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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 others. 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 passing.

"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.

Turn 45