As the twisted metal of the prison gate clanged in the mud at Cain’s feet a great clamor could be heard in the Dock house as the pirates and cultists threw down their flagons and put down their whores. Swarthy villains burst forth from the windows and poured out the doors in droves as First Mate Keenwright shepherded the beleaguered sailors out into the swamp. Only a few were able to escape before Pharblex Spattergoo, the dread pirate captain emerged. With a wave of his staff, a great thorny wall sprung up between the sailors and freedom.
The heroes went to work on these goons right away. Rowan started with a devastating Cloud of Daggers in the back doorway that sliced each of the cultists that poured out to ribbons. She hypnotized them soon there-after and left them drooling while she rained arrows and insults on the bulliwogs.
Cain, Ossendar and Jarrus waded into the pirates and slew them left and right as they rained down from open windows into the mud all around them. Pharblex, delighted to see Snapjaw , the failed shaman, with his enemies unleashed the full power of his stolen staff, hoping to bind them all with it’s power for his minions to cut down. He was too slow though and soon could tell he had underestimated the power the heroes brought to the battle. With his crew slain and the cultist allies scattered, the bloated bulliwug turned and fled out into the nearby river. Hot on his heels and looking for vengeance, Snapjaw transformed into a crocodile and leaped into the water after him. As Pharblex splashed and floundered Jarrus knocked his arrow and let fly, finding his mark in the back of the craven witch-doctor. From where the shaft buried itself into the back of Pharblex sprouted entangling vines, halting his flight. Between Jarrus’s arrows and Snapjaws rending teeth the leader of the bulliwug pirates didn’t last very long.
Snapjaw waded out from the water with a full belly and the Staff of the Mere in his hands. When Pharblex slew the Snapjaw’s mentor he stole the elder shaman’s staff and with it the power and confidence of the Scaly Death Tribe. Snapjaw was pleased to have it back and with it he led the refugee sailors and heroes back his village to rest and recuperate.
When they returned to the village Velkar greeted them as heroes! The staff and pride of the tribe had been returned and Snapjaw completed his trial and was now a full shaman! Velkar offered to shelter the sailors and their leader while they repaired the Crying Daughter. The heroes decided to follow the advice of Nymuurh and assault the lair of the Black Deaths, permanently freeing the Scaly Death Tribe from the influence of the Cult of the Dragon and returning them to worshiping the Seaflight family of Bronze dragons once again. Velkar warned them of their peril sent Snapjaw and a few of his finest warriors to escort them to the dragon’s lair.
For several days they traveled through the Mere of Dead Men, encountering an array of strange and foul creatures in their path. As they neared the lair the swamp clung to their every step, making their passage incredibly difficult. The air was thick with mist and they encountered a patrol of kobolds and black scaled drakes that they easily slew, but not before a single winged kobold escaped into the gloom.
Some time later they arrived at the rubble strewn hills and muddy pools that marked the entrance to the lair but found it strangely deserted. Rowan strolled up casually to the vine strewn maw and was ambushed by a swarm of kobolds and fierce, evil-eyed lizardfolk warriors. The heroes and their companions battled through their foes and slew them to the last. They felt pretty confident and decided to camp out outside the shallow cave to cure their wounds.
Thoss Fyurnen was not ignorant of their assault and came to the door to pay his guests welcome. As they rested the mighty dragon popped his head out from one of the pools and blasted the party with a fully strength acid blast from his hideous mouth. Rowan managed to avoid the worst of the blast but Jarrus took it full on, which knocked him to his knees and burned him terribly.
Snapjaw confessed he could not follow them into the Lair of the Black Deaths because of a madness curse that befell any of his kind inside the lair. He sent them with his boon and the blessing of the Scaly Death Tribe. The heroes pressed on without their shaman friend into the pool and descended into the dark waterways. After what seemed like an eternity they emerged in a dark and flooded cave. Their light stirred the swarms of quippers and stirges that made the greeting hall their home and the heroes had to scamper up onto nearby logs to avoid the flashing teeth. Ossendar discovered unpleasantly that the logs were home to swarms of ravenous centipedes as well and narrowly avoided them by jumping back into the waters. The stout monk fled to the nearby shore and with Jarrus’s aid slew the pesky stirges one by one.
A little shook up but no worse for wear, the heroes were presented with two paths to press forward into the dark caverns. The way on the right descended into glowing blue waters, beyond which were the snarls and growls of drakes and kobolds. The path to the left splintered and meandered into the darkness through loose roots and mud. From the darkness they could hear the pleas of a young girl in trouble. They decided that way was a better idea and set off.
