The Adventures of Rothus, page 26 [D-817]
Forest, outside the camp of the Oracle:
We wake up to the sound of frogs. Lily and Aeryn are extremely tired from their rough sleep and aren't thinking clearly. I guess where they laid their bedrolls wasn't as comfortable as where I laid mine. We have a light breakfast and pack up our simple camp. We don't have much here, so it doesn't take very long at all. Maud doesn't look like he knows where to go, as he is just minding to his own business.
Travis says that we should follow the frogs to the pond so that we can shut them up. The sound must be close, as we can hear it fairly clearly, and so we follow it without difficulty. But, we don't find a pond like the one of our childhood. Here the water is thick with mud and plants. This is a swamp if I ever saw one.
Travis wants to go into it, thinking that maybe the stone is somewhere around here. He wades into the dense liquid and plows through it. Yuck. He says he thinks he found something, so I follow into the marsh. Evan says he's comfortable just watching our backpacks on the shore. I can't blame him. But, I am excited that this mud will make it easier for me to blend into the surroundings if we get attacked again.
When I reach Travis, he waves a human leg bone right in my face! What in the name of Erastil is that doing here?! It's a bad omen, definitely! I suggest we let Aeryn take a look at it, since she knows the most about human bodies. Travis hands it over and we trudge back through the gooey sea. Aeryn looks at the bone, then at us and shrugs. It's human, but that's about all she can tell.
We aren't really sure where to look next. Ma'ud got us this far, but where do we go from here? I begin searching around the pond. There are lots of stones, but none have the rune on them. We regroup and begin to search together. More eyes don't help the situation at all. Evan and Tyler call out to the rest of us from behind, and so I turn around. They aren't anywhere to be seen! They are better at stealth than me! We walk over to where their voice is coming from and discover a large pit, with Evan and Tyler staring up at us. There is a third person, long dead. Only his or her skeleton remains. Interestingly enough, they are missing precisely the same bone we found in the swamp. Yep, this is a bad omen indeed. I glance around and see that we are alone and my eyes say that we are.
Tyler begins to tell us a story, "This reminds me of the Crusades of Sir Casey, when he got stuck in a pit. It was many years ago, long before...."
"Rothus, catch my pack!" inturrupts Evan, as he removes his pack from his shoulders and immediately throws it up to me. I reach out for it, and my fingers wrap around some fabric, binding the pack and I together. Unfortunately, instead of me keeping the pack out of the pit, the pack pulls me down into the company of Tyler and Evan. Curse you, Gravity!
Down here, the mud is really thick. Every time we move it pulls us deeper. I can't move very much in this. Evan and Tyler are struggling even more.
Travis tosses one end of a rope down to us, "I've tied the other end to a tree! Climb up!" Evan quickly climbs out of the pit, then reaches back down for his pack. I hand it up to him, then scramble up behind him. Tyler has more difficulty getting free of the mud. Evan tosses the rope closer to him so he can reach it. The rest of us tug on the rope at the top to try and bring him up out of his muddy cage.
Sometimes in Tarenvale, when the dirt streets soak up a long rain storm, it becomes impossible to get anywhere without collecting one's own weight in mud. To stop that from happening, the shop owners lay out long wooden boards that sit on top of the mud. If we had some boards like that, Tyler might be able to stay out of the mud once he escapes. We don't have any boards, but we are in a forest. I hunt down largish branches and toss them into the pit around Tyler. They pile up and form a rough floor.
This reminds me of when we were back in Tarenvale and had to rescue Tyler from his room in the Inn. Except, now, instead of getting him down from the second story, we are lifting him up from the pit!
Tyler groans as he finally pulls his legs out of the mud onto the sticks. We pull him up so he can grab the edge, then Evan and Travis pull him up by his arms. Now that Tyler is settled on the top of the pit, he turns to us and says, "My boots are still down there."
We all glance over the edge, and clearly see the tops of two boots, right next to each other. Aeryn immediately ties the rope around herself and orders us to lower her down. We all grab the rope and help her descend. She grabs the boots, but can't get them to budge. After a lot of cursing and a couple oaths, the boots fly up out of the pit, arching toward us, hitting Tyler right on the head! Now he's got a spot of mud, after going through the trouble of getting it all off, too.
We pull Aeryn back up, which is much easier than pulling anyone else, since she never got stuck in the mud and weighs less than any of us. She uses Desna's infinite water supply to wash off the boots and Tyler. She had to summon an awful lot of water. I wonder if she were to summon too much water, how would that change the forest? I wonder if there are other clerics running around trying to destroy all the water that has been summoned, just to keep everything balanced.
We start brainstorming again, from the beginning. Tyler says there are ruins to the northwest of our location. Maybe the stone is there. Why not? Cool ruins, cool stone? There could be a connection. None of us know where northwest actually is, so we do what all good committees do: we argue. Tyler and Aeryn feel really confident of their own directions, but they disagree with each other. Aeryn says we are all stupid and explains why she is correct. She makes some point about the sun always rising in the east, or whatever. I don't know any different, I'll just follow her lead.