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Into the Dark of Mother's Marsh

The lost village of Hearthstone is somewhere along the edges of Mother's Marsh. The village may hold answers to what it is that lurks in the depths of the corrupted Marsh. A group of brave souls set off on an expedition to uncover the mystery at the center of it all.
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Continuation of Malevolent Hunger and You Don't Stop prps. By invitation of Mia or Tyrus only, if you haven't participated in the other PRPs. Risk on this is High.

Date

Nov. 5, 2019, 8 p.m.

Hosted By

Reigna

GM'd By

Reigna

Participants

Tyrus Amund Ian Thesarin Lora Mirella Mia Mihaly

Organizations

Location

Outside Arx - The Twainfort - Mother's Marsh

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


Ian gets ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf from Oiled leather bag.

Amund wields Moonlight, a hand-and-half longsword with a distinctive lion's head engraving on the pommel.

Thesarin wields Guardian, a long arming sword with a razor-thin edge and a dawnstone set at the center of the crossguard.

Mirella wields a delicate Lycene stiletto dagger.

Ian puts Basket-hilted Rubicund Sword in Oiled leather bag.

Ian wields Heavy Cane.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Thesarin before departing.

Mia gets Armored Heron Exotic Leather Arms from an arch-topped cedar chest with steel hardware.

Mia gets Armored Heron Exotic Leather Boots from an arch-topped cedar chest with steel hardware.

Mia gets Armored Heron Exotic Leather Gloves from an arch-topped cedar chest with steel hardware.

The trip begins on a ship, shallow hulled, to be able to traverse up the Mother River when they arrive at the delta. Despite the winter weather, hugging close enough to the coast ensures there is minimal foul weather, a day of gellid rain, perhaps, but no tempest storms or rough seas. Once they turn into the Mother, the cold air seems to taper off, as if for some reason, among the thick, ropey vines and kudzu and mandrake roots heat bubbles from the thick murky water. The pace is very slow, the sailor's grumbling as the captain calls for poles and oars to fight the sluggish current.

"Keep an eye out. Nadar Nedare's book mentioned a growth of purplish vegetation in the middle of the river delta." advises Tyrus as he directs the riverboat. "It is the first sign they noticed, the first indication of corruption" And potentially indicates the source. The prince remains calm even as they approach far more sinister surroundings, for all the beauty they may bear. The Mother's Marsh, a place uninhabited by the Compact for three hundred years. A place that devoured the previous expedition to reach its borders, more than a century ago. Yet for all the dangers that await, still no worry can be seen on the man's face. He looks different from the last time most met him, his long hair cut short and clad not in silk and umbra, but rather the dark second skin that is shadowmeld. Covering the man from neck to toe, it seems the Thraxian was quite serious about making the necessary preparations. He continues to look around, slow scans of the area as he navigates them further into the diseased realm of Sargarath and its spawns. "And if you see logs in the water, keep in mind they're probably not logs."

Clad in fireweave, Amund is quiet for the duration of the trip's beginnings; Moonlight is sheathed at his side as opposed as to his back, ever within reach. He carries an oar covered in steel chains for some reason, always looking out over the edges of the swamp once the cold air tapers off. Occasionally he might cut the vines, kudzu or mandrake as required to aid in their passage, but the former sellsword keeps himself busy and isn't particularly loquacious.

Ian tends towards hanging onto things while on ships, as he's rather prone to losing his balance, especially considering that he's supposed to be from the Isles. For all that he moves more easily on a ship than off of one, and seems to have an instinctive understanding of the cramped space full of gear. He wears that dreadful scarf in a loose loop at his hip, like a very soft, very, very ugly whip. Ian might be pretty tolerant to bad smells, but nobody wants to wear that thing up against their face more than they have to. Even when the alternative is a marshy smell of rotting vegetation. He keeps an eye on the surface of the water ahead of them as they skim through the river.

Thesarin spoke little on the trip. Anyone from Riven who knows him likely wouldn't be surprised, and anyone not from Riven... well, a fair number of people find something about a glowering theoretically-Prodigal with a big sword offputting, somehow. As they come closer to the Marsh, and the Marquis-consort girds himself for battle, the effect is... rather more pronounced. While he goes about Arx looking like a Grey Forest shav in a nobleman's clothes, here the wolfskin cloaks, redsteel plates, and furred skirts make him look exactly like an especially well-heeled shav warlord, exacerbated by the beads of stygian and bone he's woven through his hair. He's standing watch near Tyrus, eyes narrowed at something or anther ahead. "...this is a bad place," he rumbles out in his low growl. "Blood in the waters. Bile in the roots."

