Talon set up a hammock between trees, and the ladies not on watch slept in it keeping relatively dry. Carric and Grimble slept on the damp earth.
During the night, stirges swarmed the party. Talon and Carric called out to wake the others. Carric drew his scimitar. Caelesti woke up and cast Sleep on a group of the stirges, affecting two. Siobhan climbed out of the hammock, drawing her rapier. Talon drew dagger, preparing for combat. Grimble flew near Carric, drawing his shortsword.
Three stirges land on Carric, two miss Caelesti, and one lands on Siobhan. Carric attacked one on him, bleeding it less than it bled him. Caelesti put three more to sleep, including the one on Siobhan. Tan-kurun bit the same one, but it did not fall. Talon started to sing to inspire courage. Grimble struck at one on Carric, but missed.
The stirges on Carric began to suck the life out of him. In desperation, Carric swung at the wounded one, killing it. Tan-kurun attacked another, causing minor wounds. Talon moved to aide Carric by stabbing feebly at one, hitting feebly. Grimble attacked and killed one handily.
The last one, sated on Carric's blood, took flight. Caelesti slew the sleeping ones.
Carric, getting much sympathy about his weakened state, got to sleep in the hammock until noon. Caelesti stayed in the hammock with him to keep him warm.
At noon, Carric got his spells and restored his constitution.
The party continued on their quest through the swamp. Grimble flew ahead with the magic arrow attempting to locate a shard. The party traveled until evening and set up camp.
During this night, the Carric and Talon heard splashing in the water near them. Talon shook Siobhan and Caelesti awake. Carric called to Grimble. Carric started a summoning spell. Talon started an inspiring song. The others waited for something to happen.
Carric summoned a porpoise into the water near the splashing, ordering it to attack the splashy thing, regardless of what it was. The thing attacked back, biting the porpoise. Carric started summoning a second ally.
A second porpoise appeared, and both tried to slam the as-yet-unidentified thing. Carric then cast Daylight in an attempt to actually identify it. The creature moved to align the two porpoises, and spit a stream of something that damaged them both. After more fighting, the two porpoises floated to the surface.
Everyone continued to wait for something to happen. Suddenly, the creature burst out of the water and bit Carric. Caelesti cast Magic Missiles at the very young black dragon. Talon drew a crossbow and loaded it. Siobhan moved to flank the dragon, drawing her rapier, but missed. Grimble flew down to cast Otto's Irresistible Dance on the dragon, affecting it. Carric missed with his scimitar.
The dragon danced. Caelesti cast more Magic Missiles on it. Talon shot at the dragon, missed, and reloaded. Siobhan missed again. Grimble flew off, having done his share. Carric hit with his new scimitar.
The dragon continued dancing. Caelesti cast a third volley of Magic Missiles. Talon and Siobhan both missed. Carric finished it off.
The party talked about looking for the dragon's lair, but decided to wait until morning. The rest of the night was uneventful. Some casters rested a bit longer than normal to be able to recover the spells that were cast during the dragon battle.
In the meantime, Carric cast Speak with Animals and attempted to communicate with a muskrat about the dragon's lair. The muskrat was familiar with the location of the underwater cave, as it knew to keep away from it. Carric asked the muskrat to swim around the surface of the water above the cave. As it swam off, Tan-kurun tracked its progress.
The next trick was to determine if the underwater cave was filled with air or water. Carric and Caelesti were willing to swim down to find out. Talon and Siobhan sang a sad song mocking their lack of inspiration.
On the first dive, Carric and Caelesti found the entrance to the cave, but it was very dark. Carric cast Daylight on a small stone, and the two dove down and swam into the cave. They could not determine if the cave had air however.
Once back on the surface, Carric cast Speak with Animals on another muskrat and talked it into determining if there was any air in the cave. It reported that there was, though it didn't smell very good.
Carric and Caelesti dove back in, swam into the cave with the sacks and pulling the rope, and emerged into the air pocket. The collected the treasure in the sacks, tied the rope to the sacks, and gave a tug on the rope. As the treasure was being pulled out, they guided the sacks over rocks as necessary.
The party spent the rest of the day looking for the portal while Grimble flew about trying to detect the shard. As the party set up camp, Grimble reported that he did locate the shard. Before settling down, the party looked through the stuff they got from the dragon (lair: ).
"Night of the Blood Sucking Stirges from West Miflian" by Talon Tallera 8.24.2006
It was evening. We began to make camp on a hillock, just above the area where we killed the large frogs. I dragged about 3 frog tongues up the hill. I say "about three" because they were not entirely intact. Carric and Caelesti scared me with tales of giant blood-sucking mosquitoy creatures who attacked them on a previous adventure at night. I got worried about sleeping outside in my hammock with my skin exposed. So I draped the tongues over nearby branches in hopes they would act as a sort of natural fly paper. I also hoped the tongues would offer me some protection from the malicious flying Grimble.
