An Odd Couple
The Gloom Marshes

…continues from Book #01, Chapter #01, Scene #07


The 12th Day of Ches in the Year of the Sudden Journey

While Kireth studies, Celestia looks for enlightenment at the temple, and Zero entrenches himself in the inn, Khalin and Tradden have agreed to assist one of the villagers, the elf smith Caldring, in looking for iron ore in the swamps to the southeast beyond the lake.

As the moon rises high on a clear night, the group meet near the east gate and set off towards the marsh.

Cast List

Scene Length

This scene started on Friday 19th November 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of Sunday 28th November 2010.

Players are expected to be able to post at least once a day.


Article Notice
Originally in Google Wave


This scene was originally written within Google Wave. The scene has been transcribed here for completeness, and has been edited where required.

The original Wave is now lost with the demise of Google Wave, but the PDF extract of that original scene is provided here.


Blackengorge - East Gate


Tradden’s breath hung in the air in a cloud of vapour, sparkling in the moonlight before him. He had been eager to get out and wait by the east gate of the village even if it meant standing in the chill of the night for a while. Khalin had been less eager, the warmth of the inn’s fire and the comfort of a pitcher of ale more appealing than skulking around in the night.

Tradden stamped his feet and rubbed his hands to keep warm his anticipation and excitement growing by the minute.

‘She’ll be here soon, Khalin, don’t worry,’ he kept repeating. Khalin remained still, just raising an eyebrow at the youngster.

Out of the gloom approached a figure. To Tradden it was enchanting — the glint of moonlight reflecting from polished steel, the catlike grace of the movement, and the flash of swaying hair as Caldring approached and looked up to one of the wooden lookout towers to nod at a guard. Khalin saw merely a tall elf, somewhat overweight for a female, desperately trying to get her unkempt hair under control and tie it back.

‘Greetings,’ Caldring announced, finally getting her hair into some form of pony tail. She dropped a sack to the floor. ‘Your crossbow, young man, and your mail is in there too — you should take more care of it.’

Tradden opened the sack and began to inspect the mail, eventually shrugging the steel over his shoulders and tying down the leather straps. He grabbed the crossbow next, turning it over and over. It was light and quite small, rather unimpressive, but quite functional. He started trying to fix it to his thigh.

Caldring wrapped a cloak around her shoulders, preventing the sheen from the moonlight sparkling off her scale mail, but not before Khalin noticed the workmanship and decoration of the armour.

‘Excellent armour, smith,’ he nodded. ‘Your own design? I notice the rune marks.’

Caldring studied Khalin for an instant before she replied, ‘Yes, I forged the armour myself. A test piece, yet to see the force of battle. Let us hope that we do not have to use it tonight. Let us move on.’

Caldring headed towards the east gate, signaling once more to the guard on duty in the tower. Near the main gate, one of the guards was waiting, prior arrangements been made, and a small trapdoor in the wooden palisade was opened to allow the threesome outside the compound.

As the group climbed down and back up the other side of the dried moat, Caldring looked around in the darkness. ‘We follow the trail to the lake, and the boathouse. We can then follow the shoreline of the lake around to the east and into the swamps. The boathouse is about half a league, and then a further league or so around the lake. Gilmorril suggests the marsh is two leagues due east from a huge boulder by the lake edge, we’ll have to cut across country from there.’

She looked pointedly at Khalin, ‘If we can all keep up, we’ll be at the marsh in three hours or so.’

‘You’ll have no problem with me,’ growled Khalin. ‘Back in the Border March we often marched many more leagues than that on manoeuvres. I remember once…’ but Caldring had set off, with Tradden skipping behind to keep up.


Blackengorge - East Gate


‘She’s great isn’t she?’ hissed Tradden back in the direction of his dwarven friend as he sloped off.

Any response the Warlord had was lost in the early morning mist and zephyrs.


Blackengorge - East Gate


Khalin shrugged once more and quickly caught up with his comrade. It was clear he would have to keep an eye on the young fighter, lest love or lust dull the callow youth’s instincts.

The dwarf was pleased to be underway however, and finally heading out for a closer look at the wilderness beyond the small town. The frisson of excitement borne of a coming adventure into the unknown quickly supplanting any lingering pine for a flagon and a fire.


Blackengorge - East Gate


Happy as a pig in… well, Tradden didn’t know what a pig would be happy in — he had never been near any of the farms outside Deepingwald, although he knew there was some kind of saying about it. ‘In a nice cosy farm with some slops’ was probably the ending. Made sense.

Anyway, the young fighter was starting to like this adventuring lark — striking out to parts new was exciting, and with a beautiful elven maid in front of him (he kept having to avert his eyes away from certain parts of her form) and the powerful hammer and sturdy shield of his friend behind him, all was well with the world.

He was just thinking about what a pleasant walk this would be when he remembered that last time he was out in the wilds they were attacked by little greenskins and demons. Suddenly a little bit more serious, he pulled out his short sword, and many a branch end and tip of a grass stalk was beheaded as the three continued on…


The Lake


The trio moved off into the night, initial jollity subsiding into caution and keen observance. Caldring led the way, with Tradden never too far behind, Khalin keeping up the rear.

