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A century ago, the death of Aroden transformed the culture and politics of the Inner Sea nations. In the distant north in a land once known as Sarkoris, it changed the world itself, knocking Golarion out of metaphysical alignment in the direction of the Abyss, a nightmare realm in the Great Beyond, screaming with wicked souls and vicious demons. While many attribute the Worldwound to the machinations of Deskari, the Lord of the Locust Host, in truth another ancient demon lord was long established in Sarkoris.
Tsar, the great temple-city to the Demon Prince of the Undead, stood for centuries as a bastion of evil and hate. Foul beings of all kinds flocked to its mighty walls and found succor and purpose within. At its heart stood the great Citadel of Orcus, the black heart of Orcus worship on Golarion. Countless evils were perpetuated in those corrupt precincts, and equally countless wicked plots were hatched and carried out therein. Far from the reaches of civilization, Tsar flourished unchecked like a great blight on the land.
When the Worldwound erupted, Sarkoris was destroyed nearly overnight. As word of Sarkoris's swift and dramatic fall spread, the church of Iomedae was equally swift to react. Still reeling from the loss of their deity's patron, an obvious threat like a demonic incursion was precisely the thing that the Iomedaean faithful needed to stave off true despair—her champions and priests threw themselves into the crusade against the Worldwound with an almost reckless abandon, not only to blunt their own horror at Aroden's death, but also because they believed it was their responsibility to pacify Sarkoris and seal the Worldwound.
To this end, the leaders of Iomedae's church and those of several other religions decreed the First Mendevian Crusade, as well as the three that followed. Zealous followers of the Inheritor from throughout Avistan still travel up the Sellen River to Mendev in an attempt to support the crusaders. The first efforts to pacify the Worldwound met with considerable success: the demonic hosts were driven back and the crusaders stood sentinel over the land.
Then, the crusaders turned their attentions to the long-standing city of Tsar. This crusader army, raised from all nations and almost every non-evil faith marched for Tsar. In command of this army the church of Iomedae placed the archmage Zelkor. Supported by innumerable knight commanders, wizards, church patriarchs and scores of heroes of renown, Zelkor quickly advanced his army from its staging ground of Nerosyan, through Tsar's outermost defensive positions and into the great plain that surrounded the temple-city itself. Flush with their many quick victories, the First Crusade suddenly found arrayed against itself seemingly endless legions of every sort of vile warrior-race and fell outsider imaginable called up from all over the multiverse and lining the battlements and fields before their redoubt—one of the greatest fortresses and citadels ever erected in that time. The beginnings of doubt seeped into the ranks of the First Crusade.
However, hope was not lost as the heavens opened up and flight upon flight of angels and celestial beings descended from on high to swell the ranks of the Crusade. With grim determination in both camps, battle was joined on the plain before the gates of Tsar. The war raged for over a year, the Crusade advancing to the very foot of the walls and then being pushed back by a new surge of demonic power. The disciples of Orcus led by the Grand Cornu, Orcus's single highest-ranking priest on Golarion, threw every vile attack they could at the Crusade in defense of their city. Rains of horrific fire and acid fell from the skies or belched from fissures in the ground, great constructs crushed their foes before them, terrible clouds of poisonous gas choked entire regiments, and heretofore unknown plagues swept through the troops causing thousands of horrible deaths among the Crusade. Nevertheless the forces of the crusade persevered and fought on.
Finally, though the battle seemed no closer to victory, the fates seemed to smile on the Crusade. Unexpectedly the city fell. In a single night in 4638 AR the entire city virtually emptied of defenders as they all were magically transported to a point several miles outside the city's walls, complete with baggage train and mounts for many. The magical expenditure necessary to complete this miraculous maneuver cost the Grand Cornu his very life in sacrifice to Orcus, but the legions of the demon prince had broken free from the Army of Light's cordon. They immediately took flight before the stunned Mendevian Crusade, heading northeast towards the Worldwound.
Zelkor and his fellow commanders were immediately suspicious of this sudden retreat but could not afford to allow the combined followers of Orcus concentrated in one place to escape and spread their insidious evil again. Then, still with a seed of doubt niggling in his mind, Zelkor ordered his army in pursuit of the fleeing legions. The armies reached northern crusader city of Drezen, which formerly stood within the borders of Mendev. The malign, almost sentient chaos of the Worldwound, however, was not content to stay within its carefully proscribed borders. In an opportunistic counterstroke, the demon-hordes within the Worldwound overwhelmed its guardians and protective enchantments, flowing forth like a black tide. The city of Drezen, caught between the forces of Orcus and the Worldwound, fell under the influence of the Abyss. The combined force turned back upon the armies of the First Crusade. Tens of thousands of pilgrims and warriors drowned in the demonic wave that followed, depleting the armies of Mendev and necessitating the Second Mendevian Crusade.
