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  #1  
Old Jan 12th, 2011, 11:45 AM
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I. The Sultan's Claw



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Last edited by DarkTower; Jan 14th, 2011 at 02:53 AM.
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Old Jan 18th, 2011, 04:24 AM
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The blue skies stream to the four corners of the Pesh in one wide, flawless blanket of the deepest blue and everywhere, everywhere there are the hot sands as the blazing Sun of Sarenrae glides across it's sparkling folds. Cutting through this is the famous Trade Road and it is here that we start.

The first to arrive on this desert road is a half-orc druid. He has been in this land for much of his life and finds the location easily enough, arising here as if he was the land it's self. As he waits alone, two humans arrive from the direction of Katapesh, both menacing yet unique. One has a sizable guild symbol tattooed to his shaven scalp that beams from his brown skin and the other wields a deadly scimitar opposite of the strange birthmark evident on his shoulder. Not long after trots a gnome coming from the same direction, a mystical and strange aura about him. The last to arrive is the strangest of all, a lithe elf that appears like a wavering mirage, his boldness and confidants evident despite his small frame.

They had all spent the precious early morning getting here to meet Garavel, the man that had promised them pay, treasures, and more if they would meet him for a job to the all powerful Pactmasters.

He is not here.

The Sun of Sarenrae is rising and descending in the sky as they wait here.
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Last edited by DarkTower; Jan 18th, 2011 at 04:28 AM.
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Old Jan 18th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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Alphard strides along the road contentedly, feeling the hot air as it dryly flows across the exposed skin of his face. Sarenrae must be in good spirits this day, Alphard muses as the wind whips at his loose-fitting clothing. He has known this heat his whole life, but the heavy pack sitting snugly on his shoulders seems foreign to him, and his feelings of nervous excitement are only kept at bay due to the familiar sensation of the Sun beating down on him.

Alphard had not been fully prepared for this mission, but the arrival of Garavel with his offer of travel to Kelmarane with money to boot was too good to pass up. There had been no Clerics or Paladins who could afford to travel to the city and investigate the possibility of a renewal of faith there, so Alphard had been chosen, regardless of his unorthodox indoctrination into the faith of the Dawnflower.

Alphard could see three figures in the distance, one clearly larger than the others. When he came closer, Alphard saw that the large one was a half-orc and was impressed by the calm demeanor this one gave off. In the streets of Katapesh, half-orcs were not known for their well balanced temperaments. The other two men were equally interesting: one had been marked by the Dusk, the other carried Sarenrae's holy weapon and Alphard nodded towards the man in appreciation of this. Garavel was conspicuously missing from the troupe, but Alphard remained unfazed. He was sure any betrayals could be dealt with as they came.

Greetings! Alphard said loudly. His voice came out surprisingly deep for a gnome, jovial yet serious. My name is Alphard. I come with blessings from the Temple of Sarenrae. I'm sure the Everlight will protect us on our voyage, although her creation, he looked up meaningfully towards the Sun, might still be especially troublesome. He smiled at his new companions, and neither expected nor received a reply.

Alphard took off his pack at this point, already deciding that the burden would be quite troublesome on the long journey, and placed it on the sandy earth in such a way that he could comfortably sit on it. He looked at his new comrades baking in the desert Sun and chuckled thinking about his own discomfort from the heat. Only the half-orc seemed unfazed by the high temperatures of the desert, and Alphard surmised this must not be his first outing into the barren landscape beyond them.

Here, perhaps this will make our wait for Garavel a little more pleasant. He closed his eyes and felt his blood burn. He felt the familiar energy he could draw forth at will, and began to intone the arcane words of power that focused his magics. His hands moved quickly, bending into uncomfortable positions that a normal person would balk at. When finished, he pointed his finger at the earth between his compatriots and himself and a ray of pure cold and ice shot forth. He drew a zigzagging pattern into the sand and moved his seat closer to it to take advantage of the now refrigerated air that came up from the ground.

That's a little better, he said feeling a bit more at ease, Now where is Garavel?

Last edited by Ockerdoodle; Jan 18th, 2011 at 01:26 PM.
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Old Jan 19th, 2011, 07:14 PM
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Having just finished his daily meditation Karsh looked up at the approaching figures. He let the sand he had been contemplating run through his fingers to be reclaimed by the desert.

