Veklen sits for a moment listening to his old friend's story, head down. I was also a student at the Acadamae. And friends with Dreqar and aquainted with Vensi. After she died, I was arrested. Lamm had found an old fisherman to point the finger at me. Veklen's face twists into a snarl before he continues. Eventually one of my friends was able to convince him to tell the truth but before he could make an official testimony about how Lamm had bullied him into it, he disappeared. Veklen stops. He looks at Arianna. And your brother was framed for it just as I was. While not as completely as your brother, I too lost my life.
As the two girls start panicking Veklen looks around warrily for a moment. Soon though, he looks at the girls. I did a lot of checking on this place before I came today. Near as I can tell, it's only connected to a woman who has some skill with harrow. So for now, I'd say calm down. It's just now sunset. Most of you arrived rather early. I'd bet Zellara will be here soon.
And right on cue...
The brisk draft followed quickly by the sound of a door being hurriedly shut announce the arrival of an eighth. When she walks into the room, her face lights up with a smile and a laugh.
"Ah, you all made it. Please have a seat. I hope that I haven't kept you long. My errands in town took much longer than I thought."
She's an attractive, middle-aged woman of Varisian descent, her dark hair is tied back by a bright scarf. Her cheeks are flushed from the cold night air. She takes the last seat and pulls out a deck of cards that has the same design, sans writing, as on the back of the cards you all have. She shuffles the cards and you see the cards you all had fly over here hands with several others that Arianna recognizes before the fold back into the dance of cards and hands. Finally, she stops and leaves the deck on her table.
“Thank you for coming, my friends, and for putting up with my unconventional method of contacting you. I have reason to remain hidden, you see—a terrible man would see great harm done to me if he knew I was reaching out for help. This is a man you know, for he has done something terrible to each of you as well. I speak, of course, of Gaedren Lamm, a man whose cruelty and capacity to destroy the lives of those he touches are matched only by his gift for avoiding reprisal. You see, a year ago, his thieves stole this, my Harrow deck, from me. It is important to me, an heirloom passed down through a dozen generations, and also my sole means of support. When pickpockets stole it, my son, Eran, tracked them down. The thieves were in the employ of Gaedren Lamm, and in reward for finding them, Gaedren murdered my son.
“I sought help from the Guard, but they turned me away. And so I asked around. I paid bribes. I consulted my Harrow deck for advice. And recently, I was rewarded—I found out where Gaedren dwells. He can be found in an old fishery north of here at Westpier 17, where he trains his abducted children to be pickpockets and counts his stolen treasures.
“And now, I need your help. I cannot hope to face this man on my own, and the Guard moves so slowly that if I were to go to them, Gaedren would certainly know of their coming well in advance. Even if they did arrest him—what guarantee would I have he would be punished? This criminal has evaded the law for decades. But you know of these frustrations as well, for word on the street has it that Gaedren has wronged each of you, too. So there we are. It is time for him to pay.”
She looks at each of you, pleading wordlessly for your help.
Okay, now things get interesting :)
Arianna's expression had eased after Dreqar's explanation and apology, but now grows particularly cold hearing Zellara's story.
"Westpier 17? You are sure this is where this monster lives? I will not speak for the others, but I will do what I can to see that Lamm meets the fate he deserves."
A small smile crosses the young woman's face as she says, "I could do no less for a fellow practitioner of the Harrow."
Veklen looks over his companions, appraising them. His eyes linger longest on the woman who has been silent most of this time. Her sleight frame and clouded eyes make him wonder how useful she would be in a fight. Finally he nods and says, I want Lamm to meet justice more than anything. I will join you for this task. Veklen turns back to Zellara, How did you find this information?
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
Having been silent as the group gathered, Theanna watched Zellara with what would be an intent stare. "It's time he realizes what his actions have done. I'll go as well. Your information will bring justice for many," she says to Zellara, motioning to the occupants of the room quite obviously.
Lowering her blade Mercy watches the Varisian woman intently as she tells them her tale;
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Old Fishery... makes sense for the rat to find a new bolt hole...
Mercy tries to recall anything of note from her mis-spent about that area and Westpier in particular...