Venture-Captain Jarina al-Mullam closes the heavy tome with a sigh. The Keleshite woman looks around at all of you with her serene and insightful gaze. "Since that time, staunching the expansion of the Worldwound has been the focus of the crusades, now on its fourth iteration. Tsar was forgotten, and the land around it shunned and remembered only as the Desolation. It is with great gravity that we send you on this mission, Pathfinders. Exploring these ruins and recovering the unimagined artifacts within is of tantamount importance."
"But if we were to send anyone into a situation a treacherous as this, I can think of no better group. Your skills are varied, and all of you have proven yourselves to be highly capable, flexible, and independent." Venture-Captain Charlotte DesChamps interjects, with a small wink in V's direction. She drops a heavy satchel on Jarina's lush Qadiran carpet, and then sits on the edge of the desk. Jarina, sitting behind the desk, barely conceals a look of pained consternation at Charlotte's impropriety. The younger Taldan woman continues, "Your first stop after Nerosyan is to the southern edge of the Desolation, a small settlement of cutthroats and the worst kind of profiteering entrepreneurs sprang up on the southern fringe of the Desolation. This hole-in-the-wall known simply as the Camp will serve as your staging ground. You'll love it, V and Sakura!" She smirks cheerfully.
Jarina stands and gently moves a chair next to her friend, cringing every time Charlotte's many buckles and weapons scrape the polished wood. "Ahem. Charlotte, we have been going on, but I don't actually think all of our agents have met. Please, introduce yourselves before my fellow Venture-Captain goes on a tangent about the joys of vagabond camps."
A tall woman clad in shining full plate steps forth and bows her head to all those assembled. She moves with battle honed grace and steely confidence, from the top of her plumed helm to the deadly arsenal strapped across her form. With a practiced gesture, she removes her helm, revealing a disciplined no-nonsense demeanor above a pair of tusks. Her most notable feature however, is her deeply penetrating gaze, a gaze that seems to see all secrets, all lies, all truths. "Honorable Venture-Captains, salutations. I hope that all is well with you and your tireless efforts within the society," She turns to the only male pathfinder in the room, the only one she does not seem to recognize. "I am Crusader Chiara Venator, but I prefer to be called simply 'V'. I am a sworn paladin of the Inheritor, veteran of the Fourth Mendevian Crusade," she says as she extends her hand out.
Momir stands in an alert pose, his elven eyes constantly scanning the room, squinting whenever something warrants more than a moment of inspection. His armor, while not dirty, is not traditionally clean either---it appears charred, and is decorated with feathers in an almost ceremonial manner. His left arm lies tensed, bent at the elbow, allowing his hand to rest against his chest, while his right hand hangs at his side. While his write hand wear a glove that leave his fingers expose, his left hand is covered in a thick, tasseled, dark leather, besmirched by a myriad of scratches, drawing some unrecognizable pattern on the glove.
Momir's brow furrows, hanging heavy over his now-squinting eyes; he cocks his head to side as he regards the half-orc---a half-scowl seems flutter across his face, leaving only a tremor of disdain in the form of a flared nostril. The small bird that seems to have taken residence on his shoulder whistles into Momir's ear. Leaving his eyes on the V, he whispers something incomprehensible out of the side of his mouth; the young bird returns with a sharp whistle and a peck to Momir's earlobe.
His countenance seems to improve drastically and the faintest outline of a smirk, if not a smile, erases any trace of his momentary scowl.
Gliding over to V, his leather bound hand take's V's, gruffly, the sound of leather tightening accentuates his greeting as he give a hard squeeze and a rough pump before letting go.
"I am Momir, I call me Momir, so this is what you call me, too. Momir is warden to Earth-mother, we bring her blessing and promise." With a smile and a squint, he finishes his last sentence looking at the Venture-Captains, offering a nod in their direction.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (11) + 15 = 26
V's mouth tightens a little at Momir's less than complimentary reception, and attempts to brush it off. Hmph. I hope he gets over that nonsense quickly if this mission is going to be successful. He had better.
