Summary: the companions return to The Tooth & Hootka and partake in a night of revelry with fellow adventurers. Alice meets a tragic end. A new character is introduced.
As you exit the Tomb of Akhentepi, you can’t help but be pleased with your first foray into the necropolis. Feeling like grizzled vets, you walk with a swagger back to the “living” city, loaded down as you are with treasure. Luck is on your side – you make the south walls just prior to dusk, and are able to exit the necropolis mere minutes before the gates are closed and locked for the night.
With dusk beginning to settle across the city, you decide it best to return to your rooms at the Tooth & Hootka – the promise of a real meal and clean clothes proves too much to pass up. Besides, the Grand Mausoleum doesn’t typically serve the type of refreshments that you are looking for. Reporting your group’s site findings to the Church of Pharasma will have to wait till the morrow.
Coincidentally, the new companions – Kreig, Wormwood and Carrma Cameleous- are also staying at the Tooth & Hootka. As you near the inn, the sound of revelry assaults your ears, and escalates as you enter the common room. A haze of smoke hangs in the air, thick with the spicy scent of shisha tobacco. The Tooth & Hootka, which has a reputation as the unofficial hangout for out-of-town adventurers such as yourselves, does not disappoint on this night. The tavern area of the inn is near to bursting, with fellow adventurers taking part in friendly banter, the sharing of stories, boasting of exploits, and showing off the “riches” that were acquired.
The dozen or so tables in the comfortable main room are mostly filled, and you spy several adventuring groups that you recognize from the recent lottery proceedings. Arrayed at various tables around the tavern are: a rowdy group of halflings and their pack of well-trained fighting dogs; a rough-looking band of female adventurers, two of which sport dark veils; a somber party of roguish types, many of which appear to stare absent-mindedly into their mugs; a collection of well-dressed Pathfinder types; and a “group of nations” band of adventurers that appear to hail from the four corners of the Inner Sea region. Somewhat surprisingly, one table remains open near the center of the room.
“Right lads, ale is in order!” Var’var strides through the crowd and claims the table for the group. He booms over the din to the barman for a round.
The bartender is too busy to attend your table and your calls go unheeded. While you are trying to gain the attention of the servers, you make eye contact with one of the other tables. A burly halfling waves to you and, noticing your unanswered beckons, sidles over to your table beer jug in hand.
“Welcome back fellow adventurers! I can’t help but notice your situation and having just recently returned from the necropolis myself, dry and with a nasty sunburn I might add, it is my duty to ensure your tongue is whetted appropriately.” The halfling pours each of you a healthy stout and provides a hearty cheers.
“I’m called Mad Dog by my friends, and worse by my enemies. That’s my humble band of halflings a couple of tables over. They’re a lively bunch they are. Still worked up over our little adventure. Our first lottery pick was an ancient tannery – didn’t imagine they were still in business. We found trouble in the basement, real trouble. A gelatinous cube.” He starts to choke up. “We probably wouldn’t have made it out if not for my dogs. That cube took half of em.” Tears begin to roll down his eyes, creating tiny rivulets falling down his massive nose before pooling in his thick moustache. “And all we have to show for it is this sword.” He takes a sooty cloth from his pocket and blows his nose boisterously. “Looks like you fared the better. How did you do? I could use a good story to take my mind off things.”
As this is occurring, Alice heads for the exit. She is already drunk and broken hearted about the loss of her camel – she blames the group and has had enough. She stumbles out into the night. She can be seen leering back towards the adventurers shouting loudly of her revenge as she is silhouetted by the tavern door.
“She gave you everything and then you chased her out into the desert like a bunch of douches. By nature and all that is super useful and powerful and fun about being a druid I vow my re—-”
Her tirade is cut off mid-threat by a collision with a large wagon carrying a massive load of animal dung. You can hear her ranting trail off in muffled spurts as she is slowly suffocated by the emptying shit cart.
Stepping lithely over the mess, a mysterious figure enters the bar. Glibly, she dusts of his coat sleeves and exclaims, “Well that was rather unpleasant, wasn’t it”
She motions to the barkeep for refreshment.
Back to the table, the halfling listens intently to Va’vars recounting of your adventures in the Tomb of Akhentepi. As Va’var is finishing the story, he is cut short by the sound of a large collision outside. Although he does not realize that Alice was involved in the accident, Mad Dog uses this opportunity to politely excuse himself and rejoins his table.
