Outlaws & Obelisks: Episode Two - "Showdown at Squeaky Gate"

A tense situation turns deadly on this week’s Outlaws & Obelisks!

Content Warning: SuicideDetailed Description: We begin by rolling for the races of the couple (Asim is a Genasi and Ghilas is a Rabbitfolk), and the sudden intruders (A Minotaur leading a Grung, a Locathah, an ambiguously hairy man, a Warforged, and a Centaur). The Minotaur is Herru Hampton, a lieutenant of the Barbarossa Gang and one of the people Tovo has been tracking down. The Centaur is a member of the Syphaxian cavalry, a group of mercenaries who were fused to their horses in the Cataclysm and have become the most skilled and feared cavalry in Utaram. Tovo reveals himself and attempts to challenge Herru to a one-on-one duel. Herru recognizes him but refuses the duel, announcing that the Barbarossa Gang have decided Squeaky Gate is a strategically useful position and are officially annexing the town. Tovo continues to try and provoke Herru, who decides a show of force is in order and calls out, "Zala!" to an unseen assailant who casts a psychic spell on Tovo, seriously injuring him. The battle is on! 

Nebet heals Tovo, who dives into the time displaced chicken coop and starts shooting at Herru, injuring her and blasting the gun right out of her hand. Budge runs toward a nearby shed to find the unseen spellcaster and reveals them with Faerie Fire. It turns out that “Zala” is the Gnoll the party had been searching for! She had been so elusive because the Cataclysm put her permanently under the effects of the Pass Without Trace Spell. Realizing she's been discovered, Zala counterattacks Budge with a spell that surrounds him in darkness, cold, and all manner of unseen slimyness. Hushi casts Mind Spike at Herru and injures her even further, forcing her to call off her troops. It turns out the Barbarossa Gang is in the middle of a massive land grab for two reasons: 1. To put themselves in a position to capitalize on the rebuilding that's taking place throughout the region, as well as the eventual return of international trade to the area, and 2. So they can get revenge on the people who caused the Cataclysm in the first place. That's right: the Barbarossa Brothers claim to know who was behind the Cataclysm. Hushi is stunned by this statement and claims that the Cataclysm happened so long ago that everyone responsible should be dead by now, which confuses everyone else, for whom it's only been a few decades. Hushi begins reading Herru’s mind and learns that she was born post-Cataclysm and found a home with the Barbarossa Gang after her rough childhood. She considers the Barbarossa Gang her family, but she also fears their power and ruthlessness. Herru attempts to negotiate, offering assistance from the Barbarossas in exchange for letting her live, but Hushi decides to use Detect Thoughts to pierce deeper into her mind and learn where the Barbarossas were holed up. It turns out their center of power is in the much larger city of Dido, which the Barbarossas are secretly controlling from behind the scenes. Herru, feeling the information being pried from her mind, realizes she's failed her adopted family and decides she's as good as dead anyway. She grabs her shotgun and turns it on herself, ending her life before the Barbarossa Gang can mete out any retribution.

The party stands, stunned. Hushi was inside Herru's mind when she died and is now in shock. Tovo agrees to let the rest of the gang members in exchange for no further bloodshed. Meanwhile, Budge realizes that he recognizes Zala, and that they had actually worked together for the Barbarossas on the very same job that led to Budge's current fugitive status. He negotiates her safety in return for all stolen items, including Elkaissa's yellow hat, and Zala heads off into the brushlands. Jidiji, the Leonin mayor of Squeaky Gate, offers the party supplies and information as thanks for their assistance. Turns out this is the first gang trouble Squeaky Gate has had. Budge explains that the Barbarossas had hired him to steal magical artifacts and are clearly trying to build up their power and influence. Jidiji suggests that the party go to Al-Maghrib, aka: Sunset City, for further information in their library. She also mentions that there's a large pocket of magical energy a half day's journey from the town, and the party decides to stop by there along the way to investigate. Tovo and Budge create a magical map with all of Budge's notes from his travels through Utaram. 

As the party prepares to leave, Hushi buries Herru's body a little ways away from the town and performs a small funeral ritual. Asim, Ghilas, and their daughter Lemta also attend the tiny funeral, wishing Herru a blessing from Asatekh. Ghilas explains that Asatekh is the god of the dead, chaos, and destruction. Hushi is weirded out by this and pays them for the time displaced chicken. Meanwhile, Tovo casts Find Steed and summons a camel, who immediately has an epiphany as it gains sapience. Finally, Elkaissa gives Budge her beloved yellow hat as thanks. As Budge puts the hat on, he realizes it’s magical in some unknown way. As the party leaves, Magrin tells them to look up someone named Sidon when they arrive in Al-Maghrib and tell him that Magrin Warren sent them. The episode closes as the party rides off into the sunset towards Sunset City.

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