....Marcos cuts back in, ”The Decemvirate has authorized us to offer you the chance to be test subjects. All of you were very close to passing your Confirmations. Do this, and you will become Pathfinders. Should things go poorly, your families will be informed and your funerals paid for,” he says with a half-joking grin.
The three Masters sit there looking expectant. Each of the five Initiates steps forward, and taking a syringe, put it to their arms. It's time they become Pathfinders!
When you're ready, please make a post describing in detail your character's appearance. Then describe them injecting the Numerian serum and their subsequent transformation. Once everyone has done so, I'll move us on.
After failing his Confirmation within a day, Hrimnagel became a living ghost. He had no where to go, no purpose in life but to haunt the Grand Lodge. He used all of his tears and could not receive counsel from the masters. He did not know what to do. When the masters finally called him to council, he expected to be discharged and homeless. He arrived malnourished and unkempt and appeared the beggar that he expected to become. The masters' offer was a breath of fresh air for his soul, like the first warm day of spring with melting snow on the ground. His answer was not yes, but when?
When the day came for the infusion, Hrimnagel was ready. He had eaten well and groomed. He was still thin even for a gnome. They brought him to the infirmary and laid him down on a bed to receive the infusion. He tried to relax as they suggested but was too anxious. After the syringe stabbed him, the pain started. It intensified from a spike and flooded through his body to the tips of his limbs. He screamed but could not hear himself. I hear you, Hrimnagel Avaldamon. You are more mine now. Count Ranalc whispered to him. Your soul will await your final journey to my court in the plane of Shadow.
Hrimnagel had slept for three days and awoke refreshed. His body appeared to smolder but the smoke was misbehaving shadows. Some shadows rose like heat while some hugged him close settling to the floor. He remembered the words of his divine patron and understood his protection. Hrimnagel also survived the offer, so he finally was a Pathfinder with a purpose.
I-- I'll do it, she agrees, surprising even herself. Cladissa takes a step forward, smiling a bit. The young woman was always easy to overlook. Somewhat mousy, always withdrawn and quiet-spoken, she never stood out. It took some effort to notice her. She always wore frumpy clothing, and wherever she walked she clutched books or a satchel close to her chest. Underneath her corrective lenses, she was pretty enough; smooth olive skin, long, black hair and fair face with deep, dark eyes.
Finally, that face was bright and smiling as she strode forward. She looked at the syringes in the case for a moment, then up expectantly at the masters. Cole, her ever-present black cat familiar, meowed from where she had been standing. Cladissa glanced back. Don't you see? This is my chance! she almost pleaded with the feline.
She turned back around and studied the injection devices, with the strange, green liquid bubbling inside. She swallowed hard and paled. Cole meowed again. Shut up! I'm doing this, she tells the cat, but she sounded less sure.
She could feel her resolve cracking. Cole yowled, and Cladissa took several deep breaths. Her eyes rimmed with tears. She shut her eyes and whispered to the masters, Just do it. Quickly.
She didn't watch, so she didn't see which master took a syringe out. She didn't see the trickle of fluid run down the length of the needle as it approached. She didn't see it jab into her arm and release its contents into her.
But she felt it.
Pain seared up and through her arm, then spread to every part of her. When the needle was finally withdrawn, she clutched at the site of the injection and doubled over. She staggered, but remained on her feet. She whimpered as the agony spread to her head, and she clutched at her face. Her lenses were knocked off with the action, and they fell to the flagstone floor, shattering.
After uncounted minutes that felt like ages, the pain began to subside. Cladissa removed her hands from her face and looked up, blinking. She glanced down to the floor and saw the remains of her glasses, then touched her face. She looked over to Cole, who was watching with his intense yellow eyes. I can see! She looked around in amazement, focusing on various spots around the room. Everything's clear! And bright! She counted the number of candles illuminating the room, as if suddenly their number had tripled.
Then she paused. Wait. Something's not--
She reached around behind her and felt her rump. I have a tail! she exclaimed. She looked around for a mirror. If she's able to find one, Cladissa discovered that her appearance had changed.
While her face was still hers, her eyes were wider, and yellow. Her ears were long and pointed, ending in tufts of fur. Her canines had elongated slightly, just noticeable, but not long enough to be a weapon. Her skin had toughened, and patches of dark fur had grown in, especially around the site of the injection and around her new tail, which was thick and feline.
She fled the chamber, found a secluded spot, and cried.
Argor stood silent during the lecture from the Masters, continuously glaring at Aram Zey with a deep malice burning in his eyes. He had taken the time to gather his things and make himself presentable for his dismissal, and his black hair fell and appeared to blend with his black silk robes. His familiar, a dark feathered raven, sat perched upon a sIlver handle atop Argor's staff. He felt betrayed by his teacher, the first time he had ever experienced such a feeling from a fellow magic worker.
