The story continues with the party having looted the lair of the Oriental Dragon.
As the group decided what to do next, Grimm and the large Elf Alori removed the head of the Crocodile as a trophy to show the Chief of the Lizardmen the job was done. So with blood and snot hanging from its bloody neck Grimm slung the creatures snout over his shoulder and set off back to the Lizardmans lair.
Not to be outdone by Grimm, and in a massive feat of strength Alori grabbed the dead Oriental dragon by its huge tail and began to drag it single handedly back to the trail and the home of the Lizardmen.
A Welcome Return
As party arrived back at the Dun they were greeted with unexpected caution and some hostility, their dragon prize seemed to discomfort some of the Lizardmen. It was only after demonstrating to the Chief that the dragon was not one of their ancient ancestors did he start to warm to their return and with the head of their tormentor the Crocodile in his Trophy room he finally relaxed. The party explained that they were ambushed by the Pan Lung while fighting the crocodile, and only by their skill and the bravery did they survive. They discussed their joining the alliance informing the chief of the Councils that they should work with all parties involved to throw back the Sahuagin invaders.
Arriving back at the Dun, the party noticed two prisoners being led into the Lizardmens lair, these two turned out to be a Human Cleric called Jonas Laxt, and a Half Elven Ranger/Cleric. They were led away to the cells while the chief decided what to do with them. Not wanting to destroy any chance of an alliance with the Saltmarsh council and mindful of the task ahead the chief offered the captives the chance to join with the other party on their mission against the Sahuagin. After some discussion it was agreed and the two new recruits could join forces with the part.
The Grand Alliance
After greeting with the new recruits and introducing themselves to the party the chief and his minister led everyone into a grand meeting cave, on the seaward side of the Dun. The party witnessed representatives arriving from the Koalinth people, the Mermen and the Locathah. each race arriving and displaying its own form of etiquette, the most impressive being the Locathah who arrived riding gigantic Eels. With water spouting from their snouts the great beasts, swirled and brought their riders out of the water as a show of respect to the Alliance leaders. The discussions about the Humanoid inclusion in the alliance did not go smoothly. Only through the persuasiveness of the Lizardmen, the Mermen and Locathah were the Koalinth convinced that a greater alliance with all the peoples threatened by the invaders was the right way to approach the Sahuagin threat. So with everyone agreed the planning for the mission began.
Reconnaissance in Force
It was formally agreed that the alliance needs information, and it is the job of the party to get it. The leaders of the different factions would go back to their people and raise an army to assault the old home of the Lizardmen but for the assault to work as much detail of the Fortress as possible must be obtained. The mission therefore is not to assault and kill the Sahuagin as this will undoubtedly fail, but to collect as much information as possible about the defences of the Sahuagin and the layout of the fortress, in preparation for a full assault from the other peoples.
The information the Alliance need is:
- Determine the strength of the Sahuagin force – eg. how many warriors lieutenants, barons etc are present?
- Locate important areas in the fortress – eg. where are the warriors barracked, where are the Officers quartered?
- Discover any significant defensive measures – eg. Where are the traps? areas specifically prepared for defence and so forth?
- Discover how advanced are the Sahuagin preperations, and when they might mount their first attack?
A Force to be Reckoned with
To assist the party in reconnoitring the Fortress the chief agreed to send 15 Lizardmen warriors and Lieutenants with the party. These fearless creatures will follow the commands of the Lieutenants, who in turn are under the control of the party.
Preparation is Everything
The party discussed the best way to approach the fortress and agreed on a land based journey of 6 days through the dangerous Hoole Marshes as this seemed the best way to avoid any Sahuagin assaults from the sea. Also the Ranger advised the party he could maybe shave a day of the journey time through effective scouting and bad terrain avoidance. The party also agreed that the best way into the Fortress would be to arrive in the day and use the Causeway to gain access. After checking their gear the party made final preparations and set off.
Water Water Everywhere but Not a Drop to Drink
The party began their journey through the marshes, but quickly realised that tracking through a marsh was thirsty work, and without realising it they slowly began to empty their meagre water supply. Others in the group realised the significance of reserving water and drank sparingly. Quickly though thirst got the better of three people and they found after two days they were suffering with exhaustion. Slip, Jonas and Figore all found themselves slowing the party down. That evening instead of quickly making camp the party split up and with instructions from the three herbalists in the group went looking for Bux Root, Voli Coli plant Stems, and Shroom Scuttle Leaves, all of which can all be used to concoct invigorating brews which would reverse the effects of the fatigue. After two hours of looking some Schroom Scuttle Leaves were discovered and a refreshing tonic was administered to the unfortunate few suffering from exhaustion.
