"We have to do something..." The warrior murmurs quietly, sullen as the Sheriff stalks away to arrest the Sphinx. There had to be something they were missing! The skulks were all dead. Another shiver addict dead. The strange markings on this body. Something the others had said about their earlier findings...
"Is there another animal at the carnival or around here that could make those marks? And why was that man's hand torn off? Is that Arhaneem Braeton around here? Damn, people, we've got to move!" The situation seemed to be spiraling out of control, and Irian wasn't used to having to think hard about things. He doubted the sphinx would come willingly, and these townsfolk looked to be out for blood.
I don't think the Sheriff even thinks Jherizhana actually did this. She just needs to calm the panic. We know she won't harm her. I doubt we can stop the arrest at this point. We just still have to find out what is really going on so that we can get her released. The problem is, we're being played.
I'm not sure why though... why go through all of this? This was just some random guy, not someone anyone had a grudge with. It seems insane, but it is not erratic, and the body was clearly staged to get our attention. So, what are they trying to draw our attention away from?
The disapproving look Laetitia gives Feldane suggests that she has lost a bit of respect for Ilsurian's Sheriff, and Tish was not a woman who gave anyone an overwhelming amount of respect to start with. There is no love lost between her and the Sphinx and, in other circumstances, Tish might have been glad to witness the uppity she-lion get put in her place for her earlier snubbing. But the Sheriff was following neither evidence nor logic, merely allowing herself to be swayed by opinions of the villagers she was meant to lead. And with her own false imprisonment still fresh in her mind, Tish was that much more eager to finish the job, collect her pay and leave this place in the dust before the mob turned on them.
"Those are all excellent questions, Irian," replies Tish in a tone that might be similar to a nurturing instructor's if not for the condescension that drips from it. She cuts her eyes at him, trying to convey without words that his temper was unappreciated at the moment. "Now how about you start asking some folks who might know the answer?"
Here I'm assuming that the Sheriff or some other person wouldn't have left the body hanging. If I'm mistaken, then we can retcon this bit.
Sparing only the briefest of glances to the bloated, discolored face, Tish crouches down next to the body and begins the distasteful process of removing the makeshift noose. "The man had his hand chopped off, his eyes gouged out, and then he was strung up in a tree. If this doesn't scream 'grudge' to you, well... remind me to start being nicer to you."
When the last, finicky knot comes undone, Tish gets back to her feet with the dirty scarf in her hands. "So we can find out who this Braeton is, or go back to the Carnival to keep the peace, or question Anglin... But whichever you all choose, do try to be quiet about it." Giving the group her back, Laetitia focuses on the scrap of fabric in her grasp, attempting to look past the grime and clashing colors to pick up on the impressions left behind by whoever held it last. "I might be able to get a glimpse of the murderer, but... I'm a bit out of practice with this."
Appraise (Psychometry): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Median takes the insult in stride, not agreeing, but understanding why L might think this was a grudge killing. Then when she says she might be able to get a glimpse of the murderer, Median starts looking hopeful. If it worked, surely this kind of clue would go around all the misdirection and actually give them a solid lead.
Irian's lips press together at Laetitia's biting remark, but otherwise he remains unfazed. He's never been the brightest of folks, and is used to others using their minds and tongues to try to make him feel small. The best thing to do was pretend it never happened and not let them get off on the obvious anger on your face.
So instead he turns his attention to his priestess companion. "Didn't you say he died of being choked? That means the hand and eyes probably happened afterward, right?" Maybe it was symbolism of some kind...but the warrior wasn't able to grasp it. He knew in some countries they cut off the hands of thieves, and if this man was on parole, he might be guilty of such, but it seemed he had served his time, if the document he possessed was any indication.
They were running out of time...they might not immediately lynch the sphinx, but the villagers would demand blood, and this Feldane seemed like she lacked the spine to hold off the cries of the many. To the others, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb his caustic party-member, "Maybe we should figure out who this Braeton is while Tish talks to the scarf."
Hmm. That's an interesting thought, Irian. Cutting off the hands of thieves... could be some guild ritual thing, but is this town even big enough for guilds? Have to ask the Sheriff I think... or do you know, Owl?
"Actually Irian, I am betting the eyes and hand came before the hanging. This was message." And he probably knew by whom. But was the Harrow card a deception or a calling card?
