A request came to The Guild from a foreign merchant, Amaleek Kalahari from Osirian. He needed a group to retrieve his wares that were stolen. The party formed: Djelzeem the human Osirian rogue, Kass the other human former engineer rogue, and Stritek the hobgoblin rogue-barbarian, plus they grabbed Dirrasha the Catfolk monk on the way out for good measure. The party met with Amaleek at a very low end inn on the fringes of the foreign district. The man was stretching his funds as best he could in hopes of getting his livelihood back. After dealing with the questionable clientele and owner, they met with Amaleek and learned that he had been lured outside the city wall to the desolate Cairnlands to meet with a potential customer seeking his special brew only to be ambushed by a brigand band of gnolls calling themselves The Menagerie. He offered 50gp each to retrieve at least 90% of his more expensive wares (alchemical goods, potions and a special Osirian concoction called Black Iris Brew which he claimed was his most valuable item, an ancient recipe cure-all drink). The party asked a few questions but only Dirrasha noticed that the man was stretching the truth, but she was long bored with the conversation and barely mentioned it. There was a debate about facing gnolls and having a minimum fee if the goods were missing. The merchant reluctantly agreed to a flat 50gp fee but when they pushed for further benefits that deal went sour. Djelzeem and Kass in particular wanted a default payment, but the man grew angry telling them he had hired The Guild by their own rules and was looking for help not to give his limited funds away on a failed mission. Dirrasha grew bored of the debates and arguments while Stritek was the one to chase down the merchant when he stormed out and solidify the deal eventually getting them all to sign the contract. Retrieval of 90% of the valuable goods earned them 100% of the pay (200gp) and it depreciated from there.
First, they traveled north since he showed them a map of where he was ambushed outside the northern gates. They gathered some information on both The Menagerie and Black Iris Brew then stopped to eat and discuss a plan. Too bad diplomacy was not a strong suit of the party. Many ideas surfaced with debates back and forth about how to proceed. Dirrasha grew very bored, wanting only to find some action or adventure. They debated using the cat woman’s sense of smell to track down the gnolls or having DJelzeem pose as a merchant also selling Black Iris Brew to weed out the one responsible for the set up. Since Kass discovered that Black Iris Brew was considered an illegal substance in Absalom they went with the tracking plan. Once outside the city they made quick work locating the ambush site and abandoned cart then followed a trail on to a secluded campsite where they spotted the gnolls. Pay no mind to the howls in the distance or the large dire wolf prints in the dirt. They watched for a while until the guard shifted and the obvious leader, a female ranger, went to sleep and took her weird chicken with her. They shifted their positions with DJelzeem making some noise and attracting the attention of a stirge which latched onto him and began sucking his blood until Stritek blew it away with a well-placed arrow. Amazingly they kept quiet through the attack. They formed a plan to take out the lone guard, avoid the big spiders the monk spotted scuttling into the merchants wares, which sat In two piles in the camp, and then kill the other gnolls in their sleep. The plan did not go as expected with the gnoll sentry wandering out of the fire light and fouling their chances of sneak attacks. So they waited and they waited and Dirrasha grew very bored. She and Stritek held one position while the humans held another. When over 2 hours passed with no action the non-humans took matters into their own hands. They crawled down into the camp with the sleepy cat sliding down the embankment in a cloud of rubble. Another stirge came for them and this time Stritek shot it from the air before it reached them. The twang of his bow caught the sentry’s attention and the gnoll began yapping an alarm in its native tongue. The camp began to rouse. Kass hurled a thunderstone at the sentry and deafened him with a loud boom! The three other gnolls including the ranger leader joined the growing battle and true to their bandit name they added several critters to the fight. The weird chicken (a cockatrice), two big red spiders, and four vipers joined the fray. The rogues did not coordinate their attacks very well with poor flanking arrangements and false promises of light to fight by while the restless cheetah monk darted in recklessly for some action. Djelzeem and Kass found themselves the target of the gnoll ranger’s bow (favored enemy humans) and Stritek was fending off gnolls, spiders, vipers and the cockatrice. The bird actually pecked him a couple of times draining his dexterity as his skin and muscles grew stiff. Dirrasha, despite being the less experienced member, was holding her own, bringing down a viper, a spider and eventually a gnoll with a flurry of strikes that also caused her to pass out. Slowly but surely the tides began to turn and the rogues won, though poison coursed through Kass’ veins from a viper and everyone was bloody. Stritek even chased down