A short way down the passage they encountered a pair of ravenous trolls. Rowan made clever use of her heat metal spell to burn the regenerative creatures with the embedded arrowheads of Jarrus and soon the horrid creatures lay in smoldering heaps. Battle-tired, the heroes decided that they would take their chances ducking into a side passage and using Rowan’s Leomund’s Tiny Hut spell to take a long rest. A risky move in a dragon’s lair! Time will tell if they are discovered by the lair’s many foul inhabitants and what the repercussions will be.
Luck was on their side that long night and it appeared that their antics thus far were not noticed by Thoss or his minions. Emerging from their shelter, they heard the continued cries of the mysterious woman echoing down the earthen corridors and decided to investigate. A short walk down the corridor brought them to a long and narrow chamber lined with tapestries on one side and alcoves on the other. The tapestries depicted people at feast and the alcoves each contained a defaced statue. The center of the room held a large, still pool that reeked of acid and the far end of the room was occupied by a large stone table and hanging, rotting corpses of all kinds. Upon the table the woman in question struggled to free herself as a hideous troll shambled out from the corpses to consume her. Convinced by the perilous scene, Ossendar and Cain bravely charged into the room to stop the monstrous creature only to fall pray to another. The woman vanished laughing and a faux tapestry revealed an especially large and hungry Otyguth, which promptly bore down on Jarrus. Slamming into Jarrus and Ossendar, the beastly monster flailed and smashed down on them while Cain battled the fearsome troll. Rowan hurled insults and spells to aid her friends. She was dismayed to see the stone door to the chamber slam shut and heard the unmistakable sound of a bar sliding into place on the other side. No escape that way. With some epic blows by Ossendar and Jarrus and a few well placed slices from Cain the monsters fell one after the other. Curiously, they found a locket and some strange Trolls Blood and Acid Resistance potions under the stone table and eventually found a secret door out into a long deserted hallway.
Creeping into the darkness they came upon a series of store rooms and one makeshift bedroom containing a glowing mirror. Inside the mirror the ghostly image of the woman from the table peered mournfully out at them. She begged them for some food and, upon learning that they held her locket and had met ‘Greta the Hag’ (presumed to be the disappearing girl from the other room) asked one of them to let her possess them and kill Greta herself. Greta kidnapped the poor woman when she was a girl and used the trolls blood potions and trolls to perpetually harvest her for fresh limbs. After who knows how long of torment the girl freed herself into the maw of the otyguth, only to be bound to this mirror until she pays back Greta. Cain, moved by her need for vengeance, took on the poor soul and allowed her to hitch a ride until they could catch up with the Hag and put her down.
Stumbling deeper into the darkness the party came upon a larder and battled several hungry carrion crawlers and the fiendish Hag. Her ability to escape the clutches of the party was horrifying.
The next room they came upon was a mushroom filled high ceiling cave where they could hear the roars and cackles of drakes and kobolds near at hand. They warily made their way through the cavern but eventually tripped a shrieking mushroom trap that awoke the sleeping stirge swarm roosting above them. Using some newly aquired arcane knowledge, Rowan summoned a swarm of massive bats! The bats devoured the stirges she was totally OP, yet again. Ossendar decided to creep off on his own down a side path and came face to face with a ‘beholder’! Fortunately one punch was all it took to explode the creature into motes of dust that gently drifted into Ossendar’s lungs. He felt…odd…after that. They pressed on!
in the next chamber they found a half flooded assembly room and the waiting Hag with the remaining forces of Thoss and Cheleen. Kobolds swarmed out of crevices in the walls and fierce black drakes leaped across the room at them. Confident in her numbers, Greta pulled a lever on the wall behind her, causing a collapse in the tunnel behind the heroes. Again, no escape! Greta drifted in and out of sight, clawing and casting her cackling spells as best she could at Cain and Jarrus. Rowan yet again flexed her spell prowess and locked down some of the lizardfolk lackeys with a hypnotic pattern in the air that kept them stupefied. With the dragon’s minions smashed around them Cain bore down on Greta, leaping onto her throat with his bare teeth rending into her flesh in a ghastly (ghostly) display of wrathful vengeance. Successfully achieving the ghosts unrestful wish, the spirit left the paladin and drifted to the ethereal plane to find peace at last. Roused by the ruckus outside his chamber and still deeply overconfident, Thoss slithered from the water and gave the heroes a quick thrashing before fleeing to call home his mistress, Cheleen. Before giving chase they found a magic ring on the Hag and discovered the ghosts locket was magically preventing them from feeling the effects of disease (albeit it also made them crave raw flesh). They called on Nymmurh using their sending stone and pressed on, trusting the great dragon would come to their aid before Cheleen could arrive and surely spell their doom.