Duwwor is not a beautiful city. Merabs and Aspenthar to the north are bustling ports; the latter boasts a martial, functional beauty, while the former’s skyline is dominated by the incomparable Temple of the Redeeming Sun, countless Alchemists’ Guilds and spectacular noble manses. Lamasara, home to artists, architects, and performers has a mad beauty to it, and tiny Pashow, a city dedicated to the arcane and alchemical studies boasts a tight cluster of spiral towers rising high into the desert sky. But while Duwwor cannot match the other city states for man-made beauty, it boasts a natural abundance unmatched throughout Thuvia, and much of northern Garund.
Sprawling out from the Turvanar River, that borders to the east, and the Barrier Wall to the south, the cluster of sandstone and mud brick houses fades into a seasonally fertile expanse that expands out to the west and north along both banks of the river.
The most important, and visually noteworthy structure in the city is the Temple of Gozreh that dominates the western bank of the Turvanar. It appears at first glance to be an expansive and meticulously maintained garden, but the verdant grounds hold a great open-air temple to the God of nature, where the farmers and tradesmen come to offer sacrifice and prayer to the fickle deity whose favor their livelihoods--and very lives--depend.
And while Duwwor is not denied it’s opportunity to sell the Sun Orchid Elixir every five years, it, more than any of the others, is not solely reliant upon the potion to drive it’s economy. As the breadbasket of Thuvia, Duwwor sees enough trade that the Elixir is an excellent boost to the city’s coffers. Every five years, the wealthy of the world travel down the Turvanar and across the Thuvian desert in caravans that stretch for miles, set up temporary resident in the Sun district, across the river, and Duwwor becomes a city transformed. The usually subdued markets become a colorful bazaar of the bizarre and international, with people of every culture, creed and race, descending to take part in the ritual that will bestow a dose of youthfulness to the lucky few.
This is Duwwor’s year. And there is much to be done.
The summons was brusque, not violent, or threatening, but the Wardens of Duwwor made themselves known to each of the five in turn. A sealed note handed over by one of the city’s militia, bearing a missive, in rigid, straightforward handwriting.:
In preparation for this year’s festivities, you surely understand that this city and it’s custodians are under immense pressure. With Pashow’s failure last year to secure the elixir, we are in need of those who are willing and able to assist this city and her people.
Please meet with High Warden Skeos at the Temple of Gozreh. Oathday, the 12 of the month of Abadar.
Defender of Duwwor
Upon arrival, you were greeted at the gate by an armed guard bearing the symbol of Gozreh on his chest. He guided you deep in to the temple grounds, to what must be a waiting area. A small alcove along a free-standing wall, with three exquisitely wrought benches. A cluster of palms and vibrant flowers is in the center of the grove. The grass a healthy green that would make Gozreh herself proud.
A carafe and six simple clay bowls wait on a table, a nervous looking acolyte in dull brown robes stands by the wall, glancing at each in turn as they arrived.
Please use this time to establish the order of arrival, etc, and to converse among yourselves. Once everyone has checked in, we will move on.
Natasha is among the first to arrive at the temple, her fox companion trotting at her heels. In violation of good manners, she keeps her hood on once inside temple grounds.
When she comes to the waiting area, the scholarly Mage looks around, frowns at the carafe and bowls -- and at the acolyte. "Well?" she says. "When should I expect this Warden Skeos? Or am I to await a factotum of his?"
Meanwhile, Sand the Fox is sniffing around the area, hopeful that he might find something to eat.
Ajkanir had arrived in Duwwor several days ago, intending to seek employment related to this year’s sale of the sun orchid elixir. The presence of an item of such value, and so many wealthy prospective buyers, always drew unsavory elements to whichever city stood to profit from their turn as the merchant of immortality. He wasn’t terribly particular about whether he worked for those looking to safeguard goods and gold or those looking to get their hands on such things, but working within the law was certainly simpler. He could wish the city selling the elixir this year were not a dusty farm-town in many ways – he would have kept himself much more happily entertained in Lamasara – but the summons from the Wardens was a welcome development nevertheless.
