Corruption of Azim

Chapter 6

Underhanded Maneuvers

The starlit area around the Bleeding Barrel was dark and quiet as Nock and Gaimon waited for Grosh to emerge. The Gnome had his masterwork dagger out and was impatiently thumbing it. Were it not for years of practice, he would have cut himself along its sharp edge.

The Elf Gaimon was nearly invisible underneath the shadow of a nearby building. He was casually leaning up against a wall with arms folded. The Gnome found it hard to understand how the Elf could be so patient. Slowly the Gnome was gaining respect for the wizard Asmodeus — somehow his influence had tempered the bloodlust which Nock had seen in Gaimon’s eyes.

Lacking patience himself, Nock spent his time repeating to himself the ways in which he would kill the half-orc thief. Although breaking bones was appealing, slitting the throat constantly resurfaced to the Gnome’s mind. Luckily for Nock, they didn’t have to wait very long. About three-quarter hours after they had begun their vigil, the half-orc emerged from the tavern.

Grosh came out alone and immediately headed on his way, turning his back toward the group. As per their impromptu plan, Nock followed first with Gaimon trailing. The half-orc headed along a road toward the Southwest edge of town. Soon the main road curved off toward a gate, but Grosh took a smaller path toward the town wall.

Although much of the town was run down, there was no mistaking that they had entered the slums of Fallerun. Nock noticed rubbish and waste along the pathways. Some of the woodwork on the buildings was rotting and falling apart. Still other buildings were already broken down — missing walls or roof segments exposed building interiors to the elements.

As he approached a small intersection, Grosh slowed and cast a glance behind. Although this was his first time looking back, Nock had stayed close to all the shadowy hiding places. The Gnome easily slipped between a porch and an old, broken-down wagon. Casting a quick glance behind, Nock thought he saw Gaimon silhouetted along the path.

Grosh didn’t seem startled; it was hard to tell if he had also noticed the Elf. He took a left at the intersection. Nock counted to ten, then quietly followed.

On reaching the intersection, Nock peeked around the corner just in time to see his prey make a right turn into an alley between two sets of buildings. Not wasting any time, he sped down the path as quitely as he could.

Just before looking down into the alley, Nock heard a coarse laugh. It wasn’t close, so he cautiously glanced around the corner. The alleyway was narrow near the opening, then appeared opened up around a well surrounded by buildings. The small area was lit by a torch set in a sconce. Standing next to the well, Grosh was conversing with a cloaked figure.

Nock next noticed an orange flicker of light coming from the second floor of the building across from him. Glancing along the rooftops, he noticed a man standing on the rooftop of one of the buildings he had past. The curved shape of a bow told the Gnome that it was an archer.

DM
Unfortunately, low Spot check bonuses kept you from noticing the archer sooner. It’s hard to tell if he has spotted either of you or not. You can tell you’ve entered a hazardous part of town though. What will you do next?

Update: I forgot to mention, Gaimon has not yet seen the archer, only Nock.
Update 2: Also, a reminder: there are some rolls which I will do for you as a DM. I’ve updated the Rolling Dice section of the Campaign Rules page to make this more clear. Don’t forget to specify when you want to use skills, abilities, etc. I usually won’t choose to do them for you.

Karasu
As slowly and quietly as he can, Nock unslings his crossbow and aims it at the archer. He does not intend to fire. But judging by the archer’s reaction, Nock hopes to be able to tell if he’s been spotted. If it seems he hasn’t been seen, he’ll slink in close enough to overhear the conversation between Grosh and the cloaked figure. If he’s been seen, he’ll retreat a few paces, cast Invisibility on himself, and return to listen in. If fired upon, Nock will throw down a card from the Deck of Illusion and regroup with Gaimon.

Eryx
Once Gaimon sees Nock point his crossbow up, he’ll check to see if he can tell what the Gnome is aiming at. If Nock moves up, he will also move up. If Nock vanishes, he will sneak up to that same spot. If Nock drops the card and runs back, Gaimon will draw his sword and forget about being stealthy, stepping out into the street ready for a fight. If he ever sees the archer, the only difference will be that he will specifically try to avoid being seen by him/her. Everything else is the same.

