Refreshing as it was to have accomplished something so simply good, it was not to last.
Cotton provided us additional information on the structure of the Bowmen and their intrinsic rivalries. Understandably, he was eager to set off and secure the safety of his daughter. After a few more questions, we let let him on his way. Hershel, in the most uncomfortable manner possible, invited him to take refuge within Lochaid or the Rise. To his credit, he managed to keep a mostly even expression and simply said that he’d see us again.
The rest of us sat around the table in the back room for a bit, some opting for the food and refreshment that Olaf provided free-of-charge, some simply conversing about the night. In short order, we split up to find lodging for the night. Some of us, myself included returned to the inn at the crown of the town, while some stayed at the Duck. It was only Ser Seifer that struck out on his own. He indicated that he would be returning the Ironclad skyship to take his rest. He seems to be disquited by many of our behaviors, though he shares goals that align with (most) of ours. No doubt he finds solace in a more military structure. This may…strain his tolerance in times to come.
After a night spent above the miasma of the lower town, we reconvened to determine our course. Seifer brought up our our secondary objective, which had been to establish contact with the Ironclad and possibly gain their assistance against the Bowmen. He had conferred further with the remaining soldier in the ship and had found out that the rest of his comrades has departed further into the Sink, searching for some significant item, though he wasn’t free to say what. Seifer made the case that we should seek them out now to make a case for alliance and, if needs be, to assist them in their task. I would hardly think that a cadre of professional soldiers would need our help, but apparently the remaining soldier (Wallace, possibly, I’m still not used to some of these surfacer names) had enough concern about his comrades and the time that they had been gone that he convinced Seifer, as well.
Although I wanted almost nothing more than to be out of this feted mire, I agreed with the knight’s intent. As did almost all of us, except Xar’eth and surprisingly, Exelar. He indicated that he felt that he had met the duty of the vision that led him here and that he needed to return to the rise to ensure the progress and safety of the newly-populated village. The weight of responsibilty must be weighing on him to leave in the middle of an action like this. But I cannot dispute his reasoning. Still, we need to finish what we set out to do before returning. The two of them headed out on their mounts and the rest of us gathered out things and headed to the stinking stew that was the docks.
We collected Pete on the way and headed our into the swamp. I was relieved to be out of the press of Carrion Hill. Certainly, the open swamp wasn’t pleasant, but it didn’t have the additional layers of filth created by too many people living in too small a location. Slapping at buzzing and stinging insects, we followed directions provided to Seifer and filtered through Pete’s knowledge of the area. Progress was slow and the air was thick, but in time we ran up on a piece of firm ground that Pete said would be as close as we could land. We had a walk ahead of us.
After an indeterminate time of forging through wet gullies and sodden earth, we heard the sounds of battle from over a rise up ahead. Hershel and fanned out to the sides while Seifer went straight up the middle, followed by Nathaniel and Wulfgar. Clearing the burm, I could see that what appeared to be the ramparts of a keep that had half-sunken into the swamp. Defending the walls were the Ironclad that we were here to find. Assaulting their position were troglodytes! I’d never seen this kind of behavior from them but they were outright attacking the walls and men. They also appeared to have a powerful shaman or sorcerer with them, backing a large and rather imposing raid leader.
Following character, Seifer charged down the throat of the narrow isthmus, intent on reaching the leader. In his wake, several trogs emerged from the water on each side of the pathway, turning to his path. on one side, thunderous arrows lanced out, announcing Hershel’s entry into the fight. Wulfgar also so stepped up to engage them, drawing them away from Seifer’s back. Nathaniel appeared to be risking the step up as well, casting from behind the shield of the larger man. Having waited for an opening, I could see that a side was not entirley covered, so I drew shadow around me and advanced the flank of the trogs there.