Ajkanir made his way from his inn, The Blessed Orchid, along the river bank to Gozreh’s temple, enjoying the gentle morning breeze off the river. As a wary child of the teeming medinas of Khatapesh, he unconsciously passed a hand along his belt pouch from time to time, to ensure it was still present and intact, and his eyes subtly scanned the street and docks along the river bank. Arriving at the temple, Ajkanir presented his letter from Lord Kharane and was pleased to be led deep into the grounds. Admiring the otherwise immaculately kept grounds, he noted a small, hard piece of palm bark that had fallen by the edge of the walkway and scooped it up surreptitiously, hiding it in the folds of his sleeve.
Arriving at the lush little alcove, Ajkanir smiles and nods to the acolyte of Gozreh, ”Good morning.” He then turns to Natasha, ”Natasha, a pleasure to see you again. I have only recently returned to Duwwor - I see we’re to be colleagues in a slightly different setting than the university library. I look forward to seeing who else will be joining us.”
Ajkanir picks one of the clay bowls off the table. He steps to the wall along the side of the waiting area and sits, his long, lean body folding itself into a cross-legged posture with his back to the wall. He draws a small knife and begins to carve the palm bark that has reappeared from his sleeve, the shavings dropping into the bowl he has placed between his legs.
”I trust you have been keeping up your training in the ways of the fist and the foot? Perhaps we will have an opportunity to spar in the days ahead.”
Natasha blinks at the sight of Ajkanir, her expression of complete astonishment. Then she sighs.
"Stars and fish," she swears. "Al-Atabiyah. Looks like the church of Gozreh will let just about anyone in, these days. How long has it been? And as for keeping up with training..."
Natasha's posture subtly changes, and Sand comes running to her side. The fox yips imperiously and tugs on Natasha's trouser leg.
"Yes, yes, fine," the Mage grumbles. "I look forward to the opportunity to spar again."
Natasha shifts into Snake Style-stance, but is gently dissuaded by her familiar from kicking up a fuss in the Temple. ;)
It had been a lazy morning for Khol. He had spent it lazing in the sun drenched courtyard with a hookah pipe dangling absently from his lips. He turned the letter over in his hands again. He and the assorted... professionals of The Gilded Petal had long since come to an understanding. He had a history with the brothel that went beyond the selfish needs of masculinity.
As such he was without his usual coverings, instead wearing a simple tunic, vest and trousers. The employees did not balk to see the fiendish influence of his ancestors so brazenly, well the newer ones sometimes glanced at his claws nervously but other than that there was little reaction.
Khol fished the pipe from his mouth and set it next to a half eaten breakfast. Standing, he collected his khalat and keffiyeh. Slipping the former on and wrapping the latter loosely to hide his horns. He preferred to remain barefoot and the khalat was long enough to hide his clawed feet and he could slip his hands into the sleeves as well.
After a moment's thought he took the khalat back off and donned a breastplate as well. That done he went out into the streets.
Khol found the garden he was ushered into somewhat off-putting. Too much time spent out in the sands perhaps. When the servant left, he paid little attention to the other two and stripped his khalat and keffiyeh back off. In the city they were mostly an affectation to hide his unnatural attributes from the general populace. If he was actually going to be dealing with people, he preferred them to know what he was.
Razan woke tangled in his sheets, tongue furred, heat pounding, and muscles aching pleasantly from the previous nights exertions. Lenera, dancing girl and casual paramour, sat upon the end of the bed, already dressed and made up watching him while she painted her nails,
"You need to wake boastful bantum, the Temple calls you today," she said in the throaty purr her employers so encouraged.
"Aieee, I need to sleep the divs have taken my tongue and my mind and coated them in sand. Perhaps I can rise if you will help me...?" He replies a sleepy grin creeping across his features as he flings the sheets aside.
"Put it away, I have work, and will have wealthier suitors than you soon, come back when the rich folk have fled and I will again have use for eager youth."
