Red Tide II

Trying Again
Maybe this time nobody they like will die.

16th Day of the Third Month – 5th Day of the Fourth Month

Valdimir rests up in Machida for a week and recruits an adventurous elf, Dashna, and another dwarf, Barrloff. Returning to the village, they trick Luta’s grumpy husband into getting them an audience with her. She willingly helps to sneak them to the well.

Vladimir cleverly avoids a hidden, underwater sinkhole and then follows a set of tracks to the toad-god’s lair. The huge, bloated, man-toad thing greets them, unafraid, and offers them treasure in return for “the girl”, who apparently has the boy they seek. The adventurers ask for the boy instead, and the toad-god agrees.

After the tense encounter, they follow the toad-god’s directions to where “the girl” is supposed to be. They examine the strange, childlike illustrations scratched into the glowing moss on the walls and don’t notice the web-footed, mutant children that are attacking them. A couple of the strange child-things are slain, but the rest flee.

Soon, the party encounters another pool of water that they have to cross. They do so, and are attacked by more mutant children beneath the muddy water. The party does their best to scramble out of the muck before turning around and slaying their attackers.

In the next cavern, they find a crazy pre-teen girl and the little boy that they were sent to find. The boy is happy to be rescued, but the girl insists that everyone else is just a figment of her imagination. Still, she offers to lead them back to the well, which she does. She refuses to be “rescued”, though, so Dashna clubs her over the head so that the girl won’t resist. There’s some discussion and plotting of how to get out of the well with the unconscious girl when the frog-god erupts from the water!

The party tries to lie to the frog-god. “Well, of course we weren’t lying. Here’s the girl right here for you. Let us just get out and we’ll give her to you.” Unfortunately, they let Barrloff do the talking, and he manages to enrage the bloated monster, who immediately attacks!

Luckily, the frog-god is just out of their reach, and Dashna is able to get off an acorn-themed magic missile, which has a solid impact on the monster. Unfortunately, it’s not enough, and the the thing rampages over the party, nearly slaying Dashna before being brought down by the dwarves. There’s a metaphysical shift, like a bubble popping, as the frog-god dies. Also, its vile blood poisons the well.

The dwarves check on Dashna, and it looks like she’ll live if they can get her somewhere to rest. They don’t yet realize that the injury has lasting consequences.

The party waits tensely for nightfall, when Luta returns to drop down their rope. She does, and with some effort and planning, they manage to get the severely injured and the unconscious out of the well safely.

They leave the girl with Luta, who recognizes her as Fei-Lan, a sacrifice from nearly three years ago. They take the boy to his merchant father, and are rewarded with two valuable gems and his eternal gratitude.

A couple of weeks later, the party returns to have a few words with the child-sacrificing jerks of the small village, but find that bandits have beaten them to it. There is nothing and no one left. Climbing back down the (now tainted) well, they return to the frog-god’s lair to loot it of several hundred coins, some gems, and a bamboo scroll.

While the ruins of the village hold several dead bodies, there’s no sign of Luta or Fei-Lan. Evidence suggests that the bandits came from the north, so the party plans to pay them a visit.

NEXT: Moonhaunt Part 1

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At Yellow Toad Well
A village with a dark secret

14th Day of the Third Month – 15th Day of the Third Month

Vladimir and Morgan are hired to find a merchant’s child that has gone missing in the tiny village. They speak to several villagers, but only discover that this sort of thing happens once in a while, as life is dangerous on the frontier.

The village herbalist sometimes makes candy, so Vladimir and Morgan decide to pay him a visit. Vladimir notices what looks like a bit of bloody rope behind a curtain, but the village guards come to roust the adventurers before they can find out more.

Sneaking back in at night, they enter the herbalist’s hut and find a small chest full of children’s trinkets (worth 250GP, apparently). When they try to search the herbalist’s room, he awakens and cries out in the darkness. Vladimir clubs him unconscious while Morgan sets fire to a different hut to create a distraction. Vladimir finds the bloody rope (which looks to have been chewed by human teeth), and then both adventurers flee the village.

Lacking other clues, and suspecting that the people in charge might be in on the conspiracy (how did the guards know to find them, and why were they angry to begin with?) the they have the merchant return to town, with the adventurers hiding beneath the wagon. Unfortunately, the wagon is turned away, as somebody has murdered the herbalist, slitting his throat, which is weird, because the herbalist was alive when Vladimir left him.

Still bereft of clues, the adventurers try interviewing the farming peasants outside of the village walls. They don’t get much information, until Luta Kolbrand, a pregnant peasant, whispers to the adventurers that she’s already lost one child, and won’t lose her new one and tells them of the secret sacrifices to the well. Only the village headman (Sato Akira) and some of the other farmers know about the sacrifices.

Luta sneaks the adventurers into the village and down the well. It’s full of small bones and it feels haunted. The twisting tunnels eventually upon upon a cavern with a large, crudely carved statue of some sort of bloated toad, surrounded by corpses posed in positions of reverence. As the adventurers investigate, one of the “corpses” rises, revealing buggy eyes, clawed fingers, and makeshift priestly garb. It attacks Morgan, so Morgan and Vladimir attack back. Vladimir strikes a lucky blow, but not before the toadspawn slashes Morgan across the face, killing him.

Vladimir, exhuasted and hurt, leaves the cleric and gathers the toadspawn’s corpse, thinking it might be the missing boy. Sneaking back to the merchant outside of the village, dripping slime and carrying a corpse over his shoulder for a mile, Vladimir is quite displeased to find that this wasn’t the child he sought.

Promising (half-heartedly) to return and try again, Vladimir gathers his belongings and goes in search of hardier companions.

NEXT: Trying Again

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