The others scoffed at my protection plan, but envied my hammock. I felt for the other ladies. Our beauty is important to the success of our mission, after all. None of us should be getting grubby trying to sleep in the mud. Caelesti and I experimented and figured out we could both balance in my hammock by stretching out with our feet at opposite ends. The next challenge was to arrange the watches so that no more than two ladies would be sleeping at the same time. That meant I got stuck on watch with Carric.
Siobhan and I talked about Carric while we did our Hygiene spells that night. Siobhan is still pissed at him from the Satyr incident. And I'm fed up with him for giving Grimble the idea to throw mud at me. Carric's an instigator, no doubt about that! Siobhan warned me not to sit too close to him, cause he's horny, ham-fisted and likes to ruin a gal's concentration. I sat a good ten feet away from Carric. Well beyond his reach and close to my fly paper traps.
Caelesti and Siobhan shared my hammock. Caelesti said, "Goodnight, Grimble" to a spot on the ground near Carric. Though I saw Grimble up in some tree braches earlier. But, as he sleeps invisible, who knows. A giant bat would be able to detect invisible Grimble, of course. Don't suppose he's thought of that! While on watch with Carric, I wiled away the hours fantasizing about Grimble being swallowed up by a giant bat, who spits out the unpalatable gems and then swoops off, sated, leaving us in peace.
Carric's only alert on watch if he thinks he's going to get some love action. As that obviously wasn't going to happen, so he dozed off. I stayed alert and heard the strange buzzing noise coming towards us and woke Carric. Then we called out to wake the others.
Soon, a swarm of 8 giant mosquitoy creatures were upon us. Carric shouted that the creatures were Stirges. Same type as he and Caelesti had encountered before and to watch-out they don't latch onto us. I dodged through my wall of tongues and this kept the critters away from me, but none were actually caught in my make-shift "fly paper" - which was a big disappointment. I started singing to inspire courage in us all.
Caelesti was the last to awaken. She decided to cast Sleep on as many of the Stirges as she could. I've been told this dropped 3 of them. But I was distracted at the time, defending myself with my dagger. So I don't know first hand.
Carric seemed to have at least 3 Stirges on him. I remember that very clearly as it was a most hideous sight! And I think 1 or 2 of them had already "latched" successfully and begun sucking out Carracks blood when Tan-Kuran and Grimble swooped down from the trees.
I managed to escape my Stirge. Unfortunately it went after Siobhan next. I hesitated to see who was in most need of assistance - Carric or Siobhan.
Carric and Tan-Kuran, I saw, were fighting bravely. Grimble turned invisible again. Carric seemed to think Grimble was helping. But whatever Grimble was doing didn't seem, to me, to be having any effect. All 3 stirges were attached to Carric now and were draining his blood with a vengeance. Carric was getting paler and weaker by the second. I was worried he was going to die! I ran over, with my silver dagger in hand, and stabbed the big Stirge on Carracks face. It bled, but didn't flinch and went on sucking the life out of Carric!!
I assume Caelesti was helping Siobhan kill her Stirge during this time, but I really don't know. I couldn't tear my eyes off the horrifying scene with Carric. Lucky he has a good synergy with his eagle, Tan-Kuran. Together, they managed to kill one of the Stirges. Another Stirge became sated with Carric's blood and flew away. That left just one, wounded, Stirge still attached. I tried to get it, but I'm not strong and my sliver dagger just wasn't cutting mustard. I think Tan-Kuran finally dealt the critical blow that saved Carric.
When I turned to look for the others, I saw Caelesti going around killing sleeping Stirges, one by one, where they lay in the muddy ground. "That was a close!" I thought.
We all felt sorriest for Carric and I offered him my hammock for the rest of the night. I regretted it, though, after he started whining, pestering my cousin again. "Oh, Siobhan, dearest, I'm sooo weak and injured...if only you could nurse me back to health like you did those days at the Inn - after that mean old gargantuan bat got me... oh, I'm so sick, I feel so awful, if could you cuddle me... kiss it and make it better, Siobhan baby, sweetest...." He went on and on!
Siobhan and I, of course, are wise to Carric by now. But darling, gullibly Caelesti was taken-in. She volunteered to cuddle "poor Carric" in the hammock "to keep him warm." I have wondered since, though, how gullible Caelesti really is? Perhaps, secretly, she made that suggestion in order to get a piece of the hammock for herself.
Siobhan and I really needed our hygienes spells in the morning!! After a night on the ground and waking up to those sticky decayed frot tongues... Perhaps that wasn't the best idea I've ever had...
I wanted to get moving, pronto. But Carric wanted to sleep in with Caelesti. They were both total sluggos that morning. Didn't move a muscle until noon, when Carric finally dragged himself off the hammock to take a leak and say his prayers.
