You find yourselves gathered in the cramped office of the Cassomir Lodge. News papers, reports, and chronicles are riddled everywhere, in a very messy state. Venture Captain Hestia, a petite, raven-haired, black-eyed Taldan beauty, paces frantically back and forward.
Prior to your arrival, weeks ago, countless kidnappings were occurring all over the city. Pathfinder agents pursued the case in the absence of authority action, and successfully taken down the source, or so it was thought. Rumors spread that the kidnappings was due to a bunch of rogue cultist who worship Groetus, but later on it was learnt that the Derros was funding the transactions.
“I am perplexed. A new kidnapping spree plagues my beloved city. It seems our citizens make easy prey to those who profit from such exploits. While this disturbs me, I am more troubled by reports that some of those kidnapped return to the city as undead monsters who accompany this Cult of Nature’s Cataclysm plague, a plague that I can’t seem to excise from my beloved city.
“This ends now! For a third time we battle Groetus-worshiping dogs and there will not be a fourth!” Taking several deep breaths, Hestia regains her composure. “I am sending you to Swift Prison to interrogate a cultist we captured who was trying to kidnap a local engineer. Meet my man Garver out front—he’ll take you in to see the Nature’s Cataclysm fool. Find out where the other cultists hide, where they’ve taken their recent victims, and how they’re turning them into skeletons. Free as many Cassomir citizens as you can—the good publicity never hurts. Any questions?”
Edmund glances around the room, making eye contact with his compatriots. He is a shorter man, dark brown hair and a full beard. Edmund is dressed in earthy colors; greens and browns mostly, with a flowing cloak overtop his leather armor. Next to him is an unstrung bow that he unconsciously reaches out to touch several times through out Captain Hestia's speech.
Undead now? I have seen my fair share of Fey, and even some lesser demons... but undead are a completely different challenge. Still though, there isn't much that is more against the natural order than those monsters... and those that raise them.
Nadric leans forward in his seat during the mission briefing, soaking in every word and nodding along with vigor. He is a clean-shaven young man with wavy brown hair and loose-flowing, strikingly colorful clothing. His most noticeable accessory is a bright yellow scarf wrapped loosely around his neck. This sounds like a complicated situation, he frets and tries to keep all the relevant actors straight in his mind.
"Venture-Captain, do you have any insight into this cult that would help us encourage the prisoner to speak freely? Oh, and is there any pattern to the kidnappings or do they appear to be random?" He looks around at the other society members that have gathered with him and adds, "Nadric is my name, by the way. Nadric Yarrow."
A lean and wiry warrior stands in the corner of the room. His skin appears to be made of shiny black onyx, and his chiseled angular features make him look like a statue brought to life. Simple sandals, loose breeches and a grey shirt made of high-quality fabric, bound together with sashes is all he wears. Strange, exotic weapons are strapped to his back and around his waist.
He listens intently to Venture-Captain Hestia, but keeps his thoughts and concerns hidden behind his stone-cold expression.
Edmund focuses attention on Venture Captain Hestia.
"Captain, what can you tell us about this cult? Do you expect that this has anything in common with the Derro's, or is this something completely different?"
Cults. Derro. Undead. What else could we be missing?
After listening to the questions and answers, Edmund shifts his attention to the other Pathfinders in the room. Knowing and trusting each of them was going to be imperative to the success of the mission.
Edmund isn't often the talking type- unless he has to be- but now was one of the times where he has to be. During his short life Edmund has learned that speaking softly and intentionally, knowing what to say (and more importantly when) can be just as influential as the quick talking, silver tongued, types. His personality wasn't magnetic, by any stretch, but Edmund was very accomplished at *persuading* people to see things his way.
"The name is Edmund. Edmund DeCarth. I hail from the Verduran Wood just up this river. Both the Derro and Undead defile the natural order and goodness of nature. We cannot stand for these types of evil!"
Edmund awaits for the introduction of the other pathfinders- and engages them in casual conversation, ready to respond more earnestly when the conversation shifts from small talk.
Once conversation dies down, Edmund excuses himself.
"Well, now that we know what we are up against, I need to pick up a few extra provisions."
I'll still interact with the VC and party members- just didn't want to forget to account for my shopping trip earlier
Kazmoro nods at Edmund and introduces himself in a deep gravelly voice, "I am Kazmoro, Disciple of Irori. I am new to the city, having just arrived from Absalom. Venture-Captain Hestram, I am ready to help stop these unnatural cultists."