Knowledge: Local: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
Still stern faced, Mercy nods her agreement at the others words;
"Lamm owes us all. One way or another he shall be held accountable for his crimes... May the light of Dawnflower guide us all in this task..."
Kishta remains wary as the fortune-teller enters the room, but calms quickly once she begins speaking. She listens intently to Zellara's tale and the others' enthusiastic responses.
"Count me in. But as far as I'm concerned the priority isn't vengeance, it's rescuing as many of his children as we can. Maybe even Waydon's son."
You know that Westpier is a street that runs parallel to the Jeggare River. Westpier 17 is north of where you are currently at and was abandoned ten years ago.
"Thank you all. I do not know if he has you son, good sir, but I know that some of the children are there during the day. I understand that you wish to leave and deliver justice to this man, but if you could entertain an eccentric for a bit longer, I'd like to give you a gift. Perhaps you," she directs her attention to Arianna, "could tell them how much a Harrow reading is worth. This is my gift to you."
Once again the cards begin to dance around her hands as she shuffles them.
Arianna nods in acknowledgement of Zellara's words before briefly addressing the others in the room.
"The reading will not take very long. If performed by a skilled praticioner of the Harrow, as I suspect Mistress Zellara is, it could prove to be very beneficial to us. I would highly suggest we wait for the reading to be completed."
Mercy stands impassively;
The warrior is too eager... too edgy. The other orc-blood too blunt...
"Please. Conduct your reading, if it provides an augury of our quest, then it is more than worth our time."
"Very well then." Nine cards are spread on the table before you. "Every Harrow has two parts, this is the first, known as The Choosing. The card you draw shows you what role you'll play."
She waits for the seven of you to each pick a card from the table.
Okay, there are two ways that this can be done. You can roll to choose your card, or you can pick a number 1-9. If someone already got a card you picked or rolled, pick or roll again.
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After Dreqar chooses his card, Zellara looks at each of them in turn.
Dreqar's card has a picture of a mountainside covered by falling rocks and snow.
"A troubling card. Your role in the things to come is one that not many would envy. You have two paths before you. One will lead to disaster. The other will lead you to being a savoir. Choose wisely, and choose well, young magus. The fate of thousands are in your hands."
Theanna's card shows a flock of crows perched over a field of the dead, obviously slain in battle.
"I'm afraid that your role is no easier. Much like Dreqar, the fate of many lies in your hands. A poor choice, a wrong turn, a lapse in judgement could see many lose loved ones. But, making the right choice will stop the coming slaughter."
Mercy's card depicts a horned devil holding a wicked looking lantern aloft. The eye, where the light comes out of, holds a swirling mass of tortured souls.
"Hmmm. Most unusual. I'm afraid that your card holds portents as fell as the other two's but the consequences are much more personal. There may be a time where there doesn't seem to be a way to hold to your values. Enemies will try to tear you down. Your desires will conflict with your oath. Keep looking, for there is always a way. no matter how hidden."
Arianna's card shows a graceful peacock displaying its bejeweled tail feathers to the viewer. At its feet lies a white peacock, looking much more humble.
"Your role and Mercy's are very similar, and very different. While Mercy must be stalwart in her beliefs. You must change. Whether you change for the better or the worse is your decision and yours alone. I think you have little to worry about, though, you are surrounded by people who can help you find the goodly path."
Kishta's card shows a halfling juggling all manner of things, both dangerous and not. From the smile on his face, he certainly isn't afraid of the outcome of his act.
"Well, well, well. It seems that your role may be an easy one, or a very, very difficult one. Fate seems to have smiled upon you, and perhaps Desna will guide your steps, but beware blindly trusting in good fortune. Something dark is coming and bodes ill for all involved."
Veklen's card has the image of a lock that has been picked hanging open on a latch.
"So spellsword, it seems that you have teh most control over your destiny of all present. Your strength of arm and will are the keys to a new destiny. One that you choose, but be warned, that the freedom you have can also be what throws you back into chains."
Waydon, though first to pick, is last to have his card revealed. His card shows a beautiful Varisian dancer be-decked in colorful scarves and in the middle of a graceful twirl.
