendered, drawing the eye to one section or another, and then urging it to follow the gleaming metal as it meanders between and around other lines. But no line ever ends, nor do any truly begin.

Reess Whitesmith: “Incredible.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Hey this thing looks neat.”
Ian Aedan traces the pattern with his finger, “Amazing. Perhaps it’s a magical rune of some sort.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I will take a rubbing of this later.”
Rikard Castleberry walks up and gives a tentative push on the door, feeling the weight of it.

Rikard gives it a shove and realizes this is heavy. It doesn’t move.

Sarrag: “Maybe together?”
Reess Whitesmith helps push.
Ian Aedan starts looking about the room for a switch or lever, anything of that sort.
Rikard Castleberry lines up on the door again, and begins to push with the aid of the others.

With great exertion you work together to push the door open further, sweat breaks out on all and it slowly gives in to your effort.

Rikard Castleberry: “Ah, good stuff. Makes me wonder who built this though.”
Reess Whitesmith high-fives Rikard.
Reess Whitesmith: “The Harlass did.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Or the Tarass Shar did…”
Rikard Castleberry: “This is a rather large door though, how did they manage this?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’d certainly like to talk to them.”
Reess Whitesmith: “They had golems like we fought before.”
Rikard Castleberry takes a step into the hallway past the door.
Ian Aedan turns from the wall, “No switches that I see.”
Reess Whitesmith puts his stone away.
Rikard Castleberry looks both directions.
Reess Whitesmith does too.
Rikard Castleberry: “Anyone have a coin? We can flip it and decide which way to go from that.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Go right.”
Rikard Castleberry: “….you didn’t flip a coin.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Nope.”
Ian Aedan fishes out a coin from a pocket and flips it, “The coin says, go heads.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Heads it is!”
Reess Whitesmith: “Heads means go right.”

A multicolored circle has been carved into the floor. The colors progress through all the hues of a rainbow.

Rikard Castleberry: “This reminds me of the towers.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Except this rainbow thing.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s step around it for now.”
Sarrag walks around the circle.
Rikard Castleberry: “We can always come back to this after we look around a little.”
Ian Aedan walks around the circle, but looks inside it closely.

Everyone walks around the circle, finding something similar on the floor.
A multicolored circle has been carved into the floor. The colors progress through all the hues of a rainbow.

Reess Whitesmith: “Ok then.”
Sarrag walks around the circle.
Rikard Castleberry: “Let’s make sure there’s nothing else first.”
Ian Aedan: “Okay, that settles it, we should have gone left.”
Reess Whitesmith steps onto the circle.
Sarrag: “I knew that tails was the wiser choice.”

Reess disappears. He finds himself standing on a rainbow colored circle, just like the one he just stepped on.

Sarrag: “What color was it?”
Ian Aedan: “Last time I Followed Reess into something, I ended up down here….”
Rikard Castleberry: “Last time I did something like this I ended up fighting spiders.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh well.”
Rikard Castleberry walks into the circle.

Rikard disappears.

Sarrag: “Should we hold hands?”
Ian Aedan grins, “After you.”

Rikard Castleberry finds himself in pitch darkness. Before he can acclimate himself to his surroundings, he is attacked by several things!

Round 1

Something attacks Rikard, but misses.
Something else attacks Rikard, and bites him. Something tries to seep into Rikard’s skin, but slides off.

Round 2

More attacks come in at Rikard. This time he is on his guard, and can defend at all of them, even in the dark.

Rikard Castleberry attacks out in front of him twice, holding his spear in a more defensive stance.

Rikard feels his spear cut deeply into something.

Meanwhile, Ian and Sarrag step onto the rainbow colored circle, and find themselves in pitch darkness.

Round 3

Sarrag: “Rikard?”
Rikard Castleberry grunts.

Something attacks Ian, biting his wrist. Something oozes out of its mouth, but drips off of Ian’s armor and doesn’t affect him.
Another attack comes Ian’s way, but fails to connect.
The sounds of rending leather and grunts fill the darkness.

Rikard Castleberry drops to a knee, and pulls his pack off his back, quickly fishing in it for the light gem.
Rikard Castleberry: “Who’s there?”
Rikard Castleberry shuffles around in his pack and gets his hand on the gem and light starts to pour out into the chamber.
Rikard Castleberry stands up after grabbing the gem, taking a look around.

Light spills out from the gem, revealing the scene at hand. The room is large, and a barrier of metal bars stretches across the room. This would prevent exiting if the central portion did not lie broken and twisted upon the floor. Around our heroes are several creatures with two mouths, clawed hands, and purple skin.

One of the purple creatures bites Ian, getting a hold of him. Something is seen leaking out of one of the mouths.
Suddenly, Ian slumps to the ground, unmoving.

Another Two-Mouth bites at Rikard. It clamps down on his arm momentarily, but fails to sink its teeth in.

Sarrag: “You could not wait Rikard?”
Rikard Castleberry: “This isn’t where Reess went!”
Sarrag attacks the one to his left near Rikard. The attack glances off the unnatural skin.

Session 48

You gear up and take the time necessary to heal your bodies. A quiet and reflective fortnight passes under the attention of Dr. Cornelius Troost. During this time it becomes evident that you are not the only ones with disturbing dreams. The people of Kith’takharos speak openly of dreams without end, nightmares that refuse to be forgotten, and the now familiar mantra, “Will the dreamers ever awaken?”
Almost a full day has passed as you make the best use of the waterways to return to the Bright Water held tower. Here you still sense the invisible pull that leads you onward towards Tarass Shar Orn.

Reess Whitesmith: “Well that was easy.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That was nice to relax for a few days before dashing into the maw of dooom again.”
Sarrag: “Are you well enough to travel?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Absolutely. Fit as a fiddle.”
Ian Aedan adjusts his gear, patting every spot possible to assure himself he has everything.
Rikard Castleberry: “I think we should dock here, it seems the right place.”
Reess Whitesmith shifts his new pack on his back, not very silently either.
Sarrag: “Aye, It is time to go inland.”
Reess Whitesmith lands the skiff and starts to drag it out of the water.
Sarrag gets out so that Reese has an easier time.
Rikard Castleberry hops off, adjusts his hat, checks his backpack, and starts gazing about.
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok, daylight is burning. Lead on Sarrag.”
Sarrag heads off without the grace of the parties former scout.
Ian Aedan shuffles along in the rear of the group, humming a quiet tune as the group goes.

It is likely that the sun will set in about 2 hours. It has been a long haul to pole out here.
There is no path leading you, only an invisible tug that keeps you moving eastward at this point.

Sarrag: “We shall make camp when light fails us.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Agreed.”

The sun slips low to the horizon and you consider setting up camp. Suddenly, ahead of you there is a large clearing. You are still well covered but it is clear that the jungle gives way to a grassy area ahead.

Reess Whitesmith: “Not tonight guys, we can explore it in the morning.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That seems rather odd; shouldn’t this be still rather thick and not clear?”
Sarrag: “It is odd that the swamp stops.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I expect the odd from here on.”
Ian Aedan pauses and looks ahead, “You’d think in most cases we’d be happy not to trudge through a swamp…but yes, that is odd.”
Sarrag: “Do you want to sleep in the swamp or this flatland?”
Reess Whitesmith: “We are on a task that we do not understand. To an outcome we cannot guess.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I prefer the swamp tonight.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Is anyone against staying under the cover of the swamp tonight?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I would prefer an inn, but barring that, I suppose a swamp will do.”

Ahead you hear the rasping and choking of what must be laughter…from a swamp man!

Sarrag pulls out a piece of smoked jerky and finds a nice piece of muddy ground to sleep in.
Rikard Castleberry: “Laughter? Out here?”
Reess Whitesmith sighs.
Reess Whitesmith: “Guess it will not be uneventful.”
Sarrag: “Shall we issue greetings?”
Ian Aedan: “A copper says they’re laughing at us.”

Another swamp man voice cuts the laughter off, though it is hard to say what was said as it was quite a distance from your hidden location.

Reess Whitesmith: “I suppose.”
Sarrag heads towards the sounds.
Reess Whitesmith sets his pack down then follows hand on rapier and guarding with his shield.
Ian Aedan raises a hand to object, then sighs and starts after the others, unslinging his bow.
Reess Whitesmith: “If they are unfriendly I would rather know before we go to sleep.”

A half dozen Swamp Men are clustered around a stone lined fire pit. A haunch of meat hangs above a low fire on a spit. One of the Swamp Men slowly turns the spit. These are the largest Swamp Men you have ever seen. All are over seven feet tall and very muscular. They wear greenish leather armor and carry spears.

Reess Whitesmith: “Do they look familiar Sarrag?”
Sarrag: “It is hard to see the Clan Markings.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let me try and describe them. What should I look for?”
Sarrag: “They are experienced Claws.”
Sarrag “It is better not to cower in the shadows.”
Ian Aedan whispers, “What’s that mean?”
Sarrag: “They are fighters.”

As you all get a good look you learn the following:
These Swamp Men hold themselves in the relaxed yet aware stances of veteran warriors. Each also has unusual spots of color on his face: a red circle upon the left cheek, a violet circle upon the right cheek, and a yellow circle upon the forehead. You cannot tell whether the circles are painted or tattooed.
They don’t seem to have noticed you yet as they are talking low, while one of them cooks a haunch of meat that gives off a greasy black smoke.

Sarrag: “Shall I greet them?”
Rikard Castleberry: “We may as well, it will happen sooner or later.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Then let us not catch them by surprise.”
Sarrag: “Greetings Brothers.”

A moment hangs in silence as Sarrag’s words carry across the clearing. As a unit their heads turn towards Sarrag. Then they draw spears and begin walking towards Sarrag with murder in their eyes.

Reess Whitesmith: “Not friendly?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh, here we go.”
Ian Aedan gulps, “I told you we should have brought a casserole.”
Sarrag meets their gaze with a glare of equal intensity and does not back down.

Round 1

The one who was tending the meat picks up his pace and stabs at Sarrag with a curse in swamp man, “Your spear will break and you will bleed at my feet tonight.”
It stabs Sarrag in the shoulder, knocking him off balance, shaking him!
Another covers the distance and stabs at Sarrag without the curse.
The sharp spear is easily deflected into the soft grass and earth beneath it.

Ian Aedan pulls back his bow and lets fly with an arrow, “If they don’t want to share their dinner, they really should just say so.”

The shot slams into a buckler that is raised at the last moment.
Another moves up and throws the spear in its hand towards Reess.
The spear seemed destined to kill and Reess reacted strongly, but stumbled over a stone. The spear whizzed by where his head shoulder should have been.
One of the swamp men run into the forest at the southern end of the clearing.

Rikard Castleberry: “Crap. One ran away. We need to finish this quick.”
Rikard Castleberry steps up to the middle swamp man for a couple attacks.

The first slash opens up the swamp man, producing a terrible wound.
The second shot hammers it full on in the buckler and knocks him over, dead.
Another swamp man runs up hurling a spear at Rikard.
The spear goes wide by over a foot.

Reess Whitesmith steps next to Rikard and lets out a bolt of lightning at 3 of the swamp men.

The lightning bolt coruscates wild heat and energy into the three swamp men, drawing their attention. However, the lightning bolt misses any vital body parts, if they had hair it would be standing on end though.

Sarrag clears his head.
Sarrag: “You dishonor yourselves with this attack against one sent by the forefathers. Your Punishment is foretold.”
Swamp Man: “We are the Guardians of the Forebears, blasphemer!”
Sarrag: “Then you would know of our coming.”

The last of them moves up and enjoins Sarrag. He swings as it approaches, but meets only wind.

Round 2

A swamp man leaps around another to reach the spell caster.
The swamp man’s attack bites deep into Reess, scoring a wound!

Ian Aedan lines up a shot on the swamp man that just approached Sarrag. The arrow flies true, but bounces off a piece of armor.
Ian Aedan coolly imagines the casserole he could have brought to this occasion.
Rikard Castleberry dashes up to intercept the space between the swamp men and Reess.

As Rikard steps forward he learns to his chagrin that these swamp men are veterans. Both respond to his movement with an attack!
Rikard easily parries one off against the other.

Rikard Castleberry swings twice against the one in front of him, and with a returning strike on the back side against the one to his left.

The pair of them defend themselves against the onslaught, and the front retaliates against Rikard. However, neither blow manages to land.
The one in front strikes out with his spear against Rikard.

Sarrag: “You shall not keep me from my charge, misguided one. The Dreamer’s will awaken.”
Sarrag growls his frustration at his target, trying to make it back down. It resists the intimidation.
Swamp Man: “Eshosh warned of Bright Water lies. Nothing you say or do this day will matter in the end. Your fate is sealed.”

The swamp man on Reess and Rikard stays the course on Reess. It swings twice at the stunned smith, but fails to connect.
The one speaking with Sarrag goes all out. It brutally swings twice. The first stab misses badly. The second connects, but glances off an armored spot.

Reess Whitesmith takes a moment to catch his breath. He recovers, and finds the strength to attack back, wildly! His rapier strike, while strong, fails to find the intended target.

Round 3

Sarrag sees that talk is useless with these swamplizards and attacks.
Sarrag catches the swamp man slightly off guard and slams his spear into his left lung. He drops as the spear is pulled free and a stream of blood spurts out onto the grasses.
Reess Whitesmith spins the crest on his cloak.
Ian Aedan pulls back another arrow, aiming carefully, and lets fly. The shot slams firmly into the tree.

The swamp man in front of Sarrag is enraged; he hurls the spear at Sarrag and throws himself at him as well.
The attacks do not penetrate Sarrag’s firm defense.

Rikard Castleberry continues upon his path of violence, 2 attacks in front, and 1 to the left. He misses the one to the left. However, he manages to cleave open the femoral artery of the one on his right. It drops like a sack of potatoes. He then glances at the one to his left, blade still covered with blood.
Rikard Castleberry “You’re next, not so thick-skin.”

The untouched swamp man grins wildly and goes at Rikard with reckless abandon.
Rikard, though pressed, manages to hold him off.

Round 4

The swamp man in front of Sarrag attacks again. The attacks, while violent, miss as Sarrag dodges.
The swamp man in front of Rikard goes wild again, enraged by the words of this thin-skin.
Rikard takes a solid hit from the swamp man to the abdomen, staggering him.

Reess Whitesmith notices the swamp man overexerting himself against Rikard. He takes the opportunity to attack. He stabs it from behind, through the left lung. It coughs up some blood, and then falls over dead.
Rikard Castleberry shakes off the cobwebs, but is unable to act.
Sarrag: “You are finished here. May the Forebears forgive your ignorance.” He stabs out with his spear, but fails to connect.
Ian Aedan fires again. The arrow hits resoundingly strong, and punches through the armor, but not the swamp mans skin.

Round 5

Swamp Man screams out as he lashes his tail at Sarrag. “Then I will die if it pleases the mother!” The swipes fail to connect.
Sarrag: “Dying will please your Mother and erase her shame.”
Sarrag stabs at the last swamp man, but misses.
Ian Aedan fires another shot at the swamp man. He scores a hit, but not damaging his foe.
Ian Aedan eyes his bow and shakes it, as if that’ll fix the problem.
Reess Whitesmith moves up to the swamp man, drawing an attack!
Sarrag: “Watch out they are quick.”

The attack hits Reess, startling him for a moment, preventing him from acting.

Rikard Castleberry darts around to the side of the last foe and strikes!
Rikard Castleberry hits strongly, shaking his foe.