"Lady Charlotte, Venture-Captain al'Mullam...did you say you are only sending three of us on this mission?"
The first part of this adventure was played in person. The story so far:
After making their introductions, the group looked to the Venture-Captains. This was an unprecedented opportunity, but also a highly dangerous one. Jarina stressed the importance of finding out the truth behind the mysterious abandonment...perhaps more reasons laid in the ancient city. Lastly, Charlotte gave the group a gift of supplies: a bag of holding, a restorative ointment, a silver raven, food and water, and a collection of blank journals. The party spent some days preparing for their journey, studying at the libraries of Skyreach. Then, taking a last look at the great city of Absalom, they descended into the depths to teleport to Nerosyan, the closest city to the Worldwound. Once there, a month long journey by foot finally brought them to the edge of the Desolation, to a community that could barely be called a town called the Camp.
Within minutes of entering the town, a badly wounded and evidently insane hill giant attacked them, charging across the town's central clearing. With a few quick spells from Sakura, the creature was quickly brought down. It was quickly apparent that this was not an average town...as the locals informed the party that they had just killed a resident. Alarmed, the party sought out the town's leader, the town Blacksmith who called himself the Usurer. Apparently, going insane out in the wastes was not entirely uncommon, so the party's act of self defense was not a problem. The Usurer seemed entirely more concerned about the party exchanging their gold into "iron bits", the town's apparently only form of currency, for an exorbitant rate. Reluctantly, the party exchanged only enough for a few drinks. V spent an inordinate amount of time staring intently at the Usurer, and upon exiting the blacksmith's shop, informed the party that the Usurer was some sort of powerful undead, disguised.
The party spent a great deal of time visiting the locals and gathering some information about their new home base, and were inundated with a slew of rumors. They met many of the colorful locals, some friendlier than others. Most notably, Simon, the local hermit, was confirmed by V to be the only person who had honorable intentions, and the group made their camp with him for the next few days (but still having some mysterious night encounters).
After getting their bearings, the team set off into the Ashen Waste, the southeast quadrant of the Desolation. Pursuing rumors of a verdant oasis, they encountered and dispatched a pack of ghoul dogs, as well as a mysterious fallen Paladin. The group followed a set of lone tracks until they encountered a massive hole in the ground, riddles with spider webs. Emboldened by the ease of their previous encounters, they threw a torch down to investigate. When a deadly monstrosity emerged, they beat a very hasty retreat...and decided that in the future they would be a bit more prudent. Continuing to follow the tracks, they finally reached the oasis, a massive strand of trees in an otherwise completely barren wasteland. They entered, only to be attacked by a pair of territorial dire tigers, and barely escaped with their lives. Badly wounded, the group made a mad scramble back to the Camp to lick their wounds and rearm.
They found that the locals seemed oddly insistent on the wonderful accommodations at the Bender Brothers, the only inn in town. Suspicious, they asked some questions, and performed divinations. They received mysterious extraplanar advice of "avoid the spiced lamb", but also received foreknowledge of the Bender Brothers' not-so-hospitable tactics. When the brothers attempted to waylay the party, the reverse ambush went off without a hitch, and the group was richly rewarded for their efforts.
The next morning, however, the Usurper informed them that by dispatching the Brothers, they had deprived the town of a valuable source of income, and that they were required to take over innkeeping duties. Luckily, the party had recently befriended a beleaguered diplomat from Nerosyan. He was eager to help, and proved to be a astoundingly efficient bookkeeper.
"Hrmph. Now that we are innkeepers and residents and all that wonderful stuff...can we get back to that forest? And maybe have a better approach this next time?" grumbles V as she surveys the inn built for far smaller occupants. "We need to get a carpenter in here to widen the damn doors."
Momir strides lazily in, the stench of vodka following him like a cloud. Stretching he addresses V, We...eh...need more vodka...Ancestors be praised. Momir slaps his knee with a guffaw.
Yes, yes to the forest, then? Perhaps we stay away from little pussy cats,eh? Maybe hire one of Ranger, eh?
We have money to spare now, yes? Now that we have killed their pets, I am guessing the people of the grove will be even less excited this time...Momir's smile fades into more of a grimace at this revelation. If they will have us, I would rather part with the money and hire the guide, than spill more blood on the doorstep of someone undeserving.
With a smile, Momir's begins again, his enthusiasm forced to return, But its blood that my friends want, he continues with a swig of something, then lets put foot to ground, eh!?