Were these to be his companions on the job that Garavel had employed him to take on? The first two seemed to be capable enough, but Karsh was all too well aware that you can take nothing for granted in this world and a few tattoos and fancy weapons would not make up for a feeble spirit.

Cynicism had always been a failing of his, especially as they probably looked at him and thought much the same about his demeanour!

Following behind, obviously not part of the first party was a smaller individual who was much more animated. In fact Karsh was hoping that he would refrain from too much of his shouting when they set out on their mission. He liked the word mission as it implied a sense of urgency, he also liked urgency, couldn’t really handle inactivity.
As he neared, Karsh could make out that the animated little fellow was a gnome, his attention was drawn to yet another figure drawing closer but as yet too far away to discern.

The Gnome made a little speech of introduction, a little bit too loud for Karsh but he would make Alphard aware of how sound travels a good distance in the desert before they set of and he inadvertently alerted the surrounding population of their plans.
Alphard sat down and after a short while made some gestures and said some words too low for Karsh to hear. The next second he pointed a finger at the earth it became frozen. this little man may prove useful thought Karsh.
Karsh turned to Alphard and the others and said in quiet measured tones ” My name is Karsh” he looks down at the frozen earth and then up to look into the face of Alphard. ” That my friend is worth all the swords under the blistering gaze of Sarenrae”
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Old Jan 20th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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It is not too much longer after the elf arrives that someone else approaches from the barren desert to the South, where there are no working roads or paths. It appears to be Garavel in the distance with a trail of camels kicking up puffs of sand that billow behind him. He waves to them once, the image of him wavering in the intense heat.

"Is everyone here?" he demands gruffly once he draws close, perched high on his mount. Tied to his saddle are four camels and a rama[1] . "We've got a couple of hours to travel, the caravan is not far but I'd rather us not linger here in the sun. Ra'is[2] Almah will tell you more once we arrive." The man tugs on the rope to bring the camels closer and keep them from wondering. "I brought transportation to make it quicker."

[1] rama: Also called Huckerflanes by halfling caravans. They are a camel hybrid that originated from halfling herders centuries ago and designed as mounts for races of small stature (gnomes and halflings for the most part). It's unknown what domestic species are mixed in with the camel but some suspect a donkey or some form of shrunken lamas from the northern mountains which explains the hybrid name in Common. Ramas have the humps and head of a camel but their legs are much shorter and their hair is more coarse and thick to protect against the heat and sand. They are also more temperamental than their camel cousins reflecting their halfling upbringing.

[2] Ra'is: "Head," a title of respect, often used for those who hold civil posts.
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Old Jan 20th, 2011, 09:13 PM
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"Why do they ALWAYS want to meet in the middle of nowhere....in the flipping desert no less! If I ever want someone to do something for me I will tell them to meet at an oasis in the least....a suitable brothel if lucky". At this thought the sun felt a little less oppressive. Khavhan was use to this weather after all...right? Actually, nobody EVER gets use to this weather....they just learn to endure it. "Well, if this journey works out right....I will be spending several days in the wettest place I can find." At this thought...he smiled broadly.

Reaching the others of this odd party Khav quickly tried to size them up. The warriors looked rather formidable. That was a good thing. However, one of the others was a gnome. At seeing him he rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. Every gnome he had known was a thief that would pick the pocket of his mother...or in worse cases....talk you to death with endless stories about how they slayed a dragon armed only with a bent spoon.

Reaching the others he put on a smile and said "Well, fancy meeting other people out here in this formidable desert. The name is Khavhan and I am looking for Garavel....might that be any of you?" Inside he prayed "Please let it NOT be the gnome...anyone but the gnome". The others introduced themselves and to his utter surprise...the gnome created a pile of ice......ICE! Suddenly his opinion of gnomes went up a few notches. He sat down with the rest and said to Karsh "I bet you are a hit at parties! If I ever get back home I will SO be inviting you to any house parties I have."

When Garavel appeared with 'transportation' Khavhan grimaced. He did not like camels....no not at all. When on the run from this gang or that gang he had hid out in a camel pen until the cost was clear. It took three weeks to get the smell off of him...and whenever he saw a camel he could SWEAR his clothes started smelling right away. He glanced at the others and then the camels. Finally he said "Well, I suppose it beats walking anyways." Moving over to the ice he pulled a large chunk off. Walking to one of the camels he placed the ice on his head and then put a hood over that so it would stay in place. "I am about to have the coolest camel ride in history" he thought happily to himself.