Round 6

Ian Aedan lines up and fires another shot at the last swamp man. His shot takes him through the right eye, enucleating him.
Ian Aedan holds up his bow as the swamp man gets hit, “No wonder I kept missing, I had it upside down!”
Rikard Castleberry felt the arrow pass right by his hat.

Just as suddenly as fighting broke out, it is over.

Sarrag goes and makes sure the meat isn’t burnt.
Ian Aedan slings his bow and moves forward, “Is it normal for these fellows to defend their dinner in such a way?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I haven’t encountered any of this type before.”
Sarrag: “They were told that we were coming.”

An old tree sprouts from a small clearing. Mighty in its prime, with a trunk almost ten feet in diameter and a hundred feet high, the tree has been weathered gray. Broken and bare branches jut from a smooth trunk, providing negligible shade from the burning sun. Although the tree has obviously been dead a very long time, the upright trunk hints at ancient glory.

Reess Whitesmith: “They thought we were doing wrong by coming here. My guess is a rival tribe to the Brightwater. That right Sarrag?”
Rikard Castleberry starts dragging the corpses into a pile slightly off to the side after rummaging around for things that were carrying.
Sarrag: “Don’t know. They did not talk.”

Each swamp man has peculiar green leather armor, three spears balanced for throwing and fighting, a buckler, and spear holder strapped to back.

Rikard Castleberry: “Ian, I would suggest wiping off that arrowhead in the swamp man’s eye before using it again.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Who is Ehosh?”
Sarrag: “Some fool.”
Ian Aedan retrieves what arrows he cans and wipes them off, “Eye goo does throw off the balance.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Anyone need a spear or a spear holder before I toss these in the fire?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Hmmm vitreus humour.”
Reess Whitesmith grabs a jar and scoops some in.
Sarrag: “Anyone want some dinner?”
Rikard Castleberry: “What were they cooking?”

They were cooking a fatty chunk of carnivorous lizard. The viscera lies near the edge of the jungle to the north.

Reess Whitesmith: “There is still one out there.”
Sarrag says something in swampmanese.
Sarrag: “I think it translates to chicken.”
Ian Aedan checks out the dinner and sniffs, “No offense meant Sarrag…but isn’t a swamp man eating a lizard creature sort of…cannibalistic?”
Sarrag: “No more then you eating a goat.”
Sarrag: “Besides it tastes good.”
Reess Whitesmith stands by the tree and closes his eyes, shutting out the sights of the swamp, He concentrates to shut out the noises and smells. He tries to feel the tugging on his soul he felt minutes before.
Ian Aedan: “Well, can’t argue with taste.”
Rikard Castleberry thinks about be compared to a goat for a minute, and then forgets it.
Ian Aedan whispers to Rikard, “It’s cause at one point or another, we were all kids.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Do you think they were here guarding this tree? “
Sarrag: “Why?”
Rikard Castleberry: “It’s a rather nice tree.”
Reess Whitesmith: “We are here.”
Sarrag: “It’s dead.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Feel it?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Um.”
Sarrag: “Excuse me?”
Rikard Castleberry concentrates.
Reess Whitesmith: “The pull on your soul.”
Sarrag: “Is that something you thinskins do after a battle?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Come here.”
Sarrag: “Turn the meat, please.”
Rikard Castleberry turns the meat.
Sarrag walks towards the tree
Reess Whitesmith: “Now do you feel it?”
Ian Aedan makes his way over to the tree. “I’m not sure I feel anything.”
Sarrag: “You are correct, the tree is our goal.”
Reess Whitesmith: “They were here guarding it from us.”
Reess Whitesmith looks off into the distance.
Rikard Castleberry: “Is there an entrance?”
Sarrag: “Let us sleep next to the tree for guidance.”
Reess Whitesmith: “There is still one out there who wants to stop us.”

It is about this time that you realize the light of the fire has overtaken as your primary light source.

Rikard Castleberry: “Just 1?”
Reess Whitesmith: “The one who ran to warn others.”
Sarrag: “Then we should eat.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That’s fine; we can do shorter sleeping shifts then tonight.”
Ian Aedan: “Well, at least someone else made the fire for a change.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That was rather nice of them, wasn’t it?”
Reess Whitesmith sits down by the fire looking out to the wooded areas. his eyes more adapted to this light then the others.
Reess Whitesmith: “Is the meat ready to eat?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I think so.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t see any plates, so you probably should just tear off a chunk.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Rikard, can you help me with this wound?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes. Ian, would you be so kind as to watch this for me?”
Ian Aedan sits by the fire and watches it, “Sure thing. I’m pretty sure the fire won’t be going anywhere.”
Rikard Castleberry starts wrapping the wound, cleaning it. He manages to repair Reess’s wound.
Sarrag uses his tail to turn the spit.
Rikard Castleberry: “I knew those hours spent sawing off limbs would come into play sooner or later.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I mean.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Um.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Never mind.”

The meat is delicious, even without plates, knives and forks.

Rikard Castleberry: “Who wants first watch?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Thanks. I will.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s rest under the tree.”
Rikard Castleberry sits against the tree, getting into a comfortable position.
Rikard Castleberry soon falls asleep with the speed of someone who has done it several times before.

Morning arrives and you realize the night has passed without incident.

Sarrag: “Now what?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Let’s fully look around now that there is good light.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok, ummm…”

There is plenty of leftover meat to eat.

Sarrag: “My sleep was restful without interruptions.”
Rikard Castleberry tentatively pushes on the tree to see how solid it is.
Reess Whitesmith studies the tree in detail. Feeling around it and even making a sketch of it.

A good look around the clearing reveals a pit north of the campfire where animal carcasses and bones are heaped.

Sarrag looks to the branches to see if any would make a good spear.

There is only the one large tree in the clearing, which now has visible branches that start about thirty feet up, though it looks like it used to have branches lower in the past, but they have fallen off.

Sarrag: “Did you find a passage into the tree?”
Rikard Castleberry taps the tree with his spear to see what kind of sound it makes.
Rikard Castleberry: “I have not.”

It sounds like you tapped an old dead tree.

Sarrag places his hand upon the tree and envisions his destination like he did with the globe. Nothing happens.
Reess Whitesmith scratches the tree with a rock. There is no result to be seen on the bark.
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m not really sure what to make of this. I am befuddled.”
Ian Aedan: “Maybe…we need to wait for the tree to be in bloom?”
Sarrag sits his back to the tree and starts to meditate until someone thinks of what to do.
Rikard Castleberry “I’m not sure that dead trees bloom.”
Ian Aedan pulls an arrow and puts it in his bow, “Maybe I should shoot it. I’m pretty good at hitting trees lately.”
Reess Whitesmith takes out his greatsword and hacks at the tree once.

The blow hits with a convincing thwack and bounces off resoundingly. There is no mark to be seen on the tree.

Reess Whitesmith: “Hmmmm…”
Reess Whitesmith: “The branches fall off but my sword does nothing.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Bart! If you are listening or watching, help us out here!”
Sarrag thinks about what a great person this Bart must have been.
Ian Aedan picks up one of the branches lying around and smacks the tree with it. “Open up you.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Does the tugging bring you to any particular side?”
Reess Whitesmith: “There is no more tugging.”

The tree is unmoved by Ian’s efforts.

Rikard Castleberry: “Wait, nobody has tried the obvious yet.”
Ian Aedan: “Setting the tree on fire?”
Rikard Castleberry squares himself up in front of the tree and adopts a dramatic stance.
Rikard Castleberry: “We want to awaken the dreamers. Let us inside of Tarass Shar Orn.”

Hope rises as Rikard utters those words…about as fast as it came.
Nothing happens.

Rikard Castleberry: “Eh. It was worth a try.”
Sarrag: “Maybe this tree is what is keeping the sleepers asleep.”
Reess Whitesmith pulls out a vial of Bart’s blood that he recovered.
Rikard Castleberry stabs at the tree with the pointy end of his spear. “Silly tree!”

It fails to stick into the surface, instead sliding off the surface as if you struck the hardest, smoothest material you could conceive of.

Ian Aedan sits down and stares at the tree, “And thus, the legends go, the great heroes of Kith’takharos spent their remaining days, embarrassed to death that they couldn’t get past a solitary tree.”
Rikard Castleberry frowns at the result.
Reess Whitesmith pours the contents on the tree while praying, “Help us if you are able. Help us Bart by the power of your blood. Let not your purpose end at the repository.”
Rikard Castleberry “Is anyone good at climbing? Maybe there’s something at the top?”
Reess Whitesmith says the prayer out loud as he pours the contents onto the tree.

Moments pass without incident.

Reess Whitesmith: “Burn it.”
Rikard Castleberry: “The tree?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I don’t know.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I was cursing.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I see.”
Ian Aedan: “Someone could threaten to turn it into kindling.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sarrag do you think this tree is sacred?”
Sarrag: “I doubt the fire would work anyway.”
Rikard Castleberry decides to use the brute force method. He stretches out a bit, then pushes hard with both hands on the tree.

After a thorough exertion, Rikard realizes something shocking…it didn’t move. How odd for a tree that has been dead for as long as it looks. It should have given up its grasp upon the soil before now.

Rikard Castleberry: “Maybe if we toss the dead swamp man bodies at it?”
Reess Whitesmith: “The roots?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Do we have a shovel?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I have a frying pan…”
Rikard Castleberry: “…”
Ian Aedan: “I have an axe.”
Rikard Castleberry looks to see if there are any roots not completely in ground.

There are the normal roots extending above the ground as it smoothes into the trunk.

Reess Whitesmith takes out his grappling hook and rope and tosses it up to the branches.
Rikard Castleberry walks over to a root and pulls at it, testing the durability.

After some tries, you manage to get a hold of a branch.

Reess Whitesmith climbs the rope to that branch.
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t know what’s with this tree. It’s basically unmovable.”
Rikard Castleberry: “How’s that branch Reess? Solid?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yes. Anyone try watering it?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Uh, no, actually. I will.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok, lemme know. I am gonna go further up.”
Rikard Castleberry takes out a flask and pours out some water into the soil.

The liquid runs down the trunk leaving beads of moisture upon the smooth trunk’s surface.

Session 47

Fire erupts around Rikard!

Sarrag: “His fate will now be determined.”
Sarrag: “Shall we join him?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Is that normal?”
Sarrag: “Some pass through easier than others.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I mean walk up and kaf’ingPOW?”

Round 1

Rikard Castleberry looks around him in a small panic, but not sizzling. He pulls out his short sword to poke at the fire to see what happens.

You pull the blade back and it is slightly smoking and discolored. The air above it warps from the heat momentarily.

Reess Whitesmith shouts “Rikard!” then runs up to the column as close as can without getting burned.

The heat is intense; your effects are heating up.
The thick aroma of spoiled meat over the spit fills the clearing.

Reess Whitesmith (shouting) “You alive?”

Out of the wall of fire a tiny seed of fire flies by Reess, expanding into a fiery ball surrounding Sarrag and Ian.
The fire ball burns Ian though Sarrag jumps out of the way.
Ian weathers the fire but his shirt and cloak are ablaze!

Ian Aedan jumps back as his clothes catch fire, “Ahhh!” He drops to the ground and starts rolling frantically while trying to unlatch his cloak.

The quick thinking and action put out the fire on Ian’s clothing.

Sarrag: “This is not the way of our people.”
Sarrag tries to reach the golden sphere without being burned by Rikard’s prison.
Sarrag runs up near the ancient holy relic, staying clear of the fire.

The heat is crazy intense.

Round 2

Sarrag tries to spot the danger to his holy ground. He hears some nearby soft laughter.
Sarrag: “Demon – I shall find you and you shall feel my tail.”
Sarrag uses his tail to fling mud away from him, and towards the laughter.

Mud flies straight into the fire, crackling and exploding on impact.

A new ring of fire erupts around Sarrag, cutting him off!

Ian Aedan scrambles to his feet and starts to move forward, “Sarrag?” he shouts, “What’s going on here….this doesn’t seem right!”

A terrible voice yells out, “Leave now or suffer the fate of the Hero of Kith’takharos!” The emphasis upon hero sounds anything but good.

Rikard Castleberry shouts, “Reess? I can barely hear you! I seem to find myself circled in fire here. Not currently on fire though, although it is rather warm. That sounds rather like Lenar Hoyt, be careful! I don’t dare try running through this fire yet.”
Rikard Castleberry goes into full defensive, since there’s not much else to do.
Reess Whitesmith: “Hoyt! I hope you die and I get to watch!”
Lenar Hoyt: “So be it, you die now.”
Reess Whitesmith notices the voice is coming from south of the fire rings, although he can’t see him.

Round 3

Ian and Reess see bolts of fire slam into Reess from the wall of fire in front of Reess. Reess doubles over howling in pain.

Rikard Castleberry glances around him, looking to see if any section of the fire is either weakening, or looks thinner than the rest.
Rikard Castleberry stabs his spear into the ground, and then tries to cut into the ground with his short sword, seeing if he can dig into the earth at all. He manages a small divot.
Sarrag: “Locking me in with the door Demon? I shall kill you later.”
Sarrag places his tail on the globe and starts to wish his way towards his destination.

Even with the intense heat the black metal is cold and smooth.

Reess Whitesmith recovers from his wound and acts!
Reess Whitesmith bellows as he clutches his bracer and grows ENORMOUS!

Sarrag vanishes, finding himself…..elsewhere. He is greeted by a swampman, but different. He introduces himself as Tshinhar. They have a very pleasant conversation, and he tells Sarrag how he can find Tarras Shar Orn.

Ian Aedan scrambles after Sarrag, but comes up short by the fire. He holds up his hands to shield his face, “Hey, someone on the inside, give us a clue. Getting fried to a crisp isn’t on my plans for the day.”

The fire teases you with a coded answer only you hear or understand.

Round 4

Ian Aedan takes a couple steps back, looking into the flames with a somewhat hopeless expression on his face, “Okay, so, I’ll, um…watch from out here while you guys check that out.”
Rikard Castleberry takes another swing at the ground, increasing the hole he started last round.
Rikard Castleberry shouts, “Oh Ian, it’s rather toasty in here, a tad warmer than I prefer, but still better than some days I seem to remember!”
A familiar voice: “Enjoy your last breaths, Herooo.”

Suddenly, the fire wall that was around Sarrag vanishes, but he is nowhere to be found!

Reess Whitesmith defends.
Reess Whitesmith: “Just give me something to hit!”

Fire erupts into Rikard’s back!

Rikard Castleberry takes a series of bolts to the back, incapacitating him, burning off the hair on the back side of his head.

From inside Rikard’s burning wall of fire, you hear insane cackling, “Burn, Burn, Burn, damn you, Burn!” Those that know him recognize the voice as Lenar Hoyt’s.

Round 5

Ian Aedan moves forward towards the pole where Sarrag was, touching the orb. He looks a bit confused as he does so.
Rikard Castleberry stabilizes, no longer bleeding out.
Rikard Castleberry turns around, coughing.
Lenar Hoyt: “No, no, nooooooo! YOU WILL DIE!”
Rikard Castleberry takes a blind swing at the sound of the voice. His blade finds nothing but flames.

A howling crazy scream accompanies three burning bolts that slam into Rikard. The fire wall disappears. Ian notices something invisible directly north of Rikard.

Lenar Hoyt fires 2 bolts of fire that fly through the air and slam into Reess. Neither can penetrate his armor.
Reess Whitesmith emits a beautiful shot of lightning from his gauntlet. Beautiful, but ineffective.

Round 6

Reess Whitesmith does not successfully activate his bracer.
Reess Whitesmith curses something out loud…very technical sounding.
Lenar Hoyt appears, sunlight dazzling through a gaping hole in his chest. His appearance is ill-kempt and greasy. His eyes are wild and utterly focused on one man, Rikard.
Lenar Hoyt: “YOU…WILLDIE!”