and killed the last gnoll as it fled while Kass tended to the unconscious monk and was surprised by the viper Djelzeem sprinted away and left for him to deal with. With the brigand band defeated they licked their collective wounds using a few of the merchants cure potions to heal (some were down dex, some con, and another was unconscious). They dug into the goods and looted the gnolls. But they kept the unconscious leader bound and alive for the return. When Stritek went to place the goods in his pack something broke and a noxious cloud filled the area. Everyone coughed and spat as they fled the vapors but the two humans couldn’t seem to shake the smell from their noses. It was a broken bottle of Black Iris Brew and those two found the next morning that they were infected with something unidentifiable as was the gnoll leader. Their skin was turning ashen and gray and their eyes were also darkening. They felt terrible with Kass losing con and Djelzeem losing strength. They dropped the gnoll off with the city guard and went to the temple of Sarenrae for a checkup and diagnosis. The priests told them they were indeed infected by some sort of magical affliction and that the price to remove that would be quite high, requiring a ‘Heal’ spell. They then went to The Guild and consulted Reznik their resident alchemical expert and doctor. He informed them that Black Iris Brew was outlawed because of it’s unstable and dangerous nature long ago. The infection would likely kill them and return them as undead unless they found an antidote. Only the creator would have such a thing. So they hurried back to threaten and harass Amaleek only to learn that he bought the brew from a local alchemist, Dalahari the Mysterious, a man known to be both masked and elusive. Amaleek was clueless of the dangers of the brew. He directed them to the place where he learned of Dalahari, a magical and mundane regents shop called The Bloody Mark run by a horribly burnt sorceress,Ghesha the Grotesque. They used Djelzeem as the bait since he was Osirian also to ask about locating the brew and its creator. They left word with the sorceress and a place to drop off messages then tried to go question the gnoll captive. Unfortunately no one spoke gnoll … that was a waste of time.
They spent two days waiting for a reply with both the humans slowly waisting away. Dirrasha once again grew very bored. When they returned to the shop late the next day Djelzeem and Kass entered to spot a hooded, masked figure shopping. Ghesha the Grotesque directed them to him with a gesture and a nod. Outside, the lookouts Stritek and Dirrasha didn’t notice anything until Kass exited to let the two have a private conversation and waved the pair over. Djelzeem was inside brokering a deal for an antidote. Stritek took up a position in the back alley at the rear exit and the other two waited at the front door. Stritek saw the sorceress exit and depart as well. Djelzeem tried to lie and failed miserably then called for help when a fight broke out and Dalahari tossed a fiery bomb at him, burning him. The doors were locked but Kass quickly picked the front lock and Dirrasha kicked in the door. Stritek had trouble with the back door and instead ran around to the front. The fight was on with bombs flying, kicks flying, blades flying and then the man going invisible. He didn’t count on the cat woman being able to sniff him out. His gloves and mask came off and when they saw Dalahari again he was actually a ghoul. He paralyzed Kass then Djelzeem and finally Stritek, but only because the others begged the hobgoblin not to kill him until they found the antidote. So, Dirrasha cleared a path and let the heavily injured ghoul alchemist run while her companions recovered their ability to move.
Together they tracked him down to his lair beneath the city near the edges of the Puddles. Inside he had left a trap, a gelatinous cube but they quickly avoided and outran it, finding his lab and six unfortunate souls he was holding prisoner strapped to tables as they neared the waisting completion. Another fight ensured and more bombs flew burning the hobgoblin badly. The monk tried to rescue a victim only to have him turn to a zombie in her arms and knock her nearly senseless. They were fast zombies and began rising at a staggered pace throughout the battle. Since they could see his lab, they decided to destroy Dalahari and beat down every zombie that rose up. It was tense for a moment as the hobgoblin threatened to slay the last two victims before they turned, two children, but the others convinced him to wait just in case. It was a fortunate decision for the children were not quite ready to succumb to the waisting. The lab was unfamiliar to any of the party members so they sent for help from The Guild getting the only alchemist present, old Nicholas. He arrived, picked his teeth, sang a bad tune and pointed out what he thought was the antidote and the day was saved for both the children and Kass plus Djelzeem. The party was then chastised by Guild officials for accepting an illegal mission and warned to be more careful in the future, but congratulated on stopping both The Menagerie and Dalahari’s plan to infect Absalom’s water source. All in all, a good job!
Djelzeem, Stritek, Kass and Dirrasha each earned 1,800xp
Reznik and Nicholas each earned 100xp