The group has met up at Reess’s skiff, and started its trek away from shore.
Long hours pass as your group poles away from Kith’takharos. It is surreal how quickly the political landscape could shudder. Though shudder it did and now you are adrift in more ways than one…
Reess Whitesmith: “Last time we were here you guys were fleeing. What will we do here; I want to know before we beach.”
Rikard Castleberry: “We have to keep searching, and kill Samsolon if we find him.”
Darren: “Ok, as I see it, we have 2 options. We can silently beach. Bart can use his survival skills to hide the boat. We can either lie in wait for someone to come by or trek around and attempt to pick up tracks.”
Darren: “Or…we can bring the boat a fair distance inland and hide it very well.”
Bart: “We can hide it on one of these islands and swim to shore.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Or we can sink the boat weigh it down that way it won’t be set on friggen fire.”
Darren: “Well without weights, that will be problematic.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Mud, rocks what more do I need.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Wouldn’t a soaked skiff be an issue?”
Reess Whitesmith: “It’s my boat, I don’t want it burned. I can leave it here and walk if I must.”
Bart: “It is your boat. Sinking it would be problematic if we had to leave quickly.”
Darren: “Well I have no issue with keeping it on an island.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Well I suppose I have to think of your welfare now too.”
Darren: “But I’m not going to enjoy picking off the leeches one bit.”
Reess Whitesmith sighs.
Rikard Castleberry: “How problematic would it be after sinking it, to get it movable again?”
Darren: “Less so if it is serviceable and untouched.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Between you and I, not much.”
Bart: “Dumping the weights and water. Plugging the hole.”
Reess Whitesmith: “No hole!”
Darren: “Well it will be much more difficult to sink without a hole.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Just flood it, gah now you guys want to put a hole in my boat.”
Darren: “And keep your bloody voices down.”
Bart: “Let us just hide it in the roots of these trees.”
Reess Whitesmith: “You know what. Forget it. We’ll leave it here and if it burns it burns.”
Darren looks around nervously.
Darren: “No, the roots of trees sounds good, on that island there.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok. Fine.”
Darren: “Let me check it out first though.”
Bart: “Watch out for the gators.”
Darren: “Ok, let Bart check it out first.”
Darren smiles and pats Bart lightly on the back.
A light breeze passes and your nostrils are assailed with turned milk or meat odor.
Bart walks in the mud towards the island looking for a place to hide the boat.
Rikard Castleberry mutters about swamp smells.
Bart starts hiding the boat.
Rikard Castleberry helps drag the skiff up.
Reess Whitesmith does too.
Reess Whitesmith: “Alright before we go traipsing in there, we find Samsolon. What do we do?”
The skiff is dragged up and carefully laid up to rest, well hidden in the brush, reeds and cotton tip stalks.
Bart: “If we place it under some wet brush it should protect us from fire to some extent.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I stab him in the heart with my spear.”
Darren: “Well, first things first. We need to keep low when we move and stay as quiet as possible.”
Darren: “No loud voices, noise, clanging weapons, nothing.”
Darren: “No smoky fires.”
Darren: “If we can surprise someone, we will have the advantage.”
Reess Whitesmith looks at his armor and at Rikard’s. “Yeah we’re all about stealth.”
Bart: “Let us look for some markers similar to those at other ruins.”
Darren: “Well there is a way to move that can lower your sounds.”
Bart: “Like the way stone.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I can try to be stealthy, but no promises.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok we try to be quiet, we looks for stones, but what happens when the shit goes down?”
Darren: “I can shift stuff around in your packs and you can put cloth onto squeaky joints.”
Bart: “You should all rub mud on you to help.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I’ll charge the bad guys, Darren; you shoot something that I don’t see.”
Darren: “Rikard, undead will not be acting on their own…someone will be controlling them.”
Darren: “Do not settle with killing them, we need to find their control source.”
Darren: “I can detect magic.”
Rikard Castleberry: “You do that. I’ll engage the rest.”
Darren: “To some degree.”
Reess Whitesmith: “That’s what Bianca was trying, look what that got her.”
Darren: “Bianca attacked Samsolon out in the open.”
Bart: “Samsolon’s spear was controlling them.”
