Saltmarsh

The Big Reveal

Wherein purpose is muddied

We picked up at the moment immediately following the big fight.

You caught your breath for a few minutes in the barracks amongst the scattering of lizardfolk bodies, while Helen spent 10 minutes working his magic to restore some health to the entire group, which was desperately needed.

Taryn, then, decided it was time to get some answers from the prisoner you had trussed up in the lizard cave. He returned to the cave and began to carry the lizardfolk warrior when he realized there were banging sounds coming from the north. It seems that someone in the room with the heavily-spiked door wanted out. Disregarding this, Taryn resumed carrying the creature to the door of the barracks. Just at that moment, two things happened: first, he heard the sounds of approaching lizardfolk (the subtle clanking of armor and weapons, the footsteps on packed earth), and then the prisoner began to thrash to escape his grasp. The prisoner actually managed to break free, but being trussed up he simply fell onto the ground. In no mood to coddle, Taryn grabbed him by his feet and hauled him into the room, closing the door behind him.

Moments passed, and then: a banging on the door! Breaths were held.

In draconic, a voice said, “You got coin?”

Varis, improvising quickly, responded, “Tonight.”

After a tense moment, the voice said, “Okay.” and the sound of soldiers marching receded.

Varis felt inspired by his quick thinking as the party congratulated him.

Loosening the prisoner’s muzzle a little, Taryn asked him some questions but was met with stubborn anger. The questioning did not last long, however, as the sound of soldiers charging toward the room seemed to drown out other noises.

With only moments to react, the party threw benches against the doorway to slow down any intrusion, and flipped the table on its side for cover. No sooner had this been done, then an lizardfolk officer in his bronze splint armor pulled open the door. Lines of lizardfolk soldiers stood behind him, at the ready.

The party focused its ire against the officer, and exacted a heavy price from him. Almost dropping him before he’d even had the chance to enter the room. Almost.

By the time the slow lizardfolk had had a chance to act, you found yourself completely sealed into the room, facing nine angry soldiers (including the officer, who had moved around to flank Taryn). Their attacks rained down upon you, their weapons finding purchase in your fertile armor. There was a great deal of cutting, bruising, and bleeding.

Things were looking grim.

Helen mentioned parley, and the group was surprised to find that the officer actually could speak a little of the common tongue. The officer called you invaders, “like the others,” and wondered why you should be granted any sort of parley after taking such aggressions. Taryn made a case for why he felt that your group had acted honourably, citing the impending invasion of Saltmarsh along with a half-hearted “we were attacked as we broke into your lair”. It was a flustered presentation in the heat of battle, but the meaning was clear and it must have had the taste of honesty because the officer paused to consider it for a moment before speaking.

“We are not going to attack Saltmarsh.”

The words broke like a fever. What did this mean? The officer seemed to read the turmoil on your faces, and he instructed his soldiers to hold their attacks.

Words poured out from Taryn and Varis (and others?) as they launched into what I can best describe as an apolexcuse. The people of Saltmarsh… a misunderstanding… very, very sorry. The words churned as your minds reeled over the implications of what he had revealed.

The real question soon came into focus: if they were not arming themselves to fight the humans of Saltmarsh, then who were they preparing to fight?

At this question, the officer paused for a moment and then said, “You need to talk to the chief.” After some herding, he convinced you all to accompany him. You wandered through hundreds and hundreds of feet of corridor, past doors and side halls. Someone remarked that this isn’t just a barracks, it’s a village, and the more you saw the more you were convinced that this was correct.

Eventually, you were brought to a room with four soldiers sitting at a table in front of a closed, stout, iron-bound door with a keyhole. The officer instructed a soldier to unlock the door which he proceeded to do. He also instructed you to lay your weapons on the table, which you hesitatingly (and somewhat incompletely) did. Then he led you into the dark room beyond the locked door. Down some stairs you found yourselves in a long room with five stout, iron-bound doors, each with keyholes. He unlocked the 2nd and 3rd doors and instructed you to step inside the two rooms in two groups of three. The doors were then closed and locked behind you. The cells proved to be nearly sound-proof.

You rest for an hour or more, feeling much better by the time you hear the key in the door and are welcomed back into the light. The officer collects you from your cells, and you are taken to meet the chief.

On the way, you cut through a large room with six thick wooden pillars. On the far end a mattress was pegged to the wall, and splayed across it appeared to be the body of a humanoid. Nobody recognized it except—barely—Oceanus. He spat out the word “sahuagin” (sa-how-gan), and explained that these vile creatures come from the deep sea. They are vicious and cruel. He would probably have elaborated further, but you suddenly arrived at your destination and were led into the throne room.

The room was also quite large, with six thick wooden pillars. At the far end, a carved wooden throne inlaid with what appear to be gems. On the walls, the mounted heads of various creatures. Sitting on the throne, with his shield and battleaxe near at hand, was the largest lizardfolk you’ve yet seen. The chief.

He dismissed the officer who accompanied you, and then turned to look at Oceanus. He told you that a warrior had returned to the lair recently after having escaped from a fight on the ship he was traveling aboard. The warrior was one of three assigned to monitor the trading of arms and armour for the lair. When the aquatic elf (Oceanus) was captured aboard the ship, the lizardfolk shaman on board speculated that he might be a malenti. This is the term used for a sahuagin born with the form of an aquatic elf, which happens every century or so according to legend. Such creatures can sow great discord and act as perfect and dangerous spies. Oceanus protested the accusation immediately (understanding only that single elven word, “malenti”), but the chief did not understand elven. Some translating took place back and forth between them, but the chief could not be dissuaded of the possibility that the rumour was true. So he asked that Oceanus return to the cell to await some means of discerning the truth. Oceanus very reluctantly agreed, asking the party only that you not leave him in that cell for the rest of his life.

