Travelling north, the woodsman’s companion wolf flew overhead to find the location of the boggard village. (I should mention that his companion seems to be a half-celestial). Having located it, he and I went to investigate.
The village was at the shores of the hooktongue, surrounded by copses in which sentries were stationed. We approached and infiltrated one of the copses and proceeded to knock out the two guards that were present. I had a Dimension Door spell ready, but the recipient must be willing. Or at least – not un-willing. Rainor seems to know one or two martial art tricks and kept the two guards in the copse silent by way of knocking them a blow that kept them busy for a few seconds. Eventually one of them fell, but not before the other managed to sound an alarm call. But no matter, for I teleported the three of us out.
Prior to waking up our captive, I performed a Share Language spell on it. That done, we woke him and began to interrogate.
The tribe is named M’Butu, which translates as “They who swim in blood”. Their leader – one “Sepputu” – appeared to be a shaman of Gogunta, a frog demon of sloth and (I belive) poison. I rather felt that interrogating this captive was pointless – what would he tell us that we basically didn’t know? But I had figured without His Grace’s notions of warrior-like honour. Duke Jope told the captive that he would fight Sepputu, which our captive seemed to accept, actually using the words “trial by combat”. We announced that we would be there dawn the next day, and released him.
Next morning the entire tribe had turned out. A mass of a score or so ordinary tribesmen who I judged were there to observe, four warriors which were distinctly larger, and the shaman himself. I stepped forward to herald our challenge. It seemed that I had judged quite wrongly. As I stepped forward, the entire tribe simply rushed our position.
From which we can observe a number of salient facts.
The warriors and their chief led from the rear. That is, they control their society by fear – by punishment rather than by reward or by example. Their tactics were calculated to save the lives of their elites: they were prepared to use their commons to wear us down, at whatever price. And they acted without honor toward us – unconcerned by any possibility that by defeating us in such a fashion their commons might think less of them.
In short: although the notion of “alignment” is subject to cultural misinterpretation, without a doubt the culture of the boggards is what we would generally call “evil”. Not that this is in any way inconsistent with their veneration of a frog demon.
It’s is also worth noting that Share Language is all very well, but it doesn’t bypass the need for cultural understanding. The words “trial by combat” might have been the closest approximation to what the boggard meant, but it was a mistake to suppose that it implied chivalry or honour or varuous such things. I suspect he said “trial by combat” rather than “find out who is strongest by fighting” because our language offers a short phrase that was close enough.
To return to the narrative: at the charge of the entire tribe towards us, I managed to get off a Haste spell before nipping back into position.
At this juncture I should mention a certain item owned by His Grace. It seems that during his liberation of the kobolds under the mountains (an amazing story), they gave to him the skull of a certain red dragon whom they venerated as their protector. This skull is mounted on a pole, and His Lordship bears it as his standard. It is quite magical, and I had a chance to see it in action.
A wave of dragon-fear came out of the standard, and almost all of the common tribesmen turned to flee. In response to his Grace’s war-cry “Faciat me ad magnus”, I cast Enlarge Person on him, and he proceeded to carve a path through them to get to the shaman. Bloody, but better to kill three of them than twenty.
In the next moment, the four warriors rushed forward to engage us. But again, the standard of Fredonia spoke, this time bellowing a gout of fire, neatly incinerating (or nearly so) three of them. His Grace ignored the warriors and the tribesmen, and accompanied by the knight ran for the shaman at the rear.
On another note, it was nice to see Andrew’s quest item get some use, and in the precise situation that the item was conceived as being for: a mass attack by mooks. It worked perfectly and in-game mercifully saved the lives of 20 or so dudes who would have been killed if they hadn’t been frightened off.
In a moment, it was over. The shaman dead, three of the four warriors dead, and a mass of commons hiding below the surface of the hooktongue. I cast Share Language on the (now) biggest boggard about four times, he shaking the effect off each time, before asking Rainor to kindly knock him out for me. Rainor did so, I cast my spell, and our Knight revived him.
His Grace said simply “You are chief now. Stay and live here. If you attack pink skins on the road again, we will come back and kill you all.” Harsh, but a correct reading of the culture, I fear. Our Knight was concerned about their veneration of Gogunta. He insisted that they no longer worship her, which I think might be a trifle tricky to enforce. Nevertheless, we took down their idol. A pity we could not transport it to the museum, but circumstances were not favourable.
But, speaking of which, I took a moment to examine one of the dead ones, to settle a question that has caused some controversy – amphibian or humanoid? I required a little help to actually locate the heart of one of them (medicine is not my strong point, I am afraid), but I can verify that it was indeed three-chambered. Expect a paper soon.
The people of Fort Drellev were pleased to hear that the boggards of the south hooktongue had been pacified, although how long they stay passive for remains to be seen. While His Lordship and the knight engaged in politics, the woodsman and I fell to discussing Cloudarc Monastery.
Cloudarc Monastery! Lost for – ooh, who knows how long. A myth? A ruin? If there were such a place, it’s entirely possible that is is still going, although only if there were a few females. Rainor possesses a map indicating direction from the island in the middle of the mere. Somewhat helpful. But more interestingly, it seems there is a ruin above Giacomo’s Rest with a panorama also indicating the monastery. More than enough to triangulate, and only a few day’s travel away as the crow flies. Rather more than that as the mountaineers mountaineer.
Still. I’m keen to go, as swamp really doesn’t suit me. Winter is coming on. If we go, we should go now. His Grace is agreeable. It seems Rainor is a mystic as well as being a very fine archer, and an old comrade. We are preparing a small expedition – one or two items will be necessary. A wand of Endure Elements most notably, but easy to procure in Freedonia. There was discussion of the problems of dealing with mountains. I have not yet had occasion to demonstrate an old Ninjitsu trick I learned a few years ago, and it slipped my mind.
In any case, we set out as soon as we may.