The Pathfinder lodge in Oppara hides behind the façade of a greasy bait and tackle shop. It provides the standard services to Pathfinders but is notable for its wayfinders, produced by an elderly and talented mage-machinist, named Muesello.
You are all gathered in at the back of the building near the entrance of Venture-Captain Muesello's workshop, away from the rather long line of fishermen at the front of the building.
You wait several hours until the Venture-Captain shows up. "My, you young whipper snappers are early today! when I said tomorrow morning I didn't mean to beat the fishermen to it at the crack of dawn! no matter... here I am. Know that I appreciate your punctuality. Please forgive my lack of clarity on when to meet here. There, come into my shop."
The Venture-Captain unlocks the door and bids you to come in. A large table with several chairs has been adorned with an unsealed letter.
"I need your help to deal with this. Take a look at this letter and see what you can do. I'm not sure if this request comes from a noble or some kind of historian, but I don't have time for this kind of stuff. The messenger who brought this here assured the Lodge that any required travel will be chartered directly by the gentleman who signed these letters."
See the handout at the link above
Garr enters the bait shop, the smells of the shop wafting into his orcish nostrils. The smell unfamiliar, but pleasant to the half orc. He waits for the rest of the group to enter. Taking his time to enjoy the scenery of the fishing town. Garr sits down at the empty table, taking great pains not to touch or break anything as he plops a seat. "Thank you Captain, and I appreciate you recognizing our punctuality. I think all of us here are ready to begin our time together as new pathfinders!" Garr gives a slight bow to the Captain as he waits for the rest of the group to filter into the shop
After fighting a yawn for several minutes it finally gets the best of her, and while her mouth stretches open Magdalyn runs a hand through her messy hair. Talk about some early risers, I'm not even sure who to look for... She walks along the docks with the fresh smell of sea salt in her nose, enjoying the brisk morning air as her eyes search the lines of fishermen. After some searching her eyes finally settle on a conspicuous group of combat-ready individuals. Going to guess that's them. With a small yet eager smile, she joins her companions.
While there was once a time she could flutter into any social circles with ease, such days were long past and she found herself nervous during her introduction. "Good morning, my name is Magdalyn Varus. I believe you're the Pathfinders I'm supposed to be joining with?" She gives the group a sizing, then lets out a sigh of relief. They seem like a nice enough folk, and just peculiar enough so I won't stand out. She offers a handshake and casual salute to the other members of the group, comfortably sharing introductions with her new allies.
As the morning hours crawled by, Magdalyn fills the time by chatting with some of the local fisherman who stood in line near the store. Not possessing the social acumen to find comfort in the company of the more upstanding nobles of Absalom, she found the gruff, rough-and-ready nature of sailors a welcome distraction. Venture-Captain Muesello arrived just as she was beginning to think they might be at the wrong store.
After his brief introduction and explanation of the situation, Magdalyn takes a moment to read over the letter. When she finishes scanning the page, she offers the paper for the next person to read. "Seems like a simple enough task. How and when are we going to travel? Is there anything you think we may need for the journey? I can't say I know much of the Verduran Forest."
The young impeccably dressed dwarf enters the room, a heavy flail on his side and a crossbow on his back. He is dressed in purples and reds and his holy symbol, the head of a snake is proudly displayed. He nods at his group and the venture captain.
Garr reaches over and shakes Magdalyn's hand. His giant like paws making the lithe but sturdy's females hand look small. Nice to meet you Magdalyn, The names Garr. Looking forward to working with you all, this is my first outing with the pathfinder association. Im curious to see what challenges such a partnership can bring." Garr gives a look about the room, admiring the trinkets and décor lining the shop
Garr notices that the back of shop has nothing to do with bait and tackle. A door leads to the front part of the store where the bait and tackles are sold, but it looks like it hasn't seen use in years as it has boxes and all kind of spare parts piled up in front of it. No.. Muesello's shop is more about clockwork devices, and in particular, Wayfinders. You can count at least nine of them in various stages of production and his tools appear to be able to deliver amazing precision and quality. There's even the clockwork leg of something sticking out from under a sheet that's been draped over some kind of metallic thing near the junk pile that's beside the door.
Garr notices out of the corner of his eyes, that it appears that the back of the shop is dedicated to all kinds of mechanical contraptions, parts, and strewn about knick knacks. "Interesting shop the patron here owns, I wonder what kind of treasures he has stored away in such an unassuming location?" The orc silently muses to himself
Perrine woke up quite excited this morning. Her first real assignment for the Society!
