Again the same as before for some, you hear a voice in your mind (inside your head) a frightened, weak, sickly female voice - “Please. Help.. me.” It is the same voice that you heard when you first entered the hut, but it sounds weaker.
Dathyra's ears flicked from side to side, trying to orient the source of the sound. That wasn't easy, the voice being so faint, even for her hearing. Think, what's out of the ordinary? she thought to herself. Technically, everything was wrong with this place, but the two standout items in the hut were the painting and the footlocker. One of them perhaps?
Looking around the small abode. "There does not seem much room in here to hide or be hidden. It could be the one calling for aid is in the tunnel below." With my trident I point back into the pit I just climbed out of.
Dathyra looks around the hut and inside the footlocker: Amongst the various shelves can be found a druid’s spell component bag, three potions of healing, and a dozen bottles of fine wine worth 20 gp each. An unlocked footlocker under Elpam’s bed contains 200 sp, 150 gp, a gold necklace with a moonstone pendant worth 250 gp and a few journals. One journal tells the tale of Elpam’s years spent as an adventurer. A more recent journal seems to depict some experiments with plants in a "laboratory" aiding a wizard named Accertep. The notebook contains the following final entry: “Accertep’s plan, kidnap a dryad’s tree. Genius. Weakened the dryad, forced it out, captured it. We imbued the tree with a fiendish will. We keep Shanareen – that’s what the dryad calls herself – alive for now. Unsure if her death would kill the tree. We must keep her weak, keep the tree strong, and keep her away from the tree. Accertep believes she could recapture her tree if it were weakened and she was strong. Ah, excellent, the tree is ready to bear its fruit. Success!”
Durven's eyes narrow and then grow wide momentarily as Entropy climbs up out of the floor. He catches the slight shake of her head when they make eye contact. He wonders where she'd been all this time. Well, choosing her own name for one thing, Entropy Klive, he supposes she could have done worse.
Dathyra scanned the items on the shelf and the few items in the footlocker. Nothing terribly useful, she thought as she saw very little use in the more material items, but these might...She did at least take the healing potions. After those vines had nearly killed her, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have these available. Dathyra was about to give up finding anything until she came across the journals. This proved to be much more useful, she thought. She flipped through several pages, finding only the most important information.
You see things others don't, Jodon had told her once. Trust yourself, I do. Well, this certainly was something that others could have missed.
She only briefly noticed Durven's change in demeanor, but thought nothing of it for now. "I think I might have found something," she said, still leafing through the pages. "I believe this hut belongs to an adventurer named Elpalm. Recently, they started working for someone named Accertep. For some reason, they have actually managed to capture and separate a dryad from its tree. I think this explains the bizarre foliage we've been fighting. Anyway, I think the voice we've been hearing is this dryad...somewhere in here. There's still no clues as to where they are hiding the dryad, but it's a start."
The faint voice in her head startled Entropybriefly but by then she'd recognized and warned Durven off from admitting to recognizing her. A small shake of her head was all it took for the man to know to stay quiet, thankfully. The exchange between them quick and subtle enough that she could hope none of the others had noticed it. She wasn't sure she trusted these strangers, any of them. Jarlasmade her curious, they all seemed interesting and none had sought to do her any harm but still. Her past and her business were her own, no concern of theirs. She certainly didn't need someone else airing her dirty laundry for her either and to his credit, Durven had never been the type to do so. Him she knew, him she trusted. She'd be answering a mountain of questions later she was sure but for now, it sounded as if they had bigger issues to deal with. Trailing Dathyraover to the shelves, the half orc watched the elf scour the area near the bed for clues as to the voice's source. Noting the coin and things of value shefound with interest but only drawing closer when the other woman discovered what appeared to be a small collection of journals. "A dryad would definitely be a good explanation for the strange foliage." Entropyagreed, peering at the page over Dathyra'sshoulder. "And, as Jarlas said, there's a tunnel below. The voice is faint, maybe she's down there somewhere." Trapped, alone in the dark, torn from her home. It sounded cruel but based on what the journal said that fact hadn't seemed to bother those that had done it any. That Elpalm fellow sounded like a right piece of work. "We should find her, free her if we can. I don't know what they're trying to do by stealing a dryad's tree, but based on what we've found here I doubt it's good."
Harivaldr gave a nod and a cautious smile to Jarlas and said, "It's been some time since I've had a noble audience, much less a royal one. Still, any performance must wait until-" he was interrupted by the return of the voice, "-we figure out who that is." Dathyra, clever girl that she was, quickly found a note of some interest that sparked conversation between the assembled people. To Entropy he said, "Believe me, calling it 'not good' is a bit of an understatement. Still, it doesn't look like the dryad is here; I think you both might be right about the dryad being somewhere in the tunnel."
