|The Elusive Trout|
|The Elusive Trout|
Our story begins on the fifth of Erastus in the year of 4714 on Golarion's solar calendar.
It had just reached twilight in the bustling trade city of Katapesh, and already a majority of the bazaars were in the process of shutting down. A chill wind drifted in off the coast- a rare event in itself for the time of year.
The last five days had been the coldest that Katapesh had encountered in over fifty years. Prophets raving on the corners of the lower city's marketplace took this as an omen and began preaching messages of mucher darker content of late. While most of them rang untrue, the common citizenry appeared very much on edge.
As the city transitioned from day into night, workers from the daystalls, contractors, and the diurnal merchants of the area returned to their homes before the night chill set it. Others made their way to establishments of merriment, even with the recent somberness of mood.
Slaves hurried inside from their duties to comply with the curfew law set up for their own protection; those caught without would be detained until morning in the closest watchman's post.
Addicts took their usual vigils. Nighttime crime commenced.
Residents of the Sprawl hurried to get through the city's gates to their homes before the way was closed to them, lest they be forced to bribe one of the many sticky-palmed guards to use one of the garrison routes.
|The Elusive Trout|
The Dry Wind, The Sprawl, Katapesh
Ga'zirja opened the curtain her establishment used as a door at the usual time for the evening rush. Her ancient Vudrani arms snaking around them as she tied them off with camel hair twine.
Within the tavern, her two lithe halfling attendants, Wistli and Pynja, and meek teenage adopted granddaughter, Mouse, rushed around making last minute adjustments to the atmosphere, such as lighting cheap candles and burning the incense that a kindly guest had gifted them with just the night before.
"Vaian a deleish'a'a'lun! Ba' dun jhian da'a! the widow instructed, sending Mouse back into the kitchen in a hurry to add the last batch of sauce onto the main dish before it finished cooking.
The meal tonight consisted of a marbled scorpion roast, coated in spices abnormal of the inn. Ga'zirja had hoped that the smell would lift the dreary spirits of her patrons and neighbors.
Petrova peeks out into the tavern room from behind a curtain, gauging the number of customers, trying to decide if the time is right to come out. Seeing not enough people filling tables yet, she closes the curtain and resumes stretching and unlimbering her muscles.
Kanthuun sighed at the smell of unusual delicacies roasting in the hidden kitchen. The last caravan job had been hard; not the usual bunch of Sarenrae folk, whom he grudgingly missed despite not ever feeling the deep emotional connection they clearly had to the Dawnflower--they were just good to talk to. Instead, he had been stuck eating date cakes by day and driving off jackalweres by night.
Upon reaching the outskirts of Katapesh, without dusting off his boots, he immediately made his way to The Dry Wind to slake his thirst and fill his belly (pausing to reflect that having a 'regular' spot was terribly adherent to law for him, then dismissing the thought), getting there before suppertime...but not too early for a cup of honey wine. Or two. Perhaps three. It was a hard job, did he mention that?...where was everyone?..."Do you know magic too?" he said to a bewildered barkeep who was rather blurred to his vision.
Hanethes walked up to the bar at the Dry Wind and slid a gold coin over the counter. Should be enough for all the drinks I need tonight.
First round, something smooth and mildly alcoholic, to soothe the throat and burn the parching dust away. He downed most of it in three or four chugs, the last bit gargled for a few seconds.
He glanced towards the curtains, wondering if the Wind Dancer was preparing herself too. Of course, she had her whole body to take care of, while he just had his voice.
He made his way to the small stage at the end of the hall, lifted a chair up to the edge of it, climbed up and sat down. The night was cool, strangely, wonderfully cool, and Hanethes knew many patrons would come tonight, to get out of the cold.
With that knowledge, he gently began to sing in a slow, almost mystical refrain.
"Oh the winds they keep blowing,
My dear, oh my dear.
We've no sense of when they will cease.
The dust crawls within,
The night darkens the tent.
And everyone seeks their home's ease."
10 + 10 = 20
|The Elusive Trout|
Customers begin to fill the establishment slowly, at first, but within minutes a crowd was gathered. A majority of them are regulars; people of mixed Garundi, Keleshite, and Vudrani descent.
Wistli takes his place behind the bar counter after tying up his long and healthy curly locks. The strapping young halfling has always disdained shirts, but the chill in the air is enough to force him to wear a clean strip of fitted linen like a toga. His eyes are wide with apparent concern as he multitasked, filling several orders.
