Amir glances over all the strangely colored potions. Surely, there are some valuable magic ones amongst the beakers and vials, but he is no expert and he has heard tales of dire consequences for someone trying an unfinished potion.
The cash box in the sales desk is empty and Amir turns his attention back to looking for a hidden stash in the living area. His sharp eyes finally spot a loose brick and a hoard behind it containing 304 gold scarabs.
Goat Shack- Kzrira
The couple wring their hands looking confused. Hadar starts, "I am sorry, brave lady. We do not understand what you need."
Hadra continues, "We are only simple slaves. We only know how to care for the Princess' animals-"
Hadar interrupts, "The men come and go to do what they will at the tannery, but we have not seen gnolls or other monsters."
Faelar Braegen wrote:
My Diplomacy was : 32
which still tops out at 'helpful', not self sacrificing martyr for your cause and may require time to establish rapport.
The tailor nods as he finishes recording his measurements. The Mwangi man in a colorful long tunic and white trousers is tall enough to look Faelar in the eye and smiles. "You seem an honorable elf. Very well, I agree to your terms. Let us shake hands on this business."
"The Infusium next door is run by a red-haired gnome named Zataran. He arrived here with Princess Almah and has been acquainted with her some time. I believe he used to serve as her physician, but he mentioned that lately he has been spurned as she has taken a local woman as her sole attendant."
"I have seen this woman when I have had business with the Princess. She is named Undra and only dresses in a ghastly black burqa."
The tailor takes some offense at Faelar's offer, "Oh, I am most sorry, my friend. A wedding dress for a halfling is not something I could easily sell should you change your mind. I must ask for the money up front."
Amir finds a small bed, book shelves, and a writing desk behind the partition. The books and writings mostly consist of arcane formulae. A journal contains some attempts at poetry and there is a book filled with contacts and suppliers from the capital city, Tiven's Reed, Finderplain, Bug Harbor and Quantium.
Shepherd's hut- Kzrira
Hadar and Hadra appear happy to see Kzrira and welcome her effusively. They are glad to see she remembers dear Rombard and the little goat bleats at her from its perch on a rickety shelf.
To her questions, they have little to offer. "We are simple slaves of the Princess," says Hadra.
"We have no duty other than to care for her livestock," adds Hadar.
"We would certainly never question what the Princess does-"
"Nor spy upon her!"
The tailor's eyes gleam at the promise of a new client. "I am certainly the best tailor in the region and even Solku, if I may say so. You have no need to look any further. As for a wedding dress, my mind races with the possibilities. You shall certainly save money on the amount of material needed, but I might put the price around 50 scarabs for a piece that would be a wonder."
"As for yourself, I know just the material that would work- durable, yes and fine against delicate elven sensitivities. Yes! Let us get your measurements now!"
The man races through his kit to find a tape measure and pen. "The market is yet growing. The shops on this level hold little of interest to the riffraff below, but for a fine gentleman such as yourself, well, the potion seller next door might have something of interest. There is a purveyor of fine rugs and furnishings across the way and a jeweler who has made a few nice pieces for the Princess. I can perhaps buy some pearls for the wedding dress."
Amir finds the darkened shop a hazardous maze of glass vials and philters that glitter in his magical torch light. A whole wall is covered by a bizarre contraption of bubbling beakers and rubber tubes. There is a sales desk near the front and partitioned corner that contains Zataran's private quarters.
The upper shops are actually quite quiet as they have little business in the evening and are preparing to close. The tailor looks quite excited as two quality customers suddenly appear in his shop. He bows to Faelar after hearing his request. "Sorrowfully no, my noble friend. But it would be my pleasure to make such a dress. I, in fact, have designed and created many beautiful gowns for the Princess."
Amir steps around the corner and returns in an altered form to use the key he had removed from Zataran and enter his shop.
Wating on an action from Karethas, Faelar or Amir.