Whereas the Thraxian prince looks more or less comfortable - or at least adequately prepared for this expedition - Lora rather doesn't. She's mustered up a lot of very carefully bland stoicism for the last leg of the trip, owing in no small part to the fact that while she's wearing very red, very rose-themed armor, it doesn't quite fit right. Or maybe she's never actually worn the stuff before, and can't help but be uncomfortable in it, and it is only through an act of raw willpower that she's managing not to pick at it. Some of that falls away as the temperature of the marsh changes, as the cold becomes uncannily warm. The little brown bird that has come along with her appears far more interested in the goings-on, and flits from one of her shoulders to the other. Maybe the wren is looking for purple plants?

As if summoned from the prince's words, a wedge shaped head rises from under the water, a pair of gold eyes perched atop as a lengthy tail provides a smooth and steady forward momentum. It paces the ship for about fifteen minutes before vanishing with the same silent subtlty with which it arrived.



The Marsh spreads out, and there is a hooked turn in the flow of the river that forms a small bay. At the center of this is a massive snarl of dark vegetation. It can easily be mistaken for little more than a small island covered in a slightly purplish vegetation of the same type as the rest of the banks. So the vines are a bit thicker, the growth more claustrophobic?

Amund checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 13 lower.

Tyrus checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 20 lower.

Lora checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 11 lower.

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 14 higher.

Mirella says nothing. She's situated on the riverboat a small distance away from everyone else, where she holds the front of her leather cowl over her face right up to the bottom of her eyes. She's not affected by any of the nausea that can come from a boat ride -- no, it's just the rich stink of decay and stale water that's bothering her. Similar to the soft leather of the cowl, her outfit is crafted from a dark, velvety-sueded of some kind of leather. A brigandine vest covers her chest, while bracers are fitted to her forearms. At her waist, a couple of slender Lycene daggers, and within her narrowed eyes a focus and watchful observation even keener and brighter than the sharpest blade. She's surveying the territory, alert for threats that she may or may not spy.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 16 higher.

Mirella checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 17 lower.

Mihaly checked perception + survival at difficulty 35, rolling 2 lower.

Although the Marquessa is no sailor, she's spent more than her fair share of time aboard boats -- and specifically aboard boats on this very river. And the one lesson that she's learned from all of that time is that while these may, theoretically, be her lands.... this is not her ship to command, and the smartest thing that she can possibly do is to follow the captain's orders and to otherwise stay out of the crew's way. She simply stands on the starboard side, wrapped in her mossy green and watery blue leathers, dark eyes peering down, down into the murky water.

"A Shardhaven left undisturbed for three hundred years. I doubt even an inch of that place isn't tainted in some shape or form." Tyrus remarks to Thesarin, though his eyes do not stop their steady sweep to glance at the Marquis-consort. Still, for all his attention, the man doesn't notice much else than the creature of golden eyes, vanishing soon after. Navigating the boat through such small space is probably taking most of his attention, in the attempt of avoiding the occasional rock or bundle of vines. That is, until they catch sight of the snarl of vegetation, purplish. "Interesting." he notes, frowning at the sight.

Mihaly hasn't all that talkative, much like the rest of the Riven's who're on this trip. Knight Commander of the Twainfort has been more about keeping his eyes open and a hand on his sword pommel more than anything else. Though his lips curl in revulsion at the smell, distratcing him enough for a moment that he has to do a double take at some particular spot he had been looking at. The man narrows his eyes, but doesn't appear to see anything of import. "Any reason why they're called shardhavens? Always was curious on the name."

Hanging onto a taught line with one hand, Ian twists around to nudge whoever is in easy nudging distance to catch their attention. He keeps his voice pitched low when he speaks, his thick Isles accent making it even harder to make out. "We're being watched. Out in the brush. There." He nods in a vague way, but doesn't point. His free hand is busy loosing his scarf from his belt so he can cover the lower half of his face with it. "Looks like an old village off to port, under the vines."

"The shards are them things went through the Mirror, and broke at the passing." Thesarin looks over toward Mihaly at the question, and then back to staring in silence ahead, taking a long, slow sniff of the air, and frowning. "...we're being watched," he says in a quieter rumble than before. If he has an opinion on the subject, he isn't showing it. "Can't say how many."

The best thing Lora can do is sit out of the way, leaving the actual sailors to do their business. What she can do is something like answer Mihaly, when he asks his question. "They call creatures that have been twisted by the Abyss shards. Shardhavens, then, are where they grow and breed." It's tacked onto Thesarin's explanation. As attention is called to the whatever portside she turns slightly that-away. "We must be getting close, then."

"I see nothing." Amund's eyes roam from place to place in the swampland, but now the oar is abandoned, his sword drawn, instead. "Nobody hop off the boat into the water, please. If they're watching, they're waiting to surprise us." The former sellsword straightens, slipping into a defensive stance.

