After the carnage of Jaw-bone Canyon, the party help the shaken locals with the aftermath of the vicious fires set by the marauding Gnolls, as well as tending to the injured and dead. By noon the next day, the group had geared-up with several days of packed rations, fresh water, and a few sturdy kanks to carry their equipment. Along with their new ally, the Dwarven Gladiator Plutak, they set-off north towards fabled Oz-Oka.
Two uneventful days later, the party had ventured out of the dry savannah and entered a great expanse of Mudflats. At this point, the party unloaded what gear they could easily carry on their backs and released the kanks, opting to go on foot through this region of reddish-brown mud, as it would be near-impossible for the kanks to negotiate this soggy terrain.
It has been two days since the party entered these wretched mudflats, and aside from the constant buzzing of insects and annoying bug-bites, the journey through these wetlands has been mostly uneventful. By noon, the party reaches an area riddled with dozens, if not hundreds, of steaming geyser mudpots, each bubbling-out spurts of hot mud and misty-vapor. Crossing this territory was a bit difficult, as visibility was murky at best, and slogging through the ankle-deep muck was not improving the situation.
It was the ssurran Kassak that noticed something strange first. Taking a peek down at his clawed feet, he sees a swarm of oversized tadpole-like creatures, each about a foot long, squirming around in the watery-mud, some even taking small nips at his reptilian toes. The rest of the group notices these strange beasts as well circling around their own feet.
Suddenly, the Air Priest Leth screams out in pain and nearly drops to his knees! Blood drips from his nose and ears, as if his head had just been whacked with a heavy stone hammer! Suddenly, a series of loud croaking sounds is heard all around the group, then from out of the mists appear a horde of large, amphibious monsters! Dagorran!
A Dagorran is a frog-like beast with golden-hued skin, green eyes, and a green crystalline growth between its shoulders. The skin is valued for its protective qualities by warriors as armor, and by wizards as a material component for casting protective spells. The green crystalline growth is the source of these creatures' psionic and tracking abilities and is valued by defilers and preservers for several mind-affecting potions. It has large, razor-sharp teeth that it uses in hunting and eating its prey. Its large, muscular legs are used for jumping, running, and walking. The dominant dagorran or leader has a larger crystalline growth.
In a flash, the monsters attack, utilizing powerful psionic-blasts on the party, then moving-in for the kill, using their sharp talons and fanged-maws. Though difficult to maneuver themselves, the party manages to navigate through the muddy terrain and slay the amphimbious beasts after a bit of a scrap.
It's noon, and the party has been struggling through this water-logged expanse of thick, red mud a good part of the afternoon. Unexpectedly, the stench of tar and roasting-meats fill the air. Hundreds of tar-pits riddle the area, which is partially obscured with smoky-clouds of toxic fumes. As the group cross this territory, the smell of tar and cooking-flesh becomes even more intense. The heroes ponder what could be the source of this uncanny aroma. Is there, mayhap, a friendly camp or travelers close by?
Up ahead, the party spot two shapes squatting over a third, near one of these pits of bubbling black-goo. One appears to be an elderly woman, the other a young child, both dressed in tar-covered rags, and both with blotchy, pale skin. Hassimir calls out to the strange duo. The two stop what they’re doing and turn around to face the party; blood and gore drip from the old female’s distorted face, as well as the child, who happily munches on a bloody severed hand! On the ground before them lies the mangled remains of a corpse, its flesh seems to have been partially-cooked in tar. They (the old hag and child) both have large, sunken, milky-white eyes and rotting, diseased-covered skin, the stench of death and tar surrounding their lean, twisted bodies. Tar Ghouls!
Tar Ghouls are a breed of wasteland undead that dwell amongst remote desert tar-pits that have somehow been enchanted with powerful necrotic energy. They are usually the result of unfortunates that perished while stuck in tar pits, succumbing to starvation. They, like most ghouls, have an insatiable hunger for flesh, and have a tendency to “cook” their meat in bubbling tar before ultimately devouring it (hence the mysterious smell in the area).
Unexpectedly, out of the surrounding tar-pits, dozens more of these Tar Ghouls emerge and lunge forward, their sludge-covered claws and fangs swinging and snapping wildly at the heroes, hoping to grab a chunk of living, warm-flesh. A bloody battle ensues, as the party retaliate with an onslaught of their own, hacking and cleaving through the ranks of these shambling undead creatures. As the battle rages on, a loud, gurgling roar erupts; from out of one if the tar pits, a massive blob of necromantic black sludge emerges!
The creature is a Tar Ooze! Its body is a jumble of hundreds of rotting, severed arms, legs, intestines, and jagged bones, along with countless snapping zombie and skeleton heads, all bound together by a large oil-slick mountain of tar-like necrotic gunk.
The creature joins the battle, slapping and swatting the heroes with its' rotting appendages and black, oily pseudopods. The giant black ooze slams into the heroes amazing grace across the battlefield, even managing to mangle poor Kassak in the fray, severely-injuring his foot. After a few tense moments with the monster and his ghoul-allies, the party manages to slay the slimy creature and send the remaining Tar Ghouls fleeing to the safety of their tar-pits.
After the battle, Plutak claimed a rare and wondrous prize in the form of an ancient, pristine steel axe from the remains of the monstrous Tar Ooze. Though heavily-injured, Kassak yet managed to find the party refuge from the mudflats for the night amongst a series of nearby sandstone formations. Here they rested, tending to their wounds and spending most of the evening trying their best in removing the sticky tar from their gear.
The next morning, the party continued north, and after a few hours of travel through the mudflats, they eventually entered an expanse of Salt Marsh. By late afternoon, the party finally decided to rest amongst an area of ancient stone ruins. Deciding to set camp there, they went upon the business of setting up a perimeter and starting the evening meal, which consisted of a bounty of fish, boiled crawfish and mud-crabs, and a few handfuls of sweet cranberries, courtesy of Kassak and Basha's hunting and gathering skills. The night was uneventful for the most part, though the party did have to get used to the constant sounds of frogs, insects, and other exotic wildlife splashing about in the darkness beyond the campfire—all except for Basha, as these familiar and green surroundings reminded him greatly of his ancestral homelands.