After leaving Aerie, I made a directional miscalculation and instead of boarding the ferry to Etceter, I followed the trail that lead to East Longfall Wetlands. While not a grievous turn of events unto itself, it did place me in a swamp where I suffered at the spores of the toxic fungi. At least I believe them to be fungi, my memory, as well as my vision, is a dash blurry.

I have resisted several types of poisons in my travels, but stumbling into that grove was a costly mistake and I was saturated to the point of collapse. Not sure of my direction, I made a  hasty retreat which in reality plunged me further into the swamp. I collapsed in a ramshackle thug encampment. Which one of us was more surprised at my arrival is a matter of debate. I hoped their cries of exclamation were out of need to render me aid.

I declared I would be on my way once I was able to splash a bit of water on my face to wash away the poison. I think they misunderstood my needs as I was soon fully immersed in some rather brackish and foul smelling water.

“I appreciate your attempt, but your methods are a dash on the excessive side!” I cried out in between dunkings. “I am not in need of a full body cleansing at the moment!”

My vision and consciousness were beginning to fade when a Caiman came to my rescue. By the wild thrashing in the water, he clearly understood the nature of my mistreatment and caused the thugs to scatter. This allowed me to regain my senses and give those lads a stern talking to.

My chidings fell on deaf ears as the Caiman unleashed his fury. Quite outnumbered, the poor beast was soon riddled with arrows and I leapt to avenge this ill treatment.

With retribution dealt, I feel it only fitting to field dress the Caiman so that I can honor his sacrifice by turning him into a delightful pair of boots. That will take place upon my return to the Hollow.

As my vision returned, it was time to remove myself from this gaseous swamp. Mist and fumes shrouded the area, making my navigational options limited.

It was by good fortune that I found myself upon the doorstep of what I assumed to be a kindly, log cabin dwelling caregiver who has taken up residence in the area. Perhaps she lost her way many years ago and simply cut down the enormous tree she now called home. An even more impressive feat as there were no tools in the vicinity.

The myriad of bones strung up on a line gave me a sense of dread. I then understood that these must be the heads of all the swamp enemies she had slain and they were displayed as a warning to others. That was a good tactic.

“Good evening!” I declared, letting her know I was not some sort of swamp creature intent on doing her harm. “Since you are a native to these parts, perhaps you would be good enough to point me in the direction of the exit. I have lost my way and those pesky spores have rendered me a little light in the head. Not to mention, you have a rather unfortunate thug problem just outside your door.”

“If you don’t want to get beat, you need to retreat!”

Her reply left me at a loss. At first I thought it might be a strange form of greeting.

“No my dear lady, I mean you no harm! And I don’t intend to trespass upon your time any more than necessary. Do you happen to know the way back to Aerie?”

“Don’t delay, you must go away!”

“I am just as eager to be on my way as you are to see me go. But first, I need a bit of assistance is locating the direction in which I should travel. Perhaps if you could hold off speaking in rhymes for just a moment, we both might get what we want out of this encounter.”

“Be off with you. Go away, shoo shoo!”

“Madam, I am more than eager to oblige. But please, in the name of the Oracle, point the way!”

“If you don’t want to be beat, you need to retreat!” she echoed again.

Then I was struck by the nature of her furnishings. The spartan furniture, the mysterious bottles, the usual aroma. This cabin had all the trappings of a witches hut. I clenched at the understanding.

Trying to be friendly, I made light conversation as to the means by which she ended up in this area and why she chose to stay in such a toxic environment.

She reciprocated not a jot and before she unleashed some form of deadly curse upon my personage as retribution for my intrusion, I felt it best to move on. Still in a fragile state, I took my leave, stumbled down the stairs and continued on my way.

My decision making paradigm was in jeopardy and I only made it a few feet before I lost my footing on some dangerously hard rocks, crashed into what I assume was her home or something else pretending to be a large tree and came to rest in a pool of mud. It seemed Fate wanted me to lie down and gather my senses, so who was I to argue?


Huzzah! Salvation is at hand. I admire the craftsmanship of this domicile, but question the choice of location. You do realize you’re in harm’s way of not only poisonous gas, but a barrage of ill-tempered thugs?

I say, what is it you have dangling on the porch?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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