You have been called to the Grand Lodge of Absalom for a briefing. Seated in a small chamber around a darkwood table, various trophies gathered from across the face of Golarion hang from the walls. A monkey-shaped mask with a serpent’s tongue glares out from the center of one wall, a strange halberd with gold rings piercing its thick blade and dragons carved along its haft hangs opposite the monkey mask. You are alone save your fellow Pathfinders, who apparently have been called here for the same purpose.
Feel free to hang out... but its still over 3 weeks til we start... and that mask is a little creepy...
This will not advance beyond basic introductions until then!
Malusha sat at the dark table looking around the room. He glanced at the others who had been called, like him, to meet in this small room. He made a quick nod at those who made eye contact with him and the others he assumed were just as uncertain as he was about what they were doing here. Certainly some task for the society but there weren't a lot of details. This was Malusha's first society assignment so he wasn't sure if this was business as usual or not.
The monkey mask on the wall opposite Malusha seemed to be staring right at him and making him uncomfortable. He got up from the table and moved around to the other side so that his back was to the mask. After a few minutes he decided that was even more uncomfortable. He pushed back from the table and moved to where the mask was on his left and the strange halberd was on the right. He settled in for more waiting.
Masym watches the movement of the Garundi man out of the corner of his eye with a bemused look on his face. No need to waste energy here; you were gonna need it eventually.
While no one else was familiar to him he did make it a point to nod in greeting to everyone. He knew building a camaraderie was often the difference between life and death.
I wonder where they are sending us? Hope it is as far from Absalom as possible. Don't really like it here at all.
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
Nella can't help but smile as the young man fidgets all around the table. She could certainly understand; the decor in the room left a lot to be desired as far as she was concerned.
He looks new, too. No wonder he's so nervous.
Never one for long periods of silence, she decided to end this one by going first in the game of making introductions. Hopefully it would put the fidgeting man at ease.
"You'd think they'd want everyone to be relaxed before sending them out somewhere," she says aloud. "And if so, someone needs to talk to one of the Venture Captains about changing the decorations in here - knowing my luck I'll be seeing that mask in my dreams!" she adds with a shudder.
She looks around at her fellow Pathfinders. "On top of that, I can't stand all this sitting around eyeballing each other and not saying anything," she chuckles. "I'm Penelope, but I always go by Nella. I follow the Eternal Rose."
Malusha stands and makes a short bow towards Nella. "Very pleased to meet you Nella. May Sarenrae's blessing be on you always." After an awkward pause he adds nervously, "You are very pretty." A slight blush, barely visible through his dark skin, rises on his cheeks. He smiles weakly at Masym, sits back down and then stares at a small speck on the table surface right in front of him.
Wei Tchak walks in and gives a little tilt of his head as he examines the monkey mask with macabre curiosity, then turns to face his fellow Pathfinders. He gives a slight bow. "Hello there... I guess we're here for the same mission. I am Wei Tchak, but you can just call me Tchak, no need to be formal or anything. I am rather new at all this Pathfindering business, but I'm learning fast. Whatever I lack in experience though, I make up for in enthusiasm, I promise you. I am excited to be here. This is going to be fun!"
Masym returns the pretty lady's smile with one of his own. "Ahhh, don't let these trinkets hanging around here git to ya. I'm sure the VC does this ta test your patience...or he just has a sick sense of humor." He chuckles heartlily trying to break the tension, and takes the priestesses' hand in greeting. "Name is Masym, Miss Nella. It be a pleasure ta meet a follower of the Eternal Rose. Your fellow priestesses always brought up morale when we was out patrollin' the Lastwall."
As he takes his seat again, he covers his mouth trying to hide a smile, and also notices his ears reddening slightly. Aye she be a pretty one. Not surprised he reacted that way at all...those eyes be filled with life. Still he'd better make sure she don't cook waffles...ahhh...give him some slack. He will be fine.
He nods in reply to the tengu, appraising him closely. Looks like he can handle that blade of his well. Definitely well cared for too...
"Sounds good....ahhh...T-chak? Sorry about that I don't do languages too good. I do like your enthusiasm and it looks like this will be...interesting, if nothing else!"