"Esheen Fel'az. Good to see you, too, Sha Kanthuun. I'll admit I was afraid you were going to pass out on this counter just now!"
Meanwhile, Pynja, his bald half-brother, climbs into the rafters to awaken Lia-Seed, the grig, who managed to regain her awareness just as Hanethes began his song. It was memorable, bordering on something even better, but as was her code, she would praise it no matter what.
"I've not heard that one before!" the cricket-like fae creature chirped, jumping down onto an elevated table.
"You've got some real potential, two-leg!"
All the other patrons that were eating at the main tables stopped to applaud, even as more passerby were drawn in by the sound.
In another corner of the bar, Ga'zirja scrubbed spilled wine off of her immaculate-yet-stained floor.
"Ah, my thanks, little one." Hanethes says with a smile. "It was really quite average, really. No use wasting my lungs or my voice until we get some customers in here. Or until the Wind Dancer's ready."
When the time comes, Petrova signals the usual workers to begin working their massive palm branch fans, creating a mild breeze through the Dry Wind. She casts vanish, quickly making her way to her position on the stage under cover of invisiblity. With a flourish of her cloak, her spell ends and her evening's dance begins.
Perform (Dance): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27
|The Elusive Trout|
Lia-Seed responded to Hanethes's statement with a knowing grin. It wouldn't be long until Petrova made her appearance for the night. Though she often failed to see the wonder of dance when someone only had four limbs with which to accomplish it, the faerie couldn't tear her eyes away once it started.
The customers kept time, and indeed often suggested it for the Wind Dancer through syncopated clapping, as was local tradition when no band was present. A first-time patron nearly jumped when she'd initially appeared, too, not having expected the use of magic in the performance in such an obscure location. After all, the Dry Wind was not a well-known establishment outside its own circles.
Arasmes, sometimes called Silvertongue, had been having a good night so far, as was clear from the slight stagger in the way he walked. Still, he managed to not disturb anyone as he entered the bar.
As he smells the enticing aroma of spices in the air, and gets a good view of Petrova's lovely body, and even lovelier dancing, he seems to visibly grow more sober, almost enraptured by the dance.
Not letting his eyes stray from the entrancing performance, he sits down at the bar beside Kanthuun and speaks to the barkeep, his voice showing deep contentment
"A bit of food, if you please? I think I need to be a bit more sober to fully enjoy this."
|The Elusive Trout|
"Of course, Sha Arasmes. We have a special meal tonight."
Wistli temporarily abandoned the bar to tap on the wall seperating the bar from the kitchen, and by extension, its shy caretaker. The two had a code of knocks, and used them as an order and retrieval system with ease.
Mouse emerged less than a minute later with a plate of the scorpion roast, which Wistli indicated when to Arasmes. Nervously, the adolescent girl placed the meal before him before retreating back into the kitchen. It really wasn't anything personal. She acted as such during every order, as if she felt threatened by all the eyes she was certain were staring at her tiny and unnoticeable puberty-induced blemishes. Sometimes Petrova's dances were enough to coax her out, but apparantly this wasn't one of those nights.
Hanethes claps along with the rest of the patrons, and as the dance becomes more and more frenzied and the tempo picks up dramatically, as it often does in the first dance of the night, Hanethes begins to sing with a keening vibralto wail, as he'd often heard from the locals.
10 + 10 = 20
Kanthuun jumped in his chair, barely keeping his seat. "Arasmes! I saw you! You did not teleport, because I saw you. You walked in." He was quite pleased by his logic, then eyed Arasmes' meal hungrily. "How did you get your meal? I've been waiting forever! Wistli, I need that scorpion's sting to wash down this honey wine!"
Turning to Arasmes again, he broke into a large, if slightly unfocused, grin. "How are the jobs going? I missed the churchgoing crowd something fierce on the last one...nothing but hot sun, pelt traders who didn't like to talk, date cakes, and jackals on two legs coming at us when I'd much rather sleep."
|The Elusive Trout|
"My apologies, Sha Kanthuun."
The process of Wistli ordering food and having Mouse deliver it repeated itself, although this time with less of a frenzied pace, as the girl had already prepared the second plate assuming that this turn of events would take place.
The clay vessel full of roasted meat sat tantalizingly before the sorcerer.
