The sheriff looks blankly at Osveta before barking "I'm in charge here!"
He looks around. "Cover the body and get him somewhere safe, don't let anyone leave the Feedmill! Everyone needs to be questioned!"
A few of the farmers seem to snap to and soon a tablecloth is pulled over Bort and Tamli is pulled back. Gigon manages to get the bowl away but after a bit of swishing his solution in the bowl, the mixture goes a weird cloudy colour which is a sign of contamination.
However, he does notice a faint, but kind of sickly floral smell coming from the bowl. That doesn't smell like porridge.
Rolth looks at all of you. "I need to talk to you lot first, let's go to the stables."
Something was definitely added to this. But what? The Gnome wracked his brain trying to think what that smell could possibly mean.
GM Secret Check - Recall Knowledge: Do I know what poison was used? I believe Crafting, Medicine, or Herbalist Lore would be relevant. Ultimately your call.
Stashing the vial away, Gigon complied with the Sheriff's request to head to the stables.
Pollo screws up his face in confusion. Us first? What in the nine hells? How does that make any sense?
Not wanting to cause too much of a ruckus, Pollo obediently heads towards the stables.
And... Why are we leaving the bar?
Milo said to Sheriff Rolth. "I suggest making sure that the porridge cooking pot isn't cleaned out yet. We might want to test the remnants for poison."
He followed the Sheriff to the stables, to discuss the situation. He wanted to get started on questioning the witnesses, but recognized that the Sheriff needed to feel in control of the investigation.
Osveta arches a brow as the Sheriff takes offense at her demand, but doesn't otherwise say anything as he is the local law enforcement and she would work with him to bring Bort's killer to justice. Provided he didn't impede said justice.
He did take charge after some prompting so there was that at least.
Walking with the others she remained silent as they headed for the stables.
It takes a few moments for Anghariel to look up when the sheriff orders everyone to the stables. Though her pallid features still have abject distress etched starkly across them, her eyes and cheeks are dry, as if her sorrow were one beyond tears.
Glancing at Bort’s covered body one last time, she slowly gets to her feet and begins trudging mutely towards the stables.
Gigon wracks his brain about a fast-acting injested poison that closes off the throat. Unfortunately he can't recall anything. The sheriffs marches you into the stables. "NOBODY leaves, alright?"
You all stalk into the stables where Rolth paces back and forth. He takes a moment to calm himself down before he moves in.
"Right you lot. I'll be honest - I don't think you were guilty but you're out of towners and were right beside him when he died so I gotta ask some questions. How long all of you know Bort? Any issues or weirdness? I see that gnome there fiddling with alchemy - maybe that killed hem, eh?"
It is very, very clear the sheriff is panicking and doesn't seem to know what to do. He's over-compensating by trying to be authoritative.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Milo responded to Rolth, "I've only known him a few days. I signed on with his caravan at Elidir; I'm on my way to stay with my cousin in Almas. Nothing weird about Bort, other than his stories are... er, were... rather embellished.
"There was something strange yesterday, though. The caravan was attacked by wolves, and these weren't no ordinary wolves. One of them puked acid all over Pollo, and he almost died! That just can't be normal."
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
Gigon waved his hands a little frantically, "No no no, I didn't.....oh wait, you said you don't think we did it. Sorry, my head is spinning from everything happening. Yes, yes, Bort was definitely killed by something added to his bowl. What it was exactly, I'm not certain, but it was potent as all Hells. With your permission Sheriff, I'd like a closer look at Bort. Perhaps I can get a better determination as to what it was exactly."
"I've only known Bort for as long as we've been traveling. The only thing weird about Bort was his tendancy for tall tales. Nicest dwarf you'll ever meet, and the person who was going to get us all where we needed to go. Without him, we're stuck." Pollo tries, and fails, to keep the irritation out of his voice. It was one thing to watch an innocent man die in front of him, but to even be considered a suspect rubbed him the wrong way.
