Bright new day, we head to the common room. Crea orders pancakes and patiently explains to the minion we have tied up that Krom Who Forgives will light his way to a better path for his life. We arrange for a horse for Tegan the Minion and Herm The New Guy. Crea expresses concern that we are collecting so many small, fragile things.
Meta Note: We’re going to be enforcing material components of spells, e.g., “identify” will cost a pearl of 100g value, so if you want to cast identify, you better have a pearl of 100g value. James outlines some treasure that we have received thus far, it’s a lot. We buy Herm a pony with copper pieces, because we’re jerks. The pony’s name is now Penny. Crea points out to Tegan that Krom rains blessings on people of goodwill. Nesse decides Tegan is her boyfriend.
We head out into the swamp, it’s a couple day trip. The first couple days go pretty well. Nyla does okay considering she can’t see. Crea attempts to guide the horses through the swamp but it does not go well. On the last-ish day as we approach the area of the evil temple, while Isanna is out scouting ahead of the group, her horse suddenly rears up. Looking down, Isanna sees a body in the swamp!
It’s a male dragonborn, dressed in ragged-looking robes, and he’s been dead for a little while. The wounds on the corpse look pretty serious, his arm’s off, his leg is nearly gone as well. It’s possible this is the missing hermit from the grove in town. Cael notices that attached to his clothes is a small brooch, the symbol of her enclave, signifying that he has done some service to her people. Others notice that a small green lizard scuttles up the roots of a recently upturned tree. Nesse feeds it a bit of stuff and he eats her nibbles and says “Salutation"!
No one has any idea what a talking lizard guy is all about. Krom the Wonderous brings surprises every day! Lizard guy looks at dead guy and says, “Companion.” We all have ALL THE FEELS. He tells us his name is Sebastian, the runs up Nesse’s arm. She may have made a friend. We ask where they were headed, Sebastian says, “Incarceration.” Crea is distracted by this amazing talking lizard friend, but everyone else hears a branch snap behind us. They turn around to see a hulking figure rise out of the swamp behind us. He appears to be munching on the missing arm.
Fighty fight! Herm tries fire, it sorta works. Bingo and Cael try arrows, those work better. Crea tries javelins, but her aim is bad. Talhier charges in on horseback and that works a bit better. Isanna botches an arrow shot. Big Ugly retaliates against Talhier and tries to bite him. Herm hits Ugly with another fire spell, and notices that it’s knitting itself back together where the arrows hit, but not where the fire hits. Crea finally gets a hit in, as does Isanna. The creature charges at Isanna, running over Bingo on the way, damn near killing him.
Nesse heals Bingo, bringing him back from the brink of death. Crea rages and feels the power of Krom The Wrathful flow through her into her axe. Then she feels the power of her axe cleaving into whatever the hell this thing is. Talheir and Cael surround it. Bingo’s cloud of daggers flay what’s left of the creature and it explodes into a pile of goo. All over Talhier. Crea burns a bit the creature, and realizes that it’s still moving. Not sure that this came from Krom in the first place, she decides to give it all back anyway and burns the whole mess.
Cael and Nyla find a small pouch in the troll guts. There’s other guts in the bag, along with 12 gold. We give the former hermit a formal burial, with Cael reciting what she remembers of her people’s burial rituals and Crea sending him back to the infinity of Krom. We find a reasonably solid place to camp and take a rest.
Cael takes first watch and hears something in the water. Something big is swimming out there. It gets up on a tree root and watches us and then swims away about 15 minutes later. Talhier takes second watch. Nothing of note happens.
The weather has been clear, but clouds have been gathering, and on day five (the day after the troll fight) the rain starts. Within an hour of starting travel, it’s a downpour. After a while, Teagan says we’ll get there today. A few hours past midday, we enter an area where most of the trees have been cleared and have started to grow back. In the middle, there’s a raised area of dirt that looks man-made. This, Teagan says, looking nervous, is it.
The complex is underground. There’s no need for guards unless they’re expecting someone. We ride up the mound of earth; it’s like a levee against the swamp water, so the area in the middle is the entrance. There are stairs leading down; they do not appear to be trapped. Herm volunteers to go second-to-last.
We do a bunch of rolls about gnolls and whether they build temples with traps and stuff. Probably not, but Isanna is going to hang up front and keep an eye out for traps since the temple has probably been enhanced by the current residents. We advance down the stairs, Teagan in tow for some reason.
The stairs go for a long time, like 80-100 feet. The walls change from stone block to packed earth. Everything is wet and rotten and gross. At the bottom of the stairs, there is a 15×15 room that’s like a wet basement. There’s a hallway that leads in the direction we were headed, and another that leads to the right. We decide to go right, on the basis that we went right a bunch before.
There’s a door at the end of the right hallway. Isanna hears something…froggy-toady behind it? She has the devil’s own time unlocking the door. When the door opens, there’s a fairly large room behind it with a muddy, nasty floor. In the middle, there’s a column supporting an arched ceiling. On the right side of the room, there’s a shelf that comes out of the water. We can’t tell how deep the water is. There are frogs on the shelf and frogs in the water – they don’t seem particularly big or mean. Nesse casts light on a frog. When it dives into the water, we’re able to determine that the water is about three feet deep. On the left side of the room, there’s a threshold that leads to another hallway.
Nesse looks for footprints and sees bootprints on the shelf. There are fewer over by the doorway on the left side of the room. Herm throws some jerky in the water – the glow frog comes for it, and it is promptly swallowed by a 30-pound bullfrog.
We think, “Hey, maybe Teagan can go in the water for us first.” Nesse fails at persuasion, and Isanna fails at intimidation. She gives him the dagger that didn’t intimidate him and they send him out in the water. He tiptoes over to the shelf. He says the bootprints are just kind of milling around, but then he starts brushing at the wall. It’s…plugging an opening? He pulls a plug out of the wall and says there’s another room on the other side.
Crea scoops up a gnome under each arm and Talhier lets Bingo ride piggyback. The rest wade over to the shelf. Herm the buff wizard is nominated to go through the narrow tunnel to the secret room. There’s a drop of several feet on the other side, and there’s a foot locker. He tries to open it. Something is finally goddamn trapped – he’s stabbed with a needle, and he takes some poison damage.
Isanna climbs through the hole. It’s very graceful. She unlocks the box; it’s double trapped, but she avoids the needle. The box is full of coins. On top of the coins are some bracers, a necklace and a rapier. The rapier is very bright silver, and the pommel guard is rounded like a crescent moon. There’s filigree that implies a crescent moon. The necklace is a torc made of reddish gold metal with tassel-like terminals. The bracers are more substantial on the inside, and the straps on the back are very delicate, with flowing, natural patterns of vines growing around an arrow.
Herm and Isanna climb out of the room after scooping out a bunch of money and gems (three pearls that can be used for Identify) and grabbing the items. They give the bracers to Cael. She straps them on easily; they’re totally for an archer and also magic. Herm does an arcana check on the torc and it’s super magical. No details. The rapier glows when unsheathed. It’s proooooobably magic, then. Talhier will probably wind up with it.
We put the plug back in the wall and decide to backtrack to the central chamber. What will happen next? We’ll see!