There's nothing going on in the main part of town. People have nothing to say to me and no jobs that need doing. In fact, I can't see any justification for the town existing at all. They don't seem to farm or produce any worthwhile goods. They could have built their homes about a bowshot to the south and had the same exact town, only drier. Apparently Frogmorten was founded when some Hobbits built homes in the mud so they could feed themselves and their descendants to the local mosquito population. I mean, these people have nothing going for themselves except for...
Ah. A tavern. That explains it. If you could manage to build a tavern in an erupting volcano, a town would spring up around it. This charming establishment is named The Floating Log, and is currently being renovated. Worker Hobbits are up on the roof, pounding away. I don't know what's wrong with the place, but I suspect it might have something to do with erecting a building in the mud, from mud.
Although, this is a fantasy setting. Maybe magic is involved?
Odds are the proprietor will have some sort of ale-brewing problem. Let's stop in and see.
Ponto the barkeep greets me. "Welcome to the Floating Log!" he shouts above the din of people installing a fresh layer of mud on the roof. "I'm sure you'll be wanting a a draught of my Toad's Tongue brew, won't you?"
"Is this some kind of dare? I generally don't drink stuff named after things from inside of a toad's mouth."
A flash of recognition crosses his face, "Say, you're the one who's been helping people out around here, haven't you?"
I nod slightly. Now, this is only technically true. I did indeed "help" Adelard last night, but I did so at the expense of everyone in town and the better part of the wildlife population. But still, if you can ignore all that collateral damage, someone was indeed helped. (Me. When he paid me.)
"You see, the four farthings brewing-moot is coming-," I miss the rest of his sentence because I can't hear him over the construction noise and the rhythmic thumping of me hitting my head against the bar. When I recover, he's asking me to get him some hops.
"Okay...," I say slowly, "So you want me to find a supplier and bring back some or...?"
"We use a special blend of hops. 'Frog Hops' we call it. It grows in the Marsh to the north."
"So basically you want me to invent agriculture for you?"
"What? No, I just want you to go and find some..."
"Yeah, see. That's your problem right there. If you're 'finding' crops, you're doing it wrong. A few thousand years ago somebody came up with the idea of planting stuff on purpose so you don't have to go wandering around in the wilds looking for what you need. I'm actually a farmer myself. Give me ten or twenty minutes and I'll grow you some."
Ponto gives me a dumbfounded look.
"The whole 'agriculture' idea seems to be working out pretty well so far," I assure him. "And it's guaranteed to be more effective than telling your customers about the horrible things you put in their drinks before asking them to fetch you more."
I think I've made a pretty good case, and I'm thinking maybe Ponto is going to check out this whole farming concept. But then he gets out his coin-purse and I realize I'm screwed.
"The hops you're looking for grow in the Marsh just north of here," he says as he counts coins into his hand, "but you'll want to be careful. The toads get mean when you pick up the hops."
"You forage for hops in a swamp?!?"
"No," Ponto says, pouring the coppers onto the bar. "You do."
I can't argue with coppers, so off I go to reap the soggy harvest.