Never mind it made perfectly logical sense to rule him and the others out.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
"Look. Let us help. I'm mad as hell that someone would do this to Bort. It wasn't fair and for someone to... I just..." Pollo paces for a moment, clearing his throat and trying to get a handle on what he wanted to say. "Just let us help figure out who did this. What do you need?"
”I liked Bort, his stories were fun to listen to.” Osveta solemnly says.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
A wave of emotions was going through the Barbarian’s head. Anger, sadness, frustration. Rubbing the back of her neck she says ”What Pollo says.”
Standing in the corner with her arms wrapped around herself, Anghariel nods at Pollo’s words. “I too only met Master Bargith when I signed on to travel with his caravan recently,” she explains in a quiet voice. “I can’t claim to have known him much, but he seemed…kind.” The elf shakes her head. “And I cannot begin to imagine why anybody would want him dead.”
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Milo added, "None of the rest of us got sick, so unless there was another batch of porridge that only Bort ate, any poison would have had to be added separately. We should check with the servers." He was careful to address Sheriff Rolth directly, and give him a chance to take credit for the suggestions.
"I suggest questioning each person in the Feedmill separately. Find out if anyone was seen around Bort's porridge during the fight. Motive has me stumped, but maybe someone knows of who might have a grudge."
Gallery is updated with Rolth's picture.
Rolth seems calmed by your responses and begins speaking a little more carefully. "You folks sound pretty smart - we saw you helping him and you didn't know him anyway. Okay... okay... wait, what? Acid wolves? This is just too much."
He breathes slowly and then taps his turnip badge, as if it it was the source of his strength.
"Murders don't happen round these parts, y'know? I just have to break up bar fights every week or so. Okay. I need to talk with Bort's caravan. You look at his body or what you need to. The bowl, kitchen - whatever. If this takes too long I can't keep everyone here forever, but nobody leaves this town easy anyways. They ain't going anywhere. Alright. I'll line up some talks to see if anyone looks like they done it and you investigate.. uh, whatever you need to."
With that Rolth leads you out of the stables. "Everyone you're gonna help these folks! But Tamli, get your caravan together I'll need to talk with witnesses."
Bort's body has been brought to the cellar where you can investigate. There are also any number of people here to talk with. Feel free to ask questions about staff, people present, etc.
Milo told his associates, "I'm going to go and talk to the kitchen staff. I'll try to find out more details about the porridge."
He returned to the main part of the building, and sought out Delma Fulst, asking her, "Delma, can you introduce me to the cooks? Sheriff Rolth has asked me to help look into Bort's death."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
“Every week?” the wizard quietly repeats, unable to keep a note of slight disapproval at the evident state of affairs in Etran’s Folly out of her voice. “I am…not expected anywhere,” she continues, “and if I can help find out who is responsible for the…the murder, I will.”
She doesn’t consider Osveta’s question for long. “I’ll go with Milo, if he doesn’t mind,” Anghariel says. “Four eyes see more than two. Or I could talk to a few of the townsfolk.” The only remaining alternative would be examining Bort’s lifeless body, and she simply cannot countenance the mere thought of it.
You head for the kitchen. The Feedmill now has a lot of drunken, somber people lined up ready to speak with Rolth. As you head in, Delma mentions that the cook, Amora closed down the kitchen immediately, hung up her apron, and went home in tears while Rolth was questioning you.
The kitchen contains the cooking utensils needed to operate the Feedmill—kettles, skillets, knives, a mortar and pestle, roasting spits, a sieve, and a butter churner. Of particular note is the kettle of turnip porridge sitting on the counter.
Pollo surveys the room, making a beeline for the mortar and pestle, assuming Gigon is going to go right for the porridge. "Think this is something that someone could mash up a bit of poison in? he asks Gigon and the others. He brings the tools up to his nose and gives it a whiff.
"Hey Gigon, am I doing this right?"