Last edited by AlwaysCivilMike; Jan 20th, 2011 at 09:14 PM.
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 01:02 AM
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Il'tehp waited silently with the others for Garavel's arrival. It was not that he wasn't a social sort, he wasn't - but in this case he just wanted to move onto the business at hand. In Garavel's absence he was left to worry that it might be a while.

The others seemed similarly at a loss for the moment, but the gnome magician appeared to be interested in making the best of the situation - a good trait Il'tehp supposed, he had never really spent any time with gnomes so he didn't know what to expect. The half-orc, he was more comfortable with, at least he had fought with or alongside quie a few. The third man he didn't yet have a feel for, "parties"? Il'tehp spent even less time with those who'd have parties than gnomes.

Eventually, Garavel arrived and Il'tehp was please to see that he brought camels. He immediately took one by the reigns and clambered up onto it's back.
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 03:55 AM
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Alphard watched his companions closely after he conjured the ice. Often, this feat sent many into applause and cheers. This bunch however, while being somewhat interested, seemed to not be overly amazed. Except for the Elf, who's eyes widened wildly as the ice spread over the earth.

Only one of the bunch, Karsh, had even deigned it necessary to tell the others his name. Alphard greeted Garavel as he arrived and told them to mount up, and he gathered his things and awkwardly began trying to pack the rama. I suppose I'll have to write a book when this is all over, and fill it with all the things I never thought I'd be doing he thought.

When the pack and the rest of his things were somewhat securely fastened to the small pack animal, Alphard began trying to mount it. Comically, he failed in several of his attempts. However, he refused any help from the others before they could even offer it. He finally got one leg hooked over the placid animal, and heaved himself sideways over the beast. With a little more struggling he sat upright to see the others waiting for him.

"So then, Alphard began, trying to take everyone's mind off his spectacular inability to ride and with a flustered face said, How should I address you fine gentlemen? I could go with "The Tattoo," "The Pointy-Eared One," and "Mr. Scimitar," but I would prefer to know your names. As he finished, he flashed them all a genial smile. However, I'm comfortable with nicknames as well.
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 03:07 PM
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All Players Roll Perception Check

~ Please Play Music & Read On ~

You mount your camels and tread into the vast scrublands of Katapesh with Garavel in the lead, the white tips of his agal whipping in the wind. You all wet your thirst with your water rations as sweat drips from hair or mustaches, the grit blowing into your squinting eyes. The half-orc, Karsh, seems to be made of stone and does not even blink, calling this place and land home. From a distance down the Trade Road a passing traveler (a commoner) sees your camel trail like it’s a distant dream, your moving shapes crawling across the deep expanse. Later that night the commoner will dream of the camel trail he saw this day, dreaming that they are traveling to a land full of mystical beings and genies.He watches until he can no longer see you while on his way to the city of Katapesh.

As you all travel everyone can just make out the immense outline of the Pale Mountains looming to the west like a tombstone in the baking heat. It’s craggy brown rock shoots up from the sands and challenges the sky. After some time of travel Garavel slows his camel (which twitches angrily and spits in Khavhan’s direction) to speak with the party. “We are nearing our destination. We have clustered our wagons at the Sultan’s Claw. It won’t be long now.”

As soon as the craggy tree appears over the next hill, it becomes obvious why it is called the Sultan’s Claw. With five immense, mostly leafless branches, the growth looks more like a giant skeletal talon than a thing of living wood.


As you top the last rise, a caravan of a half-dozen wagons and a large tent clustered around the distinctive tree comes into view. Camels in a nearby pen prance in agitation, and a clutch of confused goats and livestock wander the grounds around the wagons. Perhaps a dozen men and women rush around the campsite, chasing down an animal or hastening toward the center of the cluster, near the Sultan’s Claw, with pails of water in their hands.

One of the wagons is on fire!

Lush orange and red flames engulf an elaborate wooden wagon emblazoned with painted moons and stars. A gout of smoke pours from an open door, and as you approach an ill wind blows a number of colorful fortune-telling Harrow cards from inside the wagon. One of the singed cards blows directly at Alphard, catching against your chest in a burst of orange cinders:




Alphard Roll Knowledge (Arcane) Check

As your eyes shift focus from the burning card that the gnome holds and back to the wagon, the whole of the Sultan’s Claw erupts into brilliant flame. Garavel curses an oath to the gods as he stares, startled, at the suddenly burning tree.

