Garavel nods slowly as Felliped makes his requests. "Weapons and armor, we have. I believe the Avistani prefer straight blades to the curved scimitar that is most widely used here in the desert. We do have a few of those in the supplies; longswords and rapiers. They are of no great craftsmanship, but they should suffice. I can also probably find a suit of leather armor that would fit you, or perhaps a chainmail shirt? As for wizardly trinkets, I am afraid I can't help you. None among us are wizards. I have some small pouches that would suffice to store such goods, but I'm afraid you would have to stock it yourself..."
Looking at your spell list, it looks like you need a supply of fireflies, some lard, a clear crystal, and a piece of copper wire, and you'll be set on spell components. Except for the fireflies, all that is probably in the gear, and we'll assume that there are fireflies around for you to catch.
Garavel breaks the silence as if nothing had happened. "Yes, Dashki, Valik, and Signior Leroung. Valik, if you wish to take any of the other mercenaries, that is at your discretion, but I recommend keeping your team small, to avoid detection. Dashki, you are the guide, how do you think it best to reach Kelmarane undetected?"
Garavel strokes his well-trimmed beard for a moment. "Yes, I believe it is a reasonable solution, as it forwards our mission goals while potentially aiding our guest. I would suggest Dashki and Valik, and Signior Leroung if he wishes to accompany them... Though, he is not properly equipped for such a--"
"A most noble plan, Sahib, but I fear we do not have the strength of arms to execute it. All told, we have but twelve fighting men among us -- thirteen if you join as well. Of those, four are not... entirely... under our command. The liveried guards are here at the behest of the Pactmasters, and their orders are to guard the Ameera Roveshki, not," he raises his hands apologetically, "to rescue foreign prisoners. Aside from them, there are six mercenaries, Valik here chief among them, Dashki, and myself. It sounds as though the gnolls have two or three times our number. They could field a force large enough to defeat our diversionary group, while still keeping sufficient reserves to defend the Battle Market. Do you concur, Dashki?"
"Indeed," Garavel replies, "If you please, Sahib," he gives Felliped a polite bow, "Tell us more about these companions. Do you feel they may be in immediate danger? Thusfar, our plan has been to secure additional fallback points to prevent the gnolls from learning the location of our base of operations, while a small team reduces their numbers through, ah, 'viking' techniques, as I believe Valik's people refer to it. According to that plan, it may be several days before we move on the town itself."
Garavel listens carefully to Felliped's information, taking neat notes on a sheet of parchment. "Yes, this complements the information we have learned from Dashki's observations. Both of you estimate about two dozen gnolls. Your observations of the inside of the Battle Market are quite a valuable addition, however, as Dashki has mostly been able to observe only the lower town." The straightens out the stack of parchment, so that it is perfectly straight. "It is fascinating to hear that there are outsiders... Customers, you say. It suggests the gnolls, or this Kardswann, are using the Battle Market for something akin to its original purpose as a center of entertainment and trade."
Felliped comes across Garavel overseeing the unpacking of equipment in the Nave. The majordomo bows when he sees Felliped approaching. "Ah, Signior Leroung. I am pleased to see that you are feeling better. Is there anything I can do for you?"
After hearing Felliped's request, he nods, "Yes, I believe I understand, Sahib. We do have a store of such items, and on behalf of the Ameera, I would be honored to supply them to you as a token of our friendship and goodwill. I can also supply you with fresh clothing. You must understand we did not expect to meet a personage of rank such as you, so the best we can offer you is the garb of a humble civil servant, such as myself. Still, it will be clean, and... he pauses a moment, evidently searching for a delicate way to put "not a bunch of filthy, tattered rags." "... intact."
"I also regret to inform you that we do not have bathing facilities per se, as water is a precious commodity here in the dry lands of Katapesh. I can offer you a pail of water and a sponge, if that pleases you, Sahib."
Garavel, cool and impassive as always, takes Felliped's story and Almah's orders in stride. "Indeed, sahib, we shall care for you as our own." He bows. "We must talk more of Kelmarane and your experiences there, but first, I shall fetch our camp physician." He bows again and heads away through the southern archway.
"A most excellent suggestion Father. Though, Valik, as a representative of your employer, I do advise against trifling with cursed objects. If you incapacitate yourself as a result of such discretionary activities, you will forfeit your pay." He considers for a moment, then moves on. "That said, I do have a supply of blankets. But as it seems the item is currently safely put away, perhaps we should fill the hole and pack up the eggs before the day grows too hot."
Garavel shakes his head. "Hay is too bulky to transport over such distances. The drovers feed the livestock grain, along with what the beasts can forage from the local vegetation. You ought to be able to cut some padding from the brush in the courtyard."
"Regarding supplies, Valik, I do have stores of goods for use in establishing the town once we have driven out the gnolls. If there is anything you need, I am able to requisition it for you. However, as per your contract, you are responsible for your own supplies, and the Pactmasters require very thorough accounting. Therefore, I must charge fair market price for any supplies I provide you with. You understand, of course. Rations and water are excluded, of course, because they are explicitly provided for you in the contract."
