In the later part of the afternoon, once Vethran has completed his scribing and workshop set up, he fishes the lock of Alwyn's hair from his pack and places it atop the silver mirror, beginning the ritual of scrying to check up on their companions. Alwyn needs to make a Will save vs. the spell, since the spell does not have the "harmless" caveat. However, as Alwyn is familiar to Vethran AND Vethran has a lock of his hair, he takes a -15 penalty on the save. DC is 20. Or you could arbitrarily ask him for a save at DC 35 (effectively building the penalty into the DC) just to make Vattnise freak out.
Illes and Elisile readily agree with Lady Canayvan. They explain that the item is of extreme proportions and has been the target of thieves before now – as such they have it stashed away in their (presumably large) room at the inn, guarded by a companion. They leave it up to her whether she wants to send someone (or come herself) to view it, or whether she would prefer it transported over here, though Illes stresses that they are trying to avoid ‘flashing it about’ as it were.
Ah, and get Vatts to make the DC 35 Will save for sure ... though now you mention it Fate, as its a will save it might have been better to scry on Hudak.
You and the other group are currently out of synch by about a day. If I ask Alwyn to save now, he'll probably hack to death the harmless NPC he's currently talking to.
Lady Canayvan nods. "Of course, I appreciate your concern. I will send one of my associates, Almya Gorangel. She has a specialist interest in Thassilonian artefacts." She provides a brief description of Gorangel - a dark-haired Chelish wizard with a toad familiar - and a password - "Absalom" - which she will use to identify herself.
"Is there anything else?"
Vethran's spell finds Alwyn, Hudak and Camlo trudging down a road atop a cliff by the sea. They seem unharmed and happy enough, although Camlo seems to be struggling slightly at the pace of the long-legged Shoanti.
The man smiles. "Yes indeed. I have known Ameiko since we were both children, and we became adventuring companions. We - she, my brother and I - were youngsters together in Sandpoint. It is a quiet place, and like many impetuous youths we thought we were destined for better things. So we became adventurers, like yourselves. It all caused quite a stir - especially for Old Man Kaijitsu, gods rest him. He considered an adventurer's life most unseemly for the daughter of a nobleman. It led to a terrible row." He smiles wryly. "But then the Kaijitsu were never the happiest or luckiest of households.
"But I'm rambling. I understand you are bound for Sandpoint. I would be extremely honoured to have you as my guests and travelling companions for this final stretch. It is only a day or so, but I would be delighted to hear tales of your adventures."
"It would be our honor, sir. I must be up front, though;.....if you know Ameiko, well I assume you knew Tsuto. It was my blade laid him low. Well, I spared him, if only for Ameiko's sake, but Magnimar's justice did not."
“I am curious to know more of the Pathfinder organisation,” says Elisile, when Canayvan asks if there is anything else. “I have heard that you are explorers, adventurers and historians, but know little more. How does one join your group – if membership is indeed open? We have encountered several sites of apparent Thassilonian vintage in our travels. My thought is that our discoveries – if indeed any of them are unique discoveries – may be of interest to your organisation, and your group’s knowledge may in turn assist our endeavours.”
"Bah!" Alwyn spits in disgust. "After what he did, Tsuto deserved even worse than he got. The others, however... That was a disgrace. But let's not dwell on such foul memories. Say, lord Vhiski, why don't we alternate storytelling duties? You'll tell us a tale of your adventures with Ameiko, and we'll tell one of ours, and so on?"
Vhiski nods gravely. "I'm aware of your role in Tsuto's doom - one that he largely brought upon himself. The circumstances of his coming into the world were unfortunate, and his life once he arrived was nothing but unhappiness. He and Ameiko were close once but... To lose a brother, under such circumstances, is never easy." He gazes into space for a brief second, but then brightens.
"But let us not dwell on sad things. We have only just met! Sadly I do not have time to swap stories right now - the caravan is getting ready to move off and I need to supervise. But this evening we should reach Sandpoint and we can all be reunited with Ameiko. Ameiko tells the stories of our adventures much better than I do. In the meantime, I'd be honoured if you would travel with us. I'm afraid that today I can offer little more than a lift on the back of a wagon, but it should be better than wearing out your boots!"
"My husband is the Venture-Captain - the leader of the Pathfinders - for Varisia. It is up to him to induct new members of the organisation. You must be willing to adhere to the Societies tenets.