Lia-Seed joined in with the clapping as the dance reached its climax, laughing as the joyous belting of Hanethes joined the fray. Pynja couldn't bring himself to look away from the spectacle until Ga'zirja tugged at one of his flowing sleeves.
Talon walks into the bar looking a bit frustrated. His last job was a simple crook who escaped jail. Hardly a challenge for his considerable talents. But that was done with. As he walks through the door, his spirits brighten as he sees the lovely Petrova working her magic. Without taking his eyes off the exotic dancer, he makes his way to the bar and sits himself next to an old acquaintance of his, Arasmes. He sometimes did work for the church of the Dawnflower, so he has teamed with the Keleshite. Of course he'd prefer to work alone as to not let anyone get in his way, but having a partner sometimes helped. "I see the talent is as interesting as usual." He says to Arasmes, his eyes still on the woman. Without moving his head he calls for some food. "I need something with meat in it, and an ale to go with it. I've had a long day."
Arasmes blinks, and then laughs lightly at Kanthuun " I believe you, my friend, are even drunker than I am. And if they were truly two legged jackals I'm sure they'd be happy to help you get some sleep..."
He laughs again, starting to eat his lovely meal and speaking between bites "As for jobs, I have recently completed my personal quest for justice, and am thus most pleased, and taking a few days off to enjoy myself. How might have you been doing outside of your work?"
Seeing Talon enter he waves him over "Ah, Talon, always good to see you. This is my friend Kanthuun, a most potent spellaster. Kanthuun, this is Talon, an old acquaintance of mine, and a good man to have at your back in a fight. And yes, the lady Petrova is lovely and talented as always. Such a pity she has rejected me, my heart may never recover."
While saying the last, his tone grows melodramatic and sorrowful, a pose that is undone completely as his eye is temporarily distracted by a beautiful woman in the middle of saying it, before returning to the dance.
(OOC: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10 to know about Jackalweres and make that little joke. Still enough if they're common in Katapesh! Which I think they are.)
"I'm sure you'll be fine. I mean you should be used to women rejecting you by now." Talon responds with a laugh as he surveys the room. "Works been boring, I was hoping for something interesting to come along. But its been all jailbirds and deadbeats. Oh yea, and nice to meet you Kanthuun." He finally takes his eyes off the room and looks at the pair to extend his hand for a greeting.
Arasmes chuckles and responds lightly "Oh, of course I am, I mean I'm hideous. What's your excuse again?" his tone then grows more serious, even commiserating "Though I am sorry to hear you haven't been properly challenged. I know how much that means to you, and I could probably speak with the Church about throwing some more appropriate work your way, if you wished."
As the one musical number comes to a close, Hanethes finds himself thirsty yet again. But then again, few followers of Cayden are ever not thirsty.
He hops off the stage and heads back to the bar, ordering a honeyed ale. He turns to some of the others around him, calls them by name with an infectious smile. "Look, mom. I'm being sociable."
"How is the orphanage doing? Anyone know? I meant to get out there today, but preparations for the evening got in the way."
Kanthuun takes a break from chewing his delicious meal, his head much clearer. "Arasmes, I admit it has been frustrating. I, like Talon, and well met, Master Talon, seek something more interesting. Better work will do it, or part of it, and though I'm a mere heathen, I do hope the Church will expand. It's more than that, though...I seek meaning in my life. Did you know I am now an old man of two-and-twenty? I'd go join the Dimensional School if I had any wits about me."
He turns again to his scorpion, pushing bits around in the lovely sauce contemplatively, looking up at Hanethes and shaking his head in the negative. "I should go sometime soon, come to think of it, Hanethes, though it does stir up bad memories from time to time."
|The Elusive Trout|
Jackalweres are indeed common knowledge in your area. DC cleared beautifully.
Petrova and Hanethes were rewarded for their performances with many Kelish traditional responses of gratitude. Not too long after, three more servings of dinner found their way to the bar side.
Lia-Seed proceeded to follow Petrova around to ask probing questions about the technique of dance when it must be so difficult to dance on just two.
"It's amazing you don't fall over with some of those motions!"
Most of the patrons were too involved in their own activities to notice, however. Only Ga'zirja seemed to recognize her important visitor right away, but the old woman noodled out that her attire meant that Tikhade was trying to be nonchalant. With barely a sound, the woman took a seat close to Arasmesm Kanthuun, Talon, and Hanethes.