Mirella's voice (Lycene-accented and still somehow quite steady despite the overall spookiness that lies thick in the air) is just a touch muffled as she widens her eyes and looks to those who seem to know what's going on beyond the vines and marshy foliage. "Any idea who might be watching us? Or what?"

"In this particular case, they are the nesting grounds for Sargarath, a monster that lays clutches every fifty years of corrupt crocodiles, sending them out in the world to spread the corruption that fills her." Tyrus adds to the explaination of the others. At being watched, he frowns in the direction indicated, but shows little surprise. "We may also have to deal with cultists. Either they or her spawns might be the ones watching." the prince remarks before considering the remains of the village. "I suppose we've found what happened to Hearthstone after all."

"People. Or so I hope. Don't startle," Mia hisses low, to those receiving the warning. "If you do, they'll know we've seen them." Her eyes narrow just so, tracking the figures as the boat slowly, slowly continues on its way. There's a long pause from her, a frown, before she adds, "Cover your faces if you can. The air isn't right here."

"Then I suppose I will forever be in the dark about these things." Mihaly doesn't sound annoyed at the explanation, though maybe a touch grumpy at the fact that he didn't know to begin with. The frown increases at his nephew's words. "It stinks like a festering pond of rotting bodies, that's what you mean." he states evenly to Mia, taking a piece of cloth from his pack that he uses to bind wounds and wraps it around his mouth and nose." Another scan out from his spot. "In a place like this, it'd be odd if we *weren't* being watched."

"Half a league back, could be near anyone. Grey Forests are full o' folk ain't mean harm, even if they ain't oft kind to strangers." Thesarin shifts slightly, in a way that happens to slide the cloak away from the brace of throwing axes he's strapped to his shoulder. "...here, ain't reckon there's aught but us and the cult." He's quiet a moment, before he starts to make nother low noise at his throat. "...if we make ground without a fight. Who can go about not noticed?"

Covering one's face is a good idea, and so he does the same, a piece of cloth to cover his mouth and nose soon tied around his head. "Let's keep moving. The longer we spend in this place, the riskier it gets." he warns the others. "We've this... island of vines up ahead, and the remains of the village. While I agree finding out who watches us, and what they might know, would be useful, we must keep in mind that time is of the essence." At the question of who might move silently, he looks at the others. Clearly the prince is not one such. He did say, after all, that he was neither warrior nor scout, but sailor.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 39 higher.

Tyrus checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 7 higher.

Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 26 higher.

Mirella covered her face with her cowl as soon as that nasty rotting stink tried to work its way into her nostrils, so she's already... um... covered there. If anything, she seems more offended by that ofactory assault than she does by the possibility of being watched, though there's still some tension around her back and shoulders as she slowly peers this way and that. She nods to Thesarin then, adjusting her daggers at her waist so that they lie just right. Despite having moved her hands from the cowl, it still remains where it was, thankfully. At Thesarin's question, she replies in that scarf-muffled tone. "I can probably do that. I'm small and quiet."

Lora checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 8 higher.

Mihaly checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Mirella checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 9 higher.

Amund checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 3 higher.

Lucky Ian. There's no way he can smell the noxious air what with his noxious scarf now covering his nose and mouth. He continues to watch the surface of the water a little ways ahead of them, his gaze occasionally panning up to the trees, also ahead. He doesn't even bother to answer the question about his capacity for stealth.

The sound that comes out of Mihaly is a mildly amused snort. "Knights aren't known for their sneaking." A knuckle raps at breastplate of his steel armor. "Tend to clank around a bit too much and I'd rather not give you away."

Lora likewise procures some cloth from her bag of sundry supplies, and spends a bit of time affixing it so that she need not hold it in place all the while. "It's questionable who might live here without having come under the influence of the corruption here, but I suppose we will find out, soon enough." As they near what is near enough to an island she leans up and forward slightly, like this might help peer in that direction. Really it doesn't, but it's the thought that counts. Questions of stealth get a shake of her head. "I'm rather more likely to walk right into whoever's watching us, though might then be able to talk my way back out again."

With the watchers pointed out, they become more visible. Well hidden in camoflagued leathers made from crocodile and deer pelts, the people in the brush have painted their faces with mud, their eyes a sharp contrast to the dark frame of the mud. They mill around, some carrying spears, others daggers or knives as they lurk in the brush, seeming alert, but not overtly aggressive. For now, they are only watching.



Now the question is... where do they disembark?

