The rest of the evening passes uneventfully for the companions and under an overcast sky the group saddles up and heads off down the road once again. As the morning wanes on however, Allustan decides to entertain the companions with a challenge of riddles. Intrigued and excited to totally get the right answers always the companions eagerly participate.
“What am I: I’m tall when I’m young and short when I’m old?” After several failed guesses the companions rather sullenly give up with one last demand from Ariadne of,
“Tell me or I’ll beat you up!” To which Allustan merely chuckles in delight at.
Deciding to try his hand at it Thallis soon tosses a riddle Allustan’s way:
“What starts out on 4 legs, then 2, then 3?” Chuckling softly to himself Allustan immediately answers, “Why man of course!” to which Thallis says, “Good guess! But its actually…” and then goes into some long explanation about somebody getting beat up I think and walking around with a stick or something…I’m not quite sure since I didn’t write it down…
Mid afternoon finds the companions near the Keep, only a few things seem to be amiss. Ariadne and Torlin both smell blood on the air, and Ornith immediately notices an increase in the fly population, and Beldor smells smoke. Allustan however seems to be contentedly oblivious; the companions insist on continuing cautiously though. Reaching the foot of the last hill its decided to send Torlin up to the top to scout out the area, what he finds is not very promising.
Torlin sees across from their current hill another hill complete with a tower upon it, however it appears to have been broken into, or at least an attempt at breaking down the door, followed by a hasty repair job. The stockade doors are flung open and dead horses lie broken and bloody in the gateway. Beyond the tower is a vast marshy grassland, Torlin can make out at least three dead humans and numerous reptilian humanoids moving about the grasses, perhaps thirty in total.
Returning to his companions plans are immediately put forth as to what they should do. Ornith suggests that Allustan return as quickly as possible to Diamond Lake and warn the town of this potential invasion, as well as see if reinforcements can be obtained. The companions themselves will attempt to reach the tower itself under cover of darkness and assess the situation within. Agreeing to this Allustan whirls about and “Poof!” is gone in a cloud of smoke! Impressed by his teleportation the companions look at Thallis as if to say “Better get to work on that magic stuff.”
As evening approaches the reptilian humanoids begin to squawk and arm themselves as though going into battle; it is quite clear they mean to attack the tower again and the companions now have limited time. A larger lizardman steps out from the group and begins to issue orders as the other lizardmen begin to split up into separate groups. The companions immediately move in to flank the various groups and begin to pick off lizardmen one by one (or two by two, etc). Eventually the leader is slain! The seeming magic user however is able to run off, much to everyone’s disappointment.
The companions gain access to the tower and Beldor immediately begins tending to the wounded as the others gently question the remaining guardsmen. Apparently this was a much more intense raiding party than normal and the few Free City defenders that typically fight them off just were not enough. Some of their comrades, including Allustan’s friend Marzina, were carried off into the marshes. By this point several of the defenders are near hysteria and both Ornith and Ariadne attempt to calm them down. One man in particular had to be physically restrained by Ariadne in order to spread calm throughout the rest of the group, causing the man to start crying.
The companions decide that the best course of action is to split up for now and have Torlin and Ornith begin tracking the kidnapped defenders while Thallis, Ariadne, and Beldor help the remaining men repair the tower. Overhearing this plan, the defenders immediately cry out that the companions should stay together going into the marshes. Realizing that the defenders will not back down and will potentially go into hysterics AGAIN, the companions agree to leave together, and sooner rather than later.
Leaving the defenders, the companions enter the marshes where the ground is soggy and large Mangaru groves are spotted throughout (Ornith of course snags a sapling). Ornith starts out the expedition by tracking the lizardmen easily, however, as it becomes dark the trail becomes harder to see until eventually losing sight of it completely. Luckily the companions happened upon dry ground for the evening, although Beldor finds it surrounded by large, life-like stone statues of spiders. Due to the spiders seeming to only be statues, and in need of dry ground to camp on, the companions decide to stay.
The night passes swiftly and with no incident aside from the never ceasing calls of large insects and carnivorous birds hunting through the night. Ornith immediately starts tracking and picks up the trail once again in the morning. As they continue on the marshes get seemingly wetter, but the companions happen upon a timely Mangaru log just in time for lunch! Deciding to picnic upon it, their quaint lunch is suddenly interrupted by a giant crocodile bursting from the water! When Ornith’s attempt to befriend it, or at least turn it away, fails the companions are forced to kill the beast, but not without accruing some injuries of their own!
For some reason it is not letting me upload photos