Alastar Bol summons you to his villa, where the rotund man greets you while young boys fan him with large banana leaves.
Ah, welcome, welcome! I ask you here for, granted, a trivial task. It has become quite too hot for me to be prancing about the city, the Sword Coast native mops his sweating brow with a handkerchief, But we are in exciting times! The races are starting soon, and well, I would like you to place a bet for me on Mountain Thunder. I hear tell that they'll be retiring her soon.
He makes a small gesture and in response, one of the boys brings you all some refreshing cool water in a bowl made from a polished coconut shell.
Would you all be a good sap and put this wager on her for me? Bring me the ticket for a keepsake and I will let you all keep the winnings that hopefully she brings in, eh? He winks, then dabs more sweat from his brow and second chin.
Another gesture and the same boy returns with a small tray with a little pouch of 5 gold coins, resting upon it.
A woman named Mowbula Utakulu acts as bookie, place the bet with her. You will have my many thanks!
Faroris steps into the room with the others who have been called as well, stepping forward to give a respectful bow to the larger man. He’s a skinny young half elf, with little in the way of muscle, and pale brown hair that is almost blonde.
He smiles to the boy who brings drinks to them all, and says, “Thank you.” He takes a sip of his, and looks back up to the larger man curiously. For a moment, he keeps watching, as if expecting there to be more, and when it becomes apparent that there isn’t, he glances around at the others, and looks back, and speaks up again, “Why do you need so many of us just to place a bet?”
"Winnings are ours you say? Bol you fat bastard I take back everything bad I ever said about you. You got yourself a deal!"
Sleight of Hand: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
He swipes the pouch off the plate deftly and it quickly disappears on his person. It reappears in his other hand and, appearing now bored with the small jangling sack, tosses it to Faroris, no lighter the coin.
An old bearded half-elf stands quietly in the corner covered from neck to toe in light robes with peculiar designs of stars and red waters. Atop his head is a wide brimmed hat that comes up from the base to a point. It has designs of red and deep blue as well with one large star on the front, just above the brim, where the red streaks seem to either end or begin. The old man's facial expression and posture seem to express a general unimpressed.
The young (by Dwarven standards) woman with the maiden braid says "So tell us about this horse? Is it super fast? Does it breathe fire or have huge claws?" As she speaks, Fenri mimics having long claws by extending one of her hands with fingers splayed while the other hadn she moves about two feet away from the fingertips of the first hand.
A young halfling woman walks in with a steady gait. Hair wet and slicked back, held with a silk bandana of yellow color. She smells clean, with a faint perfume as though she just left the local bathhouse. As she speaks, her accent places her on the Sword Coast, but she has adopted the local fashion of loose colorful clothing.
Greatings Master Bol, Saphina Greenfoot at your service. How may I assist you this time?
After presenting herself she turns to greet the others. After some quick introductions with some, a great smile appears on her face when she sees Fenri and Sashah. Waving at both of them she moves quickly to Sashah’s side.
As if almost forgetting where she was and it just came back to her, she snaps quiet and turns to listen to the reason for summoning.
A confused look comes across her face afterwards and says I agree with Master Faroris, surely there is more to this task.
Dwalar stands with the others in a set of heavy chain mail. A stout dwarf, his blond hair extended down his chin and becomes a prominent beard-- on one side. The right half of his beard is jagged and uneven, with patches missing. On his back are a large sword and hammer. "Jus' what's needed on a day like this!" he says, gratefully accepting the water and gulping it down, before wiping the sweat from his own brow. "If I'd known that was all we were doin', I'd have left me mail at home." There must be more ta this than he's sayin'.
The heavy-set man chuckles to himself, I am glad that you all are so observant, for that will be necessary in the coming day! Pock-marked Po and his Zhentarim approached me about some fluke wins in the races a few tenday ago. In almost all the cases, the winning beast was found dead within the tenday. My friends in the Harpers began to notice this too, and suspect that a new substance, mayhap a drug or poison, has been introduced. Those in the know have reason to believe that the Yuan-ti may be involved.
