Chapter 2: Bloody Business


Sea Hag Caverns
Sea Hag Caverns


Words To Be Spoken


     The heroes travel to the tavern to rest and relex, where they introduce themselves to eachother. Warsch starts off the introductions:
     "My name is Warsch, a paladin of the Order of the Silver Flame. My mother was a preistess of the divine, and my father is supposedly an Angel, however I've never met him. I've always been told that he watches over me, however, I've never believed that. When I was a child I was kidnapped by Duergar, who killed my mother. For eight years I worked in their mines until the Order found me and saved me, and for the next eight years after that I trained to become a paladin, and when I finally did I received a holy quest from the Silver Flame. That's why I'm here, in this rocky land. I'm searching for a monastary, located on top of a mountain. However, none of the locals I've met know anything about it. The only monastaries I've been informed of are of Zeboim and Talos."
     Stormdrake: Zeboim! Cursed waters, and the ilk who linger there! It is not a good place, Warsch. Certinly not a place I recommend going to."
      Warsch: After I received my holy quest from a vision, I set out with funds from the Order and set sail with a Captain Redmaw, who ran a tight crew. We sailed here, but tragedy struck and we were attacked by a massive Sea Turtle, who killed the captain and the rest of his crew, except for me and a bird-folk named Blackwing. I've lost contact with Blackwing, but last I saw of him he was swearing vengeance on the turtle. And that's where my story ends. The navy rescued us, took us back to a freeport town, and that's where I met Stormdrake.
     Stormdrake goes next:
     "I never had a name. Born into priesthood, as a young Dragnold I was raised in a monastary to the god of storms, Talos. For many years, we prayed to him and read his teachings: how to guide ships at sea, build proper vessels, and how to command lightning. Although few managed to channel lightning, I was one of them. The peace our small temple knew changed swiftly when we received a gift from Talos: a bolt of lightning struck in the center of our yard, and in its crater was a pure white stone with an ornate brass swordspear, with the inscription in draconic "Stormdrake." Hoping to clear the wreckage, many of our priests tried to pull the spear from the stone, but no one could move it! Soon, word spread of this immovable spear, and many rumors spread of how Talos sent it to us as a test. Many flocked to our temple, only to fail this so called 'test.' However, word of the relic reached the ears of nearby bandits, who came in the night with blades and death."
     "Being a Dragnold, I of course was saved for last and kicked around. The pain was great, with my jaw and a few ribs broken, but the bandits kicked me towards the spear. Refusing to die on my belly, despite what any Dragnold would do, I grasped onto the spear and pulled myself up. As I rose for my last moments, the spear slid from the rock, and a great bolt of lightning stuck me. Filling my every being with the strength of thunder, I was mutated from a weak Dragnold into a mighty Drake; my red hide transformed into strong brass scales; my muscles became iron; my will became steel. With great ease from my newfound power, I became the storm of Talos and slew the bandits who defiled his Temple. Before the last bandit fell, He told me about his bandit leader, Prag'tar of the Iron Tusks, who sent this small crew to clean out and retrieve the relic. The bandit emissary retrieved the swordspear, as he deserved, straight through the throat. Vengeance is not a cleric's way, but I owe it to my brethren to purify this land of this bastard. I travelled to a nearby town, where I alerted them to the tragedy that befell the temple."
     "Upon entering a small fishing hamlet, I met met with Warsch, who heard my sad tale and agreed to help me fight Prag'tar and the Iron Tusks. We went back to my temple, equipped him in proper gear, and then we joined all of you in Zeus.