"The jealous fool. He knows I have more potential than he, and he fears I could surpass him. If he thinks this setback will stop me, he is sadly mistaken."
Upon making their offer, Argor felt insulted, and started to turn and leave. Hearing Cladissa say she would do it made him pause and observe.
"She is willing to risk this? While not as gifted as I, she does have a skill in the art, but I didn't realize she was so desperate to stand out that she'd risk such a gambit. Let's see what happens..."
As he observed the affects on both her and the deep gnome, an internal war raged within Argor. He was horrified by the visible changes taking place on the victims, but he took note of how, afterwards, Cladissa appeared to still maintain control of herself, as well as no longer rely on an ocular device to aid her vision.
"Well, if I do this, it clearly has some sort of physical price, but it also appears to have its benefits...if she can handle it, so can I!"
With a final look of defiance at Aram Zey, Argor steps confidently forward as Cladissa flees in tears, and looks over the syringes arrayed before him. He eventually settles on one, and takes it up. He raises the sleeve of his left arm, and putting the tip of the needle to his vein, he takes a breath and grits his teeth, hoping he wasn't making a fatal mistake, and then slowly inserted the needle and depressing the plunger.
The pain was significant, and felt like millions of ants were marching under his skin. He reflexively felt the need to itch his arm, but as the substance spread, the pain increased, and he was forced to grit his teeth to keep from crying out. Argor falls to his knees, leaning forward on clenched fists.
Arctyryx caws out frustradedly as his perch is dropped, and flies over to look at his Master's face.
As the pain finally subsides, Argor opens his eyes slowly, and sees his familiar on the floor looking back at him. However, Argor is able to note much more detail in his servant's features. Every feather appeared distinct. He could hear Cladissa's sobbing echoing through the halls, something he had missed before. He whispers to his familiar, "What has changed, Arctyryx?"
"Your...your eyes...they are black!" The raven walked around his Master, but notes nothing else obvious. "It looks like that is all...unless you have changes under your robes."
Argor pondered on this as he stood, taking his staff up as he does so to aid him to his feet. Soon, a revelation occurs to him. He could feel a clarity in his mind, and he was drawing conclusions faster than before.
"This chemical has the capability to enhance both physical and mental qualities of the host it is injected into! Not only has it improved my senses, but my mental acuity as well, and with relatively minor physical affects!"
Argor can barely keep himself from cackling at the irony. Aram Zey sought to deny him a place amongst the Pathfinders, but inadvertently not only gave him keys to the door as well as making him an even more powerful intellectual juggernaut.
As the pain completely subsides, Argor steps to the side of the room, his black eyes seeming to take in everything.
Standing tall and surprisingly upright for an orc, Grommuk soars to an even seven feet in total, rounding out a stature that sends chills running down the spines of most. His facial features are mostly concealed by a vaguely skull-like mask of taut, notched leather that sits affixed to his face by a thin network of straps that wrap around the back of his shaved head. Beneath the mask, sullen eyes from a week hard lived peer out from a face that seems slow to process much that transpires around him.
The overall quality and condition of Grommuk's clothing and gear is consistent with what one would expect of a creature of his bearing. Though functionally sound, pieces are mismatched and subjected to heavy rethreading or patchwork. Nicks and gashes plague his armor in a multitude of locations, while questionable stains seem to have found permanent residence on every last thread of his simple woolen garments. Thick, well kept tusks jut out from jowls that frame a square, prominent chin. His almost-snout of a nose is thankfully safe behind the confines of his mask. Of particular curiosity, however, is the mangled ruin of the orc's ear tips—a grotesque mockery of human ears.
Grommuk would be lying if he claimed to understand what exactly was going on. He could barely follow what the Masters were saying—bigger words than he could be troubled to attempt puzzling out. That they were in fact offering him a second chance rang hollow in his ears. Such a thing had been his sole purpose since leaving the gladiatorial rings of Tymon. It was finally his for the taking, if at a price. He does not feel ingratiated towards them. He does not see their charity as such. He just feels used. Again. They were given an opportunity to do the right thing by him; to see reason and put right crimes committed against him by those who were supposed to be his colleagues. They did not. Now he knows why. They wanted a guinea pig. Who better to pump full of unknown fluids than the dimwit orc?
He should be outraged. He should settle for nothing but the blood of those who have wronged him. That's what true orcs would do, uh? He's not a true orc, though. That was robbed from him a long time ago. What Grommuk should have been died in Cheliax. What he could have been died in Absalom. Finding a reason to care about anything continues to elude him. He eats, he sleeps, he drinks, and he lives—little else. That the very Masters who named him "Failure" sat before him offering a barbed redemption doesn't move him to anger or joy. They simply are. What they offer simply is. What confuses him is the presence of the other, much smarter people in the room. Grommuk had always thought them geniuses. Seeing their number cast in with his doesn't make sense, especially the humans. The gnome he understood; probably little more than a monster in the eyes of most. No consideration given to what trials brought him to the Grand Lodge. Only a predisposition to distrust and loathe.