"When it comes to the shav'arvani," Mia mutters wryly, flicking her gaze over towards her husband. "I'm generally better at striding my way into their campsite and talking them into some nonsense idea than I am at avoiding their notice." Her lips then press together into a thin line. "The village may still have a dock, if it hasn't rotted away entire. Or at least a bit of flat ground near enough to the water that we won't have to wade through mud thick enough to suck our boots off."

"Right." Thesarin gives a nod, and a low rumble at the back of his throat. "So. Either they'll fight us at the landing, or they'll work at set up an ambush. Me 'n the girl, we'll hold back from you lot when we set out. Try at catching 'em unawares when they try the same."

Ian shifts his attention from the water to Thesarin. "There's a lot of them for two people to hold off, if you're wrong," he remarks in his usual toneless voice.

"If I recall the diary of Nedare... That place..." Tyrus points towards the vegetation in the middle of the river, forming its own little island. "That is where he drew the first growth of this vegetation. In the middle of the river. Whatever is there, it is most likely where we might find the source. Dealing with our shadowing 'friends', however, may be wiser before we get to that part. Either way we won't be able to reach it without the boat." The village is, after all, on the other side of the 'island'. "What are the odds that we can make use of them, or are we certain they are hostile and thus should be treated as such? For if that's the case, heading to the island may save us time."

The prince then glances at the supplies he brought. Holy oil. Holy water. And a lot of torches. "Depending on what needs to be done with that island." he adds.

Tyrus checked perception + sailing at difficulty 20, rolling 42 higher.

Ian checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 55 higher.

Mirella checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 2 higher.

Mia checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 36 higher.

Mihaly checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.

Lora checked perception + empathy at difficulty 35, rolling 3 lower.

Thesarin checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 47 higher.

Amund checked perception + survival at difficulty 15, rolling 6 higher.

"I'm not entirely sure that *is* an island, Your Highness." They are in the middle a reeking marsh, surrounded by what may or may not be a troop of vicious cultists ready to slaughter them, but really, dignity must be preserved. Or so Mia seems to think, maintaining her firm composure even as her attention darts back and forth between the cluster of vines and grasses, and the clusters of onlookers scattered through the growth along the riverbank. "As for the shav'arvani, there's one very quick way to find out what it is they want...."

Thesarin gives a lown, rumbling grunt toward Ian. "Ain't reckon to hold 'em off with two. But break apart a charge, interfere with a scout... I'm fond o' being at the right side an ambush." He shakes his head, and looks back toward the island with a deeper frown. "...it ain't land. Just roots, 'n vines, 'n bones in the waters."

"Nowhere in there is a solid point, so if you land, you're in deep shit." Amund remarks in a way that seems a little -- out of place -- for the former sellsword, but then there's a very distinct edge to his gaze. "Get one of the sailors to grab their longest oar and try to shove at the swamp's floor with it. We'll find out how deep it is."

Tyrus gives the place another good look before shaking his head. Whatever he saw seems to have decided him, along with the comments of the others. "Whatever it is... It doesn't seem to be strong enough to simply land on, much less dock the ship. The old village may be the only place to properly make landfall." the prince remarks. "I suppose we could simply douse the vegetation with oil and set it aflame to see what happens... But probably best we figure out more of this place before trying to set things aflame, if that would even work." Of the Abandoned, he nods in Mia's direction. "Let's try that, then. And prepare in case their intentions are indeed hostile." Time to bring the boat towards the remnants of the village. At Amund's suggestion, he nods. "Aye, let's see." And so it is done. Or attempted, at least.

Mirella nods as the others speak, now holding her cowl to her mouth and nose once again. "I can run fast enough if it comes to that. I can hide," she adds. There's a narrowing of the eyes as she looks down to the water, and then to Amund when he makes his suggestion. "Good idea.

"They'll have us at a disadvantage on two fronts, then." Mihaly shakes his head a bit. "They're know this terrain, we already knew that. They likely know how to move better in *that*," he points at what they've been thinking is the island, "than we will. And someone of us will be...weighed down." He looks down at his armor. "I should really invest in something not so heavy. And we don't know what's lurking the water. Or whatever diseases might be rampant here in festering water."

"So, at absolute very best, we're all going to go waiding and be smelling like this at least until we make it back to Arx?" Lora musters a dry inquiry about their destination. "The village does by far seem the better option. If we can reach it." She's more interested in those watching them than she is in the tangled mat of vegetation where they're bound. "They do seem to be waiting for something. Possibly to see what we want." There might be alternatives to this that've occurred to her, but she doesn't share them, only adjusts how the cloth covers the lower part of her face.

Ian seems content to be philosophical about the situation. He keeps watch as he has been doing and waits for orders to follow.

Mirella checked intellect + alchemy at difficulty 15, rolling 37 higher.

