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I believe you are overdoing it. You may have gained some notoriety with the wealthiest of merchants, but most people outside of the actual kidnappers perhaps won't know your description.
Amir grabs the others who are looking somewhat suspicious only from their rather tense stance despite the people passing down the busy street who pay them no mind. Reentering, the attention is all on the new batch of slaves for sale and the overseer just waves off the guards at the back to let you through.
At the far end of the cistern, a trough passes under a low arc and slopes gently down a ways before ending in a well with a ladder leading into a chamber below. You can hear an argument in gnoll about who has killed the biggest man echoing up.
Upon the disguised rogue's approach, one of the gnoll guards jokes to the overseer
in gnoll:The corpulent gnoll boss just smiles pointedly at Amir and speaks in the Taldan trade tongue. "You are a long way from home. You are looking for something special perhaps? What is your pleasure?"
I heard elf is delicious.
Amir is off on his lonesome? Any actions from the rest?
The tall elf gives you a nod with a mischievous grin that settles into an indifferent expression as he enters the cool innards of the refurbished ancient water gardens. There are a couple of speculative glances from the other merchants, but no one moves to interact with the foreigner. An inspection of the slave pens does not reveal Xobhadi so the elf descends to the lower floor decorated with ancient mosaic tiles that are now cracked and chipped.
Two human and two gnoll thugs bookend the auction block where three slaves are currently being displayed. A wooden platform holds the auctioneer above the press of bidding merchants with another gnoll brute guarding the base of the structure. Amir sees more guards, human and gnoll, toward the rear of the room by the large cistern. His eyes are pulled to an unusually fat gnoll with greasy fur and a curl to his lip that looks particularly sadistic even for a gnoll. This must be the overseer.
The heat of the day grows as you pass through the throngs of the Lower City markets and beneath the aptly named Jackal Gate into the Twilight Gate District. Amir leads you quickly to the Garden of Chains not far from the River Scorpius.
Like many of the buildings of the district, it has been renovated from the old ruins that were uncovered in the expansion of the city after the coming of the Pactmasters. From the outside it is a thick walled adobe structure with a pair of old towers designed to vent off the heat and draw up cool air from underground. Peering in you see a rounded atrium like balcony surrounding a lowered area that once served as a tranquil water garden.
Now the upper area has been partitioned into a series of small slave pens and an auction block. The lower area has several food carts positioned around an empty cistern. These serve the buyers and sellers as they peruse the goods and make deals. A spattering of gnolls is seen among the mainly human slavers. The caged slaves are mainly human and halfling.
The adventurers step back outside into the heat and noonday sun to make their plan.
Varkata Steeleye wrote:
Trying to convince the others. ;)
The GM is convinced. This group needs some leading by the nose at times : )
The women take the lead while Karethas and Amir continue deliberating. Returning to the markets of Lower City, Varkata quickly finds the tall girl that seemed to know Radi. She goes by the name Sukham, you discover. She knows that he has found employment with a powerful slaver and smuggler known as Father Jackal. Radi has indeed boasted about it and how well he has been paid to betray the stingy adventurers he was serving before.
Karethas ibn Faradin wrote:
Voodoo-Since Clairaudience lets you see 10ft in pitch black, would we be able to see underwater within 10 ft, even if it was fairly deep?
No problem with Clairvoyance working in deep water
Locate Creature can be blocked by running water. It should work for tracking underwater, but waves may cause interference at times.
Wolfgang Baur wrote:
OUTSTANDING!! "Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh" is STILL one of my all time favorite game books.
Kzrira Maiwith wrote:
Hashim waves off his head massaging assistant and rises. "That is fine, some word about Xobhadi perhaps? I hope so. We will give you three days to find him. After that it is best to wrap this whole thing up immediately. I'm afraid that if Xobhadi does not turn up then we must insist the Scroll be sold at auction. Only that is likely to quiet things again. Have a good day." So saying he takes his leave with the entire entourage except a pair of Zephyr Guard.
sooo Kzrira is the spokesperson now?
