It is the evening of our second day on the river.
We had no problems today, except staying cool. There was no breeze on the river and the stagnant heat cooked us in the shade. Reece and BOB felt the best solution was to climb the crates at the edge of the barge, and take a flying header into the river. Their antics encouraged other sweltering souls like Spiritz and Pulp to dive into the deep, cold, silty water and splash around like idiots. I stayed dry, and prepared a selection of disinfectant solutions for their use upon exit. Wilhelm continued to carve his small army of figurines.
One shouldn’t misunderstand; I have no fear of water. Instead, I promote a healthy distrust of water such as the treacherous murk below us. Besides parasites, dirt, and probably sewage, I safely assume that a river like this is rife with such pleasant creatures as Alligators, Crocodiles, Anacondæ, Pythons, Nagæ, Eels, Hippopotami, Naiads, Piranha, probably some kind of aquatic Zombie, Hydra, Sirens, Merfolk, knife-happy Grippli… Not to mention, homicidal Lizardfolk.
Neither did Calum have any interest in swimming. His people traditionally despise bodies of water and travel by boat. He was content to hunker in the deepest shade, and sweat in his armor. If the Dwarf people partake in a sport or hobby, I have no doubt it is that of quietly enduring discomfort.
Dusty is not with us. I was worried at first that he had permanently quit our group. But Wilhelm said he’d spoken to Dusty early this morning. He said that Dusty had decided to strike out on foot, overland, do some hunting and meet us at the next stop-over.
Such was our afternoon. No one was eaten by anything while swimming. The day meandered along. We covered a good distance today; the barge captain seems pleased with our progress.
As yesterday, we made landfall before sunset. This waypoint is larger than the last. There are several houses, a makeshift tavern, and a ramshackle market. A sign so proud it is almost sad, reads “Downmarsh Station”. The river widens here. The banks are thick with forest, trapping the heat of day as the sunk sank westward.
When the barge was secured to shore, we disembarked and investigated the village in its humid clearing. The residents took up posts in the marketplace, laying out fresh goods or uncovering those that would not spoil in the heat. As before, it was the peasants’ chance to rook us for some coin, and they did. Xel’Xaran, perhaps something of a novelty to a muddy gaggle of children, drew a following that chanted, at his every turn, “I like cinnamon pie.”
The tavern was not impressive at all. An old man anchoring the end of the bar had a deep sack of long, pointless stories, ready to share. The ale was warm, the glasses unwashed. Mine had a frog in it. That may have been a regional delicacy included for those visitors of more refined appearance and speech, so I did not order a new drink lest I receive the same garnish. There was roasted meat available from a vendor who clearly saw us coming; the sizzling hunks smelled like beef and were too large to be chunks of rat. I bought a portion; juicy and hot and wrapped in broad leaf. It was amazing.
The bartender, who was also the fishmonger, and was also the Mayor of Downmarsh Station (how impressive Callia now seems!), could tell us nothing useful about lizardfolk. Same as we learned yesterday; they lived within a mile, were seldom seen close to this village, never caused a problem for farmers or for rivermen. On hearing tell of our encounter the night before -early this morning, really- he made pointed mention that for a modest (gouging!) price, there were rooms to let in his house. I stress that he did not describe them as “safe” rooms.
The barge captain had been there with us; certainly he wanted us to remain on the barge tonight, even if we were attracting the lizardfolk assassins, but he did not say it. We saved him face, and stated that we would sleep the night on board our cargo scow. He seemed relieved. Darkness was almost complete by this time, and his crew had just finished offloading this village’s delivery.
Our group now is back on board, except for Xel’Xaran, who strikes out into the dark in an attempt to find Dusty and team up for his safety overnight. We expect lizardfolk to return tonight, and make ourselves ready. I write this early to record the details of our day. I will write more tonight, later on during my watch.
Journal of Dr. Marcus Grant
Healing Cleric of Pelor, Order of St-Jude Academy (Silabrek)
12th Day, at Downmarsh Station, territory of Ælim.