Fire erupts from his fingers.

Rikard Castleberry takes a bolt to the guts, dropping his strength, dropping him to the grass, unconscious.
Ian Aedan’s eyes go wide as the man appears from nowhere. As Rikard falls, he raises his bow and lets loose an arrow quickly, “Is there anyone in this swamp who doesn’t want to kill you fellows?”

The arrow hits Hoyt, but fails to hurt him.

Round 7

Reess Whitesmith draws his blade and comes down with a mighty swing missing Hoyt and sending earth into the air.
Reess Whitesmith: “I have hunted you for a long time Hoyt. I do not care if I die. I will not run!”

Something in Hoyt’s eyes telegraphs danger.
He laughs maniacally raising his hands. Fire begins to grow between them he spins it gathering it as drool exits his foaming mouth…and then, all is consumed in fire.

Lenar Hoyt falls over, unmoving.

Reess and Ian dart out of the way, avoiding the flames. Rikard is covered with the flames, but they do no further harm to him.

Ian Aedan draws another arrow, nocks it, and aims it at the unmoving form on the ground, “What DID you guys do to this fellow? And where’s Sarrag?”

Suddenly, Rikard vanishes and Sarrag appears!

Rikard wakes up…..elsewhere, with a strange looking swampman hovering over him, smiling. He introduces himself as Tshinhar. Rikard stands up, slightly bewildered, and speaks with the swampman, discussing Sarrag, Tarras Shar Orn, and food.

Sarrag takes in the scene around him.
Sarrag: “Where is the Spear Returner?”
Sarrag pins Hoyt to the ground.
Ian Aedan: “Sarrag! Where’d you go? Where’d Rikard go? Where’d…you know, never mind. Magic. That’s my explanation for today.”
Sarrag: “This does not belong to you.”
Reess Whitesmith moves up to Hoyts corpse and cuts him in two from the shoulder to hip. Then he decapitates Hoyt. Following this Reess immediately shrinks down to normal size and falls to one knee using the greatsword to steady himself.
Sarrag: “I know the way now.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Where is Rikard?”
Reess Whitesmith breathing heavily.
Sarrag: “He was with you.”
Reess Whitesmith: “He disappeared when you showed up.”
Ian Aedan: "Was…he “was” with us. Then you were with us and he wasn’t.”
Sarrag: “Then he has gone to receive wisdom. “
Reess Whitesmith: “This thing. It takes us to where we want to go?”
Sarrag: “It shows the way.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I want to go to Rikard. Make it take me there.”
Sarrag: “You are the one in control, if that is your wish then that will be your result.”
Reess Whitesmith: “How do I use it?”
Sarrag: “Place your hand upon the waypost. State your desires. If you are sincere…”
Ian Aedan shoulders his bow and looks over to the post, “Is that what you did? Where did you go anyhow?”
Sarrag: “To speak with one who would help.”
Reess Whitesmith picks up Hoyts head and leans on the post with a hand. “Take me to my friend Rikard.”
Reess Whitesmith vanishes.

Reess appears…..elsewhere, and sees Rikard interacting with a strange looking swampman. Strangely, Rikard is standing. Wasn’t he just unconscious? He introduces himself to the swampman, who tells Reess his name is Tshinhar. The 3 of them stand around for a bit, speaking amiably about things, learning that this strange swampman likes baby leeches, and other such things. Eventually the conversation reaches a lull, and Rikard and Reess decide that they should return.

Ian Aedan watches Reess vanish, “Do we want to follow them?”
Sarrag: “I will tell the clan of what has happened here. When you are ready to go – I know the way.”
Ian Aedan jerks a thumb towards the waypost, “What about them? Is ‘the way’ to join them, or something else?”
Sarrag: “To wake the dreamers. To the city. The waypost does not travel.”
Ian Aedan: “Right….so, why don’t we get them back, then we can all travel there?”
Sarrag: “They will return when they are ready, as did I.”
Ian Aedan: “Great….so we wait?”
Sarrag: “You can join them. You can help tell the tribe of the dead here and the cause.”
Ian Aedan stares at the waypost, “I think they might do a fair bit better at that then me.” He moves over to the corpse, kneels down and starts checking it out, “If he survived by himself out here so long, maybe he’ll have something that can help us.”
Sarrag “I will not be long.”
Ian Aedan looks up, “Huh?”
Sarrag leaves to let his people know if the battle here and to bring back help to transport the dead.

Ian searches through Hoyt’s body. The body is charred and reeks of fouled meat. You see an empty short sword scabbard, belt pouch, ruined leather armor (hole in chest with foul moldy growth around edges), and a canteen. Meanwhile, Sarrag has informed the nearby swampmen of what has transpired here. He is thanked for mention of their dead. It appears they are the ones that were missing.

Reess Whitesmith appears again near Ian and Sarrag.
Ian Aedan rummages through the corpses belongings for a bit before moving away, plopping down and going through the belt pouch.

Just as suddenly, Rikard appears. He is standing.

Reess Whitesmith: “Rikard. Hoyt will trouble us no more.”
Ian Aedan looks up, stunned, "Rikard! Reess! You’ve finally returned!
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ah Ian, yes, it appears I am back.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Burn the body. Save the head as proof.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Did you check it first?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I have chased him a long time.”
Ian Aedan holds up Hoyt’s belt pouch, “I was just going through this.”
Reess Whitesmith sits down.
Rikard Castleberry: “Always pillage before you burn, my old sergeant used to tell me.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I suppose all that means little now. Huygens Tierney is still out there.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I can’t believe he was still alive that whole time with that hole in his chest.”
Ian Aedan: “Was he religious?”
Reess Whitesmith: “He was a monster.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t know enough about him to give you a good answer for that.”
Ian Aedan: “He did seem like a Holey person.”
Ian Aedan snickers to himself and resumes looking through the belt pouch.
Rikard Castleberry: “Ba dum ching.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Anything in there?”
Ian Aedan: “There is….it looks like a book, appears to be a merchant’s guide to selling deer meat. ‘Merchant of Venison’ “
Ian Aedan pulls out a small tin flask, “And these…there’s…three of them.” He shakes one.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, they probably aren’t there to keep heartburn under control, if you know what I mean.”
Ian Aedan reaches into a pocket, “And this.” He pulls forth a small silver ring. “He was wearing this.”
Rikard Castleberry looks at the ring, “Oh, decent quality.”
Reess Whitesmith: “It is a safe bet that nothing that man had is something one would want to consume or wear blindly.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Where did Sarrag go Ian?”
Rikard Castleberry turns to Reess, “That guy was rather nice, wasn’t he?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I can’t believe I showed him Hoyts head. The man must be of thousands of years ago.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Think so?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I thought he would rest easy knowing that an evil man was dead.”
Reess Whitesmith: “He said his friend probably designed tarass shar orn.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Hm, but how would he be that old?”
Ian Aedan stuffs the tins back in the pouch and shoves it into his backpack, “Sarrag said he went to tell his people about what happened here. And to get someone to get the bodies.”
Reess Whitesmith: “It is just a guess.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Gah my mind is foggy from the pain. You have looked better too Rikard.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah, not too pleased about that.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I feel like an iron worked over an anvil.”
Sarrag returns.
Rikard Castleberry sits down and starts to rifle through his pack, digging out some water and bandages.
Rikard Castleberry starts to clean off his gut wound and wraps bandages.
Reess Whitesmith gets up and sits next to Rikard.
Ian Aedan: “Where did you two disappear to anyhow?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Me next big guy.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh we met a rather nice fellow that talked to us for a bit.”
Reess Whitesmith: “We disappeared to this place, only I think it was in a different time.”
Reess Whitesmith: “A man with answers. A man who likes leeches.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes, he sure likes leeches.”
Ian Aedan: “You really know how to pick them, don’t you?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Are leeches popular Brightwater tribe fare?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sarrag?”
Rikard Castleberry finishes wrapping himself up, then tosses some onto Reess’s wound.
Sarrag: “They are not my favorite but he was not Brightwater.”
Ian Aedan thinks for a bit, then digs back into his backpack. He pulls out one of the tins from Hoyt’s belt pouch and examines it more.
Sarrag: “Spear Returner, Do you need to rest before we continue on?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I figured that.”
Rikard Castleberry: “No more than normal, I will be fine, I think.”
Ian Aedan: “How are your wounds? Do we need something more than bandages?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t risk more right now, I might make it worse.”
Ian Aedan holds forth one of the tins, “I think this might help you. Pour it into some water, brew it for several minutes, and then apply it to the wound.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Are you guessing Ian?”
Rikard Castleberry: “What is it?”
Ian Aedan: “Er, drink the liquid, not apply it. I’m guessing to be honest. It seems similar to something the order used before.”

You all see that the small tins have the outline of a broad leaf etched into the side.

Rikard Castleberry glances around. "Well, he didn’t seem stable enough to keep something around that was dangerous, if he didn’t try to use it on me. What the heck.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well, either we wait a month to recover or…”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s do it.”

Reess drinks one of the tonics and removes a wound. Rikard must’ve prepared his wrong, it does nothing.

Reess Whitesmith: “That was wonderful!”
Rikard Castleberry: “Let me see that other one.”
Ian Aedan hands the last tin over.
Rikard Castleberry prepares it again.

Rikard bungles the medicine as he goes to drink it, spilling it over the ground.

Ian Aedan takes back the tins, “Stop that, you’re spilling it everywhere!”

Session 46

Meryl and the Old Temple are hours behind you. The hope of reaching the Swamp Man village is looking like a possibility. Ahead you see a trio of swamp men warriors watching as you make your way up the waterway. Behind them is a well worn path leading deeper into the jungle.
The sun is setting as your skiff grinds ashore. The swamp men do not move to assist with pulling the boat forward. They stand back somewhat wary but not hostile.
One of the three, the one at the front, points to Sarrag and says something in the Swamp Man tongue.

Swamp Man: (in Swamp Man Language) “Greetings, Brother Sarrag.”
Sarrag: (in Swamp Man Language) “Greetings Brother, I have brought guests.”
Darren stands behind Sarrag and waits, patiently.
Swamp Man: (in Swamp Man Language) “Your return is not unexpected, Behjeal told us you would come with thin-skins.”
Ian Aedan stands on shore, near the boat, rocking back and forth on his heels.
Sarrag: (in Swamp Man Language) “Is Behjeal waiting for us? I do not wish to disturb him. “
Swamp Man: (in Swamp Man Language) “He awaits you now. Come.”

The swamp men all turn away and head down the path.

Sarrag: “Come.”
Darren follows behind Sarrag
Sarrag follows
Rikard Castleberry goes along
Reess Whitesmith follows Sarrag
Ian Aedan follows.

The darkness of the jungle is enhanced as the light of the day fades.
You don’t go far before your senses are assaulted with the strong scent of burning wood.

Rikard Castleberry sniffles a bit from the smoky smell.
Reess Whitesmith looks around as they walk.

Ahead you see the burning glow of a single fire, well tended with several swamp men surrounding it. They hold sticks with fillets of fish cooking over the hot coals.

Ian Aedan sniffs the air and sighs, “It may seem odd, but I’ve always found that smell a comforting one when you’re out in the wilderness.”
Darren makes sure not to seem impatient.

There are many other swamp men standing about looking at you as you arrive. The trio lead you to a long wood and leather structure that stands upon short stilts.
A pair of beefy swampmen watch your group as you warily step up and inside the long structure.
The trio doesn’t go with you. Inside you see a familiar glow of orange light emanating from two spherical orange gems that sit in braziers on the wooden floor of the building.

Reess Whitesmith nods to them respectfully.
Sarrag starts to speak in swamp man, but another swamp man, wearing leather and bone chest gear cuts him off and says, “We will speak in the tongue of the thin-skin”.
Sarrag: “As you wish.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Thank you.”
Shaman Behjeal: “Share comfort and water with me.”
Sarrag: “Rikard friend of the Bright Water wishes to bargain for your wisdom.”
Ian Aedan shifts his bow on his back and eyes the orange gems with great interest as the others speak.
Shaman Behjeal: “Yes, I see your return. I see also you bring one of the Spear Returners.”
Sarrag sits next to Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry nods respectfully to the shaman.
Sarrag: “The one called Bart has returned to the swamp.”
Shaman Behjeal: “First, we must drink. Then we eat. After we talk. As it has been, so it shall be.”
Sarrag: “I know not the fate of the other two.”
Sarrag drinks and shares in the food.

At that wooden bowls are brought in by young swamp men, children perhaps. They are set before you and then another comes round pouring what looks to be fresh clear water into each of your cups.

Ian Aedan settles into a sitting spot with the others finally, following their lead.
Shaman Behjeal raises the bowl to his snout and drinks deeply.
Darren follows suit.
Reess Whitesmith drinks.
Rikard Castleberry takes a sip of the water.
Darren drinks.
Ian Aedan drinks.

Without waiting to see if Sarrag will drink the shaman nods to one of the young ones. Soon wooden trays of cooked fish and raw vegetables are laid out upon the table.

Shaman Behjeal: “Let us eat.”

After the meal is complete and the table is cleaned the swamp man speaks again.

Shaman Behjeal looks at Reess, “You, what are you known as?”
Reess Whitesmith “I am Reess Whitesmith. A blacksmith.”
Reess Whitesmith “I know it sounds contradictory.”
Ian Aedan snickers quietly, for the first time getting that joke.
Shaman Behjeal: “Reess, you are unwell and have untended wounds. I offer my hands to you.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I welcome them.”

The shaman stands and moves behind you. He places his scaly hands upon the shoulders of Reese. The pungent scent of raw fish and potent savory spices assaults those near him.
He begins to murmur and hum.

Reess Whitesmith closes his eyes.
Shaman Behjeal reaches his hands around to the wound on Reess’s gut. He hisses.
Reess Whitesmith squeezes his eyes shut, bracing himself against the ground to keep from falling over.
Shaman Behjeal walks away, slowly as if to maintain his balance.
Reess Whitesmith “Th…Thank You.”
Shaman Behjeal: "The wounds cry for more, but I have no more to give. I must rest; we will all speak in the morning. You may stay in this building and sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we will talk.”

With that he stands and two youths help him out the way you came in.
You are among yourselves.

