The human rescued from the Gibbet is named Bran. Covered in filth he is extremely grateful to the party for his rescue. Questioning Bran on the way back to Restwell Keep the party questions him about his experiences. It turns out that he is an adventurer and he is the only survivor of his party after they encountered hobgoblins in the northern part of the Scar.
It appears that the Gibbet is used by creatures within the Scar as a demonstration and punishment, and that the trading post there has little or no influence over the contents or use of the Gibbet.
After getting Bran cleaned up, Akmenos gives Bran his extra set of basic clothes (he was going to loan them, but after looking at Bran, he decided he could just buy a new pair of clothes).
The party arrives at the Keep too late to be let in, so they go looking for Jerek at his hut near the Keep. There is no sign of Jerek and after some debate they choose to stay at his small hut, choosing the four walls of safety over sleeping outside.
In the morning the party enters the keep and drops Bran off a the Chapel of Avandra as he is a worshiper of Avandra.
While mulling over their next move over Mother Aran’s Ale in The Stumbling Giant a young half-orc, no more than 10-12 years old slinks into the Giant and delivers them a note. Akmenos flips him coin as a tip. The boys eyes light up at the coin, but upon discovering it’s a copper piece he looks at the coin and the party dubiously and then slinks off again as only a pre-teen boy can do.
The note is from the Mage Citrian of the Saruun Guildhouse, requesting the party meet with him as he may have some work for them.
After finishing their ales, the party heads over to the Guildhouse and meets with Citrian.
He conveys the following information to the party:
Centuries ago, a powerful goliath sorcerer named Voran Earthmane constructed a keep in the middle of a rank swamp where he could conduct his arcane research in peace. Voran conducted many experiments in the laboratory beneath his keep, mostly centered on the creation of magic items that harnessed the power of the Elemental Chaos. It is said that one of his achievements was a staff that drew strength from earth, and he called it the Staff of Earthen Might. When the meteorite fell from the heavens and plowed the Chaos Scar, it destroyed Voran’s keep, along with many other features of the terrain. The swamp drained away, leaving only a desolate, dry ruin in its wake.
Citrian believes he now has the location to this ruined keep and offers a reward to the party for investigating and returning the Staff if it can be found. After some haggling the party accepts the job.
After resting for the rest of the day (and Akmenos replacing his spare clothing) the party leaves first thing the next morning.
Following *Citrian*’s directions the party easily locates what appears to be ruins of the former keep in the mid-afternoon:
The barren stretch of valley before you suddenly becomes a chaotic jumble of shattered masonry. In the center of the mess, on a low hill, stands the ruined foundation of a keep or tower. Only the lower section and a few walls still stand; however, enough remains intact to cast ominous shadows that could hide nearly anything.
As they moved to the keep they saw:
A soggy gloom fills the crumbling ruins of this keep. The few intact walls cast thick pools of shadows that obscure the jumbled mess of debris that covers the spongy wooden floor. A wet, boggy stench saturates the interior of the ruins, likely from the thick pits of mud that bubble up from some hidden reservoir below, creating wallows of slimy muck.
Then they see:
Squatting in muddy wallows amid the ruined keep are half a dozen froglike humanoids. Some of them grip crude spears and javelins, while the others are naked save for a coating of filthy mud. A chorus of deep, reverberating croaks echoes off the walls of the ruins when the creatures see you.
Griping their crude weapons the creatures attack!
A frogman charges at Druuk who easily sidesteps and crushes its skull with his club, before moving over to help Akmenos. Keelyth slips behind a wall before popping up and surprising another frogman, with a throwing knife in its throat, killing it. One of the frogmen charges Looksa, but misjudges and bounces off her, falling to the ground in the slippery mud. Looksa grins and readys her weapons to crush the frogman at her feet when another one charges her from behind, and knocks her prone in the mud. Enraged Looksa rolls to her feet and swings her flail two-handed and lands a heavy blow on the frogman who knocked her down. There seems to be small purplish flames that envelop her flail’s head when she does so and she feels a bit better when she does so.
The party realizes these must be the Bullywugs that Nykon Darkspell had described to them.
A bullywug tosses a javelin at Looska, and nicks her, while another one tosses at Akmenos and misses. Mud flies from underneath Druuk’s boots as he charges at a bullywug and Keelyth sneaks in another throwing knife on another Bullywug.
