Thursday, June 6, 2019

Time of the Tarrasque #24: A Story to Tell Her Camel

"Time of the Tarrasque" is my current homebrew Pathfinder campaign. For an index of past session summaries, see The Story So Far.

Our heroes include:
  • Edel Naergon, high elf bard (archivist) 5.
  • Fatou Damiri, human wizard (evoker) 3/cleric of Yaziel 2; and Nochaesh, owl familiar.
  • Jumari Boneface, half-orc inquisitor of the Lost Egg 5.
  • ZhaZha, half-orc cavalier (order of the dragon) 5; and Zafira, camel mount.

Last time, the caravan reached the town of Dal-Raman, located at the edge of the sandy part of the Lokoran Desert. Our heroes were given a day's liberty by their employer, Vartoranax, while he conducted some business. They spotted a tavern, The Thirsty Centaur, which turned out to be run by a high elf woman, Miriella, who took a liking to Edel and encouraged him to visit her later. While shopping in the market, the party foiled an assassination attempt on Usama, a town elder. Usama offered his house as a place to question the surviving assassin, then his servants helped drag the bodies in off the street.

The elder wished to send a runner to the settlement's chief lawman, Peacekeeper Morag, but worried for his servants' safety following the attack. ZhaZha and Fatou volunteered for escort duty, while Jumari and Edel stayed here to question the prisoner.

Peacekeeper Morag
Usama's servant led them to the Peacekeeper's office, a utilitarian stone barracks located a short distance from the market, with a small, windowless jail attached. The staff here was human, except for a single halfling and their chief. Morag was a tall, muscular half-orc who wore a chain shirt and carried a small arsenal: a longbow and quiver, an orcish double axe, and a bandolier of alchemical weapons. (He also wore a symbol of the Javanian pantheon next to his badge.) Once ZhaZha informed him of the attack on the elder, Morag promptly agreed to go with them to Usama's house, and hear more of the details on the way.

Meanwhile, Edel healed the bound half-orc woman just enough to wake her. She opened her eyes, saw Jumari, and seemed disturbed enough by the sight of the veiled albino half-orc that she refused to meet the inquisitor's eyes. Edel began the interrogation by politely asking her to explain the attack, and managed to persuade her to talk. She was sent to kill the elder as a holy mission from her master, to spread fear of their god. She was not allowed to speak her master's name, and refused to tell where his training cave was. When asked why she chose Usama as her target, she replied that the other elders were more careful. (The old man seemed outraged at this, but subsided after a moment of self-reflection.) She did not know if any other attacks were planned.

Jumari asked how she got up the Escarpment. "I walked." This confirmed the inquisitor's guess that the assassin came from some ways to the south, so Jumari asked if she belonged to the Ghost Fist clan. She denied it--"I serve the god more directly"--but did know enough about where that tribe's territory (south of the Escarpment, west of the Stairs) to avoid them on her way here. Jumari stepped closer and pulled back her veil to reveal her white skin and prominent red birthmark. "Why are you afraid of me?" The other woman seemed absolutely terrified of her, and shrieked, "Only the White Orc can kill the Master!"

Fatou, ZhaZha, and Morag entered Usama's house just in time to hear that outburst. Edel quickly brought the Peacekeeper up to speed as Morag examined the assassin's dead accomplices. He discovered that each of them had the name "Ras Radaz" tattooed in Halfling script somewhere on their bodies. The prisoner flinched as he read the name aloud. Edel and Fatou recognized the name as a legendary assassin in the death-god Asmolon's cult, and the leader of the force that killed the half-orc hero Gorza. When Edel asked the cultist how she followed a supposedly dead assassin, she proclaimed, "The Master has transcended death!" She then looked at Jumari again, and fainted. Morag took the opportunity to examine the woman more closely, and found the Ras Radaz tattoo on her as well.

The heroes asked Morag and Usama for their opinion of what to do with her. The two men agreed that the cultists was too dangerous to leave alive. They exchanged a few words that seemed to be some sort of shorthand from long practice, then agreed that a prompt and public declaration of her crimes, followed by a swift execution, would be best. Usama ordered a servant to fetch his trumpet, and a small procession formed, with the adventurers assisting Morag in carrying the bodies to the market square. They ascended a platform that sported a pillory at one end and a chopping block at the other. Having noted Edel's interest in the instrument, Usama allowed him to blow the trumpet to get bystanders' attention.

