"Almah, while we wait for Dashki... We have found very little so far in our investigation of the fire. There is some finger pointing, but none of it can be confirmed one way or another. So far we know very little I'm afraid."
"It is still possible that it was just a mishap with candles - we have no real evidence to the contrary, at least not yet. But we're also not done - we have leads yet to follow."
He looks hopefully at Almah, hoping to be granted additional time to check on that uncomfortable guard. Might be nothing, but it's the only lead we have I think.
"No need to demand, but I am uncomfortable revealing it as I think the finger pointing is due to personal dislike rather than any actual evidence. That said, a few of the guards you hired think Dashki might be to blame. They do not like the way he skulks around and so their minds leap to him as a potential wrong-doer."
"We have found no evidence at all that he was in any way involved however, and I would caution you against jumping to conclusions based on the discomfort of a few in your employ."
Malki stirs himself from his reverie. The battle with the djinnling left him a bit speechless, and in need of some heavenly water.
"We have, though, found evidence of a small creature stealing away our goats. A djinnling of mischievous mien. Could it be that it has been sewing other mischief in the camp?"
If no one else picked up the body, he draws it forth. "I know not the name of this sort of mephit, but it looks capable of much ill will."
"Almah," Garavel says, "Listen to them. Dashki can't be trusted. If anyone in this camp was revealed to be an arsonist and murderer, he would be the least surprising."
Almah sternly turns towards Garavel. "That is enough, Garavel. We will see what Dashki says when he arrives. I know not what this tiny creature is, but perhaps our desert hunter can shed some light for us."
She turns her attention back to Aldebert. "You say you have another lead? Then go, quickly, while Dashki is being summoned."
Amiamble backs away from Almah, happy to be set free to search for answers.
He tries to guide/lead Aldebert (and whomever else is smart enough to follow him) back to the furtive guard.
We need to speak with that one, alone.
Mahdi watches everyone disperse to go chase down their next lead. He bows once more to Almah and to Garavel, then exits the tent... and sits down cross-legged by the door-flap (unless Almah's guards object).
If Garavel and Almah are about to have an argument over Dashki's place in the caravan, he would rather like to hear.
Perception, ignore if the guards shuffle him away: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
From what you can tell from her remarks, the comments about Eloais and Almah seem to be coming from the direction of rumor-mongering, nothing factual. As you are leaving the tent, you hear the sound of a man yelling somewhere nearby, proclaiming something about being innocent.
At the sound of the yell, Mahdi will get back to his feet, brush dust off his ass, and start making his wary way towards the sound of the yelling.
"Peace, brother. I believe you. We come asking about something else." Malki once again takes out the small corpse wrapped in his cloak, which has no doubt begun to smell almost as strong as Dashki. "Do you know what this is? Might it have caused the fire?"
The questioning complete, but hollow feeling, Aldebert rushes back to the main tent to see if it is in fact Dashki proclaiming his innocence.
He'll try to gain entry to Almah's tent unless the guards stop him. If they do, he waits outside a respectful distance away hoping that the loose lips of guards didn't just doom an innocent man.
If he does gain entry, he listens quietly until called upon to speak.
Ami ambles (hah!) behind Aldebert, keeping quiet and listening.
I do not think we will find an answer. The ill aura of the creature was likely the cause.
As you all converge a bit away from Almah's tent, you see Fixx and Dashki arguing. Upon seeing the whole party arrive, Fixx states in a gruff tone, "Lady Almah and Garavel are waiting for you, Dashki."
The guard marches back to his mistress. Dashki, his eyes wild and untamed, examines each of you thoroughly for a moment, even taking an opportunity to sniff the air. He nods his head towards Malki, as though to acknowledge the shepherd's greeting, but doesn't say a word. He then turns and heads towards Almah as well.
When you all arrive, Dashki immediately bows humbly before Almah. "I came as quickly as I could, but one of your dogs felt compelled to interrogate me. He accused me of starting the fire! How do we even know the fire was set? That idiot burned a hundred candles in his wagon."
