We discussed whether to return to town immediately or proceed northwest to investigate the strange pointing, ectoplasmic hand that Ygnas had reported. I believe she reported something similar in the hollow oak, pointing in roughly the same direction. I wonder if they were the same entity trying to communicate with her, or if she is simply hallucinating. As far as I know, Zuul has no doctrine on recreational use of hallucinogens, neither for nor against.
A strange child brought us two new recruits from the Gray Company. Apparently we are the only people who actually ever leave the tavern, because all the greenies seem to come straight to us. Do none of them think to check our statistics on how often these fresh faces actually make it back to town with treasure – or at all? Nevertheless, we were joined by Ransom and Ruby. We’ll see how long they last.
Zt any rate we proceeded to the trogolodyte area without difficulty, aside from some angry glares from the monkeys, explaining the hazards of the grotto to the new blood as best we could. They didn’t get killed right away and didn’t attack the trogolodytes on sight. Ruby even managed to keep her breakfast where it belongs when they showed up.
It is very odd and disgusting to be conversing with fish-men. They are stupid and have a hideous stench.
Sanfire did almost cause an incident. He managed to escape the trogolodyte notice when he was scouting, but when he revealed himself (despite my attempts to gesture him back), the fish-men viewed him more as a meal than a friend of mine. Nonetheless, when we agreed to speak with the interim leader of the fish-men, Sanfire snuck off to try to search the room they had vacated. (The same room wherein we had found a dwarf who died of a strange impact wound to his head, with strange burn marks, despite being tied upside down a hundred feet above a rushing river).
However, one of the trogolodytes that had been eyeing the little man as more food than sentient being snuck off from our main group while Sanfire was poking around, and there was a mysterious crash. We investigated and found the “fish sticks” hole where the dwarf had been hung had had it’s wooden frame shattered and would need extensive repairs. It seems the construction was shoddy and the thing simply collapsed. Ransom and I circled the hole several times, lowering a torch by a rope to see below. There is, in fact, flowing water there, almost exactly 100 feet down.
Sanfire did pass me some gold when he returned to the group, which I accepted as payment of his debt to Denara for prior healing. The man is perhaps shy and does not wish to admit that he has reconsidered his initial refuse. He did look rather the worse for wear, but Ygnas healed him without charge. How can I compete with those who undercut me so? I must ponder this. For now, at least, my connection to Denara is significantly stronger than hers.
u-Heury researched the puzzle box after we failed to solve it, and thinks the answer is “castle”. If this works, it will apparently allow the trogolodytes to resolve a leadership dispute among them and put “our fish” in charge. Our agreement with these creatures only extends to opening the box; perhaps, if we open it, we can then remove their threat from the board completely. We should consider this carefully.
I worked on improving the condition of my wounded leg, and it appears to be becoming significantly more limber. Perhaps in another year I will have recovered a normal range of motion. At the end of the year, I receive a message suggesting I return to Threshold to consult with the church at the earliest opportunity.
Bern worked on training his wolfpack. It did not go qwell for him, though the animals did learn a few basic commands, and Snausages is ready to seek his namesake in the wilds with Bern.
Ygnas researched the gibbering mouther. Her notes will have more detail, but we learned enough to formulate a plan. The creature is very difficult to damage, and fears fire without being more vulnerable to it. We may be able to use flame to drive it away from the goblet, or keep it from attacking us. However, the true breakthrough came when Ygnas was reading my prayerbook over my shoulder; she mentioned that my new powers could Silence the gibbering mouther and prevent it from confusing anyone with its noise. The creature could then be more easily killed with only the mouths and the difficulty in damaging it to contend with.
Apparently the sage would like a captive mouther and will pay 2500gp for one. A strong glass container might be enough to contain such a creature with the aid of magic (presumably including, but not limited to, the Silence spell). And the sage is in Threshold, where I need to check in with my church anyway. Commerce is holy to My Lady of Liabilities, and this conjunction of obligation and opportunity is clearly a sign.
