So we continue on in our boat after defeating the dragonflies.
Lake Hooktongue – largest body of water in Stolen Lands. Surface unusually calm and serene, 900ft deep in places, believed to be hangout of Water Wyrm Hooktongue. Big enough to carry off a bear, back has sharp spikes, not been spotted in a decade, other predators are also in lake, fishermen etc have fallen afoul of blood kamen (type of crocodile), also giant moray eels, also said to be freshwater elasmosauruses.
We spend a day travelling in the boat. As we get close to the Boggards, Cade points out that Mbutu (their name) means “those who swim in blood”.
We see something on dry land that looks very similar to the lizardfolk village. Possibly boggard village. This is called Bone Island. Bones everywhere, with the occasional human skull, but most bones are not human. There are boggards and giant frogs on guard, the rest of the boggards have vanished into caves (it looks like there’s a cave network under the village). We kill the guard boggards and their frogs and move across to the main village area. Tallis looks inside one of the mounds in the village. Excited buzzing of agitated insects from cages along the wall in the room inside. Dragonflies. Leather sacks of food etc on the floor. We go in. A bunch of boggards run past. We follow them. There are a lot of them bunched up protecting their king. We fight. There’s a lot of magic being tossed around. We kill their priest king and they surrender then tear apart his body. His deity according to his holy symbol was pretty obscure, demon lord Gogunta, Song of the Swamp, demon lord of amphibians and swamps. Wasn’t wielding her favoured weapon, he had a morningstar. Rena asks why they called him Heretic, its because he called out to the Legless One as he died, which is a Naga in the swamp, not their god. Eventually after much argument, 12 of them out of 51 survive who agree to not worship the evil deity, and they free a prisoner which is a bogstrider, its a sort of big beetle thing but sentient. Speaks Aquan. We talk to it. Ask if its tribe would be interested in being friends. He can’t speak for his tribe but happy for us to visit them to talk about it. They worship Gosray. Ka-Kekt is his name. Tok-Nikrat is its home. Cade escorts it out to safety and asks for directions to its home. We ask them all for info on the area. We learn about a few places. The boggards slope off into the wilderness. We investigate the boggards hideout. The boggards on Bone Island had potions and weapons, as did the rest of the wardens. In the throne room was an Icy Burst Morningstar, masterwork hide armour and light wooden shield, 2 cure mods, potion of sanctuary, wand of cure mod with 24 charges, wand of poison 9 charges (which we break). Treasure room – COINS 56 pp, 1,287 gp, 2,019 sp, 872 cp, ·five black opals worth 200 gp each, ·10 gold bracelets (each is decorated with a different forest animal motif and is worth 25 gp), ·a box of 12 Taldan-stamped gold ingots worth 250 gp each, ·a cask containing three doses of elixir of swimming, ·and a harp of charming bearing the likeness of Cayden Cailean.
We head off to find the ‘desperate people’ (refugees from Drevlev). 3 uneventful days of travel. We saw wild horses! Then we find the camp, very makeshift. Mixture of people here. 20-30-ish people. They’re arguing a lot when we arrive, no violence, but heated. Several different sides to the argument. Group of clerical types, street performers, and some merchants, in a corner there is a pile of belongings for around 6 people (clearly they have lost people). Arguing whether they should admit defeat and return to Pitax, or admit defeat and go to Drevlev, eventually they shut up an look at us. The clerics are of Hanspur from River Kingdoms (river god), they’re from Pitax. Rena asks what help they need. They were considering going to Drevlev because its better than being eaten by a Hydra. They’re outlawed in Pitax!!! Pitax is CN aligned, the King rules with an iron fist, most people are performers of some sort. Only a very small number have run away from Drevlev. Pitax is ruled by chaos and banditry, Drevlev is ruled rigidly by the Keep and you are executed rather than being allowed to leave. Hill giants patrol the streets at night. No money to repair the town properly, all the money goes to the Keep, despite continual raids by creatures of swamp. They are ok in this camp for a while longer, but lost 6 people to a hydra when they tried to head for Haven. They tell us that Drevlev Fort is in bad repair, everything was put into the Keep, the town is part built and largely empty. The Baron has a young lover, she is a Sukkubus and is behind all of the problems. They have allied with Barbarian Lords, leader of whom is looking for a legendary weapon that will make him unkillable. Drevlev was a plant from Pitax from the start. The wife and Baron’s main man (who is her brother) are pretty pissed off about the lover. 18 people here in total.