Alastar mops his brow again, Meet with Mowbula, she is a friend to the factions, the Harpers in particular, and she will fill you in. Race, my friends, and find out what is causing this problem!
At Fenri's query, the fat man smiles, No, my lass, Mountain Thunder is no horse, but a dinosaur!
Faroris catches the little coin pouch as Scramsax tosses it to him, and pockets it as he glances back to the others. His attention returns then to the heavier man again, listening.
Nodding along to the instructions, he says, "Now that makes more sense. Yeah, we can look into that."
He almost says something else, but does a bit of a double take at the answer to Fenri's question, "Dinosaur races?" He grins, and says, "This will be interesting!"
Sasha puts his finger to his lips in a shush motion at Saphina. As Bol continues Sashah smiles, his long beard shifting shifting slightly.
As Bol finishes Sashah speaks, his voice thick with a northern accent, "It seems Yuan-ti involved much vith problems here. Fenri, I hope you not too opposed to meeting vith Harpers."
His eyes delight at the mention of dinosaurs, snapping his fingers "Oh, Po's place. Why didn't you say so? We'll be back before you grow a 3rd chin!"
He isn't deaf to Sashah's concerns however "What's that you say old timer? What do you know about the snake people?"
"I spoke quickly. To be sure, two happening does not pattern make," the old timer quickly responds matter-of-factly with his hand raised and index finger pointing upward. "Ve go and see," he then perks up excitedly, "it vill be fun directing dinosaur!"
"What's that sayin'?" Dwalar asks Sashah. "One's a fluke, two's chance, three's a pattern? I guess they don' want ta wait an' find out. Matter o' fact, sometimes after the 'fluke' yeh stop takin' chances!" He points to the ruined side of his beard and grins.
You find your way to the foot of the Tiryki gate, just inside the Market Ward. You can hear the howls from the crowd, signaling the first race of the day! Following the directions that you were given, you see a dark-skinned woman, with a balding pate and friendly smile upon her face as she waddles down the staircase hastily.
The woman's rope belt sags under the strain of bulging coinpurses slid to the know. Although she seems oddly uninterested in money itself, she is quick to produce a ledger to record a bet being placed here, or to scribble some quick notes. Her beady eyes betray a mental alacrity that her easy smile and care seem to hide.
She smiles up at you all as she brushes wiry curls over her balding forehead. A rich purple sash over loose layers of vibrant yellows and oranges denote her station as a Port Nyanzaru bookie, Nay-um's Mowbula. Yuhs lookin' like da mob dem owls done said ta me. Cooee close!
Mowbula gestures for you to follow her back up the stairs, the climb seeming to take forever behind her hobbling form. The time allows you the opportunity to piece together, if not place her accent...
Once up into her viewing box up above the track through the city, she proceeds to fill you in, guessing correctly that you are in fact the crew that she was waiting for.
After a few moments of trying to decipher her dialect, a few things dawn on you all:
- First, she has secured you all entry as a racing team in an event called the Na N'buso Haka. This will be the first time this event will be held, so no one knows much about it.
- There are two races before the event starts and you can place bets and watch the races from her box.
- Registration for the Na N'buso Haka is down near the pits before the race begins.
Mowbula's owner's box overlooks a packed crowd of gamblers and bookies, indulging their vices in comfort, escaping the added heat of the throngs of spectators on the street level.
A wide parapet in the gateway's center elevates four gnome wizards over a scrying pool. Together, they manipulate a mirage of illusory sights and sounds for the audience far below.
If you would like to ask anything further of Mowbula, you may. Otherwise, this is an opportune time to cruise the crowds, place bets, and sow rumors, if you wish.
Charisma (Persuasion) or Intelligence (Investigation) will allow you to strike up a conversation or overhear rumours.
If you wish to place a bet this is the link to the Betting Info:
Before making his bet, Scramsax cases the crowd picking up rumors in general but specifically trying to sniff out a hot bet...
Int Investigation: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
...but as he runs into the crowd he gets elbowed hard in the face, hitting the floor and spitting up blood, completely disoriented.
Scanning over Dwalar's beard the halfling raises an eyebrow "Good lord, man, what happened to your mane?!"