"We do seem to have made quite a bit of coin off of the gnomes. I'd... Rather not get put into the position we were in last time at the grove." Sakura opens her fans halfway at this point, covering part of her face. "It was quite unbecoming during our last visit. How much was it for the Rangers assistance again?"
A flash of insight rolls across Momir's face, breaking his concentration, Ah! Was fifty iron bits, yes, yes...Fifty iron bits get us guide and his dog, for a day. A significant sum, but one we can afford, now.
Assuming everyone is in agreement, Momir would like to drag Sakura along, at least, to talk to the guides, letting her do the deal making---if she'll have it, of course.
The party heads over to Skeribar's Ranger Guides, a collection of crumbling adobe buildings, lean-tos, and tents surround a patch of surprisingly healthy and bountiful garden. The mud-brick adobes are of obviously ancient construction and have many gaps in their walls and roofs covered by stretched animal hides and blankets. Two chained dogs lie by the entrance, and immediately raise their hackles and start barking when the party approaches. Their deep booming calls are echoed by a chorus of dogs from within.
"Ho there!" come a voice from within, and Skeribar pulls back the flap. He shushes the dogs with a sharp whistle, but they continue to glower at the party menacingly. Heh, heard you folks got yourselves into quite a scrape out there. Don't say I didn't warn you about all the dangers out there. You looking to change your mind? My boys know those wastes and can get you to where you need."
Skeribar smiles, showing off his yellowed teeth. It broadens as the party seem to confirm his suspicions and head inside. The interior of his camp is crowded, and beneath the leathers and canvas there are the remnants of old stone walls and foundations. The air is thick with the smell of dog and earth. He leads the group to a roughly carved tables and a set of chairs. "Can I offer you anything? Water? A Tomato? They are mighty nice as a mid morning snack."
When confronted by the snarling dogs, V makes a low grumbling noise deep in her chest, and puts an arm out to keep the two casters back. She eyes the chain keeping the dogs in check warily. When the ranger steps out, she moves to let Sakura take over the conversation...but moves briskly to enter the building before her companions and have a glance first. "Humph. Creatures.", she mutters almost imperceptibly as she shoots a parting glance towards the guard dogs.
When offered a tomato, she takes it (as if following rote of polite behavior), but sniffs it suspiciously. Skeribar seems more than a little amused at V's behavior.
Beaming, Momir greets Skeribar, Ah-hah! You were right, Skerb---was bad decision on us! Toss me a tomato, sounds good to me, eh!
Momir gladly accepts the offered tomato, biting into it greedily, a trail of tomato juice and seeds making its way down his chin.
Is good tomato!
Skeribar grins as Momir digs heartily into the tomato, and he casually pulls a knife from his side and slices up one for himself. "So folks, here's the deal. Fifty bits per day for the services of one of my boys and his dog. Part of a day is still a day. Whatever we think you'll do will be needing to be paid upfront, and we will settle it up once you get back. My boys are guides only, they'll be staying out of any fightin', cept to defend themselves, of course."
Sakura lightly walks into the Ranger's huts, keeping an off-handed look at the dog. At the offer of the tomato, Sakura simply smiles and states, "I would love to have one, but I'm not dressed for it at the moment." She waits a moment for Momir to finish his exuberance and for Skeribar to offer his deal.
"Skeribar, I do believe that 50 bits is a reasonable offer to us at this point. I fully understand that they are only guides, and we only expect them to be as much." Sakura pauses a moment, as if letting a small bit unsaid. "I would only expect to need to use them for five days at most, so how say we prepay that amount? Simply let me write up the contract and we both can sign."
Sakura then reaches into her bag, and quickly takes out two sheets of paper, with an ink quill pen. Sitting the papers on the table she quickly writes out two identical contracts stating the number of days expected and includes language that the only compensation that the Rangers or their leaders will receive is 50 bits per day. She then signs at the bottom with her Tian name.
"I believe this should be sufficient? Your signature should be here. Momir would you gladly give Skeribar 250 bits. We should be ready to leave within half an hour." With this Sakura shortly bows and heads outside to wait.
Skeribar seems completely dumbfounded by Sakura's quiet and measured response. He opens his mouth to protest, or haggle, or anything of the sort....but then closes it as he seems to realize that she agreed with his request. He watches as she draws up the contracts, and then reads it carefully. Twice.
It certainly seems completely correct...foreigners sure are different...
