Turning a deaf ear to the Lady of Dusk’s pleas, the party descended from the tree, seeking to encircle the hydra before attacking it. Unfortunately, it’s keen senses were able to spot them before they had made it onto the land. Quickly surging up out of the water, the party unleashed their fury onto the hydra. Fortunately for the party, however, the hydra had difficulty reciprocating with it’s own assault, apparently tired from the day’s exertion of chasing Merek around.
Much to the party’s relief, it fell shortly after with no one seriously wounded. Damhsa, quite proud of the victory, removed a few of the teeth and a section of hide deciding to make some boots later. As the Lady of Dusk rushed out to weep over the dead hydra, the party set about gathering up the survivors and Othris’ body, beginning their march out into the swamp.
As night began to fall, the party set up camp. Though things seemed relatively normal, it wasn’t long into the first watch when Othris rose up and began warming his hands by the fire. Damhsa woke up Merek, and the two went over to investigate. With an unnatural lurch, he turned to the pair and spoke with a voice which echoed unnaturally. Needless to say, the party quickly surmised that the nighthags were speaking through his body. They were angry at the desecration of their tree, but Merek warned them once more that if they continued to pursue them, it would only end in their demise. The threat went unnoticed, with the hags declaring all of their efforts would be devoted to giving the party a miserable and painful death.
With this Othris collapsed into the fire, and not wanting to have the man’s body violated further, Damhsa pulled him out until he could be buried. However, he rose up once more when Saurok was on watch, and began eviscerating one of the survivors. Intending not to allow the nighthags an agent in their midst, Saurok decapitated Othris and burned his body. With that, the rest of the night passed without further incident.
The next morning, however, was a different matter. As the party rose, they quickly noticed that the sun was seeming rising in the west. Damhsa took a moment to figure out which direct was truly north, and the party set out towards Mags, not knowing any way in which to end the hag’s spell. However, upon reaching Mag’s hut, the party discovered that the green hag had visitors. Quickly taking cover in the reeds, the party noticed that the Lady of Dusk was making her way towards the hut, excited that she could finally see her home.
Wary of the visitors, the party held the Lady back while they investigated. As they neared the island, they could see that a large contingent of Bee’org’s forces were camped on the island, as well as a masked humanoid who was conversing with Mags. Saurok slipped into the water to investigate further, but was unable to get close enough to hear anything. He did, however, see Mags show a small bundled figure to the masked man, and pointed off towards the night hags’ tree.
The party waited a while observing the island, only approaching once Bee’org’s troops marched off towards the night hags. Damhsa and Merek first went off to the masked man. Their fears that he was there to intercept the Lady of Dusk were allayed as he showed them a wanted poster.
Unable to translate the text at the bottom, Damhsa returned to the party, warning Kiwi to stay back while bringing the rest of the party up with the Lady of Dusk. Once the party rejoined Merek with the bounty hunter, Myrtle cast a spell to read the strange writing. She told the party that it told of Kiwi’s associates (i.e., the party), and their recent activities. Leaving the bounty hunter be for the moment, the party went to speak with Mags.
Saurok knocked on her door, letting Mags rush out to happily greet her sister while he slipped inside to peek at the bundle. Mags, however, was having none of this, stating that the bundle was hers and none of Saurok’s business. The two shouted at each other a bit, before the party interceded, pleading with Saurok to let the matter rest while so that they could get the plague lifted. Though initially not concerned with the plight of the “pink skins”, when he was reminded that lizardfolk were also infected he tromped off back to the survivors, shouting at the party and Mags the whole way back.
After a brief discussion with Mags, in which the Lady of Dusk once more warned Merek of the dark forces watching him and apologized profusely to Damhsa for her loss, the party was able to obtain a totem which had to be burned in the town center in order to lift the plague. Wary of Mag’s pulling something like she had with the insects during their first foray into the swamp, the party warned her that any duplicitous actions would be only cause them to return with the “annoying lizard.” As they left, the Lady of Dusk came up to them once more, stating that “the skeleton man” was waiting for them back in Saltmarsh. A bit of questioning lead the party to believe that this was the servant of the being who spoke to them through the orc shaman. As they walked away, Mags inquired as to the whereabouts of Kiwi, to Damhsa, suspecting that she would sell the party out to the githyaki, lied and stated she had been eaten by the hydra.
Knowing that they would not be able to sneak the entire party into the city with the survivors, the party split up, sending Saurok to sneak into the city alone with the totem, while they waited up the coast for him to send a ship to rescue them. Saurok was able to sneak through enemy lines with ease.
Upon entering the town, he saw pure chaos. Deciding it would be best to seek out the sheriff, Deldrin, Saurok made his way towards the city hall, dodging roving packs of plague victims. Once there, he saw that the doors to the hall had been beaten in and abandoned. Since he was already in the city center, he set fire to the totem. This caused a think cloud of smoke to explode up and out from the city, enveloping it. As the smoke finally began to clear, he saw that the nearby victims were now lying on the ground, still sick, but no longer aggressive.
Making his way through the city to the jailhouse, suspecting Deldrin to be there, he noticed that there were no longer any roving bands of plague victims to dodge. Once he arrived at the jail house, and convinced the door guard to let him in, Deldrin greeted him excitedly. Saurok quickly filled him in on what had transpired in the swamp, and that the rest of the party and survivors needed a ship to pick them up. Though skeptical, Deldrin soon relaxed as they walked down to the docks and he could see what had happened for himself.
As Deldrin and Saurok stood at the docks, watching the ship sail off to pick up the rest of the party, he noticed a single rowboat approaching the shore. In it was a pair of men, one hunched and muscular, the either extremely gaunt and pale. Wordlessly, the pair landed, disembarked, and began to make their way towards the Silver Raven Inn. Suspecting this may be the “skeleton man” the Lady of Dusk had told them about, Saurok took off after him.
