Chasing after Jake without actually running, Tiann tries to help him empathize. I think we could all benefit from some merrymaking and relaxing after what we faced down there. There's little in life capable of helping one relax as much as a good meal, right? Besides... she pauses here, and flashes him a smile, Surely you're sick of rations by now?
While you are enjoying the free meal, Major Maldris finds you.
"Ah, there you are. I was told you were back, and that you had to destroy a ghoul that used to be a pathfinder.
"I know it was difficult," he says. "The undead sometimes cling to life, but they always turn to evil. This was a hard lesson that I felt you had to learn, to better serve the common good. As Pathfinders, we should always serve the common good and always fight for freedom."
"Jake, feel free to come by my office when you are between missions, I believe I will be following your career with great interest."
You travel once again to meet with Trade Prince Aaqir al'Hakam. He smiles when he sees your group approach. "Ah, friends! I take it you have had a successful adventure? Please, tell me of the keep, I haven't gone on such an outing in many years."
I am no bard sir, so forgive me if my lack of embellishment makes for a dull story. While the remains of the keep are not stocked with fire breathing dragons and other mythical creatures from children's tales; I can assure you that it was nonetheless dangerous.
We encountered a recently turned ghoul whose last shred of humanity faded away as we were battling a gelatinous creature that gave off a light so bright it blinded myself and Jory. There were also giant insects and a giant spider and a large ooze.
We met up with some kobolds who, despite their reputation, stepped aside as we took down a skulk that was well versed in the arcane arts. I'm afraid I missed most of that fight as well as the skulk incapacitated me with his magic before I could get a shot off.
Hmm. I spent a fair bit of time lying on the floor of that keep with one dwarf or another...best not to dwell on too much.
I'm afraid the keep itself is in an ever worsening state of disrepair; but we did manage to find many trade agreements tucked away in various places. Tal removes the agreements from his pack and hands them to the Trade Prince. To make a long story short we faced our fair share of danger this outing; but luckily we have been well trained to handle such things.
Tal offers the Trade Prince a deep bow. I know you bow before a Prince. Come to think of it should I have saluted the Major? I really must learn more of these niceties...
Karzak wrinkles his brow in confusion, then looks about to his companions. Ain't that the one we gave to the other lady? He then eyes the prince, trying to remember which one they were supposed to have given the katana to. Naw, we gave it ta' the right one...what's this fella' want with it, I wonder.
Al'Hakam looks briefly through the pile of papers, before setting them aside.
"And the Jade Katana? May I see it before you turn it in?"
Apologies Prince, but the Jade Katana is already in the hands of Ms. Amara Li. Had we known you had in an interest in seeing it we would have sought you out before handing it over. I'm sure Ms. Li wouldn't mind showing it off if asked to do so.
The Trade Prince seems to give Jory's bluff no credence whatsoever.
"The trade agreement in the jade katana is potentially worth a great deal to someone with the right political connections to make it pay. I'm afraid that is the one I truly wished to collect. I hope that I can get something useful out of these others. There is no doubt Ms. Li will not give up the agreement now that she has it; I'm sure that it was the true goal of her sending you to retrieve the katana."
I believe now we will call it done! I will try to get the chronicle sheets edited and out at some point this weekend, and start prepping part 3. Is everyone but Ice staying?
You'll each be getting 419 gold for part 2. The chronicle will give you access to purchase these items:
Bracers of armor +1 (1,000 gp)
Pearl of power [1st level] (1,000 gp)
Potion of blur ( 300 gp)
Potion of cure moderate wounds ( 300 gp)
I think if it's on the paizo site without downloading a PDF, you can read it without spoilers. :)
In the heart of the Pathfinder Society's headquarters at Skyreach, Venture-Captain Drangle Dreng, a wiry old man with a wild gray beard and glinting eyes, sits on a large plush bench next to a finely dressed, full-figured woman who looks as though this entire meeting isn't worth her time. Dreng warmly greets you, and inroduces your members to the woman, Lady Gloriana Morilla; the Taldan woman tilts her head slightly in acknowledgement of the introduction, but otherwise makes no move to greet anyone. Oblivious to any social slight on the lady's part, Dreng goes on to explain your mission.
"Recently, a contact from the Low Azlanti embassy in Escadar approached us with an offer. It seems they have discovered a unique relic of Azlanti origin on the Inner Sea's floor that we have a unique opportunity to add to our collection for study. In return, however, we must deliver one of our catalogued items to Escadar in exchange. The Low Azlanti drive a hard bargain, so we need you to escort a relics broker to Escadar so he can authenticate the Azlanti item and mediate a fair deal on the Ten's behalf."
Dreng goes on to warn you that the Pathfinders are not the only group that looks to acquire this relic. It seems the Aspis Consortium has also tendered an offer, and the gillmen have decided to accept the Consortium's deal if the Society cannot finalize its agreement within 30 days. An Aspis-funded warship patrols the waters just beyond Absalom's harbor, preventing Pathfinder agents from sailing to Escadar unmolested. Luckily, he and Lady Gloriana have come up with a solution.
