The scuffle was over in seconds, with Anonda pummeling the javelineer while Hoo and Vecca blasted the caster with magical energy. Yarmilla’s companion Mani, Gnogom, and Thoven finished off the Xantli. It took less than 30 seconds.
As quiet settled over the room, our unnamed heroes finally took a long look around at this room’s version of debris – smashed glass vials littered the floor, and racks once filled with all manner of alchemical materials lay thrown across the floor. It was miraculous that Anonda had not taken a shard of glass to the foot when he charged his three arm foe, and thereafter the group took more care in moving across the treacherous footing.
Aside from the entrance, the room had only one more portal, and Thoven took the time to look for traps on that door as the remainder of the group sifted through the debris in hopes of finding anything of value. They were rewarded – Thoven with the surety that the door was not trapped, but had been purposely “stuck closed” from this side, and the rest with a handful of intact vials filled with various magical concoctions.
The work on the door had been done in a hurry – most likely it was blocked by the same due of three-armed enemies that had just been dispatched. Worse, the lower part of the door seeped the black, tarry peat of the bog. Some testing showed that the peat was acidic enough to quickly damage cloth, and discolor the wood of the door where it had rested.
On a hunch, Yarmilla checked the Xantli’s bodies for evidence of the peat – they each bore marks encircling limbs torso that were covered in peat and red underneath, as if they had been whipped or squeezed by a pear-covered rope. Obviously, the three-armed duo received their hurts beyond the door they had blocked.
The group decided to open the door and see what was on the other side anyway.
Who exactly had been for and against opening the door was a matter of some debate for a while afterward, as the decision turned out to be… less advantageous than expected. The door came open with a sucking sound, and revealed a small room half-covered in the peat of the bog. Yarmilla and Hoo entered, only to see a pair of thick, ropelike strands snap out of the bog on the floor, securely grab the door, and slam it shut. Several smaller strands then shot from the same place, grabbing the pair and leaving them weak as new born babes.
As the rest of the group took vital seconds prying the door loose from the peaty tentacles rising from the bog, the bog itself began to congeal. It rose into a pillar with dozen of small wriggling strands, opened two orifices – one a huge saucer-like eye, and the other a gaping maw filled with sharp snaggle teeth. Tentacles dragged grappled heroes toward the latter.
By the time the group ripped the door free from the bog beast’s tentacles (which by now had begun to shed their peat, revealing a pink, veiney exterior), the two trapped heroes were in dire straights, and while the remainder of the group was able to put down the beast without loss of life, the survivors had been half-drowned in the bog, grievously bitten, and were nearly unable to move they were so weak.
And for their trouble? Our unnamed heroes found a single circlet embedded at the base of the shaft of the bog beast. With no small amount of muttering, they retreated slowly up the stairs, doling out liberal amounts of healing magic as they climbed the stairs. Before cresting the top of the stairs, they had decided to move to the walled keep on the other side of the gap.
Of course, when they arrived at the top, three groups of giants – each moving a portable siege engine – had set up more or less directly on the route to their destination. Even though it was only a quarter of a mile from here to there, it was going to be a long trip.