"How much leeway do we have in our interrogation of the cultist prisoner? Why do you think he will reveal the location of the cultists to us?"
The name is Zarzuket! says the old gnome pretending to be even older. You know... Some times I can make someone more friendly towards me for a time... And if not, I'm sure there are other ways to find them...
We're still waiting for one more player to check in, but will have the conversations start. I'll message the last player!
Still pacing the room back and forth, but at a slightly slower pace, she attempts to answer and clarify as much as she can. "At least 15 Cassomirites—all of them engineers, city planners, masons, and the like.”
She refers to her notes, scattered all across her table, “The evidence points strongly toward those Groteus-worshipping fools, the Cult of Nature’s Cataclysm. With Dalirio, the leader of the cult, dead, it seems unlikely that they’ve reorganized themselves. I suspect derro influences.”
"The suspect, he’s a bit… unstable, but when he’s lucid he provides good information about the cult and their plans. He could potentially provide us with future information and serves us better as an ally, alive and unharmed. Did I get everything then?"
Sorry, been busy this weekend pulling double shifts, didn't have much time to check in..
Celas barges into the room, obviously late. "Pardon my tardiness, my companion needed a moment to compose himself," he states, pointing to his animal friend, and seeing no available chair, he goes to the corner of the room, stoic like, his bird companion perched on his shoulder. If it wasn't for the slight rustling of feathers and jerky head movements, you would swear that the bird was dead and stuffed.
"All these people that have been captured, is it located in one area of the city, or scatter throughout? Also, what is the Cult of Nature's Cataclysm?"
To the remainder of the group, "I'm Celas by the way."
|Unnamed Hawk - Celas Companion|
These humans and their problems. Hah! What do I need to concern myself with their issues. I don't, not really. But my master has been my friend for a long time, so I will stick with him as long as he keeps treating me right.
No worries, glad you can join us now!
The Venture Captain looks taken aback slightly by Celas's entrance, but slowly puts the pieces together. "Right.. of course, well as far as we know, the kidnappings have been happening throughout the city, not centralized in any particular location. And if you were here earlier, you would have known that the name of the Cult is given to those who worship Groetus, the deity of the end times, who wishes death upon all. Now, since you're all here, are you ready to head out?"
"I am ready to see this man. Has he gave us any information of what value the kidnapped have to them? Or if the kidnapped have anything in common?"
Wow! I just arrived here and things are moving this quickly already... Hopefully some of this companions have some insight on what happened before I arrived... Also... It probably wouldn't take long for us to hit the road... Rations are bad... I should probably eat something decent before leaving... That tavern seemed to be pretty alright...
Masons. Engineers. Planners. What would madmen want with people who plan and build? Something doesn't feel right here
His attention is broken by the racket of the Ranger's entrance. Edmund listens intently to the Captain, still trying to put a finger on what was bothering him about the situation.
He turns to address Celas
"A noble creature you have there Celas. He strikes me as being quite composed...
Glancing back across the team, he poses a question is a dark, grizzled voice. "This seems like a classic 'Good Jailer, Bad Jailer' set up to me. So... who is going to be my 'Good Jailer'? I may not have a pretty face, but I can sometimes convince others it is in their best interest to open up a bit..."
"Is the bad jailler really necessary? I mean, the captain here says he has provided them with good information. He may be willing to answer us... And if not, I'm sure we'll manage something..."
"Oh, you mean the saying 'You catch more flies with honey than haggis'? Wait, that doesn't sound quite right. Would flies like haggis or not?" Nadric casts around mentally for a few moments, but then shrugs and puts it aside. "At any rate, the fastest way to find out how he's going to react is to go and meet the fellow."
"I hear your concerns. It don't have to be the first option- but it is still an option if things go south. Personally, I don't have much concern for someone in league with the Derro o' trying to bring an apocalypse down on us.
Regarding that old saying; I have seen far more flies stuck in vinegar than honey...
Either way, I was always going to see how the first conversations went before I added in my piece."
Edmund doesn't much care one way or another- just moving the story line and figuring out what the plan is once we are talking to the captive.
While he is out "shopping" would there be enough time for a "Gather Information" check regarding the cult and the disappearances?
The captain relays that she has told you every source of information she already knows, beyond that she is stumped.
Before you go, here is a Kn. Local check you can make. I will also accept Diplomacy Gather Information. Read all the spoilers for which your roll exceeds the DC.
