After a few days of rest, the party gathered on the deck of the Crimson Disgrace to consider their next move. Presently, a reed canoe approached from up river. Steering was a lizardman. Another knelt in the boat, holding juvenile. Ferris donned the Crown of Ghot and spoke in a friendly manner. The young family was fleeing from enslavement by men-fish who had emerged from a cave near the village of Ra’en.
The pirates confirmed these men-fish as gogglers, an ancient fish-headed race whom humans destroyed hundreds of years ago, or so the legends tell. The gogglers of the stories were evil and insane, man-eaters and slavers.
The lizardman father explained his village contained perhaps 50 inhabitants of perhaps a hundred original members. The goggler slave masters numbered twenty, which many more aboard a ship built with slave labor. Each night, one or two lizardfolk were dragged into the sacred cave. This lizardman managed to flee with this family and had no intention of participating in any rebelion.
He did offer advice: find a beach up river that connected to the white road by short path. He explained that the road ran along the river all the way to the village. Captain Tawny let it be known she had no intention of a frontal assault on the captured village. As pirates, they were practiced in overtaking defenseless merchants, not in battle where they stood a chance at losing. She agreed to take them to the beach.
They quickly found the beach and the path up to the old road. It was a once-fine road of limestone and plaster, now ruined by time. The jungle hugged the road close, and tree jutted up here and there. Strange bird calls beckoned. A single-file path wound through the ruined road. Azrak led the way.
Suddenly, familiar shapes on wings with pointed beaks attacked. Stirges! Soon the party was punctured and bleeding, pulling stirges from soft flesh. In a few moments, they killed. Ghevont patched up the pirate Aderian, who nearly died.
After more walking, they heard footsteps approach. Ducking into bushes, they watched a lizardman race by. Soon, two gogglers came after. The party leapt into the path to attack. Ferris cut one down, and the other attempted to flee back up the road. Tienarth fired a magic missile of an intensity he was sure should have killed the evil fishman, yet the harm seemed slight. However, his stubby legs could not carry him fast enough away from the swords and axes, and he fell gasping blood.
Not long after, the lizardman crept back up the path. He was grateful and admiring of the battle skill displayed. He quickly snatched up a knife and a shield from a fallen goggler. When learning that the party meant to confront the gogglers, he offered his assistance. He was ready to fight.
Some new knowledge of the gogglers came by way of the lizard man known as Abor. The shields he demonstrated as sticky. A blow struck by and enemy might trap the weapon making a hit. It was a trick the gogglers used to disarm opponents.
Abor saw many of his fellow villagers dragged into the sacred caves never to return. Only their screams escaped. The gogglers plan some assault up river, though Abor knew only of more small, peaceful villages. He also saw chests of treasure carried into the cave at times.
The village was three miles farther along the road. The party pulled the two goggler bodies into the brush and considered their next move.