Wulfgar, Hershel, and myself cleared out the rank and file to either side fairly efficiently. Though I noted that they definitley seemed more hardy?, more aggressive?, than a standard troglodyte. Maybe they had become used to conflict with the town. Seifer continued to trade blows with the raid leader, when I noticed their mystic. I’m not an arcanist, but living among the drow, I’ve learned to notice when rather dangerous magicks were being worked. Their caster had that look. I began to head his way, when I was set on by some additional trogs from the water that I had to stop and dispatch. Seifer was still engaged with the burly trog and Wulfgar was shielding Nathaniel. For their part, the Ironclad had taken the opportunity to begin raining down bolts and arrows on the remaining troglodytes. I was analyzing my options when Nathaniel finished a spell.
I thought I knew the spell that he had cast, but I had never seen it do what it did. Black, rubbery tentacles erupted from what appeared to a small portal in the ground around the trog caster and some of the footsoldiers. Normally these would entangle and interfere with those in the area, but this was different. The appendages were covered in suckers and spikes, dripping something about which I’d rather not speculate. They latched and tore into several smaller trogs, leaving their hide in shreds. This was clearly not what Nathaniel had expected, judging from the look on his face, and he ended the spell. But instead of simply disappearing, the portal closed on the tentacles, which were severed, but remained in existence and fell to the sodden ground. Two of the largest tentacles had dropped into the swamp water.
Seifer had driven Black Ice into the raid leader, who fell to the dirt, and turned to advance on the caster, who stumbled backward to the water’s edge. He flung spells around him, some hitting home. However, Hershel lanced several arrows into his side and Seifer finished him with a strike.
I began to to turn my attention to the few remaining trogs, when suddenly, an olog – a troll – erupted from the water. It appeared to have been attracted by the battle and not, it seemed, an ally of the trogs as they tried to scatter out of its way. Though one was too slow and was crushed in the creatures great paw, the filthy claws tearing furrows through the pitiful thing.
As I was deciding how best to move on the beast, it let out a bellow as two of the large severed tentacles from Nathaniel’s spell erupted from the swamp and latched onto it. They squirmed onto him and curled tightly, actually splitting his hide and opening bloody rends across his body. As the troll turned to bite at a tentacle, one of them drove into his throat, rupturing the skin of his neck and nearly de-gloving his head. It writhed in pain and I narrowly avoided having arm torn off as I rolled away from the lash of a sucker-covered arm. At this point, the appendages had wrapped almost entirely around the creature’s body, when suddenly a tear appeared and a giant, weeping yellowed eye opened in what had been the stomach of the olog. It swiveled around and then the new abomination dove backward into the brackish water and disappeared.
The area fell to an oppressive silence. The Ironclad began to gesture that we come up and, after a careful look around, we did so. Aside from some suspicious glances at myself, they knew drow and didn’t like them, I’ll admit to not paying attention to what they had started to say. The issue with Nathaniel’s spell was disturbing. It reminded me of the encounetr with the deep dragon and the old one in the goblin caves near Three Cedars. All of this was bringing up a memory from home that clearly didn’t want to be recalled. With no clarity coming, I paced the walltops of the submerged keep, watching the water for the thing that the trog mystic had become. A splash startled me, but I turned only to Seifer emerging from a pool in the roof of this place, with what appeared to be a sheathed sword in his hands.
I wandered back over as I saw him draw the blade in front of the Ironclad soldiers. I can’t say exactly what it was, but it was intricately designed and appeared to be forged from a deep golden metal that showed no signs of having been submerged. Though I missed most of the negotiation, I gathered at the end that Seifer had negotiated an alliance of sorts with them and that they were seeking a twin to the blade that had been found but Seifer was to keep claim of this one. I’ll have to speak to him later to go over the details. For now, as much as I’d like to say that it was time to leave the Sink, I fear that we’ll be headed back to the Boil to plan our next step with new allies.
The World of DaNar
Into the Swamp. The Ironclad. Abomination.
Refreshing as it was to have accomplished something so simply good, it was not to last.