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DM Magister Ludi's Legacy of Fire

Game Master Gordon the Whale

In the barren wastes of the Brazen Peaks, secrets await those brave enough to find them.


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Game Master

Garavel listens impassively to Valik's requests. "If you have need of a shovel here at the monastery, then you may use one. I will get one out as soon as we are done here. I will also say something to the company about leaving the religious art intact. It is surely worth more in its current state than it would be if it were damaged further, and it might draw pilgrims and the like to Kelmarane once it is reestablished. As for your loot, as you put it... We do have certain discretionary funds, which could be used to purchase valuable items. I am afraid I cannot offer you the full price that such items would bring in Katapesh, however. What exactly have you found?"


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

"Will you be able to determine if any of the items have magical properties? If not, then perhaps we should have the Father look at these as well."

Valik calls over to the Father politely before he vanishes down to the basement.

"Here is what I am in charge of for the group: This silver bowl, this chime, this book. If I can sell any or all of these items, I will be happy, then I can distribute the money to the mercenaries. As for myself, I would like someone to look at this little box on a string, this gold brooch, as well as this mace. I also believe that Travis has a dagger that might be magical...it certainly has not rusted or decayed over the years."


Garavel says, "Alas, it is not in my power to divine the magical nature of items. Perhaps Father Zastoran, as you say, can help you."


The old priest blushes. "Oh my. This happens all the time! I'm afraid I have to admit that I don't know that much about enchanted items either. Magic is a truly fascinating branch of study, but I've never had any real aptitude for it. Now, if you had any potions, I'm sure I could analyze those for you..." He trails off with an apologetic half-smile. "Oh, that reminds me. If you still have any of those infusions I sent with you yesterday, they've probably gone off by now. If you give me back the vials, I'll wash them out and decant you some fresh ones. Waste not, want not, I always say!"


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

"Ah, yes. Hold on a second." Valik pats himself down for a moment, before reaching into a pouch and extracting the 4 vials.

"I have to thank you Father, your infusions were quite timely. I would have been slime food if not for their strength."

Valik thinks for a moment before asking, "So they only last a day before the magic is gone?"

"Is there anyone in the camp that you think can figure out if any of this is magical or not?"

"If not, I think I will just give out the coins for now. Can I leave the rest of the findings in your care when we go to raid the gnolls?"


Father Zastoran smiles with pride, "Well, I'm only glad you were able to make use of them. Unfortunately they aren't true magical potions, which endure indefinitely. They are alchemical extracts, quite as effective as potions when fresh, but the effect fades quickly. We do have a stock of true potions in our expedition supplies: two types of healing potion, one of them about the same as my healing infusion... Though, really, I think the infusion is a bit better, as long as you take it fresh. It tastes better, too..." He shakes his head a little, focusing back on the matter at hand. "Now, what was I saying? Oh, yes, potions. I also have stronger healing potions, potions to mitigate the effects of poison, restorative elixirs, and some holy water. (Cure light wounds, cure moderate wounds, delay poison and lesser restoration.) Unfortunately, as Garavel says, the Pactmasters do require very thorough accounting,so I have to sell them to you at market price, which for magic potions can be pretty expensive. They're not easy to brew, you know."

The old man shakes his head when Valik asks about item identification. "No, no I don't believe any of us have that sort of magical knack. Perhaps we'll be able to attract some wizards once the town is resettled. I'd be happy to safeguard your valuables while you're away from the monastery though." He bobs his head affably.


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

"Well, I imagine that we will be away for a few days, so I would like to buy some potions...the problem is, that unless I can sell some of this stuff, I don't think that I will have the money to buy potions...so I guess I will have to stick with your infusions for the time being."

"Thank you for taking care of the book, bowl and chime. I hope we can sell them when we get back."

"Father, if you don't mind working with Garavel to get something to pack the eggs up, and meet me in the courtyard when you are ready."

Valik accepts the shovel from Garavel and then goes to pay the mercenaries. He explains to them that he couldn't sell the other items yet, and that the Father is holding on to them for them. Then he gives each of the mercenaries 10 dinars and keeps 7 for himself.

That chore complete, Valik moves off to the courtyard with the eggs. He carefully pulls the nest to the side and digs beneath the nest.


Game Master

The mercenaries grumble about the sparse loot, but none of them suggests that they should sell it off to Garavel without first checking to see if it is magical.

Digging in the loamy courtyard soil is easy at first. Though there are a fair number of roots, they are mostly small, and there are no rocks larger than a pea. Apparently the monks were fastidious in their horticulture. After digging down about two feet, the soil begins to be rougher, with rocks and what appears to be charcoal mixed in. The digging gets more difficult here, but Valik only feels more certain that there is something worth digging for.

Finally, about three feet below the surface, the shovel clangs against metal. It takes another minute or two for Valik to uncover the object enough to pull it out, but when he does, he finds that is a scimitar, caked in grime, but still shiny underneath. Picking it up and wiping it off, he sees that the pitted blade is a swirl of glistening light and dark steel. The cross-guard is cunningly worked in a sweeping form that suggests the wind, and fashioned of silver, though it is now tarnished. With a bit of polishing, it might be a very serviceable blade. The balance is exquisite, and the hilt fits his hand as though it were made for it...

Looking down at his hand, Valik is shocked to see that his skin has erupted in ochre-colored pustules, and tendrils of mold are growing before his eyes, binding his fingers to the scimitar!

Binding, but not bound; you could still drop it at this point, though it's not clear how tightly it will bind if you let it go.


Game Master

Typo there... It's not clear how tightly it will bind if you don't let it go.


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

A surge of creeping revulsion washes over Valik as his hand begins to attach itself to the scimitar.

"Blood of the Lady!" Valik shouts, shaking his hand violently to free it from the scimitar.


Game Master

The scimitar clatters back to the bottom of the pit harmlessly, and the moldy growth on Valik's hand disappears as quickly as it appeared, absorbing back into the skin. In a second or two, it is as though nothing happened.


Just then, Garavel and Father Zastoran arrive, carrying a wooden crate between them. Garavel, seeming unperturbed, says, "Is everything alright? I thought I heard shouting."


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

"To be honest, I am not certain. But as you have said, we don't have anybody with magical knowledge to be certain." Valik thinks for a second, then removes his tent from his bag, and unrolls it. Using a corner of the tent he grasps the scimitar and quickly rolls it up into a bundle which he ties up with the ties on the tent.

"I think that I need to buy a blanket from you Garavel."


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

"It looks like a scimitar, and I somehow sensed its presence, but it tried to attach itself to me, somehow... I don't know if it is good or evil...or just powerful magic, but it seems dangerous, so I don't want to leave it here."


Game Master

You know... If you are ever wondering if something is evil, you do have a certain at-will spell-like ability. Just saying.

The scimitar does not do anything unusual as Valik wraps it up in the tent.


Garavel raises an eyebrow. "You say you... sensed its presence? Buried under all that earth? Most odd. It is my understanding you do not have such arcane sensitivities normally?" He takes this news with his characteristic collectedness.


Father Zastoran is much more emotionally affected by the news. "Oh! Oh my! Attached to your hand? Are you alright, lad?" He sets down his end of the crate and makes his way gingerly over to Valik. He looks over the hand in question. "Well, there seems to be no ill effect..." He looks thoughtful. "You know, he's not really a magic user per se, any more than I am, which is why I didn't mention him before, but you might ask Elois about this. Perhaps he can do some sort of... reading, with the crystal ball?"


"A most excellent suggestion Father. Though, Valik, as a representative of your employer, I do advise against trifling with cursed objects. If you incapacitate yourself as a result of such discretionary activities, you will forfeit your pay." He considers for a moment, then moves on. "That said, I do have a supply of blankets. But as it seems the item is currently safely put away, perhaps we should fill the hole and pack up the eggs before the day grows too hot."


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

Valik quirks an eyebrow at Zastoran's grudging suggestion. "You don't sound convinced Father. But it can't hurt."