"You, have the great joy of bringing about harmony to this group. This does not make you a leader, though it can mean that, it does make you the person that people will likely come to with problems and disputes, and they may look to you for guidance. As with the others, there's another side to this role. You are an agent of the law of this city, beware blindly following what the leaders wish."
She sweeps the cards back into the deck and begins to shuffle the deck once again. After about a minute, nine cards fly out and are laid in rows of three by deft and practiced hands.
LG: 1d6 ⇒ 61d9 ⇒ 7
LN: 1d6 ⇒ 11d9 ⇒ 9
LE: 1d6 ⇒ 21d9 ⇒ 8
NG: 1d6 ⇒ 21d9 ⇒ 9
N : 1d6 ⇒ 61d9 ⇒ 6
NE: 1d6 ⇒ 31d9 ⇒ 4
CG: 1d6 ⇒ 31d9 ⇒ 9
CN: 1d6 ⇒ 51d9 ⇒ 6
CE: 1d6 ⇒ 31d9 ⇒ 8
The first column of cards reveals a cruel lord over looking a blood soaked court, a powerful vortex of swirling wind and debris, and the same card that Theanna drew, the Crows.
"These cards represent the past. The position of the cards is just as important as what the card is. This one, the Tyrant, show that a great evil was once defeated, perhaps a cruel and wicked lord died at the end of a righteous man's blade. This one, the Cyclone, represents a multitude of evil plots, plots that may have resulted in the tyrant's destruction when they came to fruition. This one, is grave I fear. The Crows are loss, loss of loved ones and loss of possessions. A terrible thing to have happen, and terrible that it has already happened."
Zellara looks at Theanna for a moment, her eyes are sad and the hints of tears can be seen in the corners of her eyes, almost as if she knows how much the girl has lost.
The next column contains Mercy's card, a card showing a woman in a mask and an almost scandalously revealing outfit, and a card depicting a dwarf made of brass.
"These cards represent the present. As before, the positions are just as important as what the card is, and it seems that Mercy's role is one of extreme importance. You are a guiding light. Someone the people follow with hope. You, young Paladin of the Dawnflower, have a great role to play now. This card, the Courtesan, shows that intrigue, political and feminine, is afoot. This card, the Brass Dwarf shows that the perils that face the city now will not shake you. "
She gives Mercy a smile that does much to show how relieved she is at the position of her card. The last column is revealed. The cards show a pot of boiling wax and several figures that look like they were coated in it, while alive, a colorful, almost gaudy, array of tents and booths with crowds milling about, and a sickly woman ripping out another's heart.
"These cards represent the future. Though a true Harrower can reveal much, the actions of other scan change the outcome of events as much as it can fulfill them. This one, the Waxworks is a good omen. You will all have plenty of energy and strength to overcome your trials. This one, the Carnival, represents illusions and false dreams. Something that appears as one thing is another entirely, tred carefully. This one, I fear the most. The Sickness is not just of body, but of mind and soul as well. There are fell things afoot. Plots set in motion. Be wary, choose your actions wisely, and act justly, and perhaps this can be defeated."
She stands and give everyone a warm smile.
"I have done everything I can to help. I wish you safe journeys and luck hunting Lamm. After he is dealt with, please come back here."
Mercy and Theanna: 4 Harrow Points
Everyone else: 3 Harrow points.
Harrow points can be spent for bonuses throughout the adventure. You lose any left over at the end, but you'll be able to get more at the start of the next book. Uses for Harrow points:
Dexterity Rerolls: Spend a Harrow Point to reroll any one
Initiative check, Reflex save, attack roll modified by Dexterity, or
Dexterity-based skill check. You must abide by the new result
(although if you have additional Harrow Points remaining, you
can use them to attempt additional rerolls).
Dodge Bonus: Spend a Harrow Point to gain a +1 Dodge
bonus to your Armor Class for one encounter. You can spend
up to 3 Harrow Points per encounter to increase your Armor
Class in this manner.
Speed Increase: Spend a Harrow Point to increase your
base speed by 10 feet for one encounter—you cannot spend
multiple Harrow Points to increase your speed multiple times
in one encounter.
I'll let everyone know when the end is getting close so you can use them if you got them and don't wanna lose them. Enjoy.