She arrived early, her slight gnomish figure covered with her studded leather armor. She had a starknife stapled to her side and a shield on her back. If the others paid particular attention, they’d see a holy symbol of Desna at her neck.
She quickly agreed to the mission. ”Now how do we get there,” she asked, not knowing much about the geography of the area. ”I can’t wait to meet this talking tree!”
Mag looked around at her party with interest, noting their various holy symbols. While she lacked any of the true divine spellcasting she suspected her new comrades of possessing, an intricately carved wooden spiral still hung from her neck, the holy symbol of Pharasma. She absently ran her finger down the swirling line as she said a silent prayer.
Garr wipes the sleep from his eyes as he sits and relaxes at the table. Contemplating the journey ahead of him and the group milling about the shop beside him he notices the others fondness for there holy symbols. Paying particular attention to the Halfling female, who seems to be sporting a holy symbol of Desna around her neck. Garr subconsciously starts to rub his Iron holy symbol of Gorum, the heavy symbol a comforting weight on his thick chest. "Quite the talent pool, the gods have arraigned this day." The orc admires the champions of various faiths that have all gathered inside of the small shop
Whoa there Kokina. Now ssstay. You hear a ruckus outside as someone clearly is slowing their mount and tying it to the rail. Boots walk come toward the doorway and a tall Nagaji enters. He is dressed in a military uniform. His uniform is not new, but is clearly very well cared for. His scales and the studs on his leather armour gleam in the morning light.
Good day all. I asssume that you are the group i wasss to meet. I am Kinshassssa.
Following introductions Kinshasa takes up the letters a peruses them. He nods as he reads them, glancing up from time to time as he absorbs their words. He finishes reading them and places them back onto the table.
Let us begin then, my new friends.
Looking at those who have arrived thus far, he says, "As I said the sponsor for this mission, Mr. Alcasti, have made all the travel arrangements to the Verdurant Forest. Document, take notes, and bag any evidence you find. You know the drill: if it goes bad don't implicate or at least minimize the damage on the Society... if it goes well and it looks good on the Society, make sure your report is accurate and list everyone that benefited from the Society's help. A favor in the bank is never a bad thing. I'm hoping it doesn't go bad. Remember you will act as agents of the Society. It's one thing to help, but make sure not to draw trouble back to the Society by giving the help. Otherwise, what's the point of aiding this Alcasti family if we make new enemies somewhere else? As usual though, feel free to defend yourselves if you feel threatened or to intervene if you witness something that would be unspeakable from a Society's perspective"
You sense that despite his innocuous, craftsman appearance, Muesello has probably been in Oppara a long time, and he's starting to tackle things like a politician. Not a bad Venture-Captain to be leading this particular task, you think...
Muesello looks at one of the many clocks adorning his shop. "I was promised six Pathfinders for this. We will wait another hour, but after this, I'm afraid that any late arrivals will have to figure this out for themselves, due to the logistics of it all." Muesello begins to write a note then half-way through, asks Kinshasa where he's staying tonight. Once Kinshasa fills him in, he finishes the note and signs it. "There. Just in case the sixth agent is delayed in transit... I will leave instruction on how to find Mr. Kinshasa stapled to my door."
"Understood Captain." Her usual militaristic demeanor returns as she listens to the instructions given by her Venture-Captain.
While they await the arrival of their final Pathfinder, Magdalyn walks amongst his workshop, admiring his handiwork. "Captain, about how much for one of these Wayfinders? It seems like an item any Pathfinder should have."
You may have a point Magdalyn. Turning to the Venture-Captain Sir, I would have interessst in a wayfinder alssso
I believe that 250gp would cover it? Are they available here?
A tall, blue skinned woman in armor engraved to look like fish scales speaks up. "I apologise for my silence earlier. I'm am pleased to be traveling with such an esteemed looking group of Pathfinders.". She looks around at the various holy symbols being displayed and gegently touches her symbol to Gozreh. "With so many of the gods being represented among us, surely our quest with be a success!"
Kinshasa draws his coin pouch out and carefully counts out 250gp onto the counter. Thank-you Sir.
Taking his new Wayfinder he places the string around his neck so that it sits on his chest, proudly displaying the Glyph of the Open Road.
While waiting for the final member of the group Kinshasa leaves the room to go an check on Kokina outside. He is gone only 10 minutes.