Valik fills in the hole, then assists Garavel and Zastoran in packing up the eggs. This chore done, he heads off in search of Elois, the bundled blade bound beneath brown blankets.


Hp 11 - Initiative +3 Perception +7 AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +2

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20

Zahir notices someone who appears not to be a native. He walks up to him.

Peace be with you, I am Zahir and a guide. Would you happen to be one of the Pathfinders I have heard is looking for someone to guide them to Kelmarane?

Zahir offers his hand for a handshake with a smile and making eye contact.

Osirion

Human Ranger (Infiltrator) 2 AC 18/12/16 / HP 22 / F +6 R +5 W +1 / Init. +2 / Perc. +6)

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
Ali slipped though the wind-blown streets of Ipeq, slapping the grasping hand of a pickpocket away. Another dusty city with the poor in their hovels and an aura of desperation in the air. This is the last stop before the desert wastes. Time to move on Ali... Moving towards the sandstone walls of the local caravan guild Ali paused to size up his situation. Your gold is running out, and the dry season is about to start, with the hotter weather the oasis waypoints along the route to Katapesh will start to dry out. Better to leave now then chance the dunes during the height of summer.

"Unique and obscure wares! Fine and rare from the four corners of the world." bellowed the fat merchant.

Striding upto the stall Ali hesitated for a moment, collecting his thoughts. "Hamid, spare me the peddling. I'm looking for another job. Do you know any caravans leaving the city soon?"

"Ali my friend! A thousand, thousand apologys my friend, I did not see you there." Clasping Ali about the shoulders the fat merchant gave Ali a kiss first on the right cheek and the on the left. "Praise be unto the gods my friend. It's been months since I have see from your last trip."

Deserts preserve me, but he gets more grandiose by the year. "And the many blessing of the gods upon you as well, Hamid. Like I said, I'm looking for a job, heard anything as of late?

"Sadly no caravans my friend, the dry season will slow everything down, you ofcouse should know these things." Chucking the merchant wipes his brow and continues. "However, just this morning I learned that two Pathfinder's are seeking a guide though the brazen peaks. I believe they are staying at the Red Lion, you might want to seek the out."

Brazen Peaks, rough trip right there, lots of hazards and alot of gnolls. Might be the right sort of job for me. "Thanks Hamid, I'll do that. And may the blessings of the four winds be upon you." With that Ali slipped though the crowded market place, seeing the Pathfinders.

Grand Lodge

HP 15, AC 14/Touch 8/Flat-Foot 14, Fort 4/Ref -2/Will 7, Perception +8, Init -2

Lodge/Felliped:

As Theodric arrives at the pathfinder lodge on his winded horse, he takes in a long, deep breath and closes his eyes. He exhales slowly, and opens his eyes. As the last bit of air leaves his lungs, a large smile appears on his face as he prepares himself to report.
"Not sure this smile has ever failed me on a first impression. Here goes nothing"

Theodric dismounts and looks his horse directly in the eyes, sticking out his finger:
"Alright Sabina, if today is your day to escape, at least have the courtesy of dropping my belongings as you leave. Good luck."
He leaves his horse tied up with an extra knot and gives his her an awkward pat on the jaw before entering the lodge.

"Theodric Stavian, of Taldor reporting." he says with a masterfully sincere smile.

When introduced to Felliped, he gives him a good look, inspecting his clothing, hygiene, demeanor, and gear.

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Felliped. I will be accompanying you to Kelmarane. I'm an expert in local customs, and will ensure that any interactions we may have with the Pactmasters, or any local pathfinders goes well. I get the impression you are no stranger to adventure, which brings me a great deal of confidence. So, have you spent much time exploring Katapesh or the ruins of Kelmarane?"

Town Square:

Theodric enters the town square on horseback, keeping a keen eye open to avoid thieves and darker alley ways. Theodric recognizes the holy symbol of his deity on the robes of various men in the city with turbans. He keeps his eyes open for one such man who seemed remotely approachable and asks, holding his holy symbol in front of him:

"Hello, brother. Where is the local temple to our mutual Benefactor?"
After receiving directions, Theodric makes his way there and spends a few moments in ritual and conversation with one of the bankers or priests. Before he leaves, he purchases a traditional Katapesh robe of Abadar, and packs it with his belongings.
"Oh quiet down Sabina, it's just another couple of pounds"

Zahir Arshad: Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:

Theodric sets off with his new ally and begins his search for a guide into the Ruins.
"Less than two months as a part of this organization and they set me up in a spot that doesn't even have proper organization or confidence in the locals. I guess this is a good opportunity to clean house and establish myself. I just hope we don't get our throats slit in search of a mercenary".

Before long, Theodric notices a large, muscular man approaching and begins to feel uncomfortable. As the man states his purpose without delay, Theodric relaxes and reaches in confidently for the handshake. He responds.

"Peace be with you, Zahir. I am Theodric, and this is my companion, though, I'll allow him to introduce himself. It's rather hot out here, why don't we take a seat at a bar, and have this discussion over some drinks?

Theodric will take the conversation to the nearest street bar and sit down with Zahir.

"So, my friend. You say you are Zahir, and a guide. Tell us more about what you do, and your experience in the ruins of Kelmarane."

Ali Al’Zahrid: Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:

After having traversed the town square a few times, Theodric can't help but feel like a thousand pairs of eyes are following his every move every time he steps out.

"I've had enough of this, I'm putting on my new robes." he thinks to himself

Now dressed in his uncommonly shiny robe, Theodric steps back in direction of the marketplace, looking for something to eat.

"Better, much better."

As he approaches the marketplace, he gets the strange feeling as though he's being followed. Stopping to take a look around, he doesn't see anyone, and continues into a more upscale meal house at takes a seat.


Hp 11 - Initiative +3 Perception +7 AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +2

Theodric Stavian.Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
After allowing Theodric to break the handshake, Zahir smiles and agrees. He sits down and asks for water.

As you can see, I still have some travel dust on me. I did not wish to miss this opportunity. I actually live between the White Canyon and Solku. I was raise by my father as a guide with the path that leads from here in Ipeq to Solku. Not many use it since Kelmarane was lost.

Zahir pauses for a few moments to take a couple of drinks of his water.

I have been near Kelmarane but have not been inside. My father has warned me to stay away. It is reported to be haunted but he says it is more likely something has just moved in and better to stay away. I am curious about the place myself. I am hoping your expedition is successful.

Another pause and another drink as Zahir gathers his thoughts.

I am a capable guide. I can a decent fighter with my weapons. There are always a chance to come upon gnolls. Did you know this? It is a great plague on great Katapesh. Then there is the normal desert threats. Never know when a sandstorm will happen. Have to be prepared for a spot for water to be gone. And some natural wildlife is more dangerous than gnolls.

Zahir takes another drink of water. He glances around and to just check that there is no one listening. Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17

The way is always dangerous as deserts ever are but the trip is likely to be calm until reaching Kelmarane. I just wanted to make sure the dangers were listed. It would be smart to have a camel with at least 2 water barrels and food. If necessary then a second camel if there is a lot of supplies needing to go.

Another pause to wet his throat, Zahir shifts in his chair.

I have a personal grudge against gnolls. I will go after them if I have a chance but won't blindly rush to my deaths. I need to let you know this as my employers are primary and secondary. This is my livelihood. I generally and just a messenger taking correspondence between Ipeq and Solku. There is not many people traveling the route but there is still a few.

Zahir finishes his water and asks for another.

I am could spend another hour of your time listing things needing to be known and prepared for. You may have done your research though and know most of it. I am very interested in this job as it is a worthy cause that should be helpful to my country. Do you have any questions for me?

Osirion

Human Ranger (Infiltrator) 2 AC 18/12/16 / HP 22 / F +6 R +5 W +1 / Init. +2 / Perc. +6)

Theodric: Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:

Slipping like a sidewinder though sand Ali navigated his way though the crowds around the marketplace surrounding the Red Lion. Interesting, a foreign priest of Abadar. Usually they stay to their temples and banks. He also matches the description that Hamir provided as one of the Pathfinders seeking a guide. Ah here he comes now. Observing the priest easing his way though the streets, Ali follows behind keeping his distance.

