As you walk into the shack with your traveling party, you realize that it must be a bar, due to the improvised “counter” and “stools”. Though nearly deserted except for three people, two male humans and female elf, you get a strange feeling like some malice lurks within the shadows inside the cracks and unfilled knotholes. As you aproach the man behind the bar, he swirls around to face you, hearing your advance thanks to the creaking floor boards. He speaks in a voice akin to that of a rhinocerous, to large and to powerful for the rotund, squat body that speaks using it. “Greetings, weary travelers. Welcome to the Swampwood. To the north, south, east, and west we have swamp, marsh, more swamp, and forest. In a new colony called Haven, built by rich, interplanar folk, we have your standard humans, elves, dwarves and gnomes. In the swamp, we have pretty much everything else. Enjoy your stay. If that’s not what you’re lookin’ for, I suggest getting out…if you can. It’s much easier to get in than out, as you can plainly see. As it turns out, this plane is very much like the muck within it: Nearly impossible to get out of!” The man laughs a hearty, yet sinister laugh, similar to the one a classroom bully would make.

You decide to leave the Barkeep laughing, and walk over to the other man seated at the table nearby. As soon as you aproach him, it becomes apparent that he’s a cleric, although he seems to have shirked his duties and become drunk. You thank the gods for not smiting him now, lest the entire shack burn with you in it. He hears you, and groggily gets up. “Shumm’un get shome wattar, ‘cause yu’re shmokin’ up a shtorm…hic!” He comments, gazing hungrily at the male elf in your company. You get the loose sense that he mistakes him for a female.

After the drunk has been knocked out by your companion, you alone decide to aproach the elf, as your companion is arguing that they should coup-de-gras the poor cleric, while the others think him partially innocent and deny him the rights.

As soon as you take your third step away from the group, the she-elf realizes you are aproaching her. You notice a lute strapped to her back, indicating that she is a bard. She says to you in a rather sober voice, ”...what? You want a place free of idiots? Go somewhere else, ‘cause you’re never going to find one in these parts. But in the meantime…” She unstraps the lute from her back. “How about a quick story? In the beginning…

The Swampwood