The canoe settles in the marshy bank, the heroes dismount, sick of the gross black water around them for the last several hours. what you see is below. an old castle, thick stone all around. a moat around it with fathomless depths. Looks like it is 3 stories tall.
the land around the castle is quite busy.
within the last hour you heard the sound of drums coming from the castle. snapjaw explains that the bullywugs use this as a form of communication to the greater bullywug population in and around the castle, this last message was a standard ‘all is well’ one. he also volunteers that they killed the lizardfolk Shaman who was their leader. they are lost now and have turned to the half dragon Rezmir and the Elf Borngray for guidance. The bullywug leader is also a shaman of great fearsome power, Pharblex is his name, you learn. Recently Azbara Jos (thay wizard) arrived and is meeting with Rezmir since he arrived. Borngray runs day to day operations, Rezmir is the real boss. The black dragon they worship has not been seen by the lizard folk for many months, they are saddened.
outside there are two camps: lizard folk have ‘longhouses’ (the nicer buildings in picture) but you don’t see too many lizard folk in and around them. there is pen with a few giant lizards in them, ugly mean looking beasts (large size). the lizard folk tend them.
on the other side of the land is the bullywug homes. shitty clay domes, dirty, mucky. there are many, and you estimate 40ish bullywugs and 6-10 giant frogs that seem to be their pets.
throughout the various open stone windows of the castle you see bustling activity and movement.
there is an old metal rusted gate which enters the Barbican, you can see Bullywug guards there
no one has seemed to notice or care about your arrival. Snapjaw and the other lizard folk look at you expectantly, the hope of an entire people rests upon you.
(ask away, snapjaw is your bitch and eager to help you all destroy the bullywugs)
“Under castle is bullywug territory we no go there.
Cultists take loot down there when Rezmir demands.
Sometimes no come back for long time or not at all.
We will attack bullywugs under castle then?
What about the many outside here?”
Snapjaw looked through his snake-like eyes, unblinking, at the heroes. His grip on his weapon loosened and tightened reflexively; a sprinter ready to explode from the blocks. Hopeful to spur the heroes into action, he continued:
“more bullywugs live in castle proper in barracks, they spend much time cursing at us and ordering us around, they need to die! Pharblex (shaman leader) go down to caverns often with his honor guard. he pray there. they raise disgusting giant frogs down there. sometimes we see crocodiles swimming in and out of moat; beware! also more lizardfolk living/working in castle. cultists also in castle maybe 20, leader types they call dragonclaws or dragonwings, scary ones. Leader is Borngray I no know first name. He elf. Listens to Rezmir, he hates bullywug and pharblex too I can tell. he complain a lot, like a baby. but he give us metal weapons and teach us to make them. one day we rise and destroy the bullywug. maybe that day is now! we never go up in castle except in our area. rezmir and borngray and humans occupy upper levels. rezmir very scary! everyone listen to it/her.” Continuing, Snapjaw says in slithering draconic, “Drums are on second floor of Barbican (the guard house), always bullywugs there. Need to kill them otherwise they can call out more bullywugs from the Swamp, only half the tribe is here!” “Castle so big! Pharblex always with his ten honor guard bullywugs. At night they sleep in bullywugs barracks 2nd floor. He go into caverns under castle many times too. He scary. Kill our shaman! Uses bad magicks.
Sometimes he come outside to beat up poor lizardfolk, then all bullywugs laugh. But not if Borngray is there he not let Pharblex abuse us if he catches him. Rezmir no care she always thinking of other things. Looks so scary with black mask and great sword. Borngray give us many metal weapons when time is ready we wield them to slit bullywugs bellies open!”
Snapjaw pauses, looks a little sheepish. Then he farts. It sounds wet, smells like fish and lemons. Another lizardfolk leans over subtly and slightly, but obviously smelling it, and nods his head in appreciation. Snapjaw continues.
“Small chance we no convince rest of lizardfolk of plan to revolt. They not see your skill in battle and magicks like we see. I must go through the camp and castle and try to convince them. Then we kill all the stinky bullywugs!”
Scribe pulls the hood of his travelling cloak down further; trying to keep his curiosity and amazement from drawing undue attention. With a sideways glance, he sees on the faces of the others that they are unmoved, unafraid, and undeterred in their goal.
Am I the only one who thinks we shouldn’t be here? What did I get us into?
Despite his dealings with Snapjaw, Scribe still looked fearfully on the faces of the lizardmen; his ribs still had a dull ache from the combat earlier.
Dumb move… should have tried draconic first… why all the studying if not to use it? I’ll remember next time…
Snapjaw seemed finished with the impromptu ‘tour’ and stood facing the party, his clawed hands clinging tightly to his wicked sword, as if ready to spring into action at the first sign from the heroes. Clearing his throat, Scribe continued the draconic dialogue:
“Svaklar ui wer entrance wux klae ekess dronilnr wer rasvim crodr wer rilark?” (Where is the entrance you use to bring the treasure inside the castle?)
She then turns to the rest of the group as Scribe speaks the guttural language to Snapjaw, “What is our goal here, exactly?”
Nodding in acknowledgement, Scribe turns back to Snapjaw to quickly add the question, “What kind of security…” and then stopped, mentally scolding himself for the same mistake that cost him earlier.
“Svabol cirau di shiviri geou yth tafiaf onureth wer rilark? svanoa throden re mobi? tir astahii klae arcaniss, laraeki usv othi?” (What kind of guards will we meet under the castle? How many are there? Do they use magic, weapons or teeth?)
“My desire is to free these Lizardfolk from the shackles of these Bullywugs. From there, assaulting the castle will be easier. We’ll have robbed the cultists of their foot soldiers. And for that to be successful, we must destroy those drums they use for communications. This I know.”
Looking at the pen of large lizards, the druid raises an eyebrow.
“Perhaps we can use these beasts as well?”
“I am thinking that we should not be so overt in our discourse about wanting to destroy the cultists here. Maybe the Lizardfolk are not fervent devotees of the cult, but they will still be hesitant to let us completely destroy those that have kept them in sanctuary. It is best we not talk too openly about it, until after we’ve driven off the bullywugs, no?”
Luther (Dave V.):
“Scribe, my cunning linguist, please ask our new allies what signs cultist use to greet, access or generally identify themselves as cultists.
Our goal is to follow the treasure and find out what the cultists are doing with it. Does it just finance their operations or something more diabolical?
We should be opportunistic about destroying their leaders, but, while I will do what I must when confronted, our goal is not to systematically slay all cultists.
Freeing the lizard people from oppression, and the resulting help we should get is a good thing, but let us not forget that these creatures worship a black dragon and they serve the cult, through Borngray, quite willingly.”