Rikard Castleberry: “Well that was a little weird.”
Reess Whitesmith opens his eyes.
Ian Aedan watches as the swamp men leave then looks back to Reess, “How do you feel?”
Reess Whitesmith: “I feel better. Tired and a bit dizzy, but it is fading.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That will happen after being healed.”
Reess Whitesmith: “They certainly are welcoming of us.”
Darren says softly “No…You just haven’t seen the bill yet”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m not sure after offering a meal that you can charge someone for it.”
Darren: “Oh…I’m not speaking of the meal, make no mistake.”
Ian Aedan: “If the healing is because of a poorly prepared meal, I’d say they’re obligated. It’s just good manners.”
Darren: “We will be beholding to this tribe.”
Sarrag: “You accompany the spear returner.”
Darren: “And we haven’t even asked about a guide yet.”
Darren: “Well I hope his clout has not been completely spent yet.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I do not think we owe them anything yet. Is that what you mean Sarrag?”
Sarrag: “Yes, We are in debt to the spear returner.”
Ian Aedan: “Which one of these guys is the Spear Returner now?”
Darren gestures toward Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry sighs, “That would be me.”
Ian Aedan: “I suppose it’s better than Spear Catcher, hmm?”
Darren: “Sarrag, do you know of a place where your people speak upon walls or skins are kept that have writing upon them?”
Sarrag looks confused.
Sarrag: “I know not that word.”
Darren: “Where your people may have drawn pictures of your tribe, of the swamp or your spirits?”
Darren tries to gesture when he spoke.
Sarrag: “We draw in the sand.”
Ian Aedan: “A library of sorts?”
Darren: “Could we speak to one of your best hunters?”
Sarrag: “Are you hungry?”
Darren: “One that has traveled the swamp to its edges?”
Sarrag: “We generally stay in our territory.”
Sarrag: “If I knew more I could better direct.”
Darren: “One that might know where Tarrass Orn might be?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Storytellers perhaps?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I have a feeling we will find out tomorrow.”
Sarrag: “I thought that was clear.”
Ian Aedan: “Do your people keep maps of any sort? Physical maps that is?”
Darren: “So we will be meeting with someone tomorrow then?”
Sarrag: “Did you not listen?”
Reess Whitesmith: “That seemed clear to me.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yeah.”
Darren: “I was…preoccupied with my thoughts.”
Sarrag: “Behjeal will not repeat himself so your wisdom will only grow by listening.”
Ian Aedan: “I believe the swamp people are masters of literalism when it comes to speaking.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes. These people are quite direct.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Darren, tomorrow, I think you should write down everything said just in case we need to refer to it again later where we may have forgotten something important.”
Ian Aedan: “Probably comes from living out here. You don’t really get to negotiate with a crocodile like you would with a merchant.”
Sarrag: “It is easier to understand then you thin skins with your useless words.”
Darren nods slow, appearing only to be half listening to Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, I think that we won’t be having any more visitors this evening. Perhaps we should just get a good night’s sleep?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Your capacity to read my mind is amazing Rikard.”
Ian Aedan: “We’re safe here, right? No need to set guards? It would be nice to get a full night sleep.”

Though it is only a little over an hour since the sun has set, the sounds of the camp have long stopped to be heard. It is quiet here in the deep swamp at night.

Rikard Castleberry: “Ian, it would be a great dishonor to the swampmen if their guests were murdered in the night while sleeping. We should be fine…”
Darren selects a spot near a lit torch.
Ian Aedan: “Well, as long as they’d be dishonored if we die, I suppose I could live…die with that.”

The two gems still give off the equivalent of candle light though the polished brass of the braziers helps amplify the light throughout the long hut.

Ian Aedan grabs his gear and unpacks his bedroll, prepping for a good night’s sleep.
Darren settles down upon the floor and opens his pack. He pulls out several old, looking books and begins to thumb through them.
Sarrag: “Unless you showed dishonor during the meal and gave up our hospitality.”
Ian Aedan: “I have no intention of dishonoring them. On the contrary, there’s much I can learn from your people.”
Sarrag: “Yes.”
Rikard Castleberry glances at the gems giving off the light in the room.
Rikard Castleberry: “These appear to be much better than torches.”
Ian Aedan: “I was thinking that. Perhaps we could get some to take along? If they last a while that is.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Perhaps. It can’t hurt to bring them up tomorrow.”

Rikard suddenly has a vision while staring at the gem. He sees a fog roll over the bright surface, which then dissolves to reveal the opening of some dark stone chamber. Shadowed within the chamber, he sees the head of a reptilian humanoid that appears to be sleeping. Suddenly, the eyes snap open and it speaks, “When will the dreamers awaken?” Then the gem returns to normal, and there is no evidence that anything happened at all.
Everyone looking at Rikard see his eyes go wide as he looks at one of the gems.
His hand instinctively drops to heft his spear and his knuckles go bone white.

Rikard Castleberry: “…”
Ian Aedan: “Rikard?”

A moment later he rubs his eyes with his left hand.

Reess Whitesmith: “What’s the matter Rikard?”
Rikard Castleberry mumbles, “Well, nothing like that to keep someone up half the damn night, sheesh.”
Ian Aedan scoots back into his bedroll, “Well, if it’ll keep us up all night, don’t tell us. Some of us get grumpy without a good night’s sleep.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Take a look at this gem Reess, do you see anything strange?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Hmm? Well, I don’t know let me get a better look.”
Reess Whitesmith moves closer and looks at the thing.
Reess Whitesmith: “Other than that it is a rock, glowing, it looks normal to me. “
Rikard Castleberry: “Hm. Don’t worry about it then.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Kinda reminds me of that stone Bianca showed me from the tower she brought back with her.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I wonder… “
Reess Whitesmith touches the stone.

The light goes out on that gem.

Reess Whitesmith laughs loudly.
Reess Whitesmith: “There we go!”
Rikard Castleberry: “Does it turn back on again by touching it?”
Reess Whitesmith: “It should.”
Reess Whitesmith touches it again.

Light springs forth.

Reess Whitesmith: “Yes this is just like the light gem Bianca had.”
Sarrag shakes his head at the younglings playing with the stone.
Reess Whitesmith: “Sarrag, do your people have more of these?”
Rikard Castleberry goes over to the other light and tries touching it.
Sarrag: “Why?”

When Rikard touches the other gem, it too goes off.

Ian Aedan: “They look like they’d be awfully handy to have if we’re in need of a long term light source.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I agree.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Mainly because I may want to trade for it.”
Sarrag: “They are not mine to trade. I have no need for a glowing rock. You may ask Behjeal to trade them if you wish.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I understand.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sarrag, do you think they would be upset if we turned the lights off and left them off?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well, Good night, Last one up…get the lights please.”
Ian Aedan snores.
Sarrag: “You wish to sleep. Why would you want a light on?”
Sarrag: “Are you scared of the dark?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Not me.”
Rikard Castleberry grins at Sarrag.

The night passes and you sleep, fitfully.

Sarrag has a dream, and in it, endless rows of reptilian humanoids lay upon couches, filling some massive space that recedes into distance and darkness. Each body writhes in pain, but all the eyes are closed, and you know with the unerring assurance of the dream that all are sleeping. A wavering sound swirls throughout the room, rising and falling in intensity, finally resolving into words. “When will the dreamers awaken?”

Morning arrives.

Darren is up early. He takes a little water and uses it to groom himself. Wiping down his leathers, cleaning his face and brushing his hair.

The door opens and Shaman Behjeal steps in, allowing you time to get back to the table. He sits.

Sarrag joins him.
Ian Aedan returns to the table and sits.
Darren packs up his things then comes to sit with the rest.
Rikard Castleberry sits down at the table.
Reess Whitesmith sits at the table again, he has sloughed his armor the night before.
Reess Whitesmith: “Good morning. Thank you again for last night.”
Shaman Behjeal: “Yes, the morning has come. So. Why do you come? Though I expected your arrival, I know not the purpose.”
Rikard Castleberry: “You expected us?”
Shaman Behjeal: “I did. Last night I dreamt Sarrag returned with…others.”
Shaman Behjeal: “And it is so. Not all dreams are as strong, or as accurate.”
Rikard Castleberry: “It is nice that some dreams can be straightforward.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Some things are not. To be direct, we have no idea where Tarlass Orn is.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Do you?”
Shaman Behjeal seems unfamiliar with the name; though he has you repeat it several times.
Shaman Behjeal: “It refers to a city, perhaps of the forebears.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Gah how do you say it?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Tarass shar Orn?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Tarass Shar Orn. “
Reess Whitesmith: “Yeah that’s it.”

When the Shaman repeats it the emphasis is slightly different, somehow more right.

Shaman Behjeal: “So you seek this place, a place likely created by our forebears? I ask, why do you seek Tarass Shar Orn?”
Ian Aedan takes out a small booklet and a writing pen and starts to scribble notes in it as the others speak.

As Ian writes, the words waver, writhing slightly from side to side. He blinks his eyes to bring them back into focus. Still, the words move, wriggling like snakes into new lines and curves that twist in a hypnotic dance. The shapes resolve again into letters and words, but not the same words with which they started. “When will the dreamers awaken?” He blinks again, and the words return to normal, and He wonders whether the vision was real.

Darren: (in Swamp Man Language) “The Sleepers must awaken.”
Rikard Castleberry: “We feel that place has many answers for us. That it is a place of great importance.”
Shaman Behjeal’s eyes remain locked upon Darren’s.
Ian Aedan pauses and looks at his notebook for a bit. He sets down his pen, rubs his eyes and shakes his head.

Long moments pass in an awkward silence.

Reess Whitesmith: “I am beginning to feel qualm about this.”
Darren: (in Swamp Man Language) “The Spirits have told us that the Sleepers must be awoken”
Shaman Behjeal: “When will the dreamers awaken?”
Ian Aedan: scribbles a note then looks up in a start to the Shaman, “What did you say?”
Sarrag: “The possibility is now.”
Darren: (in Swamp Man Language) “We must go to Tarrass Shar Orn and Awaken the Dreamers”
Shaman Behjeal: “The swamp cries through every pore to any with the wit to listen. Already men such as Sarrag are moved to answer the call of the Forebears. Do the Forebears call you as well?”
Darren: (in Swamp Man Language) “No…They have spoken through the one known as Bart and we, as his friends have come to see this done in his stead”
Shaman Behjeal: “So you are here for this Bart. Your dreams are empty and you follow the dreams of another?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I have had those dreams as well.”
Ian Aedan: “I believe I may have had some visions myself….”
Darren: (in Swamp Man Language) “No, they are not empty…they spoke through me to heal Rikard there when he was upon the verge of death, they speak in our dreams to us, they plead with us to awaken the dreamers.”
Shaman Behjeal: “Sssooo. The Forebears touch those who will listen. I will offer what aid I may.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I appreciate that, Shaman.”
Darren: “We need a guide to Tarrass Shar Orn.”
Shaman Behjeal: “North of here, in the shadow of the tall tower there is a place where one may find his way. I know not if it will work for you, but you have Sarrag. It will work for him. Go to the golden topped rod of metal. Think of this place, Tarass Shar Orn. Perhaps you will find it. Go in peace.”

The shaman rises and bows his head a slight bit to each of you, then awaits your departure.

Darren rises and duplicates this gesture.
Ian Aedan quickly stuffs his into a pocket and stands, bowing to the shaman as well.
Sarrag bows deeper and departs.
Sarrag: “We must hurry if we are to make it there this day.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Then we shall go.”

So, you go. You pole the skiff for four hours and finally, you reach the place where Sarrag tells you to pull in.

Sarrag: “We must head that way from here.”
Sarrag points north.
Darren nods "We will follow you.”
Sarrag heads off.
Rikard Castleberry docks the skiff and heads into the swamp.
Darren preps his crossbow and follows after Sarrag.
Ian Aedan gathers his gear and follows the rest.

Traveling north you finally reach a clearing with one of the stone teleportation towers. It still amazes you with its size and strength. There are many swamp men around the clearing. The doors are closed and a contingent of swamp men with spears stands at the ready. All the common bustle ceases and only the crackling of small fires breaks the uneasy silence.

Rikard Castleberry: “Well hello there!”

At a guess, there over a hundred swamp men here.

Rikard Castleberry strolls up to within normal speaking range of the swampmen.
Sarrag follows.
Ian Aedan hmmms, “Are they all expecting to come along?”
Darren coughs.

One swamp man points and says something to another next to him. The ones at the door bristle. One of them step forth holding aloft a spear. He says, “Hold, thin-skin”.

Darren looks at Rikard and waits.

The swamp man strides down the front steps of the tower, holding his spear. He quickly crosses the ground and speaks with Sarrag.

Sarrag: (In Swamp Man Language) “This thin skin is Rikard, Spear Returner.”

The swamp man looks at Rikard, up and down, nodding.

Sarrag: (In Swamp Man Language) “Shaman Behjeal has sent us here by the will of the forbearers.”
Swamp Man: (to Rikard) “What brings you Spear Returner?”
Darren: (In Swamp Man Language) "This Thin Skin is Rikard, Spear Returner.”

Many swamp men are startled to hear Darren speak their tongue. Whispers are rampant.
The man in front of Rikard raises his spear. All whispers stop.

Rikard Castleberry addresses the swampman in front of him, totally uninterested in his spear: “Shaman Behjeal has sent us to come here to find our way to Tarass Shar Orn.”
Swamp Man: “You seek to find your way then?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes, we do.”
Rikard Castleberry: “It is felt to be a matter that will involve not only thin skins, but swamp men as well.”
Rikard Castleberry: “May we pass into this tower?”
Swamp Man: “The place you seek is a short distance from here. Follow the path until you find the golden topped rod.”
Swamp Man he points out the path.
Sarrag: “Shall we go?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Thank you much. Are there more swamp men outside there as well? “
Swamp Man: “No, it is customary to only go when lost. May you find what you seek Spear Returner.”
Rikard Castleberry nods to the swamp man. “I am curious though, why so many guards here?”
Ian Aedan grumbles, “So much for having an army to back us up.”
Swamp Man: “Would the same question be asked of those dwelling in Kith’takharos?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I suppose that is fair. I am mostly wondering if there is something we should be wary about, more than normal.”
Swamp Man: “There are always dangers in the swamp. Though there are brothers that are missing, it is not uncommon. Be vigilant and mind the ways of the swamp. Avoid picking the moment of your return.”
Rikard Castleberry frowns slightly at the last comment, not knowing what it means, but knowing it’s time to go.
Rikard Castleberry turns to his companions, “Shall we?”
Ian Aedan hefts his backpack.

You follow the path for a few minutes. Then there is a clearing. Lying upon the ground near a leaning three man tall black rod with a golden globe the size of your head.

Rikard Castleberry hefts his spear.
Rikard Castleberry “Be wary. This is where Hoyt and I stabbed each other before.”
Ian Aedan unslings his bow and preps an arrow. “Any particular reason you picked this spot? Or did it just seem right for a double stabbing?”
Rikard Castleberry: “The lighting seemed more than adequate, compared to other spots.”
Rikard Castleberry moves up.
Sarrag: “Are you ready?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I suggest we look at the bodies first.”
Sarrag: “They have failed.”
Reess Whitesmith: “So we simply wish ourselves to Tarass Shar Orn?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Never underestimate the stuff people carry on them.”
Sarrag: “I do not rob the graves of my tribe.”

The bodies of the swamp men are toasted, it is clear they have died sometime in the last couple of days to brutal all consuming fire. In fact, the grasses are heavily burnt around the base of the pole.
As Rikard steps near the corpses a ring of fire erupts around him!

Session 45

Tonight we pick up on board Reess’s skiff, with the fallen ancient pillars of ruins in sight. Light smoke wafts up from the canted Old Temple. Two Bright Water tribesmen watch you approach the Old Temple. They sit with their legs dangling from the steps with their feet hanging in the water. Between them rests a worn leather bag.
As you continue to pole you hear a voice some of you recognize. Meryl Dunestal is here.

Rikard Castleberry: “Well this is a rather unexpected sight.”
Darren sits back and says nothing, collecting his gear in anticipation of them disembarking.
Meryl: “My good man, just yesterday I fought off a Swamp Dragon to protect this ice. All so that you could have a cool drink. Come now, four skins is more than fair.”
Ian Aedan gathers his gear as the boat approaches shore, “Hmm… not whom I expected to see either. I take it you have previous dealings with him?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes Ian, we go way back, a long time. Hopefully he can help with some of the questions we all have.”
Meryl waves a hand toward Rikard. “Look, I’m sure they will be more amenable. They look like they’d kill for a cold drink!”
Rikard Castleberry helps pole the skiff the last few yards, docking it on the shore.
Meryl lowers his voice. “Yes, yes, I have my own suppliers. No need to travel into town.”
Reess Whitesmith steps out and holds the skiff steady for others to get out easily.

