"No idea. Really now." Karbal seems to mull that over. He listens to Ormak's reply... then, with a spry change of mood, Karbal grits his teeth in a pained grin, turns to face Ormak, and makes a mockingly-polite "after you" gesture, as though inviting Ormak to go and investigate the scene, in reply.
One of the guards speaks up. "Uh. Mayor Karbal, sir?"
The guard looks nervously at Flametouched, as though afraid of him for some reason. Karbal raises a comically-inquisitive eyebrow, and exaggerates his already-disturbing grin - as if to say "Yes? Please, go ahead."
The guard watches Flametouched (and Lothar, to an extent) as he continues. "Uh. The goblin, sir. The one that came with the... uh, with our guests."
"Uh huh?" prompts Karbal.
The second guard finishes the first guard's thoughts. "He was here, sir. A few moments before the fire; we both saw him. Just wandering around all by himself, and muttering. Him and his dog."
Karbal nods, just slightly - still chipper as before.
"Well, if he's responsible then that's what the esteemed tracker will determine. Any time you're ready, shifter. Y'know. Do your thing."
Ohak, for his part, watches the preceedings with an expression of grumpy disdain.
Hearing the words what the thug says Nark steps in and speaks off to the thug Lony not dog! Never been a dog! Lony a wolf. A big wolf and good wolf... looking fiercely at the thug while stomping his feet at the ground and Lony goez where he want.Lony likez lady Jenise zo Lony with him. I walk with Lony and look place. That iz not .... ill-illeg-illeggall... aah, bad iz it not?
With exaggerated patience, Karbal tells Nark: "Hush."
Gently but firmly, Karbal grips Nark by the face and holds his mouth shut, the way one might snap shut a coin purse.
"Our gracious and completely impartial volunteer tracker will, of course, determine exactly what happened."
Karbal's eyes never leave Flametouched's. As Ormak heads into the lot, one of the human thugs follows him, hanging behind and keeping an eye on the shifter as he hunts through the lot.
In combat terms, that would basically amount to a grapple - Nark (or whomever else) can roll initiative if he really wants to, in an attempt to avoid being grabbed.
Ormak locates several different tracks - small-sized, humanoid footprints with pointed nails, signs of plenty of booted scuffling and hustling... and canine pawprints.
You can't pin a racial identity to any particular set of footprints - there were small-sized humanoid ratfolk here, but the paw prints are pretty damning... especially given Nark's story about Lony being with Lady Jenise. Nobody else in the vicinity has a tagalong canine, and Ormak hasn't seen any animals in town with paw prints large enough to match up with these.
I assume you keep trackless step active at all times, unless you say otherwise? If so, your tracks won't show up in the lot, although Lony's might.
Lady Jenise only smiles as Xzot thinks to itself, "You're not the only one who doesn't want to be here."
While Ormak does his tracking, Lady Jenise walks up to Karbal, deciding a gamble was in order. "I must say, it looks pretty bad, the five of us just strolling into town like this and a fire starting that night. Would make one consider us to be the troublestarters. Of course, we were in your Inn at the time, and we did help put it out. Doesn't make quite much sense for us to have done it. Of course if someone didn't like us..." She leaves the words hanging as she searches the crowd for Pauhan. If I find him, I'll focus my gaze on him for a moment, flashing him a smile, before continuing.
In a lower voice, she continues, "And remember, all because someone has proven loyal in the past, doesn't mean they can't betray you thinking they are helping."
Red Maulla strides after Lady Jenise, her lip curling in a silent sneer, at being ignored. Pauhan is unfortunately nowhere to be found as Jenise delivers her gamble.
Karbal sneers. "You were at the inn? No, not all of you. You think I'm blind? That I can't count? I was all present 'n accounted for when your little green conspiritor left my tavern, and I have it on the word of my men that the little monster was right here moments before the fire. I know what a freak the little goblin is. We've met before, remember?"
Mayor Karbal looks from Jenise, to Flametouched, then back to Jenise. Apparently deciding to continue addressing the noblewoman, he adds: "All I'm trying to figure out now is whether or not you're in cahoots with him, looking to split the gold that those traitorous scrapyard rats have apparently absconded with. It seems my boys were holding out on me, and it seems that Nark here knew about it."
The bugbear gives Nark a tiny little shake as if to emphasize his name when spoken, and then composes himself.
"Your tracker is going to return in a moment. If he feeds me a line or tells me a lie, I'm going to collect my gate tax today, not tomorrow - and you'll work off all that you've cost me."
Flametouched is beginning to have a similar feeling. It has no desire to defend the goblin's (likely) actions, but Ohak's words about "cleansing" the Holt are beginning to echo within its mind. Karbal may hold the place together in some kind of order, but one could argue that any devil would do the same thing...
