Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Hisssta
~ tenth-day, 20th of Kythorn, The Year of Rogue Dragons, eleven bells
Bral


The eleventh bell rang on the Frihet as they splashed down into a calm river delta on the island of Hisssta. In Coliar time, it was shrinking halflight and getting darker. Hisssta was far west of Athanar, which meant that they lost seven or eight hours, but it had still been a ten-hour journey all the way up to Coliar's gravity well and then back down again. The rain would be coming soon, and with it some relief from the heat. It seemed even hotter here than Athanar had been, perhaps because they were now north of the equator.

   As they had approached this island from the air, following another unfathomably tall beacon tower, they observed a similar jungle landscape, though with less mountainous terrain. A single, slow river flowed from hills in the northern half of the island, widened and split into a delta, and then poured off the island's southern edge in several dozen waterfalls to plummet into the great expanse.

   However, the architecture of the lizardfolk differed vastly from that of Athanar. They seemed to have circular or rectangular huts built from clay, hides, stone, and bone and lived on the ground in the swampiest areas among the Hisssta river's distributaries.

   There seemed to be several warehouse structures and a shipyard as well, where a wasp, a small ground-landing, insect-shaped spelljammer was currently under construction. There were also two massive stone buildings outside the town a ways and rising above the trees. One of these buildings contained a tall spire topped with a large golden egg.

   They were directed where to land by the typical flags with which the crew on the Frihet were familiar, and unlike on Coliar, they were guided in carefully by lizardfolk on the docks and in the water itself so that they would not strike any mudbars in the relatively shallow waters. Once alongside the wooden dock, they were met by dockworkers who helped secure the ship with ropes. They spoke in broken Common: "Throw rope." The voices were gruff but not mean.

   Hakam was satisfied to find that not many lizardfolk seemed to be giving off any chaotic auras.

   They seemed to be the only foreign ship present at this time, though the docks were large enough to receive at least a half dozen vessels.

   The dockworkers were typical green-scaled lizardfolk, similar to those that some of them had seen in the jungles of Chult or on the Rock of Bral. Most had yellowish fins that extended from the back of their heads down their backs. Like the aarakocra, they had little use for clothing but wore harnesses and bandoleers for carrying tools and items.

   The docks were guarded by a squad of warriors carrying stone-topped clubs and tortoise-shell shields, a pair at the end of each dock, but there did not seem to be any sort of dockmaster or inspection procedures. Having finished helping secure the Frihet, the dockworkers simply wandered off.

   Solisar had been listening to the voices of the lizardfolk as they talked amongst each other. "They seem to be speaking Draconic but with a thick accent or their own dialect," he said.

   Szordrin noticed that a large number of Hisssta citizens were soaking their bodies in relaxation in the swampy, reed-filled waters, floating around, drinking from beverages in containers resting atop their bellies. It seemed to be a very lazy feel.

   "I believe that that hut over there has a sign reading 'Dockmaster'," said Solisar. However, no one from the building was coming to meet them. There was no activity around that hut at all.

   "Maybe we should present ourselves to the guards," said Hakam.

   This they did.

   "Yass iss new Hisssta?" asked one of them in broken Common with heavy sibilants.

   "Yes," said Belvin.

   "Day endss," said the humanoid lizard. "Ssoak time. Dockmasster come tomorrow. Come backs zen."

   It seemed that they had arrived at the end of the business day.

   Belvin was aware that lizardfolk were amphibious lizards and needed to keep their skin moist. He mentioned this to the others in Elven.

   "I suggest that you allow us to dock and enter your town," said Szordrin.

   The lizardman shrugged and motioned for them to pass him. Szordrin was not sure whether this was the result of his magic spell or simply what the lizard would have done anyway.

   "I suggest that you answer all of our questions before you go off to soak," said Szordrin.

   "I no ssoak. Musst work till no light."

   "I think that we should just wait on the ship until morning," said Hakam.

   "I thought that we would at least explore the town first," said Szordrin.

   "It is their soaking time," said Belvin. "Not many people will be present to assist us."

