|The Swamphopper Plague|
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With the storm raging on off-shore, the waves crashing into the cliffs and coastlines, the rain pouring down and lightning cracking through the night sky, the Dwarves of Zietal Mar once again prepared to hole up for the night.
However, with the rain pouring down in veritable torrents, the mud, dirt and grit of the pathways slowly churned itself into a slimy mire, slowing down all the Dwarves who were out in that weather.
Bounding in from the outskirts of the Outpost, Swamphoppers began to swarm the place, not burdened by the muddy conditions. A handful appeared at first, slithering and squelching through the mud, but were quickly dispatched by the Dwarves at hand.
Throughout the Outpost, a low, sonorous rumbling sound could be heard. It would fluctuate and undulate like a heartbeat and the Dwarves knew fear.
Over that deep, thrumming bass note was a higher melody, one of more urgent danger.
From the forest line appeared many Swamphoppers. Thankfully, the Swamphopper is not a particularly dangerous enemy to a prepared Dwarf with a keen eye. The Dwarves took their positions at the north entrance and began to exterminate the frogs.
The Dwarves were relentless in their slaughtering of the frogs, yet more would sporadically appear from the treeline. Venturing out into the wilderness, the Dwarves sought to bring a stop to this seemingly neverending plague.
As they skirted around the coastal edges, billowing seas and waves in view, they drew closer to the swamp - where the Swamphoppers are known to make their home.
After killing another batch of Swamphoppers that had been lounging in the now muddied meadow, they came across a gigantic lump of red, blotchy flesh. As the Dwarves drew nearer, the smell became stronger and more foul.
A Water Troll shambled by them, brushing up against the bulbous, crimson mass. In an instant, the huge lump latched onto the Troll and with a sickening noise, drained it of all of its fluids. The lump turned out to be a Panacea Leech.
It is known leeches can grow to large sizes, but this one has grown fat and tremendous off the sheer number of flies, Swamphoppers and other smaller leeches that had gathered around its mass.
Though it had a powerful tail which slammed out at any Dwarf nearby and the ground around it was poisoned and fouled by the necrotic remains of its prey, the brave Dwarves assailed the blood-filled mass.
Though many Dwarves were put off by the leeches attacks and contemplated regaining their strength back at the Outpost, a handful of brave souls continued their attacks on the leech, slowly hacking it to pieces.
After a pitched battle, the Dwarves had dismembered the leech and scattered its parts around the swamp. Quickly settling down to rest their weary bones, they noticed the ever-present, low thrum was louder than ever, just beyond the trees.
As the storm and weather had gotten worse over the past days and weeks, the swamp had become muddier, wetter and more treacherous. Harsh conditions for Dwarves, but to the native fauns and flora, it was a paradise.
Flies teemed in swarms, leeches covered the ground in carpets, Swamphoppers abounded in their mudpools. Each and every one of them fat and well-fed on the sheer number of food sources now available in the swamp.
Just off the coastline, redolent in their excess, three Bog-King Toads lounged around on gigantic lilypads. Known to Bormar, but an unknown sight in these parts, the Bog-Kings are the apex predator in a fully developed swamp.
The presence of these regal toads were the cause of the "united'" front of Swamphoppers and so the Dwarves sought to destroy them. Launching themselves into the boggy water, they defended against Swamphoppers, viscous swamp slime and the Bog-Kings.
The battle was pitched and fierce, with our Dwarves slowly exterminating the foul animals that had built up over the months of bad weather.
In the end, the Bog-Kings were felled with well placed arrows - piercing their bellies, filled with rotting detritus. The gases and noxious fumes from the rotting masses blew the Toads up in a mighty spectacle.
Leaving battered and bruised, but alive, our Dwarves returned to the Outpost, laden with resources from their multitude of kills.