Having earned the respect and trust of the Bloodclaw tribe after undertaking a proving quest, the PCs return to the settlement and are treated to the few leisures and many legends the indigenous peoples of the Vast Swamp have to offer. Fortunately whatever they are burning in their torches keeps away most of the marshland bugs and the masks the foul odors of surprisingly tasty meals and despite what you’ve heard of these “savages” you find a great deal of sophistication to their lives—the sense of evil that pervades the area around their homes seems to be held at bay by holy, anti-demonic dirges constantly sung in the background and strange gestures they are constantly making.
Varssadd tells of other unlikely foreigners, secretive travelers that have been seen moving about in the Vast Swamp several times in the last year; from her descriptions you recognize the tell-tale signs of P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. and quickly surmise that they are operating in an area known as the Dreaming Fields. As reaching that part of the region can be quite difficult, the demon hunter offers to journey there with the party and help guide them through a confusing sea of muck and plants called the Mangrove Maze. [Stop by on Thursday to read up on that Story Locale! —MM]
The Mud King has been made aware of the adventurers and is finally acting directly against them, sending minotoyles [Tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! —MM] that wait for the PCs in the bogs at the edge of the Mangrove Maze, ready to ambush the party when they've enter into the Muddy Mangroves. On the way there the party comes across at least one of these challenges that their guide can’t work around: a demon roots trap, mudcage trap, blighted tree spirits haunt, or lightning gas haunt.
Varssadd’s steps are confident for most of the journey toward the Mangrove Maze but as you near your destination she slows, her eyes squinting suspiciously. “Something is not right,” she says, her gaze panning across the swamp. The branches of the trees are dead still and the only sounds you can hear are those of your own breath and the constant buzz of insects, but she holds her hand up indicating for silence. “We are not alone.”
PCs that make a DC 32 Perception check spot 1d4+4 minotoyles as the creatures leap out from the tops of the trees, engaging the party on all sides! Once the monsters are dealt with Varssadd suggests that everyone rests and collects themselves; there are likely to be more enemies ahead and it may be a while before they can do so again.
A DC 23 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the minotoyles.