Yes, he's not from around here that's apparent. Abadar may be the god of city's but clearly Ipeq is not his city. Beggars and pickpockets flock to him like flys to a horse. I wonder if he knows how dangrous the market ward can be to the unwary. Observing the priest stepping into the hooka cafe Ali follows behind.

"Excuse me good priest, may I take a seat" Stepping towards the priest is a is tall man, with dark hair, a short beard and a jagged scar running down the left side of his face. "I was told that you may be in the market for a guide to Kelmarane? My name is Ali Al'Zahrid, I grew up along the Brazen Peaks and am familiar with the route between Ipeq and Kelmarane. Perhaps we could speak of such things? If nothing else I would be happy to share a respite with you over a pot of mint tea?"


Female Human HP 22, AC 17/13/14, FRW:+5/+6/+2, Perception +6, Init +4

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
Spot of bad luck... chaps, site or net connection ate my post. Have to rewrite.

Stealth 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17, original 17
Intimidate 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (13) + 6 = 19, original 19
Handle Animal 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20, original 20

I stand at the top of the hill. This is Ipeq, the teeming mass of "humanity". I'd rather be in the company of animals. But, I need money. And, apparently the Pathfinders are going into gnoll territory. Getting paid for something I'd do for free. Works for me.

I begin down the hill, and entering the souk I see a company of gnoll merchants just before I smell them. Instinctively, I attempt to become un-noticed until I'm on top of them. My knuckles are white around my bow, but it's not fear... just need something to focus on.

As I get closer, I hear the one with his back to me whisper... Is it her? The big one straightens up, he's tall... but still a gnoll. He knows it and refuses to meet my gaze.

Neutral ground, Vonna. The one that recognized me offers a reminder. He's right, and more importantly he's no slaver. He and his get to live. Nodding, I continue seeking out the Pathfinders.

I see a merchant of baskets, and his hooded, tethered hawk. I move closer, asking to feed it.

If you pay for the food. Sure, why not. He begins to slice thin strips of raw meat. It's our ritual.

Leaning my bow against the stall wall, I take a strip and place one end between my teeth. Removing the hawks hood... he blinks, adjusting to the midday sun and steps onto my offered forearm, limping. He's not lame, but he is injured. I raise my arm and it stretches its wings, flapping them twice. It offers the peddlers and customers alike a screech.

Those near by turn to watch the hawk, to watch us... I'm the girl that feed the hawk from her mouth.

The hawk reaches with its razor-sharp beak and tugs at the strip of meat. I don't release it and he has to work for it, ripping it from my teeth. Two more strips.

He tilts his head at me omniscient eyes peering into mine. He recognizes something, or he's asking why. I don't know which and it makes me sad. I'm not ready yet. So, I pass him back to the merchant. I try to come here every week, to see if I'm ready. I never have the heart to put the hood back on. Scratching the hawk's neck, I move on.

The remainder of the journey is a blur of sights, smells and sounds. This is life, this is the heart of the people.

Eventually, I make it to the Pathfinders.

A tall and lithe, athletic looking female approaches. She is nearly six feet tall and nearly bristling with armament. Longbow, quiver, javelins, scimitar, kukri, daggers... a shield on her shoulder and her armor the color of sandstone.

Past-the-shoulder raven mane frames exquisite and inquisitive emerald eyes above a square jaw. A trio of scars rake across her beautiful face, just missing an eye. The eye itself peering back between two of the scars. Nearly healed, the scars adding character more than indicating damage.

I am Vonna. I have come to understand you need my services, precisely as much as I need your employ.

Full post, now.


HP 29/29, AC 17/12/15, F +8 R +4 W +0, Per +5, Init +2

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:

A little fearful for poor Theodric if we're all going to run this separately, but I'll play that way for now. If you want to combine things, go ahead.

A powerful, scarred gnoll weaves his way through the markets of Ipeq covered in a long, loose white robe. He idly pulls his kufiyya closer around his face and wrinkles his nose at the stench from the river. Around him, heads turn, trying to make sure they saw what they thought. A gnoll in Ipeq. Not a common sight and always something to be wary of.

So, Dahrehn thinks he has the perfect lead for me, eh? A pair of Pathfinders on a mission to Kelmarane. Never would have thought Sivanshakti would send me back to the Brazen Peaks this soon. Of course, it has been two years...time flies with the Pathfinders.

Ahead he spots a pair of northerners heading into the street bar, uncomfortable in their new desert clothes and shakes his head, a chattering laugh inadvertently escaping his jaw. New to the deserts. Must be my pair. At least they're not wearing black. His pace quickens and he is just behind them when he enters the bar.

A man is just showing them to a table and Ghostclaw slides quickly in beside them. "Greetings Pathfinders. Dahrehn sent me. I may be the one you seek."

Cheliax

HP: 16, AC: 13 (T:13, FF:10), F: +2, R: +6, W: +4, Per: 7, Init: 3

Theodric:
Brace yourself... We're about to get popular! Lol

Felliped has long dark hair tied back in a plait, his pale skin belies his Chelish heritage and he is well shaven and clean his face is marred however by a stitched wound on his forehead. Though he wears armour and has a sword at his hip a keen eye would soon see his awkwardness as he walks, the telling sign of someone not used to carrying arms.

Theodric wrote:
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Felliped. I will be accompanying you to Kelmarane. I'm an expert in local customs, and will ensure that any interactions we may have with the Pactmasters, or any local pathfinders goes well. I get the impression you are no stranger to adventure, which brings me a great deal of confidence. So, have you spent much time exploring Katapesh or the ruins of Kelmarane?"

" The pleasure is all mine Theodric but im afraid my warlike getup has given you great expectations. I've never been Katapesh at all, in fact this will be the first time I've left Cheliax! It's rather exciting. I have read extensively about the area and I speak the language. "

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:
Ghostclaw wrote:
A little fearful for poor Theodric if we're all going to run this separately, but I'll play that way for now. If you want to combine things, go ahead.

It is a little chaotic that's for sure, are we assuming that these meetings are happening at different times of the day or that all the applicants are coming to meet Felliped and Theodric after they have put the word around Ipeq that they need a guide?

Felliped is a young man of Chelish decent, he wears a long sleeved tunic made of an airy fabric and slightly thicker trousers the shirt almost white and the trousers a light brown. He has a Longsword hung from his belt but he carries it awkwardly bumping into things as he turns and slapping his calf as he walks. Though at first glance he looks like a common man he does have a sort of noble bearing. " Good day Zahir, " Felliped says shaking the mans hand in turn and taking his seat at the bar with Theodric. As Zahir goes through all the dangers of the journey Felliped listens distractedly looking about as much as he makes eye contact taking in the sights smells and sounds of the foriegn country. " You certainly seem to know your trade Zahir and we do need a man with plenty of fight in him. I am a little worried about this grudge with Gnolls, they are generally horrible beasts but what makes you hate them so that you would take any chance to fight them? "


Game Master

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
Yes, we will assume the different interviews happen at different times. Otherwise Zahir would have to jump Ghostclaw, with the other two perhaps not far behind. ;-) If we need a continuity for some reason, the meetings happen in the order they were posted, at an outdoor cafe and hookah bar attached to an inn called the Red Lion.


Garavel returns to the library to help with the cleanup efforts, while Valik and Father Zastoran go in search of Elois. They find him at the entrance to the chapel, staring distractedly at the remains of the pugwampi nest. Now that he is standing, he can be seen to be of average height, but quite thin. He is dressed in colorful robes of a loose Katapeshi cut, but decorated with colorful embroidered images in a Varisian style, reminiscent of the cards of a Harrow deck. The skin of his face is healed, but overly shiny, and traced with fine lines. Whatever he may have looked like before the fire, it seems it has marked him for life. He holds his hands wrapped in his sleeves.