"The rich men are fat and sleepy Lenera, aieee, but you are a hard woman to crush my heart so!"
"And you are a bad liar Razan Tresh, get you gone. And let me say goodbye to Elreem, he at least likes me for my mind,"
"I like your mind, I have just been busy showing the rest of you how I like it," Razan replies, stretching luxuriantly and then springing out of bed. Once he is up, wrapped only loosely in the bed sheet he carefully licks his thumb and uses it to trace a rough circle in the air before him, humming a jaunty little tune as he does so and then striking the center of the imaginary circle with his palm.
And within the circle reality cracks and shatters leaving a whirling maelstorm of darkness and light from which a scaly almost creature emerges. The creature is a brazen brown, and looks like the noble offspring of a horse and a monitor lizard,
"Good morning Lenera, still feeling charitable I see, I am to understand we shall be parting ways for a time. I shall miss our conversings, luck and forage," The eidolon rumbles in a deep rumbling tenor, even as he places his chin upon Lenera's shoulder and exhales in pleasure as her fingers knead his ear ridges.
After more partings where little is spoken, but more is said, Razan and Elreem pry themselves away and head over to the livery to visit Sandstreak his prized stallion of Nidalan stock. Sandstreak is instantly recognizable amongst the other horses and camels, a powerful grey beast dappled with white spots which are far more predominant on his front than upon his rear, making him look as if he is in motion even when still.
Mounted Razan rides through the streets, with Elreem bounding along beside him, the eidolon carefully concealing his fangs and offering polite salutations and reassurances to the wary.
Upon arriving at the temple Razan tethers Sandstreak within sight of the gate, following the guards directions and followed the man to a nature themed waiting area, where three figures wait under the nervous scrutiny of a robed acolyte.
Razan strides forward, slightly bow legged from a life spent in the saddle, beaming as he recognizes the two men,
"Ajkanir, Khol! Aieeee! Are you two sand sailors called upon to? It is a beautiful day that brings us together again!."
Elreem paces forward lowering his head deferentially and rumbles,
"I am pleased to meet you again guide Khol, carver Ajkanir,"
Then Razan turns to Natasha and clicks his tongue appreciatively,
"Aiee, and a pale mysterious lady to stir Razan's curiosity and heart. But do not worry, I am not the bothersome type, I will say that you are lovely as an oasis unsought and hold my tongue forever more on the matter. In any case I am Razan Tresh a fool with some skill with the lance, and you?"
"Pardons Lady, I am Elreem this one's partner. He is young and thinks overly about rutting, but he is a good man. I am pleased to meet you."
|Zahur al Kinasi|
Zahur spends hours after the arrival of the missive, debating what to do. High Warden Skeos at the Temple of Gozreh. Is this a trap or do they actually want my help? Ultimately, it is the plea to help the city that convinces the man...that and his trust that Gozreh will intervene if they actually have the audacity to try capturing him on the holiest grounds of the faith. I suppose I must trust in Gozreh, though I do not like it.
A balding Garundi man is last to arrive. He is slight and swarthy and carries a wicked looking longspear like a staff. Symbols of wind, sand, desert and water circle his scalp and what remains of his hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail. Around his neck are a pair of holy symbols. One is Gozreh. The other less familiar, a black shell disc with a sliver of silver. Most strange of all is his companion, a flat black desert scorpion, nearly as large as a man.
The man enters the alcove, glancing warily at each assembled, including the nervous acolye. He seems ready to bolt at any moment and takes up a position where it looks like he could.
Once all have assembled, the acolyte steps forward.
"Please, refresh yourselves if needed," he gestures to the carafe and the remaining bowls, and glances at Ajkanir's odd use of his. "The High Priest will be with you shortly." The acolyte returns to his silent duty.
The midday heat is oppressive, even in winter, but there is adequate shade to find shelter in.
The sun has dipped into it's afternoon descent before a slender, well-dressed man and an ancient dwarf enter the glade. The dwarf wears a simple brown frock. His long white beard is thrown over his shoulder. His hands and fingernails denote that he was spent time recently with his hands in the soil. He has a satisfied and serene expression on his face.
