"It kidnapped two innocent people and has using them as ransom to extort the tribe. It needs to be killed," was all Vedic said when Chest Thumber asked him about eliminating the threat. He didn't sound upset when he said it. He barely looked up from his book, as though it was a self-evident thing.
Watching Thumper wrangle Francis into his armor, Vedic couldn't help but chuckle. "You know, unless this is some kind of bonding ritual for the two of you, I think I could come up with an easier way to get him in and out of that chain."
When they got off the skiff, his good nature was gone and he was back to bing all business, just as he had been when they'd first met him. He took a few moments to cast a couple incantations.
Casting Mage Armor, then Message on Iradyiel, Pious and Chest Thumper.
"Please try to keep within a hundred feet of me or we will risk losing communication." he said after he'd explained the whisper link. His voice seemed to come from just behind their ears.
Chest Thumper shrugs at Iradyiel and Vedic's statements. He can't argue with them. It was clear that this creature was too aggressive and even if they made a deal, it might not live up to its agreement.
It takes him a few moments to get accustomed to link. He actually opens his mouth to talk first before he just thinks what he needs to think.
There is a cave behind that waterfall, he directs Vedic. I assume that it is the creature's lair. If you send your little friend into it, perhaps we will know where the halflings and the Cashill valuables are. And, it will be a good place to attack the creature if it tries to retreat.
I think Pious and Iradyiel should go out with Aza to speak to it, though if we're just going to kill it, I don't see the point. Unless we are trying to lure it out of the water for us to attack it. Francis, Vedic and I will stay hidden and attack when the creature is vulnerable. Thoughts?
He waits to cast barkskin on Francis until the inevitable trouble actually begins.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
"It is anathema to Aroden's way and must be put to the steel. Aroden walks among you and by His will we shall not suffer the abomination to thrive. For I am the way and the light."
Pious is pretty much ready to start yelling at the thing, he's not negotiating this time... Just say the word.
Know: Planes: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
Vedic nodded and pulled his familiar off of the amulet on his chest. He whispered to it and tossed it gently toward the waterfall.
It went around the outside of the torrent of water and vanished behind the spray.
|Little Glowy Ball Of Light|
Aza sighs and places a hand on her chest, muttering beneath her breath as she requested the winds protect her, and she is quickly surrounded by a light breeze. "I do not relish the idea of fighting this, but... if we must, we must. I won't hesitate. But I believe drawing it out onto land is a good th-thought. L-let me know when I should approach."
"We are ready," Chest Thumper says. Then he punches Francis, who has been watching a butterfly, in the shoulder to get his attention.
Of course, the ape is wearing chain mail in that particular spot so it hurts the half-orc's hand more than the ape's arm but at least he's paying attention.
"We are ready," Chest Thumper repeats.
Vedic despatches his familiar, and the small disk speeds off into the foliage and rocks around where the party hides, watching over the pool ahead. It takes a circuitous route round to pool; watching the floating creature in the centre of the pool, there is no sign that he has seen or sensed the disc as it nears the far side.
In fact, peering intently from behind the rocks, several of the party get the distinct impression that the floating disc has its attention fixed firmly in their direction. It’s hard to tell exactly where it is looking, given the ring of eye bulbs circling the hardened carapace, but at no point does the creature turn all its eyes away from where the Papaya Knights are crouching.
Vedic feels a surge of trepidation from his familiar as, invisible at this far distance, it approaches the curtain of water shielding the cave behind. The disk's feelings change to a cautious boldness, as you assume it enters the cave, and relief thereafter followed by satisfaction. This continues for a moment, then you sense it is beginning its return around the pool. Moments later it arrives, bobbing in the air inches from Vedic and glowing with a smug satisfaction at a task it believes to be well done.
Five minutes later the water’s surface ripples as the armoured carapace of the creature dips, then tilts up so that its mandibles become visible marginally above the water. In a thin reedy voice, dry like sticks being rubbed together, a strange voice calls out in Common; ”You might stand, or flee if you care. I have seen you. Come out. Entertain me with song or tales. I would be uncomfortable behind rocks. This is Guughwa. What is you?”
Aza takes a few bold steps forward from behind the rocks, using her quarterstaff a walking stick and leaning on it. She leans harder than she needs to, but with some degree of shakiness keeping her from standing too straight - if a fight broke out, she could handle herself. "Greetings," she states, projecting her normally soft voice so that she doesn't need to get too close to the water's edge, and leaving enough space for the thing to come and approach her on land. "I am Aza," she says, inclining her head a small amount towards what little she could make out of the creature. "I am here to parlay." . She chooses her words and focuses intensely on each one to keep her stutter from creeping in. "Guughwa, you have been cruel and vicious to people along this river, and I have come to discover why and what must be done to have you stop this cycle of violence."