He looks around blankly as the two approach, then turns back to the chapel, saying slowly, "Here is the domain of the Lady of Fire. The Healing Flame, they say. Ha. Ruined, all ruined." He draws his hands out from his robes and holds them in front of him inspecting them as though he does not know what they are. The scarring is even more severe; the hands appear darkened and withered, though it does not seem that they cause him any pain. He shakes his head a little, and turns back to Valik and Father Zastoran, eyes now focused, hands behind his back, and a wry smile on his face. "Ah. Excuse me. I was lost in thought. It has been... A little hard to adjust. But what can I do for you, Valik? Ask anything, and it is yours."


HP 29/29, AC 17/12/15, F +8 R +4 W +0, Per +5, Init +2

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:

Ghostclaw takes a closer look at the men. Yes, clearly not from here. They must be my potential Pathfinder charges. The gnoll seems to have a little trouble working his mouth around the Kelish words, occasionally beginning or ending a word with a bit of a growl or yip, "Theodric and Felliped, correct? Well, if you're going to gnoll country, who better to guide you than a gnoll, eh? At least, if you can trust him." The gnoll grins a wide, toothy smile showing perhaps a few too many teeth. "Allow me to introduce myself and my connection to Dahrehn. Then, you will understand." Ghostclaw sits back in his chair, a strange sight for a creature who looks like he would be more at home racing through the desert. You see his head and neck are horribly scarred and most of his mane is gone. Where the fur has grown back, it is uneven and patchy.

"I'm not sure how much you know of gnolls. In our peoples, the family is very important. The tribe is everything. I was born in the Wormhollow tribe. One of many gnoll tribes in the Brazen Peaks of western Katapesh. It was a good life. Our hyenas were strong. We had a powerful leader. I was a hunter and for a time, one of the favored in our tribe." His voice is strong and confident with fewer of the yips and barks you heard earlier.

"Then, Kikkling the Slight slew our leader in his sleep, an ignoble death for a gnoll." He lets out a low growl at the memory of Kikkling. "Our tribe changed, the favored changed from proud hunters to the sneaky, slippery sort that Kikkling preferred. It only grew worse when a new overking arrived and changed our ways of worship too. I fell out of favor and was eventually exiled." You get a sense of incredible anguish and sadness from this last.

"You understand...or perhaps you do not...that this is death for a gnoll. I began the Garrurwarr, the holy walk of death. And that brought me to Osirion, to Sinashakti, and to the Pathfinders. I expected to die in the desert. But instead, a vision from the Empyreal Lord Sinashakti guided not far from here. To an ancient ruin in the desert. He told me, my walk would not end, but that this was only the beginning. And when I woke up, it was Dahrehn and a small team of Pathfinders who saved me. It wasn't long before I had a chance to save them. And for the last two years, I have worked as a guide, a warior when needed, and a companion most of all. Most of my work has been with the Pathfinders, but I have worked with others as well. And I believe, perhaps, that I am meant to work with you. But, enough of my rambling. I am sure you have questions for me."


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

"Elois, the Flame can warm and heal. She can also burn something clean or destroy it. In your case, I hope that she was tempering you to a purpose, a higher calling, like a blade. But she is a goddess, to assume we can know her purpose before she shows it to us is would cause problems."

"More importantly though, how are you doing? Do your hands hurt? Can you use them? I know they look bad, but can you wear gloves to protect them?" Valik asks, concerned.


Hp 11 - Initiative +3 Perception +7 AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +2

Felliped and Theodric, Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:
Forgot to add my description when I came up. I would have taken the backpack off and set it to the side of the bar

Zahir is a solid 6'4 frame. He has sunbleached hair that looks like it would either be a dark blonde or light brown and bound in a leather strip down his back a few inches. His backpack has a scabbard of a great sword and flail attached. It appears to be easy for him to carry and packed with care. He has on a set of hot weather gear and bandoleir with 4 throwing axes across his chest.

Peace be with you, Felliped Offers his hand for a handshake.

After the handshake, Zahir answers by standing up and thinks for a moment before turning his gaze upon the Pathfinders. There seems to be a spark race across Zahir's eyes.

As potential employers, you have that right. My grudge with the gnolls is one of less than hatred but a desire to see them destroyed or hurt enough to have to change. My mother is a person who fights against slavery in a bad place so I have never met her. I have been informed about the gnolls and how they will take anyone or thing possible for selling.

I was a child when I killed my first gnoll. I was on the old caravan trail learning with my father. He happened to hear something which led to us finding the gnolls in a fight with a Roc. Such a magnificent bird. The size was a beauty to behold. There was another one there as well but looked as if had fallen a great distance. We were next to one of the tall mesas. There looked to have been some work building a way to climb up it. The gnolls were fighting for their lives as they knew they could not run.

The gnolls were doing more damage than should have because the roc seemed too crazed to defend itself. My father pointed out a few that were near a wagon. We move over and as this happen is when the gnolls seem to all pull out alchemist flasks and through on the roc. I lost it with grief to be honest with you. I just wanted to stop them. By the time it is over, the roc is dead and I am covered in the blood of the gnolls. My father was very saddened by this but does tell me I did well. I was very lucky. I was barely able to handle the sword that I used.

We check to find the one that looks to have fallen has landed on a few gnolls and is covered in a chain net with barbs in it. My father suspects the gnolls find the nest and used some way to sneak up. He speculates the roc rushed the gnolls that were up top and fell off. The other roc was likely the mate away hunting. There was a roc egg in the wagon. We brought it home though Father did not expect it to survive.

It did and hatched. We provided what we could and I tried to be a friend to it. My father told me something had happened though and the roc was severely unlikely to survive because it was not the size a roc should be even when born. I did not listen and bear a few scars of working with it. It has survived and lives near my home.

I was honest in that I do have a grudge with the gnolls. I have told you a personal story of why. My ability to survive though is tied to being what I am hired to do. I will not risk the safety of my employers or their items to satisfy this grudge. I would risk having to become a scavenger. I am willing to answer any questions you might have about hiring me.

I have tried to explain the desert and possible supplies. Let me know if you need any more information. There is a town still along the trail called the Bronze Hook. It has fallen on hard times with the caravan trains no longer going through. There is potential of using it to resupply but you need to understand it could be dangerous there. That is why I suggest being well equipped from leaving here.

The desert is not kind to anyone but if you respect it then you can find some of the world's most beautiful sites and disrespecting it can lead to you being another skeleton the sand covers up. I truly hope that you hire me as I would be very pleased in helping explore Kelmarane and possibly finding a way to re-open the caravan route.

Zahir is standing and trying to not be imposing while showing his true desire to be the guide needed. He goes into a stance with his hands behind him as Zahir waits for any more questions.

Grand Lodge

HP 15, AC 14/Touch 8/Flat-Foot 14, Fort 4/Ref -2/Will 7, Perception +8, Init -2

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:

I will ask a few initial questions which I expect everyone to answer. From there, if we have any additional personal questions we'll ask them one by one
"Alright, thank you for finding us. Now, I've got a few questions if you don't mind. I don't expect you to be long winded here, just be truthful. Once I'm done, feel free to ask any questions you might have"
  • 1."So, from what I hear, Kelmarane is a dangerous place. Tell me about your experience with Kelmarane, and what makes you qualified to guide us through such rough [and unknown territory]?"
  • 2."Do you have any creditors to which you are past due on payment?"
  • 3."Though I have absolutely no reason to expect something like this happening, would you hesitate to end someone's life to protect ours?"
  • 4."What languages are spoken in the region we are going to explore? Do you speak those languages?"

Now, I don't expect long, drawn out answers. Just show your personality and creativity here, and sell me on yourself


Hp 11 - Initiative +3 Perception +7 AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +2

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:
Kelmarane is rumored to be haunted. I have not been inside of it. I just pass near it on my route between Ipeq and Solku. There are gnolls near there but that is normal being near the Brazen Peaks which you can see to the southeast and northeast. The territory is not so much rough as it is a location that dangers can hide in. Sand is always challenging but rough would be if we encounter a sandstorm.

