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Summary

Runaway carriage! Azu jumps out because...? Grizzop and Sasha join because...? Hamid takes the high road, goes on to the city, sits and eats some food.

Synopsis

The party is heading down to the main city of Damascus from the factory; Sasha is driving their carriage at breakneck speed towards the city. The inside of the carriage is nice, with soft seats and a small bucket with bottles of alcohol in it. Azu, Grizzop, and Hamid are all clinging on for dear life as they drive down.  

They head immediately out of the industrial complex and realize that they are quite high up in the mountains. It’s still warm, since Damascus is hot. As they careen down the mountains, they can see the city of Damascus in the distance. 

Grizzop finds it difficult to concentrate, and a wine bottle has been spilled all over him, so all he really notices is that the city is large. Sasha is distracted by driving. Hamid and Azu notice that the city looks a little bit desiccated. It was built in an oasis, surrounded by greenery; however, there’s really no greenery around it, a lot of brown plants, and the entire landscape looks a bit parched. There’s a very clear demarcation between the old town, right in the middle (still with the original city walls), and the new build sprawling around it. There’s an old legend that the city walls were solid adamantine around the whole city; it’s an exaggeration, but it does have adamantine plating. It’s still standing, but it’s been stripped a lot for materials. They continue careening towards the city. 

Azu attempts to get out of the carriage; she wants to climb up to the roof, because she actually knows how to drive and is starting to panic from being in the enclosed space. However, instead of climbing up on top, she falls out of the carriage and crashes to the ground as the carriage speeds away. Grizzop, also slightly panicking now that Azu has fallen out of the carriage, leaps out after her and also crashes to the ground. Hamid is watching this, stunned and confused as to why they leapt out. Sasha notices this happen and passes the reins to the goblin helping navigate for her, and leaps out as well. She lands nicely, coming to a skidding stop, and meets up with Grizzop and Azu. Hamid is alone in the carriage; he is annoyed, shocked, frustrated, and confused, and so he reaches out and closes the door, pulls the blinds down, grabs the bottle of wine from the fridge, uncorks it, and swigs straight from the bottle. 

Azu takes 17 damage from the fall and Grizzop takes 7 damage. Grizzop bounces a couple times and lands on his feet, running up to Azu and asking if she’s alright. Azu says that she is, and Grizzop cheers, but then tells her not to do that again. Azu says that she doesn’t like being in enclosed spaces that are bumping all around, and Grizzop says that in the future she should at least take her armour off first. Azu says again that she didn’t like it.

Sasha appears behind them, and Grizzop asks where Hamid is. Sasha says that he’s back in the carriage, and Grizzop says that Hamid needs to stay with the party and that he’s being incredibly irresponsible. (Meta note: Bryn says that if Hamid could hear Grizzop, he would fire him). Azu summons her camel, and Grizzop says that this time they’re going to let Azu drive instead of Sasha. The three of them get on the camel and Grizzop gets on Azu’s shoulders again as they follow the carriage. Sasha isn’t a fan of the wobbling, and gets off and walks beside them.

Hamid, meanwhile, is still in the carriage, and has an uneventful rest of the journey. The goblin driver pulls up the top hatch and asks if he’s doing alright. Hamid says that he is, and that they can meet up with them back in Damascus. The driver mentions that it’ll probably take them ages, and Hamid says he imagines it will. The carriage enters Damascus in the northern mercantile quarter. It seems to be doing well - business is moving along nicely and doesn’t seem to be having the same resignation as Cairo had. It’s clear that they had another sandstorm here, and people are in the streets cleaning it up. It’s a broad mix of races, with a high population of goblins and a higher population of orcs than he would expect. There seems to be a bit of tension between the goblins and the orcs, which is strange.  

The carriage continues moving, and drops Hamid off at the restaurant that Clapper set up for them - The Desiccated Corporal. It’s close to the old town. Hamid tips the driver, who thanks him, and then tells Hamid not to ask for water. The goblin asks if he should pick up the rest of the party on the way back, and Hamid says that he can if he wants, or just let them know where he is. The driver heads off back to the party, and Hamid goes in to get their table. 

Eventually, Sasha gets back on the camel, doesn’t like it, and climbs on Azu’s shoulders as Grizzop climbs on hers. Sasha starts practicing knife tricks. Time skips a bit - they see the carriage coming back toward them, and Azu flags it down to check if Hamid has come back for them. The goblin asks if they want a lift, and they say that they’re alright, asking where Hamid is waiting for them. The driver tells them that he’s at the Desiccated Colonial; the three of them thank the driver and then head off toward the city. 

Meanwhile, Hamid is waiting for the party, and works his way through an aperitif, a main, a dessert and a second dessert. He’s just finished his after dinner brandy when everyone else in the party shows up, dusty. They’d all just spent about an hour and a half looking for the wrong restaurant but finally made their way here. The whole of the restaurant is slightly judging them for their appearance, and Sasha shakes a bit as dust and sand fall off her. They see Hamid sitting at the table, and they greet each other as Hamid recommends the scallops.  

Time skips ahead to post-dinner; they’ve all finished a lovely meal and are kicking back in a nice area of the city. Azu asks what they should do next, and Hamid suggests that they get a hotel and head to Crank Industries tomorrow morning and see what’s going on. They agree to this plan and head off to the hotel, a place called Hot Tropics. It’s full of completely dry fountains and sand in the central courtyard. 

Time skips to the next morning; everyone wakes up fine. They meet up at the breakfast buffet, and Azu has the most loaded plate of everyone. Grizzop’s got seven croissants, and Sasha’s got a whole roast chicken.  