Mirella tilts her head to the side, adding as an after-thought. "It's really wet here. Might be able to get a fire going, but it'd have to be in rhe village if we want it to really burn."

First, Mia looks to Tyrus. Then she looks to her husband. The corners of her mouth turn down into a frown and, eventually, she simply shrugs. Though her hands curl around her bow, grasp tightening, she makes no motion to ready an arrow. "Do you serve the crocodile Sagarath and seek to see her spawn loosed upon the world, or live in fear of her shadow, and hope to keep any from rousing her?", she calls out, shouting across the grim, steaming waters.

Mihaly may or may not be muttering a silent prayer to Gloria.

Reigna GM Roll checked composure(3) + manipulation(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 11 higher.

There is a silence from those who are lurking on the shores. One might even term it a surprised sort of silence. Eventually a middle-aged looking man shuffles out into the open, looking out over the water to the boat. He's wearing crocodile regalia, face a mask of mud and mica. "Hail visitors. What was that you said?"

Surely that snorting sound Ian made under his scarf was just him clearing his throat. Surely that wasn't a laugh. Ian probably doesn't even know what a laugh is, so how could it be?

Thesarin looks over the gathered shavs, and watches his wife, with a low grumbling sort of noise. He turns toward Tyrus and gives another low grunt. "...reckon you might put us in here, Captain. Seems as good spot as any."

"They have numbers against us. And we're in their land. We're at their mercy if a fight breaks out." Mihaly states while glancing at Mia being the one who makes the first move. "Should make sure we keep a clear path back to the boat in case we need to make rapid retreat."

Tyrus glances at Mia after the reaction from their hosts is... underwhelming. "So, My Lady, what exactly did you tell them?" he asks with an arched brow when the question from what appears to be their leader is heard. The prince doesn't speak loudly enough to be heard beyond the ship. That is, until he raises his voice. "Greetings! If you do not mind, would it be per chance not asking too much of your generosity if we were to dock our boat, that we may discuss properly without yelling over the river?" he asks, with raised voice meant to carry. Because one might as well be polite when speaking to crocodile-wearing barbarians.

The little bird on Lora's shoulder fluffs up a little bit, almost like she's responding to the sound Ian makes. Surely the wren isn't agreeing? Lora meantime directs her attention more fully to the man who emerges, studies him with slightly more open interest now that he's come out. "We'll be at their mercy anyway," she murmurs to Mihaly. "We won't be out of here in a hurry, even if we find ourselves in one."

Several more people emerge, now that it has come to talking times. Two are elderly, wrinkled and white haired, three are in their teens, and the remainder, 5, including the speaker make themselves visible. The elders and the speak huddle together and the speaker shouts back, "If you promise no violence, you are welcome to our home." He motions towards the most likely docking area.

There is a long, silent pause from the Marquessa at the man's reply. She blinks twice, in rapid succession, before a broad grin stretches over her face. The woman always has had a particularly dry sense of humor. "I asked," she retorts to Tyrus quietly, her voice dropping low, "whether they serve your wicked crocodile, or are seeking to keep strangers away, so no one rouses her. It would seem the latter *is* possible, given how often the writings that were found refer to watchers and guardians."

"I've had worse odds." Amund mutters, sheathing his blade as he looks to the others. He can easily draw it once again, but at this point, keeping options open is... well, a necessity.

Thesarin mutters, "Reckon ... them killed the girl. If it is, ain't ... ... ... a promise can be kept."

Thesarin leans closer toward his wife, saying something in a low tone while he looks toward the man they're speaking to.

"You heard the man. I would suggest keeping our word, and keep an eye out should this welcome prove all too shortened by betrayal and ambush. We're not going anywhere fast, as was mentioned." he nods to Lora. "So we may as well take advantage of it." Then, louder, he answers the man. "We promise no violence as your faithful guests within your home, and are grateful for this welcome by honest and true hosts." Then, lower to Mia, he adds. "It seems that they are not the mindless zealots sort who might be roused at the mere mention of its name uttered with anything else but worship." Still, Tyrus navigates the boat to where the leader indicate and docks, bringing the group, finally, to firm land. Sort of. As much as might be found in a swamp.

The docking maneuver is assisted by the shavs standing at certain points and motioning to the captain, calling back and forth with their suggestions like any obnoxious back seat parallel parking expert. Eventually the gang plank is extended and lands with a satisfying thunk on solid ground, stable enough to allow disembarking. The group of ten shavs have grouped up, watching the party to see what will happen next.

Reigna GM Roll checked composure(3) + manipulation(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 39 higher.

Ian gives Tyrus a look. "I can give my word not to start violence," he tells the prince, his tone almost disinterested.

Whatever it was that was said to her, Mia replies with a grim nod -- and not a single word.

