The Dread Witch
While traveling along a stretch of highway in the countryside, you encounter a young man huddled against the cold. His clothes are little more than rags, and his hair and skin are matted with mud. He looks to be in a sorry state, and as soon as he sees you approaching, he draws your attention by raising one hand.
“Please, help me,” he begs as you draw near. “There’s a powerful witch living in the nearby swamp who’s been kidnapping people! I barely managed to escape with my life, but there are others being held there even now. You have to help them!”
Should you inquire further about what this witch can do, he tells you she can summon beasts from the swamp to do her bidding, and create clouds of poison that choke and wither her enemies.
If you decide to assist him, the young man is visibly relieved. “Thank you, kind stranger. I am called Meddi. Come, her home lies this way.” Meddi ambles along ahead of you, leading you away from the road and into the woodlands. Over the course of hours, the surroundings change from lush forest to murky marshlands.
Meddi beckons you on, certain of the path he is taking. Should you have expertise in tracking, you may be able to detect the recent prints of many large animals moving along this path. Meddi waves away your concerns though.
“They’re harmless enough until Agima puts a spell on them. That’s the witch’s name. She’s lived here for many years but never done anything like this before. She must have gone mad. We have to free the villagers from her clutches!”
You continue through the swamp until Meddi crouches low behind an old stump and points to some stone buildings ahead. Huge trees grow in the area, their branches clutching at the sky like great hands. They shade the swamp from the sun, leaving it a grim, bleak morass.
“There,” he whispers. “That’s where she lives. I escaped from the large building at the far end. That’s where she’s keeping the others.”
Should you proceed into Agima’s domain, you move forward across a rickety wooden bridge that leads over the dark waters of the swamp. The buildings stand on land barely above water level, with moss and mud visible on all of the walls.
If you have skill with traps, or just a knack for spotting them, you might notice a number of traps set along the path! If you fail to avoid them, they attempt to viciously slash you and may even have mild poisons on them. The interior of the buildings repels you with the stench of refuse and clumps of decaying vegetation. They clearly haven’t been used in a long time.
A short bridge spans a creek that connects to the larger body of water. If you’re perceptive, you might spot a creature lying in wait for you in the murky waters. Should you cross the bridge without being stealthy, a huge alligator lunges at you from the turgid waters!
Should you survive that, you can go around the corner and see the large building Meddi pointed to just ahead. An arch stands between you and it, and should you have a talent for magic, you might recognize some runes on the inside of the arch, carved into the stone.
If you blunder in, the runes glow and you feel a darkness assail your mind, trying to weaken you with images of despair! If you resist, or found a way around the arch, the large building stands before you. You may notice Meddi has followed you from a safe distance, and he gives you a tentative thumbs-up when you turn to look at him.
The doors to the large building are closed, and if you’re perceptive, you might spot another trap on them! If you fail to avoid it, the trap will drop rocks on you as you enter the building.
Once inside, you can see this place is well-tended, with no sign of the muck from the other buildings present. Strange tapestries line the wall, made of some kind of red ropes that look disturbingly like intestines! Moving forward carefully, there seem to be no more traps, no more beasts, yet no sign of Agima either. Behind you, Meddi stands in the doorway.
“You’re more cunning than I thought,” he remarks, all indications of his timid nature gone. He looks at you with a devious grin, even as his form changes to a vicious old woman who seems barely human, dressed in homespun garments that appear to be made out of the parts of people! “You’ve made it through my traps and even killed my pet ‘gator! You’ve been more trouble than it was worth to lure you here, but I’ll soon have your guts adorn my hall!”
Agima attacks with her foul magic as swamp zombies rise from the murky ground outside to assault you as well. Should you survive, you can check the nearby buildings to find that while she was lying about who she was, she hadn’t lied about kidnapping villagers, for there are a dozen people held prisoner here. Should you set them free, they thank you profusely and promise to reward you properly at their village after you leave. Searching Agima’s place reveals a stash of coins and gems she’d taken from her victims over the years.
Start in the top left, moving through the first area of buildings with the traps in them. Agima attacks in the building with the pentagram in the bottom right, with other buildings in the bottom left housing the captive villagers. The swamp zombies are fodder to keep the player(s) busy while she hits them with spells.
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