     Crow Lord writes down on a sheet of paper, but only a few words: "My name is Crow Lord. Cao Cao killed my father, and I will have my revenge!" His story is long and controluded, and unable to be told through words. Not even Crow Lord remembers the entire tale, due to some injury he must've received during his travels. When his father fell to madness, a young boy, a prince of men, vowed to cure him. Seeking out the means to cure madness, he came upon a Druid named Grizzwald the Grizzly, a druid who had more in common with bears than anything or anyone else. Grizzwald offered to help the prince, but in exchange for the prince's help. During the weeks that had passed doing research in tomes of ancient healing, The boy learned of nature, its ability to heal and provide for life everywhere. It took a full year to gather the components for the medicine, and in that time the boy learned everything he needed to become a full fledged Druid, including his true name: Crow Lord. Crow Lord returned to his father, but before he could cure him, the court advisor, Cao Cao, murdered his father. Challenging the villain to swordplay, Crow Lord was easily defeated and his throat was cut open, damaging his voice. Now, all he can say is "Kaw Kaw!" Perhaps he is trying to say 'Cao Cao', or maybe the madness of his father has taken him, making him think he is a bird? Escaping the collapse of his family and the vacuum of power that was created, Crow Lord ventured to the family archives where he donned a Crow Mask and the Cloak of the Crow, becoming a true Lord of Crows. Crow Lord transformed into a large crow, took flight, and was never seen again... until now.
     Tharyn Qul'wrath goes next, lying about as much of her past as possible, for she stands in the presence of two priests. "I am a Wizard of the Undying Court, trained to bo a Necromancer by my parents. For years, I studied the dark arts, but only to preserve and protect the balance between life and death. However, that balance was broken on a dark night when a tome containing a dark spirit was opened. My parents were killed and turned to zombies, and began chasing me. I fled from our library to a nearby town in Vle'Anos called Eldergleam, my dead parents hot on my trail. There, the guard killed my parents. With gratitude and much sorrow, I inherited the library that my family built, however I swore vengeance on the shade that murdered them. Throughout the years, I grew in my necrotic powers, learning how to trap souls in gems but eventually I went down the path of Bone Collection, which involves using bones for components in powerful spells. Eventually, I was found by my friend, Durnoghma, a sorcerer who is seeking the Necropolis. If I can find that school and learn from it, I will have the power necessary to defeat the shade and avenge my family"
     Tharyn smiles to herself, for coming up with such a simple backstory that should be enough to fool these priests. She will be their undoing, for the light and dark never ally. She will find a way to corrupt the Paladin, and then she will break the Cleric. Her story will take a much darker turn, for the magics of Necromancy is a dark path led only by those with a hunger for power.
     Spider, similar to Tharyn, cannot tell her full story, especially the bits where she served Lolth. "When I was a little girl, I lived my early years with my uncle, whose name I no longer remember. He was murdered, along with the entire town that I called home. Dark Elf assassins attacked in the night, and I was taken prisoner, similar to Warsch. However, being a Dark Elf, I was spared and tossed into their training facility, where I learned a form of fighting called Drow-Jitsu. After many years of combat training and stealth, I was called upon by the high priestess, who sent me off into the realm of the spider queen, Lolth. There, I was put to trials for fourty years. As I dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged, Lolth rewarded me and called me her child. Of the three hundred and fourty I met in that... place, I was the only one who made it out. The people I had to kill... It was horrible. But I escaped! Well actually, I was let go by Lolth, who rewarded me with this Cloak of Arachnida, which gives me spider powers. After I returned back to the real world, we were attacked by hunters, who killed everyone. I was glad to see thier corpses fall to the ground, the high priestess filled with iron. Justice had finally met those awful people. However, the hunters were there to kill everyone, including me. But I escaped, unmarked and untracked. I fled to the Imperial City of Vle'Anos, where I snuck aboard an airship and flew in as cargo. I went the whole trip undetected, and managed to land just in time for the goblin invasion."
     Tharyn: Oh, so you took the same ship as us!
     Spider: The big one? With the captain with the red hat?
     Tharyn: That guy disgusts me. But yes, that one. I didn't even detect you! Usually, I can feel the presence of magic, but I could not sense you at all! Fascinating. How did you manage that?
     Spider speaks, with an air of superiority. "I have trained to mask my presence. Drow-Jitsu, art of shadows!"

Murder


     The heroes discuss where they are headed to next. Warsch pulls out the dagger.
     "I am going to visit the blacksmith and ask him about this odd dagger. I need to solve a murder in town. The bugbear were a problem, but this... is inhumane. The dagger's design is for piercing into bone and extracting fluids. Sinister magic is at hand, and I need to know who he made it for."
     Stormdrake furrows his brow. "We are on a quest to vanquish Prag'tar, who killed my people. Surely more will die if we do not go after him!"