"Give that," Grommuk half growls, nearly trampling the alchemist standing nearby; the only other person in the room yet to undergo the process. Grommuk would not be last. He did not want to be thought a coward. His large, rough hand secures one of the remaining two syringes from the confines of the case. Giving it a brief scrutiny to the glass tube and its contents, he scoffs audibly before turning his gaze up to the Masters once more.
"Wassail!" the immense orc proclaims, raising the syringe in a mock salute dripping with as much sarcasm as his despondent countenance can muster. He plunges the needle into his chest, struggling to determine how to operate the device for a few seconds before finally releasing the fluid into himself. His attempt to weather the pain is short lived, for his transformation is a swift and violent one.
A long and guttural, building scream bursts out from the orcs mouth. He is forced to the ground by the tide of pain immediately, writhing and thrashing as his senses are all replaced by unrivaled agony. He begins clawing and tearing at his body feverishly, doubling over and spasming out to full length in turn. An unsettling pop of bones expanding within his meat insulated frame carries across the chamber. Grommuk's veins pulse quickly, visibly throbbing as they carry the contaminate to the rest of his body. Chest heaving and howls of pain not relenting, his already huge frame begins to expand. Links of chain begin snapping and woolen fibers shredding when his grab can no longer accommodate the swell of muscles. The mottled yellow and dull green of his skin pigmentation is replaced entirely by a uniform viridescent. Forearms are swollen to the size of small kegs, the tapering of his wrists now barely distinguishable from his massive forearms. Grommuk's hands begin pounding the floors around him, the impacts sending a webs of cracked stone out with each blow. And then, as suddenly as it had all began, the intense feelings reside.
Grommuk remains on the ground for several moments, breathing heavily. Eventually, he lurches to a sitting position, examining his new physique and more vibrant skin color with awe. The first smile that has graced his face in months crawls across his face.
|Dr. Cyrill Collingsworth III|
Dr. Cyrill Collingworth is a tall lanky man, with a hair line starting to recde and a hint of grey. His trademark, leather coat is covered with weathered stains and singe marks from experiments gone terribly wrong...or terribly right. His eyes burn with intesity and arrogance and a dissmissiveness of those who do not the wit to see past their noses. His hawk like features seem to suggest he views everything as something study, examine and possibly dissect.
Cyrill was fascinated. For his 'failure' they are going to reward him! For continuing and willful flagrant disobedience you will never a pathfinder! So the masters said. Experimenting on initiates, unauthorized chemicals, illegal research. for an organization that says they value information and research, it seems very ironic that the would punish me for doing exactly what I should be doing. But you still may be of use to us. Since you are so eager to experiment on others and yourself. Perhaps you can help us, for a change, with our research…. The opportunity to study the effects of this strange serum is one of the greatest opportunities of his career. And they thought they were punishing him. Amusing.
We need to keep meticulous notes on the effect of the serum. I want everyone to tell me how the serum seems to be affecting them? And describe the sensation as best you can? As a Doctor, I can't really help you unless you are totally honest with me.
With a sense of curiosity, Cyrill is fairly bursting with eagerness to inject his serum. Its always better to test things on mice or cats first but this seems such a tempting offer. Cyrill expertly injects himself (and he would happily inject anyone else if they need the help) with the serum but nothing happens at first. well it always takes a few minutes for these thing…..AAAAAGGGGGGGGGG. Cryill collapses, as his skin strangely undulates. His entire body writhes in odd spasms as his skin darkens and hardens, his body contorts in unnatural and impossible ways. His screams of pain are soul searing. Fortunately its over in a few minutes.
When its over, he carefully sits up. Hmmm, interesting. .
If possible he will take notes on duration, effects and other qualitative aspects of others transformation. There is no point taking this serum if we don't gather as much information about the transformation as possible.
Cole found her crouched in a corner a short distance away. Mewing softly, he paced about until she finally reached out a hand and petted him. She drew him up to her lap and hugged her familiar for a while.
I need to get back out there. I'm a Pathfinder now. I did it. I can't undo this, she reminded herself. She had heard the others cry out. Despite what she had gone through, they apparently have decided to take the syringe as well.
She pushed herself to her feet and let Cole down. She noticed her tail wanted to balance her movements, giving her a bit of stability while she walked, though she would have to tailor her skirts and breeches to accommodate the new appendage.
She returned to the chamber and observed the others. Some had changed more than others. With bashful reluctance, she took her place alongside the other new Pathfinders and waited for the masters to speak.
Watching the orc brute and self proclaimed "doctor" undergo their changes, Argor notes Cladissa's return. In fact, he noted her return before she made it back to the hall they now stood in, his stronger hearing allowing him to note her footfalls on her way back.