"The rules of the Pathfinders are quite simple: there are three duties for every Pathfinder. The first is to explore, to further the knowledge of the Society. The second is to report, so that your explorations are captured for posterity and the furtherance of knowledge. The third is to cooperate. The membership of the Pathfinders is diverse and contains many nationalities, often those hostile to one another. But membership of the Society transcends all national affiliations. Pathfinder must respect each other, lend assistance where it is needed and must not attempt to frustrate or battle one another.
"However, your activities would certainly warrant consideration for membership, so I would encourage you to document your findings and submit them for consideration."
Elisile raises a questioning eyebrow in Illes’ direction. She’s not much one for rules and structured organisations, but it seems that being able to draw on the Pathfinder’s expertise and network may be useful.
“Thankyou Lady Canayvan, it is something we will consider.”
If that’s it we’ll head back to the inn and appraise Vethran of the situation. We’ll make sure either Elisile or Illes is down in the common room at any given time keeping an eye out for Gorangel.
"Indeed. Anything we can do to help? It would be the least we can do, really, in exchange for graciously letting us ride with you." Alwyn wanders around the camp, helping the Varisians load their wagons, using these opportunities to chat a bit with random caravaneers and listen in on their conversations.
Perception 12+13=25, Sense Motive 13+17=30 and Diplomacy 9+14=23. In particular I'm looking for people with gang tattoos or similar markings, in addition to just gauging the mood in the caravan. I try not to stray too far from Hudak, just in case.
The travellers lend a hand as the caravan packs up. Alwyn notices that a lot of the Varisian men are tattooed - but then again, tattooing (in a different way) is as part and parcel of Varisian culture as it is to the Shoanti. Even Vethran sports a particularly fine example. Alwyn starts a conversation where tattoos are compared - the Shoanti being predominantly figurative, the Varisian more abstract. However, without detailed knowledge of the Szarni marks he isn't able to draw any broader conclusions as to any hidden affiliations they might indicate. Nevertheless, from reading the body language and attitudes of the caravaners he doesn't pick up any hostile intent.
After half-an-hour, the caravan sets off on the final leg to Sandpoint.
HP 58/58, AC 21, T 12, FF 19, CMD 19 Performance 28/21
Illes is quite interested in what Lady Canayvan has to say and asks about the details for documentation and submission for consideration. On the way back to the Inn he talks it over with Elisile, "I don't know Elly. They could be pretty damn useful if we were anywhere near their libraries and and that, but are we going to be? And then what if we happen into something big and they decide to pull us off of our own recovered loot and call in some jerks with seniority to claim it. Maybe I've been off the caravan too long, but I kinda like being the boss of me."
“I tend to agree with you Illes,” replies Elisile. “I had not considered such things, but they are good points. Perhaps better to conclude this transaction and keep any further dealings with the Pathfinder Society to similar business arrangements.”
Back at the inn they’ll give Veth the goss and keep an eye out for Gorangel.
Elisile can give Vethran a break from guarding the polearm and let him head downstairs for an afternoon meal while she hangs out in the rooms, if he wants.
Gorangel shows up at the inn just before the evening meal. She is a human Chelish woman, dressed in a stained green robe of some shiny material that is now worn. She is scrawny, with a thin pock-marked face and the pallor of someone who spends too much time indoors. Her back is stooped and hunched, despite her seeming to be maybe in her thirties, and closer proximity reveals that her personal hygiene may be suspect. Stringy black hair, cut roughly without regard to fashion or symmetry, droops over her face.
Pointed in the right direction by the innkeeper, she shuffles in the direction of where the adventurers are resting in the common room. She regards them suspiciously from deepset, dark eyes and mutters in a hoarse voice, "You go to the Canayvan mansion this morning? Lady Canayvan sent me. I'm here about the matter from Absalom."
The creak of the cart wheels turning, the heavy tread of draft horses or the quick chatter of the Varisians becomes the song of the road for the travellers. Alwyn and "Bilbrodo" sit at the front of one wagon, the driver a taciturn, wiry old man weathered to a mahogony brown by the elements. He expertly flicks his whip and tugs the reins, answering most questions with a non-commital "Hurngh". Hudak sprawls in the back, resting his eyes. But the adventurers keep their weapons within reach, just in case.
Vassos and Sandru Vhiski seem busy most of the day, and have little time to chat. However, Alwyn and Hudak begin to recognise landmarks - the road to Foxglove Manor, the Brinestump Marsh or the heights of the Devil's Platter in the distance. As the sun begins to dip down in the distance beyond the ocean, the caravan breasts a rise. Beyond lies a familar sight.
Sandru rides up, looking down at the town. "Back in Sandpoint again. You know, no matter how far I travel, I always find myself wanting to come back. Of course, once I've been here a few days, I always want to leave again."