"Of course, you had to be out of town!" Hashim declares with an aura of admiration. "So you could not protect your prized adviser from nefarious kidnappers!" Looking around at the earnest faces, he shrugs, "Well, it was a fine plan, but I am seeing it is not exactly your style. So this means that indeed, Xobhadi has disappeared without a trace. Normally that would be little concern to the Pactmasters, but linked to the artifact... it is bad for business. The appearance of lawlessness around so valuable a thing is a stain on the reputation of the markets. For the Pactmasters to start accusing any particular merchants of involvement would only further destabilize this whole situation. There is no ransom note or clue?"
At that moment, a Zephyr Guard enters and bows to the Pactbroker. "Sir, a note was just delivered for your guests." Once granted permission to approach, he hands a note to Karathas as the others gather to read over his shoulder.
The note reads:
Your friend is now my guest. If you would see him alive again, you will agree to my price. I want the Scroll of Kakishon. Place the Scroll in a box weighted with stones. Place a light spell upon the box and toss it into the sea at the Dockside Giant's feet. When I have the map, your friend will be returned unharmed. If I do not receive the map by sunset, your friend's blood is on your hands.
Once everyone is properly introduced, Hashim beckons you all to be seated at the great dining table. The woman, who he just introduces as his assistant stands behind him and a pair of Pactmaster Guard stand guard at the door. All the other guard wait just outside the building.
Hashim begins with a smile, "First of all, let me just say how appreciative the Pactmasters are of all you have done so far: the resettlement of Kelmarane, the defeat of the Carrion King, the recent mission to restore the lost trade route. Very appreciative."
"And to learn now that you are not only brave adventurers, but skilled and cunning merchants! Ha! Who would have guessed? To fake the kidnapping of a renowned sage to boost the price of the artifact. Even sacrificing an old servant to make the kidnapping that much more ruthless and believable. Masterful! I'm sure whatever was offered for the Scroll before has doubled by now!"
"Ah, but I am afraid you have taken things too far. Don't get me wrong. I am impressed and the Pactmasters certainly do not wish to tell you how to conduct your business, but the last Merchant Council was a fiasco." The Pactbroker leans back sighing and gestures for his assistant to massage his temples. "It is time to sell. The Aspis Consortium... it has just grown too contentious. It is one thing to hold out for the best price, another to hold out so long that merchants lose sight of their very civility!"
The guards hold you at the gates until the procession arrives. The stone and steel guardian stands to the side with a pale blue light from within pulsing ominously out of its eyes and chest and the eldritch runes which encircle its wrists.
The litter is lowered and a stool appears to ease the exit of a richly robed Keleshite man with impeccably oiled hair and beard. He is followed by a shorn woman in simple white robes who reminds you a bit of Garavel with her dispassionate gaze and the iron bolt in the back of her neck.
Kazim immediately bows to the man. "Hashim Ibn Sayyid, what a surprise. I certainly did not expect the disappearance of an academician would warrant the attention of the Pactbroker." Amir recognizes the name of the most powerful man in the city. The Pactmasters' proxy for running the day-to-day affairs of the city for the reclusive rulers of the capital.
The Pactbroker smiles easily, "Were it only so simple. I am a very busy man, but this all has become something much more complicated. Please, let us speak inside." With that command, the group proceeds into the villa were Karathas is found waiting with an irritated expression.
Kazim looks all business once again as she swiftly leads you out of the great temple and the Dawn Gate District into the Inner City. You've just rounded the Golden Oasis and crossed the now familiar Two Penny Bridge when you hear a heavy tread approaching.
A giant humanoid construct of metal and stone wades through the waist high crowds that swiftly part to clear the road. A squad of scorpion shell armored Pactmaster Guard escort a crimson curtained litter on the shoulders of four muscular slaves all followed by the giant Aluum.
"Ah, that would be the Pactmasters' emissary. We are just in time." She continues her quick strides to the gates of the villa where the Zephyr Guard await.