Kzira sees some men head out of the market and make their way down to the tannery near the river as the sun sinks behind the mountains. She hears the distant howl of the Carrion King from Pale Mountain now sanguinely lit in the receding light. As darkness falls, she recognizes Hadar and Hadra bringing their flocks back up the road to the ruined walls of a few fallen buildings which now serve as a makeshift corral. The couple retire to a small structure between their herd and the market. A flickering light in an empty window reveals a fire as they prepare their evening meal.
Kalyx shrugs and with a loose wave says that a local mercenary has challenged a wandering arena fighter called the Hyena. With a start you realize that the scraggly man is actually a woman as she turns and wanders off to find more regular customers.
The second floor is quieter and the stores slightly more upscale. Zataran's shop is shuttered next to an open tailor shop.
It is early evening when the group returns to Kelmarane after a delicious meal prepared by Qilue. Kzrira skirts the palace and market to enter the upper guard tower that remains uninhabited due to the low number of available guards which are concentrated at the market. From there she has a good view of the upper and lower town as well as the road and river.
Amir, Faelar, and Karethas enter the market to find the tavern full and drinkers overflowing onto the benches cheering on a fight on the central stage. A haze of pesh smoke hovers over the scene. The scrawny straggly haired pusher named Kalyx approaches you offering an assortment of drugs for purchase.
Returning to the monastery, Zataran's body is interred in the crypt below. It is cool and dry there and likely decay will be somewhat slowed which is helpful as Garavel's caravan is not expected for a few days more.
sounds like Amir was interested in checking out Zataran's shop and the rest will continue trying to spy on Undra?
Kzrira Maiwith wrote:
Kzrira shakes her head in confusion: This is when that little dragon would be mighty useful. He could simply follow Undra wherever she went.
most certainly, but where would the fun be in that? I'd certainly miss close calls and cat house cat fights ; )
Amir- first with the 'Shanks', not with the 'Undara'. yer killing me, Smalls!
Karethas finds nothing else of interest.
You recognize a resemblance to an eclipse which is the sign of Ahriman, the div demigod of oblivion. The few worshipers of the nihilistic fiend are known as Usij. Most were hunted down by priests of Sarenrae over the millennia, but occasionally a cult reappears.
Keeping your face covered, you carefully weave through the cauldrons and tubs waving the fat flies away with your free hand. You have a hard time imagining to what use the varied scum covered liquids could be put. You feel the minutes slipping away when you see a glimmer as a beam of sunlight reflects off something in a shallow sepia pool contained in a smaller black kettle.
Kito snickers as the woman falls. "Oh blighted rose, has the syphilis finally reached its advanced stages or is it alcoholism that causes your hands to tremble?"
Another whore helps the woman stand. "Shut up, Kito! You are hired to play not talk."
The garundi man rechecks his tuning, "This is true, oh scabrous one. Though if you had seen the red-headed gnome as I advised perhaps he would have been able to remedy you before you spread your disease throughout the community."
The bothersome woman turns to the musician in the corner who has stopped playing after the disturbance of the falling vase. "Kito, did you hear anything?"
"A falling vase, oh withered rose," the Garundi musician quips.
"No, besides that."
"Your wheezing breath."
The woman looks suspiciously at the door again. "I think the mistress is back." She raises a trembling hand to knock at the door, but hesitates. "Mistress?"
Kzrira bunches a carpet at the woman's heels. Across the room, another of the women gathers the pieces of the broken vase and tosses them out the door grumbling, "Not worth the cost of a mending spell."
The "rose" turns at the sound of the front door opening and trips over the carpet falling heavily.
Meanwhile across the river, Faelar passes Karethas who waits under a tree by the bridge with the mounts and Zataran's corpse.
Kzrira- fine with you leaving non-essentials on the horse, but nay on playing the Flash.
Amir takes advantage of the distraction as the sagging prostitute turns her attention to the sound of breaking ceramics. He quickly slips into the dim and foul smelling room. The woman's head flicks back to the door looking confused as she stares at the now closed door. Kzrira moves quickly back toward the door, but has to stop quickly to avoid hitting the woman who steps to the door listening.
Faint light filters through the warped beams in the roof. The room is filled with several large cauldrons and tubs filled to varying levels with murky and foul smelling liquids.