"Hurngh," grunts the old man.
The caravan reaches the gates, where the night guard are just starting their shift. One of the watchmen walks up, tripping over his scabbard before straightening himself up with as much dignity as he can muster. "Halt in the name of the Mayor of Sandpoint!" he calls out to the lead wagons.
"Gint, get over yourself, it's us!" shouts out Vassos.
"That's Deputy Gint to you, Vassos! There are still proprieties to be observed," replies Gint, affronted. "Name!"
"Gint, you just said my name. I went out with your sister for four years. You know who we are. Open the gates and stop mucking about! And we bring the heroes of Sandpoint, no less!"
After negotiating entry into town, the caravan heads for the main square to pitch up and prepare for some serious trading the next day. But instead of helping there, Sandru finds the adventurers and together they set off for the Rusty Dragon. The taproom is warm and friendly, with the crowd there just coming in for the evening. Hudak and Alwyn are immediately recognised and plied with drinks - is it really just half a year since they were last here? (In game time, would you believe, yes it is.)
Vhiski is also clearly a welcome visitor and soon is amiably chatting with the locals. Then he catches sight of someone, gives a roar of delight, and clasps her to him in a bear hug. Ameiko extricates herself, laughing and pushing him playfully away. "And look who we met on the road!" he shouts over the hubbub.
Ameiko turns to see. She blinks and catches herself for a moment, a look of shock and delight on her face, and she blushes prettily. "Hello, Hudak," she breathes.
"Hello, Ameiko,.....it's really nice to see you...." Hudak gets out. He can't believe that he can drop a f#&+ing church tower on a Loch Ness octopus whilst laughing it off, and turn into a stuttering f%$$ when it's time to talk to women....
"So,....how's Sandpoint been?..."
“Ah, the matter from Absalom,” says Illes, tapping his nose and watching the unpleasant woman closely. “Well, we shouldn’t keep matters from Absalom waiting overlong, should we?” Illes uses versatile performance to use sense motive on the woman – that she is who she says she is, is here for the reason she implies and doesn’t bear the group any particular ill-will: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29. He’s also looking out for any Szcarni tattoos or other signs to indicate her affiliation if any: Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
Assuming he doesn’t notice anything suspect about the woman, he invites her upstairs to where the polearm is kept – the entire group comes along, but Elisile lingers in the common room for a few moments, keeping any eye out for anyone who might be watching the group or making any moves to follow upstairs or leaves suddenly at the same moment: Perception: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (2) + 15 = 17
Camlo steps forward. Uncharacteristically bold. "Ameiko? Hudak has told us much of your prowess. He speaks of you highly, and often! It would appear that you soften his stony heart, and make him much more bearable to be around.
My name is Camlo, and I have fallen in with your friends on their travels. Do you happen to have a room to cater for one of my stature while we are in Sandpoint?"
"Good morning, Ameiko. The others are fine - they are currently flogging some loot in Magnimar. While they do that, we're headed to Riddleport. We'll stay for a day or three, but then we need to move on. That might - but just might - give Hudak time to tell about his exploits; he's been very busy the last few months."
"Yeah, that sounds good. Let's go over to an establishment. I'm all tired of beef jerky on the road....hey, Ameiko; you know a suitable place?"
now Hudak's all confident, remembering all the stuff he killed with great cleave.
Illes doesn't notice any Szarni marks on the woman, and anyway she doesn't look or sound remotely Varisian. He's fairly sure she is on the level, and takes her up to the room where Elisile is guarding the fork.
The woman nods curtly at Elisile and then moves over straight to the item she came to see. She carefully unwraps the polearm, noting its material composition and the inscriptions upon it. She gingerly touches it, and pulls back her hand with a yelp of pain as the fork's enchantment burns her. She sucks her wounded fingers for a moment, then mutters a few arcane words and runs her hands up and down its length without touching it for several minutes, concentrating intently with half-closed eyes. Finally, she crawls up and down the floor beside it, peering at it closely at it with her face almost touching it, before straightening up.
Elisile explains that they found the item whilst exploring the Skull Dam at the mouth of the Storval Deep – it was wielded by a water troll of unusual size and may have come from elsewhere, although they have determined that both the Dam and the weapon were of Thassilonian vintage.
"Oh really, you determined that did you?" replies Gorangel. "A couple of Varisian vagabonds and a forest elf? I hardly think so. It's a good piece of work, certainly valuable in its own right, but it's not Thassilonian."
