The Heroes woke the next morning refreshed and set off into the swamp for their return trudge to the Scaly Death Tribe’s village. They had an uneventful journey and arrived at the village by early afternoon. They then presented themselves to Velkar victorious over Narkem and his undead horde. Velkar was impressed (naturally) and the heroes’ status within the tribe rose considerably. Before a feast could be prepared a cry went up and a battle horn sounded! Lizardfolk scurried about securing their loved ones and locking up their homes while the village warriors rallied to their chieftain. Velkar led the group to a nearby overlook and from there they could see several sentries fighting a losing battle against the swamp itself!
Velkar turned to his warriors and the heroes and said “The Creeping Deaths are upon us! Quick- we must fight them off before they get catch the scent of our food stores or the clutches! Without them the Scaly Death Tribe is lost!”
The heroes seized the opportunity to protect their new allies in the Mere and leaped into the fray below. The swamp creatures were monstrous plant creatures given life by some primordial evil and were insatiable in their need for organic matter. They greedily consumed the bodies of the fallen sentries and were rumbling their way directly to the Tribe’s food stores when the heroes caught up with them. They slashed at the hungry walking bushes, leaving one nearly limbless when a second horror engulfed Cain Sundersword outright! Snapjaw had to grab the paladin by his boots and pull him free while Ossendar (The Hideous) Osterius and Jarrus Stormrider found torches they could use to light the creatures aflame and hopefully drive them off. Their plan worked and the monsters were soon shambling away as fast as their roots could take them! Huzzah!
Having secured secret allies against the cult and the bulliwug pirates, the heroes now turned their attention to the nearby dockhouse and the captured crew of the Crying Daughter.
The afternoon of their second day in the Mere of Dead Men was spent navigating the misty byways with their increasingly capable guide, Snapjaw. They encountered a patrol of Kobolds with several fierce Black Drakes they used as mounts. They got the jump on the group and made short work of them. They learned from their battle cries that they served “The Black Ones”, likely meaning Thoss and Cheleen. When they neared the tidal flats that made up most of the harbor they saw several ships in various states of decay and disrepair scattered about. One ship beached along the shore looked familiar and when they crept closer they could see it was the Crying Daughter! Ossendar and Jarrus sneaked aboard and searched the vessel top to bottom for any sign of the crates containing the stolen treasure. No luck. Jarrus concentrated his hunter senses and could tell that the mask warn by the Red Wizard was relatively nearby. Possibly in the dockhouse even? When the two returned to the group they revealed to Snapjaw what they were looking for and the druid had some important information for them. The Scaly Death Tribe had been ferrying crates for the cult between the dockhouse and an old castle many miles into the swamp called Naerytar.
The party gathered themselves and attempted to creep stealthily through the swamp to the dockhouse but were totally busted by a bulliwug patrol. They made short work of these brutes and collected their eyes to give to Velkar. Gross.
When they reached the edge of the small clearing containing the dockhouse and adjacent warehouse they could make out the scene in much greater detail. Sadly, Captain Barnabas met a tragic end. They could easily see his lifeless body hanging from a tree near the docks. Two dozen sailors were locked up in a makeshift prison beneath the dockhouse, which was lifted some 5’ above the muddy swamp by stilts. The jail’s lone gate was obviously locked, but appeared to be unattended. A raucous gathering of pirates and cultists seemed to be going on inside the dockhouse and the windows were lit but grimy. Jarrus and Rowen set up traps at the front and back door and Ossendar and Cain approached the jail door cautiously. As they crept closer they could make out a few uncharacteristically large muddy lumps that appeared to be…breathing? Cain, not one for a cautious approach, channeled his Misty Step ability to close the gap instantly on the concealed sentries and struck down with his sword with all his might. The concealed bulliwug guards fell nearly instantly before the pair’s onslaught! With the guards dead, First Mate Kel’ritha Keelwright approached them from behind the bars and in a hushed whisper said,
“Quiet! That bastard Spattergoo has the only key and he’s upstairs with at least a dozen bulliwugs and maybe half that many cultists. The crew is pretty beat up and we’re in no condition to fight. We need a plan.”
Cain smirked and said, “F that. We’re getting you out of there. Now. Run straight for the swamp and follow our new friend, Snapjaw!”
With three thunderous pulls he tore the gate from it’s hinges and tossed it aside. Many boots scuffled above and several voices could be heard shouting orders as the front and back doors flew open. It is ON!