Lady Morilla stirs from her silence and speaks in a strong, demanding voice. "I have used some of the Empire of Taldor's most skilled operatives to plant a false crew manifest and course plans with the harbormaster, ensuring that the Aspis Consortium spies who certainly keep an eye on such matters believe we are moving our relic to Escadar on a ship tomorrow morning. This decoy should occupy the Consortium sufficiently for you to travel overland to Escadar with plenty of time to make the final agreement with the gillmen before the Society's window of opportunity runs out."
Dreng laughs to himself absently, then instructs you to go to the Siphons in the Puddles and meet with the Pathfinder Society's ally, information broken Grandmaster Torch. He'll give you a map for a smuggler's trail through the isle's center that should allow for relatively easy and secret travel overland to Escadar. The Society has hired an appraiser and relics broker named Nester Rees to verify the authenticity of the gillmen's relic; Rees will meet up with you after your meeting with Grandmaster Torch.
"I have arranged lodgings for you at an Escadar taven called the Grindylow's Goblet, where the gillmen have agreed to meet with you. Once you arrive, you must only send word to the Low Aalznti embassy, then have Master Rees conduct the negotiations at the tavern on our behalf. At all times, you are responsible not only for Rees safety, but also for the success of his negotiations. Now, do you have any questions?"
Sound like quite the journey. Anything in particular we should be prepared for? How long will we be traveling? Jory here can shoot our meal most nights...but nonetheless it pays to be prepared for the unexpected.
"You will be traveling across the interior of the Isle of Kortos, which has more than its share of creatures and hazards that will try to kill you. What you encouter, I suppose, will depend on what route you take. It should take you no more than 7 or 8 days to reach Escadar, giving us at least another 20 days to complete the deal. If we cannot agree on a deal by then, we never will, and the Consortium has already won."
You sure the Consortium doesn't have any boots on tha' ground? Speakin' of that; how are we ta' travel overland? We usin' trusty 'ol feet, or are you givin' us some fat ponies that'll tow an armored dwarf?
Creatures trying to kill us...we've gotten used to that sort of thing. Sounds like we'll each need a week's worth of rations to be on the safe side; maybe some form of shelter in case we see some rain.
There's an old joke about why you shouldn't get a Dwarf wet...can't quite remember how the punchline goes....
Pardon me for asking...but is there a reason our wizard Ice wasn't invited to this briefing?
Ice was pretty quiet when we traveled back from the keep. I hope he's OK.
M Dwarf [AC: 18; ff 17; T:18] HP=35/35 F +6/R+5/W+10 CMD 23 Ki 8/8 Monk (Zen Archer)/4 Perc +13/stone +15 Darkvision 60' per strike 4/4
Jory adds thoughtfully, "If possible, I would like detailed descriptions of the Aspis agents known to be working in the area. Good agents will be thorough and still cover the overland route--either suspecting a diversion or thinking we may send two groups to cover our bases. We learned on our first adventure that recognizing the opposition early can really increase the chances of a successful mission."
Scrutinizing the map with a furrowed brow, Tiann asks some questions without taking her glance from it.
Earlier you raised the point that the resistance we'll encounter is predicated upon the path we take. Can you outline any suggestions you have for completing the journey? I'm most interested in paths that save time and that offer the least resistance. Furthermore, what sort of creatures are we most likely to encounter along those two paths? I'm not expecting anything too outlandish, of course, but it helps to know what's coming.
"We are keeping all aspects of this mission as secret as possible, so I don't even know much about the trail Grandmaster Torch will be sending you on. Perhaps he can tell you more about the trail? I did not mean to imply that there is a choice between two paths, Grandmaster Torch has mapped out the trail for this mission based on both covertness and relative safety.
"We know that there are agents about; that is why we are planting false information for them. The only people who know about this plan are myself, Lady Morilla, Grandmaster Torch, and Rees. Well, and of course, the Decemvirate. If you do encounter the Aspis Consortium, you may use as much force as needed to keep the mission safe. If they want to talk, then talk, but if they interfere with our deal in any way, I authorize - and encourage - the use of deadly force.
"Your promising young Wizard friend has been sent for further arcane training, which should look nice on his Pathfinder resume later. For now, it means he is unavailable for further missions. Because of the sensitivity of this mission, we decided it was best to keep the size of the group limited, rather than bringing in a late substitution you have not worked with before."
Karzak nods at the mention of deadly force, his hands clenching into fists. Good enough; so, we get this Rees fellow to Gringoes' goblet or some such, an' he works out tha' deal, then we come back with 'im an' tha' item, right? An' if any of them Consortion fellas' get in the way, they get made into dust.
He looks at his companions, glances at Lady Morilla, then nods to Dreng. Ready here, then.
As you get ready to leave and Tal bows, Lady Gloriana starts to stand up, and reaches her arm out for assistance from Tal.
As you pull your hand away, you find that the lady slipped something small into your palm as you assisted her. Once you leave, you will find a piece of note from Lady Morilla, and a sealed envelope.
