The group decided to head inland in hope of avoiding any reprisals for the death and desecration of the gargoyle king. After about a days march through the mountain pass they made camp about a mile from the edge of the Fogmire, a mist shrouded swamp they would need to pass through to get to the open plains to the south.
Bar-lgura by Ralph Horsley
That night the camp was attacked, the assault was sudden and brutal, both Valdis Aldranna and “Two-Feathers” were taken completely by surprise as two large ape like creatures burst from the trees and pounced on them. A third larger ape seemed to be barking orders from a small hillock, screams came from within one of the tents the passengers were resting in.
As quickly as they attacked, they vanished, stepping back and disappearing into nothingness. Valdis prepared to defend himself shouting the alarm to raise the others, while “Two Feathers” moved to see what was causing the screams in the nearby tent. Shallasar slept on blissfully unaware of the attack. at the bottom of a nearby stream, but the others were roused.
Dalrin woke in time to hear “Two Feathers” say that Tristy was missing, some ape had grabbed her and then just disappeared, thinking quickly he summoned into his mind a picture of the simple silver bangle he had bought her all those months ago with the loot from the Lotus Dragon’s Den, focusing on it he got a bearing of its (and hopefully her) location nearly 300 ft to the south west. He charged off after her without a care the others or the situation in the camp, as he ran moved passed on of the creatures that had become invisible, it was a simple matter for it reach out with a claw and rake Dalrin’s chest, opening four bloody gashes and grazing one of his ribs. Such was Dalrin’s drive to recover his sweetheart he barely noticed the grave injury and calling on spirits of the winds to raise him up he zoomed up into the night sky.
Meanwhile at the camp more screams were now coming from the other tent, the large ape had vanished like his companions, after the battle they would discover Halfast Woodman and his infant daughter were also missing.
Trantil rose quickly grabbing the hilt of his greatsword he unsheathed it with a flick of the wrist sending the scabbard spinning off into the darkness. Within three strides he was powering forward, leaping the campfire and intent of knocking the beast for six if it didn’t get out of his way, the creature decided to stepstep his charge and focused it’s attention on the weaker warmage. Its companion charged across the field of battle it’s location only betrayed by the heavy footprints it left in the mud, and it too joined the melee.
“Two Feathers” fired an arrow into the animal as it appeared, and together Valdis and Tamzana lay down arcane magic. Trantil swung his sword finishing one of the beasts, the other stepped back and vanished once more, Valdis muttered a few words and the pupils of his eyes turned white, as he searched night for invisible creatures “Gone. He reported.”
Tamzana looked down at the one they had killed as she watched the creatures body rapidly aged the rusty red fur of the heavily muscled creature, turned grey, its skin drew taught ruptured and pulled back of the bones, exposing strange internal organs that two rapidly decayed to a pool of ooze, until all that remained was a pile of bones. In turn they too crumbled to dust, the last to decay were the creatures oversized fangs.
“It’s a Bar-lgura, a demon from the plains of the Abyss. They tend to work as scouts or spies for greater demonic forces. They can become invisible, change their form, and form powerful illusions, and from what we have just seen, teleport and handle themselves in a fight.” Tamzana slowly realised that nearly everyone in the camp was looking at her, wondering how she spoke so knowledgeably about black secrets man should not know. “It’s all the book. Erm shouldn’t we go after Dalrin?”
Meanwhile Dalrin was desperately looking for another sign of Tristy’s location, after that initial bearing he had not been able to locate the bracelet again. It had briefly appeared that one time then disappeared, most likely beyond range. Slowly the reality of trying to chase down a creature that move anywhere at will was dawning on him. His initial determination was giving way to disappear as he spotted the larger of the apes hovering in the air before him. In one hand it is holding the Woodman infant upside down by its ankles, rest in the crook of its other arm is the unconscious form of Halfast.
The creature spoke to Dalrin, directly to his mind. “I have lost a mate today, so I think I kill yours. Her death will not be swift; still I find your devotion to your mate touching. I will offer you a choice. I will spare her life today, but this man here will die in her place, do you agree?”
Without a moment of thought Dalrin agrees, unwilling to have Tristy murdered by these foul creatures, but condemning the Woodman family to certain tragedy1.
