Absalom's warm dampness is vehemently disagreeing with your back pains, and not for the first time you find yourself wondering what brought you here. But, not for the first time, you remember the answer, and the answer goes by the name of Salmindrade Rellihara.
The last time you saw her, you were young and full of energy, eager to get into action. Too eager, perhaps. So eager, in fact, that without Salmindrade's tempestive intervention you may have not managed to get to your ripe old age. The dark-haired elf woman had a long memory, and she made very clear that you were in her debt, and she would have called it in.
But years passed, leaving their mark on your body, and as you faced new challenges, she never called for you. You heard about the time she left the Pathfinder society, of course: it's said that her shouting could be heard up to Cheliax. And you heard that she started her own adventuring guild, directing young heroes towards appropriately hard challenges. Then, a month ago, she called for you. For tens of years she had kept tabs on you, and the time had come.
That's why you now find yourselves in an unpleasantly warm waiting room, clerks and secretaries pushing stacks of papers, waiting for Salmindrade to receive you. A grandfather clock is annoyingly ticking in a corner, and a stack of old magazines litter the tea table. At least the armchairs are comfortable, though.
Feel free to make up any story about how she helped you, or to leave it a Noodle Incident.
Vars stands up, fairly spry for his years"'Hurry, hurry, hurry, get to Absalom' the messenger says to me. I gotta hop on a riverboat to get to Oppara so I can pay some snooty damned mage to teleport me here. That riverboat was damp as a marsh. Played hell with my lumbago. Now I get here as fast as I can cause this old harridan calls and she makes me wait! Doesn't she know who I am? I'm Duke Vars! "
When this apparently fails to impress anyone. "Well at least open a damned window! It's too stuffy in here!"
Gabriel is sitting in one of the armchairs, with an old and well-used cane leaning up against the side of it. The man is something of an oddity to look at, with his skin seeming to almost crawl with an energy that seems to come from his very pores, almost making it look as though his wrinkled skin is moving on it's own.
Assuming I'm fully juiced up at the moment, since I'm in the field and responding to this summons not knowing what it will entail. So, I would have a full force ward and elemental overflow active. Not really clear on what elemental overflow would look like for aether, but this seemed reasonable.
He looks to be rather comfortable, not just from the chair, but from the slight breeze that seems to always be blowing on him no matter where he goes. He looks over at the duke with a slight grin. (This one's quite the complainer, isn't he?) "Is it, now? Perhaps if you'd settle down and stop pacing, you'd cool down a bit. She'll get to us soon enough, I'm sure." He pulls out a small silver flask from a pocket, takes a swig, then holds it out to Vars. "Care for a drink?"
The Duke looks at the proffered flask rather wistfully. "That's a trick question. I'd love a drink, but I can't have one. Too much of the sauce in my wild days, don't you know. " He says after sitting back down.
"Still too damned hot in here. "
Muttering, a withered and stooped crone hobbles into the office. With the deft waggle of a bony finger, the accumulated filth of months coating the hag magically sloughs off at her feet. She steps away from the sizeable mound of refuse with a broken-toothed grin. "Said I had to be clean. Didn't say nothing about her pretty office." The petty act cheers the old woman enormously, almost wiping away the permanent scowl etched on her face.
As a standard operating procedure, Mahb will cast Ascendant Mage Armor each morning. Because I use a cheat-sheet for posts, I find it easier to include an active status update (like the one below) with each combat post instead of tweaking my profile. Let me know if that works for you.
6th (4): x
Variable Slot (1):
Dancing Lights (3):
Detect Secret Doors (1):
True Strike (1):
Scry on Familiar (1):
Spider Climb (10 min):
Rod of Acid(3):
Wand CMW (50):
Ascendant Mage Armor - +6 AC, 50% critical hit or sneak attack becomes normal hit - 15 hours
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Mahb casts a beady black eye on the hale old fellow while her other eye - a clouded white thing - is disconcertingly looking in another direction altogether. She pokes her gnarled cane in Duke's general direction, "Don't flirt with me unless you mean it, handsome."
Gabriel grins at the antics of the newcomer. (Oh I like her. This should be fun.) He takes one more drink from his flask and stores it. As he does, his chair itself starts moving it's legs as it walks away from some of the filth that had managed to splash too close to him. When he reaches a safe distance from the muck, the chair returns to normal, and his cane (which had fallen over when the chair moved away) floats back over to rest against the chair.
To the witch, Gabriel says "Welcome to the party, my dear. My name is Gabriel Balca. You are?"