What it can do is scratch information into the dirt. It is intelligent and has all of Vedic's skills and languages so it knows how to write and draw.
'Well I guess hiding is out of the question.' Breathing a heavy sigh as the creature calls out to them from the water, Iradyiel looks around to see what the others are doing.
'Brave girl. no matter what she says about herself.' Seeing Aza step forward, Iradyiel, moves also staying just behind her shoulder, attempting to look relaxed, but ready to spring at a moments notice.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Pious' fervour can barely be contained.
"The call of parlay holds your sentence abomination. Holds. Choose your reply well, you are thrice damned in the eyes of Aroden. I am your doom. Judge, lest thee be judged. Act, lest thee be acted upon."
Pious' sword tip points unwaveringly at the thing in the water as coruscating energies flow from the blade to dance over his mud caked body.
Casting Divine Favour
whilst were at it, can I run a detect alignment sweep
Chest Thumper sighs and casts a glance at Vedic. He is sure that the elf is much more annoyed by them being forced into action before they've properly prepared than he is.
He moves with the rest though, coming up to stand just behind Aza. He pats Francis on the shoulder to bring him along but also imparts the power of nature in him, thickening and hardening his skin as they move up.
He feels little need to say anything and simply stands silently, waiting for the thing's response.
Francis sees the monstrosity and his lips draw back from his fangs in a faint snarl. He just doesn't like the look of the thing.
Vedic's brief annoyance went straight to amusement this time. His life wasn't in danger yet, so he wasn't focused on tactical options and blunders.
One of the drawbacks of ethical constraint was that it limited those who exercised it from taking immediate action. They had come here with the express purpose of killing this thing. It's actions certainly justified that response. Still though, even someone as bound and driven by what was right as Pious could not bring himself to simply carry out the extermination of another creature. That would be too close to wrong.
So instead they were talking to it. Telling it of its crimes. Looking for reasons where none would suffice. Asking it to say or do something that would give them the push they needed to do what they had come here to do in the first place. They were asking it to help justify it's own destruction.
A part of Vedic wanted to simply take the first shot, but he was genuinely curious whether or not it it was dumb enough to give Pious the excuse he was looking for.
So Vedic waited.
”Cruel? Vicious? Guughwa is mighty and dreadful yes, and deserving of praise most high! But only to recover what was once Guughwa's and to defend those who offer up gifts.”/ The creature drifts closer, closing to about 70’ away; its thin voice carrying over the still waters. It addresses Aza, “When first swept to this plane many tens of winters ago, so cruelly dispatched a water drake, yes, and ate it too. Flavours of oyster and metal. Guughwa traveled, roamed, seeking stories and song and flavour. A harp I have – it sings in the wind! Long sleep then, and after, and now awake again! New stories, new tastes I seek – berries, weeds, birds! Do you bring me gifts? Or music? Does the ape dance? Tell me now – who are you and what sensations can you offer that are new, that are novel, to old Guughwa that has seen and heard so much?”
At the mention of the harp, Vedic’s familiar bobs up and down excitedly.
Reacting to Pious’ outburst the creature’s shell dips in the water, but several of the many eye buds remain above the surface, watching, and then it bobs up again. It lifts one enormous claw clear of the pool; it certainly looks capable of cutting a Halfling in two, as the elder so vividly described. With an angry edge to its voice, it replies ”Still your tongue, ignorant tool of an unseen whirlwind. Your Lord's words lead you blind into ruin!” It edges closer, to within 60’. The pool is still 20’ deep or so at that point.
'Well, it certainly likes the sound of it's own voice, along with whatever else it finds 'entertainting.' Shrugging Iradyiel calls out, "You threaten Pious, but you hide in your pool, ready to dive at the first threat. You say you killed a drake, but I think you are a liar who is afraid of his own shadow. If you killed a drake come over here and let us fight. If you defeat us, I will tell you the wonderful stories of my fathers world wide travels."
His smile widens, "but if we defeat you, then you depart and leave the Song'o's alone."
Hey IRadyiel, give me an Intimidate check if you're trying to goad him out onto dry land.
"Liar? Guughwa knows extraordinary tales from across the planes; no need for untruths. You! You tell lies! Ha - you have been deceived by the Song'o, yes? You believe their lies!". It edges closer, to within 40' of the edge of the pool.