His eyes begin to drift down towards the head of the tiny gremlin that's sitting on the table.
"Perhaps he just got unlucky. We're in gnoll country, after all. See that? It's a pugwampi."
Garavel, looking puzzled, exclaims, "Pugwampis? I've never heard of such creatures before, and I've lived in the Katapeshi deserts my whole life."
Dashki continues, "Terrible critters what crawled up from the Darklands below the earth. ‘Jackal rats,’ some folks call ’em, on account of their pointed little heads. They worship gnolls as gods and infest their communities like rats. Wherever pugwampis go, bad luck is sure to follow. The gnolls hate pugwampis because of it, and try to kill them all the time. But they always come back. Perhaps their bad luck caused the fortune-man’s candles to start a fire? Yes, pugwampis. I am certain it was pugwampi's fault.”
Dashki turns to Malki with a confused expression. "... Jani? No, these pugwampis are evil Fey that exist only to make life miserable for others.". He then shows a faint resemblance of a smile, with rotting teeth exposing from his lips. "But I appreciate the good faith in me."
Almah nods towards the hunter. "Thank you for your assistance, Dashki. It has been incredibly helpful."
Dashki winks and grins at Garavel very obviously, before turning towards the exit. "I believe my services here are done. I will retire now for the night. Good night, lady Almah.". Clutching his staff, the young hunter limps out of the tent.
Amiamble smiles under the scarf that hides his face, his eyes bending gently at the edges.
Dashki agrees with me. It was the little fey that caused the fire...I felt the ill aura too. Next time it happens, I'll know what to do: find the creature and slay it.
The matter settled, Amiamble awaits on the next job or leave to back to exploring.
Mahdi, for once, says nothing during the conversation, though his lips purse at the name 'pugwampi' as he recalls legends from books.
His eyes watch the rangy, smelly man. He feels some bare modicum of sympathy with him-- the sympathy of being perhaps falsely accused by these idiot men in armor, Fixx and all the rest-- but at the same time, the man's disgusting. If he'd had a hand in the fire, the pugwampi makes a convenient scapegoat, doesn't it...
Sense motive on Dashki: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
But his suspicions probably find nothing solid to base themselves upon. Mahdi bows again to Almah.
"I have also heard of these pugwampis," he says. "Legends tell of bad luck following them-- of deft hands becoming clumsy, of trained warriors falling over their feet." He pauses, then smiles thinly. "Legends, and the fact that the five of us were all thumbs and stumbles as we tried to retrieve the goat.
"It is certainly possible that the pugwampi's ill fortune may have caused your Eloais to fumble with a candle's placement, or similar. While it seems that many in your caravan bore the Varisian little love, dislike is not intent. Or I should probably be dead many times over."
"In lieu of further developments, my Lady, we have no greater conclusion than that the fire could have been nothing worse than the bad luck of the deep desert."
Mahdi speaks rather stiffly; he would far prefer to be handing over a suspect with a tidy and triple-bow of guilt around his or her neck. Ideally, it would be one of those mercenary guards. Alas.
Almah nods in agreement.
"Your assessment seems correct, Mahdi. It seems poor Eloais was a victim of this... pugwampi's ill luck. However, if Dashki is correct that they tend to be attracted to gnolls, then I'm afraid we may be dealing with more of the foul creatures living nearby. The Sultan's Claw is too exposed of a location to stay longer than the night."
She pauses and muses for a moment before continuing.
"From my maps, there is an old monastery to Sarenrae about a mile from here. The retired building would make a much better base of operations for our coming battles with the gnolls of Kelmarane. Yet, if I had to bet gold, the monastery will be far from abandoned. Perhaps these pugwampis have made their home there."
Almah rises and points to her maps, showing a marked location and directs you all to the location of the monastery.
"You all have shown great teamwork and initiative in accomplishing this first task of solving the death of Eloais. Your next duty will be to travel ahead of us first thing in the morning and clear out this monastery for the caravan's arrival. Pretty straight-forward. Any questions before we retire for the night?"