Garr begins to open his mouth to also ask if another additional wayfinder is available before a quick pat of his empty coin pouch reminds him otherwise. "Understood Captain, may Gorum bless us on our journey." Garr finishes by muttering a quick and quiet prayer to the Lord in Iron before standing up from the table and walking idly inside the shop, waiting for the rest of the group to finish preparations for the road ahead
"Our travels are taking us to the Verdurant Forest. Before we travel I will pray to Gozreh for him to bless us with good weather and safety in our travels. Those who wish to join me are welcome.". As the group finishes preparations Naruda finds a grove of trees and begins her prayers.
I will leave you to your prayersss and sssee to Kokina. Any sssolider knowsss that if you take care of your mount, your mount will take care of you alssso.
He and Kokina stay a little way off from the grove so as not to disturb the prayers. He brushes her, cleaning the road dust from her body. She seems to enjoy it as the muscles ripple under her skin. He also resettles his saddle and saddle bags in a slightly better position upon her.
Garr leaves the shop, satisfied with the party assembled before him he heads out by the grove to wait with the rest of the team as they get ready to depart. Garr breathes the crisp, dawn air in as he revels in the comings and goings of the fishing docks. The excitement of the impending journey spurning the embers of fire in his heart. Its been a long time for Garr since a worthy challenge presented itself, and in his mind he hopes that this experience will be one that he can honor his diety with. He watches in keen fascination as Kinshasa brushes off his mount, the pair looking like the quite the formidable duo on the battlefield.
"Thank you Captain," Magdalyn gives the Venture-Captain a small salute, "I'll be sure to save my coin for such a purchase."
When the Samsaran offers prayer, Mag gives Naruda a nod of respect. "May your prayers be heard, but my soul is tied to another."
She spends the rest of their prep time polishing her armor and straightening the cloths between the metal, ensuring she presents herself in a manner fitting of a Pathfinder.
"Good show, people! all of your seems to have arrived. Despite the secretive nature of this Lodge, which has been operated informally for so, so long, it is nice to see formality in the flesh once in a while. It reminds me that I'm part of something good and noble, and that I'm not just a glorified clock repairman! I admire your spirit and enthusiasm, but I warn you all: do remain impartial in your negotiations and dealings abroad. This appears to be the typical attempt at rebuilding a certain noble family name in the eyes of Taldor. At this time there is no way to predict what the Primogen Crown's decision will be in regards to the Alcasti family, regardless of how good the evidence you'll uncover will be. I am unsure whether their honor was besmirched maliciously or justly, but I've been told several other letters are to arrive in the next few weeks. I am glad that agents such as you are part of these missions however, as I am sure you will handle the subject with the respect and gravitas it deserves. A few agents I've dealt with over the years treat everything like an errands list, and sometimes do more damage than the mission is worth."
A young man comes in right before lunch, taking everyone's lunch order and grabbing the Venture-Captain's correspondence for the day. After confirming your plans with you, Muesello adds a letter to the pile before the young man leaves, adding, "Make sure you start with this letter, son. Bring it immediately to Mister Alcasti so that he can finalize transit details to the Verdurant Forest."
You have the rest of the day to prepare in any way you see fit. The next morning you all board a passenger ship to Cassomir, and from there you transfer to a smaller river boat. The journey of a few days to the Verdurant Forest is otherwise uneventful.
As the boat glides to a stop among the sweet-smelling blackwood trees on the river’s edge, a gnome woman with twigs braided into her hair waves to the boat’s pilot. A small bear cub waits patiently at her side, while a red-bearded dwarf glowers over her shoulder.
The vessel’s pilot wishes you well and promises to wait here for your return. As you step off the boat, the gnome lady says, "Pathfinders yes? - I'm Trajet. My dwarf brother here is Polgrin, and the bear goes by Firepaw. We've been tasked to be yer guides to your destination. Let's go."
The guides set out at a good pace and the docks quickly disappear as you are engulfed by the forest trails.
Garr approaches the Gnome and Dwarf and offers both a body shaking handshake "Well met friends! Glad to see we have some able guides showing us the way through Verdurant forest." Garr stretches his tree branch like legs out and tries to keep pace with the guides, his orcish eyes constantly scanning the thicket of trees for any signs of danger
The time aboard the ship was nothing new to Magdalyn, and she enjoyed the journey for what it was. There's a certain peace to the sea, but she couldn't shake the feeling the uneventful journey may just be the calm before the storm.
Upon arrival, Mag returns the introductions with the stiffness commonly seen in footsoldiers. "My name is Magdalyn Varus, it's a pleasure to meet you." She falls in line behind the guides, watching her surroundings with keen eyes. Those with sharp eyes might notice her fingers repeatedly closing and opening, as if she were an archer readying to fire at any moment. When they break the wood, she speaks up.
