Vanger 4th and 5th, 153 AVTrace and Jack Cheese awaken in the Church of Madriel the Redeemer. As the priestesses and clerics of that faith tended to their wounds and diseases, Trace noticed that Morg was missing. He was not to be found in the makeshift infirmary. Trace asked the priestess where Morg was. The answer was not good. Morg of the Empty Mug… fell in battle. His spirit did not return to his body. Trace sank into his litter (Jack didn’t really care). However, the priestess, whose name was Claire, informed the both of them that a man had been coming to the church asking for the heroes of the Battle of the Schoolhouse. Since he comes every evening, they would wait for him. Soon, they met him in person. His name was Walter and he served an oracle who lives near the Mourning Marshes. “Her name is Agatha. She is quite wealthy and powerful. She has a task for you heroes to perform for her if you are interested.” Walter explained.
Trace and Jack were interested but told Walter they needed to find more friends to aid them in this task. “Take your time. Gather your allies. I will wait for you at the south gate.” Walter said.
They found a human fighter called Valeros and a half-elven ranger lady named Reda, and her pet monkey Julius that she just bought at the marketplace. Together, all four of them rendezvoused with Walter and made the three-hour trek (on horseback) to Agatha’s grotto.
By the time they got there, it was night. The party was having a bad feeling about this.
“In there, in that cave, is my mistress, the oracle. Come! I will lead you to her.” Walter sniveled as they passed a pair of marble statues that they initially thought were guards at either side of the entrance. Nearby was a wooden sign with the following scrawled on it in Veshian and Ledean: ‘Ask your question when the flame starts / Accept my answer and leave one pound of chocolate or its equivalent.’
Inside the cave, a young woman of shapely form draped in a gossamer chemise and seated in a marble chair faced the party as they descended the stone stairway. She was cowled in a white, gauzy material and was flanked on either side by two smoking braziers. Walter hurried inside and bowed before her, the party took in the dozens of marble statuary in this cave. All of them were life-size and very life-like in varying poses that only a madman or madwoman would sculpt.
“I have brought them to you, my mistress. The heroes of Ezet. They want to hear your offer.” Walter cringed as he spoke.
“You have done well, Walter.” the veiled woman intoned, “Now, heroes of Ezet, hear my offer: I am veiled for I am hideous to look upon. Not many would find me attractive to say the least. But I have finally found one who loves me for my beauty. My consort, Trocero of Reve. And he has been stolen from me by those petulant slitheren of the Mourning Marshes! There is nothing I want more than this return to me. Here.” Agatha removed an iron key from her bodice and flung it at the party’s feet. “This is the key to my treasury. You shall have all it contains when you bring him alive to me. You cannot miss him. He is blue-eyed, blonde, handsome and quite muscular.”
Trace, the halfing paladin of The Shining One, had misgivings about serving what he believed to be a medusa, a titanspawn, but he surmised that as long it didn’t involve killing innocents, he could seek atonement for this unholy pact at a later date.
The party agreed to aid Agatha and find her lost consort. Agatha gave them a map to the slitheren lair and wished them good luck.
The party left Agatha’s grotto and journeyed to the where the map led them: an arch made of two bent willow trees. They traveled through the arch and into the Mourning Marshes.
A few hours later, they came across a dumb ogre who was very much not undead. He was having trouble lighting his makeshift cigarette that he rolled quite clumsily.
“Heh uhhhh heh.” the ogre grunted, “Smoooooke, heh uhhhh heh.”
Valeros chuckled, “I guess even ogres have a village idiot.”
Reda guessed correctly that lending the ogre a light would make him happy enough for him to let us over the log bridge that he guarded, which crossed a fetid creek. But Trace spurred his wolf steed past the ogre and tried to jump the creek, but his wolf halted and thanks to his military saddle was spared a good bruising. The battle commenced. As Reda shot her arrows at the ogre, Valeros hacked at him with his blade. Jack Cheese tried to jump it on his horse, but it, too, balked at the prospect and Jack fell to the ground as his head hit a rock. Ouch.
“You mean people. No take bridge! Leave me aloooooone!” screamed the retarded ogre.
With a final stroke of his sword, Trace felled the ogre that now laid across the stream, creating a bridge of flesh across the putrid stream. The party searched him for valuables and found his stash in a dead log he was sitting on. They found some coins and equipment. Julius the monkey ran off with a bag of coins. Jack Cheese was angry at the monkey. Valeros and Trace rolled their eyes and followed the map to their destination.