It is an ordinary midweek day within the walls of Absalom's Grand Lodge when you receive the missive. You are summoned to the vaults below Skyreach by the Society's master of spells, Aram Zey. The message does not give many details but it is important and he urges you to come prepared.
Once everyone's checked in, I'll start.
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Toren walks out of Qadira's sector having used the meager prestige he has garnered from his last two missions. Fingering the scars he bears from his most recent encounter, and saying a silent thank you to the companions who healed him, he sticks the wand he got that's supposed to be able to cure his wounds when used.
2 PP to get a free Wand of CLW
He mutters to himself, "Damn silly looking toothpick s'posed to keep me from dyin'! Hmph!"
A courier approaches him at that moment and hands him a letter.
Toren reads the letter, albeit with some difficulty, and heads towards the vaults under Skyreach.
It's a quiet morning in The Coins as the sea dew lifts off the carts and surrounding shops under the warmth of the rising sun. Chanix finds himself passing a bird shop where cages hang filling every conceivable space.
All shapes and sizes of cage spill out of the mouth of the shop, some covered in thin fabrics some empty and open. Chanix is looking at one cage in particular though. It's cut of a petrified hardwood that's been cured by nature for thousands of years.
Carved in the base of the cage is an entanglement of vines and limbs. A depiction of nature overpowering humanity; a gruesome but beautiful image. Chanix reaches up and runs his fingers along the base. He feels the leaves of each vine and the anguish of each body part being constricted. He stops his fingers on a lone bare arm and twists it at the elbow.
Beneath the cage a trap door releases and a piece of paper drops.
Message received. Checking in.
Rhydderch rises from his morning prayers having given thanks to Iomedae for aiding him in surviving the many challenges of his first mission. As he leaves the chapel of the pages hands him a missive. He reads it twice before rolling it up and tucking it in his pouch. He removes his sword from its sheath and holds it up to the sunlight pouring in through the stained glass; checking its edge for sharpness.
Looks like Iomedae has need for us again today. With that thought he returns his sword to its sheathe and makes way for Skyreach.
Her recent expeditions with the Society had enabled Priscilla to pull in a few favours. She had finally set eyes on a cute little shop in an Eastgate market, not far from the family home. It could soon be hers, after one last little favor... Excitedly, Priscilla unfolds the long awaited missive and squeals with anticipation. “The Master of Spells, Aram Zey! I get to meet the Master of Spells! I don’t know who he is, but he sound important!”
Priscilla stuffs her odd the assortment of trinkets back in her bag, and wisps away. Be prepared!
“Priscilla’s Boutique of Curios and Wears”, you will soon be mine!
Priscilla may not know him personally but she'd know of him and likely would have had at least met him in passing as part of her Pathfinder training.
Each of you arrive at Skyreach's entrance hall within moments of each other. After presenting the summons, you're escorted (with almost no hospitality) down a series of stairs by a pair of heavily armored humorless guards.
The guards open a heavy iron-bound door laden with magical sigils of warding and you enter a large room with incredibly tall vaulted ceilings.
A five-by-seven-foot tapestry hangs on the wall, surrounded by a series of platforms and ladders to allow a close view of any spot upon it. The room is otherwise empty, save for the Pathfinder Society’s Master of Spells, Aram Zey, who paces impatiently before the Hao Jin Tapestry, glancing up as the door creaks open.
He recognizes you instantly.
“Thank you for your quick arrival, Pathfinders,” Zey says curtly, speaking without making eye contact, as though his mind is moving faster than his mouth. As he continues his focused pacing, he gestures toward the tapestry.
“As I’m sure you know, we recently came into possession of this wonder behind me—the Hao Jin Tapestry—by winning the Ruby Phoenix Tournament in distant Goka. Within this piece of fabric lies an entire world in which one of Golarion’s greatest magicians placed treasures and mysteries beyond imagining. And it was supposed to be ours alone. This promise of exclusive access was made a lie, however, when the Aspis Consortium found a way into Hao Jin’s astral vault that bypassed the tapestry altogether, and Aspis agents are now busy stealing whatever they can move, hoping we will act too slowly to protect our winnings. Fortunately, a recent mission into the tapestry managed to uncover a clue about a possible Aspis base within the tapestry. That is your destination."