Slowly and quietly, Nock unslung his crossbow. He prepared a bolt and then aimed up at the archer. He carefully watched the shadow to see if it reacted, but there was no change. It appeared to be turned partially away from him, looking roughly in the direction of Gaimon. Nock briefly wondered if Gaimon had been spotted. It was too hard to tell, and he was missing the half-orc’s conversation.

The Gnome then slunk halfway down the little alleyway. He approached just close enough to make out what the cloaked figure was saying.

”... kind of information we’d be interested in?” it was saying. Nock noted that it was a woman’s voice.

“Well, I overheard them talking to McArthur. They seemed unnaturally interested in whether Renferell can protect the town from the Gnolls. One said he grew up here; worried about his father. But it didn’t add up—it looked like he was some kind of magic user and two of ‘em looked like they’d been plated up long enough for it to be comfortable. They weren’t offering to help, mind you. They wanted McArthur to set up a militia.”

“A militia?”

“Yeah. Strange right? But that’s not all. They had a half-pint with them.”

“Do you think it was the assassin?”

“Who knows? But if we get Renferell to believe it then we have a chance at a thousand gold. Plus I think we could get some coin out of him for info on this group anyway.”

“Yes, you could be right,” the woman’s voice replied. “Did you get any names?”

Grosh laughed his course laugh again. “Ha! You Darkrunners and your names. Yeah, I have some names: Asmodeus was the magic-type claiming to be from here; human. Tyrus: a human decked out in some sinister-looking black plate. There was a woman that the boys would like: Shannon, I think. The Elf Gaimon was the other one in plate; big ol’ sword. Never did get the Gnome’s name though.”

“Tyrus? That sounds vaguely—”

The soft sound of clanking metal interrupted the conversation. Nock froze. The sound had come from behind him. Grosh and the woman were staring down the alley.

“Come on out!” Grosh cried.

DM
Unfortunately, Gaimon did not move completely silently as he trailed Nock. He’s standing at just around the corner from the alleyway. He did notice the archer after Nock pointed his crossbow up though, so he’s been avoiding line-of-sight as much as possible.

What will you do next? You’re sure that Grosh has called out loudly enough to alert the archer, plus any other guards that might be around.

Karasu
A rush of panic rises in Nock’s throat until a whimsical thought flits across his mind. The fear is replaced with a sly gnomish grin. He recedes as quietly as possible into the darkest shadow his surroundings afford, then whispers the words to a Ghost Sound incantation. He will recreate the sound of Gaimon’s clinking armor, multiplied twenty-fold. If he’s played his cards right, it should sound like twenty fulled-armored warriors are quietly creeping toward Grosh and his cohort. As soon as that spell has taken effect, he will cast Invisibility on himself and wait to see how his quarry reacts.

Eryx
Gaimon would flatten himself against the wall and try to remain silent, just in case Grosh and his companion decide it was nothing. He doesn’t want to just run and leave Nock, but getting killed isn’t going to help the situation either. He likes fighting, but this appears to be an area with guards readily available. Better to wait and fight another day . . . clearly Asmodeus has tempered his tendency to violence, though the mage should have been insightful enough to cast Mage Armor on the elf. Oh well. Grrr.

Do I need to roll a Will Save when suddenly it sounds like there are lots of people around him, or will he easily be able to figure out that Nock has cast a spell? Also, I’m unclear if there’s only one way into the alleyway or not. i.e., can Grosh and the woman run the other way if they decide to?

DM
Yes, you need to roll a Will save for Gaimon. That will likely affect how you want him to act. FYI the Ghost Sound will probably be the very next event, so you can plan on that.

The alleyway leads to a circular open area behind some buildings. At the center of the circle is the well. Neither of you can see for sure, but you are confident that there are other exits that Grosh and the woman could use.

