The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles

A Friday treat…

I think this is the longest poem I ever wrote. This was originally posted on a gaming fan-site called “Trollhalla” run by Ken St. Andre, the author of the RPG game, Tunnels & Trolls. I originally posted it over the course of 10 days. I won’t do that to you. If you want to follow a story, go and read about Kabize Vipertree.

The characters in this story are archetypal and the mechanics (like spell names and other references) are specific to Tunnels & Trolls.

While it seemed to be received positively when originally posted, the only criticism I got was the intros and outros. I leave them in place, because I see them as integral to the type of story I’m telling. Kind of like the old, classic TV shows where the narrator breaks the fourth wall to speak to the audience directly. Next week, (if I remember) I’ll post the other serialized poem I wrote, using the same characters, but in a different adventure.

(In the comments below, let me know if you’re able to catch the obscure pop-culture references!)



The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles
© 2010 W. Scott Grant

The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #1

The mists were thick over Darkenmore Swamp
Which made visibility very low
The party really had no other choice
This was the only way they could go

Jansan the human warrior was brave and strong
Korbo the hobb rogue was in it for the gold
Darri the elven wizard just wanted adventure
They’d been together a while, so we’ve been told

Korbo kept alert, scouting the path ahead
Jansan kept his great sword out, ready for surprise
Darri’s spells were always prepared
As they focused their attention on the prize

To their left, a splashing noise caught their attention
They huddled close, wondering what made the sound
Darri’s spell was ready, Korbo’s bow was drawn
Jansan stepped forward, bent low to the ground

Then suddenly the creature was upon them
It attacked in fury of sharp teeth and vicious claws
Take-That-You-Fiend! Darri called forth her kremm
Arrows flew like lightening into its huge jaws

Jansan’s blade slashed, jabbed, and parried
With his body he protected the other two
The monster fiercely attacked the armored man
But only spite damage could get through

The swamp lizard had a tough and leathery hide
And was as quick as anything they’d ever fought
But it was no match for Darri’s powerful magic
So Korbo joined her with the spells he’d been taught

The ferocious beast was quickly killed
And then the group searched for its hidden lair
It didn’t take all that long for them to find it
But they didn’t find a lot of treasure there.

A few hundred gold coins and a jeweled necklace
Set with a relatively common gem
But it was a safe enough place to rest
For Darri and Korbo to recover their kremm

Tune in next time for the next chapter
Of the ballad of our three intrepid friends
And their Trek through Darkenmore Swamp
Can anyone guess just how this story ends?


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #2

Kremm restored, meals eaten, it was time to move on
Travelling westward through the bog
They knew the lizard was just the first
Of the foes they’ll encounter in the fog

But the day was quiet and uneventful
As the afternoon wore on and on
And before they realized it
A full day’s travel was over and done

They found a great tree on a spot of dry land
And they set up a camp for the night
A watch rotation was established
In anticipation for the morning light

It happened during Darri’s watch
About fifteen minutes after two
A distant screech calling from afar
So she rousted the rest of the crew

Hoping it would provide sufficient cover
They huddled close to the giant tree
The enemy closed from far above
But through the fog they could not see

The crowettes were upon them in an instant
Their wings fluttering in the misty air
A half dozen of the giant birds
Three tasty morsels they wanted to share

But Jansan’s sword impaled one straight through
While Korbo’s arrows found one more
Darri’s spell felled the third crowette
But it was their turn to even the score

The three survivors concentrated on the smallest
The hobb was light and easy to carry
The birds took off with their prey
Too quick for Jansan and Darri

Quickly they were out of range of Darri’s spells
So the two grabbed the hobb’s dropped bow
And followed on the ground beneath
Hoping to catch the giant crow

But today’s installment ends right here
I’ll bet you’re on the edge of your seat
So Korbo’s fate will just have to wait
Until another day when we’ll again meet.


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #3

The wizard and the warrior had lost their roguish friend
As the murder of crowettes had carried him away
It was too dark in Darkenmore Swamp
They’d continue to search in the day

Jansan and Darri discussed their plans
And how they’d go about their quest
Darri’s magic will be necessary
To find the crowettes’ nest

Korbo realized that he shouldn’t struggle
At this altitude he’d never survive the fall
So he took advantage of the view
From here he could almost see it all

They carried him to their nest
In the thick forest to the south
High in a tree, on a sheer cliff
Overlooking a river’s mouth

Using a divination spell she knew
Darri determined which way to go
She and Jansan made haste at morning light
And they prepared for their next foe

A tribe of goblins blocked their way
It was a fight they knew they couldn’t win
So Darri cast a Hidey-Hole spell
And they hurried past the goblin’s den

Much like this they travelled that day
They knew they had no time to rest
They had to find their friend Korbo
Before they turned back to the west

They came to the edge of Darkenmore Swamp
And saw the forest on the far side of a lake
They were so very, very tired
They could barely stay awake

Darri had enough kremm for one more spell
But would it be enough?
Jansan said, “You can do it, Darri,
“Those crowettes really aren’t that tough.”