Kzrira Maiwith wrote:
As soon as the vase falls, Kzrira quickly heads back to slip into the office once the old whore's head is turned.
To be clear, stealth is half movement so you aren't moving quickly unless you want to waive stealth. I think Amir has an opportunity to slip through the door though at a penalty while attention is diverted. Waiting for Kzrira would likely lose the diversion.
The old whore approaches the door with her head cocked listening for sounds beyond as Kzrira stealthily maneuvers across the room. The woman is uncomfortably near Amir when a vase across the room crashes to the floor. All eyes turn to the far side of the room though the woman is yet only a few steps away from the rogue.
Kzrira Maiwith wrote:
Unless Amir objects, I assume that Karethas casts Invisibility and Amir and I head for the tannery/brothel.
Spell was cast before you crossed the bridge and investigated so 5 min left.
Amir finds himself a little rusty, perhaps he has been spending too much time with the sword and not enough with the pick. It takes three attempts for him to finally finesse the tumblers around and unlock the door. No one notices the soft curses and faint scrape of the picks until the bolt finally slides back. A middle aged woman in small clothes and too much make-up stops scratching her loin long enough to get up and squint at the door.
how long is the duration of the invisibility, Karethas? I figure it's been at least 5 minutes so far with half movement and inspections of the outside and inside.
Falear continues on to the upper town as the others stop at the bridge. He finds the palace across from the Market reopened and the ongoing repairs of the past few months nearly completed.
He waits for some time in the sitting room before a guard escorts him to see the Princess. Undra sits nearby, a foreboding figure encased in black veils and silent. Almah does not seem particularly interested in speaking with the tall elf, but his display of proper etiquette and charming words flatters her.
"A lovely offer, elf. I have heard that your dances are quite beautiful. I was just about to inspect the palace however as I am weary of these cramped quarters above the noisy market and am looking forward to reinhabiting my ancestral hall. Perhaps you could perform at the lovely ball I am planning once the palace is finished. Garavel will soon be returning with a group of nobles from the City and many wonderful gifts from the Pactmasters. I am certain there will be quality musicians to accompany you then."
It takes a few moments for Kzrira and Amir to adjust to the dim light inside the tannery after stepping inside out of the desert heat. Several pairs of eyes glance up as the door inexplicable swings open, but no concern registers as no one is seen after the door swings closed. Several half clothed women lounge on cheap furniture and a man plucks meditatively on a stringed instrument. The scent of pesh and cheap perfume struggles to cover the persistent stink of the old hide processing business and a few flies still buzz around.
Amir skirts the inhabitants and listens at doors until he finds one that looks to be the old office of the tannery and hears no creaking cot beyond. He does however find it locked.
The group finds some shade near the bridge and Karethas and Faelar keep an eye on the mounts while Amir and Kzrira disappear from sight and quickly move over to the old tannery to look around.
A stink rises from the scum lingering along the bank from the building's previous incarnation, but everything is pretty still under the climbing heat of the noon sun. A stringed instrument sounds languidly from inside and a woman's laugh is heard. Circling around the smaller attached buildings, the sound of lustful exertion is heard from at least one of the annexes.
Amir gently stitches up Zataran's remains in a bag and places him on his new mount. Continuing on to Kelmarane, you soon reach the outskirts of the city. Some of the lower ruins look occupied, but little effort has gone into repairing the ruins of the lower city aside from Undra's brothel across the river where you see several small wooden rooms have been added to the old tannery.
And what do we have for livestock at this point?
As for Zataran, I would suggest Amir produce two sacks, needle and thread from his sash to make a small body bag to throw on Hota's back.
That evening the monastery has a visitor. Zataran, the red headed gnome alchemist leaves his shop in the market to visit with Faelar after seeing Karethas escorted out. He appears worn from the long walk, but agitated and upset.
In his long winded way, the gnome finally gets around to the point. He is concerned for the health of the newly resettled town and he thinks Undra is the problem. He allows that Almah has always been a bit spirited, but never so paranoid and frankly dangerous as she has become since taking Undra as a vizier.