As you know, the people of Taldor share a proud history that traces their blood to the ancient Azlanti who founded our great nation. I have a letter that I ask you to deliver to the gillman embassy in Escadar, so my request requires no additional effort on your part other than carrying a simple envelope and delivering it when you reach your final destination. I have no hesitation in telling you the letter asks the gillmen to consider an alliance with the nation of Taldor - if the letter finds its way into an influential gillman's hands, it would please me greatly.
A new dawn will rise over Taldor,
Lady Gloriana Morilla
I will post again tonight and hopefully once tomorrow morning. I will be traveling after that so I might not post again until Monday after tomorrow.
Karzak snorts. Always sumpthin'. Least she coulda' given us some loaded pack animals ta' pay for the service. Ta' Torch it is, then. He stomps away without giving the envelope or the gillmen another thought.
Before you can leave on your journey to Escadar, you must meet with Grandmaster Torch, the mysterious information broker, ex-Pathfinder, and, you have heard, leader of the Shadow Lodge faction of the society, who operates out of a network of subterranean tunnels beneath the water-logged Absalom district of the Puddles.
Finding the Siphons takes no special skills, but does involve a trek through the Puddles' rough-and-tumble, flooded streets and into the sewers below.
A gruff half-orc guard grants you entry into Torch's audience chamber in the Siphons, a large stone room that has been magically rid of all standing water or even airborne moisture. Torch, a dark-haired, burn-covered man in his late-middle years sits in a large bathrub, and two attendants continually pour cool water over his cursed, festering wounds. His half-orc bodyguards eye your group warily as the Grandmaster rises to greet you and speaks:
"Well met, Pathfinders. I see you have survived as the Decemvirate's pawns thus far, and for that I commend you. This next task they have for you is more dangerous than the venture-captain may have told you, so let me give you a word of warning. I have made it my life's work to ensure Pathfinder agents are given all the tools they need to return home from their myriad adventures, and this map is the tool I give you. Follow the directions on my map as strictly as you can. Deviate from this path and you may encounter challenges far beyond your abilities. Many would paint me and those who believe like I do as betrayers of the Society, but it is the corps of the organization that I am completely loyal to. Each and every one of you.
"If you believe you have been mistreated by the Ten or their representatives, don't hesitate to let me know upon your return from Escadar. My network of agents and spies is vast, and I am a powerful ally to have on your side.
"Now be off. You have a long journey ahead of you. And remember, don't deviate from this map - it's designed to get you there and back safely!"
Karzak nods, entranced by the wounds on Torch's body. Tha's gotta hurt; name makes sense now, though.. Heglances at the map. What kind of vessel gets us from Pier's End over ta' the Inn? That Dreng fella said the waters weren't safe.
M Dwarf [AC: 18; ff 17; T:18] HP=35/35 F +6/R+5/W+10 CMD 23 Ki 8/8 Monk (Zen Archer)/4 Perc +13/stone +15 Darkvision 60' per strike 4/4
Jory looks at the map, "With the opposition navy on the prowl, I agree the seaward leg is the most dangerous, how do we do this? Can you give us advice about what we can encounter at the possible ambush sites denoted with red Xes. And, what happened to you? Is there anything we can do to help you?" Jory asks all this is guileless and plain speech.
I was under the assumption that the blockade by the Consortium was located outside of Absalom, and would impact us only if we took the entire route by boat. The overland journey should get us around that, no?
"Yes, the idea is to avoid the Consortium blockade entirely. I have not traveled this route myself, but based on my research, it really should the best choice here. Once you reach Pier's End there will be several commercial ships available, and bargaining for passage will be up to you. If nobody in Absalom knows what ship you are taking, you will be that much safer. Each X marked on the map is a recommended waypoint along your journey, where you can stop and rest.
"What happened to me is a lesson in putting too much trust in good intentions, and not enough in planning and research. It is a mistake I do not wish to repeat, and I try my best to make sure no other Pathfinders do the same."
If you're done here, I'm going to call it a break here, and resume Monday. You can go ahead and make any purchases you might want for the journey (new bow Jory?). It will be an 84 mile land journey, and 24 by sea. A party on foot with 30' movement can move 24 miles a day, except in the stretches that require slower travel. 20' travelers move that much slower.
During your shopping time, Nester Rees finds your group and introduces himself. He agrees to depart whenever you are ready, and suggests that you travel light to speed your journey across the island to the village of Pier's End.
Rees is a man of Garundi descent who walks with a cane, saying that he suffers from a malady of the heart that has left his right side weakened. His walking speed seems greatly reduced. Rees has a horse of his own, and when he sees that there are dwarves in the party, he offers to rent mounts for them as well in order to avoid slowing the party down.
Karzak looks ready to smash the old man, until Jory makes that face that he just couldn't help but laugh at. Ha ha ha ha!. He buckles over in great heaves of amusement, taking several moments to calm himself. He looks at the man with one last chortle. Heh...yeah; thanks.
Pah! These merchant types are all the same; not worth the skin they're printed on until ya get them to hagglin' for somethin'. Then, they'll come away with your gold and clothes and you'll be holdin' a paper and an empty promise. We'll get himto where he needs to go, an' he won't have to even get any dirt on that cane o' his