Southlore - Missing Swamp People Found...Dead...

The mists roll around and over murky waters and soggy ground. Even with the fog, you are able to tell that you are at the right place, as the vegetation has a cultivated look and the remains of fences are here and there. Crossing a small section of water, you encounter your first challenge – a skeleton! Undead evil is not what you expected, although it may help with the mystery of the missing homestead residents.

Using the holy power of Banim, Leia and you destroy the skeleton and another two zombies – these appear ‘fresher’ and may be some of the former inhabitants. Cautiously you move across the next barrier of swampy water. A small bridge brings you to a decrepit pergola and more undead. After accounting for this evil, you search the area and find a small cache of poorly hidden gold.

Heading east, you see the foggy outline of the ruined homestead. Crossing one last swampy stream, you encounter two more zombies and possibly the evil master behind their unlife. With prayers to Banim on your lips, you and Leia confront the enemy. Destroying the zombies with an inner strength, you come face to face with the Thin Man. Wearing torn and blood encrusted clothing, eyes wide and wild, chanting a dark language, he comes straight at you. Banim protects, the evil spells of the madman fail, and you end his life with no remorse.

Heart still racing from the fight, you have a look around the ruins. You find no more enemies, but you do get a clue to the foul force behind the undeath – a small stone alter, bloody, with a symbol at its head – a black steel triangle with spikes coming out of each side. The unholy icon of Kroosh – the Lawful Evil Lesser God of Retribution and Revenge. Your studies have only touched on this evil presence so far, but you do know that he and his followers have an affinity with the undead.

Going back to the body of Thin Man, you discover the alter is not to be present by chance, he also carries the dark symbol as a pendant. You carefully wrap it up and stow it and several other items in your pack. Searching the ruins, you find a trapdoor almost covered by fallen rubble and stones. You and Leia manage to pry it open and descend down the stairs into the darkness.

Leia causes the light of Banim to shine from her blade and you find yourselves in a cellar, table with chairs strewn on the floor and empty shelves on the walls. There are also two small hallways – a single door off the shortest one, and three doors off the longer southern hall. Listening carefully, the only sounds you hear are the slow drip of water and your thumping heartbeats. The first door in the southern hall doesn’t seem to be locked, but is stuck fast – not even your shoulder manages to move it. Leaving it for the moment, the next door you try is locked, and seems to be a better door than the first. At the third door though you have more luck, it opens with a twist of the handle.

You find more evil! It seems the rot of Kroosh has also seeped into the cellar, as a skeleton and a zombie emerge from the darkness. With Banim’s aid, you crush these two, taking some wounds in the process, then deal with another two skeletons that waited in the gloom. The room is large and mostly empty, scattered bones from your enemies litter the floor. A pile of rank straw sits in a corner and splashes of old blood stains the floor. There is a dread in the air which seems to emanate from another small stone alter, very similar to the one you found upstairs. Leia moves over to give the it a closer look, she bends down and reaches to touch the symbol. Her scream of pain echoes in the room, and she collapses on the ground unconscious!

Rushing to her side, you inspect her – it looks like she has pricked her hand on one of the spikes on the alter, there is an ooze of black blood slowly dripping from the small wound. She doesn’t awake even after healing and calling on Banim’s aid. Leaving her in a more comfortable position you see no option other than inspecting the rest of the cellar, including the rooms you weren’t able to enter. The door to the northern room opens easily, and after pausing and listening for sounds, you enter and find only broken crates and scattered rubbish. You try the stuck door again, and decide more force is required. Smashing into it with your morningstar, you batter it off its hinges. Inside you find barrels of ale and dry foods. The door to the final room soaks up more punishment than the stuck door, but it then too gives in to your repeated blows. A smaller room, it contains an old table and a chest, finding no key, you smash the lid of the chest in and discover over a 100 gold pieces!

Exploring done, you come back to find Leia awake and woozy. Helping her up, you move into the middle of the cellar and light a fire for comfort. You keep an eye on both her and the upstairs world. Deep into the night, she arches her back in pain, groans deeply and falls unconscious again. Waking ashen faced the next day, Leia says that she fears she is cursed, but manages to walk and move a bit as the sun rises. The pattern is repeated the next night though.

Seeing Leia doesn’t seem to be getting better and fearing for her if you to stay too long, you both gather yourselves for the journey back to Tolk.



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