Burning Sky Session 20

We decided to check out some other boat merchants, and landed on a carpenter, currently busy making what appeared to be a coffin.

“Greetings,” the man looked up. “How are you today?”

“Good day,” Cyrus replied. “We were wondering if we could buy a boat from you. Do you make them?”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” the carpenter replied. “I've actually got a couple out front. Don't know if you saw them…”

“Yeah,” Cyrus confirmed. “What sizes are they? Are there any that could hold all of us?”

“No, I don't have any boats that big,” the carpenter explained. “The boats I make take three people.”

“So we'll need two boats for six people,” Cyrus indicated.

“The boats are 100 golds each,” the carpenter said.

“That other guy was throwing in a keg of beer,” Cyrus hinted. “Maybe you can lower the price a little bit.”

“Yeah, he's a bit of a…” the carpenter hesitated. “I won't talk badly of my neighbors, but look, I don't mean to be difficult here, but supplies are very short and demand is very high. That's really just the price of the boats.”

“Listen,” I chimed in, “I understand you don't want to talk badly about your neighbor. But in my opinion, you seem like a much more reasonable, not to mention skilled merchant. I'm wondering if there's anything you can do if you can give us a discount if we get a second boat.” Leaning in close, I added with a grin, “I hate to leave these ladies behind.”

The carpenter glanced at the rest of our companions, stroking his beard.

“Look, I'll tell you what I'll do,” the carpenter offered. “I'll throw in a couple of the poles that you're gonna need. Those are worth five golds each. You can just have those. That's ten golds worth of stuff. So you get the boats and the poles and you'll be all set.”

“Fair enough,” I relented. “I appreciate your generosity.”

We all chipped in to pay the 200 golds for the boats, with Xireas covering for Crystin, and the rest of us covering for Torrent, who could only spare one platinum.

“You seem like a pretty able bunch,” the carpenter noted, collecting the coins. “I presume you’re going to the swamp, yeah? Do you need portage? Do you need any folks to help carry these boats? It’s probably another ten to fifteen miles to the swamp.”

“Probably not,” Cyrus replied, shaking his head. “How long does it usually take to cross the swamp?”

“The swamp is about thirty miles long,” the carpenter explained. “So you got a day or two in the swamp. Not a terribly long journey.”

“Great,” Cyrus replied. “We're fine.”

Dragging our boats, along with the poles, we headed out.

It was slow going, and it took us the entire day just to travel fifteen miles of heavily trampled road to the edge of Sour Lake Swamp. It was clear from the scattered campfires and debris that the many people were frequently attempting to travel in this direction.

That evening, we were generally exhausted as we made camp. The remaining rays of sun filtered through the trees and into the swamp. The night was loud with a cacophony of night sounds, frogs and other critters of all kinds. As the sun gradually set, it became dark and bleak.

In the morning, we lowered our boats into the murky, mucky, waist high water of the swamp and pushed off with our poles.

Cyrus and Ulfgar took turns pushing the lead boat, with Xireas in the middle, while Torrent and I took turns pushing in the following boat, with Crystin in the middle.

The swamp was as bad as we imagined, with snakes hanging from trees, constantly harassing mosquitos, and damp smells. It was amazing how much life was in this place, and yet it was equally dreary and depressing.

Occasionally we could see the tops of what seemed to be gators scurrying away as our boat came through the area.

There were not a lot of places to camp out, but in various places we spotted half sunken boats with holes in the hulls, and decomposing bodies on the sides of the swampy road.

At the end of the day, we found shelter in two rocky outcrops elevated out of the water.

On the ground we found signs of previous campfires and other debris, indicating it was a frequent waypoint to take a rest.

Tired from polling all day, we tied our boats to a small tree before taking out our rations and preparing for the night.

As we were eating, we saw a light in the distance. It appeared to be hanging from a pole on a boat, slowly approaching from the west.