Finally the swamp man caves in and cuts his palm with a knife from his weapon belt. A few drops of blood spatter on the marble and the swamp man nods.

Reess Whitesmith nods, finding that action interesting.
Darren hops out onto the dock as the boat glides to a stop.
Rikard Castleberry hops off of the skiff and approaches Meryl and the swamp men, with a smile on his face.
Meryl extends a palm with more than one healing wound, then cuts it and clasps hands with the Swamp Man.
Rikard Castleberry: “Hey there Meryl!”
Ian Aedan slings his bow, grabs his pack, and hops off the skiff. He follows along, a bit behind the others.
Meryl smiles and spreads his arms wide. “Well, Rikard, good to see you. You look awful.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Oh come now, surely this isn’t the worst you’ve ever seen me.”

“You have honor, Mer-yll,” says the swamp man. He then turns and the other two swamp men instinctively rise and they leave as a group. They seem to avoid looking at Sarrag as they hastily leave.

Darren smiles and nods to Meryl.
Meryl: “You look like death warmed over. Well, maybe next to worst.”
Meryl: “And how is Bianca?”
Reess Whitesmith: “That is a long story. She is alive.”
Rikard Castleberry frowns at the mention of Bianca.
Reess Whitesmith: “Mistress Bianca told me much about you Mister Dunestal.”
Rikard Castleberry: “She had a very bad run in with Samsolon Constantine. She is …alive… but not much more.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Needless to say, she is safe. As safe as anyone can be in town, that is.”
Meryl wipes his hands on his thighs and gestures toward the structure. “Come inside.”
Reess Whitesmith goes inside.
Meryl: “Place doesn’t smell like piss anymore at least.”

Meryl appears to have lost some weight to those that are familiar with him. It seems life outside of the city has thinned him out some.

Darren follows everyone else in taking a moment to observe the temple and any swamp men that are nearby.
Rikard Castleberry follows Meryl inside.
Meryl leads everyone inside past the cold room, which contains many boxes and metal containers, to the large room with the stone block. He has some tables and chairs set up, with a sweating pitcher on the table.
Sarrag follows Meryl.

The trail debouches into a clearing, and a discolored structure rises from the damp ground fifteen yards away. Constructed of a reddish marble shot through with streaks of white, the blocks are cracked, chipped, and stained by moss and mold. A short flight of stone steps wraps around the building. A row of marble columns across the front obscures an opening in the wall behind. The roof, also comprised of the reddish marble, begins twelve feet above the top of the steps and slopes upward to a peak above the columns. Intricate carvings once curved around the columns and along the walls, but these have long since faded to incomprehension.

Ian Aedan follows along, eyeing the temple, “Fascinating, the building techniques and such. I’m always amazed how well these places can hold up through the ages.”

The structure shows no obvious damage besides the wear of weather and age. Still, something about it seems strange. The entire building tilts slightly backward so that the first step has risen, adding a hop or a short climb to reach the level of the columns.

Reess Whitesmith finds a wall to lean against, then sets his shield down and crosses his arms, relaxed.
Meryl pours some cold water for everyone. The pitcher sounds like it contains ice.
Darren takes up a glass and drinks it down.
Meryl nods toward Sarrag. “You with these fellows?”
Ian Aedan sets his pack down and sits upon it cross legged. He puts his bow across his knees and leans back against the wall.
Rikard Castleberry: “So Meryl, I suppose we should get the really obvious question out of the way?”
Meryl: “You mean, how I get ice?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Obviously. I haven’t had it for awhile now.”
Meryl chuckles.
Sarrag: “Yes, I am with them.”
Meryl: “Everything is changing in the swamp. These Bright Water fellows are OK. Honest, square dealing men of their word.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes, they aren’t the type of folks to you know, more or less kick someone out of their home.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Mister Dunestal, is this where you have been this whole time?”

Near the outside wall are a few hand inked “posters” of poachers and criminals wanted in Kith’takharos.

Meryl: “Yes, thought I’d set up on my own.”
Ian Aedan looks about the place, “Not a bad place of operations, though the foundation is suspect.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Not to be accusatory, but you might have left word for Mistress Bianca where you would be. I think she needs to at least know you are alive still.”
Meryl: “You’ve been out of town for a while, haven’t you? I know for a fact that Federico has spoken to her.”
Reess Whitesmith: “It has been a few days. If this has changed forgive me, I care much for her.”
Meryl: “No problem, we’re all sweat-soaked friends here!”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well… some of us are sweat-soaked.”
Darren blurts out, “So the Guild and the leaf know you are here then?”
Meryl: “Of course. I had dinner with Koran Thelig only a few days ago. He can sure put away the wine.”
Sarrag looks confused.
Darren looks at his moist hand and rubs it upon his forehead.
Reess Whitesmith: “I am glad to meet you finally, my name is Reess.”
Ian Aedan joins Sarrag in his confused look, then just shrugs, leans back against the wall, and closes his eyes while the others talk.
Meryl extends his hand. “Is that with 1 or 2 S’s?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Two E’s two S’s.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I was a mundane smith until I met Bianca. She taught me some things.”
Meryl raises an eyebrow. “Oh, are you two…ah…you know?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Teacher and student, friends.”
Reess Whitesmith: “What sort of things you got in this place, heard it is a trading post of sorts?”
Meryl: “Lot of trade opportunity in the swamp.”
Meryl leans back in a chair. “So I take it this is not a random visit?”
Rikard Castleberry: “So Meryl, since you still to know a bit of everything, have you heard anything recently of Hoyt?”
Meryl: “Hoyt? No, I figured he was dead.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Would be nice if he was.”
Meryl: “Nobody’s heard from Huygens Tierney lately either.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Granted, with all the commotion in town, it may be a good time to relax on the poaching until things calm down.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Hoyt and Tierney, I mean.”
Meryl smiles.
Rikard Castleberry: “However…”
Rikard Castleberry: “Samsolon Constantine has recently met his end.”
Meryl raises his eyebrows. “Really?”
Ian Aedan cracks open an eyelid at the mention of that name.
Darren: “Yes, we have his body in our skiff.”
Meryl turns to Rikard. “So who are your new friends?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ah, Ian here I met recently, shortly after we found Samsolon. Sarrag here came to us after that.”
Rikard Castleberry: “You would be saddened to hear that Bart has passed on.”
Meryl: “I liked Bart. It never seemed like he belonged in Kith’takharos.”
Ian Aedan raises a hand in greeting from where he sits, semi napping.
Rikard Castleberry: “Who were those 2 outside? Just traders?”
Meryl: “Oh yes, the Bright Water are hungry for the fruits of downriver civilization.”
Meryl looks at Darren. “I suspect you’re not eager to head back to town.”
Rikard Castleberry chuckles slightly. “How did you hear about that?”
Meryl points to the wall. “That poster over there.”
Reess Whitesmith goes to look at the poster.
Rikard Castleberry turns to the poster.

One of the posters names “Darren” as wanted for questioning. There is a small reward in the amount of 25gp for his capture and return to the Order of the Jade Leaf. Signed Dorian Orsova.

Sarrag listens to the human’s understanding of the Brightwater.
Meryl: “I even hear one of the shamans wants to pay me a visit.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Huh. That’s not a very impressive reward.”
Sarrag: “That one looks like him.”
Sarrag points to Darren.
Ian Aedan opens both eyes and looks at the poster. “They really got your eyes, but the ears seem a bit large.”
Meryl: “Not for a renowned hero such as yourself, perhaps.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Did Koran drop that off while he was here?”
Meryl: “Why, yes, he asked me to post them. It wouldn’t be polite to say no.”
Darren stiffens when he sees the poster.
Reess Whitesmith: “25 gold is tempting…”
Reess Whitesmith chuckles.
Darren: “I’m….outraged!”
Meryl: “It will buy a lot of ice. Bianca would like that.”
Rikard Castleberry glances around the room to see if there are any other names on posters he recognizes.

Other names include Stig Tierson, King, Lenar Hoyt, and of course Huygens Tierney.

Darren: "It has gotten worse Meryl…The Jade Leaf now has claimed lordship over our own property and persons.”
Meryl: “Really? Why is that? They treat me ok.”
Darren: “Wait until you have something they want and you’re not willing to part with, that will change.”
Ian Aedan raises an eyebrow at Darren’s words. He opens his mouth as if to say something, but changes his mind and stays silent.
Meryl: “Oh, what do they want of yours?”
Darren: “Something that I will not speak of here and now.”
Darren: “Suffice to say when I do return and I will eventually, they will arrest me.”
Reess Whitesmith goes back to his favorite “leaning” wall and resumes his relaxed position.
Meryl: “You might find this interesting. There was a big fight a one of those towers. Jade Leaf needed Transit Guild help to drive back the poachers.”
Reess Whitesmith: “That is interesting.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That seems strange. Are the poachers becoming organized?”
Meryl: “I think word is getting outside the swamp. Outside muscle may be coming in. Things could get pretty rough, especially near the river.”
Meryl: “Those towers are priceless.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Perhaps poacher is no longer a sufficient word.”
Meryl: “You may be right. The poachers always were a nuisance, but this may be something new. All the more reason to sell the Bright Water a few more knives.”
Ian Aedan raises a finger, “Which Towers are these? I fear I’ve been ‘out of town’ a while.”
Rikard Castleberry scratches his head. “What would they want with the towers? There wasn’t anything there.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Travel.”
Meryl places his hands on the table. “Think of it this way. What if you could instantaneously move troops through the swamp?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Troops. Definitely not just poachers anymore.”
Sarrag: “You would be able to fight trees.”
Meryl: “Heck, Tierney might be a small fry now. Bet he doesn’t like that.”
Darren: “Either that, or there is a connection, perhaps someone even worse.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Anonymity can be a problem when trying to lead lots of people instead of a few.”
Meryl: “I’ve never fought a tree. Almus might have once, but I don’t know.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Makes you wonder who was pulling Samsolon’s strings.”
Meryl: “I need a drink.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes, I think a drink may be in order.”
Meryl pours some wine all around.
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok, we came here for supplies and some answers.”
Sarrag sniffs the drink.
Meryl waves at the cups and says to Sarrag. “Go ahead.”
Rikard Castleberry sips from his wine.
Meryl: “So the pleasant banter comes to an end. Let’s talk business.”
Sarrag: “It smells old.”
Meryl: “Well, it gets better with age.”
Reess Whitesmith: “So do you know anything about the dreamers?”
Meryl: “I know I had a hell of a nightmare last night, but that’s about it.”
Reess Whitesmith: “At this point even that may be a lead.”
Sarrag: “Was it a vision?”
Darren: “Nightmare?”
Meryl: “I was sweating, and couldn’t stop. I started shrinking I was sweating so much. Did I ever tell you I hate the heat?”
Meryl pops ice into his mouth.
Reess Whitesmith: “Neither do I.”
Sarrag: “No, We have not spoken before.”
Meryl: “I woke up screaming. That never happened before.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Was it a spider? I hate spiders.”
Ian Aedan snickers at Sarrag’s comment, keeps his eyes closed.
Reess Whitesmith: “I don’t think it is related. Just a guess.”
Sarrag: “I have found that humans do a lot of screaming. Is it unusual to do at night?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Depends on the type of screaming.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I suppose. Sometimes we do it when rolling in the hay at night.”
Sarrag: “So I shall not act surprised when you two scream at night?”
Meryl: “Well, that never happened to me before.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Have you ever heard of Tarass Shar Orn Mister Dunestal?”
Meryl rubs his chin. “City…I don’t know the rest. Federico probably would.”
Meryl: “Take a couple days to get him though.”
Meryl: “Yavanna too. You could see her by nightfall.”
Meryl looks at Darren and winks.
Sarrag: “Who of the Bright Waters is here?”
Darren: “How…where are they now?”
Meryl: “None now. But I was bargaining with a fellow named Jaehass.”
Meryl: “He wanted me to know that was an old name. Maybe thought I’d give a better deal.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Most are looking for a better deal, I presume.”
Meryl: “Well, I didn’t cheat him, that’s for sure.”
Meryl: “Happy customers come back.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Wait, is Yavanna around?”
Meryl: “In Kith’takharos.”
Rikard Castleberry: “But not Federico.”
Meryl: “He’s in town, also.”
Rikard Castleberry looks slightly confused, par for the course.
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok, so, you seem quite happy and all, considering what happened to you back in town.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Sarrag do you think you could find someone of your people that might help us?”
Sarrag: “There seems to be none here now. I can see if there are any here who would help us.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Maybe nearby.”
Meryl: “I’m my own man now.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That must get boring sometimes.”
Meryl: “Not yet.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Maybe you know something about this- when we were last in town, Dorian seemed quite…not himself. This was prior to the little ‘event’ that put Darren on a poster.”
Rikard Castleberry: “It didn’t seem to be just normal stress.”
Meryl: “I’m not aware of anything. But I don’t sit at their councils.”
Ian Aedan starts a bit and blinks his eyes. He mumbles, “Did I actually doze off there?” He scoots into a more upright position and tries to catch up on what the others have been talking about.
Reess Whitesmith: “I think that maybe we may be barking up the wrong tree for info to help us find what we are looking for answers. No offense intended Mister Dunestal.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Wine hit you a little hard Ian, or just tired?”
Meryl: “So, how does it feel to be an outlaw, Darren. Exciting?”
Ian Aedan grins at Rikard, “It’s hard work, sitting in a skiff while others propel it I tell you.”
Meryl: “Living by your wits…well, maybe not. Whatever.”
Darren: “I am hardly an outlaw. That matter will be cleared up when I next visit Kith’takharos.”
Meryl: “When will that be?”
Meryl: “If Koran should return, and he asks, I will not lie to him. I will tell him you were here.”
Darren: “However, we really do need either the location to or a guide to get us to, Tarass Orn.”
Darren: “If Koran wants to try to take me back he may, I’ll go back when our business out here is complete.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Shall we talk supplies then?”
Darren: “Bolts, torches, food, water…”
Meryl: “I have those things.”
Meryl: “At fair prices.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Bandages.”
Ian Aedan pipes up, “Arrows. Oil for a lantern….”
Meryl: “All ready for the intrepid explorer.”
Meryl: “As for payment, perhaps barter?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m surprised you haven’t taken on an assistant to help you with all of this Meryl. Doesn’t it get to be overwhelming sometimes?”
Darren: “40 bolts, arrow, 4 torches, 2 flasks of oil, 1 week of rations a man, 100ft of rope, a grappling hook and 2 filled water skins a man…if you can supply that, I’ve got coin.”
Meryl: “Most of the time I wait for customers. And I have some men who bring supplies.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Do you have any metal scraps lying around that you are trying to get rid of?”
Meryl: “Answer me one question please. How did you get so beat up, Reess?”
Reess Whitesmith looks to the others.
Rikard Castleberry: “He got beat up by a giant mechanized robot in a cave.”
Darren: “Well I guess you could say that he lacked self control.”
Rikard Castleberry: “He got better.”
Darren grins.
Reess Whitesmith: “I went to get back my sword. Then KAPOW.”
Ian Aedan: “Actually I think it was more of a plankPOW, if I recall correctly.”
Meryl: “Not Swamp Men then? Or Jade Leaf?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Nope.”
Meryl: “Good. I don’t need to get in the middle of that.”
Reess Whitesmith: “These things made Patch look like a toy.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Wonder if they were related?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Patch didn’t seem aggressive when I met him.”
Reess Whitesmith: “He isn’t but he is big.”
Meryl: “In that case, these supplies are on me for what you did to help Bianca.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That’s rather generous of you Meryl.”
Meryl: “Just this once.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Hey that is nice of you; if we see anymore Bright Water we will tell em about you.”
Meryl: “Word of mouth is the best kind of business.”
Sarrag: “It would be better to stand where they can see you.”
Meryl: “And I shall, my scaled friend.”
Rikard Castleberry glances outside to judge the time of day.

