War and Subterfuge

The Swamp

Where's Reeeeed?!

The adventurers sat at their party, enjoying themselves, when the mood was broken by their ally, Satchel, who ran into town yelling about how Reed was ‘trapped bellow the church.’ Once Satchel had explained his ravings, Raiden and Halya decided to follow him into the swamp to aid their comrade. This proved foolish. They turned around in circles, wading through muddy waters as the day turned to night. Eventually, it was decided that they would simply return the next day.

When Jinan returned from his trek back to Brene, all was explained to him and he and Keiran (who had had some trouble the night before) were ready to head into the marshes ahead. Jinan’s natural sense of direction proved useful in finding the way through the waters. The adventurers eventually crossed paths with some hungry crocodiles, but they dispatched them without even breaking a sweat.

Finally, they made it to the center of the swamp, where, only a small distance away, they could see the town and church where Reed had been trapped. However, getting to the town proved more hazardous than it appeared. Halya, Satchel, and Keiran were terriffied to find themselves sinking into the ground! To add to this, some mysterious creatures of the swamp, shocker lizards, watched on from their nest. Not willing to risk an unanticipated attack from them, Jinan sent forth his mighty lizard to scare them off. Feeling threatened, the lizards banded together and attacked with a mighty electric blast! This was enough to inform everyone that the lizards would be treated with a little more care.

Meanwhile, Raiden used his rope to attempt to pull Satchel back to shore and Jinan used a pole to aid Halya. When this proved fruitless, Jinan blessed Keiran with a mighty burrowing ability which he used to turn the quicksand into a bad memory. Once out, the band continued on their way. The way to the village would have continued unimpeded if not for a nest of stirges. They attacked the group but proved no match for their combined reflexes and strength.

Having finally made it to the village, they wasted no time. They went straight to the church, even with the uneasy feeling of being watched. Inside the found what Satchel had described to them. A stone tile behind the altar which glowed with magical aura. It wouldn’t budge… an arcane lock, perhaps?

Hoping to find some other way down into the passage bellow, the group decided to head outside… there, a massive beast awaited them. Like ogre and yet very plant-like (a plogre perhaps?), it took no notice of Keirans attempt to make peace and charged forward, batting him aside. This monster was strong. Surely the best choice was to prevent it from attacking. Thinking quickly, Jinan blinded it with a cyclone of sand and dirt while Raiden attempted to give it some of his patented brain-busting blows. When the creatures regenerative abilities were revealed, Satchel attempted to set it AFLAME!

“Try to heal THAT!” he quipped.

Halya, having restored Keiran to health, quickly joined the fray and took out one of its hamstrings. While it was distracted, Keiran hit it with an arrow so it would not stand again. As the creature fell, it caused part of the ceiling of the church to crumble. This creature proved to be quite a lot of trouble. Also, it raised some questions. What was this monstrosity? Where did it come from? A chain around its neck, and a corpse which it was obviously dragging around and snacking on revealed that it may somehow be related to the Rhonian army… but how?

Going back into the church to see the damage, the adventurers saw that the tile with the seal had been shattered. Now, surely, they would be able to lift it and find out what had happened to their ally? The opening revealed a tunnel which traveled under the swamp. Walking down it, the band found it significantly shortened their journey, preventing more unnecessary swimming. They also found tracks… Reed!

Following the path out of the swamp, the group hoped that Reed had had the same idea, and that they would find him soon. Sadly, these thoughts were cut short but a brewing storm. It seemed unwise to stay outside, exposed, when the were chances of lightning. Find the growing wind and rain, they eventually made it to a small farm. Entering the barn showed them that no animals had been here for a few weeks, perhaps more. Curious, the searched the house, which proved to have a similar story. Maybe the people that lived here feared the approaching war and left?

Since no one was around to complain, the group figured no one would mind if they took shelter in the barn, at least until the rain died down a little.

A few hours passed and the storm began to calm. Maybe now they could continue their search for their friend? But before they could even think of leaving, footsteps were heard outside… the farmer returning to his home? Whoever it was, they were searching every building… and the group decided it better to hide.

The person who opened the door was a bugbear, and he wasn’t too happy to find Halya standing in the open, or Keiran bursting out to explain everything. When he explained that they were looking for their friend, Reed, the bugbear ran for it, hoping to warn his allies. This plot was foiled by Keiran’s arrows and Jinan’s magical abilities.

The crew interrogated the bugbear, demanding to know where Reed was, if he had allies coming this way, etc. He proved stubborn even to their threats. He did however, let slip that Reed was captured by his group. His group, in fact, is what came over the bridge of the river near the barn. Knocking the bugbear out, the heroes exited the barn to see another bugbear, a heavily armored cleric, and another troll, blindfolded and pulling a wagon.

Jinan quickly used his abilities to cause a mass of plants to grow and slow the enemies’ movement to a crawl while Raiden and Halya charged forward to meet their foes. The second bugbear was dispatched quickly but the celebration soon ended when the cleric let loose the troll and he tore Raiden to shreds. Seeing their ally fall caused the rest of the group to grow uneasy. Were they outmatched here? Perhaps a tactical retreat was in order. Slowly backing off, and using the plants powers to slow the troll to their advantage, the adventurers attacked and attacked the monster with all they had. And though the cleric helped vanquish and sand scorpion/worm and attempted to heal the large creature, it was eventually vanquished by Basthus, Jinan’s lizard, and Satchel’s flames.

While this was happening, a figure rose from the wagon the troll was pulling. Shaking off the ropes that just a while ago had bound him, Reed joined the fight. His aid, and the unceasing perseverance of the others, finally brought the last foe down. With a mighty lightning bolt, the cleric fell.

Having defeated the foes, the group went to examine Raiden’s body… only to find that Raiden was somehow alive! By the will of the Gods, he explained, or one God. The one of the lizardfolks, who explained to him that a false prophet needed to be eliminated…

This cryptic message only served to confuse the group. Their frustration only deepened when they discoverred that the bugbear who had been unconscious in the barn had managed to escape…

Deciding to see what the wagon contained, the band enjoyed the spoils of war, setting flame to anything they did not take. These weapons would not be used by the Rhonian army, not today. Not if they had anything to say about it. The front line was growing closer and, finally, t the heroes would bring their skills to meet those of the Rhonians.

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