The tall man wears fine but simple robes. A scimitar rests on his hip. He has quick eyes and an unpleasant expression. He regards the assembled party with a visible scrutiny.
Cale Stoneweaver is the High Priest of Gozreh and has been for more than a century. He is known to be famously reclusive and uninterested in local politicking. He is rarely, if ever seen outside of the temple.
The thin man is High Warden Skeos. One of the four High Wardens who command the local militias. Most are known for their martial prowess, and ability to lead their men. Skeos is rumored to be Lord Kharane's spymaster, though that is unconfirmed and unofficial if it is true.
The acolyte exits at a gesture from the High Priest, bowing as he does.
"I am High Warden Skeos, and thank you all for coming. I hope you did not find the summons too... off-putting." His gaze lingers on Elreem for a long moment, and he continues.
"I am sure you wish to know why you have been called, and what the Lord Defender has in mind for you. As you well know, in eleven months time, Duwwor will be hosting the auction for this years' vials of the Sun Orchid Elixir. As such, it is imperative that the city be prepared in any and all ways for the festival. There is much to be done."
The dwarf's eyes wander over the group as the man speaks. He visibly stiffens at the sight of Zahur and his scorpion.
It is more the man than the scorpion that the dwarf seemingly takes offense to.
"A problem has been brought to the Lord Defender's attention by the Priesthood here. While the Lord Defender does not share the High Priest's level of concern, he has agreed to hire a group of suitable individuals to investigate this matter."
"A body recently washed up on shore north of here. Noting the state of the corpse, the farmer who found it brought it here to the temple. If you will follow, you will be shown the body."
At the dwarf's beckon, the group is lead deeper into the temple grounds, to a long, low building, the only actual structure seen thus far on the grounds.
Inside, and down a long hallway with identical doors along both walls, the group goes, until at the last door on the right, the dwarf beckosn the party to enter.
On a slab, rests the aforementioned body.
Clearly under the effects of a Gentle Repose, the corpse does not emit any unsettling odor, however the sight is certainly gruesome enough.
Clearly the victim of some disease, the man has swollen glands around his neck, groin and armpits.
Vicious claw marks decorate the mans face and abdomen. Deep enough to reach bone in the chest. His left eye has been torn out of the socket.
Most of his left leg is gone, and his right leg has been denuded to the bone up to the knee.
This man was infected with the bubonic plague, however, his death was caused by bleeding to death from the deep gashes in his abdomen. The leg wounds are most likely the result of carrion feeding.
Khol frowned at the loud mouthed Razan, but nodded his head toward the summoned creature. "Elreem," he said simply. He took the moment to pour himself some water from the carafe before following the others into the next building. Catching Natasha out of the corner of his eye, he nodded to her as well. A bit sparse as far as greetings were concerned but Khol already did not want to be here.
The tiefling did not so much as flinch when the body was revealed. Casually he leaned on the slab and drummed his claws on the cool stone, studying the wounds.
Dungeoneering 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15
Nature 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Planes 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17 (+4 more if related to evil outsiders)
Knowldege Local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Ajkanir greets the representatives of Gozreh graciously, nodding towards the dwarf and saying "High Priest Stoneweaver, I never thought to make your acquaintance. An honor indeed." Turning to the tall, robed figure, he pauses briefly, his eyes narrowing, then says, "High Warden Skeos - I knew the summons was from you, but I did not expect we would meet in person. Pleased to meet you. I am Ajkanir al-Atabiyah, and I look forward to hearing more about this...problem."
Khol looks down at his own claw and stops drumming it. He pauses before holding them up to the wounds, nearly touching the diseased flesh. He snorted, "I have seen wounds like these before, in fact, I have inflicted them upon others." Khol looked to Stoneweaver and Skeos.
"Gentlemen, by alone reputation you should know that I rarely enjoy mincing words. If this is to be an accusation of some sort then I would appreciate it if we could get it out of the way now."
