Picking up the trail 2
After argueing quietly back and forth for almost 45 minutes you finally
come to a decision. Gareth and Barbaxle cross first, followed by the
Now that you are on the other side of the river, you again look at
whatever it was you saw throught the trees.
Through the moss-draped trees you see a village. It rests at the fork in
the river. Thatched buildings and some buildings made of stone sit in
the center of a clearing in the swamp. Farther out from the clearing you
see smaller thatched buildings along the base of the trees. A few of
them are built in the trees along the lowest branches. Milling about the
buildings in the clearing are lizard men. You can see several dozen.
Some of them are small for lizard men, about 4 feet in height. Obviously
children, they scamper about playing a game. In the middle of the
clearing stands a totem. It is the trunk of a large tree, and it has
lizard images cut into it. Garish colors are painted on the faces. What
catches your attention is what rests atop the totem...an ornament of
gold and silver.
Wulfgar looks round at Gareth and the others, then back to the village.
"Well I guess we have found what we were looking for, now how do we get it ?"
He looks around to see if the group has been spotted .
"Thatching and stone building construction... I had not realized that the
lizard folk were so developed in their creations..." Gareth mummers in
"At the centre of most communities is the focus of their lives... it seems
the lizardfolk are quite a bit more advanced than I knew. Much time has
obviously gone into that stump, which I would take as either their god, or,
more likely, an altar. That ornament on top must be the idol, but why
would they display it so openly? If the theft was merely to appease their
god, it seems likely that there should be a number of items from a history
of thefts, but there are not." The paladin's brow furrows in puzzlement.
"Speaking of the subject, does it not strike you odd that the lizardmen
would travel all the distance across the swamp, brave its dangers, sneak
into the town without drawing attention, take only the idol, leaving
everything else behind, then sneak away, only to place the item out in
plain sight? I had always thought lizardmen were a bloodthirsty race; why
were no townsfolk encountered or able to see anything? Since they have no
gold or other precious metals evadent on their wearing, or to decorate the
religious symbol in the village's centre, as would indicate some value to
it, why would they steal such an item from a different god, knowing it can
only bring harm down upon them? When there are many practical items that
would fit well into their society that could be stolen instead, the
townsfolk' idol is taken instead. Something is odd about this... could
perhaps this be the work of an individual or splinter group within either
of the communities? Maybe someone with a grudge against the other race
that wants a war started between the two to exterminate the other? Or
perhaps to profit from the hassles between the two groups? All it would
take would be for one lizardman to leave tracks, or one human killing a
lizardman and using the body's feet to make tracks to explain the sum of
the factual evidence that we have... Or what about the possibilty of a
third party that wishes to remove rivals for resources and space within the
swamp area? Those giants we encountered earlier, for instance... although
I imagine they would be a in a difficult situation trying to sneak into a
human town." Gareth laughs softly. "How can we go in, steal the
artifact, assuming that is indeed it atop the totem, and go running back to
the port? Since the lizardfolk have placed it upon the totem, it must have
gained some significance or value for them, and will undoubtably try to
reclaim it from the fishingfolk. The fishingfolk will obviously take the
lizardmen as theives and dangerous to the community if they can penetrate
the town so easily. The build-up towards war between the species seems
highly likely. I suppose it is possible that a band of lizardmen invaded
an enemy territory, avoided all spoils and targets for attack, took an
apparently useless item, and brazenly displayed it in the centre of their
poorly-defended village. Anyone else noting the oddity? Does anyone..."
Gareth clasps his symbol of faith, holds it tightly, and crosses his
fingers. "... know how to speak the lizardmen's language? Or another
language of creatures in the swamp that the lizardmen might know? Or have
some idea or spell to help us out? I would truly prefer taking to them if
possible to clear up the situation before reclaiming the artifact. I am
going to try and seek guidance from Pikahl, or at worst, clear my mind in
meditation and hopefully an answer or two will come to me. I will listen
while you discuss options, but do so quietly. We should also have people
on watch.. perhaps standard watch order, but everyone staying right
together. We must be within their outer sentry ring, but, if anyone
approaches, wake the others up. If we are discovered, try not to kill the
lizardmen... until we know, for certain, that they deliberately caused this
situation, I do not want to see even a single one injured, much less
killed. As for plans to reclaim the idol, let us work on ones that involve
no contact between us and the lizardfolk, take into account the preparation
needed to prepare and protect an escape route, and the fact that as soon as
any retrieval, assuming it was successful, is discovered, would likely have
us fleeing a host of faster-moving superior numbers, through an area in
which they are at home and are able to travel more efficiently (such as
through water) and we are virtually inept, along a trail of footprints we
need to follow to escape, but they need only see us to know where we are
likely going... and how many other variables like.. o.. sleep and vision..
This is not a light situation or option... any ideas?" So finishing at
last, Gareth begins muttering softly to himself in prayer.
Cole maps where the village is, and hopes they can resolve this peacefully without violence, but prepares himself for the worst nevertheless.
The rest of the group look about nervously, a feeling of dread in the pit of everyones stomach.