"Magic is what. I fancied meself a finger-waggler at one time, thought I might've 'ad what it took. Managed ta curse meself right in the face, I did. Me teacher did what 'e could, but the beard never did grow back. Learned me a lesson that day: finger-wagglin' is a double-edged axe that's best left alone."
* * * * *
In the crowd, Dwalar tries to find out what he can.
Investigation: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
"Any o' you fine gentlemen heard more about this Nah Nabusoh Hakka that's happenin' later?"
Faroris listens to the explanation, as much weight as he can understand, anyway, and brightens a bit, "We get to actually race? That will give us a good 'in' to look around." And it will be fun, he thinks to himself.
He waves to listen if anybody else asks any questions, but then moves over to one of the bookies to hand over the pouch he pocketed earlier, "Alaster Bol wants to place a bet on Mountain Thunder, please." He smiles after the bed is taken, but makes no bet of his own, returning to the others and says, "I'm going to go see what I can find out about those more suspicious wins."
He makes a quick cast of prestidigitation on himself, and slips down into the crowd a few moments later, trying to act like the slightly intoxicated gambler he now smells like. He starts to strike up random conversations, "My brother... He says this is the place to win big. He won big, on the biggest the longshots... Twice! At least, so he tells me. I'm not really sure I believe him. Have you seen any long shot wins?"
Deception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Persuasion: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
Fenri wanders the crowd, listening to people talk about the upcoming races, then she finds a bookie and best 20 gp on Jungle Princess and then also makes Alastar's bet.
Jungle Princess is da best!: 1d6 ⇒ 4 Someone lied to me!
Fenri pays up her 20 gp and then returns to the staging area with a large beer.
Oh, I get it now. Fun!
Scramsax shadows the man who elbowed him in the face and left him on the floor for a few minutes before moving in to cut his purse in spite...
Sleight of Hand: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
...if successful he takes the coin and puts it all on Mountain Thunder...
Mountains of Gold: 1d6 ⇒ 5 lose
...neutrally smacking his mouth, chewing on the taste of iron he shrugs, considering it a win.
Sashah listens quietly as Mowbula brings the group up to date. After receiving the information, he scratches his beard in thought. He then leans down to Saphina, "I vill go find information vere dinosaurs located. You should do vat you need for race. Ve might need youth vin again."
Sashah goes to the betting booth, It be best to look as I belong. Likely best to vager on Thunder, "I vould like to wager 50 gold on Mountain Thunder."
Mountain Thunder: 1d6 ⇒ 1
Sashah maneuvers around the crowds trying to find information of any kind.
Investigation: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Nodding to Sashah Got it. Good idea.
Saphina slips into the crowd using her size to slip among many of the patrons of the track. Keeping ears pealed for any information on opponents they may be facing in the arena.
Investigation: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Over the last tenday, the princes have increased 'round-the-clock patrols around the dinosaur pens. The only exception being race day when the guards shift to keep the peace and protect spectators.
Of the bets, only Sashah's bears results when Mountain Thunder manages to pull off a win in the second race!
Faroris continues to chat with people for a little while but returns to the box by the second race to wait for others to come back as well, so he'll be ready in time for their event.
When everybody is there, he says, "I wasn't able to find it much in the way of specifics, but the suspicious wins seem to be going beyond making a few people rich. It's securing up the entire economy around here. That's going to hurt more than just the bookies."
"Learned some interestin' things around," Dwalar tells the others when they meet up later. "Long shot wins are more common these days, an' so are winner's deaths-- sometimes within days o' the race. Not only that, but them riders are nobodies; they show up a rookie, win the race, an' are never seen again. Curious, innit?"
Sasha adds, "Danger to economy goes furzer. Could make Chult weak for colonization. Also, dinosaurs guarded heavy except during race time."
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Faroris looks to Fenri in confusion when she says she placed the bet. "I had the money he gave us, and I used it to place the bet. Did you use your own money to place another bet?"
He turned back to the others and nods in agreement with Sasha before adding to Dwalar, "I didn't know about the riders, that's even more interesting. The riders, then, are probably the ones drugging or poisoning the animals. It might even be the only way to get someone into position to do that."