Eryx
Will Save for Gaimon: 16 (roll) + 1 (Will Save bonus)=17 total. That’s a fail.

Gaimon will whirl, take a step forward intimidatingly, and draw his sword from its scabbard on his back into an en guarde position all in one motion. He expects to see guards right on top of him and is hoping a quick display of aggression will cause them to panic. As he’s around the corner, none of this would be seen by the people in the alley. He does not panic, call for help, or anything else; he just prepares for imminent battle. His adrenaline kicks in, that old familiar rush as he anticipates violence. A lot of it.

But he sees nobody. He cautiously scans the area for the 20 guards he hears, but cannot see anything at all.

A rush of panic rushed over Nock; he felt it rising in his throat. Must be Gaimon! he thought. Then the feeling subsided just as quickly when a whimsical thought flit across his mind. With a mischievous grin, he quickly whispered the words to a Ghost Sound incantation.

From all around, the soft sound of metal armor clinking was heard approaching. Grosh appeared startled; he took a step back and drew a long dagger from behind his back. To avoid being seen, Nock quickly cast Invisibility on himself. Then he took a few steps toward the alley to see if Gaimon was there.

The Elf had spun around and had his sword in an en garde position. He was glancing back and forth looking for something. The spell apparently startled him as much as the half-orc.

“So there are a lot of you hanging around, eh?” Grosh called out. He sounded confident, but there was a hint of aggravation in his voice. “Lars, how many of them are there?”

A voice from somewhere above Grosh replied, “I can’t see anyone!”

Glancing back, Nock saw that the woman Grosh had been talking to was gone.

“There’s one over here!” another voice from above called out. Nock felt sure it was the archer he’d seen before.

The sound of softly clinking armor continued to approach Grosh’s position.

“Show yourselves!” Grosh demanded.

DM
Nock’s spell has created a distraction. Gaimon can’t see anyone to fight other than the archer on the building. He’s sure the archer was talking about him. It’s hard to tell in the darkness, but he thinks an arrow is pointed at him. Also, due to the confusion of Grosh, Gaimon is beginning to think the noise may be a trick of some kind.

What is your next move? Both of you are pretty certain that this distraction would be enough to get away, if you were to run. If you stay, you know that Gaimon’s location has been exposed. Additionally, Nock knows that his Ghost Sound spell won’t last much longer, but his Invisibility will last about 5 minutes.

Karasu
Two questions before I give my next action: How many feet away from Nock is Grosh? And in which direction is Grosh facing (i.e. away from, toward, or slightly toward Nock)?

DM
The alleyway you are standing in is about 30ft. long. Grosh is at one end of the alley and Gaimon is on the other (roughly). In the last narration you moved a bit to catch sight of Gaimon, so you are now about 15 ft. from Gaimon and 25 ft. from Grosh.

Grosh is looking down the narrow alleyway, so he’s fully facing toward you. He’s not blocking the exit of the alley though, so you could possibly get behind him in 1-2 rounds (depending on which actions you take).

Karasu
Nock slows his quickened heart and grows murderously cold inside. Hoping the ghost sound will mask his new incantation, he unsheathes his short sword and mutters the cursed words of true strike. As he inches closer to flank Grosh, the assassin studies the half-orc carefully for three rounds. As soon as his observation is complete, he intends to deliver a death strike squarely into Grosh’s back, just shy of the spine. If he is discovered or anything else goes horribly awry, the gnome will call out for Gaimon’s assistance. Otherwise, he will be as quiet as the grave. He’s got this one chance.

Eryx
Gaimon will step out into the alleyway. “Grosh, call off your lackeys! I think we may be of mutual benefit to each other.”

I’m not sure how Grosh will respond, but here’s what Gaimon is trying to do. He wants to check the alleyway out for signs of Nock. Either the bard has disappeared, or hidden himself well, or run off. If there is no sign of Nock, Gaimon will try to get out of there peaceably. This is how he will do it.