I do not spend what I do not have. I take my job very seriously whatever it may be. Whether just a courier or a guide and even at times a hunter, I work hard to make sure I do the work and get paid. I am a simple man. I will have a drink at times but no more than one. I avoid pesh and have no need for such things. The desert is my home and it is one that I can never disrespect in such a way.

It depends on the circumstances. Am I being hired as a guard and guide? I can not go against the law enforcers. I will defend you from them if they attack and you surrender. I see it different in the desert. It is most likely me being down myself if I am not stopping someone from attacking you. I will not kill unless necessary. I see no reason to expect this to happen but it is possible. I will defend your lives to the best of my ability.

I know Taldane as you can tell from the conversation. I also know Kelish. Gnoll is spoken by gnolls and I do not understand it. I have never spent time with someone to teach that to me. Gnolls that wish to talk though are likely going to speak Taldane. I was told most gnolls feel it beneath them to learn another language.

There is also Osiriani, Vudrani, and Tien also spoken. I do not know any of these either. I use Taldane since it is the language of trade and that is what I do. I trade my services for pay.

Is there any other questions you have need answered? I am curious on how well you are outfitted for a desert journey if I may inquire?


Female Human HP 22, AC 17/13/14, FRW:+5/+6/+2, Perception +6, Init +4

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:
"Kelmarane is a ghost town, ruins... Why would you want to go there? Everyone knows there was a plague and the Pactmasters decided to cut their losses and abandon the place. Unless you know something I don't... waste of time.

She runs her hand through her black hair, thinking.

The area around it. Getting there and getting back, that can be rough... badlands. Bandits, gnolls and the gods know what. If your money's good, I don't care where you need to go. I'll get you there and back.

I'm a tracker and a scout, I've studied gnolls... See, the held me as a slave for years, when I was younger. Made me a runner, so I know how they operate, their tricks. I'm a survivor." Vonna indicates the trio of scars across nearly half her face.

"And unlike many others..." Vonna taps her bow and runs a finger along the exposed length of a javelin. "...I aim to make sure any danger is dealt with before it reaches you."

"I don't owe anyone anything. Money nor favors."

"Trust goes both ways. You pay me for guidance, protection... You don't betray my trust. I keep you alive. Are you a man of your word? If you are, there will be no issues."

"I speak Common, Kelish and Gnoll... that should cover most of it. I am a quick study... if you will teach, I will learn another language."

"My questions, the usual... how many people are coming? What are their skill sets, how many days are we intending to be out? We'll need enough provisions. What do you consider fair compensation?"

"One final thing... Anyone touches me, I have the right to castrate them and feed them their balls." The young woman smiles sweetly.


HP 29/29, AC 17/12/15, F +8 R +4 W +0, Per +5, Init +2

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:

As Theodric asks about Kelmarane, Ghostclaw's ears twitch up and forward. When the man finishes, the gnoll responds, "The truth is that I have not been to the area around Kelmarane for two years. I grew up in those lands and know them well. However, things may change quickly. My own tribe was stable for many years and then changed in a matter of weeks."

Ghostclaw pauses for a moment to let that sink in and then continues, "I know the desert and highlands. I know how to find food if we hunger and water if we thirst. I know how to stay hidden and help you do the same. And I know how to adapt when we are faced with uncertainty. In the last two years I have helped protect and lead group through many areas I knew less well than the Brazen Peaks. You would be in good hands."

When Theodric asks his question about debts, Ghostclaw lets out a short bark, "For two years I have served the walker of worlds. What you see is what I carry. Debts are a burden that I do not wish to bear."

As Theodric asks about a willingness to kill, Ghostclaw's head moves up and down in a slow nod and he responds, "I never seek a fight, but when I fight, I win. No matter what it takes. I am a gnoll. I made my first kill before my third summer. For you to complete your mission, you must survive. I take protecting my charges seriously. I have never lost one and I do not plan to start now."

The wolfish smile reappears as Theodric asks about languages, "There are two languages you need in western Katapesh. The first is Kelish and we would be unable to conduct this interview if we didn't both speak it. The second..." Ghostclaw responds with a series of barks, yips, growls and an occasional hiss through his teeth. "Your guide should speak gnoll. Pray we do not meet a large group. But if we meet smaller groups or individuals, I will be able to help."

He surveys both Theodric and Felliped for a moment to see if they have other questions before continuing. "Thank you for asking. I do have a few questions of my own. First, what do you seek in Kelmarane? Pathfinders often seek dangerous relics and we often have challenges greater than the surrounding area to deal with. What can you tell me of your mission so I can be prepared. Second, tell me of your own skills. A good guide knows not only the land, but knows what his charges are good at and where they are weak. Help me understand how we would work together as a group."


Elois listens to Valik's words, nodding slightly. His eyes seem to focus past Valik, He continues the nodding a little too long after Valik finishes his question.

"Oh! Yes. I mean, no. No, they don't hurt, and I can move them. Father Zastoran's potions have made sure of that." He holds up one hand and wiggles the fingers slowly, awkwardly. "They are a little weak still though." He shrugs, "Time will tell, even if the Dawnflower holds her tongue..." He trails off, and his faraway look returns for a moment, and then he snaps back into focus, looking with surprise at the bundled tent in Valik's arms, as though he hadn't noticed it at all before. Perhaps he hadn't. "What's in the bundle? You hold it like it's a viper."

Osirion

Human Ranger (Infiltrator) 2 AC 18/12/16 / HP 22 / F +6 R +5 W +1 / Init. +2 / Perc. +6)

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:

Though the clouds of smoke and muted din of conversation Ali flashed the priest and his companion an ivory smile from across the table. "Forgive me, but the reputation of Pathfinders proceeds you both. As I said before, my name is Ali Al'Zahrid. Would you give me the honor of your names?" Seeing the mint tea and hummus arrive Ali places a dinnar on the table and bows his head in prayer before wiping off his dust covered hands and deftly pouring three glasses.

"My friends, Ipeq is not so small a city that your arrival went unnoticed. Anyhow, I have acted as a guide before between here and Katapesh and I was told by the merchants league you were seeing the employ of a man such as me. Furthermore, if I'm being honest, I am sure that I am not the first to approach you, nor do I suspect the last. Its the nature of such things. I'm not sure if you are aware but we are quickly approaching the dry season. Oasis waypoints along the route begin to try up and caravans grind to a halt. So right now, it is as you would say a "buyers market". So the question I suppose is what can I bring to the expedition?  

Putting his thoughts in order Ali reaches into a satchel and withdraws some paper, ink and a quill. "If you want to reach  Kelmarane from Ipeq, this is the route we would have to travel." Gripping the quill in rough hands Ali sketches the route. "As you can see the route would take us though the Brazen Peaks. This is unfortunate as the route is not considered safe. Lately there have been increasing attacks from Gnoll bands along the passes. I can tell you that I am quite familiar with Gnoll tactics. I even speak their language. Speaking of languages I also speak kelish and common. This will be enough to suffice throughout the region. I feel I should also warn you that there have been rumors of the various Gnoll tribes uniting under a new tribal lord. Supposedly this Gnoll is referred to as the Carrion King. It's hard to say if this is more than then just the usual rumors, however the amount of  Gnoll raids along the Brazen Peaks have increased, and that's a fact . "

Finishing the tea Ali refills his cup and continues. "Onto your questions. First off I have no debts. I am well spoken of throughout the merchant league and have a well deserved reputation as a guide and scout for caravans. In the desert a man's word is his honor. Would I defend you? In all honesty it depends on your actions. I would of course protect you in a raid or from aggressors, however if you acted unlawfully or in a dishonorable manner then I could not in good faith assist. Though as a priest of Abadar I suspect that is unlikely." Ali chuckles at the thought of a dishonest priest of Abadar and leans back in his chair.

