The LOLOMG deal with some unexpected weather and make a new friend. Hamid receives a message, Grizzop wants to be placed down, and Sasha continues to be secretive.
The party is stuck in the middle of a sandstorm in Cairo. Hamid yells for everyone to hold onto each other as the sand blows around them. They’re all able to see each other, and grab on. They have no idea where to walk next. Grizzop is doing alright, but Hamid and Sasha are finding it hard to breathe. Grizzop pulls a piece of cloth around his face and tells Hamid and Sasha to do the same, which they do. Hamid pulls the other two close to him and to the ground, so that they can sit with their backs to the wind for a moment and speak. He explains that if they actually are in Cairo, this must be a completely freak storm, or they’re somewhere outside the city. Grizzop asks him if he recognizes any landmarks, but visibility is about half a foot and they cannot see.
Sasha pulls a cloak out and tries to use it as a barrier, but it gets heavy quick as sand piles up on it. Hamid suggests that they try to set up a tent just as a windbreaker - he digs through his adventuring kit and pulls it out; Grizzop and Sasha attempt to help set it up. They grab one of the poles and try to dig it into the sand, but it breaks against rock. Hamid lets go of the tent, but Grizzop and Sasha hold on.
Hamid casts flare, and a flare shoots up into the sky. He casts dancing Lights, swirling around them into the storm. They huddle together, trying to figure out where to go next and what to do - Hamid says he hasn’t lived in Cairo for about ten years, and they can’t see anything around them. The wind and sand are incredibly powerful, and any skin not being covered is getting abrasions. Grizzop yells for Hamid to do something, but he says he can’t magic away the sand, and suggests that they start walking in the direction of the wind. Grizzop ties them together with some ropes, and it’s basically a shuffle as they go forward, trying not to lose their footing. At one point, Hamid and Grizzop are lifted off the ground, but Sasha grabs hold of them and pulls them back down.
Grizzop finds himself in front of a camel. He ducks under it and gets on the other side of it, using it as a shield against the sand. They notice someone on the camel, and Sasha asks them if they’re in Cairo. The person on the camel asks them if they need help. Sasha and Grizzop hold onto the camel, and Hamid holds onto Sasha’s foot. They say that they’ll bring the three of them to the hospital. Hamid says that they were trying to get to Cairo, but that they must not have made it very close to the city; however, the person on the camel says that this is the main street of Cairo - Hamid is taken aback. Grizzop asks if this is normal, and they say that it isn’t - for days, something terrible has been happening to the weather and that nothing is working. The person suggests that they get inside.
They make it to a set of wooden doors that are shut against the storm. They open and they all stumble inside, finding themselves in a lovely, clean corridor. (Meta note: They take a break and Alex introduces Helen! Helen has joined the team, playing Azu as the fourth member of the party. Azu is described as a 6’6’’ dark-skinned orc, built like a shed, with bright, glowing pink armor, a morningstar, a giant axe, and two smaller axes. The camel is summoned from the celestial plane.)
Grizzop thanks the stranger for bringing them into the hospital, and Hamid asks where they are. The person says that they’re in the hospital of Aphrodite. It’s all pink, and they’re in a long corridor that ends in a foyer. It has marble walls and marble flooring that is a rosy color - Hamid has been here before as a child. Hamid thanks them again, and introduces the party to the stranger. They are still sitting on a camel, but dismounts, offering their hand to each of them, and introduces themselves as Azu. She asks if any of them are injured, and all of them say that they aren’t; Sasha waffles a bit around the undead aspect of herself for the moment. Azu, as a healer, recognizes that Sasha has some sort of wasting disease, and offers her condolences, which Sasha doesn’t take incredibly well, but Hamid steps in and explains that they’re a mercenary group. Azu says that she’s only been in Cairo for five days, and Grizzop mentions that he’s a paladin of Artemis. Azu doesn’t say anything for a moment, and then delicately says that Artemis is an equally worthy faith.
