Session 32: The Threats of the Midnight Marshes
Cast- The King’s Recruits: Edran Laraneth, Fargrim Stoneborn, Hemingway, Horiam and Kriv
Rings of NPCness: Averlon Blackwood, Gareth 2.0, Mia and Nimaketh
NPCs of note: Glavira, Tim “Mr. Giggles” Whitewater
Date: 1st – 2nd Readifest, 1028
Deep within the Midnight Marshes, a fierce battle rages on.
Horiam falls to his knees as his blood begins to flow, intermingling with the swamp water.
As the party struggle to get across the battlefield to save Horiam, the chillborn zombies continue to ferociously attack with their cold magical aura, while the undead skeleton husks prepare to launch another volley of arrows.
Meanwhile, the murky waters of the swamps begin to writhe and bubble, suggesting more undead forms are awakening from their slumber…
Averlon Blackwood scaled up a rotted tree and begins to shoot at skeleton thralls as they try to emerge from the murky waters, effectively pinning them to the soil beneath. Kriv disengages from the chillborn zombies and runs towards Horiam, shouting a healing word at the avenger, dealing him of his near fatal wounds.
As the dragonborn tries to reach Horiam, four spectral hyenas, creations of Meepo’s necrotic primal magic, emerge from a tree stump and surround Kriv, barking and gnashing at his plate armour.
Edran and Fargrim keep the chillborn zombies engaged, attacking them with flame and hammer. The skeleton archers unleash a barrage of arrows at Fargrim and then slowly shamble away to get some distance from the Platinum Knights.
Meanwhile, Hemingway manages to fight his way through a group of skeletal minions, he spots the skeleton archers in retreat and his charges the nearest one, swinging his greatsword with vigour and determination. The Accipitridae tries to rake at Horiam with its talons and beak but the avenger dodges aside nimbly. Seeing that he has recovered from his near-fatal wounds, the carrion spreads its wings and starts to fly into the air. Kriv unleashes a radiant aura around himself, dissolving the spectral hyenas. As Hemingway and Horiam charge the retreating skeletons, Fargrim strides forward and unsheathes Valkyrie and throws the magic javelin at the Accipitridae. He misses and the weapon lodges in to the stump of an old willow tree, before magically returning to his hand. Hemingway cleaves the last skeleton with two swings of his greatsword, cutting the undead in half as the Accipitridae flies out of combat range.
Taking a breath to recover from the battle, the party recover the talons from one of the Accipitridae, valuable as a alchemical reagent when ground to a powder, as two elemental cold crystals from the chests of the chillborn zombies, the source of their magical aura.
The Sleeper in the Marsh
The party discuss the next move in their patrol. After a vote they agree to begin searching the swamps within an hour’s radius of Ravenholm, clearing out any roving undead packs. Fargrim is a little disappointed with the vote, as he had expressed a desire to investigate some nearby caves.
With the vote tallied the Platinum Knights begin clearing out the swamps of small packs of undead zombies (This is done through a series of skill challenges).
After destroying a group of gurgling zombies near an outcropping, the party notice a glittering light emanating from the deep waters of a small marsh lake. Gareth 2.0 walks into the waters and emerges holding someone human-sized. Cradling in his arms is a female lizardfolk, surrounded in a magical glowing aura. As the warforged gently lowers the female to the ground, Edran and Fargrim assess her.
It appears that the female was encapsulated in a magical stasis, a preservation ritual of primal magic. And it appears that the magical aura and has been triggered, she is awakening.
Slowly, the female lizard awakens. Her eyes open and she takes in her surroundings, fixing her gaze on the seven armed and armoured individuals standing before her.
The female jumps to her feet, horrified as she draws out her hands in an offensive spell-casting pose, readying her powers.
Kriv holds up his hands and speaks to the lizard in draconic, attempting to calm and convince her that she is in no danger.
Through conversation, the female lizard named Glavira reveals that she lived in the lizard community called Salemhiss, five days travel east, deep within the Midnight Marsh.
Glavira recounts that she escaped on the day that Salemhiss fell to Meepo’s Wild Hunt, an event that was recent to Glavira’s memory but in actuality had occurred two years ago. In an effort to escape the undead hordes, Glavira had submerged herself in the lake and cast a primal preservation ritual upon her self to await rescue. She is shocked to discover that two years have passed for her.
Seeing the she is still recovering from the shock of her stasis, Fargrim takes out some drinking water, rations and grinds some of the willow bark into a powder and offers it all to Glavira. She looks to Kriv, who vouches for the dwarf (a huge step for Kriv).
The Origins of Meepo
As she drinks and nibbles away at the food, Glavira, now speaking in common, tells the party the events that occurred in Salemhiss in the days leading up to the fall of the village, and the rise of Meepo.
Two years ago, Meepo was a primal warden of noble kobold stock who had travelled to Salemhiss as an adventurer. Like all before, he had come with a party to plunder and explore the untamed wilds of the Midnight Marshes. Under the contract of a Tiefling, Meepo journeyed with a halfing named Mr Sideways, a changeling, an 8-foot tall female Goliath, a warforged and a gnoll who had been very nice and courteous.
One month after significant events that had concluded in the burning down of a tavern, Meepo and his entourage had returned—somehow different. They carried an aura of sinister magic of dread and malice.
Soon after, the undead began to stir and the bodies of the deceased attacked. Glavira had run as Salemhiss burned, eventually hiding herself within the lake.