I think the only relevant skill I have here would be perception. If it makes more sense, I might be more help if I aid. I'll roll a perception check but I invite any of you to ask Pollo to "aid another" and assume that he does so.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Milo asked Pollo to help him interview all that worked in the kitchen, one by one. He asked them how many batches of porridge had been made, and who exactly had handled the porridge. He also asked each person if they knew of anyone who they thought might harbor animosity towards Bort.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Pollo's aid: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Taking Pollo up on his offer.
"Actually, I think the poison was a liquid form. It would be faster to add to something like porridge. As long as you don't taste it, you should be fine. I'm going to take a closer look at Bort's body."
The Gnome somberly made his way to the Caravan Master's remains. After an eternal moment, he set to work trying to figure out what killed this jovial soul.
Crafting: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
*facepalm* Man I am sucking as an Alchemist.
Following Milo's lead, Pollo begins to work through the crowd. He empathizes with some, connects with a few others, and in general seems to get a good feel for the group. Years of experience speaking with crowds of people at his family's gatherings seem to culminate in the room as Pollo hobnobs, helping many feel at ease and
Unfortunately, he gets distracted and doesn't seem to get the answers Milo was looking for.
"Sorry." he says sheepishly.
Anghariel stands in the kitchen for a while, just taking it all in. It’s not far-fetched to say that until now she hasn’t really seen a place like this up close – few nobles ever deign to involve themselves in something as mundane as the preparing of their meals, after all.
But times do change.
The elf quietly moves hither and thither, examining those kitchen paraphernalia Pollo pays less attention to. If there any spices or other foodstuffs stored here, she gives them a close look and a sniff as well; and finally, more for completeness’ sake than because she expects to find anything, Anghariel periodically reaches out with her arcane senses in case anything within the kitchen should turn out to be magical in nature.
I’m going to aid Pollo’s Perception roll, assuming it still stands. Also casting Detect Magic as needed to cover the entire room (30-foot emanation).
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
Oh boy, some of us are on whatever the opposite of a roll is.
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Oh boy, some of us are on whatever the opposite of a roll is.
In the gambling world, we call this an epic fade. As in, do the opposite of whatever that person is doing... lol. :) It happens. Funny thing about RNG - most people don't realize that true RNG is full of 'streaks'. Flip a coin 10 times. Then 10 more. You might be surprised how often you get a streak of heads, or a streak of tails. Flip it 1000 times and you will get super close to a 50/50 split. But within that string of flips, there will be lots of streaks. Same thing happens with our dice rolls. It's the nature of RNG.
My dad is a statistician and he said that luck ABSOLUTELY exists... but only in retrospect. Flipping a coin heads 10 times is like a .0009% chance... but that still means it can happen. Lotsa coins get flipped. But the last flip can't predict the next one.
In the Cellar
Bort's body has been laid out under a blanket and Gigon pulls back the blanket and sets to work. This death is baffling and frustrating. Checking his airways it's clear that his throat has completely closed off and he suffocated.
It is also near-certain he died from poison. The strange smell in the bowl was telling, and there aren't any other creations that can cause the body to react in such a way. However, Gigon is unable to actually detec the presence of poison. Given the fact the test is imperfect with good odds of failure, this can only be seen as an inconclusive result, rather than negative.
In the Kitchen
As you investigate the kitchen, Delma enters and leans against the doorframe. "Looks like all the kitchen staff are gone. Amora is very proud and is probably hiding out of shame since it looks like her cooking killed a man. She lives in an old orchard, just outside of town. I can give you directions. As for her staff, we've got two helping her out - they just don't do the cooking. Phinick does pretty much anything required at the time, and then there's Trin who mostly serves the tables. Trin went home after some bastard got her with a mug. Reckon Phinick fled during the brawl as well."
The giant cooking vessel does -not- smell like the weird floral scent detected in Bort's bowl. Detect magic yields nothing and otherwise it just seems like a perfectly nice country kitchen.