   "Not everyone is soaking," said Jayce. He pointed out several individuals moving along the paths from hut to hut. "Those two look drunk to me. That might be a bar. Maybe they need a bard to liven things up."

   "I suggest that you lead us to the best inn that you have," said Szordrin.

   "Guard, no leave," said the lizardman. He shrugged and pointed, however. "Good drinkss." He had indicated the nearest supposed bar that Jayce had also noticed.

   "A tavern is a good place for information at this hour," said Solisar. "We do need to know where to acquire a glider and, perhaps through small talk, about any fees or laws about which we should be aware. They seem to not care currently about such things, but that may change when the time is different."

   "A fair point," said Hakam.

   "Sslish's Tavern," said the guard.

   They headed to the bar, and Ombert permitted his sailors to do so as well.

   "This is not the name of the lizardfolk that the postmaster mentioned, is it?" asked Belvin. "That was Schlith, not Sslish."

   It was a very small tavern, with perhaps three tables, and two of them were already occupied by lizardfolk. No one seemed particularly alarmed by the entrance of a crowd of off-worlders, not even a crowd including a minotaur; they glanced at the newcomers and then went right back to drinking.

   Most of the sailors, upon seeing how crowded it was, left to find a more spacious tavern. "Maybe we can find one with some women!" suggested Brad. As they were leaving, Gren struggled to explain to him that there was not much difference between lizardfolk males and females. Nargroth wanted to have drinks with Jayce and Oma, and Bansh insisted on staying with the elves, if they would permit it.

   The bartender, presumably Sslish, was wearing an apron. He asked each in turn what they wanted to drink. When asked what was available, he handed out small wooden boards with scratchings. Oma and Solisar read off the offerings to the others. There was rum, tepache (fermented pineapple), arrack (distilled coconut), and ogogoro (distilled palm).

   Most of them ordered tepache and found it quite tasty.

   Sslish was not very talkative at first, though the series of eleven orders in a row kept him busy. He did ask where they were all from.

   "Toril," answered Leokas.

   "Are yass here for a particular reasson?" His Common was much better than that of the guards, but his accent was still very thick.

   "Just passing by," said Belvin.

   "How much for a drink?" asked Ombert, who had to stand on the bar stool to be noticed.

   "No, yass do not have to pay me anything, although tipping iss ssertainly appreciated."

   "Free alcohol!" exclaimed Nargroth. "I have died and gone to Shurrock!"

   "I hate to burst your bubble of excitement," said Jayce, "but I think that they only drink ambrosia in Martyrdomain."

   "What time do we need to meet the dockmaster tomorrow?" asked Szordrin.

   "Probably at brightesst light," said the Lizardman. "Nothing here openss until brightesst light."

   "That is when the aarakocra take their day's rest," said Oma quietly, hoping not to be heard by any lizardfolk."

   "Is it not too hot to work then?" asked Jayce.

   "We ain't exactly cold-blooded;" said Sslish, "my sschool teacherss taught me that we evolved from dumb lizzardss in that way, but we ain't exzactly warm-blooded either. Who wantss to work before the day is warm?"

   "How often do you receive off-worlders here?" asked Hakam, as Bansh and Kytharrah began arm wrestling at the open table. "There do not seem to be many now."

   "It variess," said the bartender. "It iss the hottesst sseasson of the year right now, sso we get fewer tourissts now. In the winter, thiss iss the bussiesst lizzard port, probably because of Schlith. Everyone alwayss wantss to meet Schlith. I do not know why; the guy is creepy."

   "Darkscale, I presume?" asked Leokas.

   Sslish nodded. "That iss the one."

   "How is he creepy?" asked Belvin.

   "Oh, yass will know if yass meet him."

   "Where might we find him?" asked Leokas.

   "He iss the director of Jamm Sservissess. They offer sservissess to off-worlderss ssuch ass yasselvess. Those who come here needing ssomething, not jusst to ssell sstuff or ssee sstuff, go to him."

   "Do you need a special license to trade goods here?" asked Hakam.