At Cyrus’ suggestion, Xireas and Crystin hid at the far side of the tiny island.

Suddenly, from the boat, we heard a female voice singing a mournful song. The melodic tune was compelling and enthralling, drowning out everything else.

As the boat reached the shore of our island, Ulfgar greeted them, “Hail and well met. Are you seeking respite here? It's a little crowded.”

“Yes, we seek a place to stay for the night,” an elderly voice replied. “Will you give us shelter?”

On the boat were two robed women, one with strands of bone-white hair hanging across the face. The other was leaning on a twisted staff, from which swung a flaming lantern.

As we all watched the women approach, Torrent was surprised from behind by a crocodile that reached out of the water and grabbed her.

With an incantation from the staff wielding woman, we were all suddenly engulfed in a stinking cloud of nauseating gas that obscured most of the island.

Skeletons emerged from the swamp, dragging themselves onto the island.

One stabbed Cyrus, and another stabbed Xireas.

Crystin escaped from the stinking cloud, flanking Xireas’ attacker.

Retching and reeling, Ulfgar ran over a boat to a smaller island, nearby.

Also, retching, Torrent managed to cast spiritual weapon, and managed to keep the crocodile from dragging her down.

Xireas hit her attacker with three magic missiles.

Cyrus was reeling too heavily to do anything else.

Torrent, Cyrus, and I were enveloped in webs, along with two of the skeletons.

Though still reeling, I was able to avoid getting stuck in the webs, and move onto a boat, just out of the stinking cloud. I hit the gray robed lady with my spiritual weapon, who then pulled out an unrecognizable holy symbol and cast a spell at me, but it had no apparent effect.

A skeleton climbed out of the swamp onto the nearby island and stabbed Ulfgar. Another climbed onto my boat and stabbed me. A third climbed out of the swamp and swung blindly at Cyrus.

Xireas cast shield to avoid being hit by a skeleton, but was still hit by another skeleton that climbed up out of the swamp behind her.

Crystin killed the skeleton between her and Xireas with a magic missile, and injured the one behind Xireas with two more.

Ulfgar hit the cleric with a fist of unbroken air, before getting stabbed by a skeleton.

WIth a chill touch, Xireas shattered the skeleton behind her.

Composing himself, Cyrus slashed a nearby skeleton with his green-flame blade, green fire leaping to the skeleton next to it. Both skeletons stabbed him in return.

The stinking cloud disappeared.

The staff wielding woman hit me with three magic missiles.

I cast spirit guardians, but the cleric, wincing in pain, dispelled it while avoiding my spiritual weapon.

Crystin let out a blood curdling scream as she was stabbed in the back by a skeleton that dragged itself up out of the swamp. In a panic she hit it with three magic missiles.

Ulfgar whacked a skeleton with his staff and kicked it.

Maneuvering free of the webs, Torrent hit the crocodile with her spiritual weapon.

Xireas cast toll the dead, killing the skeleton attacking Crystin.

A skeleton crawled out of the swamp next to me.

A slender black-haired woman wearing a thick green hide emerged from the swamp, near the small island where Ulfgar fought. .

Free of the webs, Cyrus slashed the skeleton again with his green-flame blade, green fire leaping to the skeleton next to it, destroying both of them.

Torrent was dragged into the shallow water by the crocodile, but managed to hang on to the nearby boats.

The wizard with the torch-staff hit me with three magic missiles.

After hitting the cleric with my spiritual weapon, I cast spiritual weapon, but the cleric winced in pain again and dispelled it.

“Oh my God, I'm bleeding!” Crystin screamed in panic. “I'm gonna die.”

As Ulfgar shattered a skeleton with his quarterstaff and began to come to my aid, I yelled, “No, I don’t need any help!” and motioned to the woman near him. He donned his hand claws as he approached her.

With destructive wrath, Torrent cast a massive thunderwave, sending the dead crocodile flying into the swampy water.