     Warsch's face turns to stone, and the heroes can see worry upon it. "Vengeance is not your path, friend. Do not let it consume you. Prag'tar isn't going anywhere, but after this murder is solved we can make haste towards him!"
     Crow Lord joins in the mystery, holding a thumb's up and following Warsch to the blacksmith.
     Tharyn heads over to the library to find Durhnoghma passed out, numerous books laid out before him. "Ahem! Wake up you old geezer!" She kicks his chair, startling him awake.
     "Ah! I am not old, just wise. Do not disrespect me again." His eyes turn solid black, and even her involvement with the dark arts did not prepare her for this intimidating presence.
     "Anyways, I did discover a few things regarding the Necropolis. It used to be buried underground, so I think if we head to Dal'Krosh, we might be able to talk to some miners and head down ourselves. I still have more research to do, ofcourse. Tell me, what have you discovered about our priest friends?"
     Tharyn tells him everything she had discovered. "Ahhh... so a holy mission and an oath of vengeance. Good... Corrupt them or end them. We will need them out of the way if we hope to investigate further into the Necropolis. Travel with them. Gain their trust. I'll keep in touch, find out where that monastary is at and I'll begin working upon it."
     Spider heads over to the crime scene. Learned in the ways of Dark Elf sorcery and the ingredients those spells require, Spider discovers that the dagger was placed precisely into the spine, to seperate the bones and drain fluid from it. Spider cannot fathom who could require spinal fluid for a spell.
     In the chapel, Warsch approaches the blacksmith, who is recovering from his injuries.
     Haggard: "Ahhh... it is good to see you, boy. I have some words for you, finally. You have earned them."
     The blacksmith smiles upon seeing Warsch, and the two clasp hands in friendship, finally well earned.
     "Feeling better?" Warsch asks.
     Haggard: "Not since my leg is a bum now, but I'm alive. That is all that matters. You mentioned a Prag'tar earlier, and I just want to say that if you need anything- reforging, items, tools- you let me know."
     Warsch: "I would be delighted to require your services. But I'm on a different task. What can you tell me of this dagger?"
     The blacksmith handles the dagger, somewhat covered in the strange ooze, likely spinal fluid.
     Haggard: "I made this thing for Marg. Said she needed a thick dagger to pry a spine open, collect spinal fluids. I don't like fluids, or spines, but she paid good coin."
     Warsch receives the dagger back from Haggard, telling him about the murder. With a look of worry, and a burst of guilt, Haggard responds.
     Haggard: "So... I'm responsible. Is that what you are saying?"
     "No, but I am going to find Marg. If she killed him, she will pay dearly for his death."
     Warsch takes leave of the smith, and Crow Lord waves at the smithy on his way out. As they enter the Wild Trade, Spider follows them in, unheard. "That trader had his spinal fluid drained. I can't even begin to fathom what kind of spell or potion she was making, but I'm heading over to Tharyn. She might know something.
     Warsch and Crow Lord look all around for Marg, however the shop is empty. Crow Lord finds a journal, who hands it to Warsch, who reads it out loud.
     "Journal entry 1: These townspeople do not suspect a thing. After I killed the old lady, I took her form, which was quite like mine in every way. I will begin looking for a likely candidate immediately, for there are those who must be included in the ritual.."
     Warsch passes a few pages, reading out loud as he goes, and then stops at the final page.
     "The ritual is completed, and Bleurhelga is satisfied. We will continue as we were, doing as we please. I have found another, who seeks to end the old lady's business I am running. His heart is heavy with the thought of vengeance and murder, but I will have mine first. The names he called me, the stones he throws. I will have the smith forge me another dagger of extraction, and then I will carve out his spine and head back to my coven."
     On the back of the journal is a detailed map showing where the coven is hiding out. The heroes head out to the library to talk to Tharyn, meeting Durhnoghma.
     "It is good to meet all of you! I am Durhnoghma, sorcerer. I am friend to Tharyn, and that means friend to all of you."
     Warsch approaches the sorcerer, asking him about a ritual that requires spinal fluid. Durhnoghma is given the journal, and quickly scours the pages.
     Durhnoghma: "I do not know of a single human ritual that requires spinal fluid, however, it sounds to me like she isn't human. In this Journal, the real Marg is killed and something takes her form. The only guess I have is this: Hags, forming a coven. This map is legible, and should take you directly to her. I'd be careful, pack some more healing potions."