   Sslish shook his head. "Not unless yass want a permanent shop to rent from the government."

   "Speaking of shops," the cleric continued, "if we wanted to buy some gliders to get to the lower islands, where would we buy those?"

   "Nobody ownss any gliderss; those are public property."

   "How do we go about renting them then?"

   He shrugged. "That iss actually ssomething that they might know at Jamm Sservissess. It iss not sspelljamming related, but it iss ssomething that an off-worlder might want to know."

   The bartender continued. "If I need to use one, I can, because I am a ssitizzen."

   "Is it true that the government owns everything here?" asked Leokas.

   Sslish nodded. "They own my shop. I wass assigned thiss job as barkeep ssince I wass a little hatchling."

   "Is that what you wanted to do?" asked Leokas.

   "I do not mind. They feed me and my lizzardlingss well, and that iss what iss important in life."

   "Is there a government office that we can visit?" asked Hakam.

   "If yass go out in the sstreet and look at those two big buildingss in the jungle, one iss the temple; the other iss the Hall of the People. Again, it will not be open until brightesst light tomorrow."

   "As non-citizens, can we enter the Hall of the People?"

   "Yass would need an appointment."

   "Is the Hall where your leaders get together to make laws?" asked Szordrin.

   "The political bureau? To be frank, I do not pay much attention to how the government workss. I jusst know that it iss my role in ssossiety to sserve alcohol to keep everyone drunk and happy. They give me my rationss every eightday. I am content with that.I have never even been in the Hall of the People mysself. It iss a pretty building. I go in the temple frequently enough."

   "Do you have the freedom to mix your own beverages," asked Belvin, "or are you limited to the menu that the government provides."

   "I can mix my own drinkss. Ssee, I have thiss drink where I mix together both tepache and arrack." He seemed quite happy about his simple "invention". "I do not sserve food; the resstaurantss do that."

   Belvin began to make some suggestions for adding certain herbs and spices to his drinks, which Sslish took in with excitement.

   When they had finished their drinks, they asked for and received directions to Jamm Services.

   There was a loud thud at the table behind them.

   "Calm yourself!" said Leokas.

   "Kytharrah!" shouted Hakam. "No playing in here or we send you back to the ship!"

   Kytharrah looked defeated; he had "played" with lizardfolk before, and the last bar had been lots of fun. Bansh apologized to each of the elves in turn for leading the young minotaur astray by arm wrestling him and agreed to take him back to the ship.

   "Can I ask you what you think of the war between the aarakocra and lizardfolk," Leokas asked of Sslish, after the minotaur and hadozee left.

   "I do not follow the war much, but everyone ssays that the birdmen are trying to ssteal our islandss because they want all of our gemss. I do not know much more than that. The government definitely fightss them, and all of uss have to sserve. I got lucky; when it wass my turn to sserve, I wass ssent to an island and never ssaw a ssingle birdman the whole time. We jusst ssat there and warmed oursselves in the heat of the day; it wass not sso bad. I have only been off-island once in my life, and that was my time in the military." He added, "Ssuppossedly, they are fighting on ssome islandss nearby here."

   "Is the temple open?" asked Belvin.

   "Not now, but outssiders may freely vissit it."