Argor moves calmly to her side when she takes a place along the wall, scanning her new form with his void like eyes. Very much catlike, like her familiar, and at the same time, so unlike her. She had always been a wallflower, not seeking to stand out, unlike Argor's experience with real cats, always demanding your attention.
Once he reaches her side, Argor stands beside her quietly for a moment as the "doctor" assesses the changes in his physiology. He says, without turning his eyes away from those still recovering, "Are you alright? I was impressed that you volunteered for this...procedure. It was honestly quite inspiring."
When Argor turned his attention to her and gave her a compliment, Cladissa learned that she could still blush. She toyed with a strand of hair, then glanced up at him. Her breath caught a moment when she saw his black eyes, but she tried to recover. Umm. I think I'm fine. I didn't mean to... be inspiring.
She looked around, and again notes the different changes on the others. So. Umm. I guess it works differently on different people, then?
The masters watch with interest as the new Pathfinders undergo their transformations. They descend from their podiums and examine the agents, both physically and magically. After they are satisfied that no one is going to die and that no one has gone mad, or experienced any other overtly negative effects, the three Masters release the new agents.
"You've been given new rooms, in an old villa the Society owns. It's a few blocks from the Grand Lodge campus, still within the Foreign Quarter. The Decimvirate wants to keep you close to monitor your work and your conditions," Marcos tells them. "You'll be given a mission as soon as something appropriate comes up. In the meantime, I'll send an Initiate to get you settled into the villa. You should all get to know each other, you're going to be a permanent team."
Aram Zey and Kreighton Shaine nod and bow to the new agents before exiting the meeting room. Marcos steps outside for a moment, then returns with a teenage, Qadiran boy. The boy has dark olive colored skin, a hooked nose, some acne and shaggy black hair. He's wearing the grey robes of an Initiate. He's average height and weight, and not particularly good looking. Though he does have striking, large, black eyes and long eyelashes.
"This is Initiate Hafaz. He will lead you to the villa. Good day, and good luck Pathfinders!" Marcos says with one last grin, and a wave of his large hand. He leaves the room, and the Pathfinders, with young Hafaz.
"Hello everyone. Please follow me," Hafaz says, bowing from the waist. He waits until everyone is ready and then leads the agents out of the meeting room, out of the hall, across the campus green, and through the massive front gate of the Grand Lodge with it's familiar sign of the open road carving. The plaza in front of the Grand Lodge is busy as usual, but Hafaz weaves though the crowds expertly. A few side streets and alleys later he stops in front of a dwelling that could barely be described as a villa. It's separated from the surrounding townhouses by a six foot high, ivy covered wall and a wrought iron gate. Inside the walls a strip of overgrown plant life circles the two story building. Someone generous might term it a garden. Hafaz unlocks the gate and leads them up the short path to the front door. "This is it, 457 Jabberwocky Ln. I've got a set of keys for each of you. There are five bedrooms inside on the second floor. The Society will send someone when you have a mission, please stay available."
"It would appear so."
Argor does not comment further regarding his transformation. When a Aram Zey stepped down to examine them, Argor simply glared at him with his void like eyes.
Once the young Qadiran had led them to their new quarters, Argor appraised the building with a look of derision on his face. He took his key and entered the house, claiming the left corner room as his own. He immediately set to unpacking his things.
|Dr. Cyrill Collingsworth III|
"Well this is very interesting! I was hoping to get a better understanding of what the serum did to everyone. It certainly was painful for me as seems to have made my body more...pliant. Curious."
Cyrill will examine his room and house and is interested in the best place to setup a temporary laboratory.
"Mr. Breakmarrow, your transformation has given me some ideas. The main one is that I think you could be bigger still. At least temporarily. What say you. I'm pretty sure we should see no long term serious side effects from my potions..."
|Dr. Cyrill Collingsworth III|
Looking up to the villa and then back to the Doctor, Grommuk grunts out through a grimace, "Grommuk too big for house, then. Nice house, too." It was certainly a far cry better than the various flophouses he had been forced to endure in The Puddles. They never afforded him much sleep, given the occupants he was forced to share in accommodations with. Be nice to have my own room again. Real nice. Getting on to his answer after a hearty scratch of his hindquarter, Grommuk turns to Cyrill and shrugs mightily before loping towards the villa that is named their headquarters. He ducks through the doorway and immediately begins looking for where the kitchen is located.
"Maybe they buy food for us too? Grommuk is hungry."
Is the house stocked and furnished, as is, or will that be up to us?
The interior of the house is furnished in a style that fell out of fashion about thirty years ago. Despite the age of the furnishings, they are in good repair, if a bit dusty. They represent what was the height of fashion at that time. The ground floor has a den, a kitchen, a small washroom and a study (which has plenty of bookshelves but only one desk). Upstairs, the bedrooms look to be the only rooms which have been renovated, and then probably only to standardize them. Each has a modestly sized feather bed, a newish dresser, a small mirror, a night table, a small basin and a chamber pot.