Garavel looks hard at Dashki, and pulls out his map. "That would be the most direct route, but it would also be possible to travel through the highlands to the west, would it not? I must admit, the guard post sounds more defensible than the shrine, and certainly more than the waterfall. It does also have the advantage of being on this side of the Pale River. There is a bridge at Kelmarane, I believe, and one further to the east, on the trade road. Crossing between would be... difficult, especially for an armed force."
Garavel strokes his neat beard thoughtfully. "Interesting news, indeed. It seems the gnolls keep mostly to the upper city, on the hill, and leave the lower town uninhabited, except perhaps for a few beasts. If I may make a humble suggestion, Ameera, it would be worth your while to send the mercenaries scouting in the lower town, to eliminate some of the gnolls by ambushing patrols. They may also be able to do away with the guard beasts, and find suitable locations from which to mount a forward offensive. In any case, it is of the utmost importance that they not be seen traveling to and from the monastery. We do not want to give away our position to the gnolls."
Garavel nods obediently and gives a small, practiced bow, "Of course, Your Highness, it is as you say." Dashki rolls his eyes. "But though the gnolls are savages, they do have some organization, perhaps more than is usual for their kind, and their numbers are greater than ours. We cannot be too careful."
Garavel nods respectfully. "Indeed, Ameera, the fact that the structure is in such disrepair may work to our advantage. It makes it less likely that the local gnolls will visit, or that they would expect it to be used as a base of operations agaisnt them. Surprise is, after all, our only advantage."
Garavel nods impassively, not even looking at Dashki as he speaks. "Based upon our experience with the havoc a single pugwampi can cause in the camp, it is critical that the creatures be removed before we relocate. Dashki will show you to the monastery, and then continue scouting, to ensure that the gnolls do not interfere either with you, or with the camp."
Garavel unrolls a map on the desk. "We are here, at the Sultan's Claw. Kelmarane is here, about two miles north of the trade road along the Pale River. As Dashki pointed out, the Uwaga Highlands separate us from Kelmarane in our current position. This makes it easier for us to escape detection, but also makes it difficult for us to gather information about the forces arrayed against us in the village. Dashki has confirmed the location of this monastery," he points to the map, " on the north side of the highlands, about a mile away from our present position, as the crow flies. Records suggest the monastery was the home of some sort of Sarenite sect, but was abandoned at the same time as the village. Dashki reports that it is in poor condition, but it will provide us some shelter, and more importantly, from there it is possible to look across the vale of Kelmarane to the town. As long as we stay inside it during the day, and avoid lights at night, it will provide us cover from the gnolls, as there is no sign that they visit it. However, it appear that it is not entirely uninhabited--"
Garavel gazes thoughtfully at Dashki for a moment before turning his attention slowly to Valik and Dross. "You two have been injured. Return the kid to the herders, have Father Zastoran see to your wounds, and get some rest. The other mercenaries, the guards, and our... gnoll expert will keep watch tonight. Father Zastoran be able to heal all of us more fully when his potion is completed in the morning." He makes a short bow to Almah, "If this meets your approval, Ameera?"
Almah scowls at Dashki, and seems about to reply, when Garavel answers. "Indeed. Well, it may be so, but it is to our advantage to remain vigilant. And, I fear, even if we are not known yet, it is only a matter of time before scouts find our location." He pauses and looks hard at Dashki. "Do you agree, expert?"
The princess is speechless, and seems somewhat revolted by the ugly, and now somewhat mangled, thing. Garavel, however, takes this news as impassively as he takes everything.
"Ah, indeed. I was under the impression that the pugwampi was nothing but a myth, but this specimen does seem to fit the description." He pokes it a little. "Yes, I can see how that could explain the fire. And... What does the goat have to do with this?"
"Ah... yes..." He touches the bolt. "My... Pactmaster's Favor. It is given to those... in certain positions... of the Pactmasters' service... such as advisor... to an important merchant house. It allows me... to remain rational... in times of stress... and also provides... some protection... from mind-altering magics."[b]
[b]"It is a pity... you could not question... the gnolls... but I am glad... none escaped. They may have simply been... scouts... or a hunting party... not previously aware... of our presence. We are sheltered here... by the hills... from direct observation... from Kelmarane. If the fire... did not last long... perhaps the smoke... could have remained... undetected. But best to be... prepared. We must set... a strong watch tonight."
Garavel grimaces. "I must admit... I have my... suspicions... about the fire." He sighs belaboredly. "Dashki... has never seemed... entirely trustworthy. Sadly... I would not be surprised... if he were responsible." He pauses a moment. "As for the gnolls... Were there any... survivors... from the attack... in which I fell? Did you... learn anything... about them?"
Garavel's voice is gravelly and quiet, and he pauses for breath every few words. However, his eyes look sharp, and he seems quite alert. "Well, Valik, it appears I owe you... and your comrades... quite a debt. I did not expect... a gnoll ambush... in broad daylight. They have... grown bold. Father Zastoran... tells me... you have been... investigating this fire incident... for Ameera Almah. What have you... discovered?"