"Miss Trajet, are there any dangers in this wood we should be aware of?"
Kinshasa steps off the boat, followed by Kokina. The loading and unloading of a mount onto such a small vessel is a careful task and he is acutely aware of this. Easy Kokina, take it slowly. She makes her way off the vessel and onto the hard ground, managing not to flood the boat in the process.
Once she is safely ashore he gives her a scratch behind her head, places his foot into the stirrup and hoists himself into the saddle. The pair set out after their guides. Kokina watches Firepaw with perhaps slightly too much interest as the travel down the Forrest trails.
Well met, daughter of Cheliax. I am Kendre. Kendre Glasmiter, also from that Hallowed Land.
Perrine roller her eyes at the others praying to their gods for safe travels. Everyone knew here was only one proper god, especially in praying for safe travels. The others would learn soon enough, she figured.
She was ecstatic to see a fellow gnome. ”Nice to meet you sister Trajef! Call me Perrine! I like your bear cub. He’s quite handsome. Is he friendly?”.
She fell in line with the others, ready to continue the journey.
Mag nods at the Dwarf. "I'm actually from Sargava, it used to be one of Cheliax's most proud regions but they broke free for independence." There's a slight look of frustration across Magdalyn's face. "Which was a foolish decision, the nation is going to fall soon. Regardless, nearly all of the colonists there trace their family heritage back to Cheliax, myself included."
After about 45 min of travel and mostly grunting answers back to you, Trajet sighs and finally turns to you all with a sneer, saying “Perhaps it would be best if you all just left the forest.”
Garr stops abruptly and looks ahead to the gnome "Perhaps WE should leave? Just what is this all about, you were supposed to be guiding us. What kind of guide stops to make small talk? The quicker we get there the quicker we all part ways." Theres something odd about the sudden shift in the gnome's demeanor. Something's amiss."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Kinshasa is a little taken aback by the sudden shift in Trajet's demeanor. He tries to discern what may have triggered this change.
Sense Motive: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (4) - 1 = 3
Not being able to puzzle it out for himself he looks about the group for some hint as to what is going on.
Trajet's suggestion earns her a disapproving look from Polgrin, but the gnome does not elaborate further. Both Trajet and Polgrin are now quiet. After what seems to be an eternity along the wooded trail, you see a rain-fed stream rushing between the trees, running parallel to your trail and flowing back towards the Sellen River where you came from. The canopy above is thick enough to cast the area into green twilight and provide home to the dozens of birds chattering above. The path breaks away from the stream leading to a small clearing to the west that holds several weathered tombstones.
See map link above
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Mag keeps her pace with the gnome, continuing to pay more attention to her surroundings than the small woman.
"I don't think any of us plan to live here, Trajet. The sooner we arrive the sooner we will leave. We aren't here to make enemies."
When they arrive in the clearing, she pauses. "Is there something for us here?" Her eyes can't help but gravitate towards the tombstones.
While I do love the water, it is good to be walking through a forest again
Naruda walks among the group, chatting with her new found party members in a soft, calm voice. Naruda is particularly interested in talking about religion and listens attentively when her party members do chose to talk with her.
When Trajet speaks, Naruda carefully appraises her, hoping to discover what they have done to offend their gnomish guide.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
"Pardon me Trajet, but we did not mean to offend you in any way. We are just here to speak with the blackwood tree and then we will be on our way."
Polgrin looks at Magdalyn and says, "One of the tombstones belongs to my ancestor, who granted the tree its ability to speak, and the two beside it belonged to her children. The tree was given the gift of speech so it could explain the damage that the Taldane nobles at the time were doing to the forest. Since then, it’s become an advisor and judge for the local druids."
Do you all continue following the guides or do you take a pause to inspect the tombstones?
Kinshasa hears what Garr says and nods, almost imperceptibly at the half orc. He shrugs his shoulders, loosening them to be that much more ready should he need to fight. Glancing over his shoulder he reassures himself of the location of his bastard sword and looking down checks that his lance is within reach.
Garr hovers close to the guides, especially the gnome with the attitude and silently prays in his head to Gorum that these guides were indeed false. His senses already on alert from the brief confrontation with the gnome.
The Bear seems friendly however though. Too young to be much of a threat. Hope it doesn't come down to that.
Im okay with proceeding however which way the group wants, just Garr will be keeping the gnome under his watch
Sense Motive 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
”Hold on! Maybe we could pay our respects at your ancestors grave site...it is their gift that has led us here after all.”. Perrine stops and waits on a response, clearly wanting to explore the headstones.