How late is it now?
Despite being quite tired, Milo said, "Since there's no telltale scent in the cooking pot, it seems unlikely that Amora was responsible. I'll go and talk to Trin, since she may have served Bort the porridge."
He asked directions to Trin's house, and then set out to question her.
The Gnome was beginning to get really frustrated. Come on Gigon, you're better than this. You should know what kind of poison this is, unless it's some sort of cust......... He paused right there for a long moment.
"What if it is a custom poison? That would mean whoever made it has to have an advanced knowledge of herbs and their uses. It's most definitely plant-based given the floral hint I've been smelling. Who in town would have such knowledge?"
Re-covering Bort's remains, he headed out to find the Sheriff.
It's getting pretty late.
Delma hems and haws. "Well, Phinick is an odd one. He sleeps in the stables a lot but sometimes he's just elsewhere around town. Not quite sure where he lives. He always just sorts of turns up. Trin is on a turnip farm to the southwest of town."
She gives you directions to both places. "Mind now it's getting on in the evening. And thank you folks, people are already talking and Amora would NEVER do that to someone!"
My PBP rule is first decision to two votes is where the party goes. You can continue to investigate here, or try for an evening visit to one of the two locations you've been given.
She emerges from the kitchen obviously frustrated, her lips a thin line of displeasure. “If any poison was added to Bort’s porridge in the kitchen, I can find no evidence of it,” she tells the others.
Anghariel nods distractedly when Delma mentions the hour being late. “The goblin looked nervous when we got here. Or browbeaten, perhaps. Though that man he’d been serving seemed a positively unsociable fellow.” She sighs. “I doubt if I’ll be able to find any sleep tonight. Let’s see if we can track down this Phinick.”
Delma scratches her head wearily and nods. "Folks are always suspectin' Phinick but he was working with Amora alright. Maybe check with Edra since he sleeps in the stables so often."
Edra is the halfling you saw working in the stables when you first arrived. Pushing there unless you want to look for phinick elsewhere.
Since the others wanted to question Phinick first, Milo went to the stables to find Edra. He asked the halfling, "Excuse me, do you know where we can find Phinick? We need to interview him as part of the investigation."
I can see why this can get so scattered so easily over PbP. Much easier to follow a more singular train of thought as a group at a table.
Pollo follows the halfling. The smell of the stables is still something that Pollo finds hard to get used to, but it doesn't bother him enough for it to be obvious to anyone else. While Milo approaches Edra, Pollo pokes around some of the stalls, Hopeful to find something useful.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Yeah and it normally involves a LOT of collective decision-making which stalls things out even more.
You make your way into the stables where you see Edra tending to the animals. With her is Glunda, the gnomish teamster from your caravan. Glunda looks devastated. She quickly speaks up as you walk into the stables.
"Edra had nothing to do with it! She was in here the entire time looking after the animals when... when..."
She bursts into tears and collapses into some hay. Edra walks over to your wearily. She has a bottle of a strong distilled turnip spirit some of the meaner farmers were getting into and looks pretty drunk.
"I heard Rolth say yer gonna help... well whaddaya need?"
Seeing his compatriots moving in another direction, the Gnome decided to tag along. Maybe they have a better lead.
Going to tag along and stick with the group. Feel free to bot as needed to keep things rolling.
"We're looking for Phinick." Pollo says, repeating Milo's question. "And any information you have on who in this town doesn't like Bort. This town might be weird, but I gather this is pretty crazy, right?"
Before the drunk woman responds, Pollo spills out a few more questions that had been bouncing around in his head. Maybe this woman might be able to shed some light. "Pretty crazy coincidence that a big bar fight started just in time for Bort's food to get poisoned. What do you know about the men who started the fight? I'd bet a gold piece they were in on it somehow."