Another voice comes from the foyer, telling Azu to bring them in for some food and drink, and then Azu leads them into the foyer. She also introduces them to her camel, Topaz T. Camel (the T. stands for “The”). Azu scoops up Hamid and Grizzop - Hamid is happy to be held and is quite content, where Grizzop is kicking and demanding for Azu to put him down. The person from the other room tells Azu to put him down as well, and Azu finally does. She doesn’t let go of Hamid, who’s happily sitting there. She ushers Sasha forward with a hand on her back, and Sasha tells her not to touch her, which Azu immediately stops doing. They head into the foyer, and see a huge mural. It’s a depiction of Aphrodite standing on a clam (the popular one).
Most of the people in the foyer are covered in sand as well. Behind the desk in the room stands an elf (they were the one who was talking earlier) - it’s pretty rare to see an elf in this position. They’re wearing robes of pink. Azu says that she brought in the wanderers and saved them from the storm; the elf is incredibly austere and has a very soft-spoken voice as they suggest that Azu heal them if needed. Azu leads them down another corridor, and they arrive at a canteen filled with people who are sheltering from the sand.
Sasha heads over to a corner and shakes a bit, knocking the sand out of her hair. Grizzop unbuckles his breastplate and sand pours out. They go and sit down in the middle of the canteen and food is brought for them. The food is simple but warming.
Azu asks them to share stories of their adventures around their world, and wonders how many people they’ve saved. Hamid says that they’ve saved the world twice, and Azu is amazed. He explains that the reason that they’re in Cairo for his sister’s funeral, and Azu apologizes for his loss, giving him a hug. Hamid hugs back for all he’s worth (it’s an optimum hug). Sasha, meanwhile, is holding a dagger, and Grizzop is sitting at the table with his head in his hands. Hamid asks how long Cairo has been like this, and Azu says that ever since she’s been there, all the technology has been down. There have been riots in the streets and panic, food shortages and such. Hamid says that the party shutting down Mr. Ceiling wouldn’t cause the sandstorms, and Azu says that they have no idea what’s been going on. Grizzop asks what Azu is doing there, and she says that she came to help, and is on a mission to become the high priestess of Aphrodite. She has to help more people than the other paladins.
Sasha and Grizzop notice, as Azu is talking about how she wants to become a high priestess, the others around her roll their eyes. Azu notices it as well, but ignores it, and continues talking about how she has to do good in the world. Sasha says she knows a way that Azu could do a lot of good in the world, and Azu asks how she can apply. Hamid basically says that they’d love to have her in their mercenary company. Azu drops to one knee and places her hand over her heart, pledging herself to their cause. Hamid extends an offer to her, and Azu is excited, saying that both she and her camel come as a package deal. The elf from the other room, upon hearing this, asks if Azu can actually get rid of the camel. Grizzop asks if he’s been listening the entire time, saying it’s a bit nosy, and they can all see the other priests and priestesses not being happy that he’s talking about the elf - Healer Fairhands - that way. Azu says that he is the best healer in the entire world - a designation that Sasha picks up on, curious. Grizzop agrees, saying that if there’s anyone who can help Sasha out, it’s probably him. Azu asks what they mean, and Hamid says that maybe it isn’t the time or place for that conversation as Sasha tries to change the subject.
Hamid asks Azu how long the sandstorm might last - the previous one they had lasted about a day. Grizzop asks if this type of weather is normal, or if it’s been happening anywhere else, and Hamid says that the Cult of Poseidon talked about the ports being incredibly stormy - torrential downpours. Sasha says that they’re probably not responsible for the weather, and Grizzop and Azu ask why they would be responsible for the weather. Hamid and Sasha both say that they don’t think they are, but they can’t be completely sure. The rest of the people in the canteen are staring at them at that point, and Grizzop stands on the table and tells them all to stop being nosy. Sasha says that they should probably put Hamid to bed, as he’s having a bit of a breakdown, and asks if they have any beds, mentioning that they have the money. Azu says that they will not need to pay for anything, as they’re now her adventuring companions, and Sasha corrects her to say contractually-joined acquaintances. Azu says that that sounds like a marriage, and Sasha completely blanks as Grizzop stutters.