Sen stands off to the side while everyone is speaking, he thinks. "Roots!" Sen yells out. "Maybe this thing is deep underground providing life to the things above. there's gotta be a reason for the tunnel. Maybe you two would have been the meal before I single handly rescued you two!" Sen pulls a notebook and mumbles. "Rounded up to three hours. Easier to bill.... Hazard pay, royal subjects and expenses. 374 gold for the rescue, another 419 for safe passage.... negotiable" He closes the book and packs it away. "Anyways, maybe this tree spirit is deep in the earth. How much did you see down there?"
”Those are some interesting baubles to find in a hut in the woods.” Finally spotting the figure sleeping on the bed. I move over holding my trident to their chest. “This one is quite the deep sleeper. Do you think they are the naive who locked us up?”
"No, that's just Merric," Dathyra said, hearing Jarlas' comment, and finally being pulled out of her reading. "A bit foolish for his own good sometimes. If we are going to down into the pit, we have to think of what to do with him. Leaving him here seems unwise and taking him with us could prove risky. Whoever this Elpalm is and their associate, they do not seem like the type to be trifled with. We need some sort of plan for how to get ourselves down there while making sure we have a way back up and what to do with Merric."
Turning a somewhat skeptical look on the half elf man, Senik that was his name, Entropytilted her head. "Anything is possible." She conceded. "Though I've not really heard of dryads eating people before." Nor of him,whether in general or rescuing anyone, single-handedly or no. That was likely a point to bring up another time however, when they were all freer to talk. The reason their halfling friend was passed out on the hut's small cot was another story they would have to get to another time apparently. "If we can't wake him, perhaps it would be best for one of us to take him back to town. Safer for him at least."
Durven clears his throat to get the attention of the others. "I could take Merric back to Northwoods Rest and make sure he's looked after, or we can leave where he's at if you're intending to go down into that hole."
"I suppose that would be best," Dathyra said. "It would keep him out of harm's way, and you would be able to at least let the people there know where we are, just in case." True, it would have meant being short one potential person to help fight should things get dicey, but it was better than trying to figure out the logistics of lugging around an unconscious halfling.
Sen pulls out 5 gold coins from his pocket and tucks them into Merric's pocket. "Payment for a job well done." Sen will also leave a signed headshot with Merric. He'd appreciate it. Sen readies his crossbow and makes his way down the pit.
Durvenhoists Merricover his shoulder. His little halfling arms swing from side to side. He gathers up the shiny apple that Merric took a bite from and put it in a bag, just in case. He makes sure the headshot of Senis placed in the back pack and he adds a small pouch of coins to the belongings.
He nods to Entropyas the rest of the party goes down into the pit. As he walks past and moves to the side so they can talk unobtrusively. "So..I'll tell Darla you are well, yeah?"He pulls a bracelet off his wrist. "This is hers." he puts it in her hand and heads through the doorway. "See you around maybe."
Durven took possession of the unconscious halfling without complaint at the party's agreement, tucking away the gifts given him by the others before hoisting the limp body over his shoulder. Entropy did raise an eyebrow at the signed sketch of Senik but thought it was maybe some sort of joke she hadn't been around long enough to catch onto yet. The others moved to the edge of the pit, their distance and distraction leaving Entropy confident enough to respond directly when Durven spoke to her, voice low as she did. "Please do. And send her my well wishes as well."Looking down, she accepted the bracelet with a small, soft smile. "I won't leave town again without stopping by,"She promised. "So I should see you again within the next few days." She glanced toward the mouth of the pit. Barring any unfortunate accidents of course. Looking back to Durven, smile gone and gaze even, the half orc pressed on. "Just...tell her to keep Nozamara out of it alright?" She was here to get to the bottom of this mess, try and stop things from spiraling too far out of control between the village and the tribe, and see Darla. After that, she was going to leave. Hopefully for good this time. A confrontation with the tribe was the last thing she needed. Pretending to adjust her sleeve, Entropy slipped the bracelet on under it and out of sight and turned back to the others. Joining Jarlas at the rim of the pit once more and looking down at their former prison before eyeing him and their new companions in turn. This was going to be interesting at the very least. "Nowhere to go but rock bottom I suppose." Lowering herself over the edge, the half orc started down the same way she'd just come up a few minutes before.