Aram Zey glares at Rhydderch, annoyance spelled clearly across his keleshite features.
"Yes, the tapestry is a portal to another world - a world that was supposed to be the solely available to the Society."
"The aspis camp, interestingly, is within a great stone temple complex uprooted from the Vudran jungle many centuries ago by the tapestry's master herself. Since her disappearance, that part of the tapestry has been encased in a massive glacier. This temple—dedicated to a Vudran monkey-god, we believe— could prove enlightening on its own, notwithstanding the Aspis presence there. It’s a grim thought imagining what the Consortium has done to the place, but apparently more than three-quarters of it is still protected by the glacier, so we can still salvage a great deal."
|Toren "Stand" Still|
"Err...yeah...inside the...tapestry. So what're we s'posed to be doin' once we get to this base o' operations?". Toren catches the look that Aram shot at Rhydderch, and hastily adds, "Yer...err...High Spelliness."
Zey glances at the dwarf.
“Vanaras—the simian humanoids responsible for constructing this temple—are great builders, and this temple is representative of the huge complexes that once graced the Vimada Forest before their wars with men and the rise of Khiben-Sald. It’s a representation of the cosmos, really, a series of nested squares with symbolic shrine-mountains all directed toward great Bahmenu, the mountain birthplace of the god Ragdya and, the vanaras believe, the center of the universe. This symmetry may serve you well, since it will help you predict the layout and functions of the temple as you make your way around it. Every corner of the temple will be fitted with a small shrine, all facing the symbolic mountain.”
“Even an abandoned temple is a holy place to the vanaras, as it is to most of us Vudrani as well, and we hope you respect that fact. If you can secure the site and drive the gods-damned Aspis from it, it may draw the mirthful and enlightened eye of Ragdya himself upon our Society.”
Ruby Phoenix Tournament 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Goka 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Vanaras 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
Vimada Forest 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Khiben-Sald 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Vudran jungle1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
“Nothing but the enlightened eye of Ragdya himself, piece of cake!”
Prscilla pauses for a moment then blurts out all her questions at once.
"These Vanaras are hostile or friendly? The portal to another world or is it to somewhere else on ours? How do you say hello in Kelish? The jungles link to a massive glacier doesn’t quite match my understanding of geography? Are we preparing for cold or warm conditions here? What happens to us when we go through the tapestry, can we jump back out? Will you teach me magic?"
Zey responds with equally rapid-fire responses.
"These Vanaras are hostile or friendly?"
"It's unlikely the Vanaras still occupy the site - but our past experiences with them have shown them to be an intelligent and pious people. Should you encounter them, show your respects and you should have no trouble."
"The portal to another world or is it to somewhere else on ours?"
He signs in frustration at having to repeat himself... again.
"It's another world."
"How do you say hello in Kelish?"
"Are we preparing for cold or warm conditions here?"
"It will be cold. Most glacier are."
"What happens to us when we go through the tapestry, can we jump back out?"
"You will touch a point on the tapestry and I will speak a command word. This will trigger the magic and send you into the demi-plane. On the other side, you will see an aperture in the air near where you've arrive that only you can see. Touching this point in the air will return you here."
I take it you will be providing sleds, winter furs, provisions, snow shoes, cold resisting potions and the like? When do you need us to leave? What type of cold challenges can we expect? what is a demi-plane?”
|Toren "Stand" Still|
"Equipment for extended survival in the cold should not be necessary. Your entrance through the tapestry will put you very close to the temple and within its wall you should be protected from the worst of the cold."
"We need you to leave within the hour. Every moment that passes, the Aspis solidify their hold. Make whatever preparations you need and return here, swiftly."
Chanix listens intently as the halfling grills the Master of Spells. He glances a palm or finger across each of his daggers and assorted other weaponry. He feels the slender length of a wand secured to his thigh. He checks the weight of his bag of caltrops with a small toss and reattaches them to his belt.
He sifts through his backpack and shoulders it once more, looking towards the wizard, "Should we have any need of sustenance in this 'other world.' Also, what kind of resistance can we expect from the Aspis."
"The world within the tapestry follows all of the rules applied to the Prime - standard gravity, heat and cold function the same, and your bodies will require the same things to sustain themselves."