Speaking of honesty, I can tell you that I can get you to  Kelmarane, but I don't have a lot of information on the town itself." With a sigh Ali leans forward toward Felliped and holds up a calluses covered hand and begins to tick off facts. " Kelmarane was abandoned a few decades back. It's largely considered a ghost town, but before it was abandoned something happened. Maybe it was a religious schism, or some sort of curse fell on the town. I hate to say it, but every few years you hear something like this happening. Occasionally it will be a cursed artifact uncovered by the sands, or it could simply have been attacks from a hostile tribe. 

But... 

I do have contacts among the local nomads that roam the area. My tribe was from the area, and I still know some people. Once we get closer I can set you up a meeting with people who have visited the area recently. Trust me, you'll need a local contact if you want the nomads to talk. They can be a closed mouth bunch, and slow to talk unless they know you." 

Looking back to Theodric, Ali smiles. "We are lucky to have a priest of Abadar along for the trip. I have seen priests of your order create water simply with a prayer. This is useful indeed during the dry season. Still, I would recommend we purchase several camels if you don't already own them, some hot weather clothing and at least two weeks of food, just to be safe." 

Seeing that the tea pot is empty Ali frowns. An expensive luxury, but necessary, and being gracious can be its own reward, praise Sarenrae. "So, Felliped, Theodric, I have answered your questions. Now I have a few. What are the terms of the contract? Will this be a long term guide, or do you need me to simply get you to Kelmarane? What is your overall timeframe for the trip? I could get you there faster, but that means we would need to purchase remounts for you, also do you have any other questions for me?" 


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

Valik kneels on the floor and carefully unwraps the blade, cradling it in the fabric of the tent.

"This...called out to me, or I was directed by Sarenrae to find it...I don't know. When I picked it up, it attempted to attach itself to me. I am not sure if it would be permanent or not, and I really didn't want to lop off my nose when I tried to scratch my beard."

"Anyways, the Father suggested that I ask you to take a look at it. Please don't touch it though."


Game Master

Theodric and Felliped:
Some more back story: From Westcrown to Sothis, you traveled by ship, then in Sothis you caught a riverboat which took you up the River Sphinx, and then it's tributary the River Crook, to Ipeq, where the shallows preclude farther river travel. You need to go a different direction than the river from here, anyway. So this is the first leg of the trip where you will be traveling by land.

You have wisely left enough gold to pay for your passage back down the river at the Bank of Abadar in Ipeq, and for your ship back to Westcrown at the Bank of Abadar in Sothis. Thus, your means of return cannot be entirely ruined by bandits in the desert. Aside from your personal gold, you have "enough" gold to buy whatever supplies your guide recommends, plus pay them 50 gp. If you want to also offer them a cut of the treasure, that's up to you. ;-) Also see below.

As far as the mission details, your expectation is that you will only need to spend a few days in Kelmarane; finding the temple should be easy, getting in might take a while, and then you'll have to take various notes, make rubbings of carvings, sketch things, carefully pack up delicate artifacts, etc.


Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
The point of this scene is characterization, not trip planning. Don't worry too much about gear and plans for the trip to Kelmarane. I know, recommending gear is part of the characterization of a guide, and that's fine, but don't get in to actually worrying about the gear. I'm not going to make you actually play through the trip, and all that stuff is going to be lost anyways. You will start actual play in or around Kelmarane, without any gear. You will eventually be able to recover some of what you pack for the expedition... And that amount is exactly what you have written on your character sheets.

Hunters:
The trip to Kelmarane is about 120 miles as the crow flies, or 150 as you actually walk it. It is mostly rocky desert and hills, with a caravan road that is not as well-used these days as it once was; banditry has taken its toll on trade. On horse- or camel-back, you can cover about 30 miles a day in those conditions, so it should take 5 days to get there. 8 days if you walk. This is mostly for your background, so you can imagine what sort of trip you are signing on for. You don't need to repeat it.

Also, don't make too big a deal about Kelmarane itself being dangerous. It's rumored among the local gnolls and nomads to be haunted, sure... But every abandoned city, town, or building in western Katapesh is rumored to be haunted. Within 5 miles of Kelmarane, there's also a haunted monastery, a haunted shrine, a haunted waterfall, and a haunted watch tower... Or so the rumors say. It's in dangerous country, but the gnolls mostly stay away (because it's haunted), and you've never heard of anyone or anything else that is there. As far as you're concerned, it's the journey that is likely to be dangerous.

As players, you obviously know that when the GM sends a group of Pathfinders to an abandoned town in gnoll country, which is rumored to be haunted, it's not actually an empty, safe abandoned town. It's actually haunted, or overrun with gnolls, or an illusion covering up a portal to another plane, or SOMETHING! Otherwise where's the adventure? We all know I'm setting you up; but remember, this is all backstory, and what happens in the backstory is you go to the town, expecting it to not be particularly dangerous, and you get captured.

Osirion

Human Ranger (Infiltrator) 2 AC 18/12/16 / HP 22 / F +6 R +5 W +1 / Init. +2 / Perc. +6)

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:

I hope these men value honesty. Some, even priests
are not willing to face hard truths when the time comes.
 

Still sitting across the table from Felliped and Theodric, Ali muses for a moment, attempting to judge the character of his potential clients. "I hope you both won't consider this too blunt, but I think it's best to be clear in our understanding of each other. The desert, all deserts in fact can be very dangerous. Based on your bearings and accents I assume you have not traveled this far south of the inner sea." 

Attempting to disarm the pathfinders with another honest smile, Ali continues. Gods I hope they don't take offense. "If you hire me, during the trip I need you to listen to my advice and direction. I'm sorry if I offended you, but I cannot be more clear on this point. There are whipfangs, stone snakes and worse in the dunes and those are only the minor threats. Men die every day from inattention in the land of the eternal sun. It's a land that must be respected, or you will regret it. Perhaps it would help if I gave you an example?" 

Ali watches the men nod at the offer of a tale and taking a deep breath begins. "Have you ever heard the story of The Fisherman and the Jinni ? No? Very well, this is a legend I was taught by my keeper of the flames. I have not told it in years. I warn you it is a long tale and we will need more tea."

"Long ago, before the coming of the Inner Sea, in a land far away there was an old, poor fisherman who cast his net four times a day and only four times. One day he went to the shore and cast his net. When he tried to pull it up, he found it to be heavy. When he dove in and pulled up the net, he found a dead donkey in it. Then he cast his net again and netted a pitcher full of dirt. Then he cast his net for a third time and netted shards of pottery and glass. On his fourth and final try, he called upon the name of Sarenrae and cast his net. When he pulled it up he found a copper lamp with a cap that had a golden seal of on it. The fisherman was overjoyed, since he could sell the lamp and seal for money. He was curious of what was inside the lamp, and removed the seal with his knife. A plume of smoke came out of the lamp and condensed into an Ifrit. The fisherman was frightened, although initially the Ifirit did not notice him. The Ifirif thought that Sarenrae had come to kill him. When the fisherman told him that Sarenrae had not been seen in the land for many years the Ifirit was overjoyed and granted the fisherman a choice of the manner of his death.

The Ifirit explained that for the first hundred years of his imprisonment, he swore to enrich the person who freed him forever. For the second century of his imprisonment, he swore to grant his liberator great wealth, but nobody freed him. After another century, he swore to grant three wishes to the person who freed him, yet nobody did so. After four hundred years of imprisonment, the Jinnee became enraged and swore to grant the person who freed him a choice of deaths.

The fisherman pleaded for his life, but the Ifirit would not concede. The fisherman decided to trick the Ifirit. He asked the Ifirit how he managed to fit into the lamp. The Ifirit, eager to show off, shrank and placed himself back into the lamp to demonstrate his abilities. The fisherman quickly put the cap back on and threw the lamp back to the sea." 

Looking up into the eyes of the Pathfinders, Ali takes a slow sip of tea, whetting his parched throat after the long story. "The moral of the story my friends is that pride can lead even the smartest, even the strongest into ruin. In our own ways we are all the Ifirit." 