Arasmes nods at Hanethes and says thoughtfully "No, I'm afraid not, I just got back to the city recently." and then sudenly his gaze drifts to the woman who just sat down nearby and his eyes widen and he speaks to her, seriously and politely "Ah, welcome madam. Would you perhaps like a drink, or to join us in some marbled scorpion? It's really quite good."
(OOC: Perception check 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30)
|The Elusive Trout|
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Now that she's pointed out, she can be noticed by anyone in your groups with a DC 5, though it's a DC 10 to recognize her.
The high priestess hastily looks around to ensure that no one else has noticed her presence outside the group at the bar. Content (though this term is relative, as she seems quite stressed), she nods.
"Welcome back, Arasmes. I have something of dire importance to speak about, but we must wait until the city sleeps."
Keeping her voice as low as possible, the woman signals Wistli, who startles upon seeing part of her face. He retrieves Mouse to serve her food almost too eagerly, but thanks to Petrova, again the common customers fail to notice the woman in their midst.
Arasmes nods seriously and speaks calmly and quietly, his voice not quite a whisper, but not likely to carry beyond the small group either "Of course. Do you wish to have this later conversation here, or somewhere more private? And is this sufficiently delicate I should speak with you alone, or are my companions here welcome? I do know them to be trustworthy, but I understand if discretion is necessary."
Drovya makes his way into the unfamiliar tavern, drawn in by the enticing sounds and aromas that waft from within. He had just made it into the Sprawl before the gates closed for the night, and had found the guards wholly disinterested in answering his questions regarding the Temple of the Dawnflower. Ah well he mused, the church is most likely closed for the evening anyway, these are sun worshipers after all. I shall find it by the light of the new day. His belly growled, bringing more pressing needs to mind. While shaking the travel dust out of his paisley, maroon and gold kaftan, he palmed the coin purse hidden under the layers of his desert robes. Painfully thin, much like my belly. Hopefully there is work or treasure to be found hereabouts.
The dark-haired half-elf makes his way up to the bar and stands next to the large man with the covered face. He looks to the halfling behind the bar and says in a voice parched by the dry climate, Hot tea please. And some of whatever smells so good back there, yes? That should tide me over until I can reach the Temple of the Dawnflower tomorrow morning.
Perception to overhead the whispered conversation next to him 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Petrova's eyes widen beneath her dancing veil as she sees who just sat down with Arasmes. "Yes...well...it takes practice," is the only reply Petrova can manage in her distracted state.
She sits down at the bar, craning an ear, but otherwise pretending she's interested in nothing but her meal.
Bluff: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (17) + 11 = 28
After a few mouthfuls, she regains her composure.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
"You know, this cold wind may bother the Kelish types, but to me it reminds me of my salad days--" Kanthuun snaps to attention, eyes widening, recognizing Tikhade in an instant, silenced for once.
|The Elusive Trout|
Wistli immediately complies, as Drovya looks both too foreign and too tired for the usual pleasantries that are usually exchanged with the meeting of a new person. Mouse exits the kitchen with yet another plate and some hot water, the latter of which Wistli takes and pours into the appropriate cup with steeped herbs in a metal mesh.
"Here you are, Sha."
Meanwhile, Tikhade leans inwards in an imitation of intimacy.
"We can speak here; but regardless, we must wait until most of the patrons are gone."
The Kelish cleric spares Drovya a glance.
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Hanethes listens to the conversation quietly, trying not to interrupt. He nods silently to himself as he plans to also wait for the end of the night.
Drovya takes a quick sip of the tea, and finds the astringent herbs most refreshing and soothing to his parched throat. Ah, delicious! Many thanks, barman!. Out of the corner of his eye, he notices the holy symbol worn by the veiled man.
Your pardon, but I could not help but notice the symbol of the Dawnflower. Do you happen to know the priest Bahjat? I am greatly desiring to speak with him.
Sorry if I'm slow guys, I'm typing this all out on a phone.
Arasmes blinks and speaks slowly and a bit hesitantly "No, I'm afraid I am not. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Bahjat has passed away recently. Which is a sad thing for all of us, as he was a good and righteous man. Still, I am a Priest of the Dawnflower, perhaps I could help you in his stead?"