"All of our reports have only mentioned sparse groups of Aspis. With any luck, you won't encounter more than a handful of their agents."
|Toren "Stand" Still|
"Well, what say we get goin'. I'm sure High Master Spelly don't need us takin' more of his time." Toren nods at each of his regular companions in turn, and to the unfamiliar face he says, "Not right sure who you are, other'n someone comin' with us...but proper interductions can wait till the other side eh?!"
With a grin he walks towards the tapestry and waits instruction.
"Nice to meet you Rhydderch."
Surprisingly, Priscilla is not concentrated on the newcomer. She seems deep in thought. The Lodge has always had some side work the last few times. I need to find a way for them to get a message through, or for them to contact me.
”Will we have a guide on the other side? Give me a moment to grab my maroon scarf, say a prayer to Desna at the proper chapel and we are off pretty boys?”
As each of you see to various preparations, no matter how brief, you're each contacted in private and handed a discrete note.
There are some in the Society, myself included, who suspect some grander strategy on the part of our rivals. It’s of prime importance that evidence of Aspis Consortium efforts in the Hao Jin Tapestry be brought to our attention, beyond their overt goals of gross pillage and thef. Another team in the tapestry who came across the Consortium’s agents passed on a suspicion that some sort of secret alliance with beings dwelling on the demiplane might be in the ofng. Get to the bottom of this.
Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin
Many are the divine powers who stand against the minions of evil and destruction. While the temple to which you travel is dedicated to a neutral deity, the Vudran people venerate many gods, and there are likely shrines to celestial deities among them. But I fear the Aspis Consortium lacks our reverence and has likely already pillaged many of these holy sites. Do whatever is in your power to restore any blasphemed altars and give the powers of good the respect they deserve.
Dawnfower be with you,
If there’s one thing I learned in my exile from the Pathfnder Society, it is that knowledge is power. And now, while we still struggle to earn the trust of the Decemvirate and those Pathfnders who are still ignorant to abuse they sufer at the Ten’s whims, providing knowledge to the Society that would otherwise have gone undiscovered could return us to the organization’s good graces. I need you to fnd me documents—likely somewhere other Pathfnders don’t notice them—about the Consortium’s resources or future plans. It needs to come from the Shadow Lodge, though, so it can’t be something anyone else can discover.
In testament to your trust,
Our wealth and power in the Inner Sea depends, in part, in our cargoes and caravans of spices and exotic goods from the far-fung ports of Vudra and its interior. But while we are the best positioned of all those who seek to dominate this pungent and rich region, these riches attract many rivals. Moreover, my associates and I believe that secret ruins and unknown rajyas may yet exist in Vudra’s eastern portions that might be still marked on maps or mosaics in this ancient temple. If you can quietly fnd such evidence, it would give us leverage to retain our preeminence.
In the name of the Satrap,
Trade Prince Aaqir al’Hakam
"Well I've found my scarf! So where we were we blue eyes? This is Toren, he gets very thirsty, even for a dwarf! This is Chanix, he likes to scout a head and get in over his head! And I can mend wounds if not at the bottom of the well. I trust the sword is not some mystical decorum."
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Toren chuckles at the Halfling's introduction, "She's got the right o' it, thas fer certain! I'd be rottin' in a catacoomb if it weren't fer this lass. An' me other companions o' course."
Toren tugs at his beard a bit and eyes the newcomer over, "Yer...not exactly from 'round here...are yeh?"
It sounds like nobody needs to do any last minute shopping so I'm going to move on.
With preparations made, the group is assembled within the vault. Aram Zey points to a location on the tapestry and directs each of you to touch that point. He recites a brief incantation and the tapestry's magic instantly takes affect. You each feel yourself falling and tumbling as if dropped from a great distance but not down...
And no sooner than it started, it's done. You stand on a giant chunk of ice and before you, the temple.
Symmetrical and colossal, the brownish-red stones of the Temple of Ragdya emerge from the glacier, hinting broadly at the scope and immensity of the vanaran complex. Sinuous nymphs, mighty tigers, and trumpeting elephants—frozen in ruddy stone—encrust the temple’s outer friezes. Packed snow and ice clad depictions of vanaras in jungle scenes, creating an odd dissonance between the climate illustrated in the carvings and the frigid conditions of the temple. The wind howls, and muted voices drift from within the temple. Even more eerily, a strange hooting and shrieking issues from the temple’s cornices and spires, as if by some magical or artificial means the calls of thousands of monkeys echo the sound of the arctic storm. A wide doorway stands unobstructed, providing ingress to the columned courtyard within.