K:Local: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (19) + 8 + (1) = 28 For the card.
And people seemed to think shiver was being locally produced. Considering the length of addiction, that seemed likely. Owl snaps out of his thoughts as Laetitia mentions she might be able to get a picture of the murderer. "And you are thinking to use this ability now? Two murders later?" he says a little heated. He rubs his eyes and shifts the angry thoughts away. They would not help. "We need to get ahead of this. Three murders in two days is a lot by any standard, especially in this small of a town. There are six of us. So pick your poison. I want to talk with Anglin. That leaves miss Braeton and the carnival, though I am sure they won't execute the sphinx today. Feldane is a fool to be swayed by the opinions of the populace but she's outnumbered and being out-maneuvered."
Oh, my mistake. I thought you were just rolling to know something about the card, not guilds. The cut-off hand seems to be what they would do (to me), not the card. The card seems to just be something to get people to look at the carnival.
Feels more like a calling card. Might be Harrow readings going on at the carnival but no reason for a shiver addict to have one except for sentimental reasons. Also, it has an Androsphinx on it. Too coincidental. But I should redefine the roll as looking for information on the type of murder rather than just the card.
Irian's eyes bulge out as it seems that Median can read his very thoughts. He quickly recovers, but eyes the woman indiscretely as she conversates with Owl about the possibility of a local Thieves' Guild being behind the killings, or being in existence at all.
If Owl was going to talk with Anglin (who seemed on the up and up to Irian, at least), then the warrior would rather some of them go see this Braeton, as well. He'd like to avoid the carnival for now, as it probably was a cluster at the moment. He'd like to help there, but all any of them could do was probably pick a side in the potential conflict, which would be the worst option out of the bunch.
"I guess we can go talk to Braeton while you pick Anglin's brain..." Irian looks at Median, then Lia, then Kalisuel...cuz if they leave the talking and questions up to him, they might as well sit here and wait for Tish.
"I don't think any of us should go alone," Kali says softly, "I-I can stay with Laetitia if Irian goes with Lia and Median goes with Owl."
She wishes she hadn't volunteered to stay with the sharp-tongued woman, but she would rather not subject Irian, Lia, or Median to her barbs. She steeled herself, knowing that it was likely going to be an unpleasant experience.
There was a sigh of relief from Lía, as she let out a breath that she didn't even realize that she had been holding. 'Remember your bearing. Remember your bearing...' she reminded herself, consciously correcting her posture and her expression. She did step closer to Kali, to lay a comforting hand on her arm, as well as give her an honest smile of encouragement. Regaining her mien, she looked in Irian's direction, briefly raising an eyebrow as if to say "Shall we?" She could only lament that she was— once again– going into the carnival and near Jherizana without her book. Hopefully, before this was over, she would be able to get some time to speak with the sphinx.
Irian nods silently to the bookish sorceress, preparing to take leave of the rest of their companions. Out of any of the group, Lia seemed the most level-headed of the bunch, so it might make for a more relaxing change of pace. He shifts his gear about, hand grasping the pommel of his sword and drawing it out a bit before letting it slide back in. Best to make sure everything was in proper working order in case he had to defend the trio making their way to the carnival.
He hoped the woman had a plan to help mollify the events they were about to enter, as Irian didn't really like ambiguous situations. He liked things black and white, and this was all strewn about with gray. He waits for the sorceress and her companion to take the lead, then follows shortly behind, giving the dead body one last look.
"Sooo...Lia...what exactly are we going to do when we get there?"
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Laetitia focuses on the fabric, and channels her inner energy, coaxing the remnants of impressions back to the surface. Her vision focuses on the fabric, and only the fabric. She can hear unintelligible whispers and rough hands receiving it from a women's grasp, bottle clink in the background as she glimpses various potions and bottles line an outdoor stand. She then sees it being wrapped around a hand waving amicably. A moment passes as it is slowly wound around into a cord, and then it begins, the strangling the desperate reaching and attempts to free himself as he is being strangled.
Owl, from what you've seen around town and the townsfolks reactions, the harrow card isn't a moniker of any sort that the townsfolk would recognize. It was placed specifically to show the sphinx on it.
You all are about to come to a decision when a whisper makes it into Owl's ear.
"Come to the carnival quickly. Urgent. Please help."
The whisper is undoubtedly a message spell, and with a small breeze, its gone.
