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Almah is indeed in her chambers when Pent enters, as is Garavel. The merchant princess has a bemused look on her face when the gnome looks up from his pent-whisking, and shares a telling glance with Garavel upon being shown the bowl's contents.
"Slow down," she laughs as he finishes the report, "I can barely make out what you're saying. This is excellent news, if my ears didn't deceive me. Ogres and bugbears, you say, and the Piddlespots' sister was in the market? Was she a prisoner, like Kul?" She twines her fingers together. "It's good that the harpy held to her word." Glancing towards Amiamble, she remarks "I assume the merchants posed a threat. Do they yet remain within the market?"
She smiles gratefully as Aldebert makes his swifter, to-the-point rendition of events. "I wouldn't have thought one day sufficient to overcome the gnoll stronghold. You've all performed admirably." Almah nods to Garavel, who quickly brings forth five velvet bags, each clinging with coins. He hands one to each of you.
The bags contain 500 gp each.
Almah then continues. "I gathered you've left the former leader of the gnolls in this Haleen's captivity? With no knowledge of the woman, I must trust your judgment in this, as in so many other things. But, formidable though she may be, I would feel better if she wasn't alone in the task." She pauses, tapping the tips of her fingers together. "While the process of packing everything up and moving the caravan into Kelmarane begins, I suggest you return to the village to stand guard with her. Perhaps you should bring the other prisoner along as well. Two guardposts seems like one too many," she smiles.
"I'll leave that up to you. As for what lies beneath the church.. It concerns me that this Kardswann knew of it. The Pactmasters locked some kind of foul evil within the crypt twenty years ago, after it had assumed control over the high priest and turned the city to madness. I would have thought that evil would have waned by now, but I shudder to think of what his awareness might mean."
Unclasping a small chain around her neck, Almah pulls up another velvet bag fastened to it from beneath her dress. She opens it, and takes out a metal plate with a handle on one side, and a number of grooves and prongs on the other. Handing it to Mahdi, she says "This key opens the seal. You've proven yourselves capable, so I'll leave the details of how to proceed up to you. I'm afraid I don't know any more of the evil within than I've already described."
Garavel follows you outside, one hand clasping your shoulder to halt your progress. Once the others have gone ahead, he speaks. "You've earned your freedom today, Pent Arotha. No man or woman will own you again. As such, I could not demand that you refrain from the use of such substances," he nods to the bowl, "though I will advise you not to do so while working."
His message sent, the man returns to Almah's side.