ALERT: May Contain Spoilers for the Adventure: “Against the Cult of the Reptile God”
The Cleric of Velnius took his leave and left to attend to his rainstorm or something, so we all made our own signs of respect and thanked him.
We took the chance to ask Cleric Abramo what had happened to him, and after dismissing the newbie monks, he explained.
Apparently it was Misha, his lovely female cleric assistant, who got him involved (y’know, the one whose chainmail I’m wearing…). She asked him to go talk to some of the people at the Golden Grain, and he went with her, wanting to impress her and be nice. Well, turns out his drink was drugged or something, and the last he remembered was being tied up.
They took him off to the mud pit, and Explictika did her foul magic on him. When he came back, he was forced – compelled by the magic! – to do terrible things that he didn’t want to do.
As he talked, he kept dropping his head, very embarrassed. I whispered to Ezekiel to tell him I’m glad we didn’t kill him, and Abramo returned the sentiment.
We asked him for leads in cleaning up the rest of the town. Sounds like the big trouble is at the Golden Grain Inn…though we’ll talk to the rest of the town just to be safe.
The GG, the blacksmith, the carpenter, and the constable were all part of the group – but the mayor told us the constable had resigned, and of course Master Ramne got the blacksmith back to his temperamental self.
As we discussed what to do from here, Kelsier said that this had been fun and all, but he really wasn’t keen on heading back to the waist-high mud (and I couldn’t really blame him). We technically brought him to help us find a gnome, but we haven’t found him yet – and so it’s perfectly reasonable for him to return to Hochoch with his magical dagger.
Somewhere in this part of the conversation, Ezekiel let slip that Kelsier’s a Thief! Apparently they’d had a conversation earlier that we didn’t hear! And here I just assumed all Halflings were good at locks and traps and stuff when all the time he’s been quietly dual-classing Fighter/Thief.
You can see why he’d play up the racial stereotypes, though.
Jill spoke up, twirling a lock of hair around her finger, and said she’d really been struck by what Ramne said…when the turtle bit her, as she was lying there in the mud, she heard him yell, “She was like an apprentice to me!” as he hurled the lightening bolt at the turtle.
Long and short of it, she wants to go ask if he would take her on and explain some of the stuff that she doesn’t understand yet.
So the five of us headed off to interview the townspeople, while our two companions made arrangements for their own futures.
Oh, yes! Before we left, Abramo fetched his armor (he’d been sitting there in his robes) and said that while he was under the spell, he never took the armor off, night or day, and always kept his mace by him – it was kind of a mania – and now, just the thought of it makes his skin crawl. If his armor can be useful in protecting “Brother Heironeous” as we fight whatever is infesting Homlet, he would be grateful.
And Ezekiel, of course, said he would be honored (and didn’t bother to explain he served Ao even though he’s wearing the colors of Heironeous) and thanked Abramo for the armor.
We made our gestures of respect and left, heading south to begin our investigations.
We stopped at the blacksmith’s first, where Ezekiel chatted with one of the sons, who was working out front in the shop.
While they talked, Raven and I got curious about the broken-down inn that stood opposite. It had obviously been boarded up for at least a year, but as I started checking it out, I found footprints – LIZARDMEN footprints – that couldn’t be more than a few days old.
I followed them around to a blank spot on the wall, but obviously there must be a secret door there, so I called Raven over to try his monk-y skills on it (and yes, that sounded better in my head).
Raven pretty much just pushed the wall, and the secret door slid aside. Ezekiel (who had caught up with us by now) took his magically shining shield and headed in first.
I lit a torch, and in the dual lights we could see the place was totally trashed. A big fight happened some time ago…but what happened to the bodies?
We found a cellar door and headed down. In the large room below were a number of crates, all containing fully disgusting foodstuffs.
Ezekiel opened one of the two doors at the end of the room, and cried out as something attacked him. Turns out it was lizardmen – but they were the exact black-grey of the room behind.
When I finally got close enough to use my sword, I got one good blow in that almost crippled one of them…but after that they warded me off with their little bucklers and I really need to practice more.
Ezekiel got scratched once, but after Mikael cast Faery Fire, Raven punched one of them with a special Monk maneuver that made it snort and blink and stand there.
After killing the three lizardlings, we could examine the room they were in. Seemed to be a tool closet, without much to distinguish it.
