Friday, November 21, 2014
The trees of the mangrove swamp began to form a 'V' ahead of the party, blocking their path forward and herding them back towards the perimeter wall. Duckweed and roots began to spout up between the trees making passage even more difficult. An ancient gnarled treant (known as a Gakarak) emerged from a nearby tree and demanded the 'sticking meatsacks' left its home, not wanting 'more intruders like the others'. The party paddled/few back a ways and discussed how to get around the blockade; they decided retreat wasn't an option and so planned a way to deal with the treants. When it reappeared nearby, there was a flurry of fireballs and flame strikes that drove it into a retreat and allowed the party to press on.
A few hours later, the party came to an island in the midst of the swamp. In the midst of the overgrown island sat a jade green building in the shape of a large frog, with two multi-faceted red eyes and an open mouth. Two stone walls enclosed an overgrown garden that led up to a gatehouse and courtyard around the base of the building. At the entrance to the garden, were two wooden jetties leading out to the swamp, with the bones of eels and crocodiles scattered in the water underneath. Beyond this, there were signed a other small jetties and buildings, a small settlement long since swallowed by the thick jungle.
Mendel and Faldak lead the party out onto the quays, which strangely quivered as they landed, and held them fast. Two mimics that were pretending to be the jetties, came to life and tried to grapple the warriors. With some frantic chopping and further magical fire, the two ooze-like impressionists were defeated, but the noise of the battle had drawn the attention of the gakarak which emerged from the trees and called upon more treants to join him. Gerald conjured a blade barrier to deal with animated trees, as Dacien blocked with retreat with a wall of force and Zhedd's summoned fire elementals hemmed them in. Mendel tried to attack the gakarak with his alchemical arrows, and Faldak used his potion of invisibility to catch it by surprise. The dwarven woodchipper launched into action, and in moments, all that was left was a cloud of splinters.
Antony scouted ahead through the enclosed garden, and spotted two humanoid figures atop the strange stone walls, moving in a strangely unnatural motion, and periodically bending down to examine the top of the wall. They hadn't seemed to spot him, so he pressed on. A drawbridge led from the garden into the main courtyard around the frog-shaped building. In the gateway, a red dome shaped object was on the inner wall, surrounded by a yellow and black striped panel. Antony snuck forward, and saw a set of large double doors between the frog's legs,with the a circular symbol above the doors depicting a frog in a helmet jumping on a starry background. Strange writing in an alphabet no-one recognised circled the emblem. The doors were ajar, and it was dark beyond. Somewhere in the dark a light was flickering, and an animal grunting could be heard.
Antony beckoned the party forward, and the noise alerted the humanoids on the walls. A burst of flame erupted from their back, and they leapt into the air to land in the courtyard ahead of the party. They spoke a strange language, but Dacien's tongues let him translate their odd way of speaking. He caught phrases such as "Target acquired", "New species identified, engaging containment protocol". The figures looked like humans, but with strange metal plates embedded in their skin, and an unnatural look about them. They lit up Faldak with a red light, and a tube appeared on one's shoulder. Mendel fired an arrow at that creature, and the response was "Attack protocol engaged, prioritising targets". A force field erupted around Faldak and tried to encage him, but he escaped. The other creature drew a strange dark rectangular weapon and fired it at Mendel, searing him with arcs of burning light. The attacks nearly brought Mendel to his knees, before Dacien warded him against fire damage. Faldak almost destroyed one of the creatures, but heard it call out "Critical damage - ejecting core!", and it exploded around him. The other was defeated but did not exploded. One the bodies, the party found various unusual objects. Mendel managed to get the weapon to fire after some experimentation, but put it away for now.
A buzzing noise above their heads drew the party's attention upwards. In the mouth of the frog, was a swarm of strange small winged lizards, buzzing about a trough of rotting meat which sat before a set of doors. Magical explosions and ice took care of the lizards, allowing the party to explore the doors. One was full of mangled bits of metal, which appeared to form a set of shelving, and hid a metal box which held bandages and alchemical type items. The other doors led deeper into the building. There the party found strange doors that were either jammed or flung open at their approach, and beyond were abandoned, well-appointed washrooms and bedrooms. Most of the rooms looks as though the portable contents had been removed in a hurry, although Dacien did find a book that Antony thought might be a diary - again, written in this new script. A further room held a series of metal cabinets, which made whirring noises and flashed their gem-like lights upon the party's approach. This had a strange effect on Antony and Faldak, who attacked the party until Dacien and Zhedd could ward them with a protection from evil. Mendel attached the largest cabinet in the room, and was struck by a bolt of electricity that somehow ran around him and flew into a door opposite revealing another room beyond. Concerned about the powers of the strange metal cabinets, Dacien used telekinesis to block the doorway with large wardrobes, which allowed the party to explore the other rooms beyond. Antony snuck ahead into a large room with a balcony filled with pews that looked down on a frog shaped altar - bound on top of the altar was the body of a humanoid figure, held down with ropes. Another room held a large white metal silo, covered in dents and with a yellow and black triangle painted on its side. Another metal cabinet was in this room, but smashed, and Mendel spotted traces of blood spattered around its base. White robes with blue brooches were hung on the walls - a white pattern on the brooches turned black on entering the room.
The party found some stairs leading up and there came across a large room with a hexagonal vat hidden under tarpaulin, guarded by two metal dog-like creatures that Dacien thought similar to extraplanar sentries that can rend armour and weapons with ease. Leaving that room alone, they followed some stairs leading up to the head of the frog - the room was caked in shadows despite the afternoon light filtering through the red faceted eyes. Two hovering metal creatures emerged form the shadows to attack the party, seemingly near invulnerable to most attacks until the party used light spells and the sun blade they recovered from the Isle of Dread to hold them back, after Dacien had sent one to the Plane of Shadow. As the last automaton fell, a pale human figure emerged from a chamber in the centre of the room, looking at the party with tired red eyes. As it spoke, two pointed teeth protruded over its bottom lip - clutching a device at its neck it said "Please leave".