     Tharyn: "You aren't going to join us?"
     Durhnoghma: "No, I have my research to do. I'm writing a book, you see. War is not my calling."
     The heroes heads out, but finds the Judge along the way, who stops them.
     Judge: "Greetings, good heroes! Do I understand that you are investigating the murder of my younger brother, the town trader?"
     The heroes tells the Judge everything about Marg, the dagger, and the murder.
     "Hm... very good indeed. I miss my brother, and his death causes a rage inside of me. Bring me her head, and I will reward each of you 200 gold. And should you require anything of either shop, just take it, within reason of course."
     They check both shops for healing potions, not taking anything from Marg's, as most of the potions, even sealed, are producing sour odors. However, Ian's Trade had several lesser healing potions in the back that the heroes did not catch last time.

Goblin Ambush!


     The heroes makes their way to the cave, following the map. Along the way, they come across a Graz'blin, one of the deserters who ran from town, but lost his way.
     "Ahhhh! Please! Pleaase! Do not kill pooor Redmal! Spare Redmal!! Redmal can make good friends! Trained to sell, Redmal is! Redmal could carry things, yes he could! Be good to masters!"
     The heroes debate it. Everyone but Spider votes to kill the bugger. Spider stands aside, while the rest of the heroes surrounds the poor thing. Warsch brings his hammer down, snapping its knee cap. Crow Lord looses a torrent of flame upon the cowering creature. Stormdrake stabs the thing with his swordspear, slicing it to pieces. Tharyn pulls out its soul, tethering it to her soul gem and pulling it from its bleeding and broken body.
     With blood everywhere, and parts scattered about, the heroes continues towards the cave.
     A few hours later, the heroes reach the mouth of the cave, clad in seaweed and smelling of dark magic. As they walk in, The heroes find a lone chest at the end of the cavern. Warsch and Spider walk up to the chest, however Warsch stops, noticing that something isn't right with the floor in front of the chest. Spider, realizing its a trap, tries to identify the trap in front of them, but results in deciding that there is no trap, despite Warsch's protests.
     Spider: "I'm going to open that chest. If something happens, we have three healers and potions. I'll be fine!"
     Spider opens the chest, but as she does, the floor opens up beaneath her. With her spider walking powers, she clings to the opened floor, which slams against a wall. Spider braces herself, securing her grasp onto the swinging platform. She hangs there, and decides to climb down to investigate the area. The heroes above look to their left and right, and split up.
     Spider climbs down, and is greeted by a human woman covered in a green robe made of seaweed. The woman is very surprised to see her climbing down in her manner.
     "We were expecting you to fall down to your death... But you are caught in our trap nonetheless! Such a good trap, that brilliant Margaret! Soon, when you die, your flesh will be used for our spells! A perfect source of ingredients!"
     Spider doesn't feel very concerned with the 'trap' she 'fell' into. She tries to persuade the Witch into telling her what is going on, but the Witch only laughs. The two doors behind her open up, and Warsch and Stormdrake enter from opposite sides of the chamber. Warsch and Stormdrake charge the witch by the cage, but are attacked by two witches, sitting by the wall near the doors they just came from. The witch on the left attacks Warsch, but misses him entirely, her flames bursting towards him but parting against his shield. The witch on the right hits Stormdrake, who suffers a burst of flame, setting his back on fire.
     Crow Lord walks in, and changes into a Large Crow using his druidic magic. He hops over 10 feet to attack the witch in the left corner with his talons, clawing his way deep into her chest. With his beak, Crow Lord begins pecking at her head, pulling off bits of her scalp, nose, and face.
     The witch attempts to push away the crow, casting Thunderwave. Taking some damage, Crow Lord is battered, but isn't pushed away. The Thunderwave affects the witch next to her, who gets knocked towards the wall but manages to stop herself from smashing her head against it.
     Warsch calls upon his deity, The Silver Flame, and enchants his warhammer with a wave of light. He swings towards the witch, connecting the hammer with her collarbone. A sickening crack can be heard, and the woman begins shrieking intensely as radiant light sears into her flesh.
     Stormdrake wields his swordspear in one hand, and swings down upon the witch, ending her screams as her head flies off her torso, a few sparks darting between her head and body as it rolls away.
