25th day of the 9th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning.
Sorkin spends some time talking with Jongo about the map and the artifacts. He probes him about the remaining info he might know and discovered over the years, such as who has he learned about that died, who their ancestors are and what items he’s figured out were lost and the best descriptions he has of them. Jongo says he’ll share what he knows. More information is likely to be found in Sob-Rooz. Jongo hasn’t left Aval Kingdom in the past 10 years and thinks he’s not up for more long journeys. Sorkin also asks Jongo if the antennae or eyes of Claacos are useful for, “asting-kay ells-spay”. Jongo replies, “Hm, I guess I never thought about it. I don’t know if they’re good for anything.” Sorkin decides to keep the parts. He hangs the eyes to dry them by a fire and make some Claacos eye jerky.
Sorkin decides he’s going to need some help getting the treasure. This band of adventurers seem like a pretty fun bunch, so he decides to tell them all about the map and the treasure, to see if they’re interested in finding it. Before letting them know, he approaches each one and asks them if they’re interested in finding a vast load of treasure. He only tells them after they promise to let him have first picks on any gems and sparkly stuff. All other treasure they can divide evenly amongst themselves (and Jongo). To entice them, he tells them any details about the supposed type of treasure, less the details of who and where it’s located. Sorkin keeps the map to himself, and purchases another sheet of vellum (or other durable scroll paper) and transcribes the details but writes everything in gnomish. Sorkin thinks they’re a bit short on muscle power, so he keeps an eye out for any strong fighters that might be interested in joining the group.
Sorkin then spends the extra days searching for info, and also searching for a thieves’ guild, because he really wants to get a hand crossbow. He saw some of the other carnival players use one to shoot apples off people’s heads and it looked really cool. He doesn’t have enough gold to pay for it, but he’s willing to do small ‘jobs’ to get it. Sorkin hangs out in appropriately shady establishments. It’s obvious to him that there is a large and well organized thieve’s guild in Kahnul. After successfully signaling that he is a thief, and wants to comply with the guild’s rules, he’s able to make contact with someone named Ruffar who claims to know what’s what. Ruffar says jobs are only for guild-members, so Sorkin will have to join which requires a 10 gp up front payment. Sorkin can pay Ruffar who will make sure it gets to the right place and will then vouch for Sorkin and help him through the vetting process. Ruffar says he can get a hand crossbow if Sorkin has some serious coin. He says 50 gp up front, and then 250 gp on delivery. Sorkin, understandably suspicious, becomes non-committal. They haggle back and forth. Ruffar offers a set of second hand lock picks for 15 gp. He has them with him and lets Sorkin inspect them. Sorkin thinks they’re better than improvising, but definitely a bit worn. He stands a bit wary of Ruffar and tells him he’ll think about the deal; he needs to get the money together. He asks around a bit about Ruffar, trying to figure out if he’s legit or not from independent sources. After asking around a bit, Sorkin is unable to verify Ruffar’s bona fides one way or the other. It’s a bit hard to tell if the verifiers are ‘legitimate’ themselves.
Sorkin also spends some time finding out more about the Yazd refugees, to see if they have some interesting trinkets. After poking around the camp, he estimates there are a few hundred refugees camped outside the city walls. They mostly stay put to guard their meager belongings, but small groups can be seen wandering the city during the day doing odd jobs or looking for odd jobs to do. They are generally in bad shape with tattered clothes and thin, though not emaciated, frames. Sorkin strikes up some conversations and learns that things are bad in Taft and Yazd in general. The Guardian of Taft, Rupert Morlock, has started conscripting ‘criminals’ into chain gangs to hunt Claacos. Most of the professional Claacos hunting companies have left for Aqda or Kahnul because of the oppressive taxation in Yazd. The road to Taft is now extremely dangerous with Claacos foragers roaming farther north and more frequently. Yazd has drastically curtailed patrols to keep the brutes in check. The patrols that do go out are more likely to arrest travelers for conscription into the chain gangs than they are to seek and destroy foragers. Some villages north of Yazd have been attacked by Claacos. As these refugees are poor, Sorkin does not see much in the way of interesting trinkets. However, he does see some children playing with carved wooden figures. Most are extremely roughly cut representations of reindeer and Claacos, but one is an exquisite carving of an owl. The Claacos attack the reindeer only to be thwarted by the watchful owl who swoops in at the last minute and scatters them. The children play this game over and over fighting over who gets to ‘be’ the owl.