He breaks into a slow grin and accepts the bag of bits. He accepts Sakura's pen and signs a scrawl across both contracts. "My, my, you are a pleasure to deal with, mlady. Far more reasonable than most of the folks who come through these parts. I'll make sure you fine folks have my best guide with you. Hey, Lucas! C'mere." A sturdy young man enters after a few minutes, sun tanned and bearing an impressive long scar across his jaw. "Folks, this is Lucas, my best tracker. Don't let his youth fool you, he's grown up here and been under my wing since his folks got taken out by a vrock years back. These fine folks have paid for five days of your time, m'boy. I think they actually wanted to head out to see the sanctuary of Gozreh. Last time they were there we had to res Blaze and Fury, so try not to let that happen again." He gives a stern look to the party with those words.
As the party leaves, a final look flashes across his eyes, and you catch a glimpse of him picking up the contract again. ...but why was she smiling?
V stands quietly throughout the exchange, managing to look both deliberately bored and completely alert at the same time. When Skeribar mentions the Reclaimers, however, her expression intensifies. "Wait, before we go, what can you tell us about your sanctuary?"
Skeribar launches into a passionate speech, "The Reclaimers dedicate themselves to bringing balance back to these twisted lands. Nature is warped here, and the Reclaimers have made a grove through years of difficult work. After all that ashen desert, it is like a paradise. Led by Lucas here, it's a place that you will be able to rest and stage your explorations out of safely."
The half-orc stares at Skeribar a moment longer before nodding. "My thanks for your information, Master Skeribar."
Once outside, she waits for Lucas to leave and retrieve his warhound before speaking in a low voice to the other two. "Sakura, you never fail to astound me. I think you thoroughly confused him. Also, he's lying to us about the Reclaimers."
When they begin walking outside Sakura begins to put her contract away in her small bag, along with taking out other items to prepare herself for adventuring.
"Well this is interesting enough about the Reclaimers then. Perhaps they have a need of our help in some way, but want it for free? Sending intrepid Pathfinders with a penchant to help those in need seems like a good plan... at least I think so." Sakura softly smiles again.
"I saw no need for negotiations, as we have a way to easily transfer our gold pieces into bits. Two-hundred and fifty gold pieces is a small price to pay for a local guide and some protection from surprises. It also gave me a good opportunity to cement our... prowess with the locals. There is nothing malicious with the contract, by the way. It simply prevents us from giving any artifacts we find to the Rangers, and assures us what the price will be. It did however leave a seed of doubt in the Ranger's mind about us, and he may be distracted in the future, if we need it. Well, that and it does serve as a good focus for some of my spells... if things come to that. Are we prepared to start our second incursion into the Desolation?"
I, eh, have to wonder if such contract will even upheld here, no? Was once a man's word was kept by blade and blood, methinks such is the way here, as well. Either way, can't hurt, Momir eyes Sakura, well, can't hurt us HAH!
Momir's visage adopts a more serious tone, with a spocked eyebrow, he slowly examines the air around him. My ancestors, they talk to me, constantly hovering about, whispering, too much for me to listen. With a smile, he continues, Let us put that to good use, yes? Any questions we wish to ask before heading out?
Swatting at some imaginary fly buzzing in front of his face, Momir stands. Well then, give me a moment, eh...then out we go!
At some point before we head out, Momir does the following, not necessarily away from you guys, but probably somewhere somewhat secluded from the townsfolk at least. He's preparing a few of his left open spell slots in preparation for going out into the desolation
With a sharp whistle, a bird comes flying out from under his jacket, doing a quick loop in the sky, it lands with a screech too loud for its size. Momir begins to speak with it, and around it.
|Nani O. Pratt|
V gives her armor straps, sword baldric, shield, and gear a thorough check, tugging on them sharply. She grunts in displeasure as the Lucas boy returns, accompanied by a rugged war dog that she eyes suspiciously. It happily barks, delighted to be off its leash. It does seem rather interested in V's pack, however. "Stay away from my sausages, mangy mutt," she mutters under her breath. When Sakura looks at her strangely, V coughs self-consciously. "What? Lucky Bjorc gave them to me!"
After her routine, she nods to the group. "Lucas, I'll take point, just tell me where to go. Momir, bring up the end with your eyes in the sky." A long glance to Momir follows, Keep him in front of you.