A crowd soon gathered, and the elder gave a brief speech about the attack on his person. Morag effortlessly lifted one of the dead assassins with one hand and used the other to rip away clothing to display the tattoo. He instructed the townsfolk to report to him if they see anyone with the same tattoo--"and let me do what I do best." He then asked ZhaZha, who was carrying the living cultist, to hold her up for him. He unslung his double axe, stretched a bit, then skillfully beheaded the criminal. The spray of blood drew cheers form the crowd, a few of whom chanted the Peacekeeper's name until Morag spoke again, declaring justice done in the elder's name and ordering the crowd to disperse. More quietly, he thanked ZhaZha for her assistance as he cleaned his blade on the dead woman's clothing. He told her to leave the body for his people to dispose of, and gave permission for her and her companions to take anything of value from the bodies.

This looting yielded a handful of healing potions and a number of masterwork weapons and suits of light armor. They claimed some for themselves, and collected the rest to sell in the market. The real prize of the lot was a scabbard of vigor that all agreed ZhaZha should take.

The cavalier's friends had seen the admiring looks the Peacekeeper gave her, and took action to encourage him. Before departing the platform, Jumari invited Morag to have dinner with them. Edel had his own plans for the evening, but cast heroism on ZhaZha before departing (then cast heroism on himself en route to the Thirsty Centaur). Fatou bought a fine meal for the others at a nearby inn. After she and Jumari finished eating, they slipped out of the inn to leave the two warriors alone.

The moon was still full, so the two priests went their separate ways to spend time in private devotions. Jumari started a new tattoo to commemorate this latest "inquisition," but has not quite settled on its form. [Fatou might ask Jumari to use her skills to provide her with a tattoo of her own holy symbol, but it seems unlikely that the half-orc would do that for another god's faith.]

Miriella, faerie priestess and
proprietor of the Thirsty Centaur
Edel found Miriella at the tavern, and had a long and fruitful conversation with her as they became better acquainted. The elven woman had left Fendorlis when kobolds invaded the forest and destroyed the temple and distillery where she worked. She bought a small brewhouse here in Dal-Raman, and spent the next few years repairing it and starting over. She was very curious about where the bard was from, and his adventures since leaving their homeland. He told her many stories of his travels, and mentioned the caravan he traveled with now--but not what race his current employers were. Miriella was surprised that two of his companions were half-orcs, but he explained that they were stalwart companions, and eager to help him drive out the kobolds.

Since leaving Fendorlis, Miriella has had occasional news about rebels fighting the kobolds in Galdar, the border town where Edel was headed. A woman known only as "The Red Swan" led the rebels, and the priestess suggested that the bard seek out her help. Miriella did not know how to find the Swan, but did know that she and some of her people were among those who swore the Oath of the Bloody Tree. Edel had heard of this group, who swore to eliminate the kobold conquerors and reclaim their homeland. Miriella described most of the Sworn as fanatics, but admitted that they did provide some of the most effective resistance to the invaders so far. Their talk soon turned to more pleasant things, and both were pleased to experience the other's skills in the love goddess Nalanimil's arts.

Across town, ZhaZha soon forgot her mild irritation at her friends' blatant maneuvering. Morag had quickly sized her up as a seasoned warrior, and the two half-orcs eagerly discussed weapons and fighting techniques, long after they finished their meal and left the inn. The cavalier praised the Peacekeeper's fine axe, and he allowed her to try her hand at it. She was clumsy at first, but soon grew steadier with it, though it would never feel as comfortable to her as a pick or lance. While sparring, Morag finally propositioned her, and she only needed a moment's thought before agreeing. Morag had treated her with far more respect than any of the brutish louts back home ever had, and she had thoroughly enjoyed his company so far. ["And she will have a story to tell her camel," as her player put it. Whether she ever tells her other companions anything about it remains to be seen.] 

Before ZhaZha left Morag's home the next morning, he expressed his desire that she would visit him whenever she next passed through his town. She readily agreed: "We can trade tips."

Edel's farewells with Miriella were cordial as well. He promised to bring her news of home if he came back this way.

The caravan left Dal-Raman at dusk. The kobolds expected the journey to Galdar to take five days. Along the way--and well out of earshot of the little reptiles--Edel informed the others of what he had learned about Galdar and the rebels there.

Jumari also she felt very strongly about her new identity as "the White Orc." ZhaZha agreed with her, and earnestly wished to avenge Gorza, the hero for whom her home village was named.


My teenaged daughter has asked to join the campaign, and the other players were happy to welcome her to the game. They all already have some experience gaming with her, primarily through Pathfinder Society. We will be introducing her character (a gnome summoner) once the party reaches Fendorlis, which should be next session.

She will start at the same level (5th) so that I will only have to track one XP total for everyone. Our last couple sessions have gone a long way to correct the amount of wealth the PCs should have, but they aren't completely where they should be yet, so the new character will be starting with wealth approximately on par with what they have when they meet her. 

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