You're standing on the southern shore of Tar Lake, a perilous, bubbling morass of tar in the midst of the vast region of forest known as the Griffon Crags. Dozens of stone islands thrust their jagged peaks through the thick, black, undulating surface of the deadly tar bog. At its widest point, Tar Lake is nearly a mile across. A small, stony track runs along the edge of the bog, between its southern and western shores.
The man, who introduces himself as Arlarn, shows you several nasty gashes along his right side and tells you that he foolishly ventured into the cave in search of a book he knew to be hidden in its depths.