21 Anabasis, Morning
Altaruk Trade Fortress
With Altaruk imperiled by a rash of “wind sickness”, the party has been given leave by Arisphistaneles, Governor and Veiled Alliance leader, to liquidate his operative Banoc in order to satisfy the ruthless terms of the local druid Kesi. Even with this permission, however, the party remains split on whether to murder an innocent wizard or risk dooming the town.
After debate on how to proceed, finally Cawthra grudgingly relented, deciding to allow the party to move against his newfound mentor. He visited Banoc in his tower, telling him of their difficult situation. Banoc said that even in his advanced age, however, that he was not willing simply to sacrifice himself, asking if the party had put as much into convincing Kesi not to kill him as they had into convincing him to sacrifice himself. At most, Banoc said, he would be willing to accept exile from Altaruk.
Hearing Cawthra’s report, Jotano, perhaps seeking to have as many allies as possible survive and to claim rewards from all parties, led a new push for diplomacy. Vinari presented the new terms to Kesi outside the city gates, and only due to his outstanding effort at diplomacy did Kesi accept Banoc’s terms of exile.
Back at Banoc’s tower, however, Nnn’tkk had been left to keep watch. Partially due to a strong language barrier, Nnn’tkk didn’t fully grasp the situation, knowing only that there had been talk of slaying Banoc. Putting his hunting skills to use, the mantis man leapt through a third-story window and hurled his chatkchas at the old mage. Banoc’s stoneskin spell held up against this assault, the throwing weapons clattering to the floor. Feeling merciful, Banoc cast a lesser geas upon Nnn’tkk, commanding him to leave the tower and never return.
As Nnn’tkkk left, the rest of the party arrived with news of Kesi’s acceptance. Soon Governor Arisphistaneles had been informed and the party richly congratulated for avoiding a no-win situation. Ari said he had a sensitive task for them in Tyr soon, but first sent them off to the One-Eyed Kank for a night of wine and women. Captain Bost reported that Kesi had already begun healing all of the House M’ke caravaneers of wind sickness, except for the missing Ekee, the mentor and betrayer of Malak (Bro-Dan’s rogue). Not mentioning Ekee in the governor’s office, Malak finally told the party after they left the keep. Before getting to their manhunt the party decided to get to the wine and women.
Questioning the caravan master, several prostitutes, and an elven black marketeer, the party began the hunt in the morning. Soon Malak spotted a disguised Ekee ducking into an ally and decided to give chase, ignoring Ekee’s offer to point him toward Ramessu, the psionic slaver she had sold him to before the party came together. Exchanging verbal quips, Ekee flung a poisoned smokestick in Malak’s face and disarmed him with a whip, but Malak managed to tackle her to the ground as she fled. She tried to draw a garrote to strangle him, but the rest of the party and a pair of guards arrived. Giving herself up, Ekee was taken into custody, and the guards gave her gear to the party “for safekeeping.”
Taking her inn key, the party went to loot her room, being hit by another poisoned smokestick she had placed above the door. Finding a variety of roguish treasure, they also saw Ramessu the slaver and his entourage of reptilian tribesmen and half-giant barbarian bodyguard (armed with a massive obsidian greataxe). Wasting no time, Malak and Jotano set up with blowgun and crossbow, Nnn’tkk with his chatkchas. Nnn’tkk identified the reptoids as gith, whom Cawthra knew to have an intensely competitive social structure: if a group’s leader died, the next two gith in the pecking order would instantly fight to the death, even during battle.
Accordingly the trio of snipers began by eliminating the obvious “chief”, setting the gith against one another. The furious Ramessu sent his half-giant to find the hidden ambushers, but concentrated fire brought the brute down before he got to the stairs. Ramessu was the only real threat as Cawthra hypnotized those gith that weren’t killing one another. He managed to manifest time hop on Cawthra, moving the bird wizard several rounds into the future, but couldn’t eliminate any other threats before being taken down. Never having seen the hidden Malak or Jotano, he assumed the massacre was treachery from Ekee, and died cursing her name.