Lothar stands still, ready to grab his bow and get as many of his party out of this death trap as possible. The situation seemed ready to go south at any time. Lothar did not know who had set the fire, but he would have bet his bow he could guess. As far as he was concerned, what ever happened, the little imp got what was coming to him.
The Traceless Step is activate all the time. As good as Nark is in his "all high and mighty" he doesn´t want to leave tracks of himself. So yes. Traceless step is ON all the time until I am saying otherwise
"Cahoot's? He's my employee, hired on to prevent him from being thrown overboard. Perhaps my philanthropy has become a bit of a burden at this point. Of course you can't truly expect to hold the rest of us for what this one MAY have done?" Lady Jenise puts emphasis on the word may, enforcing the fact he is not yet guilty.
"And how are we to know Nark wasn't coming to speak to you about this allged gold, and the ratfolk attempted to silence him? If he was there, that is, and he knew about this alleged gold. As you said, the two of you have met before, perhaps it's some form of goblin loyalty. The Host knows you can't understand what they are thinking most of the time as it stands. And you've already established these ratfolk have hidden information from you."
At this point, trying to sow enough doubt in Karbal's head to not act hastily at least. Buy us until tomorrow.
Ormak completes his investigation then returns to Karbal to report his findings "I can't tell if the goblin was there or not. The tracks could be his, OR they could just as easily be the rat folk's. Too hard to know for certain. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful" This last is said quite sincerely as he feels bad his tracking skills failed to produce solid evidence.
Grinning and with burning fire on his eyes Nark looks back at Karbal and thug Zee? Zee?? Nark no there! Ormak good hunter! really, really good. Nark hear good thingz! No Nark foot there, no Nark there.
Silencing for a moment until continuing speaking slower and more clearly Nark is always accused of something... but Nark is not blaming. Why not. I am just a goblin. Rat folk are anyway as untrustworthy as goblins. Not like Nark blames you, major
Karbal looks from Lady Jenise, to Ormak as each speaks in turn. The bugbear casts a sidelong glance at the scrapyard when Jenise mentions the ratfolk gold.
While Nark rambles on, Karbal sizes up Ormak, studying the shifter intently.
Before I continue, I'll need a Bluff check from Nark. Nark has just said twice that he wasn't there. If Jenise wants to use an aid another Bluff check to help validate Nark's statement, she may. The rest of you don't technically know, and thus cannot Bluff. I think Nark has used today's Action Point, but I doubt Jenise has (not that aiding another on Bluff would be a challenge for Xzot).
Bluff 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (18) - 1 = 17ooh, good roll at this spot. Regarding the Action point I did use it against dragon or wyvern or what ever that menacing looking sexy dragon was... yap yap. How it will be in timeline then?
Karbal studies Nark, chewing on his own lip, thoughtfully. Ohak shifts, and scratches at his armpit.
Some time later, Karbal's attenion shifts back to Ormak. When he finally speaks, his tone is muted, and dark.
Then back to Nark...
"Goblin says he wasn't there."
Then, to Flametouched, for another long pause.
Eventually, and still staring the warforged down, Karbal speaks up - sounding a little more like his usual, blustery self.
"Missionary Ohak. You're a mite tougher and more comp'tent than any schlub I could appoint to the job. D'you think perhaps it would be a good idea if you stood guard outside of our traveller's room at my inn, this evening? I'd hate for any undue suspicion to inspire the local citizenship to bringing our freinds to harm in the night. I think they'll be retiring to bed soon."
Karbal seems to chew on his tongue for a moment. Then,
Ohak's only response - after a long moment of pondering Karbal's request - is to repeat the word...
Ohak frowns with amusement, then snorts - just once - with what might be laughter. Then, with a nod toward Flametouched and Ormak, the towering, potbellied, orc turns toward Dead Before Dawn, and starts walking.
Flametouched nods its head fractionally at Karbal, then turns to follow Ohak and Lothar as well. Quickening its pace to catch up with the orc, the warforged murmurs in a low tone, "I am content with you as our guard and keeper, my friend, but you should know that I do not sleep, and will be prepared for any... untoward incidents... myself."
When the party reaches the room, Flametouched suits action to word, taking up a position in the room just inside the door, blade drawn. It almost seems to become a statue, neither moving nor breathing, as it waits.
I had hoped for some time to make some Craft checks for repairs, but I think it's going to have to wait. Instead, I will go ahead and cast cure light wounds on myself twice, for half-strength. 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8 and 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7 = 7 points of damage healed.
