We managed to break Ahnjela out of the weird trance she was in by dragging her away from the crystals. She woke up and didn’t seem to recognize us, but after about ten minutes she was no more (or less) paranoid than usual. No doubt she’ll murder us all in our sleep later.

We decided to explore the other exits before braving that passageway, but we were joined by a few friends first. Silver hair girl volunteered to explore the underwater passage, so we fed her some moss to breathe the water and down she went. Problem: she can’t see in the dark and torches don’t work underwater. Our wizard did some finger waving and made funny lights appear. They couldn’t get far from him and he wasn’t willing to go swimming. Oh well.

Turns out two more passages led north from the pool. We briefly explored to the northwest but found nothing interesting. The passage heading due north opened into a larger room with a godawful stench. This ain’t my first ride on the bucking ox, and it made me retch. You learn to just power through these things, though. Most of the rest were almost as badly off, so we sent u-Heury to find some herbs to mitigate the effect. That helped a little.

The stench seemed to come from a fishy body in the center of the room. It was dead, arranged on rocks that looked like a primitive temple of stone with a center altar. We searched the body (nothing) and the room, finding a couple passages out. One of them had a door; I put my ear to it and hear slimy slithering sounds – and voices. u-Heury opened it up a crack after we got set; he said there were two fish-people mating. Weird. This doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the bandits, unless they have an alliance with the fish-men. We closed the door and moved on. In hindsight we should have killed them right there.

I searched the next short passage. It led to a small room filled with… Well, fish guts. It was rank, but actually smelled better than the last room. I thought I had looked at everything, when I heard an unfamiliar voice.

“Knock knock!” “Who’s there?” “The Prince of Toads!” “The Prince of Toads who?!” “What?” “You’re gonna be the toad formerly known as Prince if you don’t show your warty ass where I can see you, froggy.”

With that exchange a toad hopped over to me and ate a fly. Ick. He claimed to be a faerie toad but didn’t want to kiss any of us, just get back to “his” lake somewhere in the forest. I held him at sword point while he told his story and promised wealth and riches. Seemed friendly enough so I gave him to the wizard. They’re made for each other.

Next up were two passages leading west and north. Suspecting they went to the same place after seeing curves almost immediately, we set up to charge into the west passage with the sneakier types ready to ambush anything coming from the north. Well, that’s the plan I had anyway. Turns out u-Heury’s plan was to yell and attract attention until someone came to investigate. Spoiler: someone did. But apparently fish-people can turn invisible or something. It was u-Heury who got ambushed.

Luckily he’s a tough bastard. Tougher than me for sure. He got chewed up but stayed on his feet. I got my bow out and shot the thing. I think the wizard hit it with a dagger too, or maybe it was one of the rogues. u-Heury fell back in good order and braced his spear. The creature stepped forward and went after Burwin furiously. He stood the assault bravely but those giant jaws just went right through some gap in his armor. Burwin went down.

Finally I swapped bow for sword and got in another lick. The thing fell dead. When we leave here we’ll have to remember to take trophies back as proof of the creature’s death. We don’t have any rewards offered for fish-men but I bet St Ygg would love to know about their stinking presence here. Also, maybe the alchemists would pay well for their internal organs. It worked for the snake fang.

Speaking of, how they got to a small pool of water in a landlocked forest is a bit of a puzzler.

Anyways, u-Heury wanted to get out the bandages. We waited a few minutes for more, then let him take care of business while we searched the place it had come from. I caught a glimpse of something as I entered the room, but there was nothing visible. Warily I advanced with the remaining man at arms at my side and poor Baldin in the middle with a torch.

It wasn’t until I started poking at the filthy rags and kelp beds that the creature revealed itself by attacking Baldin. The poor man, neither armored nor armed, took the thing’s raking claws along his back. He ran to the far end of the room, nearly falling into some sort of pit.

Anyways, I moved to attack the creature, as did Rothbash. Ahnjela was lurking somewhere in there too. (By which I mean she was hiding near where the other passage opened up onto this room. I didn’t say she was hiding well, but she was so earnest about it I didn’t have the heart to say anything). But it was u-Heury who rushed from his bandages and killed the thing with his first blow. Of course, he had to start over with the bandages.

I went back to my search. I found a fish-skin pouch and an old sock. They both had gold, 44gp total, plus a pearl and a small iron ring. I took the ring and slid it onto my finger; finder’s keeper’s after all. Immediately I could breath much more easily as if there was no stench at all. Handy. The gold and the pearl went into party loot.

Meanwhile Ahnjela was exploring the latest corridor, this one large and clearly artificial. It has some kind of mural along it’s length depicting something horrible, but she wasn’t clear on the details. Obviously a bit spooked. Clearly there’s something big here, even if just buried ruins.

That left the pit. Strangely we heard a voice from below speaking common like a regular person. The pit itself was dark and whatever lurked within could not be seen and clearly could not see us either. It seemed to think the noises we made were those of fish-men.

Turns out it was a captive dwarf, held either for torture, interrogation, or dinner. We found out when Ahnjela tossed a torch into the pit and burned him alive. That seems harsh but she swears she just wanted to see what was down there and the murder by fire was just an accident. Oops.

We pulled the body up, but he had nothing but a loincloth. No clue who he was, but I expect someone somewhere is missing a dwarf.

I wonder if the frog prince might recognize him? Well, that might be hard after the dwarf got his ass burned alive.

We talked over what to do next while u-Heury bandaged himself up. We resolved to explore the man (or fish-man) made corridor further despite it’s ominous whispering. This ruin is bigger than just bandits, though they may well be hiding in here too, allied with the fish.

That jackass Sir Jiles in Eastdale said 8-10 of them. Hah.

The trader, Garrick or something, is a dwarf. I’d better ask him if he’s missing any friends.