How far back from the edge are you each standing?
I don't know if 'goad' is the right word. Iradyiel more wanted to challenge him. Fair fight, we win he leaves; he wins Iradyiel tells him stories for a while. A little simplistic, but it is Iradyiel :-)
if that fits the definition of 'goad'
intimidate: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (8) - 1 = 7
good question, I said I was just behind Aza, not getting in her way but ready to rush ahead in support of her. So I guess either in the square beside her or the one behind her. Whichever will get Irdyiel attacked faster than her...
Looking at the others confused, "Um, yeah I believe them, their our friends. Why would they lie?"
"You say that the Song'o might've deceived us, and that you would protect those who gave you gifts - but if you have only retrieved what you claim to be yours, why keep assaulting those people? Why keep demanding things if you already have what's yours?" Aza, a bit frustrated at this point but still wary of direct conflict with this monster, furrows her brow. "If you have what is yours, why demand more tribute? Why take those hostages?"
The beast was described as six feet wide, so Aza is standing 10-15' back from the shore and projecting her voice, so that is has enough room to fully come out of the water and, uh, menace her.
Francis is a step or 2 behind Aza and out to the side, so 15' - 20' back and Chest Thumper is just behind him and more lined up behind her so 20' - 25'
Guughwa, if that is indeed this creature's name, pauses, thinking. Its one raised claw pats the water's surface. "What is this 'hostages' ? Do you mean offerings? Guughwa has taken offerings from the Song'o for many many winters - eggs, hibiscus flowers, mushrooms, ah mushrooms. And in return, protection is given. No garrials take the Song'o children now, not since Guughwa arrived. And no pythons either - delicious python eggs! Guughwa assaults pythons, yes." It pauses, clicking and clattering its mouthpieces whilst its many eyes watch you unblinkingly. Water patters down its sides as it lifts itself higher out of the water, exposing both claws. "But they stole from Guughwa - took what was given by their ancestors! Thieves!" The carapace lowers again and the claws level at the Papaya Knights, especially at Pious. "Are you thieves for the Song'o? Do you seek to take my harp? Or my cooking pot?"
Guughwa is now only 15' from the water's edge, raised mostly out of the water where the pool is only 5' deep or so. The underside of the carapace is less spiky than the upper side, and the beast's weight is supported on huge seal-like rubbery flippers.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
As the beast approaches the shore Pious steps back from where he has been standing, right on the bank, to stand just further back than Aza. His sword lowers but his posture is none the less aggressive.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26 Do I get any sense of if the thing is lying?
"The people!" Aza exclaims, "If you were protecting them, why did you take their kin? The Song'o people you took. What did you do with them?" Anger is bubbling up inside Aza now, as the creature appears to be dancing around her question - but she had a sneaking suspicion that she already knew what the thing had done with them. She could feel the sparks in her belly and her hair stand, just slightly, on end.
Seeming to sense Aza’s barely controlled anger, Guughwa lowers its claws. ”You think Guughwa consumed the Song’o killed when taking back what they stole? You offend me! Could you consume a Song’o? What flavours, what exquisite spice would be found in a bog-dwelling naked ape? Bah!” Guughwa chitters to itself a moment. ”It is clear. You are dull. Guughwa’s stories are worthy of hearing. Guughwa’s strength is worthy of praise. Guughwa’s mouth craves new sensations. And Guughwa has stories to share in exchange. But you offer nothing, and insult Guughwa’s palate with your accusations! You are unworthy. Now, if you are here to steal or insult, we shall fight. Otherwise, leave this pool and take your dull minds with you.”
As this is said, the monster starts to retreat sideways and away back with a crab-like scuttling motion, into deeper water. The rear of its carapace and most of both claws dip back under the surface, and then its mouthpieces too, leaving only the front of its shell and many of its multitude of eyes above. It’s now 25’ from the edge, and heading further out all the time.
"Have you ever had truly pure water?" Chest Thumper calls after the retreating creature, largely just to keep it from departing.
"We would continue to talk to you and be willing to give you a drink in return for your patience," he continues, gesturing to the bundle that is still constantly leaking water.
Aza lets out a brief sigh, a spark or two flitting about her nervous exhale. She looks towards the others that are out on the open. Perhaps the thing was telling the truth? She did not want to make these assumptions, even about a monstrous creature such as this, and nods towards Chest Thumper. "I apologize for accusing you," she says, still watching her words and those slippery consonants. "We have been traveling these lands for many days now, and have been searching for our own missing folk. Perhaps the Song'o made some misjudgments about you, as have we through their description. If you did not take their people, we have no quarrel with you. And if you've no intention of returning there, perhaps we could discuss a trade for your cauldron? It is important to them, and we ourselves have discovered fascinating things across this land." With a small amount of regret, she begins to untie her makeshift fountain carrier from her staff.