Lost in his memory's for a moment the room goes quiet around Ali as he blocks everything out. I wonder if there will ever be another flame keeper to tell that story again. Blinking away the past, Ali looks back to Felliped and Theodric. "I hope you both liked that tale, it was one of my favorites as child."You know Ali, that might just tempt them. "Actually now that I think about it, I do have something unique to offer you both. If you care to take me on as a guide, I'll share with you my tribes stories. Your pathfinders, you collect unique tales... chronicles I believe. Well my stories were passed from nomad to nomad. I would say that you could find another flame keeper to tell you our stories, except I am the only one left." 

If nothing else Ali, this might be a chance for your tribes stories to not be forgotten... 

Cheliax

HP: 16, AC: 13 (T:13, FF:10), F: +2, R: +6, W: +4, Per: 7, Init: 3

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711: Vonna the Huntress:
Vonna wrote:
"Kelmarane is a ghost town, ruins... Why would you want to go there? Everyone knows there was a plague and the Pactmasters decided to cut their losses and abandon the place. Unless you know something I don't... waste of time. "

" Well Vonna, we would like to collect any items of archaeological value from the town itself and the nearby temple. "

Vonna wrote:
" I'm a tracker and a scout, I've studied gnolls... See, the held me as a slave for years, when I was younger. Made me a runner, so I know how they operate, their tricks. I'm a survivor. "

A look of sorrow passes over Felliped's face as Vonna briefly mentions her enslavement to the Gnolls This woman must have incredible inner strength

Vonna wrote:
" My questions, the usual... how many people are coming? What are their skill sets, how many days are we intending to be out? We'll need enough provisions. What do you consider fair compensation? "

" It would be just the three of us, I have a basic understanding of swordplay, a great interest in mechanical contraptions and i am well studied in quite a few areas of knowledge. We will need to spend a few days in Kelmarane and one or two in the temple. I'll let Theodric answer your query of compensation. "

Vonna wrote:
" One final thing... Anyone touches me, I have the right to castrate them and feed them their balls." The young woman smiles sweetly.

At these final words Felliped's jaw drops a little and he doesn't know where to look " Well, uh, yes... It was great to meet you Vonna " moving to shake hands before what he's doing sinks in and he quickly withdraws his hand back to his side. " Er sorry... "

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711: Ghostclaw:
As the gnoll approaches and addresses Felliped by name the pale dark haired Chelish man is fearful and starts fumbling for the sword at his side... However you have plenty of time to explain your connection to the pathfinders before he even grasps the hilt and it's not long before Felliped is hanging on every word of the story of your exile his sword forgotten. " An amazing tale Ghostclaw! Quite fascinating, your tribal culture. I would love to learn more of it on the road if we hire you. " he says with an honest warm smile.

Felliped listens quietly as Ghostclaw answers Theodric's questions nodding along " The more you speak the more I can see the wisdom of your words. Who better to guide us through the brazen peaks than a gnoll indeed. "

Ghostclaw wrote:
" I do have a few questions of my own. First, what do you seek in Kelmarane? Pathfinders often seek dangerous relics and we often have challenges greater than the surrounding area to deal with."

" I'm not sure how dangerous they will be but yes, we are to collect any items of archaeological value from Kelmarane and the nearby temple "

Ghostclaw wrote:
" What can you tell me of your mission so I can be prepared. Second, tell me of your own skills. A good guide knows not only the land, but knows what his charges are good at and where they are weak. Help me understand how we would work together as a group. "

" I have a basic understanding of swordplay, a great interest in mechanical contraptions and i am well studied in quite a few areas of knowledge. "


Female Human HP 22, AC 17/13/14, FRW:+5/+6/+2, Perception +6, Init +4

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:
"Sorry about that, I'm used to caravans, where most aren't so civil and some treat women as second class citizens... or worse, property. A handshake or armclasp is fine."

Vonna extends her hand and arm.


HP 29/29, AC 17/12/15, F +8 R +4 W +0, Per +5, Init +2

Ipeq, 22 Desnus 4711:

Ghostclaw smiles as Felliped expresses his interest in the gnoll culture, "I would be happy to share these tales on the road Felliped. After living with humans these last two years, it has been very interesting to see the differences...and similarities in our cultures. But, I haven't had a companion who took such interest to talk about them."

When Felliped comments on the value of a gnoll guide, Ghostclaw responds with a strong, short yip before continuing, "Thank you for the compliment Felliped. It would make me very happy to join you on the journey if you were to select me."

As the conversation turns to the mission, "Interesting. So it sounds like we will have a couple locations to explore. I'm sure we could make a suitable camp in one location or the other once I help scout things out. Fortunately, the ruined town is far enough from the Peaks that we should be safe from major gnoll predation, but we may still have to deal with scouts or hunters. It doesn't sound as if you are seeking any dangerous artifacts as Pathfinders sometimes do."

And when Felliped explain his talents, Ghostclaw bares his teeth in a tight-lipped smile, "Good. I will do my best to keep us from any fights, but it never hurts to have someone who can handle themselves in an emergency. I would be happy to work with you on your swordplay on the road. Your talent with mechanics is good to hear. I do not have skills in that area and it is possible that the places you seek could be trapped. This fascination with knowledge is still new to me. It seems to be of great interest to many of you Pathfinders."

He pauses for a moment to ask, "How about lands you have traveled in? Will this be your first time in desert or highlands?"


Elois peers at the scimitar. "Directed... by Sarenrae... to..." He turns around abruptly, looking back to the ruined altar and mosaic sun. He clears his throat and turns back. "Ah, yes, it does have something of Her light about it, doesn't it. I... am afraid I don't have much knowledge of swords, but... If it as significant as you suggest, perhaps we can learn something about it from the cards. The--" He breaks off, and his face falls. "No, no," he says softly, "The cards burned." He looks glumly down at the sword, his blackened fingers twitching. "Well... The crystal ball then," he offers, "It, at least, could not burn." He pats a bulging pouch at his belt.

"But... Not here I think." He gestures down into the nave, where animals are milling about as Hadrod and Hadrah unpack the expedition's gear, and the guards and mercenaries come in and out hauling bedding and equipment. The gesture also encompasses the chapel behind him. "Somewhere quieter, smaller. Let's see... The room with the colorful pictures, I think. It is pleasantly out of the way, and it reminds me of home." He gestures for Father Zastoran and Valik to precede him.

The three borrow some cushions from the pile of gear in the nave, and are soon seated in a triangle in the northeast shrine, with the scimitar on the unrolled tent between them. The air is thick with incense, which the fortune teller procured from somewhere.

He removes the crystal ball from its pouch and gazes into it, and begins to speak in a droning monotone, "I see... a fog, and walking out of the fog, a man. A young man, with hair the color of the sun. He is..." his grip on the ball tightens, and his eyes widen, and his voice drops the monotone and takes on a note of panic.

"Flames! Flames all around, it burns, it burns! They are snakes, they are giants, with their wicked faces, their swords, their spears, their knives, their flames! The mountain... The mountain! It is in the mountain. But the flames, the flames, all around the flames!"

"He is fighting the flames, fighting to reach... the mountain. Around him his men are cut down, they fall, burned, burned, burned! He fights on, but he is weak. His sword flashes in the flames, it is a shard of ice, and they fall before it, but there are more, more, always more flames! They consume, they destroy! He falls, and the flames consume him, his sword lies in the ash, but he cannot rest. The mountain... The mountain... Always, he looks to the mountain! He watches it! Its heart burns still, and the flames will come again! They burn everything!"

"Ah! They burn! All around me, the flames! It is burning, burning! The wagon is burning! The wagon is burning! I AM BURNING!"

At this last, the crystal ball drops from his hands to the floor. He looks around him, lost in terror, blackened hands held rigid in the air, shivering. His breath comes in gasps. "I... I... I don't understand. It never... I saw..."


Hp: 15/21; AC:15/10/15; Perc +7; Init +0

Valik sits with mouth agape.