Milo said to Edra, "We're not accusing anyone. We need to talk to everyone to get an idea of what happened. What may seem like an insignificant detail could be an important clue."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
Edra gets defensive as Milo tries to calm her down a little aggressively. She's pretty drunk after all. "Lay off! We just had some fecker die. Gimme a moment. Ugh."
Irritably, she keeps on. "Phinick sleeps here some of the time, but not all the time. Dunno where he stays. I saw him run away when the fight broke out. Trin left right after, she had a wound on her cheek."
She looks at the horses and sighs. "Look, sorry. Bad day. The horses are also pretty infested with fleas so I have to deal with that as well. But that's what I know. Phinick and Trin both ran away through the stables when the fight broke out, and I don't know where Phinick sleeps when he's not here."
Whoops sorry guys life got crazy.
"Nope, I was in the stables. 'Course it was probably Eallom, he typically starts the fights. As for the flea infestation - they happen. I wouldn't call it unusual, just unfortunate. Nothing that'd raise my eyebrow or anything."
She frowns, swaying a bit. "Say... if you wanna help with the fleas, make sure yer horses are in good nick, maybe you could do me a favour? Best fix for the fleas is rosemary, but the only rosemary bush I know about in town has a bastard of a bear that lives near it. If you can get me a good bushel of the stuff the horses will be good as new!"
She hangs back a little, wanting to avoid crowding the two women too badly (and, truthfully speaking, still feeling less than talkative herself). That Phinick’s whereabouts are unknown to Edra elicits a small sigh from the elf. “I’m not sure it would do us much good to continue looking for him tonight,” she says. “It is getting quite late, and no doubt he has all manner of hidey-holes around town; we are rather at a disadvantage in this respect.”
“A…bear?” Anghariel too repeats. “What sort of bear are we talking about here, other than a bastard of one? I presume it does not spew acid or anything of the like?” Not that she fancies tussling even with a mundane ursid.
Milo replied to Edra, "I'm sure we can get some rosemary for you — maybe tomorrow if we have time."
He agreed with Anghariel, "I'm ready to call it a night. Let's continue the investigation in the morning." He was beat, and longed to turn in for the night.
At the talk of the flea infestation, Gigon had a thought. Rosemary, yep that would do it. What a minute, didn't Master Vollez have a remedy for fleas? Let's see, The Gnome started going through his pouches and vials, I've got that, and that, damn I don't have that. Guess we'll get the rosemary then.
Stretching out and yawning, the Alchemist said, "Yeah, it's been a long day. Best get some sleep."
Edra laughs. "Oh I'm not asking you to go out tonight, it's late. Get you some sleep folks. Gotta sort out this murder business. The bear is on the outskirts of town, he aint' my neighbor or something."
With a list of locations to visit in the morning you head back into the main room. Rolth and Delma are the only people left there, and both look miserable and tired. Rolth stands to meet you while Delma heads off to set up your rooms.
"So I've a problem here 'cause I work under some rules. I've talked with those who didn't take off immediately, and the entire caravan is suspect as well as half the damn town. And... we don't have a jail. So I need to turn my investigation over to the circuit judge who deals with serious legal matters and crimes. Problem is the judge, the good Lord Mubbage Cranberry, ain't back in town for another month. I gotta detain the caravan and its passengers - including you lot, until he's back in town. Since you're off to talk to Amora, let me know if she did it beause that'll make our lives a lot easier, right boys? And uh, ladies."
As you head for your rooms, you run into Tamli, the severe half-orc from the caravan. She is drunk and in a bad state.
"Bort was more than just a merchant, more than just the boss. He was my friend. Rolth said we can't leave but I don't care - we won’t leave here until we’ve found out who did this. Rolth’s a fool, but I’d be an even greater fool if I thought I could get to the bottom of this. Fixing wagons and moving goods, that’s my job. But you," she says, pointing at all of you, “you might be able to figure out who killed Bort and get justice for him.” She holds back tears as she says, “For all of us. Will you help uncover who did this?"