Although the treatment of Alice’s camel had driven a wedge between her and the group, the sudden death of Alice is still unfortunate and the group feels it necessary to engage in some appropriate grieving. Everyone shares a story around the table and celebrates her life by pouring another round. The festive mood returns soon thereafter; however, her empty chair at the table continues to serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of being a professional adventurer.
Kreig, noting fellow Nethys worshippers at a near-by table, subtly observes the group from across the room. There are four companions at the table – two native Osirian males, a half-elven female martial type, and a Taldan female that you would guess to be the leader of the group. You note that the half-elf does not display any objects that profess her affinity to Nethys. Her eyes follow the Taldan woman around the room as she chats with other groups of adventurers. When the Taldan lady returns to the table, the three caster types huddle, but not the half-elven woman. Kreig surmises that she may be a mercenary perhaps. From his observations, he believes the group is upset about something.
Kreig approaches the table of adventurers and addresses the Taldan female, “Fellow believers, I am Kreig of the western hills, born into the service of our lord. Might I join your table and so discuss what brings us here, how we have fared in our adventures and if we could find common purpose in the service of Nethys?”
“In all things, Kreig of the western hills, well met. A fellow worshipper of the all-seeing eye is always welcome at our table. Allow me to introduce myself and my companions. I am Verlriana Hypaxes, founder of the Scorched Hand, a group dedicated to pursing all things in all ways. These are my fellow believers Khelru.” She points at a tall Garundi man that you assume to be a divine caster by his garb. “And Azaz.” She indicates the other native Osirian, a Keleshite man that you assume to be an arcane caster. “And lastly, this is Idorii.” She nods at the half-elven female.
“We’ve had a long day Kreig, so I apologize in advance if we are somewhat blunt. Our first foray into the necropolis did not go as planned. A waste of time, actually. I swear the Pharasmins took pleasure in sending us to a brothel, likely in response to our petition." Azaz grunts at this, and Khelru pats his arm to put him at ease. "I understand their belief in karma, but that was simply arrogant. But I digress. How did you fare? Did you perhaps explore any ancient shrines or temples? We are eager to hear about your adventures, please sit.” Khelru pushes forward a chair.
Kreig, and Va’var soon after, join the table. They commiserate with the group on the disappointing foray but remind them that at least they will live to face another day and the next lottery could be a very different story. They then recount to them the adventure in the tomb, of how Kreig saved his companions from drowning and of his disappointment that there was little in the way of magical loot to be had. The Scorched Hand companions listen intently to the story. Kreig senses that Velriana was disappointed by the end of the telling, but she hides it well, and Kreig is unsure if the source of the disappointment was the lack of magical treasure or something else.
Kreig continues, “But pray, do tell me of this petition and why a brothel would have karmic significance?”
“Kreig, Va’var, thank you for your story. We are happy to reciprocate, but I will rely on Khelru, if you please, to speak. I hope you take no offense, I am tired and a bit delirious after a long day.”
As requested, Khelru recounts their experience in Wati. His deep baritone proves a welcome change to Velriana’s piercing voice. They too were drawn here by the opening of the necropolis. They had petitioned the Church of Pharasma for information regarding any known ancient site or temple of Nethys, but the Church had refused their request. “Their reasoning – this information was not available to others, so why should it be available to us. And further, if they had information to share, we would still be provided a random site through the lottery anyway. Can you believe that! It is our sacred right to visit any temple of the all-seeing one and they just shoo us aside like a common sand flea. And that was just the beginning…” Khelru stops his story to take a calming breath. “The first ‘lottery’ site that was given to us turned out to be an ancient brothel, which just happens to be the center of a turf war between dueling ghoul clans. Every step of our journey in the necropolis was contested. When we finally arrived at the brothel, we had to dispatch a nest of zombies in the basement, at great cost to us. As we see it, we did a great service to the Church, but were rewarded with only minor trinkets and coins, the treasures of prostitutes and worse. And hence, we are a bit upset at the whole experience.”
At this point, Velriana joins in again. “Karma, gentlemen. I hope the Pharasmins are sitting in a room giggling at the irony of us exploring a brothel today. We are, to say the least, looking forward to tomorrow and the beginning of a new day, a new adventure. Hopefully our second endeavor goes better than our first. And with that gentlemen, I think we are going to call it a night. Good luck, in all things and in all ways. If you may chance upon any information about the all-seeing one, please seek us out. We will reward you handsomely.”
The four members of the Scorched Hand bid you farewell and head to their quarters.