Kazi appears to make a good attempt at following Kzrira's ranting about vampires, div, princesses and thieves. Finally, she just nods encouragingly and changes the subject. "I must tell you that the Pactmasters want to speak to you. I am afraid that the amount of interest around the artifact has forced them to take a more active hand in things than they would prefer. But you have not mentioned Karathas. Has he survived?"
The guard doesn't acknowledge Karathas' question. "Where were you? Do you have an alibi for the last four days or so?"
Kazim breaks a slight smile as she dispels the zone. "We truly do not suspect you, but we had to follow protocol. Many know of the Scroll now so that does not narrow it down. Who is this Radi and where is your wizard?"
Kazim nods, "Of course we knew of your mission. Vampires? In due time, I would like to hear more of your success, but this unfortunately is of immediate concern."
"The Scroll is still secure in our vaults. It is exactly because of your arrangement with the dean that we must ask these questions. Was there any hint of danger or anything suspicious regarding the man that you witnessed?"
yes, scroll in vault. see below for arrangement.
Amir Awad Hajjir wrote:
Amir agrees that the scholar should have access if they don't return but wishes to make stipulations that Faelar would become the owner of it in the party's absence but that the dean could have access until such time Faelar comes to take control (and do what he will) with the scroll.
Karathas is escorted into the villa and motioned to have a seat at the long dining table. The leader stays outside a moment and then enters to sit across from the wizard. The three other Zephyr Guard wait by the door. The man across from Karathas wastes no more time. "What do you know about the disappearance of Rayhan Xobhadi and the murder of his groundskeeper, Eramin Venshaw?"
Kzrira only senses that the normally fairly friendly priestess is all business today. Kazim turns to the adventurers after they enter the small chamber. "Excuse me, but I am now casting a zone of truth. I hope you will understand eventually, but I must ask, what do you know about the disappearance of Rayhan Xobhadi and the murder of his groundskeeper?"
The next morning, Karathas decides to swing by his Mentor's villa while the others visit the Abadarians. The young conjurer reaches the gates when he realizes that something is wrong. A patrol of the Zephyr Guard, the highly trained mercenary guards of Katapesh intercept him and ask to speak with him inside...
At the Temple, there is little time for talk of vampires. As soon as the Heroes appear, the Vudrani priestess, Kazim, is summoned to hurriedly lead them to the private chapel once again where they can talk...
The Heroes of Kelmerane stop outside the city to rest and await night time when they are less likely to be spotted by the trio of rapacious that have been inquiring about the Scroll of Kakishon. One could only hope that the clamor has died down over the week that the group has been in the Western Wastes, but Marzuk, Badra, and Tamir are not likely to have forgotten. Karethas puts some finishing touches on a newly scribed scroll and the adventurers pass through the gates just after dusk. They quickly make their way to the Lower City making their purchases and checking into a nondescript and forgettable inn for the night.
Varkata Steeleye wrote:
Would it be possible for Karethas and Varkata to scribe a few scrolls on the road (well, during camping.. using the rules for such)
Scrolls valued < 250 gp only take 2 hrs to scribe so I'll allow 1st and 2nd level spells to be made on the road. Third or higher take a whole day and would preclude travel.
I'll take that as a decision to return to Katapesh.
Sadly finding themselves ill prepared by the rumors about the oasis that they heard back in the city, it is decided to return to remedy this. Ashraf-Asim wishes the Heroes well and hopes they live long lives by not returning to the accursed place.
The journey back through the hottest part of the year is tiring, but finally you once again approach the great walls that encircle the capital perched between desert and sea on the first day of Sarenith.
no problem with purchases if you've got the money. Any other business, check-ins, etc? Where will you be staying?
Kzrira Maiwith wrote:
Unless someone wants to attack immediately, I think that we should head back to the nearest town where Varkara can get some silversheen or something similar, same for Amir's offhand weapon. And, where I can buy a hundred or more silver tipped arrows. This will also allow Varkata to heal.