When the boat is at last docked Lora rises and briefly brushes herself off; certainly she isn't fussing with her armor. No, no. There's a glance toward Thesarin and Mia, but it's oh so very, very brief, and she soon moves to join those at least considering getting off. She's otherwise very quiet for the time being, and watchful; a few moments are spent studying each of the shavs who've come to study them, though her interest is a little more neutral.

Mihaly watches on, keeping a hand lightly lingering on the pommel of Duty. While Mia goes about playing peace maker, he's busy silently counting heads of the number of shavs that he at least sees. Thesarin gets a slightly questioning look, but doesn't expand on it. "So far." he finally says to Mia. "Because as far as numbers go, the odds are not in our favor. So I'd strongly suggest we stay as a group. A straggler will likely be a lost cause."

Much the same as Lora, Mirella utters not a word for now, instead watching and waiting. She's looking around with subtle glimpses here and there.

Lora checked perception + empathy at difficulty 56, rolling 28 lower.

Mihaly checked perception + empathy at difficulty 56, rolling 45 lower.

Mia checked perception + empathy at difficulty 56, rolling 28 lower.

Mirella checked perception + empathy at difficulty 56, rolling 24 lower.

"These are your lands, Marquessa. They have welcomed us into their home, in exchange for non-violence. I would suggest wasting little time finding out what they're doing here and some such, but leave it in your hands. I would not presume dealing with Abandonned on your territory beyond ensuring a meeting can be held properly." Tyrus murmurs to Mia and Thesarin, offering for them to take the lead if they so wish. The prince doesn't seem to mind or even wish to take the lead on that particular matter.

Tyrus checked perception + empathy at difficulty 56, rolling 30 lower.

Thesarin looks over toward Tyrus with a deep frown and a sharp intake of hissed breath when the captain makes his promise, curling his lip slowly. He looks back away from the man, and then toward the man who's obviously in charge. The Marquis gives a thoughtful look for a moment before he speaks. "...I'll make the promise same. First, though, got to ask a question. There were a girl, child of Baron Wolfhall, said she came this way. Know aught of that?"

There are wide smiles and happy faces looking back at the party, the elders with their gummy grins and a shy looking youngin' no more than thirteen years old, peeking out from around one of the older folks. The speaker steps forward, teeth and scaled braided into a salt and pepper beard. "Greetings wanderers. What brings you to the Mother's swamp?"

Amund is, for the most part, silent as ever. He lets people who are better at talking do the talking. His scarf still covers most of his face and his eyes remain vigilant. No attempts to read the room, in a manner of speaking, either.

Mia makes her way down the gangplank slowly, mindful of whether or not the others mean to follow. Though she draws back the hood of her cowl, she makes no move to hide the crest on her armor, her House's heron embossed across her chest. "I am Mia Riven," she offers, by way of greeting. With one hand, she gestures upriver, northward, towards the Twainfort. "And the fort at the Mother's fork is mine." A gamble, that, and she knows it well enough. The speaker, the man who greeted them, holds her attention, her watchful stare waiting to gauge his reaction not only to the Compact, but to her family name.

Tyrus remains silent now, among the last to leave the boat though he'll remain with the rest of the group. Both Thesarin and Mia have spoken to the village's leader. Thus, the Prince takes his time to instead inspect his surroundings. Not for signs of movement or stealthy individuals preparing an ambush, but instead doing the scholar's work of looking at various sigils or symbols that might be found. A study of whatever occult leanings these people might have, while the others speak.

There is a spike of emotion that passes like lightning arcing from person to person at the sound of Mia's name. Eyes linger on the heron emblazoned on her armor, and there is a spark of hushed murmurs through the group. The Speaker lifts one foot off the ground and bends nimbly in a maneuver that he seems to feel shows respect. "The Great Mia Riven, welcome. I am Kysis, first Guardian. Welcome to Heart and Stone. Come, we should treat you to a meal. It is cold and wet. We will make you some stew."

Did Kysis hear Thesarin's question? It doesn't seem like it at first, his attention so focused on Mia. He does, however, turn shiny black eyes to Thesarin. "I do not know this name. Wolfhall. Was there a girl? Did she run away? Sometimes we find those who run away. Is she one of those?"

So far so good, right? Right. The wash of emotion that passes through the little crowd is watched, but it's hard to say if Lora makes anything out of it and her attention soo returns to the speaker - the Guardian - when he so introduces himself. She too waits a few moments, trying to decide if they're all expected to follow or not, and then likewise makes her own way down the gangplank.

"Might've been she did." Thesarin starts to stand down, off the boat, and onto the ground (or whatever might pass for it here). "She was lost, ain't so far from the marsh. We went seeking her." He takes a step off the boat, stretching at his shoulders and neck. "Found what was left."