Natasha makes a face at Razan's "introduction"; she is clearly not amused. She quirks an eyebrow at Elreem and is clearly intrigued. Before she can address either one of them, however, Skeos enters the garden.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17.
During the walk to the place where the corpse is kept, the Mage answers Khol's curt nod with one of her own. She remembered the tiefling, but if he did not want to engage in pointless pleasantries, that was just fine with her.
Natasha's eyes narrow when she sees the corpse. Slowly, without saying anything, she starts to circle the slab, frowning as she, also, tries to identify the cause of death.
Knowledge (arcana): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (18) + 13 = 31. Knowledge (history) 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23. Knowledge (nature) 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12. Knowledge (planes) 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26. Knowledge (religion) 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (6) + 12 = 18. You never know what might stick. ^^ Besides, I have neither Knowledge (local) nor Heal, and you can't use those untrained.
"In that case you are looking for a beast about the size of a man and of a cruel disposition. Any number of creatures and people within and out of the city spring to mind as to potential culprits. Unless the other two guests have anything to add to this I would need to look at where the body was found to tell you anything else." He sipped his water calmly.
"Has he been identified?"
|Zahur al Kinasi|
Zahur raises an eyebrow as the high priest's eyes meet his. Storm and salt! Looks like I'm a surprise guest after all.
Knowledge (Local) 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (18) + 14 = 32
Sense Motive 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
Like the others, Zahur considers the corpse and its wounds, possibilities rolling through his mind.
Knowledge (Arcana) 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (10) + 13 = 23
Knowledge (Dungeoneering) 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Knowledge (Local) 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (2) + 14 = 16
Knowledge (Nature) 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (9) + 13 = 22
Knowledge (Planes) 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (10) + 16 = 26
Knowledge (Religion) 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33
"High Warden Skeos. High Priest Stoneweaver. Certainly you have consulted the Wind and Waves, perhaps even spoken with the dead man. You allude to a connection with the Elixir and wish to have us investigate. Surely you already know far more than an unworthy few such as ourselves can discern. What more can you tell us of what you wish to learn..." He pauses a moment for emphasis, Perhaps you should start with what you already know."
Here the High Priest finally speaks.
"Sadly, we were unable to glean any information from the corpse through Gozreh's aid. He had no tongue with which to speak."
"With so many mouths to feed, the health and purity of the Turvanar river is paramount. As a city, as a people, we live and die at the mercies of Gozreh and this mighty river. It must be kept pure at all costs. If something unnatural is preying upon men north of the river it is truly a problem..."
He sighs heavily, and eyes Skeos for a long moment.
"But the priority is the populace as a whole, and the travelers bound for our city. And we cannot have more bodies washing up on our shores bearing the gifts of plague. The man, Khefa, his name was, who found our poor friend here succumbed to the plague before we could save him." The dwarf looks down, the failure seems to weigh heavily upon his wide shoulders.
Skeos cuts in here:
"If one of the villages south of here has been infected, we must know. The people must be healed if possible, and given Pharasma's peace if they cannot. If this is the product of some foul intention, the same applies. We must know."
"You wish us to hunt down whatever is intent on leaving mutilated and plague riddled corpses and clean up after it?" Khol stroked his stubbly chin.
"I trust you will provide protective measures against infection? I have no interest in contracting plague. Also there is the matter of payment, you are asking me to work during what should be a period of mourning." Simply put, if they knew he was in town then they probably knew why as well. He was not much of a bargainer but they did not have much ground at the moment.
Ajkanir briefly studies the mutilated form before him, then reaches into his sleeve and pulls out a small item that appears to be made of wood – a tiny carving of the symbol of Gozreh, an amazingly life-like leaf with a carven drop of water perched at its tip, carved from the palm bark he picked up earlier. He gently lays the leaf on the body, and turns to the High Priest and the Warden,
”I am no cleric of Gozreh, but even I can tell that this man seems to have died at least two deaths. He has suffered from plague, but also been savagely attacked, and perhaps eaten by the look of it. Were you able to learn anything from this Khefa before he died? Or do you otherwise have any notion of where the dead man came from? While it is possible to simply search the length of the river for others who have died several unpleasant deaths, any information you can provide to focus our search would further your own goals. And I have to agree with Khol – before this conversation goes further, the matter of payment must be resolved.”
