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History Of The Soul Stealer Swamp
For more than 1000 years prior to the Great Sundering, Troll tribes dwelt in what was then called the Blood Downs, a low-laying moor-like area just to the south of the trading community of Semanri. A great temple as well as a few other permanent structures was built by Goblin slave labor. The temple was dedicated to the, then, patron of Trolls, Velpar, Lord of Destruction and Death.
At the time of the Sundering, great storms came inland from the newly formed Sea of Storms, flooding the Downs. Many Trolls drowned, but some escaped either to Semanri or to the small farming community that is today known as V'Rung. Included in the deaths were many of the Troll priests in Velpar's service. Some died straight away as a result of the floods, while others were trapped by the flood waters in areas of the temple that remained above the flood level, slowly starving to death, all the while fearing Velpar's wrath as they were unable to perform the proper rites at the altar, now underwater.
When much of the waters finally receded to their present levels, the temple was in ruins, as were the other structures, though many did not survive, and those that did slowly began to sink into the muck. However, a hideous new treat took the place of the savage trolls in the form of undead. The Troll Priests of Velpar who died in the temple had arisen as sentient undead, still capable of using their foul magics. Two forms have been seen, bloated obviously drowned trolls, and emaciated starved ones. Immediately, they started to make the swamp their own, but found that they were trapped in and around the temple where they died. Not to let that deter them, they called upon their Master's help, but Velpar, weakened as he was from the Sundering, and still angry with his minions for failing to do their rites, gave little aid, other than in the form of other undead servants for these priests. Troll Zombies, the former victims of the floods, arose to do the bidding of the Priests. Shadowy non-corporeal black widow spiders also came to the call of the priests. Over the last 2500 years, the priests have worked hard to increase their power, creating horrors that make traversing the swamp, or even near it, nearly impossible. Mists with the ability to drain blood or the very soul of unwary and unprotected travelers have been spoken of, as have nightmarish undead serpents whose poison rots away the soul of the victims.
Periodically, the priests test their new creations by sending them southward to assault V'Rung, where the descendents of most of the trolls now reside. The priests are aware that the trolls of today have turned from Velpar, and worship Nature in it's most violent forms, since they see the flood as evidence that Nature was, and thus is, stronger than Velpar. Occasionally, undead attacks venture north towards Semanri, but the now strong Kingdom of Semanri is well guarded against such attacks, as are the Forest Elves, Forest Gnomes and Pards of the Selva'Taer Forest, ever since a Pard mysteriously disappeared many centuries ago. The combined might of Semanri and their forest allies keep most attacks headed southward.
Few venture near the Swamp today, much less into its seemingly endless tracks. Becoming lost in this swamp is extremely easy, or so the tales tell. However, reposts, sketchy at best, have begun to circulate that a guild of Necromancers has established themselves within on of the other ruined buildings in the swamp. Seemingly, there is an uneasy peace between the Priests and the Necromancers, perhaps because neither knows who actually has the upper hand. Little is known of this secretive guild, but it is believed that if it truly does exist, that its members are likely to add their own creations to the horrors already stalking the swamp.
Troll Priest, Undead
The Undead Priests of Velpar have been able to keep much of their magical powers, though their greater powers waned with Velpar's. They either look to be bloated, waterlogged trolls in rotting ceremonial robes, or extremely emaciated ones. No difference beyond appearance is known.
They can cast spells and can control any other undead in the area, often keeping skeletons or zombies as guards. These are usually either the animated remains of previous victims, or the Troll Zombies that Velpar granted them.
They can heal themselves through some unholy means of magic designed to heal undead flesh rather than living tissue. They attack with maces whose heads are shaped like the body of a black widow spider and are often envenomed with the poison of the Death Adders they created.
Only blessed weapons have been known to inflict physical damage against them.
Zombie of Velpar
These are former Troll worshipers of Velpar who died as a result of the flooding that caused the swamp to be created. They look much like a regular zombie made from a troll corpse, but are bloated from having drowned. They are physically stronger than normal zombies and have stamina greater than normal zombies as well. Their eyes glow a sickly green and they can utter sounds that mostly come out only as moans. They attack with claws and a nasty bite, both of which can lead to infection.
Only blessed weapons have been known to inflict physical damage against them.
These are large (over twenty feet in length), undead snakes with front-facing fangs as long as a Human's index finger. These monstrosities are covered in rotting skin, though many have huge gaps where only vertebrae can be seen. Their attack is a horrendous bite, which can inflict a rotting, necrotic poison into their victim. Death by this method is nightmarish to say the least, as the flesh, sinew, and muscles rot and fall off the victim even as he struggles to stay alive.
The scales of this creature are surprisingly tough, given their rotted appearance, and they can sustain a great deal of damage before the magics that animate them are weakened enough to destroy them.
Ghost Spiders of Velpar
Frighteningly eerie as they glide through the mists and fog of the swamp, these non-corporeal undead spiders hunt tirelessly for living prey. Their bite is a powerful poison, not unlike that of the long-tailed scorpions of the Loup'garou Desert. Blessed weapons are the only type of weapons that appear to affect them.
They most often attempt to drag off fallen victims to their masters in the Temple of Velpar for their experiments.
Easily missed in their unfed form, they are able to glide silently through the foggy mists of the swamp. Once a victim is located, they immediately attack, surrounding the victim and suffocating them as they drain both blood and soul from the hapless traveler. Luckily, though only blessed weapons can injur them physically, they are not too difficult to destroy in general. A possible unfortunate side affect to attacking them while they are feeding is that there is a chance that the victim's kin will attack their comrade as well.
Once fed, they are easily spotted, having taken on a swirling black and red appearance. However, it should be noted that their hatred of all living things means they would attack even while in this state.
The suffocation caused by the mist usually is the least of the victim's worries, but it does cause some damage. The truly frightening attacks are the blood and soul drain. The victim feels his flesh being rent as tendrils of the mist enter. These tendrils suck both blood and soul energies from the prey.
If the stories of a Necromancer Guild in the swamp prove true, then it is likely only a matter of time before even more horrors are seen in the swamp. It is also likely that more attacks outside the swamp will occur. Given the simple fact that most who would practice the art of Necromancy today would likely worship Konla, Na'Drak or Zak'Ryn'Del, or one of the lesser New Gods, a permanent peace between the Temple of Velpar and the Guild seems unlikely, which may, in the long run, prove to be a good thing for all living beings.