They make a game plan for the day. Hamid asks if they should pose as inspectors again, and Grizzop says that it’s a good idea. Hamid is a bit more hesitant, and suggests that instead they could pose as investors. Grizzop asks if Hamid thinks that they look like investors; Hamid definitely does, but he suggests that he could have hired the rest of them as bodyguards. Paladins, however, wouldn’t be doing that kind of work. Azu says that she would like to tell the truth as much as possible. They debate introducing themselves as working on behalf of the Meritocrats, but Hamid says that if they do, it’s more likely that the factory will attempt to cover information up rather than give it to them. Grizzop suggests sneaking in, and Sasha mentions that she’d be able to sneak as well. Hamid suggests the investors angle again, but with a twist - the two paladins can be representing the church as a joint venture for weaponry or materials, and Hamid can be a consultant that they’ve hired. Sasha says that she could inspect all of the weapons, and Azu mentions that she can be their expert; Sasha grins, pleased. They decide to go ahead with this plan.   

Strangely, the price of the food at breakfast was roughly 3x the price it really should be, and the price of water was close to 10x the price it should normally be.  

They book a cab to get to Crank Industries. It takes a while for them to get to the factory, moving quite slowly as they go uphill. They go past Ratchet's and keep heading up, getting into more rugged territory. It’s a bit rockier up here, so whoever built up here has been going to much more effort.   

They get up further and start seeing the warehouses of Crank Industries, and it dwarfs Ratchet’s factory. It’s got 12 warehouses, around double the amount of Ratchet’s, and a perimeter fence made out of iron that stretches past the entire complex. They see no staff as they drive past the warehouses, and then they see someone patrolling the outside with a pair of guard dogs. They look at the party with narrowed eyes are start walking parallel to the carriage. Hamid says that this is a lot more ominous than the last factory. They get past warehouse seven and then come to a checkpoint; the cab pulls over in front of a very basic guard station with four people manning it, and a fifth coming up to the station. They’re all human.  

Hamid gets out of the cab solo and greets the men in the guard station in Arabic. He asks if they can meet with their sales representative, and the man says no, flat out. Hamid is a bit taken aback, and asks what he means. The man repeats himself. Hamid says that this is unacceptable, and the man turns to the rest of his guards, turns back to Hamid, and tells him to go away. Hamid, clearly frustrated, explains that he and the rest of the party set up an appointment back in Paris, but the man doesn’t buy it for a second. The man tells him to go back down the mountain.  

The other guards aren’t being actively threatening, but there are two people with two guard dogs each, two more sitting in the guard area, and another off to the side smoking. Hamid starts to rant, saying that this is unacceptable and that he’s never been this insulted. He demands to speak to their superiors, but the men all just look at each other and refuse. Hamid turns around and gets back into the carriage, telling the driver to go back to the city. The driver leans down and explains that it isn’t just him - everyone has been turned away by the guards.  

Hamid continues his ranting as he gets into the carriage, talking about how offended he is, and the second they’re out of earshot of the guards turns to the rest of the party and says that the entire situation was suspicious. He suggests that they get out of eyesight and then sneak back, get a lay of the land, and sneak inside when darkness falls. Everyone agrees with the plan; Sasha is excited, because she’ll be able to get so many daggers. 

They about a mile or so down the mountain. A guard has been walking with them, and walks to the end of the complex, past it to the outcropping, and then waits there, watching them leave. When they finally get out of sight of the guard, Hamid bangs on the top of the roof and asks for the driver to let them off. The driver asks if they’re sure, and Grizzop mentions that they’re going to do a bit of sightseeing. Hamid explains that the two paladins are going to travel back on the camel, and that Sasha and Hamid will ride back in the carriage and sneak out. Sasha says that this’ll be more suspicious, if they both disappear, and Hamid realizes that she’s right. Sasha instead calls over to the cabbie, sitting there waiting for them, and tells him that they’ll be riding the camel back, and asks Azu to summon Topaz. Azu does, and they all climb up on the camel, pretending to be a travelling performance troupe (Grizzop sitting on Sasha sitting on Azu). Hamid casts prestidigitation to add special effects. 

Azu and Grizzop look great; the knife tricks are going great for Sasha, but it looks super easy and unimpressive. The cabbie says that they aren’t going to get any work up here, but Sasha says that they need to practice out of sight. Hamid tips the cabbie, who asks if they want to set up a time for him to come get them, but Hamid says that it’s alright and that they’ll enjoy the walk back. As he gets out of sight, Hamid comments that that went a lot quicker than his plan. Topaz doesn’t look pleased, but Azu pets her and calms her down before sending her back into the astral plane. 

It’s a little bit past midday. There are a few ridges around the complex, so the party sneaks over to the ridge and stakes out the compound, arguing about lighting solutions. 

Quotes

Dice rolls and Mechanics

Everyone makes a perception check: Grizzop gets 14, Azu gets 20, Sasha gets 29, Hamid gets 24

Sasha, Azu, and Hamid make a knowledge local check: Hamid gets 18, Sasha gets 15, Azu gets a nat 1

Azu makes an acrobatics check: 0

Grizzop makes an acrobatics check: 9

Sasha makes a perception check: 16

Sasha makes an acrobatics check: 20

Hamid makes a perception check: 18

Everyone makes a will save: Grizzop gets 22, Sasha gets 13, Hamid gets 12, Azu gets 20

Everyone makes a perform check: Grizzop gets 14, Sasha gets 3, Hamid gets 6, Azu gets 19

Everyone takes 10 in a sneak check to get close to the compound. 

Plot Notes

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