So Fly-Me was the spell she cast
And lofted herself high over the ground
Closing in on the crowette’s lofty nest
She did her best to not make a sound

Will Darri be able to save the little hobb?
Or is this the end of the elven mage
Keep watch for the next installment
On this Trollhallan bardic stage


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #4

Desperate times call for desperate measures
And heroes will do anything to rescue a friend
This is where we left off last time
But this is far from our ballad’s end

Korbo is a most resourceful little rogue
And he carries a lot more than just a bow
When the giant bird dropped him in the nest
He drew a dagger and killed the stupid crow

He looked over the edge and considered the climb
A couple hundred feet was a long way down
So he just decided to wait for his friends
Give them a day or so, they’ll come around

Using a pan from his pack, and kindling from the nest
He made a little fire to cook himself a meal
Crowette meat turns out to be a little bit gamey
Not bad, considering how it made him feel

He watched as his wizard friend flew over the lake
Kind of surprised they made it here so quick
He prepared a plate of crow meat for her
And hoped it wouldn’t make her sick

The elf wizard arrived and saw that he was fine
Her anger turned quickly to a laugh
“I should have known you would be okay,”
As she sipped wine from his carafe

“This crowette meat will restore your kremm,”
Korbo told her. “You should try it, you’ll see.”
She took a bite and it really tasted good
He was right – it did restore her energy

Soon they were back where Jansan waited
And they resumed their trek to the west
A couple more days to travel
And they could finish their quest

So keep watch for the next installment
As it will be here soon enough
But I know as you know
The waiting is always pretty rough


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #5

Jansan, Korbo, and Darri traveled another day
Through the swamp known as Darkenmore
Their quest would soon come to an end, they hoped
But they had no idea what was in store

Out of the mist rose a great stone tower
Built a long time ago in another age
Inside they’d find the Crystal Chalice
Stolen a few weeks ago by an evil mage

It wasn’t for themselves, this thing they sought
They were hired by the rightful king
“Go into Darkenmore swamp, slay the thief,”
“And I will pay you well to return my thing.”

“I will do it,” Jansan had said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
“Just how much gold are you offering to pay?”
Korbo had asked, he has his own priorities
Darri just agreed and said, “Can we leave today?”

So into Darkenmore swamp they travelled
Fighting off fierce lizards and giant birds
But when they arrived at last at the great tower
They were simply at a loss for words

It rose up into the sky, beyond the distant clouds
The top of the spire was too far for them to see
It was made out of shiny obsidian blocks
Its foreboding aura made them want to flee

The base was surrounded by a wide and deep moat
Its water choppy with flesh eating fish
They circled around the great structure
Finding a way in was their only wish

But today is not the day that they will enter
As this installment I must close
So keep watch for the next chapter
If you want to see how this story goes


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #6

The moat would post a great challenge for most
But not for our adventurous crew
They tied a rope to an arrow
Since Korbo’s aim was always true

One end on the great wooden draw bridge
The other tied to a large cedar tree
Hand over hand they crossed the water
To the very place the needed to be

Since Darri’s Knock-Knock spell didn’t work
They needed another way to open the door
Korbo suggested using a wedge and lever
And break the lock free at its core

Jansan used his sword and exerted his strength
For he was a very strong man, indeed
The door bulged and finally burst apart
Into the tower now, Korbo took the lead

To the top of the tower they needed to go
But carefully, carefully, they needed to tread
Because there would be monsters and traps
Which would just as soon see them dead

The first few traps were easy to bypass
A trip-wire, a pressure plate, and a bottomless pit
But these simple diversions
Were no match for Korbo’s wit

Three levels up and they came to a door
On the other side they heard a scratching sound
Surely a monster of some kind, they thought
Darri’s magic revealed that it was a hell-hound

So she cast Vorpal-Blade on Jansan’s sword
And prepared her own most powerful spell
Korbo stood behind the iron-bound door
As he was no match for these beasts from hell

Jansan charged into the darkened chamber
Sword flashing and cutting through animal meat
Darri’s spells crashed and boomed
Quickly the hounds learned about defeat

With this room cleared and treasure collected
This was as good as any time to rest
So come back next time, my audience
As they get closer to the final test


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #7

The trio wended their way up the tower
Dealing with challenges as they went
But never did they question the purpose
Of the quest on which they were sent

It took several days for them to reach the top
Leaving a trail of monster deaths behind
They worked together as a team
And took all the treasure they could find

But now the end of the tale is surely near
When the final door blocked their path
Miles and miles above the earth
They prepared for the evil wizard’s wrath

They discussed the spells and made preparations
And drew diagrams on the floor
Finally, they decided they were ready
So they unlocked and opened the door

The room was obviously a wizard’s study
With a desk and bookshelves against the wall
In the center of the room was an oaken pedestal
That was about four and a half feet tall

On the pedestal sat the gleaming Crystal Chalice
Standing next to it was a little fairy
He said, “Welcome, I’ve been expecting you,”
“Come in to my study, Jansan, Korbo, and Darri.”