The Altar of Midnight
The party decide to split up, with half of the Knights (the NPCs) escorting Glavira to the safety of Ravenholm while the others continue their sweep of the Marshes.
The party come across a stone construction consisting of three stone pillars arrayed around a central platform, to which a humanoid skeleton remained chained and covered in swamp vines. Kriv and Fargrim examine the old lizardfolk shrine. While Kriv tries to decipher the old dragonic dialect, Fargrim perceives a pattern of instructions and solves the riddle by offering a plant, a talon of the Accipitridae and his own handprint to the stone pillars.
When he does so, Fargrim is bathed in a magical aura that makes him feel light headed and euphoric. He realises that he has become attuned to the primal energies of the Midnight Marsh, similar to the lizardfolk druids who once lived in the Marshes. At the same time, small hatches open on the stone pillars, each revealing a gem crafted like a tiger’s eye, as well as a magical crystal ball.
Fargrim holds on to the boons, and the party continue their patrol, attacking more zombie minions and animals made feral by the twisted magics of Meepo.
Upon returning to Ravenholm, Fargrim speaks to Glavira about the stone altar, which she identifies as the Altar of Midnight, a ceremonial monument used to imbue the seers of the lizardfolk with their primal powers. She is impressed that the marsh chose the dwarf as worthy of the boons. Fargrim asks of the “social” benefits” of being a Seer of the lizardfolk, a suggestion that Glavira rebukes, doubting that he has been given the power of future-sight. Fargrim tries to use his “gift” to no avail, insulting Glavira in the process.
During the night, the party hear a giant roar echoing across the Midnight Marsh, an inhuman and unknown sound that makes all feel unease. It appears that Harbourd’s reports were true—the undead are marshalling for war.
Fargrim experiences strange and vivid dreams. During the dream he feels spiritually connected to the spirit of the Midnight Marsh, which is in distress as a cascade of energies from multiple planes of existence (like the Shadowfell, the Feywild, the Elemental Chaos) are pouring out into the world from portals and tears like a hundred open wounds—the Marsh is in pain.
When he wakes up from the disturbing dreams, Fargrim seeks Edran’s council, trying to explain his dreams. Edran is able to piece together that these arcane tears are contaminating the natural world and have to be stemmed.
The next morning, 2nd of Readifest, the party prepare to head out in search of some of the arcane tears. They make plans to investigate a series of caves 5 hours east of Ravenholm. Hemingway and Horiam discover that they were bitten by mosquitoes during yesterday’s patrol and have contracted the early stages of Swamp Fever.
After several hours of trudging through the marsh, Fargrim’s druidic senses perceive that they are close of a cascade of energy. Edran is also able to sense that the localised energy has somehow been fundamentally shifted—like the very rules and laws of existence have been warped and mutated. The Eladrin becomes very concerned.
As they rush ahead towards the source of the cascade, the Platinum Knights halt when they hear an unsettling and familiar giggle.
The Spectre of Mr. Giggles
The party are shocked when they recognise the sight of Mr Giggles, the highway bandit that they had killed almost a month ago on the 5th Reapdon. [[Session 23: The Parting of Ways | (Session 23).]]
Fargrim uses his newly acquired crystal ball to sight ahead. Sure enough a foggy image of a ghostly Mr Giggles appears in the ball, standing next to a portal of swirling fire and flame. He appears to be giggling while watching some levitating rocks.
Horiam takes off his sword and hands it to Fargrim, determined that he can help guide the lost soul back to the embrace of his goddess, the Raven Queen.
The shadar-kai approaches Mr Giggles and speaks softly to him. The ghost reveals that his true name is Tim Whitewater, and he slowly remembers that he is dead. Tim reveals that he and his brother had turned to banditry in an attempt to get money to help his mother in Rovnol, but he bears no malice towards the party. He warns that his brother also escaped the Shadowfell and was extremely angry and may be seeking revenge. Horiam realises that the spirit cannot move on until it is sure that his mother, Abigail Whitewater, has been taken care of. Horiam promises to help Tim’s mother, and asks him how he was able to cross over from the Shadowfell.
Tim explains that he did not mean to cross over, but that ”There are more cracks and ways of crossing over now… Something’s changed”. He demonstrates by pointing to the swirling portal of fire, and he points to a rock and changes it into a gold coin.
Edran recognises the vortex as a portal to the Elemental Chaos, and begins reading in his spell books for a ritual to close the unstable vortex.
Horiam convinces the ghost of Tim to travel with them until his purpose has been fulfilled. Edran sends a whisper on the wind to Ravenholm, ordering two Wolves to mount up and ride for the capital to seek out Abigail Whitewater. At this, Tim dissolves into a ghostly cloud and inhabits Horiam’s sword, Twice Blessed.
After Edran successfully shuts the portal, the party continue on the cave system. As they approach, they spot unusual footprints in the mud. Footprints that have burnt the grass and cooked the mud—Something else appears to have cross over into the mortal realm…
GAME NOTES THIS SESSION
-1 day rations
+3 gems (Tiger Eye crafted) 400gp each fenced
+ 1 crystal ball to Fargrim
+ 1 Accipitridae talon (alchemical reagent or 50gp fenced)
+2 blue elemental cold crystals (weapon effect or 50gp each when fenced)
Fargrim’s Druidic abilities (unknown duration)
+2 to Nature checks whilst in Midnight Marsh
+2 to attacking creatures that are not native to Midnight Marsh
-2 to attacking creatures that are native to Midnight Marsh
Once per daily Fargrim may befriend an animal that is native to the Midnight Marsh for five minutes