A fit of coughing racks Laetitia's frame as the vision comes to its inevitable conclusion. By sheer force of will she straightens up despite her lungs' protesting, determined not to let whoever remains witness the moment of weakness. It's some moments before she can fully subdue the coughing and the oppressive feeling of suffocation, and she doesn't spare a breath to sigh irritably at Owl's provocation once she's finally regained her composure, much as she'd like to.
Tish considers informing him off her reasons for not being forthright about her ability. That it wasn't a trick she could pull out of the bag whenever she wanted. That the experience was invariably unpleasant for her, frequently leaving her shaken at the things she might discover. That she didn't just see things but felt them, and often the visions lingered on like a bad memory.
Then, she considers not telling him. After all, it wasn't as though Owl played with all his cards on the table, Tish figures.
"Didn't want to show you up too soon," she bites back over her shoulder once she's confident that her voice won't crack. "I wanted to give you a chance to put that unrivaled intellect of yours to the test, but it's clear now that we don't have the luxury of waiting around to witness that."
Bluff: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12 Pffft.
Median puts her hand on Tish's shoulder as she coughs. She doesn't ask her if she is okay, but she waits to make sure she is before stepping back.
So, did it work? she says, her voice at a volume meant only for Laetitia, although no attempt is made to hide what she is saying.
Definitely taking the time to think about her answer, Lía was several steps away from the body and its evidence before she responded to Irian's question. They had to make a way through the small crowd that had gathered, but better to have the townsfolk here than trying to burn the carnival again. The braids in her hair were pulled forward over her left shoulder, and her hand rested on the hilt of her rapier confidently.
"Talk to them", she said simply.
"While they may not be involved, it will be a chance to get to know another member of the carnival that so far has not really had a chance to operate free of suspicion." Her pace slowed a little, so she was walking just a little ahead of him and looked back and slightly up at him with a bit of a smile. At least the color was coming back to her face the more they walked.
"With any luck, we'll have less of a chance of being attacked, but the way that this day has been, I would recommend being alert." Judging by her tone of voice, she was not happy about that, though he could see a bit of her profile, and the smile had dimmed to a more somber expression as she moved a little bit off of the road to walk in the grass. "It would be dismaying to have more people turn up dead."
Yeah, she usually charges extra for that sort of thing... No, I don't mind at all! I think it's a neat idea, physical manifestation of psychic phenomena. Plus, it'll make at least 2/3rds of the other characters jealous of not having put the bruises there themselves. ;)
I also don't mind if it lingers a bit. Tish'll hate it, but maybe psychic wounds don't fade as easily?
"After a fashion," Tish hedges. She brings a hand up to her throat before turning to face Owl and Median, but even so the pale skin of her neck mottled with red can be seen in the spaces between her fingers, the beginnings of a necklace of bruises to be. "It was a man, but I don't think it was Anglin. His hands felt too rough..." she says, looking at her own hand grasping the scarf but not truly seeing it, her gaze faraway as she tries to recall every detail of the vision. "The scarf was given to him by a woman, someone he's on good terms with, I think. They were whispering about something, but I couldn't make it out. The woman, she was running a stand somewhere, selling potions it looked like. And then... well..." Tish gestures to the body lying on the ground, the final act of what she's witnessed not needing to be spelled out. "That's everything."
Delicately clearing her aching throat, Tish points to the scarf around Median's neck—the same one she had called gaudy only a short time ago—before holding up the scarf-cum-garrote in her hand as an offering. "Care to trade?"
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Owl looks at the bruising around Tish's neck and easily makes the connection but does not flinch. Without breaking eye contact he rolls up a sleeve to reveal forearm pockmarked by small burns and cuts. "We all make sacrifices for our craft." He is in the process of rolling it down when he gets a far away look, like he was trying to focus on subtle sound. Owl was familiar with magical messaging and recognized the subtle way the words fluttered into his ear. If they were expending magical aid to contact them then it was serious. Seems a lot of people saw the card. "Change of plans," he says without preamble. "Something's happening at the carnival right now. Might need all of us." He takes off in the direction Feldane and the mob went.
Wish I was as smart as my character but nothing is really making sense. Or I am reading into it too much. Probably won't know until the module is finished.
