The following day, after coming to the conclusions that stealth was boring and Jax spoke gnoll, the group decided to take a more direct approach. They reasoned that if the Battle Market was indeed open for business, they might pose as businessmen and get a good look at their opposition from the inside. After a challenge they were lead to the south entrance of the three-story domed building wend are greeted by a goblin jester who cheerfully, if tiredly, lead them to the center of the hall and encouraged them to step into the center ring and greet the Mouth of the Carrion King. When the group did not the goblin merely tiredly stalked back to his post after telling them not to start anything.
Grace and Jax made friends with the bugbears at the bar and the gnoll bartender as the rest of the group examined the three currently open stalls at the market. Zorov won some money playing cards with a group of gnoll guards while the bar crowd, joined by Karrd and the bugbears’ companion ogre continued to drink.
Everything seemed to be going fine. Jax, stumbling drunk, found the slight human woman who bested his ogre drinking companion in the ring a week ago and, growling at his disregard for her prowess and her gender in general, Haleen convinced Jax to test her in the ring. The fight was quick and brutal and drew the attention of everyone in the Battle Market. The Mouth of the Carrion King himself, Kardswann stood from his throne on the third level balcony, introduced himself and directed the fight to begin. While everyone was distracted, Zorov got Karrd to help him through a locked door. Just as they found an interesting lockbox, Kardswann’s voice echoed through the Market congratulating Jax on a fight well won and summoning all of his companions for recognition.
Everyone gathered in the center ring, Zorov and Karrd slightly out of breath after hiding the lockbox. After a short sentence or two of politeness, Kardswann accused the party of killing his guards and his pet demon and offered a reward to the entirety of the market for their corpses. Everyone in the place set upon the group with a will, save the three cowardly stall vendors, the extraordinarily cowardly gnoll bartender and a recently trounced Haleen.
In the end, the party killed every living soul in the Battle Market (save the cowards and the lady fighter). When they faced Kardswann, Grant recognized him as a janni and Karrd further realized who he was: like Vardishal, a Templar of the Five Winds, in service to the djinni princess Nefeshti. As such, Kardswann should have been immortal so long as he had his mistress’ favor. When Jax Skullblood dealt the killing blow and the janni died, Karrd surmised he must have fallen from his mistress’ graces. Then the second-in-command gnoll entered the fray and the fight continued.
Karrd expressed extreme displeasure at Zorov for summoning animated skeletons to aid in the fight and forced him to dispel them the minute the battle was over. Everyone survived the battle, some only just, and the group spent the next several hours searching through the place looking for whatever valuables they could find. In the end, they took the loot, the humans who had abstained from the fight and the gnoll bartender back to the monastery with them. Almah raised a brow at the inclusion of the gnoll, Kurellak but accepted her employee’s assurances that he had not tried to kill them. Kurellak indeed told them all that since Kardswann had been killed, the rest of his people would, even now, be fleeing the village.
The group rested easily that night after an exhaustive round of healing by Father Zastoran in his laboratory headquarters. The next day they set out with high spirits, expecting that the day’s work would be easy after yesterday’s grueling combat. They slew a giant black mamba on the way into town, and Karrd, practically by himself, killed a legendary beast that had taken up residence in an old mill and the harpy living in the repurposed tannery across the way.