Feel free to make any purchases before we head to the Swift Prison itself!
Kazmoro listens intently to the conversation, adding an occasional grunt or "Ahmm". He is ready to move along to Swift Prison.
Aid another Diplomacy, untrained: 1d20 - 3 ⇒ (17) - 3 = 14
He speaks rarely but when he does his deep baritone voice that sounds like rocks rolling down a hill catches everyone's attention:
"I am ready to go to Swift Prison. I have all that I need with me."
After some time collecting a little bit of information, you immediately make ways to the Swift Prison, through the busy streets of Cassomir. The journey is uneventful save stepping in some puddles.
Feel free to share what you've learnt through the spoilers, or not, it's up to you!
Swift Prison’s formidable gates loom over those who pass beneath them. Out front, a gilded statue stares uncaringly at those who serve time beyond her sentry-like gaze. The wrinkled, dirty faces of Cassomir’s prisoners are briefly illuminated behind the bars of the ground floor begging cells. Their pathetic drone as they beg for coppers fills the courtyard in front of the prison.
Hestia’s man, Garver—a tall Taldan man with a slim physique and plain peasant’s clothing—approaches. “You made it. Good. Follow me.” Garver turns and enters the prison, marching through myriad hallways that twist and turn and finally end at a plain but thick wooden door. Garver produces a key and says, “Our captured cultist enjoys visitors, and if you like his work, it’s all for sale.”
You have some time to chat with him before he opens the door.
Throughout the journey, Edmund pays close attention to the people and places that he passes. Even though he has been through Cassomir many-a-time before, he has never been near enough the jail to see the "Rule of the Swift".
What a broken system. Money buys freedom, but you need freedom to have money.
If there is any value, Edmund would like to try to determine (if not already obvious) where the "extended" boundries of the prison are. If there is no perceived value, just ignore it
He makes idle conversation with those in the party. Drawing their attention towards those prisoners walking free, those prisoners begging, and the possibility of the prisoners that they cannot see.
Assume Edmund provides all three spoilers to those on the team that may not have known
As they wind through the inner jail,
"Why is this prisoner kept apart from the others? I know some prisoners can earn special treatment- but these quarters don't appear much like "special treatment".
Edmund pauses while Garver finishes his statement... but immediately catches on to something Garver said...
"what exactly do you mean, "His work"?
Celas stays almost quiet, at least for the time being. He knows his role, and doesn't mind it at all. He wasn't planning on speaking at all, as the strong silent type can be as advantageous as the quiet. But, the fact that one's 'freedom' can be bought, well, has him interested.
|Unnamed Hawk - Celas Companion|
Kazmoro listens carefully to Edmund's explanations about Swift Prison, and is intrigued by the justice and penal system of the city.
He participates sparingly in the small talk during the walk over, but shares a little more about himself and seeks similar details from his new companions to help build camaraderie and team spirit:
"Thank you Edmund for the background on Swift Prison. I am new to the city, and know little of their ways. I find it troubling that criminals can roam the streets through payments... would that not incent more crime? How else do they fund an early release?"
He ponders that thought for a while then continues, "I am from Absalom. Born and raised. This is my first assignment for the Society, so am open to any advice or suggestions from the more experienced agents. I am an avid student, and will not take offense to coaching and/or instruction. What's more I welcome it. What about you? This your first assignment? How long have you been in the city?".
It's also my first assignment. I actually arrived in the city not too long ago. Joined the society mostly because I was already planing on exploring so, it just looked like a good idea.
He then seems to get quiet and starts thinking for a bit.
Yes, I find weird a prison that works like that too, but maybe we could gain something from it. I mean, if they pay so much attention to money, maybe our money can bring us something too...
Or it could, if not all my money were spell components...
Edmund continues to walk and talk with his companions. Tour guide and small talker isn't his usual role, but for the time being it appears that it is a roll that he needs to fill.
This group has a fair number of the 'quiet types' he notes as the procession continues. But this is my country and my culture. I need to remember that many of the rest are guests here.
Turning to Kazmoro
"I share the same concerns as you, brother. Freedom here is a slippery slope. 5 SP may be the difference between earning much more freedom, or being locked away in a dungeon for the rest of your life. These folk here, begging... this is their last hope to avoid 'Stavian's Fair'
A shiver goes down his spine. All these people begging. Soon enough they will catch something or another and then... gone . Trying to shake off the sudden pang of guilt, he turns his attention to the Monk's question
I was born and raised in the great wood just north of here. All this timber you see around you came from my home. Evil corporations, lead by selfish people, looking to destroy the balance of nature. I have run plenty of times throughout my life- always fleeing that which I could not control. But now? Now I fight. I fight for the innate good that nature brings, and against the Heresy of things against nature.