The sun is almost straight above in the sky, close to noon.

Reess Whitesmith: “So we’ll give you a chance to organize the supplies maybe Sarrag can show us around try to find his mates?”
Darren: “Meryl, if you could, keep Samsolon on ice for us, until we get back?”
Ian Aedan mutters, “Seems like a perfectly fine waste of ice if you ask me.”
Meryl: “Ah, of course, but that will not be free.”
Darren shuffles through his coin pouch, “Will 10 cover it?”
Meryl: “No. I think 25 will be perfect.”
Darren: “25 is more than a hotel.”
Meryl: “Then leave him at a hotel.”
Reess Whitesmith: “This is my cue…”
Sarrag: “We can put him in a hole and dig him up later.”
Reess Whitesmith goes outside.
Darren: “This man has murdered many Swamp men of the Bright Water.”
Sarrag: “Which is why his body should be fed to the swamp and not honored.”
Darren: “It must be preserved for study.”
Darren: “Something odd has happened to him.”
Sarrag: “He is dead. It is not odd.”
Ian Aedan: “Hehe….I’m starting to like this fellow.”
Darren haggles with Meryl over the cost.
Meryl: “How about 17 gold?”
Darren: “Done.”
Darren hands Meryl the coins.
Meryl: “I hope to see you safe and sound in the future.”
Darren: Meryl, if you have a chance to contact Federico or Yavanna, they should take a look at him.”
Meryl: “OK. But you understand the Jade Leaf would wonder how I got him.”
Ian Aedan: “You could tell them I found him…if that makes things easier. They know me.”
Darren: “Yes but you do not know where we are going yes?”
Darren: “Rikard, if you could bring Samsolon’s body, Meryl is going to hold it for us.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Hm, bring it to where?”
Meryl: “Back here to the cold room.”
Darren: “Meryl I would also like to say that we are headed to a place that Bart asked us to take him.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Meryl, are you going to want him wrapped in anything?”
Darren: “Something important needs to be done.”
Meryl: “No, it will just stick to him.”
Rikard Castleberry heads out to the skiff, glancing around on his way.
Reess Whitesmith: “You done in there, Rikard?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’m gonna go toss this corpse in a cold room or something. I dunno why, but I figure if Darren is paying for it, it’s kinda of like buying our supplies, so why not?”

It is a difficult task that causes you to nearly vomit on several occasions. Bottom line, Samsolon’s body stinks to high heaven.

Reess Whitesmith goes with and will carry the head.
Meryl: “Put him against the left wall, away from the supplies.”
Ian Aedan: “Afraid someone will mistake him for trail rations?”
Sarrag: “It gets better with age.”
Ian Aedan: “I’m…not going to ask how you know that.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I personally have no interest in knowing.”
Sarrag smiles.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well that was disgusting; I’m going to go wash up. Even swamp water is better than this.”
Rikard Castleberry heads out to wash up.
Rikard Castleberry washes up in the water, getting most of the smell off.
Reess Whitesmith: “So, we ready to go?”

Supplies are loaded, Samsolon is stored. The others are now exiting Meryl’s shop.

Darren: “It appears so.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Nice meeting you finally Mister Dunestal.”
Darren nods to Meryl “Good day Meryl.”
Darren heads out of the temple.
Ian Aedan gathers up his supplies, and the new ones and nods to Meryl, “Thank you.”
Meryl: “The pleasure is mine.”
Rikard Castleberry glances at everyone walking out, “Time to go?”
Darren: “Daylight is burning Rikard.”
Sarrag: “Where are we going?”
Darren: “We are following you, we need a guide.”
Sarrag: “What is a guide?”
Darren: “Someone who can help us get to Tarass Orn.”
Ian Aedan follows the others, shouldering his bow, “Someone who knows slightly more than we do, at this time.”
Sarrag: “Maybe one will help you because you are human or he may just kill you for asking.”
Ian Aedan: “Has anyone ever told you that your people have a very interesting take on things?”
Darren: “Well, I would like to find out sooner than later, either way.”
Sarrag: “When you speak do not ask for help. You will be killed. You must get them to offer help but then you must kill them. It is a delicate dance.”
Rikard Castleberry cocks his head slightly to the side, confused.
Darren stops. “Why…why must we then kill them if they offer help?”
Sarrag: “It is a grave insult. To be offered help means that you are not only incompetent but also incapable of becoming competent.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Shouldn’t we kill you then since you offered to help?”
Ian Aedan: “I’d offer to help translate what he’s meaning, but I don’t feel like being killed today.”
Sarrag: “I was instructed to journey with you. Your competence I cannot tell.”
Darren: “Then that leaves only a third option.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Pick a direction and boldly head that way?”
Ian Aedan: “Most great adventures start that way. Sadly, so do most unmarked graves.”
Darren: “No, see if they will trade us the location.”
Sarrag: “To trade for the knowledge would be an acceptable offer.”
Ian Aedan: “We could trade Darren, I hear he’s worth 25 gold.”
Darren grins dryly at Ian.
Sarrag: “Maybe for a year’s time? The gold means little to us.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Although, the gold could be useful, to buy stuff.”
Darren: “If I could speak to a Shaman, I believe I could persuade him to give us the information.”
Sarrag: “Do you think that wise? You are already known.”
Darren: “I believe Rikard has a status with the Bright Water.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes, but I don’t speak their language.”
Darren: “And we did kill Samsolon, a man that has murdered many of this tribe.”
Darren: “Well Rikard, if you wish, Sarrag could speak the words you tell him.”
Sarrag: “That I can do.”
Darren: “If any of you have a better idea?”
Darren looks to each one of them in turn.
Ian Aedan: “I could look in some of the old tomes for any mention of this place, but that would involve a trip back to Kith’takharos.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Good enough for me Darren.”
Rikard Castleberry shrugs. “I don’t have the faintest clue where this place Bart wanted us to go is. Anything is better than nothing.”
Sarrag: “Shall we find a Speaker then?”
Ian Aedan: “Awfully rude of him to go and pass on to the next realm without telling us more, wasn’t it?”
Darren: “Sarrag, the full name is Tarass…?”
Darren: “Tarass Shar Orn yes?”
Sarrag: “It is the old language, no longer spoken. I know of it but not its meaning.”
Darren: “Alright, then yes, we require a speaker.”
Sarrag: “The closest or Bright Waters?”
Darren: “I’m not sure what you mean.”
Sarrag: “The closest speaker or one of my clan.”
Darren: “I believe your voice and Rikard’s will carry more weight with one of your clan.”
Sarrag: “My voice will be silent except for the voice of Rikard.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Hoo boy.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well then, perhaps the best choice would be the closest one, since the Bright Water is a decent trip from here.”
Darren: “Did anyone ask Meryl if he had a map or if he knew someone specifically that knew where to go?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Federico or Yavanna.”
Darren: “Then I guess its Rikard’s suggestion.”
Sarrag: “It is less than a day’s swim.”
Darren: “The closest one.”
Darren: “We might need something to trade.”
Sarrag: “You shall.”
Sarrag: “We can make it by sundown in your ship.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I have no idea what is considered acceptable trade, but we should probably start heading there.”
Sarrag: “Follow me then.”
Darren follows Sarrag.
Sarrag dives into the water and waits.
Darren: “Um, in the ship…right?”
Darren heads toward the dock.
Sarrag: “If we want to make it before sundown.”

Session 44

After a few minutes of desperate planning and furtive looks over Ian’s shoulder, you are certain of two things. You are not being followed and you are separated from two members of your group.

Darren sets the torch down in front of him along with the flint to light it.
Darren: “If you stand where you can cover me to some degree, it will help me out a lot more than if you just sit up top.”
Darren locks a bolt in place and pumps the action of his crossbow.
Ian Aedan checks over his axe before turning his attention to adjusting his quiver, “Okay. I’ll see what I can do. There may be a tree or something I can use for cover.”
Darren: “Do not get caught up in a tree, use your speed.”
Darren: “I saw how fast you run.”
Ian Aedan nods, "I meant on the ground, for me to hide behind. Your sneaking won’t be any good if I’m standing out there, waving a torch and saying ‘Look at me, look at me!’”

Darren and Ian leave Reess protected under the cover of the nearby plants. Then move up to within site of the cave. You are protected from sight by trees and brush. In the cave entrance stands a lone construct.

Darren: “Well I guess this won’t be so easy.”
Ian Aedan: “Hmm? Oh…of course. Do you think we can ambush it, quietly?”
Darren: “The moment we move out of this brush it might attack.”
Darren: “Tell you what, let’s just see for sure.”
Ian Aedan looks at Darren quizzically, “What…do you want me to step out there and wave a torch at it?”
Darren looks around to be certain of his surroundings.
Darren levels his crossbow and aims.
Darren: “Stay here and be ready to back me up…I’ll bring him by here if he gives chase.”
Ian Aedan readies up his bow, knocking an arrow and keeping an eye on the construct. “Right. Good luck.”

A small yellow and green bird flits out of the forest, flies across the open space and lands on the left armored shoulder of the guardian. Still it does not move.

Darren heads toward the entrance but off to the side…he moves just within range, and then readies himself.

After a few tense moments you arrive to the location you want. The bird is still on the shoulder flitting about.

Darren levels and takes a shot with his crossbow.

The shot flies true and shatters into the metal construct, it reels a bit and a very small puff of rust is emitted. As it clears, you no longer see the bird.

Darren girds up what little courage he can find and moves slowly toward it from a flanking position.
Darren pumps another bolt into the ready position and takes aim, and with his offhand he waves at Ian.

Darren moves up and gets into a flanking position. The guardian still does not move and it is clear that the eyes are not “lit” up. In fact this unit has suffered major damage to the chest and neck area from a massive blade attack.

Ian Aedan looks over and waves back with a questioning look.
Darren waves again, gesturing toward himself.
Ian Aedan looks at Darren with a ‘What are you talking about’ look, before it dawns on him. He looks around, and then dashes to a tree a little bit closer.

You hear loud banging noises emanate from the interior. A few sharp clangs and then it is silent again.

Darren points to a spot on the ground just behind him.
Ian Aedan glances around the tree and looks at the construct nervously. He takes a deep breath and then moves to the spot Darren indicated.
Darren whispers, "I think one is still inside and active, I heard it move.”
Ian Aedan points at the one outside the cave, “How is this one not ‘alive’? Perhaps they shut down when they exit the cave?”
Darren: “Unlikely, it has taken heavy damage.”
Darren: “Let me have the torch, you cover me…Ok?”
Ian Aedan takes his first real look at the construct, “I think that may be the one your friend Rikard was beating before he went down.”
Ian Aedan: “Right, here you go. I’ll cover from here.”

A new rending sound followed by a clattering crash echoes out from the depths.

Darren: “If I come out, I’ll be headed away from this side giving you a clean shot at its back.”
Darren: “Make it count.”
Ian Aedan: “I’ll do my best. Best of luck.”
Darren breathes in hard and steps silently forward, torch in hand toward the entrance.
Ian Aedan watches Darren head in, keeping one eye on him, and the other on the construct in front of him. He whispers to the construct, “Don’t mind us…just stay…inert. Please.”
Darren twists and tosses the torch down the steps, then listens.
Darren hearing nothing stays low and peeks around into the entrance.
Darren finds a piece of shatter stone, picks it up, and then tosses it hard into the cavern, and listens again. Hearing nothing, he takes in a breath, and then steps silently down the first step.

As you descend the stairway, the swamp humidity gives way to a cooler and drier atmosphere. The sweat evaporates from your skin, and you have difficulty working up enough saliva to wet your tongue. Though the parched air does not feel natural, it is a pleasant contrast with the ever-sticky swamp. The ceiling retains the height of the entrance cave.
The moment you step onto the first stair, your chest constricts and your mouth goes dry. You squeeze your eyes shut to fight off a wave of dizziness that threatens to buckle your knees. You suddenly feel very thirsty and very tired.

Darren steps forward up to the torch.

You see the battlefield has been changed. There are now drag marks and gouges on the floor where constructs used to stand. These marks all lead in deeper into the cave.

Darren picks it up and shines it around him, then steps forward.

In the shadows you see a line of broken and unmoving constructs.

Darren sets the torch down.

You also see Rikard’s body.

Darren seeing Rikard’s body steps slowly forward, warily looking all around him for any sign of glowing eyes.

You reach Rikard’s body.
The chest is unmoving and there is a prodigious pool of blood under his left arm pit.

Darren gets up close and places his ear just above Rikard’s mouth.

Long seconds go by…nothing, no sound. Rikard is dead.

Ian Aedan peers around the corner into the cave, starting to get nervous. He gives nervous glances at the construct.
Darren’s: heart sinks…He is unsure what to do but acts anyway.
Darren looks around for his spear.

It is lying next to him, lying across his right knee.

Darren picks up his spear with one hand, and grabs onto his uninjured arm with the other.

As you reach for the spear your reality…shifts. The world is filtered through lifeless colors: brown, purple and a myriad of gray. Everything is muted and restrained as if remembered from a dream.
Cool colors of the swamp waters press in at the periphery of vision. You eyes try to follow the colors to see them better, but they shift away leaving you frustrated. It is as if this place were in a pocket dead to the swamp that succors and surrounds.
Wisps of colored vapors catch your eyes as they coalesce above Bart’s destroyed body. The vapors swirl chaotically and Bart is once more with you though only in spirit. His eyes rage as if possessed by the storms of winter. He looks down at his broken, lifeless body and then looks up and speaks.
“This place is dead. I am dead,” Bart takes a step towards you and the colors of the swamp press in closer, yet somehow still out of sight.
“There is little time and the Mother needs whatever help she can get. There is understanding in death. There is danger in the water. Seek Tarass Shar Orn. Awaken the Dreamers,” As the last words are spoken the spirit of Bart violates your body. You feel pressure as your body is overfilled with Bart’s spirit. Your heart beats faster and faster as if it will burst. You feel your life force drain as it is expended beyond your control. Finally, you stumble to one knee certain in the knowledge that this must be what it feels like to die.
Suddenly, all the colors that held back out of your sight crash inwards, through you and into Rikard like a bolt of lightning. Rikard’s chest bellows upward and his wounds seal tight. Your sight returns to normal, though you are still weak. Rikard’s eyes flutter open and his hand instinctively grasps his Chal’far fal d’orn. Though the spirit of Bart is no longer visible, somehow you sense the spirit world he always touched.

Rikard Castleberry: “Bart? What? Wait.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Darren? What are you doing here? How did? Where are they?”
Darren gasps; barely able to keep himself together.
Rikard Castleberry sits up.
Darren: “Rik…Rikard?”
Rikard Castleberry cries several silent tears as images of Bart goes through his brain quickly.
Rikard Castleberry stands up, looking around.
Darren: “We need to get out of here Rikard….Oh My God, I don’t know what happened, I thought you were gone!”

The cave feels somehow different; moisture and a light breeze from above caress you where you stand.

Rikard Castleberry: “I was gone. I was saved.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Where are the two left alive?”
Darren: “Yes…I know.”
Darren: “They are safe.”
Darren: “Let’s get Bart’s body and get out of here.”

Rikard sees about twenty statues lying in two neat rows near him. But none of these move.

Rikard Castleberry looks down at his left arm, utterly amazed and bewildered.
Rikard Castleberry flexes his fingers to see if they actually are moving.