Irian stays close behind the two women, giving threatening looks along with a tightened grip on the hilt of his longsword sheathed at his side, muscles in his sword arm bulging, to anyone who looks at the trio with less than a friendly air about them. He typically tried not to act this way, but they were in a hurry and these townspeople did not seem in an accommodating mood.
As Lia looks back at the warrior, the young man nods, brow furrowed in thought. "Ok...so we'll talk to them. We need an alibi of some sort. Something to buy us more time." Still, Irian can't resist smiling back at the sorceress before her expression turns more somber. A look that more closely aligned with how he was feeling.
"So, if it comes down to it...what do we do if there's a riot or mob?" The fighter didn't really want to think about it...but having a plan formed for the worst possible situation seemed prudent.
"We stay out of their way." The response came after a few seconds of thought, but Lía was no hero of any type, let alone one that could face down a mob. "We were hired by the carnival to investigate. We are investigating. Someone seems to be fomenting resentment with the townsfolk, though I do not understand why, though the Skulks were involved, which means shiver is involved..." She returned a glare at an individual that eyed them and kept moving. "Or was involved, but killing customers does not seem like a good plan."
Her eyes were looking ahead to where the carnival was, turning the pieces that they had found over and over in her head. The sounds of her boots against grass were a bit louder as she walked heedlessly over some taller patches, chewing her lip as she thought. "If we could find the ones who sell it, maybe we would find something, but we've been running around a lot. I also would not be surprised if they were also dead, though."
Tish watches Owl leave, dark eyebrows furrowed in confusion. The old wounds on his arm explained some things, but also raised more than a few questions. More than anything his revelation seemed to her like a concession of sorts on his part, a peek behind his ever present mask. Suddenly, she feels a bit of her ire toward the half-elf cooling despite herself.
Her eyes flick over to her remaining companion, and Median's expectant look reminds her of the woman's as yet unanswered questions. "Save your strength," Tish demurs after some deliberation, knotting the scarf with a faint look of distaste cast to her features. "The day isn't over yet, and from the sounds of it, some other people might be needing your prayers fairly soon. Now... how does it look?" she asks, turning her head this way and that.
Once she has Median's assurance that the bruise is well concealed, she cants her head in the direction of the Carnival and follows after the others.
Now... how does it look?
Beautiful says Median, clearly not just about the scarf. Then, remembering herself, she grins and says ... in a particularly "gaudy" way, of course.
She pockets the traded scarf used in the strangulation, in case they need it later, and follows L to join the rest of the party.
Sorry folks, essays on Hamlet bogging me down.
The party hurries after the sheriff and townsfolk forming the makeshift mob. By the time they arrive at the carnival, they seem to be walking onto a scene.
"I ask you one more time, turn over the sphinx so justice can be done." the Sheriff asks, doing all she can to hold back the town's ire.
Almara (the leader of the carnival and your hirer), sadly shakes her head.
"I can not turn over what I cannot control."
The Sheriff sighs and walks up to her. Each footstep is filled with the weight of duty, even if the walker is not particularly keen on doing it.
"Then as the Sheriff, I am placing you under arrest. For the crimes against the village, you will be executed tomorrow for the harm your creature has committed. Come along."
Almara nods, and does so willingly. Three people dead, and the town in a fury. They needed justice done. If she didn't the resulting chaos would cost lives on both sides.
As the mob, Sherriff Feldane, and Almara walk by, you see Almara drop a scarf, trodden down on by the angry village folks. She eye's your party keenly, and walks on.
Median brushes off the grass and dirt the best she can, and shows the key to her companions.
She puts the second scarf into her pocket, waits until the crowd has moved off, and asks Shall we go see what Almara left us?
Kali looks at the scene with defeated expression. The killers were always one step ahead of them and she didn't see how they would be able to solve this before it was too late.
Seeing the key, and what it looked to be to, Kali sighs and turns to Owl.
"She dropped that for a reason. Should we see what's in her cabin?"
Irian eyed Sheriff Feldane darkly, the injustices in this small town compounding in the warrior's eyes. First, the call for the Sphinx's head with at least partial evidence that she was not responsible. Now, the looming execution of Almara, who certainly hadn't been involved. The fighter can't help himself, spitting in the path of the Sheriff as she walks past with her prisoner.
As the others gather up the newest scarf, Irian nods at Kalisuel's question. The motion had been deliberate, so it seemed the woman had wanted them to find something of import in the cabin. He prepared to follow along, relaxing his grip on his sword's pommel. He suspected they'd encounter little resistance now that the villagers had a victim for their fears in custody.
