With Cecil running around trying to figure out which barmaid had his father blacked out in her bedroom, and Luth carrying his bags for him, Mogrin, Belus and I decided to venture to the sunken monastery to find what we could there in the middle of the Graidmere swamp.
The logging camp by the river crossing has a foul air about it. These men are only a little bit of equipment and an unprotected purse away from becoming bandits, but they averted their eyes from the party when they saw we were armed and prepared to defend ourselves. We hired some men to ferry us across, and they told us that Castle Knroquist has been occupied by the undead. Cecil will surely be interested to learn of the fate of his fellow land-owners. The party was attacked by boar prior to the crossing, and we saw both scrag tracks and eel eggs in the swamp once we’d crossed. This is truly a foul land and I am cursed to be living in it.
Even as I was grumbling about the foul nature of this place, the very earth turned against us, as the grasses tried to seize our feet and an assassin vine reached out and wrapped around our halfling’s neck, her eyes nearly popping out of her head. Hacking the plant up, we progressed further into this swamp, even as it became clear that it was hostile to sentient life. We observed a tower far to the north, not marked on any map I have seen. An exploration for another day, perhaps.
Eventually we came to the spot Phillipe had indicated, finding a single belltower rising out of a giant sucking swamp. We crept down the stairs, finding the building remarkably well preserved, and peered through several doors.
Behind the first, we found three kobolds playing cards. Listening in on their conversation (the halfling speaks their language) it seems that this place has become a home for the wretches. We interrupted their game and quickly slaughtered them. Creeping onwards, we discovered four Kobolds who seemed to be asleep, but as we plunged our weapons into their bloodless bodies, there was no reaction other than foul stirges rising up to try to drink our lives as well. It seems that my destiny is to face all the disgusting filth in the world.
Squashing the bulging bugs, we moved on to discover a room full of hideous scrawlings that Belus translated to be plays. After being jumped by two more kobolds lurking in the room, and slaying them, she continued to read the plays. Evidently written by kobolds, they repeated the same story over and over, of a black worm leaving behind his family that did not appreciate him, and becoming the strongest in the land, the envy of all, even as his family wept at even not appreciating him. Childish, even by Kobold standards.
We came upon what must have been the main entrance hall for the monastery, with a carved statue holding what Belus identified as a real wand, which we prised from the hands of the fallen goddess. In the next room, with a door labeled by the Kobolds as greatly dangerous, was a strange grayish puddle. Fearing acid, I poked it with a stick, only to find the entire puddle rising up and oozing at me.
Terrified, we quickly fled the room and re-sealed the door, deciding to explore other parts of the building. We would find no less danger in the next room, however.
In what turned out to be the building’s main chapel, we discovered that the altar and religious ceremonies had been replaced by Kobolds cavorting in what was clearly an attempt to perform one of the plays we had early discovered. Watching this farce was a small black dragon, with a strange forelock of hair all but covering one of its eyes. This dragon whipped its head around at my entrance to the room and coughed a ball of bubbling acid onto me.
We quickly slammed the door and began our retreat along the path we had taken. No sooner had we reached the stairwell into the belltower than the dragon burst from a side door and attacked us again. The fighting was desperate in such cramped quarters, with the dragon leaping the gap onto the stairs and dividing the halfling from the dwarf and I. We did our best to wound the beast, with Mogrin carrying out an almost unbelievable feat of daring as he stepped on the monster’s very back to reach and assist Belus before the beast could eat her.
We were amazed to find our blows landing true and the dragon becoming desperate, even as our own wounds taxed our strength. I was shocked when the dragon turned and fled, apparently cursing us as it retreated back into its lair. I could swear it was even crying.
We fled the place and hid in some nearby bushes to lick our wounds. The next day, feeling better than I had in days, thanks to a full night’s rest and the amazing healing powers of our cleric, we talked. Belus had apparently seen the creature resting upon a pile of treasure, and was stricken with the crafty greed that often befalls her people. She managed to bully us into trying to return and slay the beast, which she promised would still be suffering the effects of our wounds even as we had been restored by Mogrin’s god.
We entered through the side door the beast had burst from, encountering what appeared to be the nobility and leadership of the Kobolds in the fortress. They suffered a horrible fate, being burned by the halfling and hacked apart by our weapons. One had tried to flee deeper into the basement of the building, and we saw his body dragged away by undead. We quickly shut the door to the deeps, thinking it best to leave it unexplored for now.
We ambushed the dragon, which was indeed sulking, licking its wounds, and weeping atop a pile of treasure. Caught at bay, it was dangerous quarry, but it fell before us and we took its head and skin as a trophy. We quickly scooped up its loot and set out to meet the boatmen and return to town with stories and boasts to match any Cecil of the silk undergarmets might have from his noble friends.