Finally found a steady way to continue our search, and get paid in the process. Mara-kai and I signed up to work for the Agency, and got assigned to be Hands, errand boys handling the dirty and dangerous work. I plan on keeping notes to keep events clear and straight as possible.
We signed up with the Agency, and two other recruits got assigned into a quad with us.. There’s Errol, an Elf with a fairly mean look to him, and Lawrence, a Human naming himself a cleric in the service of Ioun. For completeness, Mara-kai is my friend and a Genasi Swordmage, and I am Ianmar, a Dwarven Invoker.
As the ink dries on our contracts, we’re handed an errand to handle. Kobolds gone murderous near Paradiso. I’ve heard of Paradiso, the pinpoint of civilization in the Creeping Marsh. And here we are, being sent to help the Mayor try and clean up the homicidal kobolds.
Before we head out, a quick stop at a local store to grab supplies for wading in the marsh. Errol wandered off as soon as Lawrence began talking with the shop-keep. Lawrence haggled for some waders and mosquito netting, as well as information. We’re told that the last Hands of the Agency only had one survivor . . . who died from some sort of bug bursting from her stomach. Observations: We’re the second set of errand boys for this mission. There are bugs which may eat us from the inside out.
We exit the store to find Errol mysteriously has some extra mosquito nets and waders, and we certainly didn’t see him pay for them. Errol sold his serendipitous spares to Mara-kai and myself, at a better price than the shop-keep was offering.
Equipped, informed, and on the job, we finally head out. Reached the swamp without any major issue, and set up camp that night to get a full day to make it through the marsh. Just as well – the trip through the marsh took far too long, and disgusting beyond measure. Muck overwhelming even our waders, mosquitoes finding every opening in our netting, the stench of rotting plant matter. Most of the day was simply varying amounts of those experiences in varying amounts. The rest of the day was handling the ant.
At first it was simply a single giant ant. The size of a small dog, hiding in the distance, simply watching. Once it started following us, it sent chills down my spine. Too damned smart, and not something to look forward too, if you ask me. Lawrence heard me muttering, gave me a quizzical look, and shrugged it off. I guess ants don’t phase him. It followed us for awhile, and we did our best to keep out of anywhere that might threaten it or its hive. Which lead us directly to the ant’s giant anthill.
Of course, we didn’t recognize the anthill immediately – all we saw was a hill with a cliff on one side. Mara-kai and Errol clambered right up the cliff face, no problem – and then the ants arrived – workers, fire ants, blood vines. All surrounding Lawrence and me – at least until Errol threw a rope down to us, and Lawrence scaled it without too much difficulty. I’m not the strong type, so I took a heavy beating from fire breathing ants and workers slashing at me. I made it up the rope on my second attempt, and then started the real fight.
You can learn a fair bit about people in the heat of combat. The lesson here was cohesion – knowing almost nothing about one another, we quickly fell into a smooth operation. The fight wasn’t without danger – fire bursts, vine lashes, and workers going into frenzies. But we made it through without too much issue. The battlefield cleared, we rested – there was a rumbling sound below, which we ignored. Up until the floor collapsed out from under us, sending us falling into the heart of the ant hill.
Observation: None of us has any idea what a giant ant hill looks like. Until now, that is.