Darren: “And she paid a heavy toll for it.”
Darren: “A spear?”
Darren stops mid-sentence.
Bart: “Weren’t you there?”
Darren: “I did not see Samsolon at all…I only saw undead.”
Darren: “If you see him again, call it out so we can converge.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes, his spear.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Converge, explain.”
Darren: “So we can swarm him.”
Reess Whitesmith: “In the open?”
Darren: “He or this Hoyt are powerful.”
Darren: “If they have time to react, they will be gone.”
Darren: “Once their location is known to one of us, we should all group onto them, specifically.”
Rikard Castleberry: “So shout, got it.”
Darren: “Well, yes, at that point yes.”
Reess Whitesmith: “You say you can see magic. If we lose him to invis you are it.”
Bart: “Invisible people still leave tracks.”
Darren: “I will do my best and try to mark his location with crossbow bolts.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Point and tell me where to fire, and make sure you are not between him and me.”
Darren: “I will drop bolts at his feet.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Good.”
Darren: “By drop, I mean fire a bolt at his feet.”
Darren: “And I’ll call it out with a general location.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Rikard, if we get a swarm of undead on us, Try to line em up.”
Darren: “But I hope it won’t come to that…if we can surprise them, we can take them.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes. Shall we go investigate now?”
Bart: “Sounds good.”
Darren: “Not yet, let me try to make you and Reess a little stealthier.”
Darren: “Drop those packs.”
Reess Whitesmith: “If someone shouts retreat. No one be a hero.”
Reess Whitesmith: “That last thing I need is a group full of honor hungry apes that won’t budge because they want to hold em off.”
Darren begins to rearrange a few items in their packs to make them quieter when they move.
Darren ties a few pieces of cloth around some of Reess’s armor joints.
With soft sounds and easy effort you make it to the main island. The sky is starting to tinge with light but dawn is a long way off yet.
Bart makes use of the brush as he makes his way towards the site of the last battle.
Darren: “Ok, watch Bart and follow in his tracks guys…stay low and keep to the brush if you can.”
The stench from decayed bodies reaches you before you see them.
Bart: “We should burn the bodies.”
Reess Whitesmith: “After we are done.”
Darren: “If we do, it will create smoke and then someone will know we are here for sure.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That would be rather counterproductive to our stealth, but later we should.”
In the blue light of the night you see a burnt husk of a skiff silhouetted on the beach. There is only one lifeless unmoving form on the beach, it is near where Bianca fell.
Rikard Castleberry goes to investigate the remaining body.
You see a rotting corpse lying face down.
There are perhaps 20 bolts bristling from its defunct body.
Bart: “Stab it so we don’t have to bury it.”
Rikard Castleberry stabs it with his spear.
Your spear pierces the skin creating a small popping noise and puff of noxious gas.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, that should settle that.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Is there any way to tell where he went from here?”
Darren shakes his head in disgust.
Bart: “Shall we head onward?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yes.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Yes.”
Darren holds his nose.
Rikard Castleberry: “Bart can you tell which way Sammy may have gone?”
Bart starts looking for tracks leaving the area he last saw Samsolon.
Bart heads back to the area where he and Samsolon started their discussion. He hopes that the ground would be easy to pick up tracks in and invisible people usually don’t worry about their boot prints in the mud.
It is clear to Bart what Samsolon’s boot print looks like.
Bart starts to follow the trail now that it is found, keeping the group behind hi about 30 feet.
Darren: “Rikard…over here.”
Darren says, trying to be quiet.
You follow a path and find a burnt cloak at the base of a palm that has been discarded.
Bart leaves the cloak.
Bart continues on the trail.
Darren: “It appears that if he was here, perhaps he can see through their eyes.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Perhaps they were left with 1 last command, and were not being actively controlled.”
Darren gives Rikard’s words some thought.
Long hours of skulking take you to around noon. The heat has been building miserably since dawn and apparently you were not told your sweat and blood was the main dish for every insect within a thousand miles.
Reess Whitesmith wonders how insects are getting through his breastplate and biting his back.
As you move you feel your way is becoming more difficult as the terrain has a slight rise to it.
In fact the tracks are becoming more difficult to read as the ground becomes harder and bare rock shows through from time to time.
