After my escaping the dungeon and my encounter with the witches I took a well earned rest. Consolidating what I had achieved so far, the text indicating that I felt as though I was developing wisdom! Quite a development from the hulking mass, uncontrollably smashing up and eating hobbits that we knew from the start of the book. A big boost of 8 Stamina and 2 Luck were mine as I set out the next day, fully refreshed and looking to find the Sculliweed roots for the witches. Out in the open, I had options aplenty, with all four compass points open for exploration I set off to the east into the woods. Another junction split off into three, this was signposted as ‘Coven’ to the north, ‘Bilgewater’ to the south and ‘Testing grounds’ to the east, so I continued east. A rustling in nearby bushes startled me and the next thing I knew, an axe was flying past my head!
As soon as the fight with the woodcutter began it was over and in the distance I could see a river, as I got closer to it, the lush green vegetation around me began to turn to spindly, dying plants. The stench of the river picked up and I was again in the company of the Bilgewater river, carrying indescribable filth and excrement. Apparently that signpost was wrong then. I followed the river downstream, at one point even descending a waterfall. Just imagine that, a poo waterfall. Eventually the water flowed to a large, calm pool, steam rising across its wide expanse. Can you imagine anyone or anything using this as drinking water? I mean, you’d have to be a complete and utter… oh…
…seems this thing was guzzling away at the steaming, lumpy water. Apparently, this thing was an Ophidiotaur and of all my options, the option to try and mount it was the glaringly obvious one to pick. A quick Skill test later and I’d sneaked up to it and had leaped onto its back, a shrug and a snort and it’d accepted being ridden as it’s reality. That was until I kicked my heels in and it took off at a gallop, crashing through trees and eventually coming to a stop in a clearing, thankfully before it could throw me off. Not long after my arrival, the quiet didn’t remain as a couple of Brigands bundled in out of nowhere through the trees, beating the hell out of a thin and nimble man.
Initially the three were unaware of my presence, but as I came charging towards them to help the man, all three stopped and stared at me incredulously. But that didn’t last as I was soon in combat with the two Brigands (8/7 & 8/9) who managed a couple of hits, but did not live for very long. The man I had saved was in fact an elf, he revealed his name to be Whiteleaf from the village of Ethelle Amaene and was at my service. All I could ask about though were a few fairly uninspiring topics, so I asked to hear about Stittle Woad. Odd, as I’m not sure my character knows of Stittle Woad at the moment. Whiteleaf told me that the settlement was about two days east of here, close to the Rainbow Ponds and that it was hidden underground. Great, but not really of any use to me at the moment.
Leading out of the clearing was a path heading northwards which led me onto an east-west junction, which I followed to the west. Pushing on, the foliage got denser and thicker and eventually produced a small building. It was however in ruins and I took the opportunity to explore these ruins, the doorway still intact. Through the doorway was a big mess, the place had been trashed, broken furniture and rubble was strewn across what used to be a room. Poking through the debris was a skeletal hand holding a green bottle which I pocketed and quickly moved on before the skeletal arm could try to grab me.
Oddly enough, given the adventure so far, the arm didn’t try to kill me and I was able to head off on my merry way with a shiny new bottle. My progress was short-lived however as the vegetation in the woods was getting thick, so dense in-fact that my path onward was reduced to what resembled a small tunnel which I needed to crawl into to be able to fit. Fairly predictably, this was a bad move. The tunnel began to move and close in, vines tightened around me, the more I struggled, the tighter they got, I was in something of a pickle. I was offered the option to drink the contents of the bottle I had just wrestled from the dead and so I gave it a try. What I had drunk was a slow-acting poison. Initially I thought I’d picked the right course of action as the Gluevines instantly released their grip on me and I was able to crawl free, however they had merely detected the fact that I was now pumping poison through my system and didn’t fancy eating me anymore. I detected that I was pumping poison through my system when I clutched my stomach, doubled over and died in agonising pain a few minutes later. My adventure was over!
We messed up there then (yes I’m portioning some of the blame to you, the reader), so let’s go back to the start of this part and instead of heading east, let’s go south. I found myself in the town of Coven, but instead of a bustling settlement I found a run-down collection of shacks, residents fleeing at the sight of this giant green monster, stomping down their streets. But with a crack, one door flew open and a half-orc tumbled out of it, a bare-chested man followed with a crowd of people urging him to finish off the orc.
Taking pity on my beastly brethren, I jumped in, claws flashing, and destroyed this smarmy looking villager. The problem now was all the other villagers who’d just watched a big green monster eviscerate one of their mates in the street and a gang of them were now advancing on me. The half-orc beckoned me to follow him and shouted ‘Quick! Come on!‘, and so I ran off after my new best friend. He looked like a sturdy fellow, carrying a sword though I’m not sure why he hadn’t drawn it back in the village, but nevermind. He told me to call him Grog and that he wanted to travel with me. The text instructed me to look out for references ending in a 7, deducting 52 from that number would take me to a reference where Grog would interact with me. Indeed, the next reference was 107, so I went to 55 to find a section where Grog went into a disused building we walked past, talking about a sentimental heirloom he’d buried in there and emerging with a backpack containing what looked like a large box. Curiously, he didn’t say what was in there. Discussion quickly moved onto what my current goals were, but not being able to speak, I was only able to communicate through nods and shakes of the head. I managed to convey that I was looking for something, but had no idea where it was. He exclaimed that someone called Rosina would be able to help, so that was where we went.
To the west we travelled and a small hillock rose up that appeared to shelter a small hut within some rocky caves in the side of it, Grog confirmed my assertion that this was where Rosina would be found and he gave me 2 gold pieces which he told me I would need. I wandered in through front door. Inside was what appeared to be a stereotypical fortune tellers booth. Incense burned, rich woven cloths hung about the walls and a crystal ball sat in the middle. Rosina of Dree was her full title and she wanted 2 gold pieces so that she could help me fulfill my destiny. Amusingly I was given the option to start a fight with her, but I chose to hand over the gold and let her do her thing instead.
Tarot was her weapon of choice for telling the fortune of a giant monster and after a little fore-shadowing of the finale of the book we’ll get onto next time, she deduced that I had been enlisted by the Sisters of Dree to help them find their Sculliweed root, ‘You have been set an unfair task. For the blue-stemmed Sculliweed grows only in the Swamps of the Toadmen on the southern shored of the Deedlewater‘.
Let’s croak us some toads!