Grommuk finds that despite the kitchen having all the tools necessary for cooking (pots, pans, stove, cutlery etc), it lacks any food. Cyrill finds the door to the cellar in his search of the premises. It's a hatch in the floor of the back mudroom, off the kitchen. The cellar itself is barren, but with some work it could be converted into a lab. Behind the house the meager garden expands to a modest space. It's a courtyard formed by the backs and sides of the surrounding townhouses. There is a stone patio with a half dozen lacquered wooden chairs strew about it. The chairs are weather worn, but serviceable. At the moment, the grass and flower beds have all grown together in a chaotic mix of weeds and perennials from long ago when someone actually tended these grounds.
|Dr. Cyrill Collingsworth III|
Cladissa's heart leapt when she was called a Pathfinder. She offered the masters a timid smile and scurried out after the initiate.
At the villa, she drops Cole to the ground to let him explore the gardens while she joins the others in going through the house. She claims one of the bedrooms, testing the mattress by sitting on it. She eeps when she neglects to account for her tail, and stands back up quickly. She opens a window and spends a few moments staring at the view, trying to process the last few hours.
Hrimnagel quietly listens to the master's instructions and follows his new teammates who follow their guide. His confidence is bolstered with the presence of his roommate Grommuk. Even among his transformed teammates, Hrimnagel attracts his share of attention with shadows billowing from his body like smoke in mid day. The deep gnome selects his room where he sets his luggage. Then, he moves to inspect the house and be near Grommuk in silence.
Perception take 10+20=30 after 20% concealment
Did Hafaz leave?
Cladissa pulls herself away from the window and studies herself in the mirror. She draws the blinds and shuts the door and marvels at how she can still see clearly in the faint light leaking through the cracks.
After a while, Cole finds her room, bearing a small rodent that he caught in the garden. He drops it at her feet and looks up expectantly. With a slight grunt of disgust, she bends down and picks up the field mouse with the intent to chide her familiar for his actions. They lock eyes for a moment, then pangs of hunger override her initial disgust. She devours the mouse in a few quick gulps, slurping the tail down like a strand of pasta.
Cladissa was suddenly struck with revulsion, though she resisted the urge to throw up. She glares at Cole. You did that on purpose! she screams at him. He mews guiltily, then dashes out the door. She follows him down the stairs into the common room, then freezes as she sees the others. Umm. <urp> Sorry. Excuse me. I have to kill my familiar.
After settling into his room, Argor makes his way back downstairs to assess their living conditions. Not impressed by what he finds, he hopes that at least the study is stocked adequately with texts for him to study. Finding the room barren, he sighs and turns to the Initiate standing idly at the door. He peers at him, a look of frustration growing over his face.
"Well?" he says. When Hafaz looks his way, Argor gestures to the room. "You were tasked with getting us settled in here. So get to cleaning this place up and making it somewhat liveable!"
As Cladissa chases her feline familiar through the estate, the doctor rummaged through the basement, and the nonhumans plunder through the kitchen, Argor casts a makes a small gesture and summons forth a bit of magic to cleanse the surface of a chair by the window, where he has a seat.
Hafaz was turning to go when Argor orders him to begin cleaning. He opens his mouth to say something, and then closes it, thinking better. He finds a broom and duster and begins to clean out the old house. It's not really that dirty, It's just been unused for long enough that the dust has settled.
Clearly Hafaz is just as practiced at cleaning as any other Initiate though, and within a couple of hours he has the place looking presentable. During this time Grommuk is able to go down the street and purchase some cheap street food, one thing Absalom is great for. Cyrill is in the basement the whole time unpacking and setting up his lab equipment.
Hafaz finishes his cleaning and says, "I'm sorry, but I have other duties. I must go now." He bows to anyone in the common space of the house and takes his leave.
A few minutes later there is an insistent knocking on the front door.
The deep gnome is mildly surprised with the cat lady eats the mouse, but his surprise is obfuscated by his shadows.
Hrimnagel silently accompanies Grommuk for food and literally disappear into shadows every time he stops moving. He carries his share.
When he returns, the deep gnome cleans his own room. He thanks Hafaz for the work and tells him that he does not need to clean his room.
Hrimnagel answers the door. When the door stops moving, his voice appears to originate from shadows, "Yes, may I help you?"
A young man in courier's livery stands in the door. He looks a little surprised to be addressed by a shadow at first, but gets past it soon enough, this is Absalom after all. "I'm to deliver a message to the Pathfinders dwelling here. Venture Captain Adril Hestram summons you to the Grand Lodge, you've got an assignment. He implied the matter was fairly urgent, sir." After delivering his message, the courier bows, retreats a few steps and then jogs off on his next assignment.
