A theft in the halls of the king is enough to cause a ruckus in any kingdom. However, according to the guards at the bar that night this one was unique. Evidently some kind of artifact was hidden in the depths of the castle under guard from the magicks of the king’s right hand. All signs pointed to the the Black Hand as the culprits. No doubt now it was far away from here and quickly on the way to its final destination.
The king and his right hand sought out the most prolific heroes in the kingdom. They were summoned forth and set out on their way to glory and riches in service of the monarchy. Good riddance to them! Maybe it will leave more work for us to do. But it didn’t take long to see that they were not up to the task.
A week later they returned as hollow husks in the back of a wagon. A sole skeletal figure sat atop the pile of bodies. A shadow of his former self, he sat staring in to his own personal abyss totally unaware of those around him. What could have caused this? These were supposed to be the best and brightest of the kingdom. They were well-trained and well-equipped. Yet, now, here they all are…wasted.
It’s unknown if we were chosen for our bravery or stupidity. Looking back on it, it could have been both…or neither. Maybe we were all too drunk that night to know exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Nonetheless, we took the audience with the king and his right hand. Who wouldn’t? Promises of wealth, patronage, favors, women, and whatever else we could think of passed between us. We took it. We couldn’t turn it down. But we had 8 days to finish our work.
A crown was what had been stolen. The ancient sorcerer king used this crown as the base of his power decades before. The Black Hand had stolen this crown and planned on resurrecting the Sorcerer King at the next full moon. The previous group had a full two weeks to return it, but we have only eight days. Lucky us. Typical.
The only remaining member of the party was well enough to talk with us for a while. He said the trip went well enough for them until they reached the marshes. They were separated from the ranger and lost him entirely. He was the only one who did not return. The others encountered the black fog on the other side of the marshes. There was no way for them to go around this fog. The problems fro them really occurred when they went through here. In the fog they realized it had the properties of emaciating them via their natural abilities of strength, dexterity, health, wisdom, intelligence, and charisma. He was the only one who had survived.
With horses provided from the king, we set off as soon as possible towards the castle that held the crown. We estimated four to five days to get through. After making camp for the night on the near side of the marshes we began going through the “pathway” through the marshes. A canopy of vegetation choked out the sun and made going slow. We noticed though that every few feet a wall of webs appeared behind us. It didn’t take long for the ettercaps and spiders to show up and try to make our life difficult and their stomachs full. We ran them off after dispatching a few. We kept going until the pathway opened up to a A serpentine presence with the head of an old hag stood at the far edge of the pond and instantly began casting spells on us. Swarms of insects appeared but were held at bay by the magic circle cast by the mage. More ettercaps and spiders appeared but they were no match for us. However, the barrage of fireballs were troublesome because while one naga is trouble, three are entirely an ordeal. One more was shown by the Glitterdust spell and the other showed himself when he began casting more fireballs. The mage and priest were OK because their Resists, but the fighter types had to deal with them in their own way. A total of eleven fireballs were cast during the battle, sometimes three in a round. Between the Resists and liberal application of Heals to the Paladin, we survived. These were the cause of all the problems in the marshes so the rest of our journey was uneventful.
We came through the other side and made it to the top fo the valley and saw the Black Fog settle in. We have to go that way. We’re still deciding what to do.