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
Nella grins at the shy man but it's a friendly, good-natured grin. "Well thank you - I nearly overslept and had to rush to get down here so I thought for sure that I looked a fright! Good to know that's not the case." Here, her grin shifts to an encouraging smile. "You never did tell us your name and I'd rather call you by your proper name instead of 'Blessed of Sarenrae' or something like it."
As the others begin to offer introductions she offers each one her hand for a friendly shake. "Wee-T-Chak? Sorry, I'm not the best with languages either. It's nice to meet you. You too Masym; you're here from Lastwall? That's not as far away as Magnimar but it's still far enough isn't it?"
"That's very close.... I'm honored that you did so well, no need to apologize. I still have many troubles with your common tongue as well, so sorry for that... just correct me if I get my words wrong, so I can learn to speak it better." He gives a quirky smile, which is hard to judge because of the shape of his beak, but it is there.
"So we are Maseem, 'Nella, Wei Tchak, and our unnamed servant of the Dawnflower here. We have the beginnings of a fine squad for an adventure. I wonder what they have planned for us, eh? I hope they aren't sending us to your desert. I've heard it gets very hot there... not good for feathers at all! It's not time to molt, that I can tell you!"
With a start Malusha realizes that he didn't announce his name. He stands again, "Forgive me lady and gentlemen and, uh, sir. He stares at the Tengu not quite sure what to say. In his travels down south he had seen Tengu from a distance only a few times. "My name is Malusha, servant of Sarenrae. I hope that I may be of service to all of you in our small group and in our upcoming task." His eyes move quickly from one person to the next, tentative but friendly.
A jovial, stout, bearded man with an extremely well-crafted darkwood longbow barges into the room. If it weren't for the unkempt beard, you'd almost mistake him for a tall dwarf. "Good day fellow Pathfinders! I hope I"m not late!" He pauses at the sight of the monkey mask and makes a bit of a sour face, then shakes his head focusing back on the folks in the room. he plops himself down next to Malusha and slaps him on the back, "Well, it seems I can't be late if our Venture Captain isn't here yet. Jones is the name, pleasure to meet you all. How about a drink before we get started." In an instant 4 tankards and a jug are on the table and he starts pouring for everyone in the room . . .except himself. Before anyone has the chance to decline, a tankard of dwarven stout sits in front of everyone seated around the table. He then takes a big swig straight from the jug and leans back in his chair with a big grin on his face.
"I don't drink much myself, but I'll have a little, thank you, Jones. That's a fine bow you carry... the workmanship is amazing. It is always a blessing to be the bearer of something made by a master craftsman." He glances at the monkey mask again behind him, having noticed Jones' reaction to it - not unlike his own when he entered. He chuckles softly. "Creepy thing, isn't it? I don't suppose you'd like to put an arrow between its eyes, eh?
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Heh! Well if you insist," Nella chuckles as a tankard is placed in front of her. She takes a drink and then coughs a bit, unused to the burning sensation of the alcohol. "Woo...you can tell I don't drink much either! You've not missed anything; we were just getting acquainted with each other. I'm Nella, this is Malusha, Masym, and Wee-T-Chak, though just call him T-Chak."
She looks around. "That makes five of us. I think they usually send anywhere from four to six out at a time, so we might have one more come to join us or this might be it - I'm not sure."
"Pleasure ta join ya, Jones" Masym exclaims in surprise as the fragrant aroma of the bitter drink tickles his nostrils. Taking a long draught of the strong drink Masym feels a pleasant warmth spread through his body and sets the half-empty flagon down on the table with a bang. "Aaaahhhh, that helps the wait here go by faster!"
He gives the priestess of shelyn a nod, followed by a wink. "I sure hope so! The more, the merrier right?"
Malusha watches the others take their drinks before lifting his own tankard for a swallow or two. "Thanks to you Jones. " he says with a smile. "This isn't quite the same as what we drink back home, but it is good.". Then he pauses for a second, hoping that his comments weren't perceived as an insult. "I mean, Jones, that I'm not saying I was expecting it to be bad. Or, uh. Well. It's good."