"Well that was more exciting than I expected. Hmmm. So the sword, and the spirits here are all focused on Pale Mountain. I know that I dreamed of something on the mountain waking up. It could be that whatever woke up attacked you...that makes a certain sense. Elois, I wonder if you were not attacked, vs an accident. If your powers let the fire things, the fire snakes attack you? I guess we will not know anytime soon."

Valik shrugs then looks at the sword. "I still don't trust this blade. It attempted to bind itself to me. Good things do not do that. The Lady is about people making the right choice to fight back against the darkness, not binding them to a path."

Valik rolls the blade back up in the tent, tying it tight. He then stands up and offers a hand to Elois to help him up.

"Thank you Elois, for looking for me. What you saw...it means that my dreams were true dreams. A great evil is rising at Pale Mountain. I think that as soon as I am done here, I will have to head that way, at least to find out what is rising..."

"But back to the matters at hand. I need to get the mercenaries arranged, supplies bought and then we need to wait on a bird..."

What are the prices for rations like?

Cheliax

HP: 16, AC: 13 (T:13, FF:10), F: +2, R: +6, W: +4, Per: 7, Init: 3

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711: Ali Al'Zarid:
Ali wrote:
" Forgive me, but the reputation of Pathfinders proceeds you both. As I said before, my name is Ali Al'Zahrid. Would you give me the honor of your names?"

" Of course, I am Felliped Leroung " Felliped says Looking with interest at the Hommus and the mint tea as Ali pours it. He tries a bit of the beige paste but finding it not at all to his liking he quickly tries the tea to wash the taste from his mouth Ooo that's not bad

Enjoying the foriegn atmosphere of the tea house Felliped listens casually as Ali answers Theodric's questions " You seem to have good information on the Gnolls of Brazen peaks and you contacts with the Nomads could prove invaluable for information and help if we run into trouble in the desert.
Ali wrote:
Seeing that the tea pot is empty Ali frowns. An expensive luxury, but necessary, and being gracious can be its own reward, praise Sarenrae. [B] "So, Felliped, Theodric, I have answered your questions. Now I have a few. What are the terms of the contract? Will this be a long term guide, or do you need me to simply get you to Kelmarane? What is your overall timeframe for the trip? I could get you there faster, but that means we would need to purchase remounts for you, also do you have any other questions for me? "

"Ah! " Felliped sighs with refreshment after draining the last of his tea. He notices Ali looking at the empty pot. I hope it's ok that I drank so much, it certainly was refreshing "uh Thankyou for the tea I can see why it is popular, it's very refreshing. We don't expect this to take to long, A few days in and around the town should do. It's more about getting there and back. "

Quote:

Still sitting across the table from Felliped and Theodric, Ali muses for a moment, attempting to judge the character of his potential clients. " I hope you both won't consider this too blunt, but I think it's best to be clear in our understanding of each other. The desert, all deserts in fact can be very dangerous. Based on your bearings and accents I assume you have not traveled this far south of the inner sea. "

Attempting to disarm the pathfinders with another honest smile, Ali continues. Gods I hope they don't take offense. " If you hire me, during the trip I need you to listen to my advice and direction. I'm sorry if I offended you, but I cannot be more clear on this point. There are whipfangs, stone snakes and worse in the dunes and those are only the minor threats. Men die every day from inattention in the land of the eternal sun. It's a land that must be respected, or you will regret it. Perhaps it would help if I gave you an example?" 

Felliped smiles " of course I will give your advice the greatest attention while we are traveling. Though I have read a great deal about arid wastelands I know that my book knowledge would be of little help compared with your expertise. However please tell your tale. "

Felliped listens to the tale of the Fisherman with a smile on his face enjoying it immensely even the moral could not wipe away his smile I mustn't trust to much in my own knowledge. I'd hate for my pride to be my fall after such a tale

Ali wrote:
" I hope you both liked that tale, it was one of my favorites as child. Actually now that I think about it, I do have something unique to offer you both. If you care to take me on as a guide, I'll share with you my tribes stories. Your pathfinders, you collect unique tales... chronicles I believe. Well my stories were passed from nomad to nomad. I would say that you could find another flame keeper to tell you our stories, except I am the only one left."

" Really?! You are a veritable treasure Ali. I loved it. How many of these tales do you know? "


Father Zastoran sits in awe-struck silence throughout Elois's performance. When it is over, he gets up as quickly as his old legs will allow, and rushes to the fortune teller. "Elois, Elois! It's alright! Why don't you come with me; here, lean on my staff. That's right, there you go. I'll take you to my wagon, and you can lie down for a bit. No, no, don't argue, doctor's orders, you know!" He guides Elois away, the fortune-teller meekly going along. As they leave, Zastoran shoots Valik a meaningful look, but what it means isn't immediately clear.

After a few minutes, he finds Valik again, and says, "Well, Elois is resting now. I must say, Valik my lad, if I had known it would be like that, I wouldn't have suggested you take the sword to him. I've seen his fortune-telling before. That stuff at the beginning was it: figure in the mist, and all that. It sounds meaningful when he says it, but when you think about it afterwards, there's not much really in it. I'm not saying Elois is a... a charlatan, or anything like that. He believes it as much as anyone, and I suppose it gives comfort to some. But this today, it was different. He wasn't in control, and he was scared. I'd say that might have been our Elois's first true vision. And you say you've been having them too, and never before? I think you'll agree, that seems like too much to be a coincidence. Your Lady Sarenrae may be taking a personal interest in our mission here, though I can't imagine we're doing anything that important. Or, and this is what's troubling, maybe the visions are coming from somewhere else." The old priest chuckles. "Well, there I go, getting all dramatic. The gods will do as they will, and it's rare that we can understand their plans. The priesthood of Nethys understands that better than any; our god is mad, after all! Well, I'll leave you to your birdwatching. I'm going to go work on scrubbing out that laboratory."


Game Master

Garavel's prices are 10% over the normal listed prices, due to the expense of transportation.
Anything else to do before the bird comes?

Grand Lodge

HP 15, AC 14/Touch 8/Flat-Foot 14, Fort 4/Ref -2/Will 7, Perception +8, Init -2

Ipeq, 22 Dresnus 4711:

Vonna the Huntress wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

As Theodric listens to Vonna, he becomes fascinated by her distant personality, strong mannerisms, earth worn body, and womanly figure. Without breaking eye contact for more than a second or two at a time, Theodric wonders to himself:

"In another life this woman could have been a princess. There is just too much going on behind her eyes to deduce much about her right now. Everyone unravels sooner or later."

When Vonna speaks about trust, Theodric replies after she pauses:
"Yes, I am a man of my word.".
Theodric maintains strong eye contact, watching and observing for whatever reaction Vonna has to his response.

Working off Felliped: "Compensation. The agreement is very simple and straightforward. I shall pay you 40% up front, and 60% upon completion and safe return, which comes to 20 and 30 gp, for a grand total of 50 gp. This is non-negotiable, but I'm always discuss the terms. Any resources deemed necessary shall be provided by our company, and will not be of burden to you. To answer your question, fair shall be determined by your capability."

To her last response "If all goes as planned, we shall be second class citizens behind your expertise. I know that you can take care of yourself, and I understand that you have expectations of our conduct. By Abadar, the maltreatment of any innocent within my stewardship shall not be tolerated. Among us, you are equal"

Ghostclaw wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

At the opportune time, Theodric will go over the basic terms of agreement with Ghostclaw.

Theodric is strangly un-intimidated by the Gnoll, although respectful of his reputation and ability. Listening intently and engaging the Gnoll, Theodric shows an immediate trust and interest in Ghostclaw.

"I must be on a different plane, since when do Gnoll's communicate amongst humans with such eloquence?"

"I am a dedicated student to the Stewardship of Abadar, and shall use my expertise to offer as much protection as I can to my partner, and any associate who travels with our company. I do carry a weapon around, though sadly it is only for show... customary really.

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