Oscar and Sanfire were ready to go back to town, but I mentioned we might want to check out the northwest area, since that’s the direction Stria said the ghostly hand pointed when she was here last. Before we could start out, a boy brought two new members of the company to join us. Thief named Ruby and a man in shiny armor named Ransom. Very shiny armor. I wonder if we reflect light off it, would it blind the gibbering mouther? I have no idea why they choose to give us the new people. We have to have the lowest survivability rate of all the Grey Company. We started off, and the new people immediately got lost in the crystals, despite us all telling them not to look. I don’t know how they made it in through the crystal passage on the way in, but they didn’t make it back out. Oscar found sacks in one of their packs, and put sacks over their heads, so we could lead them out. Once we were through, we sat and watched the monkeys play in the water while waiting for them to come back to their senses. We waded along the edge of the water to the northwest passage, while I eyed the monkeys, wary of their poop throwing ways.
The troglodyte area smelled like the worst possible combination of skunk and rotting fish guts. Nobody threw up, but it was a close thing. Sanfire seemed unaffected. Maybe halflings don’t have a sense of smell. He snuck off to poke his nose into things … I mean, scout the area. Oscar talked to the creatures, who were excited to see him. Something about a box with a riddle to be solved so they could crown a leader. They look like fish, and they eat fish. Does that mean they are cannibals? Although, from their talk about eating anything “not smart,” apparently they’ll eat anything that doesn’t run faster than they do. Sanfire appeared during the conversation, and the troglodytes all got a look in their eyes like a starving man looking at a buffet. One of them drooled. We started to go in the room with the box. Sanfire snuck off again. The drooling fish creature followed him. There was more conversation. I was pondering the inefficacy of having to fight the creatures, since they are too wet to properly light on fire. Then we heard a crash.
We went to investigate the sound, which appeared to be a deep hole past where the creatures had been sitting around a table eating rotten fish guts. There were signs of some sort of struggle, and wooden pieces in the hole were smashed. Neither Sanfire or the drooling creature were to be found. Ransom and Oscar spent some time dropping a torch down the hole with ropes, to see what in its depths. Ruby and I kept watch, not trusting the fish creatures. The men got the torch soaked in some water far below, and gave up. I’m offended at the treatment of the flame.
Oscar must have had some inkling that Sanfire caused the destruction of the creatures' wooden construction over the hole, because he was nervous and said we’d be leaving now. The creatures immediately got suspicious, so I suggested that I be allowed to see the box at least, since my background might give me some insight into the riddle. That seemed to smooth things over. Sanfire appeared on the way back, slipping us each some gold pieces he must have stolen from the creatures. It seems he survived whatever encounter he had at the hole. I couldn’t make heads or tails over the box either, so we promised to do more research in town, and we’d be back. I think we left on good enough terms that they won’t attack us on sight next time.
Back in town, Sanfire researched the box riddle, and learned the answer was castle. There was some excitement in the next few months, as an assassin made an unsuccessful attempt on the town’s head priest of St. Ygg. I have no love for them, but the man is the only one who has the power to resurrect people, so I don’t want him killed just yet. Worse, the assassin was from Helix, which made our group’s name suddenly fraught with peril. We were urged by Grey Company to change our name. Stria was gone during this time, so at least nobody can accuse her, and by extension us, of having anything to do with it. But the name is still a problem.
Stria came back from traveling to Threshold to research the gibbering mouther. She told everyone what she found out about it: It can surprise almost every time. It can disguise itself as dirt or stone. It latches on when it attacks, and the latching on does damage. It has a total of six attacks. It can’t gibber and attack at the same time. The gibbering causes people to stand still, run, or fight the nearest creature. The gibbering is to hold someone so it can feed on them. It will detach when it starts to feed. There is a chance when a person detaches themselves from an attack that they will slip and fall from the oil it produces, and will be attacked again. The creature is fearful of fire, but not vulnerable to it. It is almost impossible to hit, and it takes a lot of damage to kill. It moves as slow as a person in plate mail.
It sounds more formidable than we thought. She also relayed that a scholar in Threshold would pay 2500 gold pieces if we could capture the gibbering mouther and bring it to him to experiment on. Stria was more in favor of the lifetime of torture for the monster than she was of the reward. It would be as much of a feat to capture it as it would to kill it. The scholar told her that the one he had was captured with magic and put in a glass cage to transport to him. Oscar was considering the powers his god would grant him, and mentioned a silence power. That sounded promising. It would remove one part of the danger, at least. Then we’d just need to try to herd the thing into a glass container with fire and poking with spears. Once we figure out how to get someone to make a glass container that big.