"It is an honor to have your best man protect us this evening, Master Karbal." Lady Jenise heads back up to the room with the others.
Once back in the room, Lady Jenise makes a quick check to see if anyone is listening before talking to the others. "As it stands right now, Karbal doesn't believe a word of what happened. I was speaking with Red Mualla, odds are it will be a very long time before Karball will let us leave. And our best chance at subterfuge went up in smoke this afternoon." She gives a mean stare at Nark before continuing. "So I'm looking for opinions on how to handle this, and get us all out alive."
Ormak follows the rest into the inn. When Xzot asks for suggestions he replies "Perhaps we can offer them Nark in exchange for lettings us leave?" He says without a smile and its impossible to tell if he's serious or not.
I would like to make a sarcastic comment about how we could get out of it, but its a good bet that would just make the little blighter light the room on fire. I hate to welsh on a debt, but I think we need to sneak out of here. Somehow.
Following others back to in behind them and standing next to Lony while caressing its fur.
Listening everyone speaking and eyes widening as Flametouched stays just next to the door and seems to look more like statue at this moment. Closing in and poking a little bit his leg but soon leaving him alone and turning to others as they speak
Ormak speaking about giving Nark in exchange of giving him out and letting them leave makes Nark ponder Nark exchange... why? What is good with... exchange? Nark not so good offer hm. Same as with goblins... but Nark anyway left... the exchange boring... I wonder what that big pot for cooking was then hmm
Hearing the Lady Jenise speaking Nark is dumbfounded as not understanding what she meant Zilence? What is.... zilence goblin? Nark quiet? ooooooooh Nark trembling in excitement Nark knowz these game! Really really nice! Nark run and hide, otherz chaze and try to beat but only if find! When not find... Nark can ztabbity ztabbity back yez yez!! Rolling around on his place as he looks around and little bit disappointment The room... too zmallizh for good place to hide hmm...
Ah well... goblin zilence no good, no good... Lony is superior here! He big and ztrong! Fur really nice... ztuuuupid ratz makking fun of Lony.. One dead hihihi. Lony good protector. Always next to Nark as begin again caressing Lony´s fur and stands quite fondly next to it
Lady Jenise smiles despite the harshness of the situation, then turns serious again. "So Karbal believes our guard to be sufficiently strong enough to keep us here. What do you believe our chances are of subduing him?" She asks the others, more martially inclined.
"With what little I know of him, I do not think 'subduing' him would be effective," Flametouched says dryly. "And I've no wish to attack him, especially since he has done much to indicate that he might be an ally - perhaps the only one we have in this place. If you plan an escape, I recommend one in another direction."
"Point taken on that then. This needs to be a group effort." She considers for a moment. "What is your opinion, Flametouched. Should we attempt escape?"
Flametouched considers the question for a few moments before replying. "I have no interest in keeping an oath given under duress if it puts the rest of you at risk," it finally says. "But as a practical matter, I do not believe all of us could sneak out successfully - I, for one, was certainly not designed for exfiltration. That would leave battle, and even if we do not have to face Ohak, I do not care to speculate on our chances if we had to fight through the entire rest of the Holt."
Guys? I'm just looking for a consensus or even some discussion as to what the party is doing. If you're not sure, feel free take it to the discussion thread and bat ideas around.
Flametouched, Ormak, and just about everyone else seem to agree that attacking Ohak would be stupid. It sounds like Xzot is advocating a stealthier group effort, and Lothar has suggested that something like that could perhaps be attempted tomorrow, not tonight. Nark is sleeping, but could no doubt be convinced to go along with a crazy escape plan or assault if awoken.
If the group is deciding to pull off an escape tomorrow (or sooner), could we get some in-game or even out-of-game discussion going about it? This campaign has really slowed down. Are we looking for more direct combat and less miscellaneous city/escape/chase/suspense activities? Less sandbox and more GM direction? Is interest just waning altogether?
"Let us wait and see what tomorrow brings," Flametouched rumbles. "We need make no decisions beyond that tonight. And if we find we cannot in good conscience do what we are asked, or if we have a chance to leave without violence..." It leaves the last unsaid, but hopefully unmistakable as well.
The tavern quiets down sometime after 2 am, perhaps closer to 3 am. Though distracted by repairs (and perhaps light conversaton with Ohak), it is then that the warforged hears the batwing doors downstairs clattering. Something makes a thud sound, then a pathetic, avian cawing noise.
Ohak seems to hear it, too, and looks to Flametouched with a grave expression.
Flametouched looks at Ohak, then turns and opens the door to the room. "Wake!" it hisses sharply, adding, "Something may be coming for us!" before closing the door again and stepping firmly in front of it, its silvered sword held ready.