As the rest of the party landed, they left the refugees for the guard to deal with. As Merek rushed off to see how his family had weathered the plague, Damhsa went off to hire a tanner to cure her hydra hide. Once Merek had confirmed his family was fine, he went off to the town’s taxidermist, commissioning the Medusa’s head to be mounted.
Their business about town finished, Damhsa and Merek settled into the Silver Raven Inn for a much-needed rest while Saurok went off to visit the Flounder Pounder. Much to his dismay he found it closed for repairs, and set off for the next dive bar he could find. Back at the Silver Raven, Merek and Damhsa spotted the gaunt man coming down from his room for a meal. They went over, and took a seat at his table. He looked up from his meal, confirming that they were indeed Damhsa, daughter of Scottia, and Merek Falk.
Once the two had confirmed their identities, he informed that he had indeed been sent here by his Master in order to secure an alliance. Speaking in a low, deliberate tone, he explained that his Master was a resident of this plane, and only wanted the artifact for scholarly reasons. After a bit of discussion, the party agreed to work with them in this, provided one of the three pieces of the artifact were to stay in their possession at all times.
With the alliance brokered, the gaunt man stood up, taking a deep bow as he introduced himself as Darmonte von Draams. He further explained that he specialized in the identification and research of magical items, management of manors, estates, and the investment of money. Additionally, he had brought with him a contingent of craftsmen in order to have the guild house constructed. Taking him up on his offer, they had Darmonte appraise the jewelry they had taken off of the Medusa, which turned out to be quite valuable. They asked him to sell it for him, and to invest the money for them to create an account to use for the party’s needs.
With this, Darmonte set about his duties, advising that he would contact the party once he had information about the location of the first piece of the artifact. For the next several days, the party set about assisting the townsfolk with repairing the damage done during the plague riots and getting the town guard back up on the walls. Upon returning to the Silver Raven one day, the party found that Darmonte was waiting for them.
Stretching a map out over the table, he explained that he and his Master’s research had discovered the Acanthans were not the only still-living descendants of the Epirans. Another contingent had fled to the West, under the protection of “The Repentant One,” which the party and Darmonte suspected to be Sofiel, the Erinyes from the diary. After discussing how best to find their stronghold, the party decided to take the Sea Ghost, the smuggler ship they had found beneath the Aldrusk manor, and sail up the river across the continent.
As the party began provisioning the ship with supplies and gathering a crew, Darmonte was pursuing a lead on a possible captain for the ship. When he returned, he stated that only one man in town had the qualifications, but not a ship of his own. However, the man was at the Wicker Goat and refused to leave his drinking. Merek volunteered to attempt to convince the man to join them while Damhsa continued the preparations.
Upon arriving at the Wicker Goat, Darmonte pointed out a bedraggled old man with a single tooth, tearing into a bottle of the foulest swill the bar would serve him as he wailed over a piece of paper. Looking at Darmonte slightly perplexed, Merek was reassured that this was in fact their only candidate to captain the Sea Ghost. Walking over to the man’s table, Merek quickly seated himself, ordering a a round for himself and his new “friend,” and told the waitress to leave the bottle.
The drunken man wrapped his arm around Merek, who struggled to contain his lunch at the pungent aroma wafting off their prospective captain. After introducing himself, the man enthusiastically introduced himself as Leofrik and returned to lamenting over his piece of paper. “This is the only captain I want!” he screamed, thrusting the poster into Merek’s face. A quick glance revealed it to a wanted poster for a pirate by the name of Laquita Paprika Bonita, wanted by the Necians for piracy, murder, kidnapping, and a litany of other crimes.
“I know the cap’n!!” Leofrik exclaimed, “She ain’t like this!” Merek sighed and patted the Leofrik on the back, suppressing a grimace as the man’s shirt seemed to stick to his hand. “I gotta find her…” Leofrik murmured, grabbing a swig straight from the bottle as his glass was now empty. Merek nodded and smiled at the drunkard, “I tell you what; you pilot our ship for us, and stay sober enough to do it right, and I will help you find your captain when our mission is done.”
Leofrik’s head jerked up at this, and he eyed Merek carefully. “I ain’t workin’ with no elves. Last one went stark crazy. Even killed his own niece when it all went to hell. It’s his fault I lost the cap’n! The pearl drove ’im mad!” Merek nodded as if he understood. “No elves, I promise. Do we have a deal?”
“Aye, we do.” Leofrik affirmed, raising his bottle to Merek’s glass with a loud clink. Merek chuckled slightly as he finished his drink, and stood up, “Our ship is the Sea Ghost. Move your things and let me know of any provisions we seem to be missing.”
“We needs more rum!” Leofrik shouted as Merek walked out of the tavern, shaking his head slowly. While Merek had been speaking with Leofrik, Darmonte had returned to the Silver Raven. Much to Damhsa’s surprise however, he walked in with Thudrin Kreed, whom the party had previously beaten unconscious. After a bit of evesdropping, she was able to affirm that Darmonte was only managing their investment capital with Kreed, and returned to her preparations.
Soon thereafter, Merek joined her. With the party no longer there to ensure security, Talon and the Falks decided to take the diary to Sasserine for the time being, in order to escape the siege. In the mean-time, Darmonte would remain in Saltmarsh to finalize the construction of the guild house. The captain and crew assembled, the diary secure, and the Sea Ghost in the process of being provisioned, the party was as ready as they were going to be to brave the wilds of the Epiran continent.
Characters Present: Dik Dik, Merek Falk, Damhsa daughter of Scottia, Saurok, Kiwi Fuzzyfoot
XP Award (APL 4): 675
Roleplaying XP Bonus: Damhsa