Lyel bids the group farewell and set off for town, vanishing through the brush. The group turns their attention to the circle as the stones wait in respectful silence. Balgur attempts to use his knowledge of the natural world and prays to Balinor for some direction, but the quiet overwhelms his senses and he hears no response.
The others talk amongst themselves. Amanita notes that the stones are in an oval, with a single stone immersed in the water centered between them. From what he’s heard, this particular stone is the focal point for channeling druidic influence and has been used as such for years. Vio glances over thoughtfully, steps to the stone, and closes his eyes. Immediately he feels a sense of peace and tranquility. His torso rotates slightly northwards and he feels drawn upstream.
“I think we may find some answers upstream.”
Balgur stalks ahead, scouting the area before them.
brgraawwwk brop brop
As he turns a bend he is greeted by a three-foot tall frog-like humanoid. It holds a crude spear out at him confusedly.
Meanwhile, Amanita has noticed some kind of arcane presence from further up the river. He can see Balgur in the distance, but is unable to make out what has halted him. He, Ellia, and Vio all move forward.
Ellia recognizes the creature. “It’s a Bullywug!” she says. “But wait, they usually live in larger groups. Why would there be just one ou…” Her voice trails off. “Uh-oh.”
BLOORP glop GRAWP blorb brop!
A dozen Bullywugs burst from the treeline, surrounding the Orc and his wolf in the river! Lo’gar takes a spear to the side as Balgur tries to back into a more favorable posiition.
A large Bullywug, garbed in robe and hoisting a glowing wooden staff shoots a green bolt at Balgur. It connects, sending him reeling. It croaks victoriously. GLOORPK!
Balgur attempts to return fire but misses. Regaining composure, he concentrates on the spellcaster. Nearby tree roots shoot across the ground, entangling themselves at the feet of the Bullywugs in the river, rendering their aquatic advantage useless.
Meanwhile, Vio has established himself amongst five of the creatures, wading directly into the middle of the fray. He raises up his flail; it begins to glow with a holy light and illuminates the inside of a Bullywug skull. Nearby, Ellia smashes a Bullywug, causing it to crumple, then turns and slams another with her shield.
Amanita pulls a small leather satchel from his belt, tossing at a collection of four frogs in the middle of the battle. It explodes on contact, sending a shower of firefly sparks into the air. Distracted, tongues shoot up at the flickering lights. They connect with nothing. Four sets of pupils dilate to ultraviolet; moments later, four bodies fall to the ground.
A Bullywug charges wildly at the Pixie, slicing and jabbing at the air. He clips a wing and knocks Amanita to the ground. A long sticky tongue lolls out of its mouth. It shoots forward, capturing Amanita in an unpleasant wafting stench of saliva and insect parts.
The staff-wielding frog shifts back slightly and then launches a ball of fire and lightning. It hisses and sizzles as it connects with the river, as well as all four adventurers. GLOORPK! GLOORPK! it shrieks in glee. Lo’gar takes the hit full force and falls into the shallows with a splash. Balgur screams, firing and lodging an arrow into “Gloorpk’s” left arm.
Amanita – being larger than the standard meals this frog is used to – manages to contort his body and break free of its hold. He flies backwards, hovering over Balgur for safety. He grabs a pinch of powdered mushroom from his belt and blows it through his hand. His captor from earlier envisions glowing sparks around him, and they look tasty. He tries to grab at Amanita again, but connects with a spark instead and croaks.
Vio pauses to heal himself, and then dispatches the last of the smaller frogs. Ellia heals Amanita and charges the leader, delivering a solid hit. Amanita notices a small runic circle and ventures into it. Balgur follows with another attack, sending a shower of blood into the river. Gloorpk retorts with a wave of lighting sparks from his staff. His movement hindered, he slowly backs further up the river.
Flail in hand, Vio charges. Amanita fires an invisible bolt of force which connects at the same time, briefly disorienting the Bullywug Chieftain. Ellia attempts to finish him off. She swings mightily, but overshoots. Using her momentum, she redirects the movement in a backhand motion and manages to catch the frog in the chest.
Gloorpk is resilient, however, and scrambles to his feet. He casts a final blast as a distraction. He then turns around, scampering up the stream through a waterfall.
Balgur roars, and charges behind, leaping up into the falls. A dark cave restricts his vision, but does not deter his bloodlust. He reaches into his quiver, grabs an arrow and stabs into the darkness. It hits flesh. He pulls the arrow back towards him. A single dead frog is attached. The arrow is ripped out, licked clean of its gore, and placed back in the quiver. The body is unceremoniously thrown back through the rushing water, floating a few feet before washing up on the bank. Behind the falls an Orcish silhouette can be seen, shoulders rising and falling heavily.
Balgur leaps down and sprints to the side of his wolf companion, putting his hand on its side. Still breathing, but weak. Eyes closed, he whispers a prayer to Balinor. Lo’gar stirs. Balgur pulls a mole-a-pede leg out of his pack, placing it under the wolf’s nose. Lo’gar sniffs, grabs it, and stands up gingerly. Blood and water are sprayed everywhere in a fine mist as he shakes out his fur. He raises up his snout, opening his mouth: Haaa-wooooooooo!
Amanita, oblivious to the others, stares intently at the runic circle and speaks to no one in particular: “Interesting. Perhaps the Bullywugs were drawn here. These stones aren’t humming either. Maybe it has to do with the wisps?”
Ellia and Vio examine the body of the chieftain. His staff appears normal, as do his clothes. The exception is a pair of rusted silver armbands, which Vio removes and equips. Just his size.
The sun disappears behind the trees, leaving the sky painted in hues of reds and pinks. Camp and a rest is needed, so a fire is set and bedrolls unpacked. The circles, runes, stones and caves can wait until the morning.