I see. You owe a favor, a blood-debt, to someone who, it seems, has willingly travelled to a gnoll-infested town in the wilderness. I say "it seems," because this family-in-spirit did not see fit to reveal her plans to you; you learned of her destination from a drover at the caravansary. I hope your blood-debt does not lead to a conflict with the contract you have signed, or with the laws of this land. At this point, Garavel turns around on his camel to look down at you. His face is as impassive as ever. This "Haleen" seems to be quite a mystery. I don't like mysteries. He turns back to face forward.
Perception DC 15:
As Garavel turns around, the wind blows his keffiyeh, and you see some sort of metal object protruding from the left side of his head.
The sun will set soon. There is a small creek running down from the hills up ahead. We will camp there for the night.
That, I believe, is a custom the Roveshki's have not kept. But surely, there is more to your story. It is a long way from Magnimar to Solku, by any route, and I do not think you have been following this family of yours -- A woman named Haleen, was it? -- the entire way. He pauses a moment, then continues. Haleen... Unless I am mistaken, that is a Kelish name, not one from the far north.
Garavel faces forward, saying all of this with the same cold disinterestedness that he has always spoken with. Yet, her remembers the name of a woman you mentioned only once in passing the last evening. You get the feeling that nothing escapes him.
Garavel begins to gather up his papers. I am going to go purchase supplies for our venture, and pack the baggage. I advise you all follow Dross's example soon and get some rest. We leave at dawn.
He turns to Erilene. Please put a meal and a room for Valik on my account.
His papers neatly arranged in a leather folio, he leaves the Inn.
Welcome to the expedition. Garavel adds the signed contract to a stack on the table. These four... gentlemen have also signed on," he says, gesturing to the mercenaries. [b]Travis, Dullen, Asad, and Dross, meet... He glances down at your name on the contract, written in runes. I'm sorry, I don't believe I caught your name. Just realized Garavel never asked your name, even though he already said it once... Oh well.
After Valik answers,
To answer your other questions:
Although summer swiftly approaches, the rains have just stopped, and it is yet cool enough to travel during the day, especially in the hills. We will make better time in the light of the sun, and stand less risk of becoming lost or injured. The journey should take us five days along the trade road. Here near Solku, there is little danger for a group of six armed men. As we near Kelmarane, we must be wary, for gnolls prowl the hills.
Garavel blinks several times. His face remains calm, however.
Intriguing... All the others signed the contracts without reading them. A different sort of man altogether, this one.
Indeed, sahib, if you would like to go over the finer points of the contract, I would be happy to explain it to you. It is just as you say... except for transportation. The main part of the expedition, with all the wagons and supplies, set out for Kelmarane three days ago. We will travel lightly, with only such provisions as we require to reach the rest of the party. I have only three camels; two will carry our food and water, and one will carry me. If you have a beast of your own, of course you are welcome to ride it.
Now, as to the contract...
Garavel goes over the contract with you line-by-line. After about 20 minutes, it still seems strange and convoluted, but you're pretty sure you get the drift. (You can read the spoiler.)
Most of the NPCs in this adventure have their pictures as avatars on the forum, but for some reason Garavel doesn't. Here is what he actually looks like.
Garavel nods. Very well. We will also provide you with a stay at the Breakstride Inn tonight, and food for the duration of the expedition. It is your responsibility to furnish your weapons and any other equipment. If you will just sign this contract... He slides a piece of paper and a quill pen across the table to Valik. The text is written in complex legal jargon, containing the words "Almah Roveshki," "Kelmarane," and "200 dinars."
Profession (lawyer) DC 10:
It's a standard contract; you follow orders, the town gets freed, you get paid. Garavel, Almah, and the Pactmasters have no liability for anything that might happen to you in the course of the job.
Just kidding. Not usable untrained!
@Travis He said you leave at dawn tomorrow. ;-)
Indeed. My mistress, the merchant princess Almah Roveshki, has been charged by the Pactmasters of Katapesh to restore order and rule of law to the town, so that it may become open to trade once more. I have been authorized to promise 200 dinars*... His eyes stray to Dross. ...to each able bodied individual... He returns his attention to Valik. ...who assists in this venture. We leave at dawn tomorrow.
* gold pieces
Garavel glances coldly at Asad, and then turns back to Valik.
Very well, but I am recruiting for an expedition, not running a caravan or escort service. If you accompany us, you will be expected to follow orders, to fight as necessary, and not to take your leave until our task is complete. You will, of course, be paid for your efforts.
Garavel nods, sizing up Valik.
He is young, but I think this one has potential. Certainly more than the rest of this wretched lot. Almah will be pleased.
Welcome, then, Valik, and salaam. It is strange, indeed, that you have family in Kelmarane, for it is my understanding that the city is overrun by bloodthirsty gnolls. I hope your family member did not travel there in... unpleasant circumstances of servitude.
Perception DC 15:
Garavel has a strange, metal bolt sticking out of the side of his head, which is concealed by his keffiyeh.