Lack Of Initiative

Act 3: Facing the Flopdoogle

In the Fallen Tower Inn the next morning, the party overhear a few pieces of gossip. First, the Clockwork Carnival has been temporarily closed, although no one seems to know why. Second, three fishermen have been violently murdered. Initially, the city guards believed they might have simply gotten tangled in their net and drowned, but later they found wounds on the bodies that looked like they were caused by an ax.

While the party is eating breakfast, a gnome and elf burst into the inn, yelling at one another. The elf says the gnome is lazy and a coward, while the gnome yells about bug bites. Finally, the elf rips a package from the gnome’s hands and appeals to the crowd in the inn to make a delivery. He offers 500 gold, which gets a lot of enthusiasm from the crowd, until he explains that the package needs to be delivered to the down of Stradesberry in the Evermoors.

The party beckon the elf over and he introduces himself as Stubborn, an apothecary who has a shop in Neverwinter. Stubborn says he has received an order from Cleric Celkit, who runs a temple to Tymora in Stradesberry. Celkit ordered a crate of rosewhistle to create a medicine for the children of her town, who are gravely ill. The party agrees to make the delivery, deciding not to try to negotiate for a higher price in light of the dire circumstances.

Worried that the trip to Stradesberry and back will take too much time, the party asks Glowkindle if they can borrow his horse (Steven) and wagon for the trip. Glowkindle agrees, but only if they will also take a few kegs of Wizard Tower Ale to introduce to Stradesberry’s residents while they are there. He gives Aribi a copy of his 72-point business plan so she will know how to deal with any potential marketing issues.

Upon leaving the walls of Neverwinter, Unruhk notices that Gristlemonger is no longer able to speak to the other members of the party in a way that they can understand. Gristlemonger, however, has not realized this. The party stops briefly in Underwillow after their first night on the road and Pamplemousse retrieves her pet chicken, Jam-Jam.

The rest of the journey is more difficult, with the forest giving way to swampland. Unruhk makes a salve to repel mosquitoes and Pamplemousse conjures a magehand to smack the bugs out of the air. The dirt road becomes a narrow wooden boardwalk that leads over the bog. Aribi carefully guides Steven over the dangerous path. Eventually the party is confronted by a pack of stirges which they quickly dispatch, though Aribi is wounded in the process.

As they enter the final few hours of their journey, the party hears an inhuman screeching in the high grass that surrounds them on either side. Pamplemousse sends Jam-Jam to fly over the grass and take a look, and finds that it is a kua-toa (who the party quickly rename “Fish Boys”) making the noise. The kuo-toa runs up on to the boardwalk and hides behind the wagon, speaking a language they cannot understand and clearly terrified.

Moments later, a hideous creature bursts through the grass. It appears to be an alligator, standing upright on its hind legs, with two lobster claws for front legs and a crown made of twigs and mud on its head. The creature sizes up the party, eventually charging at Gristlemonger. The party fight back, with Aribi finally striking the killing blow.

With the creature defeated, the kuo-toa immediately bows before Aribi, calling her the “Terrible Flopdoogle.” Aribi can now understand the language the kuo-toa speaks, though no one else in the party can. Several other kuo-toa emerge from the grasses around them, bowing before Aribi and bringing plates filled with shellfish and bugs to present to her. One kuo-toa who carries a staff walks up to the defeated alligator-creature, removes the crown from its head, and presents it to Aribi. Though Aribi tries to speak to the kuo-toa and ask them questions about what is happening, they either do not understand her or ignore her questions. She is hesitant to put on the crown but finally does so, and the kuo-toa again bow to her before they fade away into the marsh grasses again.

Topiary explains to the party that the kuo-toa have a unique religion. Creatures that the kuo-toa worship begin to take on qualities of their deities, eventually achieving god-like powers. Concerned, Aribi removes the crown, but Topiary can detect no magic in it. Aribi places the crown on her head once more as the party finally arrives in Stradesberry.

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