As she speaks, Garavel reaches into a chest and produces a large satchel. Almah smiles as she sees it. "Oh, thank you. Garavel and I discussed compensation before you returned and decided on a reasonable sum for your services this evening. Obviously, there are no stores in the middle of the desert, but I have ordered Father Zastoran to sell his potions to you at a discount. You are also welcome to relieve Eloais' wagon of anything useful you found for your task tomorrow."
With Eloais' coins, you each earned 211gp.
Mahdi bows again, even though he's currently thinking about how much he's going to hate dealing with more of these little wretches. Still, in his apprenticeships he had had to do many tedious tasks in order to learn anything of true magic. He supposes the world is like this as well: sweep the stairs, so that you may have an hour with the spellbooks.
Patience, counsel the teachers he has had in the past. He hadn't listened to them much then, and is not considerably more patient now.
At least there is the priest of Nethys to speak with.
"We hear and obey, Lady," he says with an inclining of his head.
"Lalaci would thank us for removing such a blight on mortals' fortunes. But let us approach our vanguard with care, letting misfortune remain at the outside extent of our slings and arrows."
Later, Malki sits with Mahdi, Hazim and (if they are also present) the Brothers Piddlespot. "Tell me, my new friends, what fortune do you seek in this world? I hear your hatred for the jackalmen, but what hopes do you hold? What would you care to have accomplished when Pharasma comes to embrace you?"
Sense motive on Dashki, though I'm pretty sure Malki believes in him: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Aldebert too wanted to gauge Dashki's responses.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (7) + 0 = 7
- - -
On hearing the new task, an easier task to manage, Aldebert is pleased. Thinking is hard and rooting out a suspicious character harder still. He smiles at his own foolishness.
"It will be our pleasure to investigate the monastery for you. By the way, do you know if Eloais had any children or a spouse? We did find some currency in the burned wreckage and would like to donate some of it, at least, to any kin Eloais may have had."
Malki eventually seeks Dashki out, rather quietly gesturing a request: May I sit with you? Eventually, should his presence be welcome, he says quietly, "She is beautiful, no? I find my heart leads me in other directions, but I can see how she might pull upon the heartstrings."
Mahdi is looking peevishly over his robes when Malki asks his question about final judgments.
"I should hope I would show up to Pharasma dressed better than this."
He has no sewing needle or thread, and his selection of spells had included more practical things than the ever-useful prestidigitation, so he rinses the blood out from his robes as best he can with a little water from his waterskin, and resigns himself to having tears in his robes. Ugh. Give him a city, any day of the week.
When that is done, he looks up somewhat more thoughtfully. "If the fates do not bar my way, someday I shall stand in Pharasma's court and say to the grave goddess that I commanded fire to match that in my heart."
Amiamble scrambles away from th party, trusting his brother to watch and track the money. He quickly finds Yeenoghu and climbs on his cat friend. Without a backwards glance he and his cat will do another scout around the area, this time far enough way to allow him to lower his scarf so that the sun may kiss his cheeks and neck.
"We are free again, Yeenoghu, to explore and rejoice in the sun as Sarenrae would want. And we should hunt, Yeenoghu, should we not?" Ami draws his halfling staff sling and loads a stone, practicing the motion while riding the bouncy cat.
Together, they work together to hunt.
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15 Survival (Ami)
1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18 Survival (Yeenoghu)
Ooh! Good hunt! Looks like we got something tasty.
* * *
Amiable sits on the hilly crest not too far from camp, watching Yeenoghu messily eat what they had caught and keeping his face to the setting sun (an act that enjoyably dries out his skin).
Ah, Sun. I am glad you and I are friends. Tomorrow, we reclaim your temple for you. The wicked has be punished in your name, Sarenrae.
Ami smiles to the Sun and then to Yeenoghu. The cat neither notices nor cares for the look of friendship for he is engrossed in his post-feast cleansing of blood and gore from his face.
