This being the record of journey for Ambiorix, called by some "The Boar's Bastard", natural son of Lord Rethel Icewine of Icehall
It has been two days and a night since our party left poor old Nasturtia at the Wilderland and began our journey into the swamps in search of the crone she believes responsible for having soured her beer and spoilt her milk. What we thought to be a simple matter seems now to have grown somewhat more perilous than we might have previously imagined...
My traveling companions--the halfling Filibert and the she-elf Idris--are good company, if not traditional friends for a son of Icehall (even a bastard son). More importantly, they are brave and tough. I fear we will need both qualities in great supply before we see this deed done.
The two we hired at the Wilderland--a sellsword named Almaric and a cutpurse named Wine--I mistrust and dislike. Still, they complain little on the road and did not cut our throats as we slept--although we were sure to keep one of us on watch with one of the hirelings during the night.
Our first night camped in the swamp, we had a most frightful encounter with a young maiden who had been bitten by a bloodrot fly and been utterly consumed with its larvae. She lunged at us with a terrible fury and what almost looked like a voracious hunger, and we had no choice but to kill her. I grieve for her family, wherever they are, but I don't think we could've done elsewise and lived ourselves. Unluckily, Filibert was scratched deeply by the poor girl before we put her down. With a bit of fortune, we may hope that she did not pass her plague to him. If he should take ill, we may need to find a priest or witch of our own to cure him of the pestilence. If we cannot do that...well, I would be sad to take my friend's head from his body. But I would do it if given no other choice but to wake in the middle of the night to a blood-crazed and mindless halfling with his teeth in my neck.
As we trekked further into the swamps today, we encountered a band of maidens along the rode who took aim at us with bows. We mistook them for bandits or perhaps even goblins, and killed two of them before we realized that they were bewitched. Having disarmed and restrained them, they ate hard bread and salt beef and fell into a deep sleep.
One of their number escaped us, and we feared that she may bring others to take us in the night. We prepared prepared a large campfire on the main path and left the two sleeping girls near it, and stole off to await any attack out of the light of the fire. I was ashamed to use them as bait, but it seemed the only way to lure any companions they may have into the open so we could similarly restrain them, or if necessary kill them.
Alas, it was not more bow-maidens that came for the girls. In the dark of night, those of us on watch heard (and felt) the movement of some great beast through the swamp. We readied ourselves and waited.
After a few moments, a dread hydra emerged from the foliage and began to sniff at the girls who were--miraculously--still slumbering peacefully next to the campfire. The creature had been wounded (two of its five heads were already missing) and bore a chain around its great neck, but despite its diminished state it was no less dangerous. Sword and axe and arrow, we eventually dispatched its remaining heads and put the beast down.
We are going to try to get what rest we can, then when daylight comes we will follow what I can only assume will be the hydra's unmistakable track. Hopefully the slumbering maidens will be able to give us some tale of where they came from and who sent them, but my wager is that the beast's track will lead us right to the crone we seek.