     Tharyn engages a witch in a fierce magic fight, the two casting bolts of flame at eachother. The witch tries to dodge, but is knocked into the back wall by a flame to the chest. The witch attacks Tharyn, blasting her with a showering display of flames, singing her robes with fire.
     Spider doesn't have much room in her cell, but tries to throw a dagger at the witch that Tharyn is fighting, successfully hitting the witch in the eye with a knife, but not killing her.
     Crow Lord finishes off his foe, sinking his talons deeper into her chest and crushing her ribs and collarbones into her lungs. As the witch gasps in painful rasps of breath, Crow Lord tears her throat with his beak, ripping out a large sliver of flesh.
     Warsch sees that Tharyn is in some trouble and throws his hammer at the the Witch, which flies through the air in an arc of light, and plants itself firmly into the dagger that Spider threw, driving it deeper into her head.
     Warsch collects his hammer, and using his angelic nature, restores Tharyn's and Stormdrake's burns.
     The heroes free Spider, and check out the area, discovering two more cages, filled with dead corpses of adventurers who fell for the trap. The heroes find several gold and silver on the corpses, along with two steel swords and leather armor.

The Ritual Chambers: What Slithers Within?


     The heroes reach a set of heavy, wooden doors. Warsch and Stormdrake push them open, finding a room filled with corpses and three Sea hags, performing a ritual on a dead body, ripping out its innards and pouring a red liquid into its cavity.
     Crow Lord and Tharyn are frightened at the sight of it, and begin backing away very slowly. Spider cares not for what she sees, only three hags who are about to be killed.
     Warsch and Stormdrake are set with their holy tasks, and prepare for battle with the Hags. Warsch calls out to Tharyn and Crow Lord "Fear not what you see, for this is the face of evil! Steel yourselves, and fight for the dead!" Crow Lord and Tharyn hear his words, and are shaken from their fear, turning to the fight.
     During their distraction, one of the sea hags fires a Ray of Sickness at Warsch, missing but striking Crow Lord. Thanks to his Giant Crow form, Crow Lord is not nearly affected by the dark nature of the spell, but a few of his feathers do fall off.
     The second hag clasps her fist in Warsch's direction, shouting some spell in a foul language, but thanks to his divine nature, shrugs off the magic effects, swatting away any magic that would bind him.
     Tharyn, despite being a Necromancer, was trained in the ways of channeling pyromancy by her father. She summons a great flame in her hand and three rays of fiery light leap out from her palm, all of which strike strike Marg. Marg is blasted, being set aflame and shrieking most fouly.
     Spider charges at Marg, punching her twice. She breathes in, making a whisping sound, and attacks Marg two more times, but only manages to punch her once before she slips on a pool of blood, knocking her prone. However, any position is an opportunity for attack, and Spider kicks Marg again, dislocating her knee, then kicks upwards and knocks Marg's nasty sea hag head right off her torso. A bit of her spine gets pulled out as well, her body falls to its knees and then falls flat on the ground.
     The other two witches scream angrily at Spider, over the death of their coven leader.
     Crow Lord, trapped as a bird in a small cavern, flutters over the leftmost sea hag, barely making it in the time he had. as he lands, he digs both of his talons into the feet of the hag, holding her in place. Crow Lord begins visciously pecking at her eyes with his large beak, but he misses as she ducks. Druidic magics can be seen fluttering around the Giant Crow, healing the wound from the ray of sickness.
     Stormdrake runs over to the left-most Sea Hag, lining up a shot with his swordspear. "THUNDER!!" He shouts, and as he throws his spear, lightning wreaths the entire spear, sending it flying forward, striking both hags in a line. Each Hag is shocked with the might of a storm, and the spear is stuck in the torse of the last hag hit. As the spear is flying, Stormdrake calls upon his divinity, turning the lightning gold with the grace of Talos.
     Warsch channels his rage into a smite, running over and swinging his mace at the second hag, who is dealing with a Swordspear stuck in her abdomen. As he swings, his mace takes on a silver light, setting itself on fire with silvery flames. As Warsch brings the Hammer down, it smashes in the shoulder of the hag, and scorches her flesh then explodes in a blast of holy light. She is very wounded, but isn't dead quite yet, striking back at Warsch with visions of his deepest fears. Warsch is beset with visions of Duergar, killing his mother, whipping him, brandishing hammers and threatening to smash him.
