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Number of posts : 761
Registration date : 2007-04-26

PostSubject: Bogged Down   Tue 20 Sep - 17:49:42

Bogged Down

With uncharacteristic and one might almost say indecent haste,* we proceeded back to report to Neuman again. He showered us with silver** in gratitude for our hard work and fully endorsed our plan to search out the temple where the mutant monster Karl had been found by Osric, seven long years before.

*Although not when compared to last week’s account.
** If twelve schillings each constitutes a shower. Perhaps a little light drizzle would have been more accurate

We entered the so called cursed marshes, so called by the cowardly citizens of Marienburg because of the certain death that awaits the foolish or unwary there.* We travelled cautiously amongst the verdant greenery at the edge of the marsh, which crept to the very walls of the great city, searching for the guide Jekyll who was our only hope of tracking down the chaos cult’s temple.

*Anyone else worried where this is going?

The marshes formed an impenetrable morass that defended Marienburg more effectively than any army; bottomless bogs that could suck down a behemoth in seconds; mires that swarmed with untold numbers of biting, stinging insects; tangled masses of thorn riddled vegetation, resistant to even the sharpest machete; and dark deep pools of shadow that were the lurking places of venomous snakes.

Somehow eking out a living in the inhospitable, one might almost say cursed quagmire that stretched for hundreds of square miles, the community of so called swampers, outcasts who found a living in this hostile environment, and somewhere amongst them, Jekyll, an anonymous speck in a giant haystack loaded with hazards and short cuts to an oblivion cloaked in stinking marsh gas and a thousand guaranteed agonies of disease, dismemberment and destruction.

How could we possibly track down one man in this vast expanse? Surely weeks of careful searching lay ahead of us, hunting for signs of life, following up countless false leads, carefully sifting evidence and scraps of hard won information, paying out vast sums in bribes to sullen, close mouthed inhabitants who would treacherously betray us to chaos fiends at the first opportunity.

Fortunately the first person we asked replied: ‘Jekyll? Oh yeah that’s him over there.’ Our quest over, we approached the bald old coot shaped object that appeared to be our quarry. Sure enough the somewhat eccentric old buffer proved to be the completely non elusive Jekyll and he well remembered the expedition years before when Osric had paid a visit to the chaos temple.

He may have been a mad old git, but he seemed remarkably astute on fiscal matters and he was quick to sense that we had plenty of surplus silver that should rightfully be his. Beatrix managed to barter him down, but it was still a hefty sum he extorted from us for what he said would be a three day journey* deep into the heart of the swamplands. He also sold a promotional leaflet extolling the delights of the marsh to our highly literate thief.

*If he was anything like the boatmen of Marienburg, the three days would take us by a circuitous route about three hundred and fifty yards as the crow flies

Beatrix and I meanwhile popped back into town to buy rations for the trip and leave a message for the boss, plus she needed to pay upfront for stabling of her horse. We returned laden with trail provisions to find that almost none of the party had died of boredom listening to Jekyll’s incessant chatter about the delights of the marsh and its many interesting denizens.

Chief amongst these seemed to be a noted mutant and snake impersonator, previously a noted dockyard criminal lowlife and general all round scummer who thirty years ago had set himself up as the mutants’ king after surviving a mutant attack and being forced to flee the city.

We also learned that these fenland waterways lured the foolish in search of lost elvish treasure and also its rich and sometimes unique flora, which is rich in powerful narcotics and hallucinogenics. Indeed the dried mud from certain regions was used in the distillation of powerful drugs ranging from stimulants to poisons.

Into this eerie world we travelled warily, our boat cutting silently through passageways overgrown with great canopies of interlocked foliage that meant that even without the ever present clammy mist or sweeping bands of rain, visibility was scarcely a dozen yards in the height of day-lit hours.

When the dampening silence was broken, it was by a sinister splash and ripple in the water marking the passing of some great swimming fish or creature, or the strange chorus of some monstrous yet unseen frog colony. At other times the startled burst of wings marked some nearby unseen threat alarming colonies of marsh heron or the drone of invisible seemingly giant insects tracked us disconcertingly for minutes at a time.

Then a horror: A drifting boat loomed ahead, on collision course, a rope and severed arm attached to it, mute evidence of some monstrous predator with a taste for human flesh. The boat yielded some provisions however and Jekyll seemed un-phased, as if this was a commonplace event comparable to a black cap strolling by on a crowded Marienburg street.

I was particularly nervous as the daemon husks seemed particularly foul in this region, wreathed as they were in great swathes of clinging fungi or algae like mosses that made them look like ghoulish bearded monstrosities. One day we were attacked by the writhing tentacle like boughs of one huge plant which tried to pull the boat in to be crushed but we managed to break free after a desperate struggle.

Then, later still, one of the occasional mysterious ripples manifested into something more solid: Bad news for me as a giant snake, surely fully twenty or more feet long and with a girth as thick as my waist, burst from the still black waters and seized yours truly, whipping me into the murky waters before you could say ‘Gods what are we all doing here, we are definitely all going to die this time, for sure, I kid you not. Seriously.*’

*OK it was quite a long time actually

I struggled increasingly frantically as the snake constricted ever tighter, eventually breaking free just as I lost consciousness, I am told that I was dragged clear after the serpent slithered off after Giz heroically plunged in after me tied to the boat. Who’d have thought it? We were both close to death when pulled clear and spent the rest of that day recovering slowly.

Eventually Jekyll announced that we were arriving at the site of the temple and we drew the boat up and approached cautiously. As advertised, the temple was there as promised, triple towers enclosing a triangular courtyard, its curtain walls and towers in a sorry state of repair though. Giz and I though still on the injured reserve list theoretically, boldly moved forward to scout.*

*For boldly read stupidly

The first tower was easily accessed through broken walls. Inside stairs that looked about as stable as the Greek, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish economies put together led to the upper levels. No signs of life, or anything else for that matter. We waved the others up and continued along the courtyard wall which had as many gaps in it Borri’s alibi for the bar fight in the Temple district.

Larry Plotter arrived at the tower next, just in time to greet the mutant who emerged bearing a ‘To Do’ list featuring prominently our horrible deaths. Larry heroically slept the creature and the party moved forward generally as more mutants scuttled across the courtyard, one heading for Giz and I and the rest heading for the tower.

In the engagement that followed I hacked the slept mutant to death before falling myself to another, I spent the bulk of the ensuing combat insensible as a result. I am reliably informed that Larry successfully slept a couple more opponents and our dwarf killing machine did good work.

Giz spent most of the time skulking in the shadows, but did manage to stay alive despite a brush with the shark headed cultist shaman who seemed to be the leader. Eventually the opposition were all slain for just the loss of Giz’s net and the shark surrendered to our tender mercy.

Now we have the opportunity to pose some difficult questions: Will the treacherous chaos priest help us in any way? Will I get any healing? Will Borri ever learn? Will Beatrix ever stop picking up bits of rubbish? Will everyone ever get used to the idea of Giz being heroic? Will Borri give Giz a refund for his failure to prevent him being seriously injured by the snake? For these and other questions to be dodged, evaded, forgotten about or fudged, join us again in two weeks time.


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