They flex with spry agility.

Darren moves and picks up the torch, and then back to Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry: “Where is Ian? Is he ok?”
Darren looks to the south…”Bart is over here I think.”
Darren: “Ian is near the entrance.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Would you….go get him please? I need a moment. I will be fine.”
Darren: “Go…GO get Ian? Wha…why? We need to get out of here!”
Ian Aedan rocks on his heels at the cave entrance. He looks up at the sun, as if trying to judge how long Darren has been in the cave.
Rikard Castleberry: “We have a few moments. We need to make sure we bring back everything we came here for.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That much we have to do.”

Ian you hear words but can’t make them out, they are coming from down below, from the cave.

Darren clears his throat to speak.
Rikard Castleberry walks over to where he last saw Bart.

The floor is empty.

Darren half covers his mouth but says loudly, “Ian…come up to me.”

Ian, Darren is calling you.

Rikard Castleberry leans against the pillar next to him, trying to process what has happened.
Ian Aedan starts a bit and looks into the cave. “Darren? Is that you?” He looks back at the construct, “You things can’t speak now, can you?”
Rikard Castleberry looks around for the twin of his weapon Bart kept on him, and his sword.
Darren: "Yes, it’s me…I have Rikard here.”

There is a heavy pool of blood there, but no Bart.

Ian Aedan looks at the construct, then back at the forest. He whispers, “Stand guard, will you?” With that he turns and slowly starts to enter the cavern, bow at ready.
Darren begins to look for Samsolon’s body and the bag his head was in.

Ian sees the easy glow of Darren’s torch below.

Rikard Castleberry sits down near the pool of blood, closing his eyes and silently saying a farewell to his friend Bart, who saved his life, even after he lost his own.
Ian Aedan nervously passes through the ‘gateway’.
Darren does a circular search pattern, fanning further and further out, searching.
Rikard Castleberry leans up to a crouch, whispers something, closes his eyes hard, then stands up and turns back towards Darren.
Ian Aedan finally makes his way to the last step and stands there, looking at the two rows of constructs, “I’m torn between my desire to study these things…and to avoid being torn apart by these things.”
Darren: "Look for Samsolon’s body, and a sack, his head is in it.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Those won’t be hurting anyone, anymore Ian.”
Darren picks up the sack and heads back to the center.
Ian Aedan looks over at Rikard for a moment before it dawns on him. “You…but…you’re dead…well, almost dead…but obviously not but…” He peers, “To say I am confused would be an understatement.”
Darren: “Bart’s last gift, that’s what happened.”
Rikard Castleberry claps Ian on the back with his now healthy left hand- “Well, you can thank Bart. He made this possible.”
Darren: “Rikard, we need Samsolon’s body.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok.”
Rikard Castleberry looks around for Samsolon’s spear, starting near his body
Ian Aedan raises a finger, “But…he died before you…he…” He looks back at the constructs, and then shakes his head.
Rikard Castleberry: I don’t really understand it myself Ian, but I am thankful.

You find Samsolon’s personal effects. A spear, leather belt, shirt, trousers, excellent calf high leather boots, and his spear.

Rikard Castleberry: “Wow. Sammy had nice boots.”
Darren: “We need to get Reese to a healer.”
Ian Aedan gives the constructs another look before baking away towards the others, “I really would like to study these things sometime.” He looks down at Samsolon, “Who was this fellow?”
Darren: “He was many things I suspect, none of them good.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That’s a rather long story. I can tell you what I know as we go along.”
Darren: “Unfortunately, I am thinking our only option right now, is Kith’takharos, since Reess is hurt badly.”
Rikard Castleberry adjusts Samsolon’s shirt so it’s covering the severed neck, then collects Samsolon’s spear, and tosses the body over his shoulder.
Darren can’t wait to see the sun again.
Ian Aedan looks down at the corpse, “Well, it just goes to show one shouldn’t lose his head in battle.” He chuckles at his own joke.
Rikard Castleberry looks at Ian, glances at Samsolon, represses a laugh, and then lets out a small snort.
Darren: ‘Ian, does Tarass Shar Orn, mean anything to you?” he says as he exits the cavern.
Rikard Castleberry sighs inwardly as he starts to head out, pausing and turning back.
Rikard Castleberry: “So much happened here. So much changed.”
Ian Aedan starts to follow, “Tarass Shar Orn…hmm.”
Darren keeps moving while they exchange words.
Ian Aedan: “Well, the word ’Orn’ could be from the ancient swamp people’s language. It would roughly translate to ‘city’.”
Darren: “Yes…It is a ruin I believe, not too far from here.”
Rikard Castleberry exits the cavern.
Darren: “It was Bart’s wish to go there.”
Darren: “A task I believe he had mentioned.”
Ian Aedan: “I suspect that could be a naming convention, such as Merchant City. I know some people back at Kith’takharos, maybe I could look into some old scrolls and texts.”
Darren: “Well, I believe it is significant.”
Darren: “Does the phrase, “Awaken the sleepers” mean anything to you?”
Darren: “It is all connected somehow.”
Darren continues down the path toward where he left Reess.
Rikard Castleberry: “Ok. Let us be away from here, let’s go to Reess.”
Ian Aedan slings his bow as he continues following, "Off the top of my head, I don’t recall that phrase. Perhaps it’s part of a prophecy.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t think I can carry Reess along with everything else.”
Darren: “Ian and I will have to take turns.”
Rikard Castleberry: “The Dreamers Must Awaken was part of a prophecy we had heard several times in several spots. It seems to be connected to Harlass Orn, as well.”
Darren hands Ian his gear and hoists up Reess when they reach him.
Ian Aedan: “Hmm? Oh, of course. Though we may wish to wrap up the headless fellow. Walking into the city with that might attract some unwanted attention.”
Darren: “Not Harlass Orn, Tarass Shar.”
Rikard Castleberry: “The best I could do was wiggle his shirt so he wasn’t sticking out.”
Ian Aedan nods, “So two different cities.” He thinks for a bit, "Maybe Haralass Orn was the capital, while this other place was something of a spiritual center?”
Darren appears to have to stop to drink and rest often.
Ian Aedan: “With all this ‘Dreamer’ talk that is.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sadly, we’ve never gotten there. We always tried to. Something always seems to be guarding it, or impeding us.”
Ian Aedan jerks a thumb backwards, “Like eye glowing constructs?”
Rikard Castleberry tries to judge how much light they have left.
Rikard Castleberry: “Um. Yeah. Like those. I don’t have a clue where those came from, or why.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t think we can make the skiff before it gets dark. We really should find a spot sooner or later.”
Darren: “Here is fine!”
Ian Aedan does his best to rummage about a pouch and pull out some papers that have scribbles on them, “I hope we can find this place again. It would be nice to bring a group of scholars along to examine those.”
Darren drops Reess, lightly to the ground.
Darren: “I suppose we should take a look at his wound and bind it.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well Ian, I suggest bringing some muscle with those scholars, in case more ever wake up.”
Darren: “If you guys make camp near the trail here…I’ll go collect some firewood.”
Rikard Castleberry unceremoniously dumps Samsolon’s body on the ground.
Ian Aedan goes to find a place that would be suitable for a camp and fire.
Darren yawns and heads off.
Rikard Castleberry sits down and digs in his pack to see if there are any usable bandages remaining.
Reess Whitesmith (mumbles): “Sleep? Sleep in our beds of course…”
Darren returns with a few pieces of kindling and larger pieces to burn.
Ian Aedan takes some time making a campsite and piles up the group’s gear where he can.
Rikard Castleberry finishes wrapping up Reess with some bandages to try to stave off further infection.
Reess Whitesmith: “What…Where am I? What happened?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Stop fidgeting I’m almost done.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Wait…”
Rikard Castleberry: “You’re awake.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Oh that’s right. Iron scorpions. Gotcha.”
Darren uses flint and steel to spark a fire.
Reess Whitesmith: Looks down at the bandaged up wound.
Rikard Castleberry: “Slowly, don’t sit up too fast.”
Ian Aedan settles in around the soon to be fire, "I don’t think they were iron scorpions. I believe they were some artificial representation of the former inhabitants of this swamp. ‘Made in their image’, so to speak.
Reess Whitesmith: “Nice work Rikard.”
Reess Whitesmith looks to Ian.
Darren softly blows upon the embers until tiny flames sprout from the kindling.
Reess Whitesmith: “Who are you again?”
Rikard Castleberry: “This is Ian.”
Ian Aedan: “A physical representation of the current inhabitant of this location. Ian.”
Rikard Castleberry rolls his eyes imperceptibly.
Darren: “Ian, try not to use such big words, they make Rikard’s head hurt.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok, Listen Ian. If I just wake up from getting mauled by these things, and I call em Iron Scorpions, to me, they are Iron Scorpions.”
Reess Whitesmith looks down at his arm inspecting his bracer.
Darren: “Well I for one am glad you’re awake…my shoulder is sore from carrying you.”
Ian Aedan: “Oh…right…sorry. Iron Scorpions they are.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Aw Swampwater! Son of an eel! This thing is busted. Guess I will have to fix it.”
Rikard Castleberry: “At least it can be fixed.”
Ian Aedan rummages in his backpack and pulls out some rations, “Allow me to cook tonight. Least I can do.”
Darren: “Bart did not survive, if you didn’t know.”
Reess Whitesmith looks down to the ground.
Reess Whitesmith: “Did you keep his body?”
Darren finds a comfortable spot, pulls out a clean rag and begins wiping down his crossbow.
Darren: “There was no body to keep…something…happened.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok.”
Darren: “The moment I picked up the spear…it was like I was for a moment, no longer in the cavern. I could feel Bart’s presence.”
Ian Aedan looks up from his cooking, “If myself, or other scholars return to that cave, I’ll make sure they look for him, if he’s still in there.”
Darren: “He spoke to me and mentioned Tarass Shar Orn.”
Reess Whitesmith rolls his eyes.
Darren: “I felt a strange sensation flow through me and then Rikard was instantly healed.”
Darren: “His body and his effects were gone.”
Ian Aedan: “Your friend sounds like a very interesting fellow, in life and in death.”
Darren: “There was a lot of blood and a smashed torch about where Ian said Bart fell but no body and no equipment.”
Reess Whitesmith looks over at Rikard, then at Darren surprised that they look like he should believe them.
Reess Whitesmith: “Oh there is blood?”
Darren: “Yes, lots of blood.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Good.”
Darren polishes some of the metal fixtures on his crossbow carefully.
Darren stops wiping and looks over at Reess.
Darren: “Good? What is good about it?”
Reess Whitesmith looks up to the sky saying, “Bart, I barely knew ya, but you were a good lad as far as I can tell.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Hmmm?”
Darren: “What is good about lots of blood?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Oh, well I am just glad that, well…how to explain…”

Soon it will be sunset.

Darren: “I guess it was ‘good’ that I carried your bloody ass out of that hole before one of those…things…made a stain out of your ass.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well, Bart fought against things that threatened the balance of the swamp. Right?”
Ian Aedan takes some bread from his rations. He jams it on the end of a long stick and holds it over the fire, warming the food.
Rikard Castleberry slams Samsolon’s spear with all his considerable might into the ground, making a loud twanging sound. “ENOUGH! How can you two bicker after what just happened?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well, as I see it there are now two options since his death is irreversible.”
Darren twists, started at Rikard’s outburst.
Ian Aedan occupies himself by very intently studying his bread as it warms.
Reess Whitesmith stops looking at Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry: “Bart is dead.”
Rikard Castleberry: “He won’t be coming back. “
Rikard Castleberry: “He covered us all, kept us going when we didn’t know where to go.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Perhaps you misunderstand Rikard. Remember Bianca?”

Just as the conversation gets heated, Darren and Rikard see a Swamp Man standing stock still at the edge of the small clearing you’ve made around your fire.

Rikard Castleberry: “Of course I still remember…”
Rikard Castleberry: “Um.”
Darren stops his train of thought.
Rikard Castleberry stops yelling, turns to the visitor, and waves at them.
Ian Aedan looks up as the conversation ceases. “Hmmmm.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well Bianca had a keen understanding of blood and the power inside it.”
Darren says in swamp man and gestures, “We see you.”
Reess Whitesmith notices Rikard waving and stops.
Sarrag: “It is good to be seen. I was getting weary standing here.”
Sarrag: “I know you.”
Darren: “Um…we greet you warmly…our fire is your fire.”
Darren gestures as he has seen in the past.
Ian Aedan waves his hand towards the fire to echo Darren’s words…and quickly pulls back his bread, now slightly more than toasted.

The new arrived Swamp Man and Darren speak together shortly. Though you don’t understand what they said, no spears are flying yet.

Sarrag: “I thank you for the greeting. My spear’s thirst is quenched.”
Reess Whitesmith watches the swamp man with a blank expression.
Darren: “So it was you who killed the guardian, I owe you thanks.”
Sarrag walks to the fire and sits.
Rikard Castleberry completely used to swamp men, and not being in the conversation, looks to Ian and asks, “Any more of the bread?” which startles him out of his reverie.
Sarrag: “I know not of which you speak.”
Ian Aedan: “Hmm? Oh…yes, here. I take it Darren is a friend of the swamp men?”
tries to remember more words.
Darren: “You speak man speech?”
Reess Whitesmith sees that Rikard is not involved with the swamp men at the moment so he continues.
Sarrag: “I speak the tongue of the thin skins.”
Darren nods and clears his throat.
Darren: (in common) “I am called Darren…this is Ian, Reess and Rikard.”
Rikard Castleberry: “You would be surprised how many of the swamp men speak common. They just don’t let it be known.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Bianca told me that the soul of a man is in his blood. And as I was saying before, I am glad that there is blood left so that at least there can be some sort of ritual to help his soul find peace.”
Ian Aedan grins at Rikard, “If it meant you had to deal with our kind more often, would you let on that you spoke our language?”
: (in common) “I know you but callings are good. I am Sarrag, Claw of the Bright Water Clan.”
Darren: “I greet you Sarrag, Claw of the Bright Water Clan.”
Reess Whitesmith nods to Sarrag.
Rikard Castleberry: “Sarrag, what brings you out this way? This is not a good place.”
Sarrag: “I was sent to aid you and one more.”
Reess Whitesmith pulls over his pack, and fishes out some tools. He then takes off his bracer and starts to repair it as he listens to the conversation.
Rikard Castleberry: That one more would have been Bart. He is no longer with us, sadly.
Sarrag: “I am sorry that I am late.”
Darren: “Do not lament for the dead, Bart is in a good place, I know this to be so.”
Ian Aedan takes a bite of his over toasted bread, “If I may…who sent you?”
Sarrag: “Those that know what must be done.”
Darren: “It is important that we find a healer.”
Darren: “We must go to Kith’takharos.”
Ian Aedan nods to the swamp man, as if this were the type of answer he received every day.
Reess Whitesmith: “Healer for who?”
Darren: “For you.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Bah. Don’t fret about me.”
Reess Whitesmith: “You going back to town will be as unpleasant as I am right now.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I doubt there is anyone in town that could fix his injuries at this point. They will pass with time.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Face it, we are on our own here, ‘Cept for our new pal Sarrag.”
Darren: “I see there is little choice…Samsolon’s remains must be examined and it is not my wish to take an injured man back into harm’s way.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Since when did I stop making decisions for myself?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Now that Reess is awake, he can decide if he can go on.”
Reess Whitesmith: “This patch job Rikard gave me is right as rainwater. I will be well again in no time.”
Ian Aedan raises a hand, "I know I’m rather new to this group, but if you allow me to tag along, I may have some resources that can help you."
Darren: “Once you fell I took responsibility for your safety and left the fight, Bart died because you would not retreat Rikard when you could have…I’m dirty and tired.”
Ian Aedan: “Particularly, I have some contacts back at the city that may spread some light on some mysteries. Maybe.”
Darren: “And I don’t want to go back, but Samsolon cost us a lot.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Have you forgotten you will be tossed in a cell at best?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Plant food at worst.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ian I do not doubt the resources of your contacts, but I am not sure this is the right time to return.”
Darren: “Unlikely on the latter and I am willing to face the music.”
Sarrag: “The dreamers await – do they not?”
Rikard Castleberry cocks his head to the side at the mention of the dreamers.
Rikard Castleberry: How do you know about them?”
Sarrag: “That is why I am here. To aid you in their awakening.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Excellent. Do you know where we should head to?”
Sarrag: “Tarass Shar Orn.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I don’t know the way there.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Do you know how to get there?”
Sarrag: “I am not to lead this quest but to aid. That knowledge has not been given to me.”
Ian Aedan mutters, “So much for divine convenience.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, I suggest we sleep on it then, and see what the night brings to us.”
Sarrag: “You already have the knowledge you need.”
Reess Whitesmith yawns.
Reess Whitesmith: “Well, I’m beat. Night everyone.”
Darren: “I’ll take first watch.”
Ian Aedan shakes his head at the swamp man and pulls some papers out of his pack, “Maybe there’s something on one of these old maps.”

