Excerpt from the Journal of Arranis Amakiir:
15 Marpenoth 1489 (Year of the Warrior Princess)
We followed the woman dressed in black down into the chasm we had crossed to reach her. She stayed silent the whole way we went down the small dangerous steps, but her pets, the shadow mastiffs, were less so. I’m now convinced they want to eat us and will most likely do so before I have the chance to encounter the dragon!
When we reached a large cave at the bottom of the chasm, we noticed a lot of footprints coming in and out of it. Well, not as many as the Trade Way on which we had been recently, but definitely more than expected for such a remote desolate location. The cave was pitch black, but most of us can see in darkness anyway so it didn’t occur to me to cast Light, and instead Gabriel did it on his shield, alighting the nearby surroundings.
I couldn’t even see the top of the cave, despite my darkvision, but I did see the mound of corpses very clearly. It was more like a pile actually, and I surmised they were all in various states of decomposition which explained the awful stench we had been smelling since entering the cave.
Then the dark lady started walking towards the exit. Ruisar asked her where the gate towards the dragon was and she changed shape – from a beautiful woman to the most disgusting hag I’ve ever seen. Granted, she was the first hag I ever saw live, most hags I had seen prior were in sketches, but none of them had properly conveyed the horrid nature of her features. She had a noose around her neck and a pair of extra legs that were just dangling from her rags!
Ruisar recognized her as a hag too, for he called her a “night hag”. She told us that only by killing one of our own would we open the Crossing that would take us back to our plane. I had read about Shadow Crossings before and it would explain the pile of corpses as sacrifices needed to activate it.
After a lengthy discussion which seemed to amuse the hag greatly, Caval volunteered to be the sacrificial lamb, as it were, and Bloom did not hesitate to kill him with eldritch blasts. The Shadow Crossing then appeared, and we made our way through, not before carrying Caval with us. The hag might be gleeful, but she did not know of our wand.
16 Marpenoth 1489 (Year of the Warrior Princess)
As soon as we emerged back on Faerun, in a cave not dissimilar to the one we were in back in the Shadowfell, Gabriel used the wand to revive Caval, but perhaps as punishment from Lathander for allowing the death in the first place, the wand exploded in a burst of white light.
We then moved out of the cave into a swamp, where we eventually found a bit of dry land and a camp. A prolonged battle with a quicksand ensued after Robbie got stuck in it, but I preferred to study the camp seeing that the others were already helping Robbie out of the offending sands.
We eventually camped out inside my magical hut, needing the respite after the dreadful passage through the Shadowfell. I felt my spirits lifting again, perhaps the impending doom was just an illusion of that plane?
My hut was dispelled in the middle of our rest and we encountered the black dragon the hag told us about. A confusion about her instructions made Bloom lie to him, pretending to offer the music box as a form of respect of his immense power but the dragon was suspicious. Once Bloom claimed that it was a family heirloom, the dragon attacked us, covering four of us in acid! He clearly did not intend to kill us for he didn’t continue the attack. Though perhaps it was Ruisar who saved us by coming clean to him and telling him of the hag and her trickery.
The dragon then changed into human form, or rather human-like, for he was covered head to toe by dirty black rags, and claimed the music box which turned into a phylactery in his hands! I wish I had studied it more carefully while I had the chance, because he promptly smashed it against a tree, without giving it further thought.
He then asked for all our treasure as a payment for being allowed to live. I happily gave him my gold, but Ruisar was sad to part with the magical shield from Baldur’s Gate.
The dragon then told us we are to destroy the farseer of Illusk at Castle Naerytar and that we would receive help that would get us there. He then vanished as swiftly as he appeared. We resumed our rest, and upon awakening we met our helper – a lizard man named Snapjaw.
We were confused by his speech but eventually realized his own mission is to reclaim the swamp for his lizardfolk clan and destroy the bullywugs which apparently the cult had set in power. I think he mentioned his tribe’s leader was murdered by the bullywugs, but he’s somewhat difficult to understand at times. I must make sure to discuss it further with Ruisar.
We left via the canoes, with myself, Ruisar and Snapjaw in one boat, Gabriel and Robbie in another and Caval and Bloom in the third one. Under Snapjaw’s directions we paddled straight into a giant spiderweb and were attacked by its monstrous residents!