Fish- and swamp-stained pages litter a loosely-bound journal.
A week of rest we had, so on we continue. I write from scribbled notes, weeks old, so forgive my lack of detail in many cases. Aside from our week spent resting, Pervince strutted off to town in his tiny way to retrieve a crossbow he had fashioned for himself — the weapon as large as he is — and a yellow potion, which turned out to be urine. I make no jest. Apparently it is blessed urine of the god Corhagen, which will prove useful… somehow? I fail to understand the purpose, but halflings are as halflings do.
In the basement one of the houses on the way to Saltmarsh, we met a strange undead creature named Morno. Lacking lips, it found talking a difficult feat, but managed to convey it was willing to take us beyond the Veil of Kings, where its compatriots had gone and it was planning to go. We declined its offer politely, then locked it in the basement — no sense leaving even couth undead creatures to run rampant.
We also met Corvine, a human from Saltmarsh who was willing to lead us there. We purchased his services for five gold coins. Along the way Hernanthius and Pervince’s sow got mired in quicksand, but with fast thinking we were able to utilize some rope to lever them out of the muck. Then, as if every interruption we could scrounge up in the marsh rose out of the quags, we came across a stone ruin and an equally ruined half-stone dwarf. The part-flesh, part-rock creature called himself Drenge, and wished us to meet his master Gruthum.
Alas, it was a trap! Once we descended a hewn stairwell and crossed several columns’ worth of wettened stone floor, we came face to face with the creator of this strange hybrid of marsh and stonework, Gruthum. Equally decrepit as his thrall, he recounted a legendary tale of how he had been commissioned to create this place from the mire. He praised the work of he and his thrall cohorts, then attacked out of spite for his lost years and lack of of recognition. Summoning forth nearly a dozen worker thralls and a giant metal boar that would have been wondrous if it weren’t there to kill us, his incoherent rage threatened our lives.
The close-combat troops closed the line immediately, smashing into Gruthum with terrible force. Jackknife finished the malignant creature with a meteor from his fingertips, blowing part of his skull away. With his last breath, he uttered a curse and the taunt; “If I had been a necromancer, these thralls would have fallen to dust with my death…”
But they did not. I summoned Oxtix’s help, who seeped in marshwater to render the ground slippery beneath some of the thralls, and Jackknife empowered his own magic missiles by carving off a pound of his own hindquarters — I still shudder at the frenzied roar he uttered — blowing away several of the thralls and sending the boar down hard. Unfortunately it was only stunned, and seeing it start to rise to its metallic feet we sought exit from this terrible marvel of stonework turned devilish trap.
Finding the stairwell blocked off with stone inlaid with a dwarven rune, Jackknife cast detection of magic upon it, determining it was a rune of trust — we could only pass if the dwarves trusted us. Finding Dredge still alive, the shimmery wizard convinced him in a stunning display of personality that we, in fact, respected the efforts of him and his master — the only thing they really wanted to hear. The stone slid away, and we escaped.
Just as we escape one danger we flee into another. One slave we’d taken with us through the portal lay dead in the muck, and Corvince struggled to drive the blade into another. We came up from behind and disarmed him, holding a knife to his throat; turns out his little brother was the one Diego ruthlessly executed in the barbarian camp. He whistled before we could cut his throat (and that we did after), summoning help from the marsh wilds, which we fled. We camped briefly two hours out, ensuring our pursuers were gone, before heading into Saltmarsh.
The first face we saw in Saltmarsh was that of Casp Averton, the town’s sometimes-mayor. There this journal breaks, for we did rest, and need it.