The trail was lightly worn and slowly rolled downhill to the southeast, here and there polished cobbles sticking up out of the trodden grass and weeds. After half an hour or so, Khalin and Tradden got their first view of the lake, albeit shrouded in mist that shined against the moonlight. The mists rolled into the shore from somewhere towards the middle of the lake and coiled around and over themselves as the broke against the edge. Jutting out of the mists at the shoreline was a small wooden construction, shutters up and barred, obviously the boathouse.

‘Stay close to the shore,’ instructed Caldring to the others. ‘We’ve seen large goblins back off from the mists in fear, they won’t touch us if we stay near the shore.’

Khalin got the feeling that the village had seen more goblins than they’d been letting on previously, but mentioned nothing, just raised his eyebrow and stared straight ahead.

Picking their way around the lake’s edge was slow going and it took more than an hour before Caldring paused by a large boulder and raised her hand for them to stop. Tradden eased his pack from his back and dug around for some sustenance. Breaking some bread and throwing a hunk to Khalin he leaned against the boulder to rest. Khalin idled up towards him as Caldring peered out towards the east. With a start, Khalin dropped his bread, and lunged towards Tradden.

‘Move yer arse, long legs,’ he growled, and shoved a speechless Tradden forcefully to one side. He began tracing something in the stone.

‘What the…’ Tradden finally managed.

Khalin didn’t turn to answer, simply continuing to run his fingers against the stone.

‘Can’t ye see it?’ he finally asked Tradden, almost in disbelief.

‘See what?’ replied Tradden, coming up behind Khalin and peering over his shoulder at the blank rock.

‘Here, and here,’ pointed Khalin, tracing something in the stone. Tradden could only see a few scratches here and there, but slowly, as Khalin patiently repeated his movements, he began to see runes etched into the stone.

‘It’s Dwarvish,’ said Khalin. ‘It’s a battle mark. Something happened here some time ago — something that needed to be remembered.’ The dwarf drew his hammer.

Tradden drew his arm around the dwarf’s shoulder. ‘A long time ago, my friend. No dwarf has been here for centuries. Come, my lady Caldring beckons,’ he urged, inclining his head towards Caldring out in the gloom.

Khalin grumbled and eventually followed Tradden out to the east, but kept his hammer drawn and his shield ready.


The Gloom Marshes


The next couple of hours passed slowly as the trio edged eastwards over broken land patched with thick spiny undergrowth. The cold was starting to gnaw at their bones, particularly at Tradden, who’s initial enthusiasm for the trip was starting to wane, especially with the thoughts of dragging heavy iron back to the village through the spiky bushes they were now passing.

Tradden sighed with relief as the thorny undergrowth gave way to more simple grassland, but his relief was short lived as his boot went straight down into a small hollow filled with icy water. His curse rang out into the night and both Caldring and Khalin hissed their annoyance at the sound.

‘We must be at the swamp’s edge now,’ whispered Caldring. ‘We should proceed with caution, but keep Your eye out for any thing that looks like it has been made, rather than grown.’

It didn’t take long for the clean and crisp moonlight night to turn into something more sinister as the group headed deeper into the swamp. The clean air was replaced by a hanging putrid smell and a fine rolling fog reduced visibility to mere yards. Pockets of water and sludge became more common and each footstep was greeted by a squelch and a suck. The fog closed in on them and made their calls to each other to watch their step as they each encountered hazards to sound muffled with a strange echo.

Then, there was a whoop from up front, and Caldring set off with a splash into some water. Fearful for her safety both Tradden and Khalin hurried up to where they had last seen her. Even through the fog they could see her beaming back at the others, knee-deep in water, holding onto a huge cartwheel rimmed with iron. She caressed its surface and chortled with joy.

‘Pass me some rope, Tradden,’ she said. ‘This beauty’s stuck in here, we’ll need to pull it out!’

The young fighter and the solid dwarf exchanged glances — the elf was surely mad. Tradden put down his pack and fished out a good coil or rope. He threw one end towards the expectant elf.

As Caldring moved to one side of the wheel to secure the rope she suddenly disappeared, plunging into the water.

Reacting in an instant, Tradden shouted ‘Stay there!’ to Khalin and plunged in after the elf.

The water was freezing and pulled at Tradden’s muscles, tightening and weakening them. He thrashed about near where Caldring had disappeared, hoping to find a limb or hold so that he could pull her up. After what seemed like an eternity he grabbed something and pulled and the elf bubbled up to the surface spluttering out grimy water, coughing up bits of slime. Tradden grabbed hold of the rope and Khalin pulled them both to more solid ground.

‘A sword,’ spluttered Caldring, ‘a sword. Down there. Armour too. We need to get it out!’

‘She’s delirious,’ muttered Khalin, shaking his head. ‘We need to get her warm.’

Tradden was about to agree when he noticed a bubbling and frothing from the water near the cartwheel. As all three turned to stare they saw a grey sword rise up out of the water. Gripping it tightly was a bony hand and to the horror of the group the bony skull of a skeleton, years of hate burning white in dark eye-sockets, started to rise up after it. As the trio watched on, frozen with fear, the rest of the skeleton appeared out of the water, followed by others behind it.


End of Scene