“I don’t like this Tyrus fellow we’ve joined up with. Was ranting about darkrunners after we left the Bleeding Barrel. He’s worried you’ll turn him over. It’s not the first time he’s talked about them, not to mention the problems we’ve had with some bounty hunters. Point is this . . . I don’t like him. He’s trouble. We’ll be leaving town tomorrow morning, likely through the [gate they came in through in Chapter 1], if Tyrus has his way—coward! If we were to be ambushed by a group of people wanting to sell him off to the darkrunners, well. I wouldn’t have my heart in the fight. Might even help you out a bit, if it meant getting that walking bounty out of my life!”

Gaimon Bluff Check: 19 (roll) + 0 (modifiers) = 19 total.

He would walk up to Grosh, stopping about 10 feet away, but wouldn’t sheathe his sword, still worried about the ghost sounds and the archers. He’s scanning the area for signs of Nock, but doesn’t see any. That would comfort the elf, who doesn’t want to leave Nock in a bad situation.

As soon as Nock strikes, Gaimon will bull rush Grosh. “Or we could just kill you now!” Ideally, Grosh would trip on Nock as he went down, leaving him prone. That’s what the description of Bull Rush seems to indicate would happen if Grosh were to get pushed back into the space Nock occupies, but I defer to the DM.

Plan is to kill Grosh, if possible, and then get the money and take off, shouting to the archers. “We’re not worth the trouble, and will kill any of you that come after us!” If it’s going badly . . . well, let’s see what happens.

Gaimon Bull Rush: 11 (roll) + 5 (base attack bonus) + 3 (STR) + 1 (masterwork) = 20 total.

Gaimon Strength Check vs. Grosh: 5 (roll) + 3 STR = 8 total.

Karasu
Nock to Hit: 3 (roll) + 1 (DEX) + 20 bonus = 24 total.

Nock Sense Motive: 15 (roll) + 3 (modifier) = 18 total. (To see if he can tell that Gaimon is trying to make Grosh go prone.)

Nock Reflex: 5 (roll) + 7 (modifier) = 12 total. (To see if he can react in time to help Gaimon trip up Grosh.)

Nock breathed in deeply to slow the beating of his heart. His distraction had worked well, and now he was ready to kill Grosh. He slowly moved down the alleyway toward the half-orc. Behind him, Gaimon stepped out into the alleyway.

“Grosh, call off your lackeys!” Gaimon called out. “I think we may be of mutual benefit to each other.”

Coincidentally, the Ghost Sound died out. Both Grosh and Gaimon seemed to relax a bit.

“So, your group isn’t quite as careful as I thought before,” Grosh said with a smirk. “You shouldn’t have followed me. Where are your friends?”

“They aren’t here. It’s just me — I wanted to talk with you.”

“Well, I don’t give refunds,” Grosh chuckled. “What else is there that you think I can do for you?”

Gaimon approached slowly as he began, “I don’t like this Tyrus fellow we’ve joined up with. Was ranting about Darkrunners after we left the Bleeding Barrel. He’s worried you’ll turn him over. It’s not the first time he’s talked about them, not to mention the problems we’ve had with some bounty hunters. Point is this . . . I don’t like him. He’s trouble.”

“He’s insightful at least,” Grosh replied. “But what does this have to do with me?”

Grosh had relaxed a bit, but hadn’t dropped his guard. The long dagger he wielded glinted in the torchlight. The Elf stopped a comfortable distance about ten feet away. There was no sign of Nock.

The Gnome had snuck behind Grosh and was carefully studying his target’s armor and movements with cold, murderous intent. Grosh was wearing some leather armor; not the best protection but would have to be pierced in a single killing strike. Nock also noticed Grosh had a second dagger and what looked like a sword hilt. But the strange thing was that the sheathed blade was only as long as the hilt. Focusing, he quietly muttered the words to True Strike while Gaimon spoke.

“We’ll be leaving town tomorrow morning, likely through the gate on the South side, if Tyrus has his way—coward! If we were to be ambushed by a group of people wanting to sell him off to the Darkrunners, well. I wouldn’t have my heart in the fight. Might even help you out a bit, if it meant getting that walking bounty out of my life!”