The Hao Jin Tapestry is home to some of the most breath taking natural sights in the world... With the Aram Zey Vactions and Travels your winter wonderland vacation can come true…. You can gaze upon the Temple of Ragdya, or take on one of their famous glaciers… ”I wonder if Aram would be willing to go 50/50 on it.
Anyways… way to travel…. I need to get me one of those magic carpets…Do you think they have them in fuscia?...” The wind carries the words, as Priscilla realizes the futility of conversation, she focuses in on the motifs and patterns of the odd temple.
”With this wind, luckily no one had the decency of closing the front door.”
"That was....curious. Rhydderch looks around. "An open doorway usually means an ambush or a trap. We should proceed with caution."
Take 20 on Perception...I'll leave Trapfinding to Chanix!
Chanix marvels at the grandeur of the structure before him but wary as ever before he lets his senses sharpen on alert.
Perception + trapfinding 1d20 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 7 + 1 = 10
The numbing cold will take some getting used to for this elf.
Chanix finds no evidence of traps of any sort.
After a solid two minutes of standing in frigid open air, Rhydderch finds evidence that several booted humanoids have been through this area fairly recently. The terrain (hard ice) makes detail nearly impossible.
After waiting around for two minutes you all begin to get very very cold.
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Toren dances slightly from foot to foot. With an exhaled breath he says, "Hoo, it's a might cold here innit? Mayhaps we should start movin' so's I don't become a dwarfsicle!"
Priscilla starts moving towards the entrance. “Let’s head in. It’s not the way in I am worried about, it’s the way out.” Priscilla shakes from either fear or cold.
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Toren chuckles and shakes his head slightly at the newcomer's back. He hoists Tessa up and follows him, ready to dash ahead at the first sign of trouble.
Notice Unusual Stonework 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 18
Four columns stand vigil in this open-air courtyard, a wide doorway opening in the center of each wall. To the east, a huge banyan lies fallen across the wide bridge that once permitted access to the great gates of the temple. To the north and south stretches a ten-foot-wide walkway running along the temple’s exterior wall. A wide moat of black ice separates this walkway and the inner complex. To the south, a crude wooden ramp leads from the walkway to the ice’s surface ten feet below. Two steep stone stairways lead up from the ice to doorways in symmetrical chambers flanking the main entrance on the other side of the moat.
Beyond the frescoes described on the exterior of the temple, Toren notices no unusual stonework.
I apologize if the map's too small.
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Neither Priscilla nor Rhydderch notice anything dangerous or unusual.
Rhydderch estimates based on the size of the fallen tree and the conditions that it would be a fairly challenging climb but not impossible with a little time and coordination.
The ice isn't far at all below the bridge. No more than three or four feet.
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Toren looks around and grabs his polearm, "I've got a good ice poker right here, we can test the ice using my weapon here from up above...that way we can tell if'n we're likely to fall through."
"I'm curious why block the bridge in the first place if there is just an alternate path across the ice?"
Chanix examines the tree and then moves to examine the ice at the base of the stairs.
perception tree: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
perception ice: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (6) + 7 = 13
acrobatics to test the ice: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Maybe Priscilla has the right of it and we should look around but I for one am colder than I am comfortable with. We should do something quickly.
Chanix's examination of the fallen tree determines that it hides nothing dangerous or extraordinary and he suspects that the tree had one been growing out of the water adjacent and simply died and fell over (likely as a result of the extreme cold).
Between Toren's polearm of poking and Chanix's graceful steps the duo determine that the planes of ice, while slippery, are stable and easily capable of bearing the party's weight. The ice is either frozen very hard or the water is not very deep.
Pointing at C2 and B25 from B9 "I sugggest we take a quick look around from there and there to get a better lay of the land before venturing forward. It looks like the moat may run around."
|Toren "Stand" Still|
Toren nods at Priscilla and Chanix. He looks at the group and says, "Anyone got some rope...just in case? Wouldn't want ter fish someone out with me weapon!"