     The other hag, after being zapped by Stormdrake, conjures what little of the lightning she is still being afflicted with, and creates a huge wave of lightning on Stormdrake, unable to hit anyone else. Stormdrake dodges most of the bolt, but is still struck, but thanks to his brass dragon form, the damage is minimized but still manages to break open his skin, blood bursting through the cracks of his scales. Stormdrake drops to one of his knees, splashing blood. He takes deep breath, coughing a little bit from the haze of blood in the air, but lifts himself back up from the much and gore.
     Crow Lord, remarkablly unaffected by Stormdrake's lightning, positions one of his talons on the hags frontal torso, ripping down and crushing several of her internals. With his other foot, Crow continues to pin her foot down while he pecks at her head, this time managing to stab into and pulling out one of her eyes.
     Tharyn, seeing that the battle is nearly won, conjures up a flame spear on the hag that Warsch is bashing in, setting her form ablaze as it falls back into the flame, incinerating her remains. The swordspear clatters to the ground, waiting for its master to claim it.
     Spider gets up from the pool of blood, which flows off her cloak like water on a stone. She uses the last of her movement to stand behind the last remaining hag and punches twice.The first punch misses but the second punch snaps a shoulder blade, punctering the long in front of it. She channels her ki again, dealing two more punches to the hag. The first punch knocks the shoulder blade further through her body, vanishing inside her torso. The hag gurgles in severe pain as her lung collapses, and then Spider delivers a seriously strong upwards kick that sends her flying, her foot tearing in half where Crow Lord pinned it. She flies upwards, hitting the roof of the small cave, then comes crashing down, lifeless.
     As the last of the hags dies, several explosions erupt from the corpses in the chamber, and five, tall, slithering... things slide out of the bodies. They look like snakes made of water, but vessels of blood flow deep within their centers. The liquid at the head of the snakes forms into a skull, with the mouth closing off. Voices can be heard from the bodies: "I will get my vengeance.... kill that whore... kill that Judge... feast on father's blood... free my mother from Prag'tar..."
     Warsch hears the one speaking of Prag'tar, offering it peace as he wishes to kill Prag'tar also. The slither looks at Warsch, and then tries to grapple him, who slams forward with his shield upon the creature's face. Stormdrake runs over to Warsch, grabbing his swordspear, and launches of bolt of lightning from his mouth, but the slither moves with incredible agility, avoiding the lightning bolt. As it dodges, however, it gets too close to the Flame Sphere, which burns its slightly, causing its form to bubble but not take much damage.
     Warsch channels a different smite upon his weapon, coating his mace with a streak of lightning, which he learned from Stormdrake ealier when they were resting in town. He swats at the Slither that attacked him, but its form dogdges the strike.
     Another slither charges forward in front of Warsch and slams down on him, its liquid form seperates around his shield and comes together at the perfect moment to bash against his face. Another slither slides over to Crow Lord, slamming him with its writhing form.
     Tharyn grinds the closest slither with her flaming sphere, and the slither cannot move out of the way.
     Tharyn then casts Soul Trap on the slither that Warsch is trying to fight. She sends out a magical chain that pierces deep into the Slither's red center, grabbing onto some black mass deep within. The mass begins to slither up into the chain, but the slither resists the pulling of its soul.
     Two slithers slide at Stormdrake, however neither are able to hit him, as he side steps both of their strikes.
     The fifth Slither starts its turn in a ball of fire, slithering out to minimize its damage. It slides behind Warsch, but the animated shield catches onto their attack pattern and blocks its attack early.
     Spider chokes as she attempts to channel Ki, but manages to gain some power from it, punching the slither next to Warsch four times. Three out of four punches connect, and each one that does causes a burst of liquid to pour out from the opposite side of Spider's punches.
     Crow Lord heals using his Druid Magic, then tries to dig his talons into the slither in front of him, succeeding. His beak flies straight past the slither, failing.
     Stormdrake calls upon a prayer of healing, restoring the heroes' health.