Drovya's eyes narrow, and a faint grimace passes over his face. My condolences for your loss. I had heard great things of Bahjat. You will excuse me, this is a terrible setback for me. I am Drovya Gregorovitch. I sought Bahjat for his knowledge of the realms of certain otherworldly creatures. Not the sort of thing to discuss in polite company. He smiles at the others gathered around the veiled priest. But where are my manners? Will there be a service? I would pay my respects.
Arasmes nods and speaks calmly and politely "Your condolences are apreciated, and I'm afraid I do not know when the service will be. I have just returned from a journey and only heard about his death second-hand, so I have no details. As for your query, while I am certainly not as knowledgable as Bahjat was, I do know something of the planes and their inhabitants, so I might be able to be of assistance. What was your question?"
"Bahjat has died?! I am sorry to hear that. He was a good man." Hanethes interrupts. "But I fear I am lost on the other part of your conversation. Planes and magic are all good and well, but not really my jug of ale. Forgive the interruption."
Drovya draws himself upright and his right hand unconsciously flexes at his side. He brushes an errant lock of hair from his eyes and fixes the priest in his gaze.
I have made an extensive study of the planes, and arcane lore. A wisp of a rumor lead me to Bahjat. I mean no disrespect, but I do not even know your name. I am not comfortable discussing the hell of Abbadon with a stranger chance met at a tavern. Enemies lurk everywhere, and good hearted men must often tread lightly.
Arasmes nods soberly and speaks calmly, his tone having grown analytical, almost academic "Indeed. Forgive my manners, I am Arasmes, a humble priest of the Dawnflower, and a professional investigator. If you are truly worried about enemies seeking what you know, I advise you to school yourself better in the arts of deception, as you just let vital information slip with minimal prompting." his tone grows much lighter and friendlier then "Luckily, I am exactly what I appear, and mean you no harm whatsoever. I still think I might be of help to you, or could at least help you find those who might be, but this is clearly neither the time, nor place, for such discussions. Perhaps we could speak tomorrow? At the temple of Sarenrae, if you still doubt my credibility."
Arasmes is also using Detect Evil on Drovya at this point. He'll come up clean, but I guess the sword might register? GM call, anyway.
"Yea, most jobs seem like a waste of time. But they pay, so I do them." Talon laments.
"Old Bahjat is dead? What happened? I figured the old man was too stubborn to die. " He asks.
Kanthuun observes the gathering crowd with mild concern. Bahjat is dead? He was a good man...and a good employer. Who is this Drovya? Is he trying to horn in on my next job? Tikhade is the key here...she will sort this out. He clears his throat, but speaks in lowered tones.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
"Priestess, Arasmes, permit me to add to the chorus of condolences. I will miss Bahjat dearly. Please trust in me and extend your confidence in this matter; as a loyal helper of the Church, I would be honored to assist in any way I can." And if the coffers are large enough for Drovya and these others milling about, so be it, but I haven't been in Katapesh for two years for nothing!
|The Elusive Trout|
Only Black Ivan registers as evil, and even then, it's a strange, crackling aura that sparks occasionally and snakes out like a weed trying to strangle its competition, which is, in this case, Drovya.
Tikhade nursed her tea and chewed the food offered to her slowly, watching the group discuss things amongst themselves. Her eyes sometimes flitted to Black Ivan with an expression of trying to connect pieces of data when the woman wasn't completely stuck with her own thoughts, which sapped a great deal of energy.
"Bahjat was on an errand to rescue an errant acolyte; a group of gnolls professing to follow the Carrion King attacked her and the village she was attending. Most of the villagers escaped, as well as Sister Fazeen, but from what we can gather, the man was overtaken when the gnolls used hostages."
The high priestess then turned to Kanthuun, honored by his intentions.
"You may also stay, then, sorcerer. But be prepared; what I have to tell is not pleasant."
Drovya looks from Arasmes to Kanthuun to Tikhade and slowly speaks, Priestess? This is a strange convergence. His brow furrows as in deep thought or some inner turmoil, finally he looks back up, taking in all gathered in this conversation. I know that we have just met, but perhaps there is some hidden design in all of this. I believe that an exchange of information may be... mutually beneficial.
|The Elusive Trout|
"A panic. Hardly. I've faced worse than death before. Can't be much more than that." Hanethes says nonchalantly, as he also sits down with the others.
Going to use my half-elf feat to be sociable, granting everyone around a +2 to Diplomacy skill. Might not help any, but perhaps it will ease any bad tidings.