“What the hell is all this?” Xireas yelled as a bright streak flashed from her pointing finger and then exploded into a fireball, engulfing the two women on the boat and incinerating a skeleton next to me.

The web disappeared.

The black-haired woman grabbed a raggedy piece of wood out of the water, and the shillelagh began to glow with a magical energy as it struck Ulfgar.

Two armored skeletal warriors climbed up out of the swamp, one next to Cyrus, and the other onto the back of the boat with me.

Cyrus stabbed the wizard, but was deflected by her shield.

The wizard waved a feather at Cyrus and he dropped to the ground in a fit of laughter.

Holding up my hammer and channeling divinity, I called, “In the name of Moradin, crawl back to the dank places you came from!”

The skeleton next to me crumbled into dust, and the one behind it turned to flee.

Crystin hurled a bolt undulating, warbling mass of chaos toward the cleric. The chaos bolt hit the cleric and then leaped to the wizard, and then toward the skeleton, but fell into the swamp. The wizard screamed as blood came out of her ears and she fell into a heap in the boat.

Ulfgar whacked the druid with his staff, and managed to avoid most of the flames that surrounded him from her hellish rebuke. With his hand claws, he hit her back with a stunning strike.

Wading toward the island and drawing her mace, Torrent hit the woman with her spiritual weapon.

Xireas hit the cleric with three magic missiles.

Rolling away from the skeletal warrior swinging down on him, Cyrus stood and slashed into the cleric.

After hitting the cleric with my spiritual weapon, which was finally enough to put her down, I cast a guiding bolt as I maneuvered across the boat and onto the smaller island, but the flash of light streaked harmlessly into the swamp.

Crystin hurled another chaos bolt, hitting the druid, who was then bashed by Ulfgar’s quarterstaff and slashed by his claw, then smashed by Torrent’s mace, and hit by three magic missiles from Xireas.

Suddenly we were engulfed in darkness, but could hear a splash of water from where the druid had been.

The skeletal warrior slashed into Cyrus, who swung back many times, but failed to retaliate and summoned a second wind.

Dashing in the darkness, I navigated back onto the boat, but fell into the water and had to drag myself back onto the shore, and fortunately out of the darkness.

Blasting it with three magic missiles, Crystin killed the last skeletal warrior.

There were no more enemies in sight, but the dome of darkness was still covering the smaller island.

We called out to Torrent and she was able to make her way out of the darkness, which disappeared soon after.

As Cyrus lit the campfire, we began gathering the bodies and checking their possessions.

Checking the cleric, I found a brass key, a platinum ring, and a vial.

The wizard was wearing what was once a beautiful dress, but was now dirty and torn.

Removing the wizard’s dress, I cast mending on it.

Cyrus bundled it up and put it in a sack, along with a second platinum ring.

We retrieved the wizard’s spellbook for Xireas, and Crystin took the wizard’s torchstaff.

I cast detect magic, which indicated that the vial was a philter of love.

I dispersed 40 golds and 15 silvers to my companions in exchange for the cleric’s platinum ring. Cyrus did the same for the wizard’s platinum ring.

“Where do you suppose they live?” Xireas asked. “You think they live far from here, out here on these damn boats, hunting?”

“We should find their lair,” Cyrus suggested, “cause we have their key.”

“Maybe there's something there,” Xireas agreed.

“Hopefully not too far,” Ulfgar added.

I mean, if they're out on these three, you know, on these, on these dinghy, they can't. I mean, they can't be from, they can't be all that far, right?

“In the morning I can cast locate object,” I offered, “and if she's within 1000 feet…”

Pointing out that, with the bad weather, we might have a better chance tracking the druid sooner rather than later, Ulfgar and Cyrus began searching for tracks before the rains could pick up and wash them away.

I cast guidance on Ulfgar, who quickly spotted telltale signs of where the boat had moved through the trees and parted the reeds.

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