@Corvus: the High Priest seems to say that the problem is to the north, while Skeos says it is to the south. I didn’t want to focus on that in dialogue, as I wasn’t sure it was what you meant to write. Or perhaps I’m just not picturing the geography correctly?
"The priesthood learned little from Khefa before he died. He said he found the body on the western back, among the reeds, being worried at by carrion birds. While his death is most unfortunate, know that the Lord Defender has seen that his family has been rewarded for his diligence."
The High Priest nods knowingly to Khol.
"And you are most kind to hear us out. Loss touches us all in life, and if we do not act, I fear it could be our constant companion in the coming days. Surely you understand our need, friend?" The dwarf's face is open and guileless, he holds his hands out to Kharis, palms up.
Skeos then grins knowingly and nods.
"And, payment of course. You will each be rewarded 200 platinum shields if you can resolve this issue. More work and of course, more coin will follow, should you come back both successful and living. As I said before, Duwwor has need of capable people in the coming months."
"As far as protection, yes, we can provide some aid in this regard. Vials of antiplague will be brought for you, created by the Lord Defender's most gifted alchemists. If there is anything else you think you would need, we can assist as best we can."
"There is a village two days journey to the south, in the foothills of the mountains. A place frequented by hunters who deal in crocodile skins."
Skeos pauses and in turn, looks each of the five directly in the eye before speaking.
"What say you?
No apologies necessary, and thanks for the clarification. Any chance of a map of the area of Duwwor and surroundings, or just the general lay of the land? If not, that's fine. I just like maps and find them useful for visualization, but they're harder to produce for a homebrew.
Holding off posting Ajkanir's reply to allow others some time to speak up.
"Tch," Natasha hisses. "I am not a sell-sword. But I will do this thing for you, for the reward promised -- and for access to your Church archives, to aid my research. I am loathe to let plague claim the innocent. Plague, or whatever it was that did for this man."
|Zahur al Kinasi|
Zahur's eyes darken at the discussion of payment and you see his knuckles whiten as his hand tightens on the spear. "You both know of me. You also know that I would seek no payment in coin. Not for this."
The thin Garundi man raises his free hand to his neck and fingers the twin symbols that hang there. "It is as you say. If the river is poisoned it would be a disaster for Duwwor. It would also be a disaster for all life that depends on it."
He turns his head to look each man meaningfully in the eye. "Of course I will help to solve this mystery. When we are successful, I will seek a boon from each of you. Something well within your purview. What say you?" At his side, you here the soft creak of shell on shell as the scorpion imperceptibly flexes claws and tail, seeming to wait for same answer as its master.
Ajkanir smiles broadly and chuckles at Natasha’s comment, before looking to the priest and warden and saying,
”I, however, am a sell-sword, and my sword and I agree to the payment you offer. Further, this mystery arouses my curiosity, and if solving it serves to safeguard the city which I currently call home, so much the better. I must say, friend Zahur is no fool, saying he will name his price when the work is done. I may ask a boon of the church of Gozreh as well, before this is over. Speaking of which, I presume the priests here will see to the healing of any injury we might suffer whilst working on behalf of Gozreh?”
"Aieee," Razan breathes quietly to himself, "I am not much for the investigating and I don't much like the idea of a death I cannot fight with my lance, but I will help as I can - I will take the money. It seems most problems benefit from the vigorous application of force at some point. I can make us mounts if the Church does not provide, speed is usually preferable no?"
Elreem's tail swishes back and forth anxiously.
Skeos' eyebrow raises at Zahur's response.
"Come find me when this business is done, and we shall discuss your payment."
The High Priest nods to Ajkanir.
