We had a serious lack of bodies at the table and I was tempted to cancel for the night but the boys that did show were in good spirits and game - so we did some shopping, wrecked the local economy, and then opted to take a trip into an under 5 room dungeon so the: savethe merchant's daughter from the swamp gnolls quest was borne!
It was a beer and pretzels sort of night and that was fine by me as well as the bodies that came. Not every meeting has to be high fantasy and earth shaking decisions.
Write up follows:
For the next few days the party did some exploring of Eider, making some purchases as well as a few contacts around the seaside city. They were able to get a rough map of Quarantine Dockyards as well as a layout of the DTS Rising Current (the tax ship due in about 2 weeks). Mostly they walked about the town and learned the layout of the swampside port city.
The city was surrounded by a bulwark of mounded earth, roughly 2/3rd of the way about the perimeter, 10’ high, 20’ wide, and topped with an 8’ rough timber palisade wall. A single wide gate allows entrance in and out. The northern section of the town slopes down into the Eider Swamps and most of the homes there north of Raised Road are in danger of eventually being dragged into the sodden ground – it’s where activities even pirates want to keep away from the light of day take place and where purchases and sales are done under the fetid shadow of overhanging eaves.
The most curious item is the sewer system. Baronet Wodenlach had a section of the northern area of town closest to the swamp itself dug out and laid in with stone, creating a tremendous pit the size of 8 homes. He placed walls of stones in strange angles and then had immature gelatinous cubes he had purchased placed into the pit. Every day at 6 AM indentured men and women start at the southern most end of town with buckets and brooms and soak the cobbled and wooden streets, sweeping everything northward and downhill until the muck and filth runs into what has been called the Cubic Cesspit and the cubes within devour it all. Every so often bilges are used to pump out any standing water from within the cesspit because as the Baronet learned some time ago – Gelatinous Cubes float.
Around the 5th of Heatmonth, the party was called to Wodenlach Manor where rounding up what members of the group as we could gather (Soren, Olthar, Coruth’tae, Norris, and Arnog) we met with the hung-over Baronet as he entertained a sniveling and weeping man who was begging his lordship for help. His name was Gelain and he was a merchant who traded in belts and buckles, making the trip from Karon to Eider overland, skirting the Eider Swamp to avoid the trade roads. It seemed he might be also trading other items but the Baronet refused to mention it.
What was the issue was that about 4 hours outside of town he had been accosted by a pack of gnolls, 7’ tall, 270 lb hyena-men who lived along many of the old homesteads and manors that the swamp had been reclaiming over the last few decades. His wares had been upset and two of the mules slain, but Gelain’s daughter had been taken and the merchant bleeding and distraught ran here on mule back to ask for help.
Wodenlach asked us to intervene and bring the man’s daughter back safely. We were loaned 6 horses and Gelain led us back to that area of the swamp, easy to see now as the cart had been dumped over and two of the mules were still on the ground, obviously dead with the choice bits of meat stripped from them.
Soren looked the ground over and assured us that between 3 and 8 gnolls had been here and they had gone into the swamp to a dimly seen overgrown 2 story manor house. It had a number of vines and other growth about it and we wanted to check it out from all sides instead of chancing the front door. Giving the place a wide berth we walked through the swamp, looking it over with a careful and critical eye. It was in poor shape, 2/3rd of it collapsed and sodden. What was interesting was that most of the windows and other doors were stuffed fully with bushes, wood, and ropes of vines – making any attempt to enter or exit that way folly.
Soren was able to identify some of the growth as Assassin Vine – a nasty plant that had a habit of lashing out if anyone got too close to it or touched it. We circled the place, getting stuck in some of the more boggy areas, before returning to the merchant. There seemed only the one way in. Norris wondered if there was a 2nd way out on the roof? The group agreed and Norris snuck closer to the manorhouse and then stomped his boots of levitation down, enacting them and wiling himself upward to about 30’. From there he pulled himself closer bit by bit and was able to deduce that there were no other obvious entrances or exits on the roof. However, from the dark doorway two arrows fired out, striking the floating bard once across the arm and the other blasting into (but not through) his armor. He descended and ran back to the group who decided that it was time to storm the place.
Arnog led the way, shield up and ready, taking arrows at him almost every few seconds. The other 4 members ran behind with weapons waving and we tore into the darkness with sword and steel. Soren and Coruth’tae couldn’t see well enough to fire bows and spells so crept in only far enough to allow their vision to flare into the infrared spectrum. Although Norris and Olthar held their own it was Arnog’s controlled fury that took down the majority of the last gnollish blow wielders and ended the fight. Norris had charmed one of them and we used the hyena-man to answer some questions as to the layout of the place, and learning where the merchant’s daughter (and others!!) was being held.
The manor house was in poor condition inside as well, with strands of assassin vine coiled around shadowy windows and breaks in the walls. We walked onward, picking our way through until we came to a split, taking the right-most hallway and walking past a room with a number of gnolls within. Opting NOT to engage those we didn’t have to, Norris sang up a silence charm on a copper coin and we tiptoed beyond the gnoll room and onward.
We listened (beyond the range of the silence coin) and heard a number of gnolls as well as some human females crying. There was a rutting animalistic sound and it was time for us to do what we could to save them. We charged in, half the gnolls were having their way with 4 battered and beaten human females while others were laughing and drinking – only one of them wearing some strapped plates across his chest and sporting a very large battle axe.
The young fighter tore into the gnoll chief and the two of them traded blows swiftly – Arnog very surprised to feel the chief’s powerful thrusts and ripostes even through his own ensorcelled armor! Norris and Olthar took out a few of the gnolls with stealth and sword while Soren stayed far enough back and shot what and who he could. Olthar was slammed hard and went down, a gnoll trying to stab him. Coruth’tae stood in front of the fallen wood elf, his own Shield spell turning the blows as best as possible.
The melee was furious and blood flowed but honestly once Arnog was able to deliver the death blow on the chief it was only a matter of moments before the rest of the gnolls went down. We freed the human females and learned what we could – the women were captured from the surrounding area and the gnolls were selling them to an elven slaver named Tindion – who came by every number of weeks or so to trade with the lizard tribe in the swamp. The women were all between 15 and 19 and except for the merchant’s daughter, had been here about a week and been used by most of the gnolls violently.
We opened up a secret door in the back of the place and slid down to the swamp below, Coruth’tae making sure to take the “silence” coin with him and shutting the place. We then rode hard and fast back to Eider with the merchant Gelain, his daughter, and the 3 women we saved who were a mixture of numb and hysterical. We ended it after we rode up to the gate on Heatmonth the 5th at 4:30 PM and were discussing what we should be doing next.