Chapter Thirty-Three

January 1, 2012


We return to the area where the slitherin were holding the slaves and find eight locked metal chests.  I find traps on three of them, but in attempting to disarm it, I set off the first one.  I immediately begin to feel sluggish and slow.  I go ahead and pick the lock on that one, but we decide to wait on the others until I’ve had a chance to heal from the poison.  We decide to hole up for the night in one of the cozier rooms with a fireplace. 

The next morning, I get back to working on the boxes, as well as one larger chest we found under a desk.  The first contains 500 copper pieces and three rings.  The second has 50 pieces of silver and three rings.  The third contains 5 gold pieces.  As I unlock the fourth, I hear a slight click and jerk to the side just in time to avoid three darts which fly out and hit the ceiling.  Inside, there are 50 silver pieces.  The fifth  box houses another fifty silver and one more ring.  On the sixth and seventh boxes, I first disable the traps and then pick the locks to find 500 copper in one and a black velvet bag containing a single platinum sovereign.  Finally, I check the large box for traps, and finding none, I proceed to unlock it.  It contains several books, including Proper Worship of the Old Gods, Horse Rat Breeding, Tips on Human Flesh, and How to Pick a Good Slave as well as several ledgers detailing trade accounts.  The ledgers appear to detail the slitherin’s slave dealings with other peoples.

As we leave the area, Korvinean oils the fields and burns all of the rat men’s holdings and crops.  We head off, leading the captives back out to new freedom. 

After several hours of travel, we pause for a quick rest, and a log nearby in the marsh suddenly stands up.  After our initial shock, we realize it is one of the frog men.

Ulric walks over to him. “Greetings.”

“You kill rat people?” he asks.

“Yes.  We killed many rat people.”

“Rat people follow you.”


“Different . . .” he pauses to find the word, “tribe.  They trade with ones you kill.”

Ulric questions him further and finds out that they are roughly three hours behind us.  The frog agrees to lead us as much as he can through the higher ground. 

As we gather our things and prepare to leave, the frog leaves and says he’ll be right back.  When he returns, he carries a shield, some stick-like weapons similar to javelins and a strange curved blade on his hip.  He begins to lead us off, and Korvinean trails behind us to set up snares and other traps to slow our pursuers.

Our guide suddenly stops, pauses and drastically changes directions.  He indicates that there are rat men ahead of us, and we need to go more toward the area where the “lizard who eats everything” lives because the rat men are more afraid of it.  He tells us that if we see the “lizard,” we should throw shiny objects away from us to get its attention.

As we come to some dry land, the water around our feet recedes by about six inches.  Ulric begins throwing silver coins as far from the area as he can, and we see a giant black head rise up from the muck.  A sixty foot dragon emerges from the swamp and begins to unfold his wings.  All of our party (except me) begin to toss silver coins in all sorts of directions.  The dragon looks perplexed and watches as the coins fly by him.  “WHY are you wasting all those beautiful coins?” his voice booms out into the stillness.

Brianna is struck dumb and begins to run in the opposite direction, and the dragon begins to pick up the coins he can and stick them to him.

The dragon turns his head to Ulric and sighs.  “Hm. A Zurwald.  I suppose you’re here to fight.”

“No, I’m here to rescue these people,” Ulric replies matter-of-factly.

“But Zurwalds always want to fight.”  He seems somewhat disappointed.  He tries to goad Briggette by saying paladin’s must always fight, but she begins negotiating with the dragon for our safe passage in exchange for 500 silver, all the rat men he can eat and our promise to spread the word of his existence and fearsomeness.  He is terribly worried that he has not been awful enough and no one knows of him anymore.  He says that people used to call him The Black Skull of the Swamp, but we may call him the Black Death when we tell of his infamy.

As we break away and move on, after a while, we hear a booming roar.  We pause for a moment, but then continue hurriedly forward.  We come to a deep bayou and the frog man says he can take us no further, but says we will reach the “metal men” in about an hour.  Ulric thanks him for his help, and he says, “Kill many of your enemy.”

“You, too,” Ulric says, and we part ways.  When we arrive at the tower, we regale the soldiers with stories of our exploits.  The next morning, Korvinean drags in to the encampment in very rough condition, having fought face to face with the rat men and the dragon before breaking away and finding his way here.  We rest for another day, then begin the march toward home with our freedmen.

After a day of travel, we arrive at an outlying barony.  They supply us with several horses and carts, as well as a solid meal, and we continue our journey at a much improved pace.  We arrive home in short order to a warm greeting from Ulric’s father.  Briggette goes to the billet and inquires after Sir Brannick.  She also speaks with the billet about whether or not she must atone for not killing the dragon we encountered.

I take the extraordinary dagger to the billet to find out more about it.  He asks me to leave it overnight so he may investigate it.  When I return, he tells me its name is Frostfang.  It appears to be a weapon of gnomish design which not only stores spell effects to be discharged when it first hits, but also bursts with a frosty bite on any hit.  Additionally, the weapon seems to hate giants particularly, offering additional chances to strike and dealing more damage to the creatures.  It’s full value is around 16,000 silver pieces.  When I explain all of this to the party, they agree that Frostfang should pass to me, and I begin to practice with it and learn its uses.  We also have the billet identify the two rings the rat woman witch wore.  One is a ring of sustenance which allows its wearer to drastically reduce his or her need for food and sleep.  We give this to Brianna, who now only needs fifteen minutes of sleep per day and no longer has to eat at all in order to be refreshed.  The other is a ring of mind shielding which allows its wearer to be completely immune from thought detection and lie discernment as well as any attempt to discern his or her alignment.  This gem, too, goes to me. 


Over the next week or so, we work with the people in town to bring in as much of the harvest as possible before the winter frosts set in.