The central flap of an elaborate tent flies open and a regal woman who can only be Almah steps out into the bright day. “Douse that flame!” she shouts to the men surrounding the wagon before turning in your direction, not taking notice of tree. “Ah, Garavel!” she says. “And just a moment later than the nick of time, as usual.” Looking specifically past her major domo and directly at all of you, Almah barks out a simple order before running off toward the fire: “Find some way to help!”

[B]Each of you, choose an option:

1) Put Out the Fire: Krash
2) Pull Wagon Away from Other Wagons: Il'tehp
3) Heal Wounded Firefighters IKhavhan
4) Deal with Frightened Animals: Alphard
?!) Go to Save Anyone inside: Khalid
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 06:56 PM
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Karsh wasn't really at home riding on the camel. Even though they were as equally at home in the desert as he was when he was perched on top of one he never really felt in control. He was concentrating so hard that he didn't even blink despite the occassional cloud of dust, kicked up by the camel in front.

Karsh is jolted from his concentration by Garavel informing them that they are almost at their destination.
about time too thinks Karsh pleased that he would soon have his feet on the sand.

As they get nearer Karsh is suprised to see people and animals in a state of panic.

The cause is self evident, one of the wagons is on fire!

A women of obvious wealth and upbringing breezes out of a tent, gives Garavel a 'withering' telling off and then she looks at the rest of them and tells them to help.

Karsh slides down from his camel and moves towards the burning wagon, when he is close enough he stands still, composes himself and begins to make intricate gestures with his hands. To accompany the movements he also mouths words and sounds in an almost whisper.
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 08:59 PM
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Il'tehp, looks the gnome over, now that they are moving he seems more contented. "I would accept Master Scimitar . . . but you can use my given name, Il'tehp", he says with a wry smile.

Once they arrive at the wagons, the fire sparks Il'tehp to action even before Almah steps forward to give them directions. He moves quickly to separate the burning wagon from the others to reduce the spread of the fire before turning his attention to trying to put it out.

Once he turns his attention to putting out the fire or if those who are attempting too don't have a decent plan, he yells to use the sand to cover the flames.
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 10:12 PM
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Round 1

1) Put Out the Fire
Almah, Garavel, and four soldiers dressed in the distinctive red chitin-plate armor of the Pactmaster Guard run back and forth between the burning wagon and an uncovered wagon about 20 feet away. The latter contains a huge barrel holding a week's worth of water. The six of them form a line and run pales of water from the barrel to the wagon.

The half-orc druid, Krash, draws close and then makes intricate gestures with his hand and mutters in a low whisper. Just as Almah draws close to the wagon Krash completes his spell and the fire sizzles loudly and dies a bit as if gallons of water had been pored onto it, ridding much of the flames spreading to the top.

2) Pull Wagon Away from Other Wagons
Two burly men and two women try and push the wagon away from the others before sparks can spread. Thick with soiled armor and greasy hair, they look to either be slaves or mercenaries for the Merchant princess. They strain to push the wagon but it's barely moving until there is a sudden heave as Il'tehp puts his back into with them and given them the extra muscle that they need..


Il'tehp Roll Strength Check (DC23)
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 12:05 PM
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The journey was not kind on Alphard, who had never experienced a trip of such length before. He found that upon sight of the encampment he noticed just how much his rear was in pain, but he did his best not to show his discomfiture to the others. His own pain however, was quickly driven to the very back of his mind as he saw the flames that were billowing from the wagon ahead.

As the flames grow, a wind blows a Harrow card into Alphard's grasp. He examines it, entranced for a moment. However, his reverie is broken when the woman bursts out of the tent and begins barking orders. Alphard sees that Karsh and Il'tehp are handling the wagons, so he moves to work with the animals instead. He hustles on his short legs to catch up to any animals that are beginning to run wild and he attempts to calm them.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2011, 04:46 AM
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A cavalryman, leading a carthorse, crest a nearby dune. Khalid arrives, a heavyset man swathed in local garb. His brown face is pockmarked and leathery from years spent under the sun. His perennially serious grimace makes you wonder if he is even capable of mirth. His shaved scalp bears a sizable tattoo, rather boldly associating him with the Merchants of Dusk. His thick black mustache shines with sweat and fine dust. Crates of equipment in the cart they drive shift and jostle among canvas sacks of food, water, and feed. Upon arrival, Khalid greets the druid tersely, obviously watching him carefully. "Salam, Traveler. Peace. he declares simply. It is as much an order as a declaration of his intentions. This man is not one for beating around the bush. "I am Khalid Muhadin of the Merchants of Dusk. I have business here. You are not the man I was expecting to meet here. Whom do you represent?"

