Leaving the shokoro camp, they were attacked by a Red Swarm, tiny biting red flies. Kumiko and Kitten succumbed to their venom, turned into staggering delirious victims that had to be dragged along the boardwalk towards where the shokoro said human civilization waited. They were terrified by a troll stalking them for a while, but it never came to a fight (since they pushed on, wearily trudging through the night.)
Tulip, Vayu, Skritt, Wayland, and Sherwood were accosted on the boardwalk as they approached the coast; a griffon rider told them they’d have to go through the Cleansing Gate into Mire Port, and then took off again having determined they weren’t much of a threat.
The Cleansing Gate
They approached the gate into Mire Port, and a tent village of beggars outside rushed them to get silver so they could get into Mire Port. Throwing them some money and hiding behind Tulip’s flexing and growling, the group got close enough to make it in through the massive cypress wood gates two at a time. The de-lousing and medical inspection were hard on the ego, and very thorough, but everyone was released into town with a clean bill of health. Kumiko and Kitten were treated for their fever, and would need a lot of rest. Tulip talked the medics into shaving all his body hair and oiling him up, so he looked at the top of his gladiatorial form.
A bureaucrat informed them they were in Mire Port, run by the Order of the Cleansing Saw (a Soothotchan order). They also saw a massive tower with griffons circling it, on an island in the bay. They noted the fortress at the end of the town that pointed cabled ballista at the bay mouth, to discourage pirates.
They convened again in the Boar’s Head Inn. Sherwood agreed to stay and look after Kumiko and Kitten, as the rest of the group continued the adventure. They were joined by Ashook, who led them to an abandoned home of a scholar who had died. Ashook had taken the place over secretly, and combed through the extensive interviews in the library, cataloging a lot of knowledge about the Black Mire. (Ashook knew they had arrived because he had urchins on retainer at the dock and the Cleansing Gate to look for newcomers. Captain Boomcrusher had left Geshinara in Falatria Port, and then sailed around the island to Mire Port and dropped Ashook off.)
Tulip filled Ashook in on what they learned from the Frog God, and what they were searching for. Ashook remembered reading about Pluves, God of Rains, and a dodecahedron with otherworldly amber in it. The instruction was to go always south, and always west.
Joined by a Godling
An urchin summoned Ashook, notifying him that there was another capable-looking stranger down at the docks. While Skritt looted the house (finding a hidden door behind a clock that led to a room stuffed with gear purchased at the pawn shop sales) and Vayu tossed the library (finding a hidden Migric scroll with a lethal death magic spell on it) the rest of the group followed the urchin to the docks.
They found the ever-charismatic Tuleo trying to free himself of a crowd that had gathered around his divine light and miraculous stories. Tulip muscled in close, distracting the women for a moment, and Tuleo left with him. They still had a crowd after them, so they split up; Tuleo took flight with Ashook, escaping back to the house, but Tulip bumped into a palanquin and was escorted into the fortification of the Portmaster of Mire Port.
The Portmaster’s Family
Introduced to the lovely Portmistress Elyria and her husband Portmaster Venndi, Tulip had a lovely tuna dinner with them. Afterwards, he was invited to stay the night. Later that night, Venndi slipped into his quarters and noted that a cult of Oblivorix was strangely powerful, and trying to get into the Black Mire past the Cleansing Gate to get at drugs and plants for their wicked trade. He asked Tulip to help; Tulip declined, as he had more important business, but promised to keep the Portmaster in mind in the future.
The next day they were fortified (Vayu by studying death magic, others by rummaging the supplies in the scholar’s house or buying new supplies.) They traveled for days, going south or west. At one point they passed near what Tuleo’s airborn scouting revealed as an island teeming with undead; aside from some clashes with the undead on the boardwalk, they steered well clear of that. They also killed some gators that came after them on the boardwalk.
Finally the boardwalk sank into the Mire. They spotted a dodecahedral territorial marker, and Wayland identified marks like those of a huge centipede walking in the mud of the island. Again Tuleo scouted by air with Wayland in tow, and discovered a massive black thorn maze half a mile from the board walk, guarded by centaur centipedes (part man-like, part centipede body.)
While Tulip, Vayu, and Tuleo hid on a nearby island, Skritt and Wayland melted into the shallows and shadows, working their way up to the island and racing to get into the ever-dim maze. The rain sluiced down on the thorns, so they were always in motion and muttering with the water flow. Exploring the dim, the pair found a large central chamber with the 12 foot across dodecahedron and the otherdimensional amber in the top.
Worked into the thorns were the deceased of the guardians, which was a bit creepy; water ever flowed out of the idol, sliding down all sides. Wayland and Skritt approached, Wayland hefted the goblin up, and Skritt yanked the amber out; somehow, the guardians were alerted, and as they closed in, the thieves tore all the amber free and hid it in Wayland’s cloak, then melted into the shadows and slipped past the agitated guardians to rejoin their friends, all racing for the boardwalk.
In the meantime, Tuleo was bitten by the Red Swarm, and he was towed like a delirious balloon (since his powers of flight acted unpredictably in his fevered state).
The Journey Back
Aside from another clash with the undead, the journey back was uneventful (except it rained the entire way; they began to realize Skritt had been cursed by removing the amber, and rain would follow him…)
Going through the Cleansing Gate, Wayland and Vayu had to be de-wormed, they had picked up parasites from the water. Then they all gathered in Ashook’s house. He had pretended to be the scholar’s elvish uncle, and taken over the property. He played host to Kitten, Kumiko, Tuleo, and Sherwood as they recovered from the Red Swarm and as the group planned their next move.