"We can discuss this, as Skeos says, when this matter concludes. And you, Zahur al Kinasi. Yes, I know of you, and your past, and while I believe you are on the path of righteousness now, and that you walk with Gozreh's breath at your back; if you are to ask of me a boon, you will not do so whilst wearing such profanity about your neck."
The dwarf's serene voice comes close to actual anger as he makes this statement, but his face remains completely passive. He locks eyes with Zahur, unblinking.
|Zahur al Kinasi|
Zahur returns the stare "I understand your concern. While the Wind and Waves himself sent the symbol as a sign, she will guide me if I need to don it in his service. Until then, I will remove it while I serve in this task." The Garundi man untangles one of the symbols around his neck, wraps the leather cord around it and places it in a pouch at his side.
"It's refreshing when I'm not the most controversial person in the room," Khol said in the middle of the stare down going on between the High Priest and Zahur, loudly enough to demand their attention. "Two hundred platinum each, save for the holy man of course and some sundry favors. I take it we have an accord then? If so, I have some affairs to attend to and will be ready to leave tomorrow morning. I can be reached at The Gilded Petal if any of you have need of me."
"Tomorrow morning? Aieee. The swift and the victorious usually share the same skin, let us go now. If we are dealing with plague a day will likely cost lives, lives of those who could aide us, or that might be saved," Razan says, fingers drumming upon Elreem's scaled hide as he speaks.
"Are you capable of the incantations and rituals required to preserve a dead body? Would you like to chase of the carrion beasts from my sister's remains because your haste demanded I not take the time to make the appropriate arrangements? Besides, we would be leaving in the midst of the noonday sun and would not make good time, unless, of course, you are willing to travel with the chill of the night in your bones and hungry beasts on your heels. I can see in the dark, boy, can you? Can any of you for that matter? If there is evil on the road south, then I will not be willing to take risks, after all, lives depend on us." Khol did not sound angry or annoyed, he simply stood with his arms folded, laying out the situation to Razan. The young man was brash and reckless, it was something he had learned to accept when he had first encountered the summoner.
Ajkanir's eyes darken at the way Khol addresses the summoner,
"If we're to work together, I'd suggest you keep a civil tongue in speaking to the rest of us. Starting this journey by breaking what little bond exists amongst us with poorly chosen words will not help our chances of success."
"I respect that you wish to honor your sister, and would ask Razan's patience in waiting until you have done so. I will wait until tomorrow morning as you ask, and spend the time in preparation as well."
"Zahur, Natasha? What say you to departing tomorrow morning, say at dawn?"
Skeos nods, pleased at the accord among the group.
"We will again meet when you return." he says, and with that, he leaves rather abruptly.
The High Priest nods in appreciation to Zahur.
Then to the party:
"If you have need of anything to aid on your journey, please let the acolyte outside know. I have services attend to. May the breath of Gozreh be ever at your back."
The High Priest leaves as well, and an Acolyte steps in.
"If you will please follow me." He leads the party back to the grove they waited in. A member of the Wardens is waiting there, seeing the odd group before him, he flinches, but then extends a hand, holding a burlap bag.
"Antiplague, as well as some other gear, from the High Warden." When it is taken from him, he exits hastily.
"If there is any service or item you may need from the Church, please let me know. It will be made available for you at a small cost. Otherwise, I can show you out."
If there is anything you wish to handle before we move to the next morning, please go ahead. If your character has nothing else to attend to, please make a note of what they will be purchasing/doing with their night, update your profile accordingly and announce that you are ready to proceed to day 2.
Razan nods appreciatively to Ajkanir, and lowers his head to Khol deferentially,
"Aiieee, I have no wish to be disrespectful Khol I am sorry for your loss. But were that not the case then yes I would travel by night, Elreem sees in the dark, and I have magics that make light - often it is best. I still think we would be better leaving sooner, but it is not my decision and I happily abide the groups choice. You will all soon know that I am a fool, and I can be expected to put my foot in my mouth with every other word, but I do listen even if you might need to go slow and use small words. As I say I am more comfortable in a fight than in a conversation.