Grosh seemed to ponder this for a second; Gaimon’s bluff was working. “Well, perhaps I underesti—AAUGH!!”

The half-orc roared in pain as the suddenly visible Nock drove a fierce blow into his back, just shy of the spine.

“Or we could just kill you now!” Gaimon yelled and rushed ahead. In a split second Nock realized two things. First, Grosh wasn’t dead. His assassination attempt had failed; the half-orc was tough! Secondly, Gaimon was trying to knock the enemy over. Quickly, Nock braced himself behind Grosh to help topple the brute.

But it didn’t work. Grosh met Gaimon’s charge with solid footing, pushing the Elf back. Then spinning around, Grosh threw his dagger at Nock. The Gnome blocked the blade with his hand, only receiving a minor cut. Roaring a battle cry, Grosh drew the sword hilt from behind his back. But instead of being a short or broken blade, it was a full longsword!

DM
I was interested to see which way things would go with the Death Attack. But Grosh just wouldn’t die — he got a natural 20 on his save roll, thus putting him well above the needed DC check. He also substantially beat the Strength check against Gaimon’s bull rush, even with bonuses for Nock’s help.

Nock’s Death Attack did 7 damage, and Nock took 2 damage from the dagger (leaving him at 20/22 HP).

The woman Grosh was talking to is nowhere to be seen. You’re sure that Grosh has at least 2 allies; the archer and one other up above somewhere. To make matters worse, Grosh seems pretty formidable by himself.

You are now in combat. Please roll initiative and give me your next three rounds of actions.

Eryx
Gaimon Initiative: 6 (roll) + 3 (DEX) = 9 total.

I’m not stupid, and if we fight this guy we’re going to die. But Gaimon doesn’t know that. Yet. The familiar bloodlust overcomes him, but he also doesn’t have a death wish, and will retreat as necessary. As this is the beginning of the encounter, he’ll be playing it safe and not using Power Attack. He will attack for 3 rounds, waiting as it becomes more and more apparent that this is a losing battle.

First attack.
To Hit: 2(roll) + 5 (BAB) = 7 total.
Damage: 1 (roll) + 4 (roll) = 5 total.

Second attack.
To Hit: 1 (roll) + 5 (BAB) = 6 total. But an automatic miss, right, since I rolled a 1?
Damage: 2 (roll) + 3 (roll) = 5 total. Just in case, I guess.

Third attack.
To Hit: 14 (roll) + 5 (BAB) = 19 total.
Damage: 1 (roll) + 4 (roll) = 5 total.

As the fight goes on Gaimon will realize more and more than they need to get out now. Asmodeus was clear if the opportunity presented itself, and Gaimon is sure that this isn’t exactly what the wizard had in mind. Karasu will be posting soon with our distraction to GTFO.

Karasu
Initiative Roll: 7 + 1 DEX=8.

Severely disappointed and clutching his wounded hand, Nock scrambles out of the way of the two fighters. Physically, he is no match for Grosh and he knows it. Once he is a safe distance, the bard will unsling his gittern and play the manic melody of hideous laughter, directing the spell at the enraged half-orc.

“Leave ‘im!” he’ll yell to Gaimon. “We’s deal wif ‘im later.”

Nock will flee, making his way back to whichever tavern is closest. If followed, and he’d be watching for that, he’ll throw behind him a card from his Deck of Illusion.

Eryx
Gaimon will menacingly spit, “I will kill you, Grosh.” If the Hideous Laughter spell has worked, he will smack Grosh a few times with his sword, using the above rolls (soooo glad I rolled a 1). Then he will run like hell.

Gaimon Intimidate: 7 (roll) + 7 (bonuses) = 14 total.

Grosh’s sword flashed as it came down in a tight arc to strike Nock. The blade bit down through the Gnome’s armor and gave him a deep gash along his chest. He reeled in pain and let out a cry.