The crone regards the well-spoken man casually and then with more interest. She takes a step closer and studies his glowing and coiling skin. "Mahb." says Mahb by way of introduction. "I like your skin. I'd like to examine it... On your bones, of course." She purrs politely, "Flaying you would be rude." She runs her eyes over Gabriel one more time as if trying to fix his details in her memory. She lifts her walking stick in a small salute to his own. "Nice cane."
Gabriel's cane salutes back to Mahb, in almost precisely the same motion, without Gabriel laying a finger on it. "Thanks, it does help to get me around. I do appreciate your consideration in not flaying me, though I think you would find my skin rather unremarkable apart from me." As he says this, his skin returns completely to normal, though at the same time his whole body seems to deflate just a little. "A fascinating side-effect of my skill set, for sure." he adds, as the writhing flares back to life.
Glancing back and forth between Mahb and the duke, Gabriel says "I assume you both were invited here by Lady Rellihara as well? How do you know our host?"
"Flirting?" he mutters quietly to himself with a shudder.
Glad to have the other man change the topic from something which was really making his flesh crawl, he replies "Oh, I had a business transaction with her a long time ago. Something which had to be kept discrete. She took care of a problem of mine. "
Mahb raises a shaggy, curious eyebrow at Gabriel's 'mystical skillset', filing it away as a topic for later discussion... assuming Rellihara's missive was designed to bring these pensioners together. While she didn't like Salmindrade, Mahb had a grudging respect for the woman's abilities and cunning.
"There's a debt between us." she grumbles then waves a dismissive hand. "It was a small matter. One thing leads to another... and you find yourself gagged nekkid in a cage filled with adamantine wasps."
A young half-elf, a farmer by the dirt caked on his boots and sun-scars on his face, hurries into the offices. The pack on his shoulders, clearly still to be as broken in as his unassuming clothing, clangs as he does. He looks around as if he'd lost something and he's trying to find it. Seeing the others, he straightens up, and bowing, introduces himself in a surprisingly thick hallit accent, "Good day, my name is Yura Romanov, might I bother you all for some information? I vonder, haff any of you seen my master? He's a fe--I mean kayal, and rather o--" he looks about at his audience and reconsiders his words, "venerable master of the eastern arts of var." He finds satisfaction in his own speech, it's clear to any discerning ear that he has been practicing speaking with elocution of late.
Rasil Stealth: 1d20 + 33 ⇒ (11) + 33 = 44
Out of the corner of your eye you see a figure shrouded in shadow crawling among the balustrades of the vaulted ceilings of Madame Rellihara's offices.
perception: 1d20 + 26 ⇒ (13) + 26 = 39
Not paying any attention to the youngling who barged in, Vars starts to nod off in the comfy chair.
Well if she's gonna make me wait, might as well catch up on my sleep. as he shifts around to get comfortable.
The crone casts a hard look at the child then glances around the room in response to his question. "'Venerable'? Take your choice. You're ass-deep in old men here."
Perception: 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (2) + 20 = 22
"That's a good point, amma, my master is quite the master of disguise as vell." He approaches Duke and Gabriel in turn, asking, "May I?" before looking intently into their eyes and each time leaning back with a disappointed look, and saying, "Pardon me for da bother."
He then glances at Mahb, does a double-take, then shrugs and moves over to her, undergoes the same ritual, then leans back disappointed yet again. Finally, defeated, he sits on the floor by the door and sighs.
|Antroth of the Shadow|
A chuckle erupts from a corner behind a shelf stacked high with papers. A few whisps of smoke follow it, as an aging, diminutive fellow in a dark brown gentleman's coat atop a deep red double-breasted vest steps forward, a cane in one hand and a pipe in the other. "She's an elf, lest ye've all forgotten. The years since I've last seen 'er 'ave been many, yet te 'er, doubt it feels like more than the passage o' a good novel. An' fer ye humans, time is even more fleetin', so 'ave a moment of patience."
The venerable halfling pulls a pair of crystal lenses out of his vest pocket and resting them across his nose, surveys the gathered geriatrics through his foggy eyes. With a rye smile, "Now, did I 'ear one o' ye offerin' a drink?"
Perception: 1d20 + 29 ⇒ (9) + 29 = 38
Gabriel stares back into the eyes of the half-elf, not bothered in the slightest by the eye contact. "I've not seen him, as far as I know. Good luck to you, though, in finding him."
At the entrance of the halfling, Gabriel looks him over. (Apparently our host has an interest in the elderly. How odd.) "Aye, that's a fair point. Good thing the chairs are comfortable." He once more pulls out his flask, and tosses it toward the halfling. As it moves through the air, it suddenly slows, steadies itself right side up, and floats calmly the rest of the distance over to him. It comes to a stop within arms reach of the new arrival, and hovers there. "Help yourself, it does help to pass the time."
