The Gloom Marshes – The Bog Barrow
From the Private Annals of the Church of Pelor.
Transcribed by Beltak, Scribe to His Radiant Servant, Tremak the Plush.
The 13th Day of Ches in the Year of the Sudden Journey.
At last I am able to complete the adventurers’ tale of the marshes, a full ink-pot and new candle ready. The thrill of their exploits – travelling into the wilderness and vanquishing skeletal abominations and ghouls alike – excites me and yet I wonder if I would be so brave in the same situation. I have some martial training, but I would imagine nothing can prepare you to fight unknown monstrosities.
Still, their tale must continue. With an injured Caldring, Khalin the dwarf and Tradden the warrior needed to find shelter, and quickly.
The pair walked slowly through the marshes, the dwarf going first testing out the ground every now and again in front of him with the haft of his hammer, skirting around pools and any ground he was unsure of. Tradden followed behind closely, starting to tire with the weight of the limp elf over his shoulder.
Then, out of the gloom Khalin spotted a slight rise in the marsh, a small mound rising up out of the pools. Tradden carefully laid Caldring down by the side of an old blackened tree stump and joined Khalin’s side, drawing his swords as he did so. Khalin hefted his warhammer, and the pair slowly advanced towards the mound.
As they approached they could see more details on the mound. It was a grassy rise, but surrounded by a ring of stones. Facing towards them was a dip leading into the mound, covered by a roughly hewn stone slab.
They listened for a little while near the slab, but couldn’t hear anything. Grabbing hold of one side they rolled the slab back to reveal an entrance leading down into darkness. Khalin peered down, his eyes keener than Tradden’s in the dark. It smelt a little funny, but at least it seemed warm and dry down there compared to the marsh.
With a nod from Tradden the dwarf slowly edged down the slope and into the mound, carefully looking about him as he went, trying to tread as softly as he could. After some moments in the darkness, Khalin clambered back up, indicating that the chamber, perhaps a barrow, was dry and safe for now. With torches lit the pair descended, carrying Caldring between them.
The mound led down into a central corridor which seemed to be carved out of the peat from the bog, with three chambers leading off from it – one to the left, one to the right, and one at the end of the corridor. The chamber to the left was fairly small and apparently unused, some of the peat walls scuffed and scattered on the uneven floor. The one to the right was larger and contained a great stone trough with a foul smelling liquid or goo within it; a couple of old tin bowls or plates nestled at the bottom.
The final chamber was also large and looked as though it had been recently used, with straw and matted reeds on the floor. Tradden set Caldring down upon one of them and started to check her injuries – binding what he could and cleaning out cuts. As he cared for her she murmured incoherently but remained unconscious, however, Tradden felt much happier that she would be on the mend if they spent some time to rest.
Khalin suggested he would stand guard for a while, while the elf and Tradden slept. But, within a few minutes of the young fighter dozing off, Khalin found himself succumbing to a deep slumber.
Khalin awoke with a start, bad dreams haunting him, and with horror he noticed the green slime from the trough in the other chamber creeping up his leg as he had dozed! The slime oozed up his leg, but Khalin managed to scurry backwards on his arse, and kick it out of the way for now.
Tradden woke, with Khalin’s scream and had to rub his eyes more than once to understand what was happening. His friend seemed to be almost completely engulfed by this monstrosity, and hitting it and avoiding Khalin would be difficult.
The slime continued to engulf the dwarf and Tradden struggled to make decisive cuts against the thing without injuring his comrade. However, with repeated strikes the fighter finally managed to find purchase and with a final devastating strike punctured to the heart of the slime.
The beast shuddered for a moment, and then Khalin was spat out of the mass with a slurp. The green mass started to melt into the floor, its juices and ooze no longer contained.
The pair sat back, breathing hard, checking they were still alive. The dwarf seemed cheerful enough, but Tradden could see the red marks left by the slime’s grip and could tell that he needed rest too.
Caldring appeared to be faring a little better. Colour had returned to her pallid face and she appeared to be breathing a little easier. Tradden checked the improvised bandages he had applied and most of the bleeding had stopped.
Tradden offered to take watch. Khalin started to protest but decided better of it and slumped against one of the walls in the far chamber near the elf. Within moments his eyes were closed and he was snoring loudly.
The young fighter stayed alert and watchful until well after the break of dawn. Every so often he would go out into the morning air and take a stretch to keep himself awake, ever watchful for any movement in the marsh.
The rain ceased shortly after dawn, but a fine mist still clouded the marsh, muffling any sounds other than the chirp and drone of insects.
After what seemed an age Khalin joined him outside, stretching and yawning, the weariness and pain from combat left him. As he and Tradden started to make plans for how best to transport Caldring back to Blackengorge they heard her stir in the barrow.
She was awake and sitting and the three of them made the decision to slowly walk back to the town now, rather than waiting.
The journey back was slow, but uneventful bar the young fighter’s gentle teasing of the dwarf, when Caldring was out of earshot, over his inability to stay awake and on him nearly being swallowed alive by a green bit of slime. Many was the time the laughing youngster had to flinch away from a waved warhammer. Eventually, the trio were back just before dusk.
And so finishes the tale of the marshes, recorded for all time in the annals of the Church of Pelor. We will now study the tale and see what we can learn.