As Gaimon pressed an attack, Grosh turned to meet the Elf. Outmatched, disappointed, and in pain, Nock clutched his wounded hand against his chest and scrambled out of the way. He could see there were several alleyways leading away from the well, so he moved toward the closest one.

Behind him, Nock heard a grunt of pain followed by a curse. It was Gaimon’s voice. Halfway down the alley, Nock stopped and looked back. The Elf had taken a cut across his right arm but any pain he felt was swallowed up by his lust for battle. Nock quickly sheathed his sword, trading it for his gittern. He quickly strumed out a wailing tune as he cast the spell of Hideous Laughter.

Immediately Grosh began to utter a course, manic laugh. Nock had always liked the appropriate name of the spell, as the laughter always seemed unnatural, and disturbing. In this case though, Nock felt his heart drop into his stomach — it seemed that the half-orc was certain he’d kill them, despite falling over in hysterics.

Gaimon swung his greatsword down on top of the prone half-orc and cut into his shoulder as he rolled in loud laughter. This was followed by the sound of a pair of arrows striking the stone of the well next to Gaimon. A red ray of light shot out from the top of one the buildings, spreading into flame as it hit Gaimon in the back.

“Leave ‘im!” Nock yelled. “We’s deal wif ‘im later.” Then Nock turned away and ran.

Looking down at Grosh, Gaimon spit, “I will kill you, Grosh.” Then he sprinted after Nock.

As he ran, Nock recognized the road they had come in on. He turned down that path. Voices cried out from behind them as they ran. A few arrows struck the buildings and road alongside them. Nock glanced back several times to see if anyone was following them, but saw no one.

They continued to run along the road back toward the Bleeding Barrel, both intending to continue straight on to the Blue Drake Inn. Soon they saw two figures ahead running toward them.

“Gaimon? Nock!” the voice of Asmodeus sounded relieved. He was already speaking as he approached, “Elandra told us that Grosh wouldn’t be alone. We came to find you — my raven helped us find you.”

Nock slumped down to his knees. Blood from his wound had soaked his tunic. Gaimon was huffing and leaning on his sword which he had yet to return to its scabbard.

“Looks like you found out about the Outcasts yourself,” Tyrus said dryly.

DM
Nock received 10 damage, leaving him at 10/22 HP. Gaimon received 7 damage from Grosh, then 15 fire damage. This leaves him at 10/32 HP.

You’ve managed to escape. It appears you were not followed. Good job with the Hideous Laughter too.

Eryx
Asmodeus will immediately bust out the Wand of Cure Light Wounds and heal them up, then it’s time to head back to the Blue Drake. We need to talk.

I used up 5 charges of the Wand. Nock is now at 17/22 hitpoints, and Gaimon is at 27/32 hitpoints. A good night’s rest should put them the rest of the way back to full.

[DM retcon edit:Asmodeus can’t use cure wands; removing/changing references in the narrative. Changing ownership of the wand to Tyrus who will use the wand in this instance.]

I’m going to assume, for purposes of the conversation, that everybody shares everything they heard so all the characters know the information that has been posted. Gaimon will be apologetic about so deliberately mentioning Tyrus, but couldn’t think of anything else on the spot.

I still want to head out of town tomorrow morning, but don’t want to leave Shandra behind alone. The date is tomorrow night, giving Grosh and his buddies plenty of time to find her when the rest of the group is not around. Thoughts? Could she hang with Elandra?

We could use this to our advantage if Shandra tells the mayor how the mean ol’ thugs are harrassing even the good visitors, like our group. The mayor apparently uses Grosh for information, but this time the information was bad, false, and he’s extorting travelers to the town for his own profit. Not good.

What about Tyrus going to Bejic and asking for help. Do we think that Bejic would be open to the possibility of just helping Tyrus go his way? Tyrus still feels a kinship to the Knights Justicar, would Bejic feel the same way? Maybe Bejic would feel comfortable letting Shandra stay in the church for a few hours before her date. Asmodeus is definitely worried about the Darkrunners now. If Darkrunners ever do show up, there will be no negotiating. They need to be taught, now, that Tyrus is not worth any bounty the King has placed on his head. Kill them all. Gaimon will, of course, smile at that.