Hrimnagel receives the physical invitation if there is one and thanks the messenger before closing the door. He quietly goes room to room and tells his teammates in person, "We need to urgently return to the Grand Lodge. Venture Captain Adril Hestram summons us for an assignment." The deep gnome's voice is even smaller and thinner than you remember it during the three years of training. It sounds as if something was removed from it.
|Dr. Cyrill Collingsworth III|
Cyrill is distractedly studying a blood sample (presumably his) when the summons arrives. "I have just started to work! I don't even have my lab in anything resembling a usable fashion. He further mutters, "how am I do any work with these interruptions...". With clear irritation, he puts down his work and prepares to meet with Captain Hestram.
Cladissa's ears perk up when the shadowy gnome tells her of the message. Already? But-- but-- is Grommuk back yet? Are we ready for a mission? We just had a strange injection, and ... She trails off, looking nervous and holding her stomach.
Cole appears suddenly, surprising her with a loud yowl, then heads to the door. There you are, you little fiend, she mutters. The cat's presence settles her doubts for a moment. She starts to head out, then quickly runs back to her room to grab her pack. In seconds, she's back at the entrance, ready to go.
Argor rolls his eyes as he listens to the man at the door from his chair. "Sure, go get settled in, because the moment you do, we are going to make you walk all the way back."
He rises and goes to gather his gear, then heads to the door to wait until all are ready. Arctyryx, sitting on his perch atop Argor's staff, eyeballs the changes the gnome and Cladissa had went through, before saying in his shrill voice, "So what's it like, being changed into a cat girl and a shadow? Does light bother you? Do you feel the need to scratch furniture?" A slightly panicked look comes over the raven as something dawns on him, and he stammers, "You...you don't want to eat me now do you?"
Argor pays the birds questioning no mind, but silently awaits the answers of those gathered, as it could shed light on what he has, or has yet, to experience at the hands of the serum they all had afflicted themselves with.
Cladissa's eyes widen in horror at the implications of the questions asked by Argor's familiar. She turns away and stares straight ahead, still wide-eyed as she contemplates. Physically, yes, she's different. But still the same inside, right?
She turns her head slowly and locks eyes with the bird, and flashes a brief, predatory smile. It's gone in an instant, and she returns to staring straight ahead, suppressing a rising excitement.
Hrimnagel listens to Argor's question partly directed to him. As Argor starts to focus on Cladissa with her reaction. The deep gnome just fades away while waiting for the others.
Stealth take 10+20=30 using 20% concealment to hide in sight
I play with Grommuk in a lot of games and I know his pace is a little slower, so I'm going to move us forward. My main goal with this game is maintaining momentum. I won't DMPC him in combat, but if everyone else has posted out of combat and he hasn't yet, I'll be moving us on.
Grommuk pokes his head out of the kitchen when Cladissa asks about him. He says, "Grommuk ready. We go."
The walk back to the Grand Lodge only takes about five minutes. Once the agents arrive they are directed to one of the meeting rooms in the Skyreach fortress.
Waiting for them inside is Adril Hestram. A bear of a man with only a few teeth remaining in his head, he motions you into the meeting hall with a casual wave of his grizzled hand. The human captain outweighs most of Absalom’s half-orcs, and though a layer of beefy blubber coats his frame, those of you who have tangled with him in the Lodge sparring ring know that beneath this thin veneer of fat lies nothing but solid, steely sinew. Adril’s wild beard wags to the ponderous shake of his massive head as he examines a scrap of ancient parchment on the table before raising his eyes to greet your gaze and speaking.
“Come in then, friends, and thank you for answering my summons so swiftly. The society is in need. An old and quite penniless historian, a bespectacled wag-beard by the name of Yargos Gill has recently made a discovery in an old archive that we have a great interest in obtaining: an ancient codebook, left behind in the wake of one of Taldor’s many failed attempts at invasion. This several-hundred-year-old text would prove an excellent addition to our collection, and must be preserved."
"Yargos makes his home in ‘The Puddles,’ Absalom’s poorest district, suffering from a well-known reputation as a haven for lowlifes. Following an earthquake ten years ago, parts of the Puddles now rest below sea level, resulting in frequent anduntimely flooding. Those who can afford not to live there—don’t."
"The district is the stomping ground of pimps, harlots, addicts, knifers, and hoards of unseemly derelicts. It’s never been a kind place, but recent reports reveal some new nameless terror on her waterlogged streets. Several persons claim to have seen cloaked, skeletal-like figures marching through an unnatural fog. Ill tidings indeed. Tracking down Yargos is now a priority—--lest some yellow-toothed thug cut him down, or one of these strange wraiths carry him beyond the pale. Find him, fellow Pathfinders, and find the codebook. Your exploits will be recorded in the Chronicles if you succeed."
From the shadows enveloping a chair, Hrimnagel asks in his small, thin voice, "Do you have a description of Yargos and any known associates?"
Argor quirks an eyebrow at the mention of the code book. He listens intently to the remainder of the man's speech, and allows him to answer the gnome's question before inquiring, "And what, exactly, is this code book rumored to apply to? Military communiques, general Taldoran missives, or something specific?"