Ian doesn't look all that friendly -- especially with the watchful way that he keeps an eye not on people's expressions but on their hands and their weapons, shifts of weight and the shifts of gazes -- but he also doesn't look all that threatening, between the cane and the way that he stumbles on his way down the gangplank.

"Stick together." Tyrus murmurs to those who might be hesitating, whether to follow or not. Follow the prince does, still keeping an eye out for anything remotely occult, things that might be of use telling tales that the villagers, or whatever they are, might not. The great beast remains to be found, the monster that calls these Marshes her domain. That they've yet to find her or more of her spawns... is source for some concern.

"Cold?," comes a swift reply, the word blurted out quickly. Clearly, the suggestion has surprised Mia, given the heat and the steam rising off the water, so far into the dead of winter. "A generous offer. Thank you. Though it's as my husband said." Here, she nods to the Prodigal lord as he makes his way towards the cluster growing on the shore. "We started on our way into the marshes in search of the girl -- Larelle. Dark-haired. Young. Not yet even thirteen winters old. She went missing from the Great Road. I doubt she ran off of her own will."

Mia checked perception + linguistics at difficulty 15, rolling 43 higher.

The First Guardian listens to Mia's description and frowns, "That describes many girls, I am afraid. Still, if you will join us in the Hall," He gestures to a large building hidden under a mountain of ivy, "I am certain we can ask around. Maybe see if any of my people have seen her?"

"If you could also ask if they've seen Sargarath, the corrupted queen of the Hidden Wallow, it would be most appreciated as well." says Tyrus to the First Guardian. Apparently subtlety has been thrown overboard to die a drowning death among diseased waters. "Or if you have such information to share about the creature. You seem to be wearing its spawns." adds the Thraxian, casually.

Reigna GM Roll checked composure(3) + manipulation(3) at difficulty 30, rolling 1 higher.

There is a moment, just a moment after Tyrus speaks that Kysis looks almost scandalized. "Spawn? Spawn of -- of who?" There is a hard glitter in the man's eyes, his teeth set, his posture startled, tense and slow to ease back down. His eyes break the gaze and he looks side to side suddenly as if expecting something, his own nerves apparent.

Ian checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.

Mia checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 1 higher.

Tyrus checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 4 higher.

Lora checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 4 higher.

Mihaly checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 52 higher. Mihaly rolled a critical!

Amund checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.

Thesarin checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 4 lower.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) at difficulty 10, rolling 22 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) at difficulty 10, rolling 18 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) at difficulty 10, rolling 16 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(3) at difficulty 10, rolling 12 higher.

"Look out!" Mihaly had not really been paying attention to the talking. The old Sword had been doing what he does best, keeping a watchful eye on his surroundings. Kind of why he's Knight Commander. But the knight practically *leaps* out of the way of an incoming crocodile, Duty being drawn in the same motion. "It's coming for you!" he calls out towards the shavs, in particular their leader and Mia. Wasting no time, there's one sheer way to solve this kind of problem; by taking it's damn off. So he gets to the snicker-snack'ing.

Mihaly wields Duty, an exemplar diamondplate knight's blade.

Mihaly checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 18 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(5) at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

It's like he is prescient or something. Mihaly is in motion seemingly before the large bull crocodile is bursting out from under a delapitated wooden structure, gaping jaws open, as it charges towards Kysis or Mia -- who exactly it lunges for is unclear, though whatever the previous target was, it changes to Mihaly when that Diamondplate blade hits it at the shoulders, biting through the thick scales with a hiss and sizzle that carries a wiff of noxious fumes as steam and smoke rises in the wake of that blade. The animal hisses, jaws snapping, grabbing hold of Mihaly's calf and jerking the man off his feet, trying to crush the leg within its armor.

60 inflicted and Mihaly is harmed for moderate damage.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(5) at difficulty 15, rolling 47 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(4) + brawl(5) at difficulty 15, rolling 52 higher.

Reigna GM Roll checked strength(3) + brawl(3) at difficulty 15, rolling 18 higher.

Ian checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 32 higher.

100 inflicted and Ian is harmed for moderate damage.

Ian is knocked/jerked off his feet by the crocodile. He twists in the air as he falls, and there's the sound of a drawing blade, and the lambent flash of an alaricite. He almost looks like he's been pulled under the beast. A vast pool of black blood starts to spread out from under the crocodile, blood that smells like someone ate a lot of bad cabbage and then got the bad cabbage shits. The crocodile shudders and flails; it's not immediately clear in that mess how much blood is from it, and how much is from Ian. That smell's not going to do any favors to his scarf, though.

