When u-Heury was finished playing doctor with himself, we decided to clear out the two fishy folk playing handsy behind the door before going deeper into the cave system. We set up an ambush outside the door while u-Heury taunted them and tried to get them to come out. It didn’t go well. I continue to prefer a more aggressive approach to take advantage of surprise. We should be listening at doors and kicking them down, then swarming inside to take advantage of surprise. No intelligent creature will walk right into the formations u-Heury sets up. Even if they are effective should the fisher-village idiot stumble into one.
Anyways, we got set up and tossed a few rocks into the door. Then opened the door and tossed a rock in to hit one of the fish. That got their attention, but they just threatened to get their boss and left. After a confused minute we went in (well, I led the way). u-Heury and I set up on front of the room’s exit while the rest searched. Oooohya found a cabinet with fish skulls, snakeskin scrolls?, And a wrapped package too big to carry.
Right about then the two fish attacked from camouflage. See, this is how you take advantage of surprise!
u-Heury fell before my eyes, and as for me…
I was just sitting down at the tavern to have a bit o' mead and look for profitable business opportunities when some funny-lookin' fellow in a bright red robe stumbled in and stammered something about fish men killing his friends. He had crazy, crazy eyes, including the pair of eyes on the smiley face he wore on his robes, so I figured he had seen something horrible. And that meant creatures, and danger. And those meant money! My purse was sadly flat, and Oscar was in religious retreat contemplating his own adventures, so I volunteered to help. Immediately I suggested we engage in trade and commerce by hiring mercenaries as reinforcements (with their money). So significant was the threat that they readily consented!
We hired a lady and her dog (Bayonetta and Argos), Gurg the dwarf, Farason and Colmax the sword-brothers, and Parmox the torchbearer. Parmox also had a brother but we didn’t hire him. Didn’t want it to become a Private Ryan thing.
Headed out into the woods. Oooohya and his friend led us right to the secluded pool, warning us along the way of all the dangers present. Gross fish-men, tremendous stench, fascinating crystals, mysterious corridors, burning dwarves…
When we finally arrived it was also anticlimactic. Just a sinkhole with some water and monkeys. We did find a cavern with a horrible stench deeper in, and a door leading to another smaller room. I sent the dwarf in first as he can see in the dark. Of course he immediately announced his presence. Shockingly, someone replied in common! It was…
I woke up feverish, per usual, but there was a pounding in my head that wasn’t usual. And unlike the usual pile of paid tavern wenches I was surrounded by fish-men. Ugh. Even with protection from the stench it still.. stinks. They started spitting at us – u-Heury was there too – in some approximation of common. I played dead at first but wasn’t going to take a kick to the face to prove it.
Turns out the fish are stupid and uncivilized as well as evil and stinky. They found a metal strongbox with a riddle on it. And five jester faces on the other sides. And they are too stupid to read, or try anything besides hitting the box with their claws. They want us to open it and say they’ll let us go if we do.
Rather they wanted u-Heury to do it. He said he was smart. I’m no genius but I’m not dumb enough to raise expectations like that. And the barbarian is illiterate. I had to read them the riddle.
I memorized the real one and read them a slightly wrong version.
"Mountains might, Armies blight, King's conceit, Nobles meet."
We tried a lot of spoken words as keys and got nowhere. They did tell us where they found it (“below”) and how to get there (through the tunnel in the pool, or the crystal passage).
We tried stupid keywords for hours but neither of us got a response. It does have a face on the bottom panel, and there are no visible keyholes or cracks for a lid. The fish promises us “many greasy innards” if we found someone smart enough to open the box.
It was just about then that an insane dwarf called out “Hello, is anyone there?”
Turns out Oooohya had hired an army to rescue me and u-Heury. There was a bit of a stand off until they decided not to kill the fish, and vice versa. I brought Oooohya in and he brought the frog prince. Neither of them were helpful. Eventually we promised to leave and come back with smarter people. We did not promise to spare the fish-men when we did. They are too gross to live, and probably a health hazard.
We left the fishy area and walked through the corridor with crystals. I held back from the front line and kept my bow out, because I was still feeling like the fish guts the fish-men didn’t want after getting beaten to a pulp last night. There’s a small grate in the wall near the place the passage turns north where we heard voices before. Nothing this time.
After the crystal passage came a room with three other exits. We went south and found the other side of the grate, and booted tracks, possibly from bandits. This room has a passage headed east and was filled with mushrooms. u-Heury took samples. We eventually continued down the east corridor, Ahnjela in the lead checking for traps on the doors. There were 5 of them in just that short passage, 3 north and 2 south. The first one headed north was stuck, we couldn’t open it. The next one to the south was open, but Ahnjela proceeded forward instead. She found that the passage led to a larger room containing two undead guardians, black skeletons surrounded by pink and green protoplasm. They were quite talkative, but insisted we not disturb their master beyond.
Apparently Ahnjela had been sipping from her pocket flask, because she started spouting nonsense in a foreign language. I managed to keep her from antagonizing the undead in her inebriated state. Maybe a good solid slap will sober her up and we can continue. I’m honestly looking forward to it.
I slipped away from the group as soon as it became clear they weren’t going to fight the fish-men after all. No profit in riddles, after all.