Since I’ve been double-writing with the D&D campaign and this blog, per suggestion from my dad I’ll use one of my posts for the week to discuss the story. Since I know a couple of the players have the link to this blog, I’ll only be posting notes from sessions that have already run. We play on Thursdays; this will become either my Friday, Saturday, or Sunday post. For today, though, I’d like to give a rundown of the session we had this past Thursday.
Background information: Our four adventurers met one another in the small town of Vrazen Glade. Located next to a mysterious marsh, the town is a hub for strange magical phenomenon. The locals are untrustworthy of outsiders (and admittedly racist against non-humans). This town is an outpost on the way to the city of Tereod, the trade hub of the region.
Our party includes Elzeni Copperbraid, a female dwarven war cleric, on her way to find a new temple; Gantar Reysys, a male half-elven sorcerer with a flair for the dramatic, looking for his next mark to swindle; Storm Hale, a male human rogue looking for loose coin purses; and Aymer Elatris, a male wood elven ranger looking to make a fortune after a life spent in the wild.
In their first session, the party helped local bookseller Tobias Thornburrow clear his house of haunting. This haunting turned out to be moon rats drawn to the power of an amulet of Selune the Moonmaiden. After dispatching the moon rats, the party returned to the Misty Moon Tavern for a night of ale and rest.
Upon waking, the party is greeted by the tavern owner Elias Moonwood. He serves them a hearty breakfast and thanks them again for solving Tobias’ problem. Before continuing on the road to Tereod, the party stops in at Balian’s Baubles, the local store, looking for weapon upgrades and magical items. The store’s owner, Balian Thorngood, greets them cheerfully.
Aymer inquires about the purchase of rapier, a weapon that Balian unfortunately doesn’t have. As they discuss magical items, Balian asks if they are the group of adventurers that helped Tobias. Upon finding out they are, Balian says, “I want to thank ye for setting the wee lad straight. I’ve been tellin’ him the only curse ’round here is that burned house.”
When pressed for information, Balian tells them he’s already said too much. If they want to know more, they should talk with the widow of the man who burned it down, Illara Euthami. Illara is a herbalist by trade; her shop is located next door to Balian’s.
They knock on Illara’s door, asking to speak with her about the burned house. She apologizes and begins closing the door, pausing only when they mention they helped Tobias with his problem. She invites them inside the small shop. It’s lit by a couple scattered magical orbs, mixing with the herbs hanging from the ceiling. She sits them down and tells her tale:
“I met Alyn six years ago. I’m a herbalist by trade, and I hired him as a guide through the wilderness. We fell in love and married later that year, making a living together. We moved here about a year ago for the rare plants that can be found in Vrazen Marsh. Everything was fine at first. We were happy. Then Alyn started having nightmares. It doesn’t sound so bad, but he couldn’t shake them. Every night he would dream the same thing: a room with a black marble floor and walls lined with red curtains. In the center of the room, a beautiful woman stood next to a bed, offering herself to him. She would tell him to do terrible things to those around him and then she’d be his. He resisted the dreams as best he could, but Alyn’s health started deteriorating. He never wanted to sleep, using whatever methods he could to stay awake as long as possible. It was hard, but we were making it work.
Three months ago, everything changed. I woke to the smell of smoke. I turned to wake Alyn, but he was gone. I saw him through the window, staring at the house, holding a torch in his hand. I rushed out of the house, but by the time I made it to safety he was gone. He had disappeared into the marsh. I tried to follow him, but the marsh is dangerous to those who don’t know where to step.
I know all the villagers think he’s dead, but I swear I can still feel him with me sometimes. Alyn and I were planning on opening a shop in Tereod. I can’t bear to do that without him. If you are willing, I can offer 250gp each if you find him or find out what happened to him. Please.”
Our adventurers agree to the task, not afraid of the marsh, taking a couple small healing potions from Illara before entering the dangerous place. The marsh is dark, patches of sunlight leaking through the canopy of twisted, malformed trees sprouting on the small patches of land. The air around them is eerily still. It’s a rough terrain to travel, the murky pools holding deep plunges into unknown depths.
After wandering progressing in the marsh for two hours, they see a winking light ahead, what looks like maybe a lantern, moving away.
Following the light, it seems to blink in and out. The party follows it for about half an hour before coming to a small clearing with a ray of sun shining down through a break in the trees. The lantern has disappeared, but in the clearing they see a young woman. She looks to be either a human or a half-elf, and she’s humming an old tune while tending to some sort of plant. As the party approaches, she turns, a little startled.
“Oh! Hello there! I didn’t hear you approach. What brings you to the marsh?”
They talk with the woman, Ethel, learning that she lives in the marsh since her family kicked her out. She’s elusive on the topic of their family, clearly something she doesn’t wish to discuss. They ask her about Alyn, if she might know where he is.
“Well…” she tells them. “Lots of people visit the marsh for ingredients. What can you tell me about this man?”
After hearing about his strange behavior and state upon entering the marsh the night of the fire, Ethel’s eyes light up. “There was a strange man that came into the marsh a couple months ago! He was muttering to himself as he walked. I followed him for a bit. Do you have a map? I can mark where I saw him.”
The party, unfortunately, does not have a map.
“I might have a spare one in my cave. It’s not much to look at, but I call it home. This way.”
Ethel leads them to a small cave opening. There are bushes slightly masking the cave’s entrance, making it hard to spot. The cave itself is dark, the only light coming from the campfire in the center of the open space. Stalagmites rise up from the floor in a haphazard pattern.
“Sorry about the dim lighting. I’m afraid I’m not much good with light magic. I prefer dark.”
As she says dark, her form twists and shifts, revealing a hideous bent crone. She smiles unevenly, cackling as she stretches up to her full size (about 6 feet tall). As Ethel attacks the party with her claws, the blinking light from before flares into view near the top of the ceiling. Aymer notices and fires an arrow, skewering the small form. It shrieks out as it falls to the ground, the light fading. Elzeni focuses in on Ethel, hitting her with a holy beam, causing her twisted form to glow in the darkness.
As they party descends on Ethel, she backs away, hiding behind one of the stalagmites. She vanishes into thin air, three more lights flaring into view.
“Ethel!” Elzeni yells. “Call off your minions and we will let you go in peace.”
They feel a cackle echo around them, the walls reverberating with the sound.
“There’s no guarantee you’ll honor that bargain. But as a show of good faith…”
One of the lights vanishes, the other two still hovering 15ft up in the air. The party moves to block the cave exit, hoping to trap Ethel, Gantar sending a firebolt through one of the lights. It shimmers as the firebolt passes through it. Realizing the ruse, the party dashes for the cave entrance, the lights winking out as a splash of water outside indicates Ethel has made her escape.
Disheartened, the four search the cave, looking for clues. They find a few magical trinkets and a crumpled, bloody map of the marsh. On the map, there is a red X marking a spot northeast of Ethel’s cave. As our party leaves Ethel’s cave, the sunlight through the canopy is fading. They walk for about an hour, the marsh growing dark around them, until they find a big enough patch of dry land to make a camp. Gantar takes first watch, hoping the night is uneventful.
Obviously these summaries are a rough account of what happened. I won’t pretend to remember the exact dialogue in each session, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the adventure the players are going on. This is their first main questline. I’m excited to see what they do next!