When we last left our intrepid adventurers, we had just wiped out an Afridhi hit squad. We continued on toward the settlement our warlock had spotted the night before. The stealthy gnome took out a sentry, allowing us complete surprise. A group of about 30 armed Afidhi and a sizable number of slaves were gathering up supplies and heading for the river. Apparently, some sort of base was being built, but our arrival compelled the Afridhi to pack up and leave. We split up into two groups. The gnome and the warlock moved quickly and stealthily to the river to cut off retreat, while GWAR set themselves up on the ridge overlooking the camp to rain death down upon them.
What followed was carnage. It turned out the hit squad we wiped out earlier included most of the high-level members of their group. Even though their sheer numbers proved somewhat dangerous, and at one point, the gnome found himself in a bit of a tight spot, in the end, no Afridhi lived to see another sunrise. We had captured two barges loaded with supplies and a group of slaves willing to help us transport the barges to the nearest town in exchange for their freedom. Although we learned little, except that the Afridhi were searching for some sort of artifact, we did come away from the expedition with a sizable haul.
Of course, we still had a reason for going to Tiger Island, to learn what we could about the silver ore we had taken from an earlier group of slavers, and we hadn't accomplished anything as far as that was concerned. So we decided to return. We hired a smuggler to take us back (and didn't kill him). We completely searched the island. We still didn't find any silver mines, but we did uncover a partially buried statue that the Afridhi had been excavating. The statue itself was missing, but the base was intact and bore some writings in a strange language none of us could decipher. With no magical means of translating the writings, we transcribed them for later analysis. We then recovered the boat we originally came to the island on and went back to the little fishing village we first headed out from. Since we had killed the fisherman whose boat we were using, we decided it was best to slaughter the village as well, lest we be accused of going soft. With the deed done, we decided to head back to Lake Gloomy in hopes there would be someone there who could translate the writings we had found.
Lake Gloomy was as bizarre as ever. We couldn't find anyone in town with the necessary skills to translate the writings, although in truth, we didn't spend much time looking because we got sidetracked. Clearly something was amiss. There were significantly fewer children in town than when we had last been here. When asked about it, the locals simply claimed the children had left to join the circus. No one seemed the slightest bit bothered by this, suggesting some sort of magical compulsion was at work. We decided to seek an audience with the Baroness, whose keep was just outside of town. Upon arrival, we learned that the Baroness and her personal retinue (that sizable force of cavalry we had encountered a few days earlier) had also disappeared. Holy hell, this dung pit was getting deeper by the day.
We were told that the Baroness was last headed south to another craptastic little resort town called South Pym. The main claim to fame of this lovely vacation spot was the acid rain. Yes, apparently the rain in South Pym dissolves metal armour and weapons in short order...and it rains a lot. We also got word that a member of the Wizard's Cabal lived in South Pym and she might be able to translate our writings. So, despite the grave misgivings of our metal-clad contingent, we headed for South Pym.
Upon arrival in South Pym, we learned from the local authorities that the Baroness and her road crew had disappeared utterly and completely while investigating something in the swamp. Not a single scrap of evidence as to their whereabouts was uncovered. The guard offered to have one of his men lead us to their last known location, an offer we graciously accepted. But first things first. We needed some way to deal with the rain. No way was GWAR going to walk around in leather gherkins wielding pointy sticks. We headed off to see the town's alchemist, a gnome (apparently gnomes control the alchemy racket in these parts). He had a supply of an alchemical agent that could protect metal for awhile. We bought the entire stock. Then we headed off to see the wizardess we had heard about. She turned out to be less than we had hoped and was of little use, although she did direct us to a mapmaker in town who had a map with similar writings on it. The cartographer did indeed, have such a map, a treasure map, in fact, which he was willing to sell to us. Since no one in our party can Sense Motive worth a damn, we had little reason to doubt it was all legit, so we bought the map.
After noting that South Pym also seemed to have a relative scarcity of young'uns, we asked around and indeed, the "circus" had come to town here too. If we had any discernable conscience at all, we would probably have been outraged by now. As it was, we mostly noted it as curious and went about our business. So, at this point, we had intended to go have a look after the Baroness, but suddenly the gnome and the barbarian had a powerful hankering to follow our newly acquired map instead. It seemed a tad unusual, but every one went along since, you know, that gnome is a smart little fella.
The "X" on the map was a ziggurat mostly buried in the swamp. We entered through the top and explored around a bit. We found some tracks that led to a lower level where we eventually ran into a small group of sightseers, a child, an armsman and a spellcaster. Needless to say, the child was actually a halfling rogue and hostilities quickly ensued. The wizard in the back hit us with a slow spell that was effective against most of us. That cramped our style a bit, but all it meant was that it took us a little longer to beat them down. We actually managed to take the fighter alive and question him. He revealed that he was a Frog's man and he was able to point out on a map where he was intending to take us if he had successfully subdued us. As he spoke, he was finding it hard to breathe. Some sort of magic effect was finishing what we started. Before we could learn any more, he was dead.
We decided to call it a night.
Rogue Magic, Free Novel, Chapter 8
3 hours ago