Arriving back in town, Mason, Finch, and Brand head to the tavern to slake their thirst, but find that some public dissent of the establishment is going on. A heavy-set bard named Grigori is at the head of a mob of tavern dwellers speaking to them of the concerns he has heard recently in Redemption- most prominently, that the barony capitulates with “suspicious” fairies over that of its own citizens, and that the integration of kobolds spells eventual menace as being able to breed in Solace’s safety will bring doom in the form of a reptilian uprising. Finch tries to calm down the proceedings, and is flustered by Grigori’s counter arguments, and the event has taken on a stage-production quality. Corax, the logger from months previous, is on hand to support Grigori regarding “rightful business enterprise” being quashed by the “librul government”.
At some point, a runner informs Sarthaal of what’s going on.
Shortly after this point, Sarthaal arrives. He kicks open the door in a wild display, before calmly walking up to Grigori. Saarthal kicks him hard in the groin. He whispers “Now you know what I’m feeling by your display.” This casts a pall over the room, as Sarthaal informs everyone present that “inciting a mob” is considered illegal, and that if anyone has any concerns with the management of the kingdom, they can come bring it before the court at the castle instead of whipping up people in the public square… or else.
Grigori counters with stammered “freedom of speech” arguments but is having trouble speaking after the groin-kick, and shortly after, the crowd disperses. The following day, Grigori is found eating lunch calmly at the tavern, and assures that he will be certain to bring any concerns in the future directly to the court.
Feeling that the home-front situation is now under control, the party assembles and heads south once more, to explore the lands to their south and to come to an understanding with the hill giant with a Comprehend Languages spell now that Sarthaal is out of the dungeon, from which strange, unsettling kobold and human screams come from.
The giant is near where he was left, still blubbering and definitely out of alcohol- it is fortunate that the party brought along a wagon full of ale. Between the booze and magical understanding, the giant can now speak and be understood by Sarthaal. He claims that he is distressed by a lack of a mate in these lands, the lack of his favourite type of moonshine, and most recently, that a gang of trolls to the west in the woods threw him out of their gang. He is still quite lonely, but the apparent acceptance of the motley group assuages him somewhat, as well as the promise that they’ll keep an eye out for any hill giant mates for him if they happen to run into any.
On the way back home, they chart the land along the eastern edge of Tuskwater Lake, discovering first an oddly warmed mud hole (natural gasses?) that are overflowing with fungus, both small and large. While studying it from the ledge, Mason notices some particularly unusual black mushrooms around the base of a putrid-smelling pile. Deciding to not risk his nose, Sarthaal safely uses mage hand from a distance to retrieve the mushrooms, hovering them on back so that they can study them later.
Further north, they discover an abandoned hulk of broken boat sticking out of the ice in a small channel that leads off the main lake. Hiking down the hill towards the private pond area, Finch discovers that the boat has no particular markings that she would be afraid of, however, the broken up ice reveals from beneath it a flurry of activity as savage turtles, as big as Brand, burst forth. Retreating, the party can obviously outpace the turtles, who turn back to go into the pond. The bite marks on the boat indicate the obvious culprit for its destruction, and turning back, the party attempts to slaughter the vicious animals. They are successful, with Mason going down to the brunt of the attack, and Finch’s nimble shell-jumping keeping her out of range of bites, but in plenty of range for necks.
Back in Redemption, Brand and Finch seek out some fishermen to discover the owner of the boat they had found. A man named Arven claims he knew the original owner, Oliver, and that his passing is indeed sad. He gives his regards, and thanks them for killing off the ol’ crackjaws as they are known to fisherfolk.
The Old Beldame
The party is barely home for long before Finch remembers hearing reports of strange, ghostly lights emanating from the tower ruins back on the wee island of Candlemere, south of the Tuskwater. As well, some new rumours regarding The Old Beldame, a witch who purportedly turns trespassers on her lawn into scarecrows and eats children come to light. Armed with this and not wanting to sit on their laurels, the group takes a rest before venturing south once more. Firstly, to the edge of Candlemere, where they discover that the ice is definitely frozen over but not sufficiently frozen that they aren’t worried about going under midway across. Deciding to wait for the thaw in spring before boating on out, they head back, and pass by the witch’s hut…
They make sure to call and ring the bell, rather than barging in. Despite proclamations that she’s not home, they make contact with the purported witch, who says she’ll turn them into scarecrows like ‘that bandit, Mitch’. “Mitch” the scarecrow seems ominous, and oddly terrifying to Sarthaal. Bringing up the topic of mushrooms that they had found, they discover that Old Beldame desires them for her brewing…. of tea, not potions. The assembled group heads inside for tea and have a chat, with the crone making Mason particularly uncomfortable regarding her interest in dwarven men. Mitch the scarecrow keeps an eye from the window.
2475xp each, for exploration, handling dissent, retrieving mushrooms, pacifying a giant, and defeating turtle power!
6 Black Rattlecaps = 600 gp from Old Beldame
Elemental Gem (water)