Cladissa waits silently for the answers to the others' questions. Her heart thuds in her chest, though, and she feels a flush of excitement. Being recorded in the Chronicles! She wondered if she could beat her step-sister in getting there first. It would be like a dream come true. She dared imagine how Auronee would look--
She blinks a couple times, reminding herself to pay attention. I'm sorry? What was that again?
Grommuk's countenance grows grimmer and angrier. His hands work into tight fists as he recalls the trials and nuisances of the week past. "Grommuk hates The Puddles. Garbage and bad people."
He does not relish the thought of going back there, even with the added weight of his Pathfinder title and a contingent of companions. Breaking the faces of impetuous robbers didn't bother him in the least, but the need to be on constant vigil grows tiresome. Time spent in The Puddles is not time spent earning rest. The place gives no respite, and asks none in return. Then there were the Muckruckers; probably the worst of all down in the water-logged sinks of the derelict district. They had the illusion of authority on their side—a dangerous thing in the hands of a criminal mindset. The huge orc glances at the indistinct shadows of his old bunkmate, Hrimnagel, and the now catlike woman with the cat—a thing that made Grommuk's head hurt merely considering it. He would likely have to keep them alive in the days to come. Hrimnagel could hide easy enough, but hiding isn't always an option. That's what knuckles are for.
"Yargos is a light skinned human man in his fifties, bald, missing a tooth in the front, clean shaven. He's average height and a little fat," Hestram replies to Hrimnagel. "The book is of Taldan military communiques from the time of the invasion, yes," he responds to Argor. The bear of a Venture Captain laughs uproariously at Grommuk's comment. "Who doesn't hate the Puddles, mate? Sorry to have to send you there, but that's the gig." He is apparently ignoring Cladissa since she wasn't paying attention. "Yargos is always hanging out at the Soggy Piper inn. He eats most of his meals there, I would check it first."
Soggy Piper Inn. Soggy Piper Inn, she repeats to herself. She brings a hand up to adjust nonexistent glasses, then shifts the motion to the chewing of a fingernail.
A thought pops in her head. Are the Puddles flooded... now? she asks uneasily. The idea of slogging through fetid waters was not appealing. Then she wonders if it was even less appealing to her because of her recent change. No, she decides. She would have hated it before.
Hrimnagel begins to be concerned when Grommuk declares his hatred of the Puddles. While the beginning of this mission matches so many of the journals that he read in his father's bookstore, it all seems more real and anxious when he realizes that he is not certain that he will survive to write the chronicle. And with his orc friend worried, his stomach starts to tighten and turn.
From the shadows enveloping his chair, Hrimnagel asks in his small, thin voice, "Grommuk, can you lead us to the Soggy Piper, or do we need directions?"
Grommuk ponders for a moment, his thick and prominent brow furrowing as if the fate of the world depended on his answer. Finally, the query's burden proves more tax than his mental capabilities can handle, and he settles on an infamous shrug. "Grommuk not know Soggy Piper, but Grommuk know Puddles." As if to solidify his response, he casts a glance towards the direction he thinks the Puddles is located, relative to where he thinks they are currently standing in the Grand Lodge. Memories of nights hard spent come flooding back, but of their destination he still has no recollection. It was likely one of the less drowned places in the district he had never seen. Most of what he experienced was no place for any one, even an orc.
The orc nods at the svirfneblin before rumbling, "Ask people there where funny name place is. Ask harder if they bad people. Tie purse strings and hide. You'll lose if not."
Do we have our full allotment of spells today?
Cole jumps up and nestles on Cladissa's neck, getting comfortable. He eyes the raven languidly while his tail swishes into his witch's face.
Cladissa checks the security of her pack and pouches nervously after hearing Grommuk give his advice. She inches a little closer to him.
Argor sighs at Grommuk's lack of intelligence, both in general and of the area he had claimed to know. He checks his pouches, making sure his coins were deep beneath his robes and tied tight, and that his scroll cases and components were handy.
He then says, "Unless you have any further information, I suggest we get to it and get this over before someone else becomes an interested party."
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26
Preemptive Perception as I'm at work and not sure when I may be able to post again today, in case something breaks out. Prepared spells in Alias.
Yes, you have all your spells prepared.
Hestram is eager to see the agents off on their quest, and has told them everything he knows about the situation. The group leaves the lodge and makes their way across the Foreign Quarter into the Puddles district.
Their boots squash with fetid water as they plod through the Puddles. A thick fog hangs in the air, seeming almost to caress the flesh with an unnatural chill. They ask around and are soon standing outside the Soggy Piper in a foot and a half of brackish brine, trying to recall what was so damned important to demand their presence in the half flooded slum during Absalom’s rainy season. The thought fades as a fresh deluge of cold seawater rounds a bend in the lane and assaults their knees. After searching for Yargos at his favorite eatery, the Soggy Piper, they learn that they just missed him.