Reess Whitesmith considers some modifications, maybe some padding. Fortunately he doesn’t sweat much but for his own exertion. Not like Rikard.
Bart continues on after a slight rest.
Bart lowers to the ground, sees some scratches on a rock and says he can smell the son of bitch and moves on.
The trees begin to thin slightly as the ground becomes more exposed to bedrock. You see a spur of rock ahead with a dark gaping hole that forms a cave that is no less than 25 feet across, though the depth can’t be discerned in the midday sun.
Rikard Castleberry crouches down to catch his breath, slightly excited by seeing something different
Bart slows down as he approaches the cave using the decreasing amount of cover to his advantage.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well guys, how about we go in and look around?”
Darren: “Well, we will still need to be quiet as possible.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Keep the light to a minimum, I can see ok in the dark.”
The cave leads in deeper than ten feet of darkness and is quite wide.
It is apparent as you get to the entrance of the cave that recently many vines were cut down from across the entrance to the cave. They lie scattered giving off a pleasant odor as only cut plants may offer.
Beyond the broken plants lies a rough cave. Though mold and moss obscure much of the walls, the bare spots show parallel rows of gouges, as if giant claws had carved the space from the living rock. The ceiling is nearly twice the height of a man.
Rikard Castleberry: “What could have made those furrows?”
A barrier of stacked stones blocks an opening in the rear of the cave. The gaps between stones are filled a mixture of dried mud and plant stalks. Decayed feathers jut from the mud in some sort of obscure design. The wall does not appear very strong.
There is a gap in the stones in the middle. Beyond this gap a cool dry air enters and dries your throat. It is quite dark beyond the gap.
Reess Whitesmith peers in with his half elven eyesight.
Bart continues to look for the tracks he had been following.
Rikard Castleberry peers down the cave, however obviously not seeing anything.
Darren: “Ok, it appears this wall moves.”
Bart: “The tracks end here, do we go inside?”
As your eyes adjust you notice something even more disturbing.
At the far right of the cave entrance you see a tumble of clearly mutilated swamp men.
They are crushed and broken as if from a mace or blunt instrument. All three have their skulls smashed in.
Darren covers his mouth and nose with a small, clean cloth.
The must be recently dead…they don’t smell yet.
Reess Whitesmith grits his teeth.
Darren: Let me check out this wall for traps.
Darren looks at the corpses for a moment.
Bart: “I did not see any tracks for the swamp men.”
Bart: “Are we sure that they were not recently disturbed?”
Bart: “This being a tomb.”
You see Darren bend down to touch a stone.
Darren looks closely at the stones.
Rikard Castleberry: “You think they were buried before?”
Darren: “There is somewhat fresh blood here.”
Bart: “It would explain the lack of blood and smell.”
Bart: “How much?”
Darren: “Some of these stones look as if they were used as weapons to bash their heads in.”
Bart: “Bashing heads is usually pretty messy.”
Darren: “Blood and brain matter is on them.”
Reess Whitesmith: “I want to look in through the hole.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Should we start taking these stones down, to make a bigger opening?”
Darren: “I want to inspect the wall for traps first.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Not yet.”
Reess Whitesmith creeps up along the edge and peers in, peeking his head into the opening.
Bart: “When you give us an OK, Darren. Man made traps are not my thing.”
As Darren is examining the wall…
Rikard Castleberry: “DUCK!”
Rikard Castleberry drops as he says it.
Suddenly, a large rock rises and rips toward Darren and hits him in the head!
Rikard Castleberry picks up the rock that hit Darren and looks at it.
Bart: “How did you trigger this?”
Darren staggers back and off to the side.
*Bar*t: “What happened?”
Darren holds his bleeding head and feels woozy.
Rikard Castleberry: “It looks like this rock here took offense to Darren and ran into his head.”
Darren: “How the hell should I know Bart?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Will you live Darren?”
Bart: “Come here and let me look at it.”
Darren touches his chest and mutters a few words.
Reess Whitesmith: “I suggest, we watch for flying rocks.”
Darren casts detect magic.
Bart: “It seems to be reloading.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s go.”
Bart: “Can I treat your wounds Darren?”
Darren: “Get out of the way.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Inside or?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Away!”
