Request: Town of Grove. Guild Members: Opal Linwood / Shanti Ka’a
Request Statement: “Please help. We are in great distress. We don’t know what is happening. Come to Grove.”
Upon waking, both Shanti and myself noted that the residents of Grove were still unchanged. We gathered our items and intended to go to the jailhouse to check on the bandits we had incarcerated there the night before. Argo met us and I regret to inform that while I did check for any tools they might use to escape, it seems one lock pick eluded me. They were long gone. Though this is unfortunate, I believe I will send them a sending spell message when I am next able to, in order to inform them of where they may regain their previous possessions that were commandeered. (I’m sure this is a rookie mistake on my part. Though I am not law enforcement I didn’t want anyone to be in danger. I s’pose I’ll have to be more diligent if I come upon them again eh?)
Shanti and I then made our way to the well and, upon further inspection, we concluded that the rope ladder would only take us about halfway down the well. We would have to use the rope that draws water for the rest of the way. Due to the slickness of the rope, I made a miscalculation and slipped into the water. I am happy to note none of the tainted water got into my mouth or up my nose. Shanti was much more agile in her descent. At the bottom we found rock toads that were even more territorial than usual. I can only conclude that the negative influence of the water causes great interference with a creature’s rational mind. I am not sure this is the case for everything as the people of Grove only went to a catatonic sleep-like state. (When I get back I can’t wait to tell everyone about the rock toad that was stuck to Shanti’s hand. It was right hilarious!)
Deeper into the caverns that flowed to the well we went, and in a large opening I saw something that looked like a strange island in the middle of the water. We remained in the shallows but I could tell it was in a much deeper part of the water. Using detect magic I confirmed that the place was saturated in necrotic energy, but there was also a different kind of magic on the island. A dagger that seemed to have some evocation magic attached to it. I encouraged Shanti to shoot the dagger and dislodge it from the island. Upon doing so the island woke up to reveal itself as a very large snapping turtle. I could tell it was ill and exhausted but we chose not to engage with it. It seemed as though it could not care less about our presence. I did dive into the water and retrieved the dagger hoping to decern more from it later. (Wish I could have helped the turtle. Mayhaps when we clear up the water it will be healthy again. It must be very old to have grown to its size. Wowsa!) We were able to pass the beast without issue and further on we went.
At a fork in the path we stopped to drink some water and heard a most frightful yell of distress. We decided as representatives of the Hearthfire guild it was our duty to help anyone who may be in need of relief and followed the sound. We came up on another opening to discover a very unique sight. (When I say unique, the word doesn’t do the scene justice.) A young man was fighting with a cloak? And there was a corgi dog nearby barking and trying to bite the cloak. It succeeded and the young man was teleported not far away. He finally removed the garment successfully.
He introduced himself as Cal, and the dog introduced itself as Sir Biscuit. (I later learned the dog was an awakened dog, and he is a very good boy.) They had come due to the same request from Grove as we had though much further away from the Storm Hand Guild. It seems this, too, is their first job within their guild. After some encouragement they joined our party so that the four of us could help the people of grove. (I understand the regulations of needing prior permission to work with other guild members but under the circumstance I felt this was okay.) Due to a rock slide, their previous exit was not usable and they could not climb out of the well as we had. Cal was kind enough to identify the dagger I procured. He also explained that his cloak was a cloak of varmints. The four of us pressed onward toward some waterfalls. There were two paths up and around the falls that Shanti found. We initially split up and while apart Cal and I had a small encounter with some cave-like bat creatures. Shanti and Biscuit found another cave in on their side and joined us shortly. We saw a glow of a fire and felt we needed to be as discrete as possible in our approach.