"Ah, my Lady, I did not mean to offend! You adventured with Mr Vhiski when younger I thought? It was mentioned when we met on the road. As for my name, I was attempting to be cautious, close to Magnimar, but here among friends, I would rather put such deception aside. It would seem, ah, prudent." Camlo grins, seeming to enjoy himself rather more than is probably wise.
HP 58/58, AC 21, T 12, FF 19, CMD 19 Performance 28/21
Illes laughs her comments off, "You might be surprised what us Varisian vagabonds get up to between card readings and dance offs. But then you are a foreigner so a little ignorance is to be expected. For someone who is supposed to be an expert in antiquities though... don't you think its going to be a little embarrassing when we take this rare Thassilonian relic and sell it to someone who is able to properly appraise it? Word of that is going to get around lady."
Sense Motive (versatile oratory) to determine if she is trying to hustle us: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25
"I....I don't know what he's talking about, Ameiko; I don't really talk to him that much.....we found him in an old pickle barrel, being stored for later, to be eaten by ogres; I think his brain's broken from the experience....."
“We forest elves have long memories, human,” says Elisile. “We are hardly ignorant of our old neighbours Thassilon.”
I think it was on Vethran’s assessment that we decided this was a Thassilonian artefact. I’m sure Veth would at this point step in to defend his assessment. He begins pointing out the stylistic nuances that led him to his conclusion.
Edit: having looked back, Elisile actually got the spoiler about the ransuer’s vintage. Aubrey said that the runes on it date from the time of Thassilon – I made the mental leap that this meant it was Thassilonian. Maybe not though ... Elisile points out the Thassilonian runes, and notes that the size of the weapon indicates that it was made for one of the giants known to be slave-warriors in Thassilon’s armies.
Elisile makes another knowledge, history check – 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30 to make sure she is on the right track.
Vethran, who had previously been observing coolly from the far side of the room, steps forward when the validity of their appraisal is brought into question.
"Not all Varisians are vagabonds, as you say. I am Vethran Tallomane, a wizard," he emphasizes the point so as to distinguish himself from the typically sorcerous archetype of Varisian spellcasters "most recently from Sandpoint. I assure you that this artifact is of Thassilonian origin and design."
The mage then launches into an excruciatingly detailed analysis of the item, going above and beyond a mere appraisal and into pure academic overload as he defends the item's authenticity in a way that only a wizard could.
Kn (History): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (20) + 18 = 38 to point out the historical elements of it's artistic stylings and relevance in the greater scheme of Thassilonian history.
Kn (Arcana): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (17) + 18 = 35 to describe the enchantments layered upon it.
Kn (Engineering): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (7) + 18 = 25 to codify it's construction and composition in exacting detail.
Linguistics: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34 to identify the inscriptions and even the exact dialect in which they were made during the time of construction.
Vethran proceeds to provide a detailed analysis of the item, based on some of the most advanced thinking on the subject. He points to the items construction, using techniques currently unavailable. He notes the relative wear on an adamantine item, which indicates extreme antiquity, and its sheer size is highly suggestive of (a) a civilisation of immense wealth, to deploy so much expensive adamantine and (b) its use by giants, both highly suggestive of Thassilonian origin. The nature of the enchantment is also something relatively common on a Thassilonian weapon. And the decorative etchings suggest its origins in the Thassilonian kingdom of Shalast, which is thought to be largely continguous with modern Varisia. He continues in this vein for some time, with Gorangel looking increasingly angry but unable to fault his logic and learning.
Finally, she snaps. "Very well, but I am not convinced. I will report back that I consider the item to be a fake. Good day!" With that, she stalks out without a further word.
Camlo looks at Vhiski and frowns...."Ah, not the Authorities, no, they would just fine me, or throw me in jail if there was a problem. No, it's just about everyone else that I'm in trouble with in Magnimar. Best to avoid the place."
Elisile shakes her head sadly as Gorangel stalks out. “It is sad when someone cannot admit their own failings. At any rate, we cannot now hope for a truly fair price for the weapon from the Pathfinders now, unless her employers are insightful or generous enough to see through her ruse or ignorance. Of course her employers may have instructed her to undervalue it.”
She looks thoughtful. “It is likely now that the Pathfinders will offer us a price based only on the weapon’s magic and material properties, though we might consider that this is only an opening move in a negotiation. Even so, the smart thing to do is to seek further options. I have supposed an organisation would be best placed to afford the price we hope to ask for this. The Golemworks may have the capital, but they too will likely be interested only for the weapon’s material and magical properties – probably as raw material. Amongst the Stone of Seers we may find scholars interested in both historical and magical aspects of the ransuer, but we are likely to be dealing with individuals within the organisation, rather than the school as an entity. What do you think?”