The party continued their slog through the marsh, unwilling to rest after merely 9 hours of marching. As they continued, they encountered what appeared to be a ferryman, and upon its approach, they realized it was not a skeletal ferryman, but a Vishkanya (a species of intelligent lizards) name Szessmia. She turned out to be an adventurer-merchant, currently scouring Hell for interesting artifacts to sell elsewhere.
The party attempted to purchase passage on her barge, but she would not take cash payment, and the party didn’t have any artifacts they could part with that she was interested in. However, Szessmia did strike three bargains with the party:
1. She will not reveal their presence to any infernals, in trade, the party would likewise not reveal her presence to them.
2. For the promise of an afternoon of coffee and cakes in the presence of her Highness Akiara Katsura, Princess of the Stars, she would meet the party at the the Lonely Cathedral (Blood Sepulchre) in two days time. At that point, they may attempt to negotiate passage on her barge again.
3. The party was able to purchase directions to the Lonely Cathedral from her for the price of 5 lbs of Voruubian coffee, a bottle of vodka, and 5 ancient gold coins from under Hettach.
After meeting Szessmia, the party continued more or less west, past the Fields of Wrath, where they were set upon by a couple of the Damned, convinced the party was merely some Lemures. They didn’t see through the illusion before the party’s retribution killed them.
The party found (randomly) A rusty greataxe +1 of human bane.
Eventually after several more hours of marching, the party encountered a horrific tree with fruit the shape of devil-heads, and bodies dangling from thorny branches. The tree seemed to put out a cloud of mind-affecting spores, causing members to attempt to eat the fruit or approach trunk. For those not under its spell, they saw a vicious toothy maw open up in the tree and vines dropped down in an attempt to grab party members. Several party members were seconds away from being stuffed into the tree’s hungry mouth, when a large bloom opened up from the top of the tree and was subsquently destroyed by Dinara’s sharpshooting. This caused the tree to drop the entrapped party members and withdraw into a barnacle-like formation on the ground. Kia then was able to get it to open up briefly and she tossed a bottle of alchemists fire into it – causing the ground to undulate, revealing a veritable graveyard of victims.
The party decided that 15 hours of travel was enough and made camp nearby.
After resting, the party continued on, encountering swarms of smallish worms with bizarre human-like faces, eventually choosing to water-walk across a large area of open water. There, they encountered a pair of much larger worms which they summarily defeated.
Eventually they made it to shore, where they found a small abandoned fishing village. once ashore they encounter a group of living humanoids (mostly humans from Tesra and the Combine) who were off to be tortured. After defeating them, they realized one of the prisoners was their old compatriot Juniper. Allowing Juniper to rejoin, they stashed the rest of the prisoners in the fishing village and continued to the Blood Sepulcher.
At the Blood Sepulcher, the various devilkind that infested it scattered. The party swept through the upper floors of the Sepulcher, destroying a powerful vampire named Aisund Crauss, a nun of Palenon who turned out to be a Handmaiden devil which had set a trap for them with a variety of devils.