     Warsch's hammer is still wreathed in lightning, and attempts another strike on the sliver in front of him, but misses as the slither slides around his strike to slam down on him, knocking him off balance.
     The second Slither attacks Crow Lord, wrapping itself over his leg and slamming itself against the joint. A disgusting cracking sound can be heard, and Crow Lord lets out a painful screech.
     Tharyn moves the flaming sphere through the fourth slither, positioning it between slithers three and four. As the flaming sphere passes through the slither, bits of it's liquid evaporates, turning into steam in a matter of seconds. The slither writhes in pain, unable to move out of the way. Tharyn casts Soul Trap on the first slither that Warsch is focusing on, pulling out a large red sliver of it's soul, however the slither writhes, pulling its soul back in, resisting death.
     Slithers three and four begin their turn bubbling near fire. The third sliver doesn't fear fire yet, and tests out the flame, barely burning. The fourth slither, although resistant to fire, still moves out of its area of effect, but Stormdrake swings his swordspear at it, slicing clean through part of its form, slicing it in half. The fourth sliver comes along Stormdrake's side, slamming itself down upon him, crashing upon his left arm, tearing some of his scales away. The third Slither attempts to grapple the distracted Stormdrake, who whips the mass of liquid in the 'face' with his tail, swatting its grapple away as if nothing. The slither recovers, but is unable to move out of the way of Tharyn's Flaming Sphere, staying near its area of effect.
     The fifth sliver, who is behind Warsch, attempts to grapple him, but Warsch's animated shield stands near him like his mother, protecting him from all assault.
     Spider punches the first sliver who rose, missing her first punch but uses the momentum to launch a powerful roundhouse kick to its center area. Her leg flies through her target, dispersing its bloody liquid everywhere, which sticks like pudding to everything it touches.
     Crow Lord's magic heals his leg, snapping bones back into place and sealing any fractures. He leaps up as high as he can, landing on top of the second slither, which crashes into the ground and, despite being made of liquid, is temporarily stuck between his talons. He then brings his beak into the red liquid at the center of the slither, causing a small spurt of red pudding to burst out of the entry wound.
     Stormdrake slashes with his swordspear from from his left, carving a three-quarter circle, but the execution is poor and as a result he spins a full circle hitting nothing and ends up with his back turned towards a Sliver.
     Warsch swings his hammer backwards at the sliver that was attacking him, sinking the hammer and its thunderous power through the vile liquid. The slither explodes in a large area, just like the last one that died. Warsch is now completely covered in the red pudding, spitting between breaths and gagging frequently. However, his will is like adamantium and nothing can break him, not even the nasty red pudding that tastes like a rotten tomato.
     The sliver tries to break the hold that Crow Lord has on it. The soul deep within it's core must be one of a complete simpleton, because it literally does not comprehend that it is made of water, and just shakes around like an idiot.
     Tharyn rushes over the corpse of the first sliver, pulls out three teeth she kept in a bag, and imbues them with necrotic energy, sending all three flying at the fourth sliver next to Warsch. Each tooth impales the slither, and the red pudding oozes out of three holes, but slowly close. She moves her flaming sphere away from Stormdrake, and then pulls it back and rams it into the fourth slither, trying to burst it with fire. The ram of flame completely catches the slither offguard, causing it to begin evaporating. It then bursts into a huge blob of liquid, its red pudding falling to the ground, becoming solid after the flames heat it up.
     The third slither, detecting the slaughter of its allies, freaks out and tries to make a run for it, dashing with great speed away from Stormdrake and between Spider and Warsch.
     Stormdrake stabs at it in a hurry, not having a firm grasp upon Stormfury, and misses his quick foe. Warsch swings with his hammer, hitting the runner and thunderously smacking it right into Spider's left fist, which flies straight through it's entire being, knocking its red pudding entirely out of its body. She pulls her fist back, covered in red goop.
     Spider turns around to help Crow Lord, performing two half-moon kicks to the trapped slither's lower section. Her first kick causes a majority of the liquid in its lower section to flood upwards, nearly bursting the slither within Crow Lord's talons. She then steps over the large, ready to burst sack of red pudding & clear liquid. Everyone is screaming 'No, don't do it!' but she brings down her foot with everything her Dark Elf training taught her; heel first, flex the toes backwards. The blob bursts in what is probably the most horrific example of a water balloon anyone has ever seen. It's bulbous form explodes, sending the clear liquid and the red pudding everywhere. No one is safe, and most them have their mouths open from screaming 'NO.'