As the crocodile, the big hideous thing snarls past them, Kysis attempts to grab ahold of Mia, the directionality of his posture seems to telegraph that he's trying to run her away, towards the house he had previously gestured to. Even as he does this, the array of shavs reach for weapons, items like spears, daggers, all very primitive in make, often with large teeth serving as blades. Their postures are all defensive, their eyes on the invading crocodiles. Yes, crocdiles. Two more emerge, one charging for Ian, the other for Thesarin.

Tyrus is no warrior, but that does not mean he will stand there idle. While the others, more martially-inclined members of the party, face the crocodiles, the prince heads for the boat to take one of the flasks of holy water kept there. He returns soon after, wasting no time in throwing Mangata's blessed waters at the nearest crocodile and then retreating away from the frontline.

Amund checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 47 higher.

There is a hiss and sizzle as the holy water splashes the wound Mihaly made in the crocodile, smoke rising from the raw flesh, and the animal starts to seize. It release's Mihaly's leg as it attempts to roll, trying to scrub the holy water out of its melting flesh. Unfortunately for it, it is rolling in the splashoff puddle and the sounds it makes grow louder, its jaws working even as it starts to die.

The appearance of the thrashing crocodiles is enough to send Lora into something like a retreat. Maybe two or three steps, with a backward glance over her shoulder as if she fully expects the swamp behind them to be spitting out more corrupted reptiles. Then one of the crocs gets a bath in holy water and she pauses to stare with wide-eyed, rather morbid fascination.

One cut. Amund breathes in, readying a strike; when the crocodile launches itself at Thesarin, he reacts with cat-like reflexes, slicing into the beast's tail; the alaricite blade seems to pierce through the leather with ease, surprisingly so. Blood gushes from the wound, the crocodile leaking black sludge even as the former sellsword readies yet another strike against the unholy creature.



The Sword of the Telmarch vigilant as he circles around for another opportunity.

Thesarin checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 42 higher.

100 inflicted and Thesarin is harmed for serious damage.

There's a startled cry that comes from Mia as -- well, it could be for one of several reasons, really. The sudden grasp of hands around her as she's grabbed by Kyris would certainly be fair enough incitement to scream, but given that it's prompted by the appearance of three massive crocodiles that come thrashing up from the water is far more likely. Moreso when there's the sickening sound of teeth crunching into armor. As she's pulled away towards the Guardians' hidden hall, it's with screams of "Uncle! UNCLE!"

Thesarin turns with a snarl as the creature lunges out of the mire, clamping its teeth around his leg and sinking its teeth through the hide skirts over his thigh. The count lets out a bloodcurdling noise from his throat as he draws his sword and drives it through scale and sinew, the Prodigal's steely thews straining until the creature's head is lopped off its neck. He turns toward the Marquessa's scream, and gives a shout of "MIA!"

Ian shoves the dead crocodile off of himself and sits up. He's an absolute mess of blood, at least some of which must be his, but at least his scarf kept any of the corrupted blood from getting in his nose and mouth. It looks like he might have rolled under the monster on purpose after being dragged down; the wound in its throat looks like it was inflicted with precision. He was in no condition to go dashing off after anyone BEFORE the croc gnawed on him, and he's especially in no condition to go dashing anywhere now. Hopefully other people will be able to figure this out. (He'll take a hostage if one becomes available, though.)

Thesarin checked command + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.

The painful vice grip on Mihaly's leg is suddenly free, and he jerks his body away, pulling himself upright into standing, pushing water out of his face and making sure Duty is still gripped in his hand, only noting the black ichor from the croc's blood sizzling on his blade edge. But a sound pulls at him. A voice that he recalls from youth. And he doesn't see an adult woman being pulled away. He sees a little girl crying for her uncle. He pauses a moment, seeing Thes in the middle of battle. A judgement is made. He trusts his nephew that he'd do the same were the positions were switched. He moves after Mia. That is, unless he's stopped.

Ian has killed his attacker, though he is bleeding freely, his blood mingling with that of the beast beside him. Thesarin's croc has lost its head AND its tail, the body still and gushing black blood. The beast that attacked Mihaly is twitching its last, steam and smoke and foul blood billowing up from the mud. As for the shavs, they've formed a defensive wall between the crocodiles (and the party) and the First Guardian and Mia. There is a flash of a smile from Kysis in the second before he successfully snatches Mia though the doorway.



Thesarin's roar is enough to make several of the shav's falter, one of the elders and the youngest dropping their weapons, hands held up in surrender, even as the others bolt through the doorway before a heavy scraping sound is heard, the door blocked from within.



A lone bird hoots a mournful note as the warriors continue bleeding into the mud and muck, and Mia is lost, trapped behind that door.



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