Bluff to pass secret message (take the better): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26, dice] 1d20+7[/dice]
The party heads back into the Ashen Wastes, enveloped by its howling winds and choking clouds of bone dust. Sakura calls upon her cantrips to keep the dust from marring her features, while Momir and V wrap their faces and helms with cloth. Lucas is fascinated by the phantom steeds that the party conjures...but then remarks that Dobber, his hound, can not quite keep up with a tireless horse's pace. V grumbles that the animal should be left at home, but then Momir wryly points out that Lucas should just cast longstrider on the hound, to which Lucas abashedly does so. V and Momir share a meaningful look (one of exasperation, the other of dry amusement) as Lucas climbs up on his horse.
The horses leave a visible plume of dust behind them as they travel, something that the party stares worriedly at. They all know that they would be visible to the many enemies and scavengers of the Wastes long before they could spot them. Lucas squints at the sun behind the haze and sets a direction for the group before settling in to ride side by side with Sakura, who is undoubtedly the most beautiful woman he's ever seen in his life. He spends a lot of time sneaking furtive glances her way as her hips sway with the effort of riding.
A few hours into the journey, the party's earlier dire predictions suddenly come to pass. Without any warning, the entire area drops into darkness as a vaguely humanoid shape appears in their midst. Sakura gives a cry of agony as the thing thrusts a wickedly barbed longspear into the sorceress, twisting and drawing back sheathed in blood.
Sakura takes 19 damage. The entire area indicated on the map is reduced by one light level to dim light.
<Combat Map: Random A R0>
V: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Sakura:1d20 + 3 ⇒ (11) + 3 = 14
Momir:1d20 ⇒ 18
Lucas:1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
BB:1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Attack 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (12) + 12 = 24
Damage 1d8 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10, 2d6 ⇒ (3, 6) = 9
Initiative should be 26 at a minimum...will upload character sheet...like you asked me to half a year ago...so bad at doing adult things.
Momir's elven eyes focus on the enemy, wielding his bow he takes half a moment to knock his Cold Iron arrow, anticipating the fiend's move, he lets loose.
1d100 ⇒ 67 Low Miss
Attack 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (1) + 19 = 20 Damage - 1d8 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
If it hits, for fun, Ear-Piercing Scream goes off
DC 15 Fort 4d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 4, 2) = 14 Force Damage and Stunned, fort for half/negate stunned
With a slight nod of his head and a sharp whistle from Momir, Mishra charges toward the demon, snarling a deep, throaty growl.
Concealment - 1d100 ⇒ 16 - Low is Miss
Attack - 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (17) + 13 = 30 if hit, Bite, 1d8 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
Trip attempt - 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (16) + 14 = 30
Reflex save for sticky icky skin, 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (12) + 11 = 23
V grunts in acknowledgement of Sakura's suggestion, "If you say so!" She slides off her horse, landing on the ground with a small puff of dust. A green ray shoots out of her hand, and green spiderwebs crawl over the demon's skin. She advances up to the creature, drawing her shield and sword in a smooth, practiced fashion. "A'kosh miar tu'vlakith!"
Attack: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29
SR check: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28
Ride Check: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
With the Babau now surrounded, Sakura moves her steed back a few feet from the demon. At this Sakura begins singing a slow deep dirge, stirring feelings of sorrow and fear in the those around her. Weaved into this song is a small bit of her bardic power, which seems to be aimed directly at the monster that just appeared.
Casting Defensively (DC 19): 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (2) + 16 = 18
Edit: I have a +1 bonus from varisian tattoo to enchantment... so my concentration check is made!
SR Check: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (8) + 11 = 19
Momir pushes off the back of his horse, but the awkward movement is enough to completely knock his shooting off balance. Mishka rushes in, but the fiend dodges in the confusing darkness, cackling all the while. Unhindered, the Babau strikes at the wolf as she charges in, but likewise misses. Lucas leaps dextrously off the side of his horse, pulling back out of the darkness as he draws his bow, Dobber close to his heels. V casts her spell and snarls at the creature, deflecting the blow from its spear as she draws her shield. Sakura pulls her frightened horse back from the melee, her song infused with frightening power. The creature pauses momentarily as if to sneer at her...but then starts to make an odd, dry, rasping sound. It holds its side as if in pain, its face contorted simultaneously in agony and mirth as it collapses to the ground. It writhes, completely unable to regain control.
V gives Mishka a look, and her lip twitches in the barest glimmer of a smile. The two set upon the now helpless foe, tearing it to shreds.
AoO on Mishka: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (3) + 12 = 15
AoO on V: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (7) + 12 = 19
Will save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Will save: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Kicking some dust over the fiend shredded corpse, Momir reaches behind him in an attempt to recover his errant missile.