Also, Asmodeus will impress on the group the importance of keeping their stories straight. Gaimon and Asmodeus were off looking at Goblin ruins during the first gnoll attack, Tyrus and Shandra were looking for the assassin, and from now on Shandra is NOT Tyrus’ wife. the group does have a good reason for leaving town, since we rolled Local and Bardic Knowledge checks for that back in chapter 5.

Karasu
Nock is shaken and ashamed and having a lot of trouble hiding it. He’s beginning to realize that he will need the help of these adventurers despite the fact they remind him of the group that betrayed him all those years ago.

Right now, the gnome wants to curl up in a ball and sleep: His chest hurts, he’s just had a near-death experience, and his bardic spells are mostly spent. Gaimon can give Asmodeus all the information they acquired. He’ll be anxious to leave town immediately to sleep at the place where they stashed the gnoll hides. If Asmodeus or Tyrus ask, he’ll recommend that Shandra accompany the group. She can watch from a distance if she doesn’t want to get her hands dirty with the militia, but their one good in with the mayor should not be within pissing distance of that monster Grosh.

Eryx
Asmodeus is too busy worrying about their plans getting screwed up, but Gaimon notices Nock is deeply troubled. He’ll make sure to buy Nock a really nice drink of some kind.

Gaimon Sense Motive (in case you think I need it, DM): 3 (roll) + 1 (bonus) = 4 total.

Tyrus pulled out a wand, and began healing his injured comrades. Then feeling better and having caught their breath, the group headed back to the Blue Drake. Gaimon shared the details of their encounter as they walked. Nock only contributed a few words here and there.

When they arrived at the tavern, Shandra and Elandra were waiting for them. They looked relieved to see everyone show up. The group gathered around a table. Nock reluctantly joined them. His chest still hurt and he was ready to sleep. He sat on one of the chairs with his legs pulled up, chin on his knees.

The group discussed what happened. Gaimon was apologetic about mentioning Tyrus so specifically. Shandra looked worried, but Tyrus just waved it off saying that he hadn’t kept his name secret.

“If Darkrunners ever do show up, there will be no negotiating,” Asmodeus stated. “They need to be taught, now, that Tyrus is not worth any bounty the King has placed on his head. We’ll kill them all.”

Gaimon smiled at this. The discussion then turned to what their next move would be. Asmodeus still wanted to head out to fight the mayor’s soldiers, but he was worried about leaving Shandra alone in town with Grosh. He even asked Tyrus if she would be safe with Bejic.

Nock was listening to the conversation with his face buried into his knees. He only looked up occasionally to catch the expressions of the group. Thus he didn’t realize that Gaimon had noticed his troubled state, nor did he notice Gaimon get up and go over to the bar.

The Gnome looked up at the sound of a mug being placed on the table in front of him. Gaimon briefly put his hand on Nock’s shoulder as a sign of reassurance. Then the Elf sat back down. Nock took the mug of ale and tucked it in close to him. Grateful to the Elf, he sipped at it as he listened.

Shandra was saying that she would be fine in town by herself. Elandra offered to spend the day with Shandra; keeping her safe and helping her prepare to meet the mayor. This was agreed upon, though Nock did chime in to say that they shouldn’t let that monster Grosh get within pissing distance.

With that settled, Asmodeus reiterated his warning to the group to keep their stories straight. The wizard elicited a stern stare from Tyrus when he instructed them that they needed to pretend not to be husband and wife. But neither the blackguard nor the Tiefling disagreed. They realized the importance of getting close to the mayor.

With their business settled, Asmodeus instructed Nock and Gaimon leave to sleep where they had stashed the Gnoll hides. He would be along with Tyrus in an hour or two. Nock was eager to leave; he was paranoid about staying the night in town. So he followed Gaimon as they got their gear and led the Elf’s horse from the stables.

