This week we find out heroes following a game trail down the side of the volcano towards the Dreaded Death Bog. Ahead on either side of the path looks what appears to be standing stones, but as they get closer, they are statues of two primitive halfling warriors bearing spears. The statues are extremely lifelike, and each of them depicts a middle aged warrior standing at parade rest. Examining the statues closely confirms that they are, or were, live Halflings at one time who were most likely petrified, possibly by the “stone eye basilisk” they believe to be on the island. The strange thing about the statues is that they are not fighting or fleeing.
Leaving the mystery aside, the party decides to camp, and so they find some trees to climb into off the trail, and pass a night without excitement. They do hear the lowing of a cattle echoing through the swamp, and it is a melancholy sound. When dawn cmes, they pass the statues and when the path enters the bog, it divides into three. One path curves northwards, the other path curves south, and the center path cuts straight into the bog, and this is the route the party takes. They spend the morning, stretching into late afternoon trudging through the bog until a second evening starts to descend. Ahead they hear voices, and Felip creeps forward to see a strange sight.
In a clearing near the center of the bog is a circle of standing stones, with a sacrificial alter at its center. A man lays on the alter, while two women stand over him. 5 other men stand in a semi-circle around the alter. As Felipe watches, one of the women, wearing a strange crown of coral, begins chanting a ritual. With a knife, she slashes open the chest of the sacrificial victim and pulls out its lifeless heart. She then takes a metal ring with a large red crystal and pounds it onto the open gash. At the appropriate moment, the other woman, who is strikingly beautiful, despite her red-tinged skin, the soft pink bat wings, and the horns and sharp fangs, taps the crystal with her red crystal rod, and the crystal begins glowing, and the newly created Heartless Vampire Zombie stand up and lurches over into line with his five friends. As they are dragging the 7th corpse onto the alter, Felipe, creeping invisibly closer while invisible, is noticed by one of the heartless vampire zombies who begins moaning “blooooood…”
Felipe bursts into action, and we mean that literally. S/he explodes into a furious swarm of buzzing, stinging insects, which completely destroys 4 of the heartless vampire-zombies. And with that combat ensues. Hex, Thokk, Sharia, and Poppy all charge into the fray. Sharia is first to go, and when she gets between the standing stones, she notices the wraith. An intense battle rages within the stone circle, as the heroes battle the succubus, the shadowy wraith, and the vampire witch, along with her remaining 3 minions.
Only Ria was outside that tightly confined area of battle, and she soon heard a familiar low rumbling growl as the displacer panther struck. Even as she was lifted in its tentacles, each of which was like an octopus pod but with a sharp hook in the center of each, the panther started dragging her away from the group.
As Ria was being dragged off, the rest of the crew were having their own troubles. The dark wraith stabbed Sharia with its shadow blade, and as the ghostly blade pierced her, she was blinded to all the world but for herself and the wraith. She crawled on top of the alter for better positioning. Thokk was swinging his axe at the succubus, but she deftly avoided his swinging weapon and snuck in for a kiss upon his lips. Suddenly attacking her didn’t seem like such a good idea, and he moved to another target. Hex was groped from behind by a heartless vampire zombie, who threw his long nailed arms around the swordlock and held him fast, bending in to plant his sharp incisors into Hexes neck.
Poppy faced off against the vampire witch Calypso, but she was hard to hit. Thokk eventually knocked her to the ground and used his headsman chop to send her into the afterlife. Since he was unable to attack the Succubus, along with Hex who also got kissed, Poppy stepped up and swung her massive sword in an unbelievably lucky attack that left the demon headless. Her body evaporated. By this time, Hex had disengaged and used his magic to instantly switch places with Ria. Suddenly, the panther had an unexpected prey, and this one had a much sharper pointy stabby thing then the luscious cleric.
The battle in the clearing was winding down as they chased down the last of the heartless vampire zombies down, but the real battle was just beginning as the panther found itself cornered when Thokk streaked his way across the clearing and down the path to flank the beast. Soon with the entire party surrounding and beating on the displacer panther, it was looking for a way out, but none came, and it was reduced to laying down on its side and mewling. It surrendered, and the party was left wondering what to do with a very big, very humiliated displacer panther.