Fortified with frosted cakes, rest, and healing, Carric was finally ready to lead on. We tramped along until nightfall. Grimble flew overhead with the arrow, but no quivering occurred.
"Courage in the Face of Faceless Danger" by Talon Tallera 8.24.2006
So we tramped through the swamp from noon until dusk and got to within about 1/2 league from the next Crossroads (as a Detect Crossroads spell by Siobhan confirmed). Grimble taunted us, as usual, for being so much slower on foot than he can fly. I have a fly potion I could use, of course. But I'm not going to waste it compeating with that greedy, little munchkin. BTW, along with being greedy, Grimble's not all that bright. According to MY calculations, Grimble's selected the least valuable gems so far. Hee, heee....if only he knew. And I'm not going to tell him. Oh, no.
Well, I got first watch again, with Carric. Carric tried to weadle out of watch entirely, feigning a bout of dizziness after marching robustly all afternoon. NONE of we ladies fell for it this time, I'm proud to say! Carric was back on the ground.
I sat my usual 10 feet away from Carric and made up for his chronic lack of alertness during our shift. Carric would never have noticed the splashing in the water if it weren't for me. And, as things turned out, perhaps I should never have told him...
It might have been anything - a harmlesss turtle or a sleepy catfish. All I said was, "Pst, Carric, I hear splashing, from over there--" and he leaped to his feet and started conjuring. I woke the other ladies. Didn't bother diddly on Grimble, as I couldn't see him anywhere.
Caelesti saw Carric conjuring and asked, "Is this something we should be bothering?" But Carric paid no heed. The rest of us looked on as Carric mgically launched a porpoise in the water near the area of splashing.
"What is it?" Siobhan asked. But none of us could see a thing. "I'll find out," said Carric and had his porpoise do a body slam on the mysterious creature in the water. WHAM! From the sounds of angry thrashing, that got it's attention! "Yikes, now it knows we're here," I thought and began singing to inspire courage in us, just in case, to help the poor porpoise, now being counter-attacked in the water. Carric responded by summoning a second porpoise.
I sang louder, "Flipper, flipper, dangerous fodder, under the water, under the sea... Go get it, flipper, flipper, brave little porpoise, better than tortoise, under the sea...."
From the sounds of things, the two porpoises were body slamming the (perhaps wholly innocent!) creature from both sides!! Carric wanted to see to better direct his allies so he cast Daylight over the top of the water and on ALL OF US! "Shit, now it will be able to SEE us," I thought. "Why does Carric always want to light us up as targets? I wonder if there are any girdles of "race change" that would nix that pesky Aasimar-like ability?"
"Daylight" over the surface of the water didn't show us anything, naturally, except a lot of bubbles, more angry splashing, and eventually a squirt of acid. "As an Aasimar, I have partial immunity to acid," boasted Carric as he stepped closer to the edge of the water. Two dead porpoises floated to his feet. I shed a tear at the pitiful sight. "Jump in yourself, then, Carric," I said.
Carric's courage faltered and he was about to turn tail and run, when a lizardy creature suddenly lept out, jaws snapping, to take revenge on him. Carric screamed like a Pixie as the creature's fangs sunk into the soft flesh of his leg.
I drew my crossbow and loaded it, explaining, as I did so, that the creature was a young black dragon. "They have an acid breath weapon and don't like to be messed with. Sigh! Come on, guys, we're going to have to kill it now."
Caelesti hit the little dragon with Magic Missiles. Siobhan drew her rapier and flanked the creature. Invisible Grimble must have touched the dragon somehow, because it began dancing uncontrollably. The dragonling was killed pretty quickly after that, not being able to defend itself at all. I would have considered that vastly unfair - except that black dragons aren't known for their chilvalry, nor their compassion. "if we hadn't killed it, it would have lived to torment others," I told myself, bu way of justification. Still, it wasn't a fight we absolutely needed to get into. And there's another night my sleep was interrupted. I wasn't the only one thrown off schedule, though.
Carric's Daylight remained active the rest of the night. Siobhan said, "Carric, do you think Belenus will be happy with you for disrupting the cycle of nature? All these creatures waking up around us at the wrong time?"
"Belanus will be happy that they aren't being eaten by the dragon," said Carric. "And the creatures themselves will be happy too!"
Siobhan, Caelesti and I woke at the usual time for breakfast and hygiene. But Carric slept late again, in the mud, like a lazy porker. Then he made a fuss, demanding we carry a rotting, dragon corpse around with us, "in case we need it as a gift for someone we meet."
I said, "Let's just pull out all the teeth and make a dragon-tooth necklace. That's a much nicer gift any day." So we did. (I'm still carrying the necklace.)