I learned long ago that there is no point being who you are not. Despite my best efforts to turn aside and pursue my own path Cernunnos has brought me back here. As a pathfinder. This is my first adventure as a pathfinder, yes. But it is not my first adventure.
Edmund tails off a bit- surprised at himself that he was willing to share so much of his history. Just like the changing seasons.... He glances around again at his new companions. I have never travelled with so many before. It's always been me against the world. His thoughts drift back to the task at hand. Just like the changing seasons...
"Although not being the most connected to nature, I too was born and raised in a forest. And the thought that some day I could return to my family and they would have lost their homes bevause of someone else is terrible enough on its own."
The guard gives a light hearted chuckle at your questions, "You shall see soon enough, we call him the 'crazed painter' around here for a reason. It's 5sp for the boring paintings, and 1gp for the good ones. But please don't be mistaken, it does nothing towards his release, the funds go to the prison upkeep, whatever they create her is property of the prison and we do what we think is best with it." He starts to fiddle with the keys to open the door.
Ready for the door?
Ready for the door and to meet crazy painter
Nadric tilts his head to one side, considering what the paintings of a crazy cultist prisoner might look like. "I am also new to this region, and what my new friend Edmund here has been telling us about the ways of the jail here seem very strange. But if a prisoner has the ability to walk around, or engage in creative endeavors, it can't be all bad. I would think that'd be preferable over rotting in a dirty cell elsewhere. Not that I especially want to be in a prison at all," he hastens to add. "Let's find out what these paintings are like. Lead the way, Garver."
Garver leads you through the door and down several stone steps into a dingy, shadowed room with three cells. Garver gives the two guards there some coins and they head back up the stairs, closing the door behind them. In the center cell, covered in paint, a man dressed in torn beggar’s rags, his feet shackled to the floor by a 3-foot length of chain, throws color onto a dirty canvas. The man stops painting when you arrive, looks through the bars, and exclaims with a toothless grin: “For you, my master, always for you!” He then lays the painting atop a small pile of recent works and sets up another blank canvas, madly attacking it with his brush.
Edmund looks with on this man and is overwhelmed with emotions of pitty. What must happen to a man, to reduce him to this? Did this happen before "the swift", or after?
"We were led to believe that this... prisoner... had moments of helpfulness and insight. Is that true? How have you been successful in talking with him before?
Edmund is going to use "Sift" to try a search/spot the area behind the bars
Perception w/ Sift: 1d20 + 7 - 5 ⇒ (13) + 7 - 5 = 15
Hello Sir. My name is Edmund- what is your name?
What a wretched creature. How will we get anything of value from this madman. Maybe we should ask him to paint the 'route home'..."
Kazmora studies the paintings made by the madman for any signs or clues about the Nature's Cataclysm, where the cultists may congregate, etc.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
|Unnamed Hawk - Celas Companion|
Nadric watches the man paint for a few moments. His intensity of expression is impressive. Nadric is unsure how coherent this man will be, but nevertheless he attempts to add on a question to Edmund's greeting: "And who is your master?"
It is difficult to make out what lies inside the cell due to the darkness, abstract art is all over the floor, while on the wall behind him, two paintings. You can vaguely make them out to a paintings some kind of building or structure.
Even with Sift, it doesn't add anything more to learn.
He continues with his vigorous painting, sploshing paint all over. He ignores your intereactions, and shouts out "For you, my master!" at extremely odd intervals.
I figured it wouldn’t help, but I wanted to play with my toys
Did the jailer have any additional advice when Edmund asked?
The man becomes more interesting as the time passes.
Zarzuket then tries to see if the madness is faked in any way.
Sense motive: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (16) - 1 = 15
What a curious fellow.
Are those two paintings on the wall of the same building or structure? Or are they different?
It takes a lot for Kazmoro to break his internal solitude, but he finally asks Garver a question, "Would it be possible to isolate the prisoner in one of the other cells, so that we can explore and search this one in detail? I am interested in studying those drawings behind him in better light. But would also be good to check out his other paintings."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Edmund attempts to speak with the prisoner again, shifting his conversation towards the painting.
You have quite the eye for color, Sir. Does your master like the bright colors?
diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18