The Dead Marshes (Part 2)

Morgrim shuffled forward then stopped, ‘maybe the rogue should check for traps?’ he suggested, with a glance over his shoulder at Konniana.

‘Sure. I might need some more light though.’

Nodding, Morgrim made his shield glow brighter and sent four light balls over the un-light torches on the walls. The divine light hovered above them and the chamber became brightly lit. Konniana moved slowly across the floor casting her eyes everywhere. Cerseia watched for a few moments then moved to the edge of the floor and followed the wall around. Katliana and Grub joined Morgrim, they patiently waited.

‘It seems fine,’ Konniana called after a few moments.

‘They probably don’t have any reason to set up traps,’ Cerseia half-shouted, ‘what with that big creature they have,’ Cerseia had come to stand across from the others and was running her hands over the wall.

Konniana wondered over to her and inspect the wall too. There seemed to be nothing of interest nor anything unusual. It just looked like a big block of stone to her.

‘Dwarves are best for this kind of thing,’ Grub said in a low voice as he nudged Morgrim.

Grinning, they crossed the floor together and helped search for a hidden doorway or lever. Katliana stayed near the opening they had come through, her eyes darting into the darkness and watching for any movements.

‘I know this stone, Grub said after few moments in a whispery voice to himself.

Cerseia and Konniana had moved on to the other walls and Morgrim had been inspecting the floor which was also stone. He looked up as he heard Grubs words and moved over to stand beside him.

‘It shouldn’t be here,’ Grub added.

‘What is it?’ Morgrim asked.

‘It was mined very far and deep from here by dwarf hands who are kin to us.’

‘How did it end up here? Nothing else we’ve seen has been dwarven. What about the rest of this place?’

Grub cast his eyes around before studying a few of the stones next to the very large slab he had found. He shook his head, ‘it’s been carefully made to look like it. They must have got other dwarves to make the rest of stones and build it. This isn’t our work.’

Morgrim touched the slab then some of the other stones surrounding it. His fingers could easily tell the difference between them. Also, his eyes could now see where someone had cleverly made lines in the large slab to disguise it as just another part of the wall.

‘It’s a doorway that,’ Grub excitedly announced, ‘we just need to push it open.’

He put his shoulder against the slab and pressed against it. Morgrim joined him, but they seemed unable to move it together.

‘Everyone come and help,’ Grub called out.

Cerseia, Konniana and Katliana hurried over and pushed against the slab alongside the dwarfs. For a few moments nothing seemed to happen, but then the stone slowly began to give way. A whiff of fresh air squeezed through the newly made crack and that was enough for the adventurers to throw their whole weights against the slab door and push it to the side.

Standing in the openness, they all glanced around and realised at the same instant they were in a dreadful place. The still air was hot and stank of rotting vegetation and meat. In the light coming off Morgrim’s shield they could see stagnate pools of dark green water and tall dry reeds and grass.

‘We are in the Dead Marshes,’ Cerseia whispered, giving voice to what they had all been thinking.

‘What do we do now?’ Grub asked gruffly.

‘Not stay here!’ the dragonborn sisters said in unison.

‘We know they use this tunnel to remove the treasure,’ Morgrim respond, ‘we could ambush them here. They wouldn’t be expecting that and we would have more space to fight.’

‘And risk death by sinking in the mud or water?’ Cerseia shot back.

‘Look at this pathway,’ Grub cut in before anyone could respond to her, ‘Someone’s spent a lot of time and effort making it.’

They looked and saw that a crude pathway made out of large logs, some of which were tied together, stretched out before them. A mile or so head the path seemed to start curving and they could just make out some scrubby bushes. With a shrug, Grub stepped off the stone step and onto a log. It held his weight and more confidently he started walking off.

‘We should close the door,’ Cerseia pointed out.

Morgrim nodded, he stepped briefly into the chamber to call back his light. Then he and the sisters swung the door back to. The slab closed heavily with a shudder and a thud as it neatly slotted back into place. Grub came back over to them and looked at the outline of the door.

‘Good job I’ve got my crowbar or we wouldn’t be getting back through there,’ he uttered.

‘Did you see a safe place we can hide?’ Morgrim asked him.

Grub nodded, ‘there’s a clump ‘o trees on the bend there. That would hide us all.’

‘Good. Let’s make for there then.’

‘I’ll go ahead,’ Cerseia stated and drawing her sword walked off.

The others followed behind her, finding the pathway made the going easy across the marshland. A few minutes later, they stepped off one after the other and hide inside the clump of tall scrawny trees and bushes. Konniana climbed one the trees facing the pathway and nested herself on a thick branch. She felt safer having a full view of the tunnel entrance and the pathway.

‘How long do you think we’ll have to wait?’ Katliana asked softly.

Morgrim looked at the sky and tried to guess the time, but he could hardly make anything out on the other side of the tree branches other than blackness. He turned back to the dragonborn, ‘it can’t be much longer now. It must have taken us a good hour or so to get here. It’s hard to read the sky,’ he trailed off.

Cerseia eyed them and spoke, ‘do you not remember what that bard, the one we meet with the caravan company we were following, Jimmy, said? The Dead Marshes sky stays the same no matter if its day or night. Then he told is that tale about that maiden seeking her lost lover through the marsh and being lead to her watery grave by ghost lights,’ she ended in a shiver that made her shake violently.

Grub snorted, ‘folktales!’

‘Hush, I hear something,’ Konniana called down, ‘but out the light.’

Morgrim quickly put his hand over his shield and willed the light away. They were thrown into total darkness, but then the dwarf and elf eyes adjusted and they saw that Konniana had been right. Coming along the pathway they could hear a number of pattering and heavy footsteps. A few seconds later, a gruff voice yelled out, ‘get along there, you scum!’

Figures took shape in the darkness and the companions held their breaths as they saw about eight Kobolds, whom were small dragon lizard humanoids, matching before a Bullywug, a humanoid frog, with a whip in one hand and in the other a rope lead which was tied to the collar of the troll stomping behind him.

To Be Continued……