"And there goes the customer," Owl says with subtle sarcasm. Crowd thinking. Whoever came up with this plan was doing an admirable job using it. Keep pushing the people and they would implode while they could make off with everything not nailed down. And their investigation just couldn't keep up.
And the key. Just why would she drop the key? What did she have or was hiding that would help if she wasn't involved? Only one way to find out. "Anyone know where her cabin is?"
This is a traveling circus. I assume it's the key to a wagon and not an actual cabin? Why would she have a cabin here?
"No, but I know how to find out," Kali says.
GM, She'd ask one of the workers where they could find the person who was the paymaster on the assumption that he or she would be in a carriage with the other administrative and support wagons which is where I suspect that our client's wagon is.
Median casts a spell.
Summon Minor Monster: 1d3 ⇒ 3
Three celestial skunks appear. She instructs them to follow the mob and spray as many people as they can, but not to harm anyone otherwise.
Irian eyes the sudden arrival of the skunks with equal parts surprise and disgust. While the effectiveness of bringing such creatures into the mob was without question, the warrior doubted he would get the smell out of his nose with a week's worth of bathing. Which for him was probably three week's of bathing...why do it every day when you were just gonna get sweaty and nasty again the next day?
The young man kept marching toward their destination, trying to warn away any who might try to block their path with a glower. Actually, that was pretty easy to manage, considering his nose and face were already wrinkled up from the skunks. Just had to add the 'mean' eyebrows and he had it down pat.
Sorry about the confusing terminology. I've always called those rooms on wheels "cabins" for some reason, like a cabin on a train if you have a private room.
Kalisuel makes a quick inquiry to one of the shocked circus workers, but is pointed what she claims is Almara's cabin. It would appear that business is done close to where Almara can keep an eye on it. The workers of the carnival are scattering, either tending to jobs that need to be tended, some possibly even continuing to pack as they've been ordered.
The skunks materialize with normal conjuration flair, and they proceed to follow their orders. You can hear angry voices as they seem to do their work with haste, dodging blows form angrily sprayed villagers.
Approaching the Wagon's door, the key placed, it opens with a solid clatch of the lock being undone. There is also a slight shimmer of a protection spell vanishing, a secondary protection for mundane thieves.
There in the middle of the room, sits a large, domineering sphinx. She watches you all enter, and with a wave of a paw, the door shuts and latches behind you.
"They've taken her...." Jherizhana says, her face furrowed in concern and sadness.
As Irian enters and the forlorn sphinx states the obvious, the warrior responds. "That's right. And they plan to kill her if we don't figure something out! Is there anything you can add? Something that you haven't disclosed?"
Irian tries to keep the agitation out of his voice with poor success. It was one thing to try and clear someone's name...now that there were clear human consequences to the group's inability to solve this dilemma the big fighter felt frustrated.
"Calmly, Irian. Calmly," Kali cautions before turning to the sphinx.
"They have, but I don't think any of us wish to see an innocent woman murdered just to placate a mob of unthinking idiots. We need your help though. I do not believe that you are the one committing these murders. You are a strong and powerful person, who would have no need to strangle people you wished to kill. The second victim was found outside of the tent where your prop cage is. Can you tell us anything about what happened there or where the body of the first victim was found? Please, Jherizhana. We need all the information we can get. Anything you can do to help us would be appreciated," she says, stepping in front of Irian in hopes of placating the sphinx and not blowing the one live lead they have.
After hoping that Almara was good enough to leave a 'thanks for trying' payment for their efforts, Tish is disappointed, but not surprised, at finding the sphinx sitting in the ringleader's cabin. Given what happened the last time she had tried speaking to Jherizhana, the comely mesmerist gives the others a chance to do the talking for now. Instead, she picks a spot on the wall to post up at, arms folded as a clear sign of her impatience as she waits for the sphinx to start being useful.
A look of wonder is something that Lía could not keep off of her face as they found Jherizhana inside Almara's wagon. Irian's approach and Kali's words dimmed the wonder, sobering her expression and leading her to listen to whatever response they might receive. She was understandably tense about everything that was going on, as she could follow some of the clues, but still had no idea as to why someone would do something like this. She went to stand wherever there was space and where she was not in the way.