As the arrow snaps between his fingers, Momir lets out a sigh. Jumping back onto his conjured horse, he points a finger at the corpse. Salvage what we can and let us be on our way, eh? The stink of sin hangs heavy here, he finishes with a throaty tone.
Sakura waits a few seconds after her spell completes to watch the demon cackling on the ground; possibly waiting to see if the creature stands back up or possibly just watching her handiwork. She then turns and makes a few clicking noises at the frightened horses, calming them down. During this time she takes a few moment to take out a wand from her wrist sheathe, heal herself, and recast other magics onto her self.
"Are you three done with it yet? Oh my, V, that looks a little gory. You didn't have to go quite so fiercly at it... although I guess it does deserve it. Regardless let's see what it has on it right now, it could be useful."
Sakura then spends a few moments looking over the items, finding out what their use is and value. "Yes, some of this will come in handy. V, perhaps you should carry this potion. Momir would you mind if I hold on to the wand?"
Uploaded a document called "Ashen Wastes explored" in player handouts, that shows what we have encountered thus far.
The Pathfinders quickly gather up their horses and continue heading Northeast. Lucas directs the group in a beeline towards the Reclaimers, giving a tour guide's commentary along the way. "Great encampments of soldiers were in what is now the Ashen Waste. The soldiers just went off to die and left their valuable treasures behind in their camps where they just lie unclaimed! Old tombs, burial mounds, you name it, I can take you to all of them. The Reclaimers being based out of here and all that, most of the biggest dangers have already been driven off." V coughs and turns to give a pointed look as the massive pit starts to loom in the distance. "Uh, yeah," Lucas adds hastily,"Except that. We, uh, should give the Brood Mother a wide berth."
Within an hour or so from the encounter with the Babau, the group catches first sight of the trees through the haze of dust.
Before going any further, V stops the group and dismounts. "Make ready, my friends." She pulls her sword and plants it in the ground before her, going to one knee. "Inheritor, I call upon you for aid. Grant me your heroism both in battle and in peace, so that I may always have the courage to succeed. Grant me the wisdom of perception, so that ever I may be vigilant for the truth." Standing with renewed vigor from her prayer, she climbs back into her saddle.
Momir tips his head toward Sakura with a grin,By all means, m'lady...
Besides, glancing at his bow, I've my own tool for such things, HAH!
As the group approaches the encampment, Momir's eyes trail to the blazing sun above; Momir speaks to the skies, Eyes of my ancestor's watch over me. His brow somewhat furrowed the stern look of concentration washes over his face, his gaze turns to the camp.
Perception is now +18, +22 to detect traps should there be any passive checks.
Sense Motive is a whopping +8
Looking at Momir and V as they prepare themselves for entering the enclave, Sakura decides it might be prudent to prepare herself as well. Sakura takes a hushed tone in reciting famous lines from the Tian-shu opera The Battle of Eight Bridges.
"I'm ready now. Let us go meet the druids and see what is inside."
Through the continuous chalky haze emerges a strangely out-of-place sight, the verdant plant life, trees, and lush foliage—a seeming mirage in the wasteland. Whitish dust steals the luster from the fringes of this green zone, but beyond the edges you see the vivid greens of leaves and the vibrant colors of flowers and plants undiminished by the dust. Squawks of birds and the occasional animal call rises from this virtual paradise. At the edge of the trees, Lucas pauses and takes parcel out of his bag. He unwraps a set of bells that have been carefully muffled with cloth, and then leads the group into the plants with a musical jingle.
Within a few minutes, Lucas finds a small foot trail, and winds deeper into the trees. The air is fresh and cool, smelling of rich loam and flowers. Small birds peek cautiously at the party, and there is even the scamper of small, unseen rodents underfoot. Just thirty feet inside the outer edge of trees, the undergroth and foliage becomes an impossible tangle, intwined into a thick hedgerow of vines and thorny plants. It stretches in either direction as far as you can see gradually curving away from the group and stretching over 30ft high. From within this tangle, trees still rise above, though thei rtrunks are obscured in the thicket. Dangling on the face of this hedge wall is a horribly twisted and distorted skull of possibly demonic origin. Vines grow through the eye sockets and gaping maw and firmly affix it to the hedge. To the left and right you can see other white spots in the hedge wall in the gloom beneath the tree canopy.