Rikard Castleberry carries the rock that hit Darren with him as he walks out.
Bart: “Can anyone dispel the magic?”
Darren: “Yes, I would be grateful for any healing you could do.”
From out of the depths past the stone wall you hear a voice.
Samsolon coughs and says, “About time. You kept me waiting.”
Bart: “Sorry about that. Had some important business to take care of.”
Darren: “Ah…thanks Bart; I’m feeling much better now.
Rikard Castleberry: “Well, if it bothered you so much, you shouldn’t have left so quickly, Sammy.”
Bart: “Keep that monkey dung on for at least a week.”
Samsolon: “Duty called.”
Darren: “Um…I don’t think so.”
Samsolon: “Hey, Darren, how about coming down for another shot?”
Darren: “No thanks I think I’ll pass.”
Reess Whitesmith motions to everyone to come around the side to him.
Bart: “So Samsolon, what is the game today?”
Bart keeps Samsolon’s attention while the party plans.
Samsolon: “Same as last time, Bart. Why don’t you come down?”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “Wait him out some; he used some power to hurl that rock. Either it will continue to cost him or it is just about up.”
Darren whispers to Reess.
Bart: Why? “A skunk weed may do better.”
Rikard Castleberry: “That doesn’t really change the outcome though. Sooner or later we’re going to have to go in there.”
Bart: “I told Casdegere about your dealings. He was disappointed.”
Samsolon: “Now he’s just dead. Is that your fault too?”
Bart: “No, I disagreed with his actions. But you can ask him yourself.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Aside from the obvious stupid idea, any reason we shouldn’t go in there with him?”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “He will kill us.”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “I can try to catch hurled rocks but that is surely not his only weapon.”
Darren whispers to Rikard.
Rikard Castleberry: “He may have other weapons, but do we have much of a choice?”
Rikard Castleberry: “It’s go in, or wait.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I have no skill in throwing rocks.”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “Nothing says we have to go in there.”
Darren: “Let’s just use strength and tumble the wall.”
Bart: “Why do you wish to keep the dreamers trapped?”
Darren makes sure no magical source is nearby as he confers.
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “The rocks will only go in a few feet. The stairs are long.”
Rikard Castleberry: “Stairs?”
Darren: “I can go down invisible.”
Rikard Castleberry: “I didn’t get a look in there. “
Reess Whitesmith (gestures with his hands while whispering): “Big fricken stairs.”
Bart tosses stones down the stairs.
Samsolon: “Because they taste so good.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Smoke him out?”
Darren: “There may be an opening someplace else.”
Reess Whitesmith: “We can check it out.”
Bart: “What you do is wrong. You do remember the concept. Casdegere says you once knew the difference well.”
Rikard Castleberry: “He may just leave if we go.”
Darren: “Well, we could track him.”
Darren: “If he did.”
Darren: “Down there he is a fortress on to himself.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yeah, it may piss him off if we dismiss him.”
Samsolon: “These are new days. I have new tasks now. What once was shall be no more.”
Darren speaks up.
Darren: “Why do you hate the Swamp men so much?”
Rikard Castleberry: “So we have basically 3 options, go in, wait him out, or look elsewhere.”
Samsolon: “Hate? I don’t hate them any more or less than any other.”
Darren: “From what I knew about Casdegere, he held you with great respect and affection Samsolon.”
Darren: “Others too in Kith’takharos.”
Samsolon: “Kill me or leave me be. I have work to do.”
Darren: “He would have given his life for you Sir, his only living Family.”
Darren: “As he did for his friend.”
Darren looks at Bart as if he is just winging it.
Reess Whitesmith: “Ok I think we will leave you be. Have a good day Samsolon. Bianca sends her regards by the way.”
Bart: “Does he not deserve an explanation?”
Samsolon: “Bring him here and he shall have one!”
Bart: “He cannot enter here, as you know.”
Darren: “Samsolon, You know Hoyt will never let you be.”
Darren: “Even if we do.”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “Darren will you watch this entrance and warn us if he leaves? We can search for another opening. Now that we know he is in there stealth isn’t all that important, besides we want him to hear us leaving.”
Samsolon: “Let me be clear. I will kill you, or worse. If not today, then some time in the future.”