We came upon a small campsite with a tiny tent and coals that were still glowing. I was able to detect some magic in the area and gave Shanti two crossbow bolts that seemed to have some magical properties. We also found a strange doll. Cal attempted to identify it while Biscuit sniffed around. The pup came upon a small goblin girl, I estimated her to be no more that three, so still adolescent by their age standards. At seeing Cal with the doll she panicked and ran at him. I interceded but made sure she knew we meant to harm and Cal immediately gave her back her doll. (It was actually a very tender sight.) The young goblin told us she was called Gibber and in her own way offered hospitality to us in the form of lizard meat and toasted yams. I questioned her about the water and we discovered something very fortunate, that as long as food which was exposed to water was cooked thoroughly, there seemed to be no negative effects from that necromantic energy. This explains further why Rose and Grace were not ill after eating food cooked from their garden even though it had been watered with the well water. We learned further from Gibber that an individual had dumped something into the underground lake which was the water source for both Grove and Prince’s Harbor. I felt it prudent to push forth to try and retrieve this item from the lake in order to potentially stop the negative effects.
Gibber guided us to a clearing that held Goot the giant rock toad. It was explained that Goot was ill tempered and territorial like most rock toads but had been even more so after being afflicted by the water she resides in. Goot required payment to pass. I was unsure of how much she required and I did not wish to lie so we left the majority of our items with Cal and Gibber in order to give her some items and pass without issue. Shanti offered her fishing gear she… purchased from Grove. I offered 30 gold pieces, and I also offered up the new dagger on Biscuits behalf. (Being a dog and all he had nothing on him but his hat which was his spellcasting focus. I didn’t want him to lose that for a few reasons, for one: a spell casting focus is important and two: he looks like such a distinguished little gentleman in it. I couldn’t bear for him to lose it, right?) Goot allowed us to pass with barely enough room. I took the opportunity to try to cast a lesser restoration spell on her and while I feel it should have worked and I think it alleviated some of her discomfort, it did not cure her of the black shroud the necrotic energy emanated.
Moving beyond Goot we came to the underground lake. It was very vast and more than a little intimidating. I tried to speak with some vine plants and lo and behold they were just part of the tentacles of a giant octopus. Due to the surprise it swooped me up quickly but both Shanti and Biscuit came to my aid. After some concerning hits they were able to subdue the creature. Biscuit howled a lullaby and it gradually fell asleep. (I have never seen the sleep spell work so quickly. He is really a good boi!)
After we dashed past the sleeping giant I cast detect magic again to see if I could locate the necrotic item in the lake. After swimming into the lake and retrieving it we knew we could not pass back the way we had come. We had spent about an hours travel past Goot and it was getting late. We found a tunnel that led above ground. Biscuit offered to show us the entrance where he and Cal had gone into the cave system. We knew it was caved in but this was also the best option. After a short rest to regain our breath we trekked back following Biscuits nose and Shanti’s eyes and survival skills.
When we finally arrived, thankfully without issue, we were happy to see Cal and Gibber outside of the cave. They had cleared away the debris from the entrance. There was also a new person there. An elf known as Conrad. He informed me he was employed by Tommy the bandit but would assist us further is we wished. We placed the item on a rock to keep the sludge from continually dripping out of it. Both Cal and Conrad tried to inspect it and it seems it is an odd mismash of things, almost as if it were an experiment gone wrong. Whether or not this person intended malice on the innocents of Grove and Prince’s Harbor I don’t know.
Gibber was gracious enough to give us a smaller trunk to carry the vase in, so we wouldn’t have to touch it. Until this point I had wrapped it in my apron to avoid touching it. Conrad has a theory that the magic within is abating and it is our hope it will lose all nefarious power with time. But hopefully taking it out of the water will cleanse the water for the townsfolk and animals that rely upon it. Conrad said he would accompany us to Grove. We set off in the morning.
*Personal note: I gave my candle of the deep as well as the cloak of vermin to Gibber. She is a sweet little goblin and was abandoned by her clan due to a lame leg. There was nothing to be done for her leg but she seems happy and safe within the cave. I have promised her a new chest for her yams and food. I believe I will check in with her regularly. I also had to set Conrad’s shoulder which was dislocated. Cal tried but I don’t think he is very proficient in medicine. He has a lot to learn but has a good heart. I’m not sure of the reporting protocol of their guild but I will offer any observations I have if needed. Biscuit is the goodest of boys, and Shanti is a great companion. I’m sure she would like to crack more skulls. Right then, in the future if there are any jobs requests that involve protection detail, I recommend her.