The bullywug that fell at Looksa feat finally manages to stand up and attack, he graze her leg with a claw, and she bellows with rage and launches a counterattack smashing the bullywug. At which point Druuk moves up behind the bullywug and catches it be surprise, and smashes its spine, killing it instantly. Looksa spins and catches another bullywug with her flail killing it. Keelyth and Akmenos manage to flank one of the bullywugs throwing javelins and they stab it to death.
With only two bullywugs left, bellows, lowers her head and charges one, spearing it with her horns and knocking it down. Akmenos moves up and viciously kills the downed Bullywug.
Druuk chases down the final, madly hopping, bullywug and smashes it dead.
The party gathers up samples of mud from each of the bullywugs and collects their right hands. After a quick search Druuk finds a rickety staircase leading downwards.
At the bottom of the stairs they see:
This stone chamber is bathed in a greasy, yellow glow from a pair of smoking braziers in the northwest and southeast corners of the room. The floor is covered in a thick viscous mud that adds a swampy stink to the pungent smoke issuing from the braziers. Toppled tables, bookshelves, and other bits of furniture thrust up from the muck in various places like islands in a muddy sea. Four loathsome, froglike humanoids squat in the mud on the east end of the room, near a pair of double doors that are slightly ajar.
Although the monsters attack, the party easily dispatches them. During the combat Looksa discovers a nasty surprise at the depth of the mud in the center of the room, but manages to wade out of it. Once again they collect mud samples and right hands.
After the combat Druuk peers through the doors and sees:
This large room is lit by more of the stinking, smoky braziers and seems to be even muddier than the previous room. A pair of large, L-shaped tables and a number of tall bookshelves, all made of stone and strewn with the broken remains of ancient alchemical equipment, mark this room as having once been some kind of laboratory. The center of the room is taken up by a shallow pit filled with thick mud, and within this filthy wallow are two of the most enormous frogs the party has ever seen.
There is a bulky stone door, barred and shut, in the south wall. A steady river of thick mud flows from beneath the door.
He also notices that the mud in the center of the room seems much deeper and stickier than that in the rest of the chamber.
The party bursts into room trying to catch the bullywugs off balance. Druuk charges and misses, Akmenos kills a bullywug with a thrown dagger and Keelyth misses.
Looska charges at a frog about the size of her and misses. The giant frogs tongue whips out and catches Looska, and drags her into its mouth before it can react. That is a sight the party will never forget. A giant frog swallowing a minotaur whole!
The other giant frog manages to hit Druuk with its tongue and drags Druuk closer to the frog.
A bullywug strikes Akmenos with his claw. Akmenos’s black orb flash with anger and a hint of flame as he stares down the bullywug. The bullywug pauses and dumbly stares back for a second before being enveloped in a flash of fire and then its corpse collapses on the ground.
A Bullywug with a necklace of bone and carrying a wooden staff lets out a strange croak and a burst of fire and thunder envelops the party damaging them.
Looksa manages to force her way back out of the frogs mouth in a move that somewhat resembles a cow giving birth.
Druuk fights with a Frog and avoids being swallowed whole.
Most of the bullywugs are now dispatched, but the bullywug with the croaks again and fills a 15’ x 15’ area beside him with frozen lightening, singeing and freezing at the same time.
Looksa can’t seem to hurt the giant frog and gets swallowed whole again. The other frog manages to catch Keeylth and swallows her whole.
Things begin to look grim for the party, with two of its members struggling to escape from the bellies of Giant Frogs.
Akmenos and Druuk attack the frogs trying to free their companions without damaging the contents of the Frogs stomachs. Looksa again escapes from the frogs mouth before being swallowed again.
The bullywug hits Druuk and the frog with its fire and thunder croak, killing the frog. Druuk hauls Keelyth out of the frog, but its too late, Keelyth is dead.
Anguished over Keelyths death, Druuk charges the Bullywug hitting him repeatedly with his club, bloodying it.
After being motionless for a few seconds Looska shudders back to life, kicking and twisting and ripping with her horns. The frog appears to have had enough and vomits the minotaur out. At which point Akmenos catches the frog unawares from behind and stabs it to death.
The final surviving bullywug is missed by Druuk, and returns with another gout of subzero lightning, doing enough damage to Druuk to knock him down and he begins to slip into unconsciousness.
Looska cries out to Druuk telling him to not give up yet. Druuk struggles and shrugs off the veil of unconsciousness. The bullywug hits Druuk, but Druuk counterstrikes doing damage to his attacker. Akmenos hits the bullywug with a thrown dagger, when Looska charges in once more and kills the Bullywug.
Their enemies lie scattered and dead at their feet, along with the cooling corpse of Keeylth.