Neither the infirmary nor the Round Oak camp looked promising for baths, but the village of Tillich is a short distance south. You don't know much about it, but unlike the other two, it is a permanent settlement.
Sorry for my absence folks, family stuff has taken priority over the past few days.
CH, in my last post Nathaniel meant to say “Vlad’s service”, not “Gilbraith’s service.” He gives them the money anyway, partly as a bribe for future cooperation, and partly because he truly thinks they have done a good thing by leaving the Falkovnian military and doesn’t want them to regret the choice.
“One of the soldiers at the camp had heard a rumour that Gilbraith had contracted the plague – or the curse as it were,” says Nathaniel. “But perhaps it was one of his followers, likely the man this sister Cecile told you of. The wanted poster we saw in Falkovnia indicated that two men had deserted with Gilbraith, but the men at the camp said there was only one other with him.
“I agree, let’s visit the carnival first, and try to talk to this Yuri fellow – did you actually meet him, or just hear of him? After we’ve learnt what we can we’ll travel on to Tillich and see if we can get rooms – and baths,” he adds the last with a smile and a nod to Tiff and Angalia.
Answering Nathaniel, "We have only heard of Yuri. Sister Cecile says he was quite nervous about speaking to her, so we need to be discrete when we talk to him. No one watching can suspect what we are talking about. Since he handles animals, I suggest we start there and innocently inquire about the beasts at the carnival. If everyone is ready, let's head to the carnival."
The party faces no difficulty locating the carnival. Well-worn tracks lead off of the road not far from the infirmary and make their way determinedly across an open field.
As you approach, you are greeted by the sounds of merriment and laughter ahead of you. The carnival grounds are dominated by a large colorful tent surrounded by several smaller pavilions, vendor stands, and a few buildings that appear to have been adapted from the existing derilict architecture. A low wooden fence marks off the perimeter, but its low height and poor condition indicate an intended use of containing animals and delineating the fairgrounds, rather than providing any legitimate security.
The path leads to an opening in the fence decorated with a colorful fabric canopy. A barker stands on an apple box proclaiming the magnificent sights exuberant spectators can expect to behold inside.
There are patrons at the carnival, but not very many. They look about in wonder at the many sights of the carnival.
The carnival barker shouts out, "Behold! The Carnival of Mysteries! Witness feats of skill from jugglers and acrobats come from across the land! See animals that could tear a man in half! Test your strength against the strong man! Behold the lovely twins Zorya and Zaria, attached from birth! Two copper pieces gets you inside!" He stops to take a few coins from some peasants who proceed into the carnival.
Speaking in a low tone as the group assesses the carnival, Res says, "Remember many of the victims of the laughing plaque may have been afflicted at the carnival. If any one of us is cursed with this plaque, I cannot help them. The magic is more powerful than I. Eliva and I can boost everyone's resistance a little, but it is only temporary and it may not be enough. I am torn, should we split up and spread out our risk, or stick together? The drawback to the first plan, is that split up, we are easier to overcome, the problem with the second option is that we may all be affected in one large group. Does anybody else have any ideas?"
Something about the carnival makes Nathaniel feel uneasy. “I think it best if we stick together,” he says. “Though if this animal trainer we seek wishes a discreet meeting it might be best if only one or two of us approach him. Let’s look for him together though.”
"That sounds good then. Once we find Yuri, Tiffana and I can try to talk to him since we can invoke Sister Cecile's name as means of an introduction. Eliva can stay with you for continued resistance protection. My resistance boost will only last a minute, so I can try to constantly cast it on each of you. Given the jovial setting of the carnival, I don't think it will look suspicious if we are laughing, joking around and pushing each other to look at things. It will disguise the touch spell I am placing on each of you."
With that, Res gives a hearty laugh and claps some of you on the back, while nudging others to move toward the carnival. All with Gorum's holy symbol resting nonchalantly in his hand and murmuring a prayer of resistance to Gorum with each gesture.
Nathaniel’s blush is mainly hidden behind his suntan and beard. He suddenly finds himself very busy looking about for any sign of animals or animal trainers, rather than meeting Tiff or Angalia’s eyes - though he doesn't attempt to extract himself from Angalia's grip.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26 (a further +2 vs humans)
Res is wearing his scale mail and his greatsword and cross bow are strapped to his back. He is walking not in a threatening way, but in a confident way like wearing armor and weapons is second nature. If confronted, about it, he will be startled and perplexed that his attire is raising a fuss.
As you approach the carnival entrance, the barker continues with his exclamations. "For a mere two coppers, you can behold the many wonders of the Carnival of Mysteries! Come one, come all!"
When you arrive, he stops and looks at you all with an appraising look. "We don't want any trouble here. You'll have to peacebond your weapons if you want to come in." He proffers lengths of cheap rope for this purpose. "Two coppers each gets you inside."
Erfan is still dressed in the clothes that the gnome at the Vistani camp gave him awhile ago. They're probably quite unkempt by now, but he doesn't own any other clothes. He is also still carrying his longspear mostly for lack of a better place to stash it... thus a peacebond is not going to cut it (there's no scabbard).
Erfan gawks at the scene laid out before him, having never been exposed to such an event before.
The barker looks at you all warily. You become conscious of what an eclectic lot you are, especially in this land. He nods at Nathaniel and sticks his coins in a pouch.
A token effort to peacebond your weapons, even if it is completely ineffective, is enough to get through. It's clearly a flimsy precaution to begin with - more symbolic than anything else. I'm also assuming you're coughing up the 14 coppers for all of you to get in. You can afford it.
A consummate performer, the barker smiles again. "Be sure you don't miss the sweets. You've never had honey rolls like these." He gestures into the main entrance and promptly begins scanning the horizon for new arrivals.
Eliva can't resist a brightening of her spirits at the happy tone and playful antics of her companions. She is kept busy keeping her friend's resistances high, and doesn't have as much time as the others to keep up with the sights...though her mouth does water at the mention of honey cakes. She wordlessly peacebonds her weapons, figuring the gauntlet will serve if an immediate threat presents itself.
Once through the gate, you are able to fully observe the interior of the carnival. Colorfully painted wagons and tents are scattered about, some selling food, others taken by performers demonstrating their skill at juggling, sword-swallowing, feats of strength, and the like. The carnival is not particularly crowded with patrons, but those that are present seem to be enjoying themselves.
There are four particularly large features:
Directly ahead of you is a large central tent with painted signs in front that depict clowns and acrobats. In front of the entrance to that tent is a clown entertaining a group of children with his slapstick antics.
To your immediate right is a smaller tent with another barker in front. "Come inside and have a look," he calls out to all present. "All of the oddities from the world over brought to appease your curiosity. See the bearded lady! Watch the shrunken man do somersaults! Behold the beautiful twins Zaria and Zorya, forever conjoined! A copper piece gets you inside to behold these and other mysteries!"
Beyond it is a garishly painted farmhouse with a large addition that appears recently added. Its painted sign indicates it has been converted into a funhouse, but the entrance has been boarded and it shows no signs of occupancy.
Off to your left from another large tent you can hear the sounds of animals: whinnying horses, roaring cats, and a few sounds you are not so sure you recognize. On the path toward the animal tent a few venders are set up, selling a variety of foods. If your nostrils do not deceive you, one of them is even selling the advertised honey rolls.