Nock was glad to see that Gaimon led them North, away from the Southwest side of town where the Outcasts were. But he was surprised when Gaimon stopped and tied his horse to a hitching post. The Gnome looked around and saw they were next to a large fenced in area.

Gaimon answered Nock’s unanswered question, “I’m going to buy a guard dog. I noticed this place earlier when Asmodeus was talking to people around town.”

They knocked on the door of a house attached to the fencing. A signpost read, “Zane’s Dog Training and Breeding.” Soon a bleary-eyed half-elf answered the door.

“I want to buy a guard dog,” Gaimon said flatly.

The half-elf looked at him incredulously. “At this hour?”

“Sorry, but I can’t wait until morning.”

After a brief pause, the half-elf shrugged and said, “Come on in. I’m Zane. Let’s take a look at the dogs.”

They entered the front door only to exit from a side door within the fenced area. Zane led them to the kennels.

“It’s been a busy day,” Zane explained. “I guess this Gnoll incident has people spooked. I’ve sold several dogs just today. It’s been years since I had so much interest in one day! But take a look and see if there is one you like.”

Gaimon looked briefly then pointed to a large husky with a mottled gray coat. “That one,” he said.

“That one? He’s a well trained guard dog, but has quite an attitude.”

“I know. I saw him earlier today.”

“You could have bought him then, instead of coming after dark,” Zane joked. “Well, okay, if you’re sure.” Then calling to the dog, “Inque, come!”

It only took a few minutes to make the purchase. Gaimon also bought some dog rations. Zane briefly explained things Gaimon should know about the dog, and demonstrated the skills it knew.

“It will take some time for Inque to become loyal to you, so it might be hard to get him to do what you want at first. Oh, and I know a lot of folk want to give there dogs a new name. That’s fine… it’ll just take him a while to get used to it.”

Zane put a long leash on Inque and handed him over to Gaimon. Their business concluded, Zane bid farewell. Gaimon untied his horse, and he rode with Nock while Inque walked obediently alongside.

They exited the North gate without any trouble. The guards warned them of Gnolls, but let them pass. “It’s your funeral,” one of them said. Gaimon just grinned and headed out. Nock was feeling very tired by this point. As soon as they arrived at their cache, he curled up in a ball under his blanket and slept.

DM
That’s the end of this chapter.

You now have the guard dog you’ve been waiting for. The PHB pg. 74-75 describe the Handle Animal skill which you will need to use to control the dog. It was trained for the purpose of guarding, so it knows the tricks “attack”, “defend”, “down”, and “guard”. It takes a handle animal check DC 10 to get Inque to do one of these tricks. But since you only just bought him, he’s not completely loyal to you. For the meantime you have a -5 penalty on all Handle Animal checks for Inque. I will reduce this penalty over time; faster if you specifically say he spends time working with the dog.

When we discussed this over Skype, you said you weren’t 100% sure about the dogs name. So I went ahead and had Zane call him Inque. As he said, you can give him a new name if you want. If you wanted Gaimon to be the one that chose that name, let me know and I’ll edit the above text with a new name.

Asmodeus and Tyrus are waiting an hour or two at the Blue Drake inn before heading out to meet Nock and Gaimon where they cached the Gnoll hides. So let me know if there is anything else they would do before leaving.

Elandra will take Shandra to her place for the night, then help her the next day.

Eryx
What’s the going rate for dog rations?

Asmodeus would probably start to give Shandra instructions, she would probably interrupt him and tell him that she would handle the date, and he would realize that she was right and he should back off, but would reiterate getting the entire group in good with the mayor before dropping it.

DM
The PHB didn’t say about dog rations. So I’m inventing something between feed (for horses) and normal rations:
Dog rations (1 day): 1 sp, 5 lbs. – Contains meat and dry food.

Update: I’m sorry I’ve been forgetting to award XP. For story-related elements, I’m awarding everyone in the party 100 XP. Gaimon and Nock get an additional 150 XP for their (mis)adventure with the Outcasts.

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blackwolf_xiii

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