Mind you that you are in an extremely remote part of the western wastes that hasn't even had a trade route for decades. The closest city that would have such supplies would be either Katapesh or Solku.
"Do what you will, but do not interfere with trade."
That's the law in Katapesh City, but the western wastes are a different story. I think the question of slavery in Kelmerane actually brings some interesting opportunities. Definitely Almah serves the Pactmasters and is slave friendly, but that may not extend to the PCs.
In my game, Haleen was actually an undercover Steel Falcon which tossed some divided loyalties into the mix. I also added a Solku contingency which was anti-slavery and seeking to establish a temple to Sarenrae in town in competition with the Pactmaster sponsored Abadarians.
Throw in a pairaka div to fan the flames of conflict and it made for some nice background drama for the newly reclaimed settlement.
Note: no spoilers, this was all bonus material I added.
The lammasu raises his head only to chuckle with little humor. "This is a scene played over many, many times since first I arrived. The only way to destroy them is to uncover their hidden crypt somewhere in the depths of the oasis. Many have tried and many have failed. Believe me that they will be far more difficult to destroy in the cursed jungles within which they lurk."
Simin pierces the black robes, but Sholeh barely breaks the hard pale flesh. In yet another flurry, silver arrows puncture the remaining vampires and another pair of suspect clouds meander away back to the oasis. Asim-Ashraf roars at the retreating vapors, but lies down again upon his rock instead of engaging in futile pursuit.
Neg levels require a DC 16 fort save in 24 hrs or they become permanent.
hasted Simin!: 1d20 + 11 - 2 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 11 - 2 + 1 = 17 Simin is Silver and +1
Even with the boost of Karethas' spell, Amir has a hard time hitting the dark form. Sholeh hits, but it is just a grazing blow off the unnatural flesh of the undead. Kzrira sends a volley into the far vampire leaving it staggering. Varkata cannot follow up her boast and the second blast of divine energy does little harm. They draw upon some blasphemous vitality that slowly mends their wounds. Karethas floats upward beyond reach as the unholy imams strike back.
Again, the blinded vampire finds its target leaving a slight cut across Varkata's cheek. The dark scimitar siphons off some of her vital energy as it tastes her blood. Amir fares better dodging a wild arc of tarnished steel. The lammasu crouches upon its rock, ready to pounce should any of the companions fall.
Simin slashes open the black robes of the abomination and cuts deep into pale bloodless flesh. A swarm of silver arrows drive down another vampire and it disperses into a vile looking cloud that drifts back toward the oasis though the night air is still.
The unholy imam directly in front of her suffers the most from Varkata's channeled rotgut. Karethas casts a spell and suddenly the mortals are moving as quickly as the glittering vampires. getting waay too Anne Rice for me ; )
Boosted by arcane swiftness, Amir parries a dark scimitar. Motes still glitter in the moonlight and blind the other two, but they are far from incapacitated. In fact, they seem to sense the priestess' defensive gesture and one blade jabs in to wound the half-orc. It is not a deep cut, but it seems to draw off her essence as surely as the undead's touch. Varkata- 4 slash, 1 neg level. Another ray of holy light streaks from the rock behind you and burns the offending vampire destroying it. A cloud of unwholesome mist retreats.
The four black robed figures run across the moonlit desert to close with the party and you now see they are still armed with scimitars though they serve Sarenrae no longer. Kzrira's arrow hits one and it curses loudly though it does not slow. At the sound of Varkata's prayer, the hooded heads turn toward her and eyes gleam malevolently with light not reflected from the moon. A blast of glittering dust catches two and they are finally slowed though not stopped.
The other two charge Amir as he draws his blades, but are thrown off by the combined auras of the warding circle and prayer. The scimitars miss their mark. The blinded pair slow feeling their way forward to the priestess. A bolt of radiant light arcs past Amir from behind and the lammasu growls in annoyance at his clumsy miss.