Thursday, August 25, 2005
Chapter 4. Apr 16, 2005.
We quickly found out that we had come to Eru-Tar as planned, but the magic of Yuan had apparently broken some sort of law in the town and as we landed right next to a group of local lawmen we had a problem. The expedition of the Black Hand had arrived before us and ended up in a fight with the locals killing four of them and they now suspected us to be more of the same kind. Their captain Barin decided to detain us until it was made clear that we were harmless visitors. No one in the party rejected to come with them even though it didn’t look very promising to let ourselves arrest and give up our weapons. But after waiting for some time in a cell we were released and set free without any more obstructions. We were told that The Black Hand had arrived before with an expedition of six people – four humans, a half orc and what had appeared to the locals as a ‘little dwarf’, all equipped with a medallion with the symbol of the Black Hand. They had travelled into the Blood Marsh.
We estimated the journey to the Blackstone Keep to last around ten days and went out to buy trail rations and equipment. It was decided that Taliesin should go first using Zarlag’s map, as Taliesin knew most about how to navigate in the wild. But after a few days in the cold swamp we were attacked by a large acidic ooze that grappled Taliesin and besides hurting him badly destroyed most of his equipment as well. A brave attempt to fight back the creature cost Anarion his sword, but at last the party succeeded in killing it.
Now we stood in the middle of the swamp – Taliesin without his quarterstaff and clothes, Anarion with no sword and all of us soaked, a problem that quickly got serious, as our clothes no longer could warm us. Therefore we decided to hurry back to Eru-tar to get some equipment for Anarion and Taliesin and dry our clothes. Finishing that we set out for another try to get through the swamp, this time knowing how essential it was to avoid getting soaked. This time after a few days’ travel we came to a little lake that unfortunately housed a five-headed cryo-hydra. This creature was known to Taliesin who knew how to fight it and immediately lit a torch to be able to burn the wounds after a head had been cut off to prevent it from growing out again.
But the creature used it’s mighty breath-weapon which hit Taliesin and Luke. Taliesin was immediately sent to the brink of death and lay still, bleeding and unconscious and Luke was nearly struck unconscious as well. Luckily he managed to stop the bleeding of Taliesin’s wounds and carried him away to avoid any more attacks from the hydra’s terrible breath-weapon. But in the meanwhile Paheri had been caught in a terrible fight with the hydra. Badly wounded and almost unconscious he realised that the only way he would be able to defend himself would prevent him from attacking the creature and it would be very hard to flee because of his condition and the hydra’s long reach. But he chose to buy the party time to escape and valiantly kept fighting until the hydra at last broke through his defences.
This heroic death was a hard blow to Taliesin and Luke whose friendship with Paheri went a long way back. Now the remaining members of the party decided to try and sneak back and recover the paladin’s body to make it possible to show him the honour of a funeral. Luke made his way back without being seen by any of the hydra’s heads and returned with what remained of the paladin.
Now the party was in a difficult situation – to go on weakened without the paladin or give up and return to the city. We decided to go on, giving the mission one last shot. This decision stood even after a tough meeting with a large snow spider that left Taliesin and Anarion weakened after being poisoned by its bite. But a strange black fog combined with a strange black frost forced us to spend a couple of days resting, the poison’s debilitating effect stopped.
Continuing our journey we at last made our way to Zarlag’s dwelling where we met Krudin who gave us some good advice about finding our way. The next four days passed without any attacks, and even though we missed the Ghoul Bridge we managed to find the Potionmaker’s house. She showed to be an old hag who grossly overpriced her potions and as our attempts to charm her didn’t succeed we had to settle for some very important, but also very expensive potions. She warned us about scrags at the keep and told us it was slowly sinking into the swamp and therefore most likely would be partially flooded.
Two days later we reached the keep to find it lying on a low island surrounded by 90 feet of icy cold water. As the sight of a rowing boat on the opposite brink told us that the the Black Hand had come first we decided to wait for their return with Fiend’s Embrace. They came in the middle of the night and as our ambush worked perfectly the three remaining members of the band were quickly finished off. As we now had Fiend’s embrace we returned to Eru-tar without meeting any problems. We met a stranger though, who seemed to know quite a bit about our quest and wanted to come with us. His name was Naxxar, and he seemed to be some sort of spellcaster. A bit suspicious about a complete stranger knowing so much about us, we asked Yuan if we could delay going to Glamis until we had found out whether we dared trust the stranger or not. Taliesin would not be able to ask his deity for help before midnight so we decided to wait until then. Under Taliesin’s spell Naxxar managed to convince us that we at least could agree on taking him with us to Glamis.
Yuan sent us back to Glamis and we arrived late in the night. We decided our errand was important enough to wake Arakk up and went directly to his house. Arakk asked for time to appraise Fiend’s Embrace and payed for our stay at The Golden Lion Inn for as long as it took. The next day he came to us at The Golden Lion and told us that the value of Fiend’s Embrace amounted to 26500 gp, but that he didn’t have the sufficient money to pay us. He could give us the 2500 gp immediately, but had to pay us the rest in monthly rates of 2000 gp. We accepted the down payment, but told him that we would rather have him owing us a favor instead of the monthly rates. He of course accepted and thus the quest for Fiend’s Embrace had come to an end.