With my superior dragon knowledge, I knew there would be an underwater lair nearby. Cealesti was delighted to hear this. She said, "Hey, I'll bet the segment is hidden in there! Let's find it right now." And she started taking off her clothes to jump in the water.
Siobhan and I kept our clothes on, saying, "Caelesti, honey, we can't swim."
Carric said, "I can!" and threw off his clothes to join Caelesti.
I said, "Why don't you commune with a swamp trout or muskrat or something to find out where the lair is located?"
Carric said, "Good idea!" He cast about and came up with a friendly muskrat. "Hi. Hi. Have any food?" was its predictable response.
Carric finally took some of my advice to heart I was shocked and happy to see. "I'll give you food IF and AFTER you complete your task," he said.
Then Carric, in all his naken figgy glory, stood very straight and tall before the Muskrat, and proclaimed, "I have killed this dead dragon with my bare balls, er, I mean hands. Single-handedly! For you! To make the waters safe for you and your friends."
And the Muskrat was very impressed indeed. His eyes grew as round as saucers as he looked from the hideous corpse to the live nude.
And then Carric did demand of the Muskrat, "Know ye where the dragon did dwelleth afor I killed he?"
And the Muskrat quivered like a magic arrow and answered, "Yes, oh yes, I do, and I did try to avoid that area so that I would not be eaten. And grateful I am, indeed, that you have kill our enemy, Good Sir."
And Carric did command, "Go then, young Muskrat. Swim to that place and mark it for me and I will reward thee with pink frosted cakes."
And so the Muskrat dove from sight. Then Carric did command, "Go Tan-Kuran! Follow that Muskrat!!"
And so Tan-Kuran flew above the water as the muskrat swam below and lo and behold the Muskrat swam in circles at the place of the great lair. And then lost interest and began chasing frogs....
But Tan-Kuran stayed and did hover above the auspicious spot and did call out, "caw! caw!" so that others might follow and find the great place of treasure.
And so Siobhan and I came to be nearby on shore to continue our tale...
"Grab the silk rope and let's dive," said Caelesti, her boobs bobbing with anticipation. Carric bobbed in agreement. Joining hands, they jumped into the dirty swamp water with a great and mighty splash.
"This reminds me of a song," said Siobhan.
"The one about the sea monsters?" I asked.
"No, the one about the two people who swam away into the depths of the ocean and got caught in seaweed and were never seen again."
"Ah, yes, a brave tale," I said.
"Shall we sing a song about how they were eaten?" Siobhan asked.
"Or downed?" I said.
"No one ever knew," Siobhan said.
=== will edit the rest later ===
-Siobhan and Talon compose a duet about brave heroes lost under the sea, attacked by killer seaweed and never to return. The lday Bards sing together, "Brave they were, on that very last day, as they swam away. They dove from sight, one last smile on face, then never a trace, anymore, anymore. No, never a trace anymore!" -Inspired by this fine ballad, Carric and Caelesti grab a silk rope, dive (bottoms up) and swim away in the buff.
-Carric later reports finding the swamp water foul, murky, and acidic. Though, Caelesti had a different take, describing it as a "lemony" experience.
-They located a hole about 15 ft under and then had to come up for air.
-After some discussion with the rest of us, Carric decides to befriend another Muskrat and get the muskrat to explore the cave for us and find out if there's air in there. Promises to feed muskrat after for a job well done.
-Carric provides light underwater for the muskrat, with Carric's Aasimar-like natural ability.
-Muskrat dives into lighted water, comes back a bit later and reports smelling stinky air in the cave.
-Carric and Caelesti, still naked, dive back down the cave, follow it up into an air pocket, and find the dragon's lair littered with coins of all kinds.
-They do a detect magic and find TBD by Brianna at tonight's session
-Carric and Caelesti carry the loot to the surface and spill it out on the land for the rest of us to "oooo" and "ahhhh" over. )
But they have to get through a massive group of hungry muskrats first.
-The muskrats are surrounding Talon and Siobhan and chattering and trying to climb into their food bags. Talon and Siobhan are swatting at the muskrats to keep them at bay.
-Carric gives his original muskrat friends a big hunk of pink-frosted cake. The muskrat grabs the cake eagerly and runs off, dives into the water, and his large family of muskrats chase after him, probably after his food.
-Carric and Caelesti put their clothes back on (presumably - Caelesti, at least, having been warned not to go around naked since we never know when we might stumble upon another group of horny satyrs).
-Carric leads us all another 1/2 league through the swamp, until a "detect portal" spell indicates we are close to the next Crossroads/portal.
-All along the way there has been no special "quivering" and there is still none now.
-Around 3 or 4:00, Grimble is talked into flying around in expanding circles with the magical arrow.
-By about dusk, I think, Grimble returns, dusty and tired and has good quivering news for us.
-We agree to head to the area of quivering in the morning.
-Talon hangs her hammock and we begin to set watches.
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R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.