Darren: “Hoyt made that same threat and here we are still.”
Bart: “I am sorry that you have forced our hand then.”
Darren: “We will keep coming until you give up.”
Darren positions himself near the edge of the cave.
Samsolon: “OK. I give up. Now stop coming.”
Darren: “Then come up peacefully, I give you my word if you are civil, so shall we be.”
Bart whispers “If we all rush together we should make it through.”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “Yeah the man who just swore that he will kill us you want to be civil. We are wasting time and probably bringing him good humor.”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “Or we all die.”
Darren: “Then Rikard, Reess, Bart and I’ll provide cover from the rear?”
Reess Whitesmith (whispers): “This is why you guys almost die every time!”
Darren: “Well you don’t accomplish anything by good intentions alone.”
Reess Whitesmith (whisper): “And you accomplish nothing when yer dead. And in his case you may even work for him afterward!”
Darren: “Then what, split up? That’s your plan?”
Darren: “2 are easier for him then 4.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s not let him pick the battlefield.”
Darren: “I can get down there in a single turn.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Down where? You haven’t even seen him.”
Darren: “Err in a few seconds.”
Darren: “I can hear him though.”
Bart: “He is feeding off the ones we have come to free.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yer blind.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Then we force him out.”
Rikard Castleberry: “It should be straight down, yes?”
Bart starts to light a torch.
Darren: “Bart, if we let him go, will more Swamp men die?”
Rikard Castleberry: “How would we force him out?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Smoke him out.”
Bart: “I do not know. I do not know how he is feeding on them. His spear marks him as an enemy.”
Bart: “I am powerless here.”
Darren: “Rikard, if you toss a torch down, I’ll try to get a bead on him.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Of course he is an enemy! But we can’t kill him when we are dead.”
Darren: “Let’s see if he can conjure more undead here.”
Bart tosses torch down.
*Bart watches which way the smoke goes.
Darren just as Bart throws down the Torch, Darren lurches into action. With an uncanny quickness he moves to the opening in a flash. If he sees Samsolon, he fires, then moves out of the opening, if not he just moves
Reess Whitesmith looks down at the three dead swamp men.
Reess Whitesmith: “Rikard, if these move, stab em please?”
Rikard Castleberry: “Sure, I’m good with that.”
Darren: “I don’t see him!”
Reess Whitesmith: “Probably because he is hiding?”
Bart: “Did you sense magic?”
Rikard Castleberry: “They appear still dead.”
Darren: “But I also know invisibility, is only seconds.”
Darren: “This must be some holy temple or some such.”
Darren: “The whole place is magical down there.”
Bart starts to offer prayer to the spirits as he gets ready to enter.
Reess Whitesmith: “So you know he is there, you can’t see him; you know he can see out. You still want to go in there?”
Bart: “I will try to draw him out.”
Darren: “He will only hurt you Bart.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Then I will lay your corpse atop the swamp men here.”
Bart: “Then hurt him back quickly.”
Darren: “Well Rikard, you call it”
Reess Whitesmith: “So eager. Eager to die.”
Bart draws his new sword.
Rikard Castleberry: “I have no problem charging in like an idiot, but it doesn’t seem like the right move.”
Darren: “Isn’t Bart, Iron Mr. White forge?”
Reess Whitesmith: “Yes, but it is magnesium that burns white hot and in a flash. Not Iron.”
Bart: “Are you loaded Darren?”
Darren: “I am always loaded.”
Bart: “Then make sure you draw blood. “
Reess Whitesmith: “Let’s try other ways first!”
Bart: “What way? There are no other entrances and I am the best bait.”
Darren: “He is in there for a reason Reess.”
Darren: “He will wait us out if he has to.”
Reess Whitesmith: “Set a log on fire, I will put it in there.”
Darren: “Reess, the smoke won’t help us either down there.”
Bart: “Then we will have two torches and a flaming log we must pass. “
Reess Whitesmith: “Thank you for at least considering another idea. Now what else you got besides being stupid?”
Bart: “Can I borrow your shield?”
Rikard Castleberry: “I got this rock still.”
Darren tries to stop himself from chuckling.
Reess Whitesmith: “Good, maybe I will have better luck talking it into a rose Rikard.”