"Well I thank you for your blessings Zellara. I'm not going to pretend to understand what all that means. I do understand that you like the rest of us have been wronged by Gaedren. I'm going to find my son and put this sword in Gaedren's head. I'll take all the help I can get. We leave now. "
"Thank you for the reading, Mistress Zellara. I am ready when ever the rest of you are." Upon saying the word ready, a small silver-furred fox darts out from underneath the young Varisian woman's skirts.
Directing her attention to the fox, Arianna says, "Yes, Kashki, I said ready but do not stray too from me."
Zellara chuckles at the fox's antics and tells Arianna, "It seems that some are more eager than others. Go with Desna's blessings then. I'll await your return here."
I'll wait until the group has reached a consensus before moving on. In the meantime, I'll be getting things set up for the next bit.
Mercy weighs up Zellara's words and the inferrence of the Harrowing;
Strength of faith, strength of arm... strength of my convictions...
"Our goal is clear. The journey perhaps not so... but the light shall guide the way..."
With a nod of thanks, Mercy joins the others in readying for departure
"I have everything I need, so I am ready anytime. I think we should not delay, because once Gaedren knows that his location isn't safe, he won't hesitate to abandon it."
"But having said that...we should consider whether we wish to raid him at night, or during the day. I have a mild preference for a nighttime raid. I require light to see, but I can provide my own if need be."
"I can see the benefit of a night time raid, but making our move during the day has the added bonus that many of the children he has captive may be out of the building and out of harms way while we do what must be done."
As Veklen listens to Zellara give her harrowing, his features lighten, eventually settling with a thoughtful cast. Thank you for your reading Zellara, it has given me much to think on.
Veklen then turns to the rest of the group. Night or day makes little difference to me, I can see in either. The added problem with doing it during the day is that Lamm might not be there either. In truth there are too many variables to be able to know what is best. I think the question that is most pertinent--for I think Lamm would be ready day or night--would be when we will do our best. I believe the night would do for me but only by a small margin . Veklen goes to continue, but looks around and realizes that he is not on the Acadamae debates. Veklen closes his mouth and listens.
Dreqar felt his hands tighten, a mix of trepidation and anxienty flowed through him, as Zellara read the harrow. Thousands...depend me...Oh Vensi, are you wanting me to do this?...Protect them... he thought.
At Waydon's word he jumped and was on his feet, ready to follow the guard out, he turned quick on his heel and bowed politely to Zellara. "Thank you Ma'am, for your hospitality, the information, and the harrowing."
He rocks up on his tip toes and back to his heels, "I'd like to no longer wait, for better or worse. The longer we stay idle there is a greater chance he will move on his own, not to mention the longer he is free the greater the chance he will endanger the children."
"I'm sorry but this man may have my son. Those who want to hear about this tomorrow can do so. Depending on the size of the doors I'm going to ride or walk up in Gaedren's party and make him tell me where my son is. Anyone that gets in my way will have to deal with a hand and a half of steel."
Waydon exits the building and gets on his horse. He waits for the others to join him but he can't wait for long.
Mercy approaches Waydon, gently taking the horses bridle in her gauntleted hand;
"I admire both your courage and conviction my new friend. But know from one who has lived in the shadows of Lamm... He has enforcers, contacts and the greatest bargaining chip of all... your son. Do not be too hasty to condemn yourself or him to an early grave..."
The sword of the Damnflower's tone is sincere and measured, neither warning nor condemning Waydon's urgency.
Okay, since I'm not seeing any disagreements, have a map! I have your tokens where they are so you can find them, please place them off the map if you aren't part scouting. I'm also assuming this is at night.
The reek of brine and the stink of week-dead fish hang thickly in the air here. The old double doors in the side of this weathered building are tightly closed, with a drooping signpost hanging above. The sign it once displayed is long gone, leaving behind only a single short length of rusted chain. The blue glow of moonlight can be seen reflecting off the slivers of the Jeggare River between the buildings.
Okay who's knocking on the door?
Here, briefly. Don't know if I'll manage to find another free wi-fi access point, though, so if may be a one-time thing.
Kishta would like to scout. She has good stealth, but rather lousy perception, so how effective she'll be is another matter entirely.