Rena Channels Positive to heal their injuries and then creates food and water for them all, they add a few things to make it more interesting.
They will take us to where the hydra is next morning.
Hydra – huge magical beasts, can smell you, see in low light and dark, they have fast healing related to how many heads they have got (12 heads = fast healing +12), you can sunder the heads, at zero heads it will die, they can pounce, snatch and grab, when head is severed 2 more grow back in a short period of time, fire or acid damage will stop this, they fight to the death. Hydra heads do have some value, a perfect one could fetch 1200gp, 600 for undamaged, 110 for a damaged one.
The night passes uneventfully. We set off into the swamp to find the hydra. We find it and kill it. We also get a perfect head. Rena casts Gentle Repose on it. We pick up our travellers and continue onwards.
Set camp for the night. Some of the performers are composing a song about us. We feel like we are being watched. On the wind, we hear the sound of a child crying, briefly. We leave the cohorts with the travellers and go looking. We find a small young girl cuddling a lizard. She’s not talking when we ask her questions. Just shakes her head. Then cries. Amina feels something is off about her. The way she moves is not a child’s movement. She takes Cade’s hand. We lead her back to the camp. She eats the food we give her and sits quietly by the campfire. She curls up to go to sleep. Next morning she comes with us, we head for the bog striders camp.
We hear shrill chirping, sounds angry at first but then calms down, then the one we know comes out to meet us and welcomes us. They don’t deal with many landwalkers but we have proven ourselves different and his father welcomes us. We have to explain that we don’t normally speak the language, only with magic. The child holds out her hand to Amina, who declines. She goes to Rosa instead. She keeps doing that with people. Bogstrider leader says there are many things in the swamp that are dangerous and is happy to tell us about them. A Queen bogstrider casts Create Food & Drink 3 times, for 3 people each time.
Dangers include Quicksand, constrictor snakes, zombies, basilisks, ahuizotl (aquatic beast, bear sized, dog face, large), giant leeches, boggards, calathgars (type of carnivorous plant – acrid scent of vinegar from shield sized blue blossom), there are pit traps, dark naga (lawful evil, detect thoughts but guard their own, love poison, spellcasters), giant slugs, swamp eels, green hags (forest crones, hate all beauty & purity, they can have class levels, disguise themselves as young maidens to seduce young men and ruin their lives, sometimes they eat them), bafidironds (plants), dracolisks, nuckelavee (undead combined horse and rider)), WOW, chulls, shambling mounds, spirit nagas (spellcasters, like poison, ability to charm) , tree ents, a hezru, supposedly adult black dragon(s) very rarely seen…..
Rosa sets up a telepathic bond between herself and the 3 leaders. We suspect this is a shapechanger, possibly even a black dragon. We think her holding hands allows her to understand what we’re saying. We’re trying to work out how to get it to reveal what its really up to. Rena has asked the ancestors and we know it has evil intent. Rosa uses spell Seek Thoughts on subject of it meaning to do us harm. She can’t get through.
The lizard could be an arcane familiar. She spends a good half of the day curled up under blankets, very tired. We try detect magic, it does have a spell on it, and it has magic items in the bag its carrying. Rosa has a level 2 enchantment on her today, and a level 1 conjuration spell on the girl. So we think its a green hag, seems the most likely. Rena casts a spell, and a unicorn appears in the distance. It comes closer but never too close. Sense motive on her and it’s really not right. She’s very excited and says she wants to go play with it. The unicorn shys away, but eventually it approaches her. She goes to pet it. As she does so, one of her fingers turns into green claw to strike the unicorn. The unicorn bleeds. She glares at Rena who falls asleep, then Amina who also falls asleep. Cade fights and Rosa wakes us with magic missiles. Tallis and Aria hear the fighting and come out. The hag is transforming into her real shape. We nearly lose Rosa, but we kill the hag in the end. She has a bag of holding type 2. In it is a bunch of potions and other stuff.
We leave the travellers with the Bogstriders who will do their best to look after them, though they’ll have to earn their keep by helping find food.
So we set off to Drevlev, there is a Chull lair on the way there. Rena is keen to deal with them on the way there.