Sorkin tries to masquerade as a human child, but because of his prominent nose, the other children won’t let poor Sorkin join in any reindeer games. After this disappointing first impression, he successfully ingratiates himself with the Yazd children by doing some juggling tricks. They won’t let him play the owl, though. Playing with the kids does let him get a few good looks at it, though. It’s definitely superb craftsmanship. The children explain how their band of about 50 people stumbled upon an abandoned camp with lots of cool stuff just left on the ground. The stuff was all like weird versions of regular stuff. It looked like the people just disappeared. One of the older kids says, “That’s stupid. They didn’t just disappear, the Claacos killed all of them and ate them.” Some of the youngest children start crying at this point. Sorkin decides to wander off as adults start to turn their heads.
After asking around a bunch, Sorkin finally finds someone who can and will talk to him about the mysterious encampment described by the children. The woman says most of them did travel here from around the city of Taft b/c of the privations of both Rupert Morlock and the Claacos. It took her group nearly a month. They followed the road, but did not use it b/c they wanted to avoid patrols from Taft. While in the brush, they stumbled onto the abandoned camp after about a week. It was lucky they did because they found a lot of weapons and were able to defend themselves against some Claacos foragers they encountered later. She’s thinking of heading farther east because she expects more refugees to show up. Work will get more and more difficult to find.
Sorkin tries to draw out the owl on some parchment and asks Jongo or the other party members if they’ve seen it before or know what it’s from. Lacking any particular skill in drawing, Sorkin’s illustration looks pretty much like a basic owl. He hasn’t managed to capture the exquisiteness of the carving. Jongo shrugs and says it looks like any old carving. Jongo is a bit distracted and Relana is completely absorbed in some task Jongo is working on with her. Sorkin guesses that Jongo is teaching Relana how to channel magic. Sorkin thinks back nostalgically to when he too struggled with mastering this fundamental task for the first time. For some reason Corvis is not to be found. Jongo suggests Sorkin try to trade for the toy. He points out some idle carvings decorating Enril’s house and says maybe Enril would be willing to sell some of them. Sorkin can buy an assortment of figures (up to 10) for 5 cp each. They are better than the crude reindeer and Claacos the children were playing with, but not nearly as good as the owl. There are 5 soldiers with various weapons, 2 peasant women, one horse, a pig, and a shark.
5th day of the 10th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning.
After 10 days in Kahnul, Sorkin is pretty sure he’s being followed around. Sorkin tries to figure out who the heck is following him. He wonders if some of the other party members pissed off someone recently, as there is someone following them. Sorkin eventually pinpoints the person tailing him. He’s a nervous and scrawny human wearing a hooded cloak. He blends into the crowd decently, but now that Sorkin is on to him, Sorkin can easily spot him because he’s constantly fussing with his hood to make sure it shades his face. After a few failed attempts, Sorkin manages to lose his tail and circle back to tail his tail. Sorkin’s tail seems to be getting more and more nervous as he scans around presumably looking for Sorkin. He keeps fussing with his hood and wringing his hands. Sorkin can’t get a good look at his face. Eventually, the man leads Sorkin back to the Grand Arms Inn where the party is staying. He takes up position in front of a building across from the inn where a bunch of Yazd loiterers are wasting the day. They pay no attention to him. Sorkin waits patiently. After the sun sets, the man leaves. Sorkin follows him to the same Red Reindeer Inn where he met Ruffar. Glancing in the window, he sees the man with his hood down getting berated by a furious Ruffar. Sorkin glimpses a lean, stubbly face with scruffy light blond hair. Ruffar strikes the man who turns and flees. Sorkin quickly runs into the night and heads back to the Grand Arms.
6th day of the 10th moon in the year 4512 of the Noruz reckoning.
The next day, Sorkin exits the Grand Arms through the kitchen. He returns to the Yazd camp. He finds the same woman he’s been talking to who has taken a liking to him. She knows about the owl, but is fuzzy on geography. The refugees did find a bunch of other figurines at the site. They sold most of them to a shop in town ( Little Shoppe of Curios) because they needed the money, but kept the owl because the children really took a liking to it. After talking to the lady, Sorkin attempts to barter with the children for the owl. He has all of Enril’s figurines with him on ‘consignment’ based on the good word of Jongo. Sorkin shows the children his statues one by one. Their eyes light up with glee. They demand to inspect the toys. Sorkin hands some of them out. Pretty soon, and to his own surprise, he’s handed out nearly all of them, keeping only one soldier and the pig. Suddenly, the child examining the shark leaps up with a mischievous glint in his eye. He turns and runs laughing. The rest of the children take his cue and all get up, grab the figurines, and start running in all directions. Sorkin madly tries to recover what he can, but only manages to grab another soldier and a Claacos as the children all scamper away laughing. Fearing too much attention, Sorkin slinks away.