After an awkward night’s rest on the log bridges, the party ventured deeper into the Great Black Salt Marsh. A short slog through the muck brought them to a half-sunken moathouse, once used as an outpost for the city of Punjar. After exploring the crumbling ruin’s perimeter, the adventurers discovered a deadfall trap obstructing the only non-obvious entrance: a wide gap in the fortification’s decaying walls.
A debate followed, and the group decided instead to walk through the moathouse’s neglected front gate, which now lay on its side in the swamp water. Unfortunately, the direct approach provided a perfect opportunity for the ruin’s guardians — six aberrant, giant frogs — to assault the mercenaries. Using the gatehouse’s murder holes and their long tongues, the tentacled amphibians dragged the adventurers up to the ramparts, grabbed them and tried to consume them alive.
The monsters proved horrifyingly fast and sturdy, and those caught within the frogs’ maws discovered that the misshapen beasts delivered a devastating bite. A prolonged battle followed, but the party emerged victorious… barely. Yet the conflict wasn’t without its rewards.
Ket Ahman discovered a small coffer made from living, organic material. Its texture and color resembled cockroach chitin, and its muscular hinge reminded him of an oyster. After examining the object thoroughly, he discovered that the strongbox’s ridges concealed tiny bristles. Acting on a hunch, Ket cut his finger and rubbed blood into the bristles, which surged to life on contact.
The casket opened, revealing an oyster-like interior of red, velvety flesh and a pale, maggot-like blob in the center. Ket reached out for it, mesmerized, and wrapped his hand around the repulsive, fleshy mass. It flowed and grew, changing shape as a voice resonated in the ranger’s head.
What would you have me be?
As Ket pondered the question, the image of a shortsword coalesced in his mind’s eye. The blob followed suit and shaped itself into a dark parody of his imagination. It transformed into black, barbed blade with cruel points and a grip lined with the same bristles found in the coffer’s ridges.
My name is Tyrant, the weapon announced psychically. Ket knew at once that he’d found a daelkyr symbiont. He and the blade were bound together forevermore, and nobody could ever steal the weapon from him, no matter how much he might later regret his bold decision to accept it.
Once Ket finished his dark bargain with the symbiont, the party scouted inside the walls, using the marsh’s omnipresent fog for concealment. They could hear screams and drumming ahead of them, and see the vague glow of torches burning in the haze. Cautiously, they approached din. As they drew closer to the cacophony, they could barely discern the silhouettes of several people standing in a semicircle — and one large, hulking, obviously-inhuman brute.
750 XP total (107 XP per player)