"Enough of the lip licking, Cat. We must return to camp. Let us see if we can surprise Aldebert!" Covering his face, Ami boards the cat and returns to camp.
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24 Stealth@Aldebert
1d20 + 0 ⇒ (20) + 0 = 20 Stealth@Aldebert
"Yeahgh!" Aldebert is quite surprised by Amiamble as he's snuck up on.
"Be careful Amiamble my brother. There may be more of those little gremlin things about - or Gnolls. Remember what happened to our caravan. Don't get caught out there alone or you'll be the hunted instead of the hunter."
"By all means have fun, but stay close. Come, the others are waiting for us, we should plan."
"Oh, and before I forget, tomorrow is going to be hot - and I don't know if that monastery will be any cooler. Any chance you can help me out in the morning? It's so hot in this armor without your aid..."
"Tell me, my new friends, what fortune do you seek in this world? I hear your hatred for the jackalmen, but what hopes do you hold? What would you care to have accomplished when Pharasma comes to embrace you?"
"Your speech is quite flowery sir. Fortune? I seek no fortune in particular, but you're right about the Gnolls, their death is a boon to civilization and that I do seek!"
"Shall we head to Father Zastoran and see what potions he may have available to save our skins in the monastery tomorrow? I wonder what his discount is..."
"Yeahgh!" "Be careful Amiamble my brother. There may be more of those little gremlin things about - or Gnolls. Remember what happened to our caravan. Don't get caught out there alone or you'll be the hunted instead of the hunter."
Ami smiles deeply behind his scarf, his eyes going to crests of mirthful delight. Before speaking, he looks to see that they are mostly alone.
"That's a funny thing to say as someone who was just ambushed by one of the terrors of the sands...Ami and his ferocious sparcat, Yeenoghu!" Ami titters gleefully. "But yes, brother, I will be careful. You know I have this." Ami reaches to the whistle on a cord around his neck. "You remember the Whistle of UhOh, don't you?"
Amiable pauses to let his brother remember...his eyes looking more serious.
"If I am in trouble, I will blow short tweets to draw you to me. If there is trouble coming or nearby, I will blow long tweets. You shall know if I am troubled, Brother."
Amiamble tries to put the whistle in his mouth, only to have it blocked by his covering scarf. Ami smiles at his failure.
"Well...oops...you remember, Brother. There is no need for me to do it again. But rest assured, some day this whistle will herald many gnolls for us to slay. And that will be a good day."
"Oh, and before I forget, tomorrow is going to be hot - and I don't know if that monastery will be any cooler. Any chance you can help me out in the morning? It's so hot in this armor without your aid."
Ami smiles again with his eyes.
"Of course, brother. I will not let you suffer while we have important work to do."
Ami will follow his brother to the healer's cart to see what is for sale.
During the night, Hazim will search out the sleeping Dashki's sleeping quarters/tent. When he finds it, Hazim will approach cautiously.
Hazim takes his time and listens for anything coming from the inside:
Takes 20 if possible =24 perception.
Hazim will approach quietly, and search.
Stealth - 20+8=28
Perception - 12+4 = 16 (17vs traps) or I will take 20 if allowed for 24(25vs traps) perception.
If Hazim finds nothing, he returns to his own tent and sleeps.
@Hazim: Unfortunately, yor search results in nothing found, except for a foul smell of body odor and some fleas crawling around.
@The Piddlespots: Father Zastoran is excited to see you both again and spends much time chatting about various luxuries that the city life offers, which he desperately misses. During your chat, he mentions the exciting possibilities that Kelmarane offers, both in terms of commerce through alchemy and also study. He mentions rumors of a hidden shrine to Nethys somewhere in the hills close to Kelmarane and would love an opportunity to study them someday. He also mentions that perhaps it holds some secrets to assist in your fight against the gnolls.