   There definitely was not a inn here; it was only a tavern. Nargroth, Jayce, and Oma stayed and ordered another drink, but the others returned to the Frihet. It was going to rain soon.

~~~~

Sslish the bartender had been correct; none of the lizardfolk came out of their huts, except to bask sprawled out on hot stones until the day was brightest. Some of the sailors slept in their hammocks just as long, being hungover from wherever they had ended up last night.

   They visited the dockmaster as soon as possible. He spoke as well as the bartender had, but his answers were short and to the point. There was a one-time berthing fee of 90 gold pieces, paid on departure, which was far more than the fee on the Rock of Bral yet supstantially cheaper than they were charged on Athanar. In addition, there was an air tax of 40 gold pieces. Optionally, they could pay one gold pieces per tonnage of their ship to have fresh water pumped in. (The swamp water was not potable.) They just needed to provide several "light calls" of notice. (Belvin and Hakam seemed confident that they could create enough drinking water for everyone on board.)

   Belvin was curious about the temple that they could see rising from the jungle. It was easy enough to get to. The building was made of white and black marble and was highly ornate, especially compared to the simplicity of the vast majority of huts in the port town. There was no doubt that a great sum had been invested in its construction, and it was well kept and in pristine condition. The vines growing up its sides were not allowed to grow wild but were guided to form intricate patterns. Solisar noticed a protective magical aura around the building. As they had noted when landing, a great spire rose from the front of the building and was topped with an egg of gold.

   The main gate was open, at the top of twin curving steps. Going inside, the main chamber of worship was high-ceilinged and spatious. The windows reminded Hakam and Oma of Calimshan, being arched and filled with stone latticework. All around the chamber were small prayer booths and alcoves, where lizardfolk were kneeling and leaving offerings of flowers or buring insense.

   In the middle, towards the back of the chamber was a giant marble egg sculpture. Several lizardfolk would approach it reverently and scratch it with their claws before leaving.

   Belvin's curiousity satisfied, they stepped back outside. "Shall we find this Schlith Darkscale next?" asked Leokas.

   "I am inclinded to seek the government for assistance instead," said Hakam.

   "I am fine with visiting the Hall of the People first," said Leokas.

   "We could also be more efficient and split into two groups," said Hakam.

   "Chee chee chi chu!" chirped Ferry.

   "Ferry is reminding us that it is not wise to split the party," said Szordrin.

   The Hall of the People was essentially next door, so they headed that way.

   Belvin stopped suddenly. "Vanilla plants!" he said. "We might be able to pick some and sell those on the Rock of Bral."

   "Just to remind everyone," said Leokas, "we are not here to become wildspace traders; we are hear to learn more information to help us stop Samber."

   "People always need more spice in their lives," said Belvin.

   The Hall of the People was well guarded, both with magical enchantments and with guards, and the tortoise-shell-armored soldiers shook their heads and waved them away when the group tried to ascend the large marble steps up to the columned building. (The columns were carved to look like the thigh bones of a giant creature.)

   "Should I attempt to talk with them and request a meeting?" asked Solisar. "What do you hope to learn here, Hakam?"

   "I have an idea," said Szordrin. He took several tiny items from his component pouch, a small clay tower, a dried snake's tongue, and a piece of honeycomb, all of which vanished from his hands when he waved them about and spoke words in an ancient Draconic tongue. "Wait here," he said to them.

   He stepped up and spoke to one of two guards who were standing there in their language. "I suggest that you tell your partner that we are good people and that your boss would like to speak with us."

   Solisar translated to the others, as the one lizardman turned to the other and spoke in Draconic. "These look like good people; why do we not let them in?"

   The second guard said, "You idiot! Did you not just hear him tell you to tell me that. What is wrong with you?" He slapped the other across his snout.

   The second guard then raised his spear in a more threatening way toward Szordrin, who carefully backed away, while the first guard shrugged and said in Draconic, "What? What did he do wrong?"

   "Be calm!" commanded Hakam, and the guard lowered his spear and seemed content.

   "So, we shall be on our way, then," said Belvin.

   As they walked back along the jungle path to the main town, they crossed fields where lizardfolk were hoeing and planting and other fields where workers were picking. The place was definitely bustling now with workers and activity.

   They passed the shipyard and the workers sawing and hammering away at the wasp vessel. Solisar detected no magical auras. "They are building a spelljammer here," he said, "but I do not detect any helm in it."