As for patience, I have little enough, but if we all have mounts our journey will be much the swifter. Sandstreak is strong enough to carry two. I can conjure more mounts, but they will last only hours so I would rather avoid the need, does anyone want for a mount that cannot purchase one? Perhaps the Church could be prevailed upon?"
Elreen emits a rumbling bleat that is evidently his version of laughter, and says,
"I regret that I cannot bear any of you, I try to grow, but it is a yet beyond me here. I am larger elsewhere."
"I will acquire a beast of my own," Khol said, "There is a trader I am on good terms with in town." He took the burlap sack from the acolyte without so much as looking at the man. Without delay he undid the tie and looked within, rooting around as needed while he took stock of the contents.
How many vials of Antiplague and what else is in there?
Natasha stands in front of the Acolyte and smirks. A bit.
"Don't rush off just yet. I require a beast to ride, a tent to sleep in, and some daggers fit for combat. Let's say five of them. Can you provide this, and how much would it cost me?"
"Lady, I know not. The church can only provide the usual blessings, holy water, and the like. If you have need of such sundries, I would suggest the market in the old quarter. I would recommend Salha, he is more than fair. He has the loudest barkers and wears only fine purple clothes. You cannot miss him."
"Then get me holy water and a holy symbol," Natasha says. She actually snaps her fingers at the Acolyte. "Hurry it up! I shall have to get to the market before sundown. I have spells to review before I sleep."
The acolyte stands up straight and then vanishes for a few minutes. He returns with a holy symbol of gozreh - the verdant leaf with a water droplet forming at the tip, and five vials of holy water.
He presents them to Natasha and bows slightly.
"If there is anything else, please do not hesitate to ask."
"Though I have no need for a symbol of Gozreh, a number of vials of your blessed water would likely be useful."
Sorry to make our acolyte run more errands, didn't get my order in in time.
Ajkanir picked up some horse feed and a couple of flasks of alchemist's fire. Also, I noticed that I hadn't given myself the +1 skill point per level as a human, so I scattered 5 more skill points around.
Razan moves forward grinning to except some holy water, and glancing around guiltily takes a quick swig from one of the vials, as Elreem watches curiously,
"Well does it taste holy?
Once a meeting place has been arranged the pair head into the markets where Razan engages in some long winded haggling before exchanging four of his holy waters for some studded leather barding for Sandstreak.
Exchanging 4 vials of Holy Water for Studded Leather Barding and keeping 1.
The group assembles the next morning, and heads south out of the city.
The southern gate out of Duwwor is not particularly well defended or maintained. Being that south of the city lies mostly rocky desert foothills and then nigh impassable mountains, this is not necessarily surprising. The true bounty of the city lies to the north and west, and the Wardens acquit themselves as such.
The peak of the dry season that it is, the river itself is a bare trickle, little more than mud and dried river bed at some points. By the end of the month of Abadius the winter rainy season will come, and the Turvanar will be replenished, but until then there is little mercy from the Desert heat.
The mountains themselves lie roughly thirty miles to the south on this side of the river, though the river itself becomes somewhat divergent in the foothills, as the sources vary season to season with the rain in winter and the melting of the snow in the spring.
The road along the western bank of the river isn't much of one, frankly. There is something of a path, but it is slow going, and there is no other traffic to speak of. By the time the midday sun is at the brutal zenith, Duwwor is but ten miles to the North.
Ajkanir: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
Khol: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
Natasha: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 21
Zahur: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (5) + 14 = 19
Razan: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (13) - 2 = 11
Elreem: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
I assume the party will be moving at normal speed, which in desert would cover roughly 20 miles in a day's travel. Unless anyone suggests a course of action, travel will commence until the end of the day.
I will roll perception for the party in most cases and post results under character specific spoiler tags. As far as movement for the entire groups and character's suggestion will need one player's confirmation and then it'll move accordingly. any objections that follow before I can post will move the action to further debate. Unless otherwise noted, I will assume Elreem is with the party at all times.