“She lives for now, but if you continue your foolish heroics and she will not. Tonight she is my plaything.” The Woodman child woke starting to scream, “Ah this maggots cries grow tiresome, here have the brat.” With that he let the child drop, then vanished. Quickly Dalrin summoned a whirlpool portal flying through it to appear beneath the babe, catching it safely.
Back on the ground the adventurers had set of looking for Dalrin, but were making little progress through the swamp, luckily they spotted him as he was returning with the Woodman baby. After some disorientation in the mist they managed to regroup with the others did their best to catch some rest.
The next morning there was a short debated about if they should abandon those that were kidnapped and try and skirt the swamp as best they could, or head into the Fogmire in hopes of recovering those that were taken. Dalrin and Melantha Woodman were insistent in not giving up hope, while Valdis suggested it would be foolish to risk everyone for the sake of just two, they should cut their loses and run. In the end they walked into the swamp and were quickly embraced by its mists.
Progress through the swamp was slow, both due to the terrain and the fact that it was easy to get lost. At one point Dalrin attempted to climb above the mist to get a bearing, but somehow he could not leave it. Every time he climbed into the sky he would some how get turned around and end up descending when he thought he was still climbing.
Dalrin attempted to contact Tristy via a sending, he wanted to ask her if there was anything she could tell them that might help them locate her the demon had suspected he would try this and had given her a message to lead the adventurers to ruins within the swamp where they would end up trapped for eternity. Rather than deliver the demon’s message in a touching message of love, Tristy begged Dalrin to leave her and escape while he still could. Contacting her again, he asked for the original message, and the group agreed to spring the demon’s trap as the only hope of finding the missing companions.
Locating the ruins was simple once they looked for them; all paths seemed to lead to there. The ruins were moss-covered and ancient although not of Olman architectural style lacking the pictograms that decorate most Olman structures. In the centre of the ruins was a fire pit, burning as if the adventurers were expected. As they entered the ruins a figure was visible bound upside-down on X-shaped frame, like the one Nurbir had been found on. Like Nurbir the figure on the cross was dead, a gaping wound in its chest where its entrails had been removed. Next to this body was a head impaled on a spike, its mouth open and defiled in a similar fashion to Trantil’s treatment of the gargoyle king.
Melantha recognised the severed head as her husbands and flew into a rage, beating her first on Trantil’s chest. “You did this, your barbarity caused this, this was my husband now look at him.”
Amella quickly dragged her off the brutal warrior, trying to calm her nerves “It’s not his fault Melantha, he didn’t kill Halfast.”
Anson came over to hold his mother, as she gently rocked back and forth crying with grief, all the while he stared at Trantil rage in his eyes. Dalrin looked on, for once he found himself unable to offer comfort.
by Warren Mahy
As the adventurers approached the ruins the corpse lashed to the frame spoke in broken Common.
“Welcome to my home, travellers. You come a long way only to stay here forever. At least you live. That is good for now. My home is your home, now and forever.”
The adventurers spoke with the inverted zombie for a time, trying to learn about the Fogmire, and the demons that attacked them. The zombie who identified itself as Golnura responded as best he could, but apologised for gaps in his knowledge, blaming the maggots that eaten away parts of his brain. Golnura spoke only in dour tones of the doom that awaited them; whenever they asked how the situation might be resolved he reminded them they would be here “forever”.
Trantil offered to end the sorry creatures half-life, this was the first thing to lighten Golnura’s mood, he smiled, “Please, perhaps free of my body my spirit could find some way to escape this place.” Trantil put a swift end to the zombie, it’s last words were “Thank-you” as the greatsword came down.
They made camp that night in the ruins, for the second night in the Fogmire, “Two Feathers” suffered nightmarish dreams of a demon-infested forest near an ocean. Tanmaza had suffered the same vision the first night and was reasonably certain it was a layer of the Abyss, they dreamed of.
The following morning Dalrin attempted a locate object again on the silver bangle again and was rewarded with a hit that it was somewhere about 500ft to the west of the ruins they were camped in. Leaving the passengers guarded by the remaining crew our brave adventurers headed off into the jungle hopeful the kidnapped damsel could be rescued.
1 His bargain with the demon is known only to Dalrin (currently).