Once Oceanus had been led out by armed guards, the chief resumed the conversation. You took away some key points:

  • He intimated that the loss of the shaman in your earlier battle may have actually helped him.
  • He reaffirmed that the lizardfolk do not intend any harm to Saltmarsh.
  • The reason they are arming themselves is because they are going to fight the sahuagin.
  • He revealed that this is not their lair. In fact, it was the lair of a tribe of lizardfolk from many, many years ago, but had been long abandoned due to its proximity to Saltmarsh.
  • The sahuagin had actually chased them from their lair, and they’ve been rebuilding their strength to return and retake it.
  • Their original lair is far to the south.
  • There may be a way for Oceanus to help prove his innocence. You will hear more of this later.

He told you that to attain peace between you and his people, you had to do two things: first, you must return everything taken from lizardfolk in this lair, and second, you must pay the weregild price. Weregild (also spelled wergild, wergeld, weregeld, etc.), also known as “man price”, is a value placed on every being and piece of property. These two stipulations may be painful, but the chief indicated that he was in a difficult position since he needed to show his people that you had paid for your actions. Then he said that while the return of treasure was non-negotiable, there was an alternative to weregild.

When the lizardfolk retreated to this lair, he began, they quickly realized that a giant crocodile lived in the marshes nearby. They took this as a good omen from Semuanya (you don’t know who this is, thought by context it may be their god), except for some reason they were unable to control this particular reptile. After several deadly attempts to befriend the beast, they gave up and decided to ignore it and avoid its pool. Not long ago, however, the beast began attacking their hunting and foraging parties out farther in the marshes. The crocodile’s hunger seems to be growing, and they still have no means to control it.

“And that’s where you can help,” he said. The lizardfolk are prohibited from harming reptiles, so they cannot kill it and can’t even drive it away. If your group killed it, however, that would solve the problem. You get the sense that the chief is a bit of a pragmatist, though obviously paying some mind to their religious traditions.

You told him that you would need to rest for the night to gather your strength. You also asked if Oceanus could assist you with the fight, and he agreed to that. He gave each of you a red feather token from a lace around his neck and told you that these tokens would allow you free passage. He did warn you about three things, though: first, you should not draw your weapons or act in a threatening manner around his people since they might react poorly to such behaviour; second, you should avoid the koalinth pool to the east since they are brutish and kind of evil; and third, you should avoid the darkened areas to the north since that area is defended by kobolds who are notorious for their cunning and traps. Also, he gave you the password to bypass the portcullises: “electrum” in draconic. Taryn mentioned that he would need some extra sleep to be ready for the fight, so they should not wake him too early.

You were then led to the room where your weapons were being stored. Opening the door to the darkened “lumber room”, you found your weapons thrown unceremoniously on the ground near the door. You also got a powerful wiff of rot and decay from the room, though none was visually apparent from the lighting you used.

Winq used mage hand to pull the weapons out of the room, but curiosity got the better of the group and Rakik used its Wand of Magic Detection to find something magical in the southwest corner of the room. Taryn stepped in and discovered the body of a dead elf half-covered with sack cloth and other debris. Removing the cloth, it was apparent the body was killed some time ago, and had obviously been through a fierce battle. Its padded armor was almost destroyed, and it held the hilt of a broken shortsword in one hand. The magic, Rakik told him, was below the body. So Taryn lifted it with his sword and you discovered a six inch long ivory wand, as well as a backpack being worn by the corpse, along with a belt pouch.

The backpack mostly contained rotting garbage, but a couple of items stood out: a set of decently-intact thieves’ tools, and a bone tube with a roll of parchment stuffed inside. The purse contained 5gp, 11sp, a topaz (15gp), and a scrap of paper with the word “Boorabap” written on it in the common script.

Your guide then pointed you to your temporary quarters, directly across the hall from the lumber room. You set up in the room (even poking around a little and discovering a valuable-looking chunk of amber in a chest) and eventually got comfortable. Meals and water were brought to you.

Varis studied the Trident of Occasional Fish Command, while Taryn studied the Javelin of Lightning, and Rakik studied the Wand of Secrets. The scroll was discovered to be a Scroll of Knock, which is capable of opening a locked or closed object though with the drawback of making quite a lot of noise.

During the night, Varis visited Oceanus in his cell and told him about what was going on. Oceanus informed him that he’d been treated well enough, and he was happy to hear that he might be given the chance to prove his innocence.

Rewards:

While you did not defeat the lizardfolk guards by strength, you did manage to overcome their challenge by quick thinking and some lucky fast-talk. Therefore you earn the full 1250xp for that fight.

In addition, for learning the truth about the true “Danger at Dunwater” ©™, you earn 1000xp.

This means 375xp each, which brings your total to 2216xp (next level: 2700).

Treasure was pretty slim this time:
- You lose the few coins and items you got from fighting the previous battles in the lair (see “loot” from previous two Adventure Logs).
- Helen volunteered the Staff of the Adder, which had been taken from the lizardfolk quarters on the Sea Ghost.
- Rakik has the Wand of Secrets which did not belong to the lizardfolk.
- You found 5gp, 11sp, and a topaz (15gp) which did not belong to the lizardfolk.
- By the same logic, Taryn aims to keep the Javelin of Lightning which also did not belong to the lizardfolk.

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