According to the Piper’s staff, a gang of dangerous young tattooed toughs arrived ahead of them. They grabbed Yargos and several of his friends from their dinner table and dragged them to a nearby cliff at the edge of the Puddle District. The watch was called, but they will arrive too late, as they often do in the Puddles, when they bother to venture there at all.
It is early evening, the first Wealday of the month of Desnus, an old man is about to face some awful fate at the sea cliff known as Torsen’s Maw, and they are no closer to finding the codebook Adril Hestram sent them for.
<< Torsen's Maw, The Puddles, Absalom // 17:45 // Wealday, 6th of Desnus 4708 // Cool, 50° F >>
ACT 1: THE DROWNING DEPTHS
The Pathfinders quickly make their way to the nearby cliff, hoping they are not too late. When they arrive, six brash young toughs covered with tattoos of vicious, snarling dogs are prodding four terrified older men off the edge of a cliff into the sea. The prisoners are shackled together in a line with heavy chains, which shall surely drag them to the sea floor in short order should they tumble from the cliff’s edge into the churning waters below.
Begin Round 1
Hrimnagel: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Cladissa: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
Argor: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Grommuk: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 1 = 14
Cyrill: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
War Hounders: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (10) + 0 = 10
War Hounders: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (11) + 0 = 11
War Hounders: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (10) + 0 = 10
War Hounders: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (4) + 0 = 4
War Hounders: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (20) + 0 = 20
War Hounders: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (4) + 0 = 4
War Hounders 20
You guys are up for round 1. It's a 35 foot drop to the sea from the top of the cliff. Don't forget to resolve your actions fully, their stats are in my profile in the Absalom spoiler.
Argor quickly assesses the situation, and hanks to his much improved vision, quickly locates the man fitting the description of their quarry. "There, on the right end of the line."
He then leans his staff into the crook of his shoulder as Arctyryx takes flight, and begins the practiced motions of a spell he had mastered as a child. Ahead of the party, a resplendent eagle appears, seeming to radiate an inner light. Argor points to the cliff, and the creature streaks off in that direction, assailing the vile human at the end of the line.
The avian tears into the mans throat, leaving a vicious gash on the man's neck as it surveys the villains arrayed before it.
Argor casts Summon Monster I as a full round action to summon a celestial eagle to cell I32.
Eagle Smites target in cell I15 as a swift action. Then charges that target and attacks from above in square just above that target if possible (3 dimensionally), otherwise from square I16. AC currently 12.
Eagle Bite Attack: 1d20 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 2 + 1 = 15
Bite Damage: 1d4 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 2 + 1 = 6
Included smite damage as I can only assume these guys are evil, if they aren't, he takes 1 less damage.
N Small animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +10
AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +1 natural, +1 size)
hp 7 (1d8+1+2)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +2
Speed 10 ft., fly 80 ft. (average)
Melee 2 talons +3 (1d4+2), bite +3 (1d4+2)
Str 14, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 15, Cha 7
Base Atk +0; CMB –1; CMD 11
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +8, Perception +10; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception
Noting the distance (and still rather exhilarated that she can see with clarity that far away), she sights along her crossbow, taking aim at one of the toughs. She exhales slowly, and tries to steady her nerves at using potentially lethal force against a living target.
She needn't have worried, as the arcing bolt sticks fast in one of the thugs' leather jerkin, doing no damage.
Five-foot step forward to L38, drawing crossbow. Targeting N15.
Ranged: 1d20 + 1 - 2 ⇒ (11) + 1 - 2 = 10
Damage: 1d8 ⇒ 8
Don't think that hit.
Stopping for a moment to gather bearings has never been a tactic in Grommuk's arsenal. Hearing of what occurred in the Soggy Piper, the orc's desire to inflict injury on something builds steadily into a raging maelstrom. Even as the party clears the district proper, leaving behind paved streets and buildings for coastline vistas and vegetation, his breathing becomes more heavy and agitated. His strides deteriorate from composed and calm to determined and brutish—animal like even. Grommuk's right shoulder leads into his chosen path, his movements becoming lopes; then the thugs in question finally come into view. His feet are already thumping a charge before he even realizes the old men are there.
An incomprehensible slur of enraged bellowing and syllables that don't form any actual words gives way long enough for Grommuk to finally manage something almost intelligible. "Graaaah! Dogs with leashes! Puddle Dogs! Grommuk HATE Puddle Dogs! Grommuk crush Puddle Dogs with bare hands! Raaaaaauuuuughh!" Despite his immense size, Grommuk's speed is considerable as he charges into the enemy lines, occasionally leaning forward to all fours as he leverages his thick knuckles to propel his even thicker frame along.
HP: 12 | AC: 14
Running at the bad guys so he can make good on his promise next round.
Full-Round Action: Running to J16. (Lose Dex bonus to AC)