Wild Abandon

Red Fish, Blue Fish

Chapter 4

The party reach the kuo-toan settlement of Slooblidoop, only to find themselves stepping into the middle of a desperate struggle between competing religious factions.

Having just watched Pleedleplop get dragged away by the monitors, Mye-kuhl Jancer and Roland Leopold follow a hooded kuo-toa to his hovel. The kuo-toa introduces himself as Burblesplunk, leader of those among his kind who remain loyal to the Sea Mother, Blibdoolpoolp.

According to Burblesplunk, a few years ago, a young priestess began having visions of what she claims is a "new god"—the Deep Father, Leemogogoon. This new "cult" quickly caught on due to the spectacular displays that always followed sacrifices and prayers to the Deep Father. By contrast, the subtle gifts of the Sea Mother seemed insignificant to the masses. Jancer asks if Burblesplunk has ever considered that perhaps this "Deep Father" is simply a "better god" than his own, hence why his followers are winning this conflict. The kuo-toa frowns, pointing out that it is that same attitude that has caused so many of his people to flock to "flashy rituals" and abandon centuries of tradition.

In all likelihood, Pleedleplop will be offered up to the Deep Father in such a ritual when the tide rises in three hours time. Roland says that they must rescue him, as he's taken a liking for his fellow monk since their escape. Burblesplunk points out that their friend is being held within the heavily-guarded Hall of the Monitors. When the time comes, he and the other offerings will be transported down Slooblidoop's central aqueduct, straight to the sacrificial stadium.

Meanwhile, on the boat, Brublind lights a torch to try and get a better look at the red eyes he saw staring out of the water a moment ago. He doesn't see anything, but does attract the interest of a kuo-toa whip and his retinue. The fishmen come aboard, shielding their eyes from the bright light and speaking in their gurgling tongue. Though he does not speak their language, Brublind understands what they are trying to communicate, and uses 'Prestidigitation' to dim the torch. In response, the whip whips out some fish bones from a pouch and tosses them onto the deck. The kuo-toa falls to its belly and begins "reading" the bones, while its two guards pace in circles around the area. Krog, who is eating a fish nearby, flicks a few more bones down, chuckling to himself as they are added to the augury. Suddenly, the guards stop and the whip leaps back to its feet, pointing at Brublind with a hiss.

The guards move in to seize the dwarf, but he uses 'Enlarge' on himself, growing to the same height as Krog, who also rises. The kuo-toa shrink at these towering foes, and scurry away after Brublind strikes the deck beside them with his quarterstaff. "Fishpeople scare easily, but they'll be back, and in greater numbers."

Jancer and Roland return a moment later and fill the rest of the party in about the situation. Discussing how to proceed, they come up with three rough plans:

  1. Sneak into the Hall of the Monitors. Brublind points out his skill as a transmuter, and Nylah notes that they already pulled something like this off with 'Disguise Self' spells. They figure it would be pretty simple to talk their way inside and rescue Pleedleplop from within.
  2. Jump Pleedleplop's escort en route. They could intercept the guards as they come down the aqueduct and then ride one of the streams to safety. While potentially awesome, this would be very public, and Roland fears that such an assault would bring the full force of the kuo-toa down upon them.
  3. Interrupt the ritual itself. Burblesplunk suggested offering them up as "gifts of reconciliation" to Garglegloop and her Leemogogoonites, while Jancer notes that they could probably use their boat to swoop in beside the sacrificial stadium, grab Pleedleplop, and escape before the kuo-toa can stop them.

The party decide to go with option 3. Roland, Krog, and Nylah volunteer to act as Burblesplunk's "gifts", but first, Jancer and Nylah head to a store near Slooblidoop's common pool in order to buy any supplies that they might need.

While Jancer buys a barnacle-encrusted potion of healing from the kuo-toa shopkeep, Nylah bargains with him for a pirate hat, embroidered with a skull backed by spider legs. She doesn't want to spend money on it, and with a few burgle-gurgles of her own, the shopkeep comes over and places the hat on Nylah's head himself (after some difficulty figuring out how to do so due to her antlers). With that, the shopkeep puts a sign on the front door, grabs Nylah's hand, and ushers her to follow him. She does.

The shopkeep leads her to a small pool at the foot of a step pyramid that houses the city's whips. A dozen kuo-toa bask in the water, which is filled with a milky suspension. Several fish with tiny bodies hanging from their bellies swim around these coupled pairs. The shopkeep motions for Nylah to follow him into the pool, which Nylah quickly realizes is a spawning ground. She explains that, while she is flattered, she just doesn't have the right equipment for this. The shopkeep doesn't understand, so she shakes her fist at him, gurgling angrily in his direction. This hostility draws the attention of a nearby monitor, who approaches the tiefling, brandishing its pincer staff at her. Nylah smiles at him and tap dances into an alleyway, where she turns invisible, throwing off the pursuing kuo-toa.

Reuniting with the others, Nylah, Roland, and Krog follow Burblesplunk into the Hall of the Monitors using a magical water elevator at the heart of one of the rock columns holding up the shipwreck that houses the stronghold. They are met at the top by Garglegloop, the high priestess of Leemogogoon, who happily accepts these overworlder offerings, and has her followers take them to the holding cell.

Inside the cell, they find Pleedleplop, lying on his side, tracing circles with his finger, and mumbling to himself. While Krog leans against the rock wall, keeping an eye on the kuo-toa guards, Roland approaches the monk. He tells Pleedleplop that they are here to save him, just like last time, but the monk doesn't believe that they can, not "without the Sea Mother to guide us." Roland tells him that whatever might have happened to Her shrine, his goddess is still there. He points emphatically at a tiny stream of water running down the chamber wall as proof.

"Look! There She is! Your goddess never left you—and She will protect us!" 

Pleedleplop stares at the water and slowly begins to nod, allowing Roland to help him back to his feet.

Before long, the four are led to a sluice and taken one-by-one down to the stadium at the foot of the city. They slide out of a fountain shaped like a catfish head amid the roar of the assembled crowd. A small ziggurat rises from the mudflats in front of them. Garglegloop stands beside a bloodstained altar atop the structure, while Burblesplunk stands at the bottom. He turns to the sacrifices with a grand sweeping motion:

"May these serve as a gift to the Deep Father, that our divided people may be made one once again!"

Garglegloop smiles and rhythmically slams the butt of her trident against the stones as the four of them are brought forward and the crowd begins to chant,

"Leemogogoon… Leemogogoon… Leemogogoon…!"

Pleedleplop is laid out on the altar as Garglegloop makes a prayer to her god, raising the trident over her head. The crowd falls silent as her prayer ends… only the sound of lapping waves remaining. Pleedleplop turns to Roland and whispers, "You were right," as the priestess brings her trident down. Suddenly, up in the stands, all hell breaks loose.

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