"Does the drumming mean there is a celebration we can attend, my friend?" Andrzej eats up the soup with gusto and enjoys the slightly musty tang of the white meat.
A celebration would be a good way to spend our time here. Getting to know the villagers better. I have missed the road and the pleasure of the campfire music.
Chickenbone regards Res closely at his question. "It's not easy ta say. It's the spirits. The spirits tell me you got da evil with you. But you also got da good. Beware da evil." He grows quiet and pensive. Then he smiles at Andrzej's question. "They dancin' away the spirits. Ye can go see it if ye want."
Leandro declines the offer of soup with a slight shake of the head and continues watching and listening. The old man's mention of evil seems to alarm and interest him. He falls in near their host as the party makes their way to the fire and dancing.
"Sieur, uh, Chickenbone, how can the spirits tell we have evil with us? Can they tell where the evil is so we may purge it?"
Res finishes his soup and joins Andrzej on the way to the dancing. He is relieved to see Andrzej's demeanor lighten. Too many times has he seen a comrade miss a blow due to tension and pay the ultimate price. Remaining vigilant while enjoying the battle has always served Res well in the past.
At Leandro's question, the witch-doctor says, "De spirits speak as dey will. Nothing so specific."
Now that the sun has set, darkness has settled over the swamp like a stifling blanket. You pick your way carefully in the direction of the sound of the revelry. As you near, you can see through the trees the faint glow of the bonfire. The drumming is ecstatic and the yells of the folk are wild and savage.
The bonfire reaches up some ten feet, and smaller fires surround it. A collection of natives beat hand drums while others dance wildly around the bonfire. Around the smaller fires, some leap over the flames, oblivious to the searing heat. In all, the natives seem to have worked themselves into a frenzy, and scarcely notice your arrival.
Handing his rapier over to Tybalt, Andrzej moves forwards clicking his fingers to the beat until he is close enough to join in the dancing. His grace and talent are rusty but the boy has some moves. At this rate he will soon be lost in the moment like the rest.
Perform Dancing 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
Taking the rapier with some reverence, Tybalt watches on as he sees the rare dances of the Vistina along with the local tribes folk dance. For though he'd read tales of the people of the swamps he'd little imagined he might get to witness such a performance.
The music takes him, drawing away his paranoia in the flurry of the beat. Finding himself tapping his other hand against his thigh to the rhytmn, he looks to the others with him.
Andrzej adds his own steps to that of the wild swamp folk. The rite continues well into the night, even to the wee hours of morning. The native folk seem to dance until they collapse from exhaustion. No one says anything, or even acknowledges your presence. The glow of the roaring fires seems to keep the suffocating darkness of the swamp at bay.
After the wild night, it is full daylight before Chickenbone wakes you. "You rest long enough," he says, "now's da time for action. It's not wise ta be visitin' a place of the dead while night reigns over da sky. Go now, and you will have several hours o' daylight remainin'."
The strange esoteric dance draws Tybalt in, as does the pulsing rhythm softly he adds a couter-melody to the performance. Firelight creating a burnished glow across his visage, an expression of intrigue at the curious ritual mingled with the infectious euphoria of the masses.
Dragging himself away before the last few revellers collapse, Tybalt ensures he gets some rest before the morning arrives. Though he doesn't awake at first light, he's up in the morning and preparing for the ardous day ahead.
His heavy pack at his side, he looks to the others; "Lets be off, shall we?"
His calves ache from the dancing, using muscles like that night has not happened for a while. The Vistani rubs them and rises to adopt his more somber persona again.
Andrzej nods to Tybalt almost as if the party never took place and the swamp mission is everything. His leather spellbook is open as the man waits.He chews on a piece of bread carefully at the same time, waving it in time occasionally to mimic the casting actions.
You say your farewells to Chickenbone, as he watches you depart from his porch. His expression turns stoic and difficult to read.
As promised, the raven keeps pace ahead of you, leading you on a dry path through the swamp. The raven seems to know how to avoid the mires and keeps you on a path that is easy to walk on.
As you continue, the sounds of the swamp - the buzzing, chirping, and croaking of tiny creatures native to the wetlands - seems to die away around you. An unnatural stillness has settled over this area of the swamp, and the living things seem to avoid it. The trees are mostly dead, with clumps of grey moss hanging limply from their blackened branches. Brittle reeds rise from the sodden earth, and snap like twigs underfoot.
Almost without warning, you come upon a stone archway. The stonework appears to be incredibly old, and sickly clumps of creeping vines and rotting moss cling to its supports. A massive wrought iron gate stands aside within the archway, fallen from its hinges in every place except one, and no longer serving any useful purpose.
The raven alights on the top of the archway and moves no further. It is just past mid-day.
Res surveys the landscape as it gets bleaker. When they reach the archway, he notes the raven perching on the top of the archway and says, "This must be the place. I think the Raven has brought us as close to the evil as it can stand. I think we are on our own from this point. Best we don't tarry, we only have the half of the day left. If there are vampires lurking about, maybe they are asleep and we can catch them unaware. I can hide us from the undead, but it will only last nearly three quarters of an hour. Do we think we need it now or later?"
I'll take a chance that it won't take us all day to explore this area. Res casts Hide from dead twice and protects everyone with him. After that he begins to proceed through the archway. It will last 40 minutes.
Undead cannot see, hear, or smell creatures warded by this spell. Even extraordinary or supernatural sensory capabilities, such as blindsense, blindsight, scent, and tremorsense, cannot detect or locate warded creatures. Nonintelligent undead creatures (such as skeletons or zombies) are automatically affected and act as though the warded creatures are not there. An intelligent undead creature gets a single Will saving throw. If it fails, the subject can't see any of the warded creatures. If it has reason to believe unseen opponents are present, however, it can attempt to find or strike them. If a warded creature attempts to channel positive energy, turn or command undead, touches an undead creature, or attacks any creature (even with a spell), the spell ends for all recipients.
Andrzej accepts the decision of Res and prepares to enter under the archway with Tybalt. He looks around to see who is up for this.
I am running one extra in another game already so I'd rather not commit to one more here.
Tybalt had thanked their host for his hospitality and left with him a small stipend as thanks. He set off with the others carrying his heavy load for the long and soggy journey into the swamp.
"Certainly now would be an ideal time to use such a incantation, it'll hopefully get us past most undead guards without the alarms being raised. For although I've heard the bloodsuckers dislike working with lycanthropes and their own animal totems may be assuaged." He says softly, looking through the portal.
Then he gets out a small bladed knife and pushes some vines away to look for any carvings/ mouldings or such.
Cast Know Direction & Fey Haunted Aspect before acting further.
"Is this Magical?" The bard asks softly; "For it might be trapped, or a portal."
I'd not mind acting for an additional person or so.
Leandro rouses from dark daydreams, having slogged along in grim silence behind the group. The song and dance from the night before had appalled him with its raw, primitive nature. Though trained to dance and recite, his talents were more suited for the genteel drawing rooms of Taldor than for this wilderness. He had remained silent and still, allowing the rest to enjoy their evening as they would, deriving little himself from the primal revelry.
The gateway seems no more evil than the rest of this world to the weary paladin. At the bard's question, he removes one hand from Thorn and waves it in an complicated gesture, murmuring words taught to him at school by friends studying the arcane arts. "We shall see..."
Detect magic on the gateway.
I can take over Eliva
Eliva comes up next to Res and they both scan the area for more clues.
Eliva perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20
Eliva perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
"If the archway doesn't look like a trap, I think we best get moving before the spell I cast on each of you fades," says Res.