"Guughwa, no one accused you of eating the Song'o. We accused you of killing the Song'o. Of taking the Song'o. That is what they told us you did." Vedic said, hoping to halt the creature.
"Did they lie? Or misunderstand?"
Guughwa pauses in his (her? its?) sideways crawl; the mouthparts resurface. Addressing Aza, the thin rattling voice speaks again: ”Thin one, you have been courteous and respectful. To be clear; Guughwa did kill several Song’o when taking back a cooking pot stolen from this pool. The pot was given to Guughwa by Song’o ancestors, in return for favours done and protection offered. After all the protection Guughwa provided, over generations, to sneak and steal is a grave and unworthy insult by bog-dwelling pygmies. Guughwa has visited Cashill twice to seek their apology, and for Song’o to resume their adoration of this one. Twice Guughwa has been driven away with insults and thrown faeces. No longer. Song’o are unworthy; Guughwa will leave this place, and resume his decade-long travels adrift in this plane, after being so cruelly plucked here, unwillingly, by foolish Storm-Kindler cultists, so long ago.” Something akin to a long bubbling sigh emanates from the creature.
”This one could be persuaded to…trade. This one has much worthy of admiration, many baubles of beauty and fine art. But...what could you offer me? Coral Capuchin eggs perhaps? Karnosaur testicles, maybe? They are a fine delicacy. And what do you mean by ‘pure water’?” Suddenly Guughwa rears out of the water, lifting its mouthpiece into the air and … tasting ? It moves closer back to the shore, seeming excited all of a sudden, ”That scent…something remembered, something from home! What do you have?”
Guughwa is now back within 15’ of the shore, claws raised again though not in a threatening way. It’s definitely interested in Aza’s dripping parcel.
Aza furrows her brow at the thought of this thing slaughtering the Song'o people - but on the other hand... she sighed. It was wrong to steal from them, and worse that it did so, violently. But, if we could replace the cauldron for it... we might be able to get through this without bloodshed, though even as she thought this, her eyes darted to look for Pious. The dead are dead, and she seems more... misguided, than evil. If she doesn't bother them again, what good would killing her do? "Pure water," she says, agreeing with Chest Thumper's assessment. "A treasure of ours," Aza continues, being sure to infuse ownership over the fountain - something she felt was important to the creature. "That produces water purer than most, if not any I've ever seen." She reveals the fountain from the bag, clutching it in both hands and letting it pour onto the ground. She holds it less than a foot away from her, offering inspection, but not for the creature to touch or take it - still with some worry, but confident in her allies' protection and her own skill.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Guughwa scuttles closer still, her mouthpieces dipping to taste where the pond water mixes with the water gushing from Aza’s gushing silver platter; ”Home ! This device connects directly to the elemental plane of water; long-departed and much-missed ! It tastes of the same Storm Kindler magics that summoned Guughwa here 90 winters ago. Ahh, for this taste many priceless treasures would I gladly offer! Friends, how can I reward you for making a gift of this? My golden harp, my cooking pot, a dance perhaps; see Guughwa dance! The honour! Or information, tales of times past, tales of the Storm Kindlers, of their lost temple perhaps… this may be more valuable yet to you, perhaps, if you can keep that tool" here it gestures with one claw at Pious, "under control. Name your price!”
The creature has advanced fully out of the water, and now stands at the pools edge clacking its claws joyfully in the air, sniffing at the scent of Aza’s ‘gift’, and almost hopping with glee on its surprisingly nimble legs. Still, its many eyes appear watchful, especially of Pious…
Guughwa stands at the water’s edge, 10’ from Aza, 15’ from CT, Vedic and Pious, 20’ from Francis. Pious I’m taking a liberty and making an opposed bluff roll for you vs Guughwa’s sense motive.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
Pious’ bluff: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (7) - 1 = 6
Chest Thumper squints, his usual reaction to seeing or hearing something of high interest to him.
He moves to stand behind Pious and rests a calming hand on the man's shoulder, though he is neither particularly calming nor dealing with a man particularly easy to calm.
"Your offer is quite generous, Guughwa but we cannot make such a momentous decision in a moment. Can my companions and I have a minute or two to discuss how we want to answer and what we're interested in trading," he comments.
