Hugh Entry 11
I have to say, the others handled the reality of Petrus-is-Nox very well. Once he’d revealed himself, the paladin explained that he’d be taking Tolison out of the Keep. That freed me up from any immediate obligations to the changeling, so when Faolan suggested we seek out the lizardfolk that had attacked his grove, I had no excuses left to give him. We rested the night, then set out in search of them the next day.
Slogging through a wooded marsh is not my idea of a good time, and it seemed to me that I got more than my fair share of insect bites. I tried to avoid the mud and sinkholes, but it proved more difficult than I thought. And then we came to the stream.
It didn’t seem too deep or flow too swiftly, but everyone was hesitant to be the first to wade in and attempt the crossing. I was getting irritated with the trek, so I volunteered, but the water was much colder than I’d expected, and I shared this information with the others. Additionally, toward the middle of the stream the muddy bottom sucked at my boots, making it more troublesome to make forward progress. Still, I soldiered on and past the similar mud on the far side, until I came to relatively dry ground. As the others crossed, I removed my boots and leathers, attempting to dry them with a towel I’d acquired at the inn in the Keep.
I lost track of how long we walked, but I think it was before noon when we found the decrepit swamp dwellings – sad wooden skeletons of what might once have been log houses. Incomplete bridges, their centers rotted through, failed to connect the large section of land with smaller islands in a pond to the east. As we came to the center of the ruined compound, the lizardfolk emerged from the trees, surrounding us.
Faolan held up some trinket or other and started speaking to a shaman that lurked in the murky waters. A beat later, I remembered that I had to translate for him, and so I did, speaking the sibilant tongue that I’d inexplicably acquired along with the hellish powers the Stranger had given me. It was unnerving to say the least, and I thought for sure that we were going to be attacked at any moment, our corpses devoured and our bones made into replacement weapons and tools for the savage lizardfolk.
Fortunately, things didn’t shake down that way. The name of Faolan’s mentor Mathuin bought us a moment to explain our presence, and it turned out that the shaman’s son had taken the bulk of the Dusk Thunder tribe and struck out to the south in search of an enchanted blade at the behest of a human wizard – Bargle. Apparently, before his untimely demise, the madman had been gathering powerful relics to protect himself from some nameless enemy. The shaman had rejected Bargle’s overtures, but the younger lizardfolk saw a chance for glory and the tribe was broken.
A dispute between two orc tribes in the Caves of Chaos was mentioned, and one of those clans – the Ear-Takers – apparently held a relic coin, an item that Adara was interested in taking from them. I was not keen on a second trip to the monster-infested Caves, but again I had no excuse not to help Adara, so I agreed to come with her. The others likewise assented for their own reasons.
We left the Dusk Thunder as friends, and the shaman leader insisted that we were welcome to return, though he warned us to only do so during the day. I thanked him and we parted ways, bound for the Caves once more.