Over the past months reports kept coming in of the Abyssal Taint afflicting people, reports of more and more people disappearing spreading the illness… yet Lord Hayes seems to have done nothing about the situation even as it spreads and gets worse. We also heard tell from fellow sheriffs that the surviving creatures seemed to adapt to the damage dealt to them, becoming resistant to whatever hurt them. They also reported that the source of the taint was powerful mages at the Thunder Peak, apparently they care nothing for the harm they inflict on others as they experiment, have gnolls allied with them, and are rich. Paying off Peren just to be rid of the sherifs.
We, myself, Tez, Jocelyn, Medrash, and Peren all met in the Lucky Dice to plan the expedition to the Witchmire. As we were planning, however, we were called to the Keep by Lady Hayes. It seems she is at a quandary about what to do with Gillian and would turn a blind eye to her being returned to the Witchmire. I suppose she has languished for months in the cell, and freedom is a high price to pay for any crime. Gillian agreed to exchange information in return for her return to the Witchmire. We learnt much from here, including about the inhabitants of the Witchmire and the real purpose of the Dragonborn in that godforsaken marsh. No ancient dragonborn artefacts, but the remains of a Teifling city, a last part of that ancient empire long fallen and near forgotten. It also seems the Witchmire is inhabited by many more hags, Gillian made mention of her coven, as well as lizardfolk that serve them and a dreaded black dragon, called The Shadow, who delights in torture and is technically meant to leave the coven alone. Nearer to the Witchmire we also learnt that she was exiled from her coven, her lizardfolk killed, for a crime she had commited to her sisters – but she would not say what.
We travelled South from Moonsfall with Gillian in tow, electing to walk instead of traveling by boat. On the way we passed Brandon’s Ferry and soon enough we reached the last outpost of civilisation. A stone walled town called Aesid where we spent the night. Peren elected to camp outside like me, but we did not share a camp, a shame. That morning, although I had slept fine, Peren was covered with bites – although this lead us to learn about a beeswax lotion that repels insects, something that would prove to be invaluable in the Witchmire. The other dragonborn, the ones Medrash was in pursuit of, had spent the night at the tavern some days ago and caused some damage. From Aesid we set out for the Witchmire properly. On the way we had to pass through Thyre Forest where we met the Blue Leaf again, they let us passed but were curious about our purpose and were distrustful of Medrash, it seems the other dragonborn had killed some of the Blue Leaf’s number. Gillian was also ill at ease among the elves, but we didn’t enquire why. Through the forest but still far from the Witchmire we saw The Shadow, a massive dragon circling the Witchmire, still we pressed onwards and entered the marsh before nightfall. When night did fall we set camp using magical light in place of torches or a camp fire, swamp gas is a serious threat. That night, when Tez was on watch, we were surrounded by a lizardfolk clan. Remarkable how even in this savage place beings, however foul, group into something of a community in order to survive. We dispatched the biggest of the lizardfolk, Gillian having already told us that lesser lizardfolk submitted to those stronger than them. Gillian also told us that the largest of the lizardfolk were called Greyscales, and were beasts to be feared. Having defeated the greyscale the lesser lizardfolk switched allegiance to us, or more accurately Peren having landed the finishing ‘blow’. Unfortunately we had no way to communicate with them, so Gillian had to translate and soon a farce was developed so the lizardfolk could be commanded. That night Gillian betrayed us and flew with half the lizardfolk, I tracked them down and soon we found where a battle had taken place. I crept closer hiding in the long grass as things developed around me, and I accidentally stumbled into the midst of hiding lizardfolk but managed to escape the trap without alerting them. The rest of the group were approached by some beautiful half-elves, although given our location and Gillian’s warning it was more likely they were hags. The group conversed with them a while and then Tez drew his sword and moved to execute a shape on the ground. At the same time Jocelyn fell to the ground bleeding profusely, fortunately Peren saved his life. Soon after the witches and hidden lizardfolk left on “other business”. I re-joined the group and we all spoke our safewords so we were sure that we were all free of enchantment.
After regrouping we heard a horn in the distance to the west. Medrash said the dragonborn he was pursuing carried bronze horns so we surmised the horn was them. We moved as quickly as we could and found the dragonborn victorious on the battlefield, three dead and more injured. Among them was one Medrash knew and they conversed. The dragonborn were contemptuous of Tez but they led us to their camp on the outskirts of the ancient teifling city. They told tales of how the city was haunted, how they’d sustained many casualties, and how the further into the city the stronger the ghosts became. The next day we ventured into the city and the dragonborn took us to a door they had been unable to open and we explored within the chambers behind. Although the parchments were ruined there were many many artifacts, not least a number of paintings Falco would be interested in. Myself and Peren pocketed a large number of trinkets and coin from the first room as the others were otherwise engaged, from the other rooms we all shared the loot with the exception of a painting I collected for Falco. In the final room, far up a tower, we encounted a zombie. A teifling slave master who paralysed Medrash, after referring to him a slave, and almost killed Peren. The zombie also recognised Tez and Joceln as allies, a mistake. I claimed the kill and the whip the creature had used to paralyse Medrash. Joceln also revealed a trinket he had found, an eye glass what had been hidden in a safe in a tree. Within the tower room Tez also found a scrap of paper with script on it, it seemed important to Tez and when it was explained to the other
Something rather interested we encountered in the city were the ‘traps’ upon the doorways, magical barriers that prevented dragonborn passing through and had to be deactivated from within the room they protected.
Leaving the tower room we followed the other dragonborn to the slave pits, which is apparently what was mentioned on the scrap of paper. The pit turned out to be covered with a massive steel and glass lid which slid aside after Tez said “lulapaluza”. Medrash descended into the pit, and shortly after called the other dragonborn down. Turns out the teiflings had ‘time frozen’ a large group of dragonborn, and that we’d unwittingly saved them. Shortly after this we escorted them across the Witchmire and back to civilised Northvale, settling them in Brendon’s Fall, before returning to Moonsfall. It’s my understanding that Merdash is re-settling the Dragon Quarter to Brendon’s fall as well, and I’ve offered him my services as a trapper.