He quickly moves to a different topic.
"So Miss Nella, you think we may be should be expecting someone else? I agree with Masym here. Nice to have more."
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
Nella smiled. If first impressions were anything to go by, things were off to a fine start - always important but even more so as a Pathfinder.
Everyone seems friendly enough and it looks like Masym, Tchak and Jones all know their way around the battlefield - good to have even if I hope we don't end up needing it!
"Well...like I said, it's possible," she replies, taking another drink from her mug. Thankfully this one burned a little less. "I've only been on a few missions but we were always six. But I've heard that sometimes it's five or even only four." She shrugs. "It may just depend on which agents are available to go. But I agree, it's definitely nice to have more," she continues with a grin at Masym and Malusha.
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The group is sitting mostly silent while Malusha continues to take occasional drinks. Not too much and not too fast. Then suddenly he aware of an otherworldly presence in the room. Or maybe it is imagination. Almost as if someone from a distant reality is just "popping" in to watch the group and do something called "dotting". But then before he knew it, it was gone. Likely just a figment of his imagination. Maybe he was drinking too much too fast.
Sorry to break the 4th wall, or really just push on it a little bit. Figured you all wouldn't mind since we haven't really started.
The young half elf, her clothes mismatched and a mandolin enters into the building. With a broad smile on her face she finds a stool that she can sit on, adjusts her mandolin and begins to play.
Malusha stands politely when the young half-elf enters and nods at her. He watches her sit and start playing on her mandolin. "Welcome to our group." He sits back down listening to the music. It is quite enjoyable.
The half elf nods at Malusha as she continues her playing and her signing about something that she just made up.
Perform 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"And there's our sixth," Nella chuckles softly as a half-elven woman joins them in the briefing room. "Like Malusha here says, welcome aboard!"
Though normally a more talkative sort, Nella seems happy to simply sit in companionable silence and listen to the minstrel play for a few minutes.
Masym takes another swig of the strong drink before returning the priestesses' grin. "Aye, the more the merrier!" He adds as the half-elf serenades the room with her music.
A lovely tune she weaves, aye she gots talent...looks like we gots our group. Looks to be a good group here, but time will tell.
Malusha listens to the light music. It reminds him of times with his parents and siblings back home. He is excited about this new chapter in his life here in Absalom but that doesn't change the fact that he still gets homesick from time to time.
After what seems like an interminable wait, you finally hear activity outside the door to the room you're waiting in. A few moments later a huge man wearing creaking leathers marches into the room. He stops for the briefest of moments at the sight of his office already occupied and scowls slightly, before continuing to his desk.
He sits down, and looks at each of you, as if appraising a handful of gemstone freshly pulled from the earth, or perhaps just trying to put faces to names, before nodding curtly.
Some of you know Adril Hestram, a longtime Pathfinder and rumored to be the unwitting architect of the famed Katapesh slave riot of 4702. Adril’s physique puts most half-orcs to shame, and he dwarfs the desk he sits behind. He looks entirely out of place as he absently shuffles the papers in front of him.
"Welcome, friends. We have a serious problem."
He stops himself, frowning slightly, before amending. "Well, not a problem so much as a concern."
"A man named Skelg the Ripper came to Absalom just over a month ago." He continues, as his eyes lose focus a bit as if remembering past events. "Like many Ulfen warriors he joined the Longaxes, the Taldan Emperor’s personal guard whose duty it is to protect the embassy and Taldan visitors. Skelg also dropped a hefty sum of gold to purchase a manor in the Ivy district, something a Longaxe isn’t paid well enough to do. It is widely assumed that he brought most of his wealth with him from the north -- a rumor I know to be true."
"It seems that Skelg also brought a curse with him." Adril's big hands brush a particular page in front of him. "In his letter to me, he speaks of lying abed in this miserable summer dying from the cold. Neither physician nor priest has been able to cure his ailment, and there are no signs of disease or poison. Of course, for such a man, there is no greater dishonor than to die in bed instead of in battle."
He scowls unhappily, clearly finding the thought equally distasteful.