After eating, they’re led upstairs, and there are still beds available for all of them. They’re led into a dormitory, and go to sleep. (Meta note: the party levels up overnight to level 6.) As they’re settling down to sleep, Hamid hears a voice in his head, accompanied by his hand feeling hot as one of his rings heats up. He hears Barret’s voice saying that they need to talk about his family.
- Hamid: "This is horrible! There’s a reason we don’t go in the desert very often!"
- Grizzop: "Well, you’re the one who lives around here!"
- Hamid: "This is not what Cairo looks like!"
- Grizzop: "No, but like, if I was in a forest, I know it doesn’t look like Amsterdam but it’s still close by. It’s the same biome."
- Hamid: "What’s a biome?!"
- Grizzop: "It’s an environment! You know, Amsterdam is arboreal and quite wet, it’s flatlands."
- Hamid: "I don’t see how that’s helping right now!"
- Grizzop: "You should be helping right now!"
- Sasha: "Are either of you saying anything useful right now?"
- Hamid and Grizzop: "No!"
- ―The party is stuck in a sandstorm.
- Hamid: "I haven’t lived in Cairo for nearly 10 years!"
- Grizzop: "You’ve got a memory!"
- Hamid: "I was a kid! I lived in a nice fancy house with proper walls, and a warm bed, and baths whenever I wanted!"
- Grizzop: "That explains a lot."
- Sasha: "Yeah, that sounds lovely."
- Hamid: "It WAS!"
- ―Hamid had a very privileged childhood.
- Azu: "Oh, I almost forgot the most important person you could meet, this is Topaz. T. Camel, my trustworthy steed."
- Hamid: "Hi Topaz! Thank you for rescuing us. What’s the T. stand for?"
- Azu: "The. Topaz The Camel. Topaz T. Camel. I confess I am not the most inventive."
- ―The party makes a new friend.
- Azu: "Come with me!"
- Grizzop: "Now hang on a minute! Put me down! Put me down! Put me down!"
- Bryn: "I am completely accepting and quite like it. "
- Grizzop: "Put me down! Put me down or I’ll shoot your knees off! Put me down!"
- Azu: "You cannot reach my knees."
- Grizzop: "I’ve got a bow and arrow I can reach your knees if I want to."
- ―Azu picks up Hamid and Grizzop.
- Hamid: "Thank you for your hospitality, some food and drink would not go amiss."
- Grizzop: "Hamid, you ate like 15 minutes ago."
- Hamid: "That was at least half an hour."
- Grizzop: "I think my point still stands."
- ―The party heads to the canteen inside the temple of the Cult of Aphrodite.
- "We've actually got a bit of an opening for someone that is magically compelled to do good in the world."
- Azu: "You do not pay for anything here, for we are now not only friends, but ... adventure colleagues! Quest buddies!"
- Grizzop: "Quest friends!"
- Hamid: "Comrades in arms."
- Sasha: "Contractually-joined acquaintances."
- Azu: "That sounds like a marriage."
- ―The party signs Azu on to their group.
Dice rolls and Mechanics
Everyone makes a perception check: Grizzop gets 18, Hamid and Sasha get 19.
Everyone makes a fort save: Grizzop gets a nat 20, Hamid gets 11, Sasha gets 8.
Hamid makes a survival check and Grizzop and Sasha helps: Hamid and Grizzop both roll a 4, Sasha gets a 5.
Everyone makes another fort save: Grizzop gets a 28, Hamid gets 24, Sasha gets 21.
Sasha makes a reflex save: 21.
Everyone makes a perception check: Grizzop gets 21, Hamid gets 13, and Sasha get 14.
Everyone makes a perception check: Grizzop gets 13, Hamid gets 28, and Sasha get 30.
Azu rolls a perception check on Sasha: 13.
Grizzop makes an escape artist check to escape Azu’s grip: 9.
Azu makes a combat maneuver check to hold on to Grizzop: 22.
Azu and Hamid make a perform hug check: Azu gets a 20, Hamid gets a 13.
Everyone makes a perception check: Grizzop and Sasha get a nat 20, Hamid gets a nat 1, and Azu gets an 18.
Everyone makes a perception check: Grizzop gets a 23, Sasha get a 16, Hamid gets a 25, and Azu gets an 18.
First appearance of Azu.