The party, after brief deliberation, headed up the small hillock to the house. As they drew closer they distinctly heard the sounds of a man singing to himself, very off-key. They called to the house, and were coldly greeted by a surly boorish looking swamp-dweller, who demanded that they get off his property. The party stood confused, until the man demanded they leave him alone again. In a fit of annoyance, Nuana threatened the man’s property, which threw him into a fit of rage, and he attacked the party. Using eldritch tendrils, Ian was able to root the man to the floor and give the party enough time to escape the raving madman and his greatsword. They continued their trek into the swamps.
After several more hostile encounters with the beasts and walking dead of the marshes (including a band of immensely inept gnolls), the party reached what Sir Laeorn’s map called the Potion Makers Hut . The group cautiously hailed the shack atop the ruins of a once-mighty tree, and were greeted with an invitation to climb the ladder. The group was then met by a hideous and scarred old crone, who vocal peculiarities caused both mirth and discomfort amongst the group. She disclaimed any knowledge of other groups passing through the area, but gave directions to the Keep, and offered anything in her stores for purchase. Nuana picked up some alchemical stakes, and Sully purchased similar arrows to be picked up at a later date. But, ill-at-ease by the crone’s appearance, manners, and collection of “ingredients”, the group chose to find lodging elsewhere and continue their journey.
Shortly before dusk the next evening, the group came upon the Keep, a ruined fortress sinking into the morass. After cautiously making entrance, the group ran afoul of an aquatic troll, or scrag, in the Keep’s courtyard. They explored the first floor of the castle, disposing of it’s new residents when necessary (though this unfortunately included driving off the now-familiar visage of the serpentine creature they now associate with Kiera. Descending into the bowels of the place, they found themselves in a flooded basement, and almost immediately fighting for their lives against a massive tentacled bulbous caterpillar. The carrion crawler did its best, but finally succumbed to the assaults of the party. The party then discovered the flooding in this area was intentional, the water trapped by a make-shift dam.
After breaking the dam the group split in half to see what lay beneath the now-drained waters – and both groups came face to face with another scrag. The battle was short and bloody, leaving several party members, especially Anast, gored and torn, and the two trolls dead on the floor, unable to regenerate outside of their water – and from one of these corpses the party retrieved a hideous cloak, made from scaled hide, and bound with a red-silver clasp in the shape of a clawed six-fingered hand. As the rest of the group recovered and reloaded, Ian carefully bound the cloak up and hide it away in his pack. However as the smoke cleared Sully noticed his new companion, Kresh, acting strangely, as though disturbed by something up the stairs tot he first floor. The group tried to proceed up the stairs, but were met with an explosive trap laid for them.
Searching the first floor for signs of the trapsetter, Kiera noticed, through the cracked main doors, persons moving in the courtyard. The party soon realized they were about to walk into an ambush, likely laid for them by the group they had been sent to intercept. The party decided to try a two-pronged attack, hoping to lure the enemy into error. The ranged fighters moved to the second-floor balcony and the fighters remained hidden in the first-floor entryway. As the fighting began, the group found themselves well-matched by the Fingers of Iuz. One of the mercenaries, hoping to flank the fighters on the roof, bolted through the entryway and was cut down before he reached the hallway. The fighters then poured into the courtyard, and the melee began. Sully, from the balcony took aim at what he perceived to be a caster, and buried an arrow deep in her chest. She responded by hurling a heavy steel rod through the air at him. When it made contact, Sully fell to the ground in a screaming heap of agony, blood running from his eyes and ears and beneath his nails.
The party responded quickly, moving to down the resistance on the ground, while the ranged fighters, with Sully still writhing in screaming agony, struggled to suppress the projectiles falling into the courtyard from the battlements. However, as the combatants fell, the tide of the battle began to shift, and soon all of the Fingers of Iuz lay dead in the courtyard of Cold Stones Keep. Mot took one look at the rod laying next to Sully, who was now sitting against the battlements, exhausted and nursing the torn nails on his left hand, and before snatching it up and flinging it, with a roar, high into the air over the wall and deep into the Morass. She later explained that the item was a piece of a torture pole that the caster had turned into a weapon, a painful memory to her of her own unwilling crucimigration. The party further explored the ruins to discover that as they explored the basement, the Fingers of Iuz had been upstairs, trying to retrieve what they had found wrapped around the neck of the troll. The party decided to bed down in the ruins, as the only dry land to be seen, before leaving the next day, on the skiffs the Fingers had used to gain speedy passage through the Corthyn Morass.
However, their sleep was plagued by fell dreams...