Fenri's idea of what's going on has him staring at her in some disbelief.
But it had Faroris' player laughing loudly. :-)
So all we have to do is win a race and whatever or whoever will come to us?If we don’t win we just keep an eye one any of the rookies who win today. We will make sure they don’t come up missing. Saphina bites the side of her cheek lightly and continues to think of any other ideas on how to proceed.
He wipes his bloody nose on his sleeve "Hey Faroris, get that receipt?"
Question, was Bol's bet on one of the 2 pregame races or the main event coming up?
Yes, his bet was placed, I assume, on the first race, which Mountain Thunder lost. Then she won the second race. The only way that I can parse that the first roll for Mountain Thunder lost and the second roll won.
Faroris blinks, but looks back to Scramsax and nods, "Yeah, I got it. Are you alright?" This last asked with a bit of concern as he finally notices the bloody nose.
Looking back to Saphina, he says, "My initial thought was that it was temporary riders, coming in to drug the animals and then disappearing. But, you're right, it could be that too." He grins, and says, "I would've tried to win anyway, but an extra incentive." Then, though, he says, "But I still think we should ask questions in with the racers."
"Anyway, we still need to get down there, and we probably should go. The race is soon and we, or at least I, don't really know what the event is even," he says, at last.
Sashah collects his winnings (350 gp), and you all head down to the registration. Mowbula leads your way and hands the entry fee over to the registrar, then turns to wink at you, Honkers maken de jingles, bot yah gotta put in 'afore yah be maken om.
You are then directed to a jockey's lounge where you are provided animal trinkets and tunics matching a common livery. Look at the handout below and decide on a mascot.
Once you decide, I will let you know what your rival teams are!
Faroris shakes his head and grins a bit sheepishly, "I'm not even all that good at riding horses."
He looks around curiously as they enter the lounge, but then he looks down to the trinkets and livery curiously.
I'll put my thoughts on the mascot in the discussion thread momentarily.
To Sashah Tymora’s Blessing! You scored huge Sashah! I see, while I’m out trying to find out more about who we’re facing you were off betting on the dinos.
To Scram Sashah and I won a race here when we were with The Bladefangs. So we’ve ridden.
Oooh, blue is my favorite color. We surely can’t go wrong with blue.
"Oh, it vas nothing," Sashah replies waving his hand in place. "Figured it vould make seem normal if had ticket."
As you don your livery, you look around at the other two teams that seem to be participating. The red team is composed of mostly humans and a half-orc, and they sport a jaguar-like mascot with snakes protruding from its shoulders, which you soon find out is the Kamadan. This team behaves like a bunch of frat boys, hooting and hollering to psych each other up.
On the other hand the blue team, a team comprised almost entirely of halflings, with the exception on a lone albino dwarf, sports a mascot of a rabbit with a single horn protruding from its head, like a unicorn almost. This mascot, you soon come to find out, is the Almiraj. This team is somewhat timid and unassuming.
A representative runs through the legs of the race with all of you.
The first leg starts at Tiryki Anchorage gate, moves through the Red Bazaar and ends at the Grand Colosseum where you will change mounts for the next leg. At the Colosseum, you will fly through the course and head to the Dry Docks. At the Dry Docks, you will perform the third leg upon your third mount.
The Grand Prix Royale you will race to the finish line, and this will be your fight to the finish! You will be given further instructions at each leg of the race. Good racing, and good luck!
If you would like to make any preparations, let me know, otherwise acknowledge that we are ready to begin!
Scram seemingly very interested in the red team weaves through them, at one point attempting some tomfoolery with the rival saddles while they aren't looking...
Sleight of Hand: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Trying to sabotage them somehow, like loosening the strap etc
Faroris looks up to the representative, nodding seriously at various points in explanation, though he looks a bit nervous when flying is mentioned. Still, he gives a smile to the man as he wishes them luck, and says, "Thanks."
He looks to the others, and says, "Let's do this." However, he does look over to Sashah and Saphina, and says, "Any dinosaur riding tips?"