Easy Meat !
After two days of travel the party were stalked by a Young Juvenile Black Dragon, swooping through the low clouds, the young Abraxis had watched the group trudging its way through HIS territory!. Having worked out a plan and decided that it would rather have a free meal than fight such a large group, the creature descended to a deep section of water just of the trail from the advancing party. In condescending tones it mocked the make-up of the group, pitting elf against dwarf and scorning the Ranger for not seeing the imaginary Frog men scouting party trailing them. With an evil grin and dark hate rising in its tone Abraxis demanded that two Elven souls be sent to him for food as payment for the location and numbers of Frogmen (Bullywugs) who he added were at this moment closing in on the group. The outraged party point blank refused the demand and with a bellowing roar Alori charged the dark hearted creature. Unfortunately his rage had blinded him to the fact that Abraxis was sat in the middle of a pond and as he sank a full 6 feet into the dark smelly water.
Realising his plan for easy meat had failed the Evil creature flapped its great wings and crashed into the party stalling its attack at the last second to show all four of its claws at the group raking its Talons at four separate targets Abraxis turned his head and to the utter shock of the party the Dragon breathed a 60ft long gout of Acrid Black and green Acid at the group catching Quinn and two Lizarmen in its path. Quinn valiantly tried to dive out of the way of the attack but was caught full in the face. Now with Quinns body slowly dissolving and two Lizardmen suffering the same fate the party realised it was just a matter of time before the creature breather its acrid essence onto their midst again.
Fighting like men possessed, the party hacked at the Dragon’s scaly black body. Grimm missing with his Warhammer followed up with Axe and shield, Alori recovering from his early bath dragged his great frame out of the water ready to carve the creature a new mouth! Jeramiah The Paladin, calling for the aid of Pelor manoeuvred into a front line position. As the best tore into the ranks of the party its wounds began to tell. With a final last ditched attempt to crush the party the creature soared into the air and swooped down on two Lizardmen, while other members of the party leapt clear of the creatures black scaly frame.
Quickly following up on the monsters descent the party reigned blow after blow on the deceitful creature finally bringing the black beast down.
Following the fight Alori the Elf, with tears in his eyes, gathered the dissolving body of Quinn into his arms and turned back to the Lizardmens home hoping for the faintest chance his childhood friend could be returned to his broken body! Two days later Alori arrived back at the Dun, hands and arms stinging from the acid still oozing from Quinns now unrecognisable body. Pleading with the Lizardmen chief and minister Alori’s love for his old friend persuaded the Lizardmen to attempt to call on the Gods to save Quinn.
The shaman of the tribe still hurting from the loss of their senior member, initially refused to help, but after the Minister convinced them that it was in everyone’s interest that this member of the alliance be brought back to life, they laid his body down and began to pray. The resurrection commenced and a number of incantations repeated over the altar, unfortunately no movement was detected from Quinn’s lifeless body. Eventually everyone agreed whatever God Quinn followed was not listening that day.
Friends Gone but not Forgotten
After taking a moment to think Alori asked the chief if his friend could be cremated and part of his ashes placed in a hollow tooth as a keepsake as such he would “Always be with me“!
The lizardmen chief agreed and a bone worker was instructed to fashion a tooth from the bones of a dead creature, following the Chiefs orders the craftsman placed a small sample of Quinns ashes in the hollowed out tooth sealing it in hard resin. Alori then removed one of his own teeth with a sharp knife, while shaman hooked the new tooth in place of the old molar.
After the ceremony and following his minor surgery Alori double timed it back to the party who were slowly making their way along the trail to the fortress.
Snakes! Why does it always have to be Snakes?
As the party moved slowly down the marsh trail allowing Alori time to catch up they encountered a dead adventurer and his mount in the muddy undergrowth, off the main Marsh trail. Cautiously approaching the body the party were surprised to find a large poisonous snake attracted by the possibility of an easy meal. With a few simple sword thrusts the creatures dead but not without inflicting a wound that needed instant attention.
Arrived at Causeway
Finally after Alori returned to the party the Causeway leading to the Sahuagin Lair, loomed menacingly into sight.