Zataran also reports that Undra's brothel is affecting the public health. Many have come to his potion shop looking for cures for various venereal complaints. He believes that maybe a third of the market is showing signs of the shakes that come with the advanced stages of the disease.
A flush rises to Almah's face in contrast to her elegant green dress. "Do you attempt to tell me how to rule, Sayed? Your prophecies are indeed true, Undra. You said that they would not be happy with the monastery and would seek to take all of Kelmarane for their own! You were rewarded for your service, Wizard! Kelmarane is my birthright and you are not welcome here! Guards, remove this man from my sight!"
Two Pactmaster guards in red scorpion chitin plate armor quickly flank Karethas prepared to use force if he should resist the princess' command. The veiled witch remains silent. Karethas- sense motive.
It is several months later in Gozran, just as the heat of the summer starts to become unbearable that all gather once again at the monastery. Faelar and Qilue have done a great job filling the place with the furnishings shipped back from Katapesh City and the place is starting to feel quite homey.
Visits to Kelmarane prove somewhat troubling, however. Without Garavel to guide her, Almah has been lax in her rule. The market has grown, but it seems little better than the wickedness that marked the Carrion King's rule. Bandits and slavers have taken over the stalls once again and you are perturbed to find even Slow Idi has survived and opened for business. Undra has expanded her home in the old tannery and turned it into a brothel. She remains totally covered in public anyway and often at the princesses' side.
Faelar finds himself stymied by the oldest texts which are in Ancient Osiriani. The Archivist offers some assistance telling the elf how the gnoll ridden wastes of these lands were first conquered by the Pharoah of Blades leading a djinn army in the Age of Destiny. Information is hard to find once again after the fall of the Empire. What is known is that many jann and other released genies and their mortal descendants continued to inhabit the region as well as the nomadic Garundi natives and gnolls.
He finds the last two millennia much easier to interpret after the Keleshite immigration when the church of Sarenrae was exiled from Osirion and migrated into the region. With the founding of Sarenrae’s Bastion, which eventually becomes Solku, the records are more complete and understandable. He reads of the arrival of desert dwarves in 2515 and the influx of refugees during the Year of Scouring Winds; the Oasis Age and the rise of the drug Pesh; the fall of Sarenrae’s Bastion to gnolls, its abandonment of the Dawnflower, reconstruction as Solku, and finally the return of the paladins of Sarenrae . There is surprisingly little about the coming of the Pactmasters, but Faelar finds some items of interest in the earliest records.
It appears that the first Keleshite immigrants were even able to escape to these lands after the pogroms in Osiron because of the death of a powerful gnoll matriarch named Kinroth Geniebinder. She was slain by a band of jann warriors to prevent her from gaining an artifact called the Stars of Martek that would allow her to command all the genies of the region. Centuries later, the jann and djinn united again under a peri named Nefeshti to battle an efreeti noble named Jhavul that had risen from Pale Mountain. The Genie War scarred the region with strange magics released by the wishes and it remains a dangerous region to this day the texts assure the reader.
Kzrira and Faelar are the first to leave for Solku where Faelar and Qilue spend some pleasant weeks as Faelar immerses himself in the lore of ancient Osirion and Katapesh. Kzrira travels on to Fort Longjaw and proves herself a worthy warrior in skirmishes against the gnolls and bandits that threaten the trade and settlement of the region.
The capital city has more to offer Amir and Karethas, though the young wizard stays clear of the College of Dimensional Studies after his embarrassment there. He does however, find the varied markets a great source of arcane information. He reacquaints himself with the Peculiar Emporium and even revisits Antiquities Books in search of a particular scroll.
Amir visits the Immaculate Repository in the Dawn Gate to make sure the Abadarians' receive Antar's story and remains. He then turns to more worldly matters, renewing his contacts in the Night Stalls and positioning himself skillfully for trade in the future markets of Kelmarane.
i found a fix on the 'nets. all good.
we've got A YEAR of downtime so no big hurries. a month in Katapesh won't kill anyone.
So I figure Kzrira spends some time at the Fort.
All back at the monastery after a couple months?
and go ahead and level up to 5th.