Lucas leads the party around the hedge, moving around to the southernmost side (the party had entered on the southwest edge). There, an entrance opens up in the thorns, flanked by two of the large trees. Moving through the green tunnel, an idyllic setting opens up before the party. The thick hedgerow opens into a clearing with a thick carpet of moss and grass. A crystal clear pool occupies its center with several weeping willows overshadowingit, gently dipping their fronds into its surface. A small spring gurgles at one edge of the pool, and a gentle breeze rustles the leaves around it. On the opposite side of the pool, another opening in the hedge wall leads into green shadows.
Within a few seconds of entering the clearing, three figures emerge from the opposite opening, a female and a male human, and a male half-orc. The woman moves forward, wary but holding her hands out, palms up, in a peaceful guesture. Lucas moves up to her, around the pool, and she grasps his shoulder in a familiar greeting, but never taking her eyes off the Pathfinders. "Greetings, travelers. The Reclaimers bid you welcome in the name of the Wind and the Waves if you come with peace in your heart and bear no steel in your hand."
|Chiara "V" Venator|
Sakura takes a moment to examine her surroundings and then steps forward, making a sign of Gozreh as she bows deeply towards the Druids. "I guarantee we bear no steel towards the Reclaimers or any of their servants. As you know we came here a month ago to speak with you, but we had the unfortunate luck of being new to the Wasteland and not understanding all of its customs and rules. We are deeply sorry for the harm we may have done to your defenses, but we only ever intended to come in peace to speak of the Desolation with you."
"My name is Sakura Sakamoto; and these are my two companions the Crusader Venator and the ranger Momir." As she introduces her companions, Sakura takes a step back showing each companion as she says their names. "We are Pathfinders, if you have heard of our organization. We have come to the Desolation in an attempt to gather relics from the past and to explore the forgotten city of Tsar. We thought we could ally with you for this task and perhaps in this, we could have many things each could offer the other. Perhaps we should sit and discuss the possibilities that this alliance would entail?"
The druids exchange glances at Sakura's words. The lead female druid continues, "I am Niva. These are my fellow Reclaimers, Jeraldus and Scront," she guestures to the human and half-orc respectively, and they both nod in acknowledgement. "Our mission here is to revitalize the Desolation and reclaim it for nature, and we have made some little success here through decades of toil. Our philosophy is one of strict neutrality towards all parties. While we may not assist you with any resources, while you are accompanied by one of our own you may come and go as you please in this clearing, refresh yourselves with anything that you may gather or hunt, and rest. While we will not defend you, this area well protected by our defenses from any potential threats. We are aware of your previous incursion here, but we are well used to surviving here away from other resources, and what happens, happens. I suggest, however, that you come as you did this time, with a guide."
Niva pauses for a moment, thinking. "As for your proposal for an alliance, I'm afraid normally that we are quite singular in our goal. We do not harbor alliances nor offer aid, nor do we accept any...as is our way since we came to the Desolation...that being said..." She looks the party up and down, as if appraising their abilities, "...it is unusual to meet wanderers such as yourselves. What sort of agreement would you be talking about?"
1d20 ⇒ 2
1d20 ⇒ 6
1d20 ⇒ 8
1d20 ⇒ 9
V makes a faint, almost impreceptible rumbling noise in her throat, and shifts her weight. She takes a careful, long look around the clearing. Spotting some shapes in the undergrowth around them, she takes a good look at them. Hmm. These druids certainly go all out in terms of exotic critters. While those pets are not very threatening on their own, I'll certainly wager that there are deadlier beasts about deeper in this lair. And the sentient trees too. Talk about home field advantage. How does that River Kingdom saying go? When the wolf shows you his teeth, he's not smiling.
Perception: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (9) + 21 = 30
Take 10 on knowledge skills
Her brow furrows as the conversation continues. Wonder what this wolf is hiding...harnessing demons to ward this place like the Mendevian Crusade? Secret Old Gods worshippers? Maybe this entire place is an illusion, and we are walking into some titanic creature's maw... At this point V attempts to surrepitiously pull out the gem in her pouch and look through it, and amazingly manages to do so with a minimum of fuss. After having a quick look, she puts it away. Well, at least it isn't all an illusion!
Sleight of Hand 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Momir greets the druids with a grin, Well met...uh...Looking around, he stammers a little before continuing, A nice place you have here, is very...protected...
Momir, aware of only that he is pretty unaware of what is going on here, steps back, turning inward rather than further engaging the druids further.