The Iron Token


     As victory comes at a sick cost, the gang collects the head of Marg, and try to loot the bodies in the room, finding nothing but a single Iron Tooth on her corpse, which Warsch holds onto.
     As Warsch's fingers close around the token, a whisper, faint in his ear, speaks with a slight whistle on the 'si' and 'sh' sounds. The sound of clanking iron and rubbing stones can be heard.
     "Hello? Marg? Marg! Are you there, honey? Wait, you're not Marg! You killed Marg? She was like a sister to me, believed me first when everyone did not. You will pay dearly for this... I will see to it myself. After the ritual is complete, that is... Heeheehee!"
     Warsch, holding the tooth, gasps in shock, gaining the attention of his comrades.
     "Uhhh... this tooth is speaking to me. Tharyn, hold this!"
     He throws the tooth at the soaked and bloody necromancer, who has never before been covered in this much filth. The tooth flies, hitting her right in the corner of the mouth and sticking there. Its stench can be easily detected over the scent of foul liquids. She picks it off her lips, throwing it back at Warsch. After she throws it, she tries to wipe some sludge off of her face, trying to shake the filfth off of her.
     "Yes, an iron token. For hags, items like this are common among them, such as eyeballs or teeth. I've even heard of a person's splein being used once. A horrible practice, to be sure, but one worth studying."
     The heroes ventures back up, checking out the sweet chest Spider tried to early.
     There isn't much loot in the chest, except for 320 gold, likely earned when Marg took care of the shop. The heroes split the gold fairly, heading back to town where they are greeted by the Judge.
     As he gazes upon the head of Marg, the Sea Hag, the Judge looks absolutely terrified.
     "A... Hag? But that's not possible! She lived in this town for the longest time! Close to a century..."
     Spider steps forward. "Well, actually it wasn't Marg. You see, just a little while ago, probably a few months at most, the real Marg was murdered and replaced by a sea hag, who took her form. The hag was a part of a coven, which we dealt with, however many of our supplies were ruined in the processs, including most of our clothes and armor. The smell will never wash out, I'm afraid. I'm not asking for much, however I think that me and my comrades deserve more than 200 gold for the whole thing.
     Spider attempts to persuade the Judge, who looks stern, but opens his arms wide and smiles.
     "If not for your heroic efforts, this town would likely be victim to the Sea Hags, not to mention the Wargbons from before. Come with me to my manor, and I'll see to your reward: a big 'ol bag of gold coin, 220 per person for the bounty. I would also like to offer each of you replacement gear at no cost from Haggard, who will happily accomodate you."
     Haggard nods, and walks back to his shop, hammering away.
     The heroes meets the Judge in privacy back in his manor, where they show him the iron token and tell him about the slithers.
     The judge scratches his chin, reciting a passage from a book he once read. "Along the sea, hags will help men find their way as snakes. Oh no..." The Judge pulls a book from a shelf, and reads it. he opens up to a page within the book, showing the heroes of heroes.
     "The signs of these hags are part of an Omen, one where the mouth of the Abyss opens up, and demon ilk pour out. That Iron tooth you found may be the key to stopping the leader hag, however I know nothing of hags being involved with demons. I recommend that you all make way for Dal'Krosh immediately, and seek out the court sorcerer Servilus, the Iron Mage. He alone knows of all iron magics, and has been the leading researcher on this continent, and should be able to help you. If you make your back to these parts, make sure to stop by and I will treat all of you as fairly as you have treated us."
     The heroes exit the manor, where the town throws them a banquet and parties like it was the newest year after the defeat of the Efreeti armies long ago. These heroes, despite being a in small town, had ale beyond ale, rum everywhere from the ships & crew, and everyone was left exposed against an attack that could wipe them all off the face of the earth. Such an attack would go down in history as the bloodiest start to the end times, of a war that would never see an end.
     Luckily, it was the perfect night and nothing of the sort happened. The heroes experienced a little piece of heaven, for the first times in their lives.

Proceed to Chapter 3: The Wicked Witch of Dal'Krosh