For sale, Zastoran has 10 potions of Cure Light Wounds, 5 Cure Moderate Wounds, 2 Delay Poison, 2 Lesser Restoration, and 5 vials of holy water. Almah has instructed that he sell these to you at half-price, though he seems slightly raw at the order. He still willingly obliges, though.
If anyone wishes to buy things from Zastoran before departing, just post what you're purchasing.
Amiamble listens amicably as the Father chats with Aldebert (and others who might be around).
He offers little outside of polite smiles (hidden by his scarf, but showing in his eyes) while the wares are brought out and discussed.
Eventually, he will lean in close to whisper in Aldebert's ear.
"Brother, we have some coins to rub together now, don't we? Sounds like he's already been haggled down to the nub, huh? Too bad for you! I know how you love to practice you haggling as if it was one of your God's commandments," Ami mirths. "Maybe you could buy me a pair of holy waters, that sounds interesting for should we face any undying gnolls. The Sun would see them burn unto purity. And two potions of light healing? I could use them to treat your wounds brother should any of the gnolls get a lucky strike on you."
2 holy waters = 25gp, 2 potions CLW = 50gp. -75 gp total. I'll be tracking my gold on my alias.
Aldebert remembers a time when he and Amiamble were just kids. Short little halflings playing and romping in the sands near town. They were hunkered down just over a ridge and were planning to take that hill with all the might two kids can muster.
"Ami, when you get to the other side, whistle and let me know and I'll come over the hill after you. OK?"
"How do I whistle brother?" Amiamble purses his lips and no sounds come.
Some frustrating moments later and the play of the day is forgotten, but there is still no whistling Amiamble... On his next birthday though Amiamble has a bright shiny new whistle to blow and the brothers continue to rule the sand dunes.
Amiamble startles Aldebert out of his reverie with his requests of the good Father. "Good idea brother, those potions of healing are a good idea. I'll get a pair myself and a Lesser Restoration one just in case we're really hurting."
2 potions CLW = 50gp, 1 potion Lesser Restoration = 150gp
2 Holy Waters (25 GP), 1 CLW (25 GP), 1 Delay Poison for Mahdi (150 GP) = -200 GP
Mahdi half-smiles at Father Zastoran's expression. "I realize you are giving us a discount-- rest assured we appreciate it, although your purse may not. It's for a good cause."
Amiamble nods 'thank you' to the Father (and his brother), still unwilling to open up to the stranger, and packs away his purchases.
With that and the setting sun, Amiamble looks for a place to sleep, eventually settling down near Aldebert and curled up with Yeenoghu.
He dreams of all the gnolls he and his brother will be slaying with a smile on his face that no one can see.
* * *
He will awake early to commune with the Sun, sitting with Yeenoghu on a nearby hill in thoughtful prayer (that looks a lot like an focused sunbath).
For you, Sarenrae, for your warmth.
He will return and gather his belongings and be ready to assault the monastery.
You guys are welcome to roll Knowledge: Local, History or Geography regarding the temple you're headed to.
After stocking up, you all depart the caravan at the crack of dawn and set out towards the monastery. It doesn't take terribly long until an old, weathered structure comes into view. It's outer stone walls still stand, though the roofs bear gaping holes throughout.
Get familiar with your tokens on Roll20, play around with the settings on them if you want. There are fields to add common information. For example, I like to use those three black bubbles that pop up for current HP, AC and Touch AC. But you can customize it how you like. There are also fields to add light auras, so if people use light spells regularly, it's very handy.
Aldebert takes his time that morning suiting up and preparing his weapons.
This is it. Time to see what you're made of against actual Gnolls. Time to put your training to the test!
He smiles and practices a bit until the sweat flows freely in the morning warmth. He seeks out his brother for a quick wash and a bit of cooling, and readies himself walking as quickly as his armor will let him toward the monastery. Outside, he readjusts his gear to be combat ready, checks that the healing potions are within easy reach, and prepares to enter the building.
"Everybody ready? I'll take lead if no one objects."
Roll20 seems OK. I'll miss the message board style of tracking the combat, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.