The Vast Swamp.

The morning found them meeting three lizardfolk, who were to be their guide. It took some time to get ready, as the lizardfolk were looking for some fresh meat, but finally H’kskaa, Takaa and L’ssha were ready. They moved through the swamp slowly, the three lizardfolk leading them through parts of the swamp that were easier to get through for those without the ability to breathe water. Still, there was a bit of slogging through waist-deep water to deal with.

It was the better part of the day to where they were going. In the trip, two of the three lizardfolk were taciturn, but L’ssha, who was female, was willing to talk a little. She was a shaman, unmated, and part of the reason she was on this trip was, she admitted, was to keep an eye on them.

“better to watch and know you are not a threat,” as she put it. Knowing the pragmatism that lizardfolk tended to live by, this attitude didn’t surprise Meliantha at all.

They ate while walking, and late in the day found themselves on a hill. Crouched down and looking through some baoban trees, the five watched what would have been a mining shaft. Hobgoblins and lizardfolk, chained and shackled, shuffled into and out of the mine. Supervising them were a group of six humans wearing tabards emblazoned with the symbol of Cyric.

“This is the place,” Meliantha said softly. “I can’t tell how many there might be inside.” She shaded her eyes and watched. “If we could lure one of them out of sight…” she mused.

“then what?” Takaa asked.

“Kill one and I disguise myself to replace them. If I can get close and… wait, no, that’s stupid.” She reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a ring. “I’ll just use this.” She’d picked it up recently, but it hadn’t come up as a thing to use before now. “Ring of Invisibility. Give me a moment.”

She slipped it on and disappeared.  Her training (she thanked Olbrimsur Thunderwood one more time) let her sneak up behind the clot of Cyricists. She turned her mind to her blade. Chainbreaker, can you grant me a blessing?

The voice of the sword seemed strangely muffled, almost incomprehensible, but she felt a moment of peace around her. She made a mental note to look into that after this was over, and moved closer to the one who looked to be the most competent.

She watched him move for a few moments, as he finished a rude story with a coarse laugh. And then with a single blow with Chainbreaker, she clove his head from his shoulders. His body stood for a moment, and before it had hit the ground, Meliantha had become visible again, and another of the guards was spitted on Chainbreaker’s blade. The other four started to draw their clubs – better suited to deal with the slaves – when a third had his belly opened and then his throat by the demon-blood warrior.

The other three looked at each other and then looked at her. Meliantha, blade dripping with blood, narrowed her eyes and brandished Chainbreaker. A pulse of yellow light came from it, and the three dropped their clubs, turned, and ran into the swamp. A brief, painful noise later, the three lizardfolk and Caelen stepped into the cleared area.

“Good,” Meliantha said, then turned to the enslaved lizardfolk and hobgoblins. They had gathered to watch the deaths, and they regarded her, eyes dull.

“You’re free now,” she said, and they all livened up a little bit. A few moments was all that was needed to break them free. The lizardfolk spoke to their people, and then L’ssha told Meliantha:

“they know where to go, and our people will lead the hobgoblins to their camp.”

Meliantha nodded, and as the former slaves moved off, she looked at the hole in the ground. “There’s probably more slaves down there, along with the people in charge. Be careful.” She turned and started to pick her way down the slope into the mine.

Behind her, Caelan touched his belt pouch, then a waterskin, and nodded as if to reassure himself.

Posted by Meliantha Demonblood

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