"Normally, the Pathfinder Society would monitor these events and let the authorities deal with them. However, there are three factors that have drawn our interest."
His attention turns to the six other members of the room as he thumps a meaty finger down on the desk as he lists his concerns.
"First, Skelg is himself a member of our Society and has asked for our help. Second, he is a personal friend of mine, and finding a sparring partner as worthy as Skelg to replace him would be a trying task. Last, he claims that artifacts of great power are involved, and that we may be able to recover them for the vaults of the Grand Lodge."
"We view this situation as having enough importance to assign you to investigate it. Go to the home of Skelg the Ripper, learn what you can, and do your best to help him. If you find an item that is somehow connected to the curse, either retrieve it or glean as much information as you can about it."
"I trust there are no questions?"
And we're off!
"On the surface, sounds straight forward enough... " These things are never as simple as they sound... best be on guard for trouble. "Well, shall we go do as we're told, Pathfinders?"
Malusha looks at the others around the table to see if anyone has heard of Skelg or has any idea of where his home might be. But he is too nervous and intimidated by the huge man to say anything.
No Knowledge (local) for me
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Huh," Nella finally responds, sitting back in her chair. "A strange chill in a place and at a time where there's no call for such? Sounds like a story I heard about once," she muses. She then looks up at Adril. "If there are artifacts involved, why didn't your friend Skelg share more information than that?"
Heh, I didn't really look to realize no one could make that check straight up =) Is also a Gather Information option for it, but that would take a few hours, so wasn't going to offer that til after the meeting.
"You need to try and keep up with local events if you want to get anywhere in the Society." He responds to Jones' question. "He now lives in a place called Greydog Manor, on Parkview Street, up in the Ivy district. A far cry from where he started, for sure."
He shakes his head slightly, clearly not a big fan of Skelg's home choice.
"I'm sure if this were straight forward, he'd have figured it out by now."
He glances at Nella, "Skelg is a man of action, not words. I'm amazed he wrote as much as he did, to be honest. If you want more, you're going to have to ask him directly."
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11
Masym shakes his head in reply to Nella's questions. "Never hear of 'im. As for his actions I can tell you from first hand experience Skelg may not have been in control of his actions.." He rises to his feet and secures his gear. "We had best be off now. Whenever artifacts are concerned, I don't like wasting time here."
Jones gives a small chuckle, "It's a bit tough to keep up with local events when I've been in Tian Xia the past few months." Then looking back to the party, "I agree with Masym, let's find out what we can from Skelg."
Jones too stands and gathers his things.
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Honestly, it's hard enough keeping up with local events with all the hooplah that seems to happen around the Grand Lodge," Nella mutters as she too rises from her seat. "Not that I'm happy for Skelg's predicament but to be honest it'll be nice to get out and about in the city for a change."
Adril nods approvingly at everyone's apparent eagerness to get started.
"Remember, Skelg is one of our own. We owe him this much. So do what you can to help, and good luck."
With that, he dismisses you with a curt wave, and goes back to glaring unhappily at the pile of paperwork on his desk.
The eyes of the frog mask seem to track you as you leave, though it offers only silent council.
If you guys wish to make any purchases as you go about town, let me know, its a big city, and you'll have opportunities during the day.
Getting to the Ivy District is relatively quick, as it is just north of the Foreign District, where the Grand Lodge is located.
There are many people out and about, mostly hurrying with purpose, trying to get their business done before the sun gets too high in the sky and the summer heat gets oppressive... whereupon many will find shadier pursuits until later in the afternoon.
Parkview Street proves easy to find. True to its name, it runs the entire length of the Ivy District park and is lined with expensive home after expensive home.
Standing like a tomb in a flower garden, Greydog Manor is easy to find as well. Six-foot-high walls surround the massive, stone building and an immense iron gate flanked by granite statues of hunting dogs stands open, offering access to the interior. Looking along the street, it is clear that locals give the estate a wide berth. The stone walls seem to give a slight chill to the air, which is not entirely unpleasant on such a hot day.