'Storm Kindler magics? Is that what we are dealing with? I wonder if he would tell us that story and still give us the pot for the Song'o's' Looking from the odd creature to Chest Thumper 'That's a good idea, we should talk.' Iradyiel nods his head and circles up with the others. "What do you think he meant by storm kindler magic?"
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Aza pulls back a minuscule amount as the creature pushes forward to taste the water, but is somewhat pleased with the result. Perhaps there was a chance of nonviolence after all. However, there was still the problem of Pious. "We don't have to get in a true f-fight with her," Aza says in the circle with the others. "I think I might believe it when it says it will leave the Song'o alone. If we could trade this for their cauldron and their safety, w-we could even leave with a potential ally... or at least, not make an enemy."
"The Song'o seem to be missing an opportunity here. Guughwa asks little and would be a powerful ally to them if they understood how to negotiate with it." Vedic said, trying to ignore Pious' ranting. "It will not bring back the Song'o dead, but perhaps if they understood that they stole something gifted to it by their own people they would be less inclined toward vengeance."
'What is he thinking? Worse, what is it thinking?' Looking nervously from Pious to the creature, Iradyiel turns and nods his head "That's a good point Master Vedic. We should trade the water thingy for the cooking pot. But make a big ceremony out of it with the song'o's present; so their part of the truce and understand what has happened. But how do we get it to tell the story of the 'storm Kinder magic' then?"
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
"What fresh madness is this? This abomination has made trades and found balance in a feast of sentient flesh. Feast ye not on the flesh of the knowing. It has spoken with threat unto us in opposition, and now you speak of trade and contract. You don't have the spirit for this maybe? You fear the fragility of your mortal form? Or it maybe that this abomination's insideous charm has you. The beast, he toys with the curious mind. What say you knights of the papaya? Have you turned from God's path, do you deal with flesh traders now?"
If Chest Thumper is surprised by any part of Pious' behavior it is that he has not simply leaped to the attack, not that he is offended by their negotiations. He turns his full attention to the man.
"I don't believe it actually ate the halflings, Master Pious. I think it killed them while retrieving what it believed belonged to it. I agree it should not be allowed to kill at its whim, but it seems we can convince it to find new territory...it seems it wants to, anyway. If we can make 2 allies instead of just 1 and a corpse, so much the better."
"We should not side against it simply because it is not human. Neither are the Song'o. Nor Francis. Nor myself, Iradyiel or Vedic, for that matter."
"I agree. While justice might be done if the creature is destroyed, r-reformation is largely preferred. It is intelligent, and perhaps egois-s-stic, but I don't believe it is hostile to all. It met us well enough." She glances towards the still somewhat terrifying Guughwa. "And it is c-certainly not the only one that has killed to defend its own..." She sighs. While the lizardfolk had dragged off the people of the hearth, they had been here first. Perhaps they were just defending themselves. Who were the knights to judge? She didn't know if people had attempted to contact them or just assume the lizardfolk were monsters. "I s-say we trade the fountain for ally-ship and the cauldron, possibly this storm kindler business..." she bites her lip, "But make sure we have her on our side, and that she doesn't v-visit the Song'o again. A truce." Aza looks at Iradyiel. "Both parties present, if possible."
"Ahem"; a curious noise from a crustacean, "You may sense Guughwa is keen to treat with you, to trade, to exchange, to win your silver platter. Many wonders have I, many items of value and beauty. Three things Guughwa would exchange for it, before departing this place for adventure new. Three items, no more; and tales of time and events past could be one of these these. Guughwa has a fine human armour and a hammer of nobility and history; an arcane scroll written in the most beautiful calligraphy; a golden harp encrusted with gems; a cooking pot; and two potent potions. Or tales of interest to you, I believe. What do you say? Maybe, one of you might care to visit my cave and admire my treasures?" Guughwa hops from foot to foot, clicking and rattling, fully out of the water now and glistening in the morning sunshine.
Scratching his head, Iradyiel asks, "Let me get this straight, once we trade for three things, your leaving?"
Guughwa previously stated that:
"Guughwa has visited Cashill twice... Twice Guughwa has been driven away with insults and thrown faeces. No longer. Song’o are unworthy; Guughwa will leave this place, and resume its decade-long travels adrift in this plane, after being so cruelly plucked here, unwillingly, by foolish Storm-Kindler cultists, so long ago.”
In response to the half-elf's question, Guughwa dipped its head in agreement; "This one grows tired of this place. Guughwa will travel north to find the adoration and new stories it deserves, amongst new peoples more worthy and less faeces-encrusted than the Song'o."