The night passes by uneventfully.

Darren wakes up, smelling the dead body.

The swamp is a merciless bitch when it comes to decomposing bodies however, and there is quite a stench coming from the body.

Darren: “Um…should we bury Samsolon’s body then?”
Ian Aedan wakes, sniffs, “Ahh, how I do enjoy the smell of the swamp in the morning.”
Sarrag: “It is too old to eat.”
Rikard Castleberry relieves Samsolon of his fine shoes, and looks for a spot to leave the body.
Darren: “We will take the head with us.”
Sarrag: “Was he special to you?”
Ian Aedan: “I suspect he was, in a not so friendly fashion however.”
Darren: “In a way, he has slain many of both our peoples.”
Sarrag: “Then why take a piece of him with you? Let his ashes feed the swamp.”
Darren: “I believe he has been marked and thus he has something yet to tell us in death.”
Rikard Castleberry looks to see if the boots would fit him, finding they fit even better than the trusty ones he has on.
Sarrag: “You have a speaker to ask him?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Ian, did you see anything on your map?”
Darren: “Perhaps, but I know you do Sarrag.”
Darren: “Your great Shaman will know him.”
Ian Aedan shakes his head, “Nothing yet. These are mostly incomplete. It’s a large swamp.”
Sarrag: “If you say. I am not gifted with the ear. Our speaker may ask but he may not force a thin skin to answer.”
Darren: “If your speaker could gift me with the ear, for a time, he may speak to me.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Perhaps it would be best to keep going past the cave. We know where we came from, but not where we were going.”
Reess Whitesmith: “There is nothing past the cave, Bart and I looked.”
Sarrag: “I know not if he can make you hear what you will not listen to. I am told that I am too loud to hear.”
Darren: “We are fairly close to a ruin.” Pointing to a spot on Ian’s map, “Fresh water is near there.”
Sarrag: “Do you need water?”
Ian Aedan: “Close, relatively speaking that is. My scale is not ….to scale on these maps.”
Darren: “We are poorly supplied though.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Within a couple days we will.”
Darren: “Another reason to go into town.”
Ian Aedan: “From your earlier comments, am I to assume that some of you would be less then welcome back in Kith’takharos?”
Sarrag: “The swamp is full of water. Even I can find it.”
Darren: “Cutting across land is not so easy I would think.”
Darren: “It is that time.”
Sarrag: “If it is supplies that you wish then we are not far from the trading post.”
Ian Aedan: “Well, there you go. We should be able to find all the items we need there. And if we’re desperate to return to the city…I could go in.”
Ian Aedan: “I’m not wanted by any authorities. And I’m rather known for getting survival supplies.”
Darren: “Well I like the sounds of that!”

Session 43

Two short minutes after you stepped off the bottom stairs, you realize you are being pushed back. The lines of battle have been mostly determined by your valiant efforts but with a man down and the press of a new wave it is time to decide how this battle will end

Round 18

Darren, still invisible, continues to drag the limp Reese back toward the entrance.

The constructs are grouped with more on the way. Construct #11 attacks with claw and tail against Rikard.
Rikard easily knocks both attacks aside.

Rikard realizes that he has somehow become the focus of nearly all enemies. In the distance you hear Darren exerting himself to move Reess out of danger.
A pair of fast claws marks your armor in an interesting but as of yet unseen pattern.
Another pair of claws strikes out!
Rikard is in the ‘zone’ all blows so far have been dealt with.

Rikard Castleberry attacks the new statue that rushed him.

A puff of rust bursts out of a fresh hole in the new arrivals chest.
The new construct misses with a single tail whip.
Another new one!
A second arrival hones in on Bart, its tail strikes out.
Bart’s armor is pierced but the tip comes up shy.
Tail and claw over the top at Rikard!
Both attacks miss!
The press is on as another statue moves in to attack Rikard.
Double tap! Wiff.
Another clanks out of unseen depths, water trailing off its body.
This one ignores all of you and lights up yet another alcove with a dormant construct. It lashes out with its tail and you hear the familiar ‘PANK’.

Bart steps back defensively.

As Bart withdraws three constructs attempt to send him to hell.
The first one lands a vicious slash through Bart’s forearm.
The second one slaps Bart so hard it nearly breaks his spine.
The third one misses because Bart’s body is so far out of line from where he intended to strike.

Bart groans as he feels the claws pierce his back.

Rikard Castleberry lays into a statue with 3 attacks, trying to thin the numbers.
Rikard Castleberry hits once, strongly.
Rikard Castleberry’s one hitting attack pitifully bounced off the newcomer.

Ian Aedan raises his bow, aims carefully, and lets loose. The arrow flies true and smacks into one of the metal beasts chests, striking something true and sending it straight to Hell.

Round 19

The nearest construct to Rikard senses weakness and lines up for the kill.
These attacks keep on coming.
Rikard soaks a particularly strong attack.

Rikard Castleberry groans inwardly at the sound.

A new construct rushes forth. This one is also not corroded at the knees.

Rikard Castleberry lashes out at the new arrival. He fails to damage it.

More attacks continue to forge Rikard’s legend.
A weak pair of attacks come from over the top to no effect.

Ian Aedan nocks another arrow and lets loose again. The arrow flies right at its target…and bounces off the chest of one of the metal monsters. Ian looks on stupefied. “Oh, c’mon, you’re probably centuries old! Your armor shouldn’t handle our advanced technology!”

Rikard Castleberry sighs at the situation, then decides to pull out an old trick: he grips his spear like normal, yells at the top of his lungs, and sweeps at all 4 targets around him!
Rikard Castleberry fiercely stabs at the first one, shutting it down!
Rikard Castleberry hits the next one, but the attack bounces off.
Rikard Castleberry attacks the last statue, but fails to connect.

Darren hears Rikard’s desperate yell and fearfully looks behind him as he huffs backward. Seeing the entrance near he winces as his exhausted legs peddle backward. He pops back into view in order to conserve his magical energy though no one is looking at him directly and noticed.

Rikard Castleberry takes a claw from one in the back row, shaking him!

Darren: “Rikard…we are leaving!

Bart attempts to catch his breath.
Bart feels the weight of this place wear at him, and is unable to recover this round.

Round 20

Inexorably they continue their mindless assault.
Rikard takes a wound from the first claw of the round!

Bart tries to continue on in this spiritless void.
Bart is able to regroup.

Ian Aedan loads another arrow, aims, and fires again. Once again the arrow strikes true, but fails to penetrate the constructs armor. He growls.

Rikard Castleberry watches as an attack bounces off his armor, followed by another attack missing him. Is he enjoying this?

Darren feels the warm air upon is back as he reaches the entrance but he doesn’t stop.
Darren reaches the outside with Reess in tow, just into the sunlight.

Another construct comes to life.

Rikard Castleberry shakes off the cobwebs, but doesn’t have the energy to attack this time.

One of the constructs moves up to Rikard, drawing an attack!
The attack misses badly.

Rikard Castleberry: “…”

Round 21

Rikard Castleberry ops for a repeat performance of what he did just a few moments ago, praying for better results!
Rikard Castleberry roars at his first target as he swings!
Rikard Castleberry continues onto the 2nd statue.
Rikard Castleberry hits his target solidly, releasing more rust.
Rikard Castleberry moves on to the next statue.
Rikard Castleberry splats the 3rd one, emitting rust.
Rikard Castleberry moves onto the last target in range.
Rikard Castleberry produces rust from the final one as well.
Rikard Castleberry yells at his opponents in a primal roar.

Bart goes to one of the down statues and tries once again to cut off a piece of tail.

Another construct rushes at Rikard, pushing away debris to reach him.

Rikard Castleberry glares at the next part of the swarm, attacking it!
Rikard Castleberry hits the newcomer hard enough to break it into pieces, hopefully dissuading the others from attacking him!

Darren turns aside with his litter and slips around the side of the cave.


Ian Aedan: “Mama always said, try, try again.” Ian reloads and fires, his arrow bouncing off the constructs armor again. “Mama must have been a very patient woman.”

Round 22


Bart: “These things are tough.”
Bart keeps sawing away.
Bart saws an intact tail off of one of the soulless.
Bart: “Darren…Darren?”

Ian Aedan’s bow goes ‘thwang!’ followed by a ‘PaTing!’ followed by “#$!!!”

After about a dozen blows on Rikard, one gets through without doing significant damage.

Rikard Castleberry decides to calm down this round, and to instead swing his spear on both sides, striking out thrice.
Rikard Castleberry hits one time, but doing no damage in the process.

Darren turns toward the hill and clamors up with Reess in tow.

Rikard Castleberry attacks the fresh construct that rushes near him, but misses.

Round 23

A fresh arrival clears away some debris of a fallen machine, and approaches Rikard, drawing an attack.
Rikard does a poor job of introducing the new guest, by missing with his spear. The new machine in turn fails to hit him with his claw.

Rikard Castleberry yells his best war cry, and wildly sweeps all of his adjacent opponents again, desperately trying to lower their numbers!
Rikard Castleberry swings his path of destruction, causing 1 to go offline, and 3 rust clouds.

Rikard Castleberry takes a claw to the chops from a construct, shaking him!

Bart sticks tail in his belt and goes and gets a torch in hopes of finding an alternate way past the battle. He moves forward, into another part of the cave.


Ian Aedan fires another arrow which strikes true, letting up a cloud of dust. The construct continues on however, unabated.

Darren perches himself above the cave entrance where he can still see Reess and anyone that comes through the entrance.

Round 24

Rikard Castleberry catches his breath, and attacks!
Rikard Castleberry continues his ferocious, screaming, whirlwind attack.
Rikard Castleberry lays his anger into the constructs.
Rikard Castleberry clangs one of them for some rust, and severs the neck lines of 3!
Rikard Castleberry roars out at his remaining foes!

Bart rushes to one of the empty alcoves and thrusts the tail into the hole.
The tail goes in and you feel like your hand has been stung.
Bart: “Stupid spiritless ….things.”

The original metal statue reaches the last of the constructs. Pank!
As the echo from the tail strike fade something changes about all of the constructs that are still standing. Their eyes are slightly … brighter and more intense now.

Ian Aedan fires again, and misses.

A fresh construct rushes Bart.
It attacks with abandon.
Two wild strikes test the waters without result.
The attacks seem to be coming in faster now.
They are going all out with both claws and tail, swinging for the fences.
Rikard is hit soundly with a powerful tail stab. He manages to avoid damage by rolling with the hit.

Darren hears fighting and assumes that at least someone is still fighting so he remains and guards Reess.

Round 25

Bart tries to unshake himself, but fails.

Rikard Castleberry attempts to shake the cobwebs. He regains his balance, but can’t take any further actions.

Darren waits, trying to control his fear.

Round 26

Ian Aedan nocks another arrow and takes a deep breath, and then releases. TWANG! THUD! The arrow slams into its target, hitting a sweet spot and causing the construct to go down.

Rikard Castleberry suffers a massive tail attack to the guts, bringing him to the brink, but he manages to hold on, barely!

Bart again tries to unshaken. He succeeds.
Bart tries to defensively back away.

The constructs next to him attack as he tries to retreat.
They swing viciously at him, and Bart goes down, unconscious, and bleeding out!

Darren jumps down and attempts to hike up Reess upon his shoulders to run for it.

Rikard Castleberry sees if he can unstun himself. He succeeds, with the strength to attack!
Rikard Castleberry grips his spear in a defensive way and attacks just twice, but wildly!
Rikard Castleberry manages to knock one of his foes offline!

One of the constructs leaves Bart and rushes Ian! He swings at him quite hard. Ian is shaken!
Another statue from Bart’s direction rushes Rikard, drawing a free attack.

Rikard Castleberry tries to slap away the newish construct with his spear. He misses, but the construct also misses in return.

Round 27

Ian Aedan collects himself, and then scrambles backwards, “Ah….this isn’t turning out very well.”

Darren runs with Reess upon his shoulders away from the cave, following their footprints.

Bart succumbs to his wounds, breathing his last breath.

A pool of blood spreads beneath Bart, marking the final resting place of a hero of Kith’takharos.

Rikard Castleberry feels weary after all this combat, and wildly attacks his same foe at distance again, twice.
Rikard Castleberry whiffs twice.

The original metal construct looks both ways.
It turns towards Rikard.

Rikard Castleberry attacks the cause of all this as it closes on him. The blow clanks off of the metal plating.

Round 28

Darren continues to run.

Rikard Castleberry moves around the original construct, making a little distance, and attacks it twice, as hard as he can!
Rikard Castleberry hits it, but fails to turn it off.

One of the other statues moves up into Rikard’s range.

Rikard Castleberry swings at the statue, hopefully his gambit pays off.
Rikard Castleberry severs the neck of the construct as it approached him.

Ian Aedan pauses, turns back and fires another arrow at one of the creatures. His arrow thunks into it with a loud Clang!

Round 29

Darren continues to run.

Rikard Castleberry tries to clear his head, succeeding. He then launches his attack!
Rikard Castleberry swings wildly, aiming at the one below him first.
Rikard Castleberry hits once out of 2 swings, producing more rust.

Round 30

Rikard Castleberry feels it may be time to finish off the original, and goes for it, with all 3 swings, wildly.
Rikard Castleberry hits the original all 3 times, doing some damage. The damage is small however; the original is far tougher than expected!

Ian Aedan fires once again but the result is only more rust. He grumbles.

Darren continues to run.

Round 31

Rikard Castleberry takes a wild claw attack, raking across his chest to his left arm. The trauma finally adds up and he slumps unconscious to the ground, his arm a bloody mess.

The remaining mech, seeing its original target down, moves in on the last person there, Ian!
It attacks wildly, but Ian manages to avoid the worst of it, taking only superficial damage.

Ian Aedan surveys the situation, and decides his best option is to simply run for his life. Thankfully, the claw attack that chased him missed.

Darren stops and sets down Reess.
Darren tries to hide him as best he can.

Round 32

Ian Aedan runs like a greased wombat with its tail on fire.

The 2 remaining constructs give chase, exploding out of the wall at the entrance with a giant cracking sound. How will Darren and Ian react? Will the statues give chase? Only time will tell…


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