   "Maybe it is added later," said Oma.

   The Jamm Services building was really a large tent made from the skins of some enormous lizard supported by the whitened bones of an equally large creature. It was easy enough to find.

   From behind the wooden counter at the back of the large tent, they were greeted by a lizardman. "Welcome to Jamm Services; how can I help you." He had the slightest accent of anyone that they had yet met in Hisssta. "We deal in information and supplies for the modern spelljammer." Nothing about the clerk seemed particularly "creepy". He wore a pocketed apron like the bartender had and had the usual green and yellow scales.

   "We are spelljammers from Toril," said Hakam, "but we are looking to obtain some of your gliders to reach some of the lower islands. Do you have someone who can help us to obtain them?"

   "To be honest, most of the visitors who want to go to islands outside of the ports are powerful wizards who teleport their themselves. If you are looking to see the beauty of Coliar, Hisssta island has beautiful jungles and hills, pools for swimming, a crystal cavern,..." He continued to list a number of tourist destinations. "We do not advise that tourists leave the port islands, as the unihabited islands tend to be rather dangerous. Or did you want to visit one of the upper island towns? There are large commercial gliders for that."

   "No, I meant lower islands," said Hakam.

   "Gliders are not something that are usually rented out to off-worlders," said the clerk. "It takes a lot of training to use the gliders. We do offer a tourist package to sail gliders around this island. Are you interested in that?"

   "You mentioned that the unihabited islands are dangerous," said Hakam. "Why is that?"

   "As you have probably heard, there are no mammals as yourselves in this planet. It is all avian, amphibian, and reptilian life, and there are enormous specimens in all those categories. There are gigantic birds, gigantic frogs, gigantic lizards, gigantic turtles, gigantic snakes. I assume that you get the picture? Every island has a unique ecology, but almost all have risks. Smaller islands cannot support the largest creatures, so typically, the larger the island, the more dangerous it is."

   "Do any creatures regularly travel between the islands?"

   "Just about any creature with wings is migratory," answered the clerk.

   "Do the islands ever collide with each other?" asked Leokas.

   "By Semuanya, I hope not!" exclaimed the clerk.

   The group stepped off to discuss. "He does not seem to understand that we are not simple tourists," said Oma.

   "It is unforuntate that we do not simply have a cloaking helm like the neogi had," said Leokas.

   "I do not know how the neogi acquired such elven technology," said Solisar, "but even if we possessed it too, the postmaster suggested that it would be next to impossible to find a place to land."

   "Perhaps, we should have kept the old helm," said Belvin.

   "What is necessary to create a spelljammer?" asked Hakam.

   "Just a helm," said Solisar, "and something to attach it to."

   "I believe that I can pray to Anachtyr to allow me to enchant any chair as a temporary helm that would last us many days. The neogi master had such a prayer written on its scroll that we found."

   "Are you suggesting that we build a small raft or something and attach a helm to it?" said Leokas.

   "Precisely," said Hakam.

   "Another option would be to find a spell shop, if one exists here," said Solisar, "and purchase teleportation scrolls, but we do not know our destination well, so there would be a risk of missing our target substantially."

   "We have pictures of the islands on the slate copies," said Hakam.

   "I think that one has to picture being there," said Leokas. "I am happy start on a raft, if that is what we want to do."

   "I can help," said Belvin.

   "I do not know what other option we have," said Leokas.

   "We still have not talked with this Darkscale fellow," said Jayce. "Should we not at least do that first?"

   "This is not Darkscale?" one of the them asked.

   "I think that he is just an employee," said Oma. "Schlith is supposed to be the director."

   They returned to the clerk and asked if they could speak with Schlith Darkscale.

   The clerk sighed. "Everyone always wants to talk to Schlith Darkscale; I do not know why. Now, Schlith is a busy lizardman, you know," said the employee. "He does not just talk to anyone. However, if you are willing to hand me a pretty gem, I might just be willing to find him for you."

   "Are you suggesting that we pay you a bribe?" asked Hakam. "Is that legal under your system of govenrment?"

   "Tipping is allowed!" The lizardman seemed nervous now. "It is just a tip!"

   "Do you pool all tips so that all employees receive an equal distribution?" asked Leokas.

   "It is only me and one other buddy! We get each other gifts sometimes. It was just a single gem."

   Szordrin was about to hand him a coin and bluff that it was more valuable than it really was, but the lizardman had already given up, perceiving that these were powerful adventurers. He hurried off to retrieve his boss.
Session: 110th Game Session - Monday, Jun 08 2020 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Viewable by: Public
0 comments