Mikael, however, found a crate behind the door that contained a sack. And when he opened the sack – whew, a pile of coins and gems! Those lizardmen weren’t so badly off…
The second room contained crates, every one of them packed with fuzzy, blue-green fruit.
Raven said they were just exotic peaches. I said he could try one first.
When he returned to the main room, Raven asked us to give him a boost to the second floor. The stairs were all broken down, but he is a Monk.
We gave him a boost, and Mikael handed my torch up to him. He investigated for a while, and returned with a backpack, and satchel, and a sack.
On handing these down and rejoining us, he said, “The whole place is covered in dust. It looks like the people were disturbed suddenly, because they left all their stuff behind.”
Indeed, there was a sack of copper pieces, a footlocker with gold (he left the locker itself) a satchel full of bottles, and a backpack packed with small clothes. When we went out into the light, I was pretty sure they weren’t children’s clothes, but I’m not exactly an expert.
Ezekiel checked out the bottles, and figured they were just traveling salesman bottles – y’know, rheumatism and stuff, maybe the odd rat poison.
A young man came out of the house opposite where we stood.
“You weren’t in the Foamy Mug, were you?” he asked. “It’s not safe in there.”
“Why isn’t it safe?”
“Well, the trogs don’t make it safe. And the stairs are broken and stuff.”
Well, maybe we could’ve done a better job pouncing on this, but we did get out of him that the inn was attacked about a year, year-and-a-half ago…the town discovered all the inhabitants killed, along with the lizardmen/trogs who had apparently killed them. The townspeople buried them, and never found out what it was all about.
The man thought he remembered a gnome, and said that “the blacksmith had his sword” or something like that.
He also warned us very strongly against the Golden Grain Inn. (Guess where we’re headed?)
The carpenter’s house and shop was next on the road. We didn’t have much of a conversation…when Ezekiel told him that we’d found his kids, and left them with the mayor for safe-keeping, he ran inside, shouting for his wife, and the two of them took off to see the mayor.
Natural parental feeling is a good sign.
Next stop was the tailor. He seemed almost petrified, and only talked to us through the window. He was able to identify the clothes in the pack as gnomish – in fact, from the Starkmounds Gnomes – and Ezekiel promised to return in the morning with a project for him.
Maybe he can help get the mud off our trousers…although if we’re just heading back to the Mud Pit, there’s not much point in doing that now.
Had a brief conversation with a chicken farmer. He seems “normal” as far as it goes.
When we approached the small, neat house near the mayor’s, Lancell suggested we talk to these guys, too.
So we went and knocked on the door.
When we explained that we had killed the evil snake-lady responsible for “changing” the townspeople, the man smiled and said he was glad to hear it, and frankly he was a friend of the mayor who had been invited here to investigate the goings-on, but they hadn’t gotten as far as they’d liked.
That’s about when I noticed his elf ears.
I was trying not to stare when he and his companion invited us in (Dorian and Lluwelin, respectively), and Ezekiel showed off Explictika’s head. (Really, if he wants to keep this up, we should pickle it so it doesn’t start smelling any worse.)
Dorian and Lluwelin say they were getting ready to leave in a couple days, since the town seemed to have returned to normal. The shopkeeper, like the tailor, has been terrified of the GG since the change-back…but the strangest thing is that the blacksmith and his sons were returned to “normal” several days before anyone else –!
Whereupon we explained that that was thanks to Ramne the hermit. Dorian was very excited to learn what spell Ramne used to dispell the charm, but Lluwelin shushed him.
According to them, the chief players at the Golden Grain were the innkeeper (Bertram Bezuwell), the cook, and a shifty character (obviously Derrick, who hasn’t been around since we thrashed him at the temple and sent him off).
Misha (the lady cleric at the temple) had served here about five years before the trouble all started. So maybe even she wasn’t “bad” to start with, and just got roped in. Like Abramo apparently got roped in.
Of course, some people are more “willing” to be roped in than others… We have to investigate the innkeeper and see what else might be afoot there.
The lizardmen/trogs returned to the dilapidated inn for some reason. Bertram and his cook might not have a self-important naga to deliver people to, but that doesn’t mean they’re upstanding citizens now.
Must investigate to make sure Orlane is good and truly safe now.
(Caught Raven watching them closely. They seem to be playing on the level, but we can always check their story with the mayor (Zacharius) if we want.)
Guess where we’re going next? Yes, the pit of Orlane infamy…
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