Magdalyn looks empathetically to Polgrin. "Death is release from the atrocities of the Material Plane. I can't say to where their souls traveled, but if they were willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others they went somewhere they'll find peace."
Her hand moves to her holy symbol, running her fingers down the spiral. "If it's no trouble, I would like to thank them for their sacrifice. May we see their graves?"
I will keep Kokina here. She is perhaps too large and I would not want to damage any tombstones or sacred monuments.
Naruda sees that everyone seems to be stopping to look at the tombstones and also stops to look at one. She runs her fingers over the surface on one stone, her gaze looking far off into the forest.
...death is...strange... Naruda turns towards Perrine and asks her "I'm curious, among your people is it also customary to mark the places where your bodies are laid to rest with stones?"
Kinshasa wheels Kokina around so that he can observe what is going on in the graveyard, and keep an eye on the guides. Kokina does not object as it means she can watch Firepaw.
Hearing no objection, Perrine wheels and quickly walks to the graveyard. She casts Detect Magic, wanting to see if she could determine the source of the magic that apparently had been passed along to a tree. She looks around the area.
Perception 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
Naruda pulls out her journal and makes a quick rubbing on the tombstone.
Aurenia...is that name significant in some way?
Knowledge:Religion: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Naruda turns towards the guide and asks, "Do you know who was this Aurenia, speaker of the forest?"
Polgrin says, "She was my ancestor, as I said already." He eyes Perrine suspiciously as she casts her spell over his ancestors' tombs.
After some pay their respects to Polgrin's ancestors, the group carries on, following the two guides and their bear friend.
As you round the bend, a massive old blackwood tree stands at the side of the trail. Sheets of moss cling to its bark, covering it entirely except for a jagged crack that suggests a mouth.
Trajet calls out to the tree, "O wise one, I ask you to pass judgement on these outsiders! may we have your permission to punish them at once! for they shame the Wildwood Lodge with their bribes and treat the sacred tree as a mere servant! their corruption knows no bound! countless druids have fallen in with these outsiders, serving as their lapdogs and enabling the depletion of this grand forest!"
The tree's mouth widen as if breathing in for the first time in days, then calmly replies to Trajet's tirade. "Little one. Be calm. Listen to nature. The outsiders are our guests. I will not, could not, give you this permission. I will not, could not, grant authorization. Nature does not strike back. It grows back, little one. The greenery will cover the last remnants of their civilization one day, and-"
"NNNNNNNNNNNNNNO!! SHUT UP, OLD TREE! YOUR PLATITUDES SERVE NOTHING! I WILL TAKE CARE OF THESE VIOLATORS MYSELF IF NEED BE!"
Polgrin looks uneasy, torn between his fellow guide and respecting the old tree's wisdom... the bear yawns, or roars... you're not sure... he looks a bit upset and agitated as Trajet paces around angrily pointing at you all.
What do you do?
This is bad, we can't have the Pathfinders murdering people in their own forest.
Magdalyn steps forward, attempting to position herself between the tree and a circling Trajet in case the gnome is willing to try anything rash.
"Trajet." Magdalyn's voice was authoritative. "We are here to commune with your sacred tree, not commit violence. Do not do anything you will regret in the presence of your tree elder."
Aid Another Diplomacy: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (18) - 2 = 16
+2 to someone's Diplomacy check, should anyone be a decent face.
Garr keeps his hands on the hilt of his greatsword. The half orc realizes that now is not the time for rash action, and perhaps before some faces get smashed to a pulp the other members of the party may want to try a more diplomatic route. One could always hope though, the orc thinks to himself
"grrr... yet you're not saying your people will stop killing trees in this forest... always... always with your WORDS!!! YOUR MEANINGLESS WORDS!" yells Trajet, as she finally snaps.
Garr Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
bold can go
Trajet suddenly orders Firepaw to attack and starts casting something (free action - Handle Animal DC 10: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20 success: but so suddenly was that order to attack that the confused little friendly bear cub cannot react in the surprise round... on its turn in Round 1 bear will attack nearest)
Garr can act in the surprise round.
ANCIENT TREE: The tree speaks as Trajet starts casting, "Dear guests! please show mercy to my children!! They are sometimes misguided!!"
Keandre: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (5) + 0 = 5
Kinshasa/Kokina: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Magdalyn: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
Naruda: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
Perrine: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 18
Trajet/Firepaw: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Polgrin: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (18) + 0 = 18