----

"One called Garavel has contracted with the Merchants for my services on an expedition to a certain city. Basic provisions and transportation were ordered for a twenty day expedition. My superiors tell of creatures who have taken residence there. I do not expect a warm reception, so naturally I come prepared." He stands. Behind him within easy reach is a weapon case bearing nearly half a dozen ways to maim, mutilate, and otherwise denature a human being into so much inert flesh. He bears no weapon in-hand, though.

More arrive, with whom Khalid introduces himself formally and receives their greetings in similar fashion. He freely tells of his work, in the broadest strokes at least. While a soldier of fortune, strictly speaking, he is a man-at-arms whose services are retained solely by the Merchants of Dusk, who run the Katapeshi night markets. He considers himself a man of the law, specifically the laws of commerce, not the laws of the land necessarily. He makes this distinction with a certain severity in his tone that avoids explanation.

The half-orc seems civil enough despite his positively destitute attire and the bloodthirsty reputation of his barbaric kin. Make no mistake, Khalid still resolves to keep an eye on him, but a certain measure of esteem is there nevertheless. The gnome is a completely different story. His constant fidgeting and chatter grates on Khalid's peace of mind. Upon witnessing the gnome's magic, Khalid finally understands. The gnome is a specialist, and specialists are, more often than not, eccentric. The gnome's elven friend seems similarly out of place here, but the reason is harder to place. There is something about his nimble step and light fingers that makes the hairs on Khalid's nape stand on end. This is another one to watch. The human warrior is a more familiar sight, small comfort among this band of freaks.

----

Garavel's arrival comes none to quickly. The promise of information as well as the company of seasoned travelers is welcome news, indeed. Khalid takes to his steed like a second pair of legs. He keeps pace with Garavel easily with his carthorse in tow.

Khalid's upper lip vehemently curls and his fist clenches at the gnome's moniker for him. With some effort, he manages to refrain from giving the pint-sized tourist the spanking he deserves. "Your attempt at levity offends me, Alphard. In the interest of our business relationship, call me Khalid or nothing at all." he makes plain with a whiff of condescension. "Any who wishes may ride in the back of the cart. These beasts are tall. I would not have you hurt yourself before journey's end."

----

Time passes as it usually does on the way to the Sultan's Claw. The smell of hot horse mingles with the smell of hot self. Khalid converses quietly with Garavel. They talk of supplies, of Almah and the Sultan's Claw, and of the expedition and Garavel's role in it.

However, the time for idle chatter comes to an abrupt end at the first sign of smoke. Khalid spurs his horse to speed.

As the gnome moves to retrieve the animals, Khalid calls out, "Alphard, animal feed is in the cart."

At the smoldering wagon, Khalid asks, "Is anyone inside?" He puts a damp cloth to his face. He works to douse the fire on the inside by shoveling sand inside.

Perception 24
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Old Jan 24th, 2011, 12:11 AM
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The sight of the burning wagon was only slightly interesting to Khavhan. He was too busy thinking of his thirst and the pain in his buttock that was going to make sitting down difficult for a few days. "How I hate riding camels" he said to himself. Finally the shouts of people drew him fully out of his miserable thoughts. As he actually LOOKED at the claw it burst into flames also. He gave a suspicious look thinking that maybe he ran into a group of arsonists or pyros. Why anyone would want to create MORE heat in this damnable desert is beyond him.

When others in his group jumped off their camels to help he sighed heavily knowing that he was going to get very hot and sweaty. Then again..he was hot, sweaty and covered in sand now...so nothing would change. Leaping off his fine 'steed' he moved over to where the rest were talking of how they could help. Some ran to deal with the wagon. He looked over at the people who had been wounded fighting the fire and at the frightened animals...his decision to help the fire fires took only a second. He already smelled like camal, why add other smells to that?

 
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