“My name is Feller Krackin,” The little guy said,
“I am the so-called evil wizard you seek.”
“You’ve come to take what is rightfully mine,”
“Because without this, I would be very weak.”

What will happen next, I’m sure you want to know
But, sorry, my friend, you will have to wait
Just hope that the next installment of this ballad
Won’t be posted a day or two late.


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #8

Jansan, Korbo, and Darri looked at the little guy
And decided he didn’t look real scary
“Stand aside,” ordered the warrior Jansan
“Before we turn you into a dead fairy.”

Feller Krackin laughed at the threatening man
And said, “Not so quick, there, big fellow”
“Because with a just click of my fingers”
“I can turn you into a blob of raspberry Jell-o.”

To demonstrate, he pointed toward his desk
Where on it stood a contraption made of glass
A crash and a bang and flash of light later
The contraption became a quivering yellow mass

“I think we should respect this little wizard,”
Korbo the hobb rogue said to his team,
“It seems he wields a lot more power”
“Than is diminutive stature would seem”

“Good advice, Korbo,” The fairy wizard said,
“It is now time for you to do what I say.”
“I want you to go back to your own lands”
“And tell your stupid little king to just stay away.”

“Tell him that the Crystal Chalice is mine,”
“For me to use only as I see fit.”
“As he does not have the knowledge or power”
“To make proper and appropriate use of it.”

“If you agree to these very simple demands”
“I’ll let you go on your way safe and clear”
“But if you insist on fulfilling your mission”
“You’ll all become a bright red smear.”

So what will our intrepid trio do?
Will they find a way to complete their quest?
Or will they do as they fairy demands
And ignore the righteous king’s request?

Once more you’ll have to wait and see
As this tale has not yet reached its end
Figure on two more installments
So that there will be a total of ten


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #9

Darri wanted to cast a spell on the fairy
But the thought of it made her feel really bad
“Perhaps you can show us more of your magic,”
She said, “Such a thing would make us glad.”

The fairy wizard nodded and pointed a finger
At a picture hung on a nearby wall
“Watch this, my friends,” as he cast his spell
And suddenly they could see the king’s hall

“With my magic I can watch whatever I want,”
Said the fairy to the adventuring group
“My magic window to the world,” he laughed
“This way I’m never out of the loop.”

“Another spell, just for me,” requested Darri
“Show me something I’ve never ever seen”
“I suppose I can summon a monster,” he thought aloud
“Perhaps a dragon that’s big and mean.”

“Or maybe a shoggoth culled from the pits of hell”
“But I’m afraid this study is just too small”
“What exactly do you have in mind?” the fairy asked
“What spell can I cast that will impress you all?”

“Can you call down lightening and thunder from above”
“And cause the waters in the swamp rise from below?”
Darri winked at her friends to be ready
“I think that would provide quite a show!”

So the fairy spoke incantations, and waved his little hands
And the power of kremm coursed through his wand
Lightening flashed and thunder rumbled
And the water of Darkenmore swamp rose from beyond

I must stop this story, in the middle of this moment
And I promise this is the last time we pause
For in the last installment we’ll finally know
If our heroes will actually rise to the cause


The Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles #10

“Very good,” Darri exclaimed. “We are truly impressed!”
“You are certainly the most powerful of all time!”
“Let us bow down and worship you, wizard,”
“For surely to not do so would be a crime.”

When they knelt, Darri readied her spell
She imagined a star painted on the floor
“Now,” she hissed that only her friends could hear
Korbo tossed a knife he carried, one of the four

The knife hit the chalice and knocked it aside
It bounced on the floor and rolled away
When it was far enough, Darri cast her spell
This was the trickiest part in their play

Feller Krackin shrieked in anger and shock
And tried to counter-spell Darri’s magic
But his kremm was spent and the chalice was gone
And the three of them were just too quick

A Protective-Pentagram surrounded the fairy
It was too strong for him to dispel
Darri said the words to set it permanent
Making it more secure than a prison cell

Jansan grabbed the Crystal Chalice from the floor
And they fled, the wizard screaming in their wake
Out through the window and into the risen water,
The splashed down the cascade into the lake

They made their way back to the righteous king
And handed him the crystalline prize
He thanked them and he rewarded them
With valuable gems of a very large size

This ends the Darkenmore Swamp Chronicles
Featuring Jansan, Korbo and Darri
And how, on a mission for the righteous king,
They defeated a powerful wizard fairy.





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