"Interesting... this place seems a bit out of place here... It looks like a tomb more than a manor house. I hope that's not portentous." Wei Tchak peers beyond the gate, shrugs and walks between the dog statues and up to the doors of the building. "It's actually nice and cool in here. Almost like the walls emanate a bit of cold."
"I agree Tchak," Malusha says in a low voice as they approach the unusual wall and gate. "Yes indeed, the walls seem to glow coldness." Malusha faces the wall and casts Detect Magic towards it.
"Yeah, I don't like like this one bit. Smells of magic to me." Masym replies softly as he draws his spear and holds it ready. "Careful Wei Tchak, could be a welcoming party here." He quiuckly adds, seeing the tengu proceed. Masym cautiously approaches the gate, eyes roving from left to right as he fully expects an ambush.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Jones starts to make his way to the front door as well, drawing his bow at Masym's warning. "Well, let's go knock on the door."
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"Being cautious is all well and good but is it a good idea to knock on this man's door with weapons drawn?" Nella asks dryly, shivering slightly as they approach the stone walls of the manor. "At the very least you're likely to give some poor servant a fright when they open the door!"
No one will expect a travelling bardess, come to sing people's sorrows away. says the half elf with a smile.
As you enter through the gates, the courtyard proves to be cool and shady compared to the street outside. It is quite sizeable, almost fourty feet on each side. Dead leaves are scattered across the flagstones and the granite steps where two Ulfen warriors stand. Each man wears a chain shirt and a surcoat bearing the Taldan crest and carries the traditional imperial guard long axe. The guards look at you sternly, and one of them speaks.
"Skelg is ill. He wants no visitors." One of them says, moving to intercept.
When they see that some of you have weapons drawn, their looks move from stern to slightly more grim. Both of them move their hands to their own weapons in response, although they do not draw them yet.
Not detecting any magic in the walls Malusha is confused. The walls certainly seem to emanate coldness. Thinking that maybe he cast his spell wrong he decides to keep the information to himself. He follows behind the others as they approach the door and the guards.
Jones puts his bow away, and opens his hands to the guards apologetically, "Sorry, we don't mean to alarm you. We're from the Society. Adril Hestram sent us. He said something about Skelg being cursed."
|Penelope 'Nella' Tabor|
"I know a little something of healing too," Nella adds as she shows Shelyn's holy symbol. "Malusha here is a priest of the Dawnflower. Maybe between the two of us we can offer Skelg some relief?"
Uh, uh, something is wrong here. The clothes, the tabards, the whole thing, WRONG! Something is stinky here and I don't think it is the smell of the death but of a rat. she says pointing at the guards.
The guards start to relax slightly, as Jones puts his bow away.
"He's seeing no one." He first guard repeats.
But, as Phoebee speaks up, the first one glares her way then the other says something in another language, and both of them suddenly draw their greataxes.
"The thief shall die a cowards death like he deserves! You can't stop it!" The first one yells as they attack.
Who says Knowledge (nobility) can't be useful! =)
Only Phoebee gets to act in the surprise round.
Dead Eye: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Malusha: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Masym: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Nella: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22
Phoebee: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
Wei Tchak: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Guard1: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Guard2: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
Melee vs Masym (flat-footed): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Melee vs Wei Tchak (flat-footed): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
But in their haste, both swings miss widely.
There is no map for this, just assume lots of room to move about with the guards adjacent to each other, and Wei Tchak and Masym in the front.
Phoebee (surprise round) <-- we are here
Jones, Nella, Malusha
Phoebee, Wei Tchak
Bold can go
Without saying a word, Jones moves and draws his bow; moving to a position without cover (and taking advantage of point-blank shot) then fires a cold iron arrow.
Comp Longbow (STR+2): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Damage: 1d8 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 2 + 1 = 6
"What! Wait!" Malusha is startled by the quick action of the guards. He quickly reaches up to Masym's back and touches him muttering "Du tasarenrae kihki shi minashoh, taki buji." A shimmering, magical field surrounds Masym. (Shield of Faith: +2 deflection to AC) As soon as the spell is finished Malusha pulls out his crossbow and prepares to load it. "Nella, I've got Masym covered, can you help Tchak?"