As we continued toward what Snapjaw called “Castle Nærytar,” he assured us that he would do all the talking when we came to the guards. Sure enough, we soon caught sight of a six-lizardman unit who greeted Snapjaw by name. He vouched for our prowess, and urged his lizardfellows that now was the time to overthrow the bullywugs. Brick made menacing gestures to impress the lizardfolk with his martial puissance, but this only confused them. Fortunately, Gunx was able to smooth things over with soothing draconic words, and they agreed to lend us boats, and rouse the rest of the tribe to revolution posthaste.
After a brief paddle, we arrived at a sandy landing at the foot of a dilapidated old keep surrounded by rustic outbuildings. Together, we walked past an animal stockade and lizardfolk longhouses to the south, avoiding the bullywugs splashing around the squalid domed huts to the north, and made our way to the barbican entrance. There, we were confronted by bullywug guards and their dire battletoads, but Snapjaw flashed some token and we were allowed to pass.
We casually carried on into the keep, through a gauntlet of bullywug and lizardfolk minions, into a room of tethered guard drakes. Brick mistook the beasts as friendly, and they pounced upon him when he got within their reach. We were forced to put them down, and I’m sorry to say that they suffered horribly at our hands. Thanks to Beshaba, their howls of pain fell silent before they aroused interest from the keep’s other nefarious residents.
Tolarin, Brick, and I continued into the main keep, through a hall with a set of ascending stairs, into a private chamber, where we found the familiar form of the Thayan wizard, Azbara Jos, now clad openly in scarlet robes, his bald and tattooed pate uncovered. Jos took one confounded look at us, and instantly vanished, though I know not if it were through some sort of teleportation, or a mere trick of invisibility. I tried to coax him to reappear, but the coward did not respond to my entreaties.
I wondered where the other cunts had gotten to. Tegan had joined us, and was thumbing through an old book in Azbara’s room, and Brick was fiddling with some disgusting green thing he found in a box, but Tolarin had seemingly wandered off. Just then Gunx arrived, to tell us that Jorad and Tolarin went into a room to the west. In the future, we really must try to keep our warlock in sight at all times.
I found Tolarin and Jorad in a mess hall, mingling with a dozen low-level cultists who were watched by a table of four cultist supervisors. All eyes went to me as I entered, but I stared down every little man in the room until they were all cowed into silence. Then Gunx entered, and the sound of their curious chatter and sheepish murmuring began to fill the room again.
When these dozen underlings finished their meals and left, we tried to bluff our way past the remaining four supervisors, but they weren’t having it. Impulsively, Tolarin tried to brazenly dash across their table into the kitchen, but he only succeeded in igniting a melee. One cultist charged through a barrage of my Magic Missiles and Brick’s javelins to nearly cut me in half with his sword. I was spared only by the magical fortitude of the Breastplate of Tergon and the invincible will of Blessed Beshaba. Tegan and Snapjaw barricaded the door against returning reinforcements, while the others battled the fearsome cultist bosses.
I knew if I took another hit, I’d be finished, so I Misty Stepped into the relative safety of the kitchen, into the midst of a pair of common scullery drudges, a dwarven cook, and three bullywug fighters. Instantly, I turned invisible, and waited to take them by surprise. Out in the mess hall, I could hear Tegan cheering Gunx as he killed one foe and knocked another on his ass. Bullywugs and lizardfolk forces had broken in and joined the fight, but the lizardfolk fought for our side as true allies, thanks be to Beshaba.
I reappeared, and roasted the three bullywugs with a blast of Burning Hands. Let it be noted: I’ve never smelled anything so delicious in my life. In the other room, Brick chopped one cultist in half with the Talon of Tresendar, and Tegan magically Charmed another, while our lizardfolk allies finished off the last. We let the cook, Tharm Tharmzid, and his two kitchen helpers go free, and questioned the remaining charmed cultist.
The cultist, a man called Gramb-Liv, named Captain Borngrey and the Thayan wizard as the men in command of the castle, and the numerous bullywug and powerful lizardfolk forces. He added that Borngrey is aloof, and never among them at the castle. Asked about the loot, he said all treasure is taken downstairs. Knowing that Tegan’s charm spell would end within an hour, we sent Gramb-Liv away to quell the chaos outside, and our fellowship took a short rest during the ensuing calm. I’m pleased to report, the roasted bullywug tasted as good as it smelled.