The party are also joined by Bernhard the Venerable. A high ranking knight of Therund, who once tutored Baron Peranon’s children in history and the art of war. Himself, with a personal stake in rescuing the boy, was denied from assisting in the quest by the Baron, on account of his age. With his own sailing boat, and on the back of a prayer from Bahamut, the elderly paladin has managed to discover the land where the boy is held. He wastes no time in joining up with the party.
The party come to a mysterious small hut on a central island in the swamp seperated by two bridges. A weary looking wolf lies tethered to the ground outside the hut, whilst a woman beckons the party to approach.
The woman introduces herself as Rayla, and invites the party to join her and her untalkative husband, Aldon.
They claim to be outcasts of the town of Brunfeld within the Dread Marsh Karkothi territory.
The hosts generously offer the party access to the multitude of magical items that they’ve accrued from victims of the swamps monsters over the years. Another crate, containing rats is revealed to be the couple’s main source of food. The party politely decline the offer of a meal.
Rayla then asks the party if they’ve experienced any unusual dreams since arriving in the swamps. The party acknowledge that this is the case.
“Then Jatasura has returned!”
“He’s greatly feared and respected amongst the Karkothi people. He was the one that banished me from Brunfeld.”
“I haven’t been completely honest with you. You see, I was a ritual caster where I grew up. If you are seeking Jatasura’s keep, you will have to confront a small army between here and there. But, if Jatasura hasn’t removed the linked portal markings in his throne room, then there’s a chance we could recreate the portal here and sneak you right inside there without him knowing.”
“We could use the blood from one of the rats to etch out the portal”
After fifteen minutes of planning and etching out Karkothi markings on the floor of the hut, the party gather together ready to be teleported into the Keep of Eternal Darkness.
As Rayla looks to initiate the ritual, she looks to the gathered party and says:
Good luck adventurers, you’re about to take the first step of your journey….. TO YOUR DEATHS!.
With that, Rayla transforms into some form of disfigured hag figure and blasts the party with some kind of evil energy that dazes the majority of the group. Her silent husband meanwhile, reveals himself to be some kind of wight and he charges in to attack the dazed party members.
The group, boxed into the room in the hut, try to fight back. Kalantari, whilst fighting the wight, accidently hacks into the bone chains of the tied up wolf, which, with its new found freedom, joins the party in attacking the evil couple.
To make matters worse, three large undead creatures emerge from the swamps waters to aid the hag, cutting off the party’s means of escape.
Fortunately the party soon gains additional assistance in the form of Faral (and Rupert), and one of the rats from the crate in the hut transforms into a human bard as the hag is hit with a heavy blow, seemingly reducing her magical hold on the transmutation.
After a hard fought fight, the party eventually get the better of their attackers, starting with Anorwyn’s killing blow on the hag, who slumps dead into the marsh. Soon after the zombie ogres are slain and finally the tough, energy sucking wight is slain.