Chapter 1 Part 2
Regrouping after the fight with the goremule, the party set to making the best of a bad situation. Carrag takes a grisly trophy of their victory – hacking off the enormous head of the beast. Kadar, having realised the creature swallows its meals whole, searches for better equipment by slitting open its belly. Among the foul detritus he finds a book bound with an ornate metal plate, stamped with a symbol Zanne recognises – a glyph of Hope, a holy symbol of his mysterious patron Vecna. Zanne prises the plate off the rotted leather and hangs it from a leather thong around his neck.
Washing in the cleaner water of the pools leading through to the river, the group readies itself to complete the task they have been set. They finds more tunnels here than expected and though the presence of the Urd is felt, there are no further engagements. The Urd fade before them and, eventually, the party finds an entrance to a huge chamber under the East Tower of the prison: Mother Toad’s cell.
Mother Toad herself strides ponderously into view, a mountain of scaled flesh, and takes to stirring her great black pot of stew. The little urd flit down to bicker and play at her feet, taking tidbits from Mother’s ladle. As the party makes their presence known, she invites them to take a bowl of her fish stew, and discusses their situation. Impressed with their aplomb, she makes them an offer: if they pledge service to her, she has a way to get them out of the gaol. But first, she feels they must prove themselves willing to act on her behalf… they must help her show the High Bailiff his true place in the prison – beginning by dealing with two of his lieutenants: Bailiff Knocke and Bailiff Towhurst
The party agree to Mother’s terms with some small reserve, but they leave their improvised gear with her after she offers to have her people pass it back to them on the surface. They return to the sluice gate under the exercise yard and call the guards. Bailiff Knocke is summoned and sends down a rope and basket to collect the urd heads they are supposed to have gathered – he is more than a little shocked when it is hauled back weighed down with the enormous skull of the goremule. The group is brought back up by the stunned guards (Carrag warning them that he will want his trophy returned), and they are taken before the High Bailiff again.
Mercyworth once again paces before them in his office, lecturing, but this time their unexpected survival and unlikely victory over the beast below Scarwater has upset his composure. He subjects them to a speech equal parts parts fascist polemic and cajoling appeal, and tries to buy them to his side with vague suggestions of speaking on their behalf at a parole tribunal (which they don’t believe for a second). As one the party agrees to his requests to help topple Mother Toad’s power base in the prison, their hatred for the odious bureacrat palpable in every polite acquiescence they give. Mercyworth is too greedy to doubt them, and he gloats at his new acquisitions, magnanimously excusing them from further punishment duty and releasing them back into general population.
Out in the prison yard, the warders hoist the head of the goremule up to hang over the murmuring crowd of curious prisoners: a supposed symbol of Mercyworth’s dominance. As they circulate through the crowd, the party overhears a prisoner midway into what is clearly a favourite anecdote – something about a bridge – and Carrag suddenly comes unhinged. His violent response becomes a brawl after Kadar attempts to help, and shortly afterwards spreads through the gathering in the yard to turn into a full blown riot.
With the warders intent on containing the riot, Zanne spots a golden opportunity to move on Mother Toad’s agenda and, recruiting Kiyo on the way, retrieves the party’s equipment from Mother’s henchman in the East Tower. At their prompting Carrag and Kadar extricate themselves from the fray, and the group heads to the other end of the prison.
Out on the Western wing of Scarwater, on the guard tower over the river, they find Knocke and Towhurst in quiet parley with some of Mercyworth’s other loyal warders. Rather than sneak around, the party approaches boldly – Kiyo presenting them as ready to work on Mercyworth’s orders. Before the warders even have time to respond, the party attacks from behind the bluff and, with the element of surprise, sweep aside the opposition with little effort. Despite using a enchanted collar with healing properties, Knocke is cut down – and his Collar of Recovery passed to Carrag. After having been bailed up in the watchtower and made to watch his fellows crushed so easily, Towhurst is readily convinced to reconsider his loyalties.
After dealing a major blow to Mercyworth’s base of support in Scarwater, and with prisoners in tow, the party pauses to review its options.