Perception: 1d20 + 30 ⇒ (5) + 30 = 35
Your chatting and Vars' sleep are interrupted by a scream, a noise of broken glass and a thump. Seconds later, the door to Selmindrade opens and she herself exits, dressed in business clothes and carrying a longbow crackling with magic. There are streaks of grey in her coal-black hair and lines on her face, but she still looks quick and dangerous as she was in her youth.
"Gods, you've aged badly. You all look like a hundred miles of bad road. And who the Hells are you? Where's Rasil?"
The last questions are barked at an intimidated Yura.
"Huh, What? Who's making all the racket?" then he wakes up fully and notices that the hostess has deigned to grace them with her presence.
"Oh, you finally decided to attend to us. I'm so grateful. Who's Rasil?"
Salmindrade looks at you with half a smirk on her face. "Wine gets better with age, unless it turns into vinegar. I've got a business proposition for you five, or four. Or, for a better term, it would be a business proposition, if I were hiring you. Instead, I'm calling in the favour each one of you owes me from a long time ago, to have you accept. Don't worry, there will be compensation too, even more so because Rasil hasn't showed, so he will forfeit his quota. Come in my office and we'll discuss details. Not you, young one. Whatever errand you've been sent here for can be handled by one of my clerks."
"Forgive me madame," Yura blushes as he bursts to his feet, "M'Lord Rasil," he looks over at Duke, "Master of the eastern arts of death," he looks back at Rellihara, "told me he was coming here, but I had trouble, er...tracking him. I imagine by now, he's--"
"Right behind you," a whispy voice that carries on the air comes from just behind Rellihara's left ear. A man entirely swathed in dark grayish-brown clothes, even covering his face, slowly fades into view, he's hard to look at, as if he's in the shadow of some body you can't see. He turns to the wall, and says, "I'm here, farmer-boy, now leave me alone. I told you I don't take students." He turns to another corner of the room, takes down his hood, and pulls down his cloth mask, revealing pale grey skin on a face that has seen nearly a century of adventure. His eyes, you assume, have not however, as the upper portion of his face has been scarred badly, and his eyes are whitewashed. Facing no one, he bows, "Madame Rellihara, it's been what, sixty? Seventy years?"
Yura walks over to the assassin, gently grasps his shoulders and turns him toward their host before silently retreating back to his position beside the door.
The hag stares at the exit for a long moment, silently debating whether to stay or go. In the end, obligation outweighs irritation by a feather's weight. She turns around and briskly hobbles toward Salmindrade's office. "Fine. But the compensation better be worth it..."
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Gabriel snaps his flask back to him, pockets it, then slowly stands up from his chair. "Let's get this over with, then" he says, as his cane flies over to his hand. He then begins to walk, painfully slowly, toward the office, leaning heavily on his cane with every step. When he reaches Mahb's pile of muck, his feet leaves the ground, as he flies right over it, before returning to the ground and continuing his hobbling.
Rasil silently follows Salmindrade's sonorous footsteps into her office, holding a hand up to Yura who was obviously very eager to follow. "Akumu is outside, farm-boy, see that he is fed and watered." He takes a few steps before adding, "No flying."
|Antroth of the Shadow|
His sip of the flask complete, he nods graciously to Gabriel. With Salimdrade's entrance, he relaxes back in his chair, smiling. A long whisp of smoke from his pipe leaf escapes his nostrils as she speaks. "A Salimdrade, my sweet, it is good to see you again. I know, it is sad to see how quickly humans fade and decay, they do not mature like us fey-touched - but you, my love, you have the aged like the finest Riverspire Syrinelle. And as to the favor 'owed', my darling, you know I would help you whenever you ask. So, lead on."
Salmindrade lets off a throaty chuckle turning into a cough.
"The show-off, the flatterer, and the grumpies. You haven't changed much."
Her office is rather small and disadorn, the main pieces of furniture a large oak desk and two large libraries stuffed with binders, each marked with the name of a place and a date. Several wooden chair are in front of the desk, and one of the windows is shattered. The elf sits in a chair, motioning you to sit as well.
"My society has been hired to explore a necropolis in Taldor, near the World's Edge Mountains. I would have sent my best team there, but they had a... relocation accident and I can't count on them until they find a way to come back from the moon. My other teams aren't skilled enough to deal with the dangers that are likely to be in the necropolis, and those who are skilled are busy. Most are dealing with that bad situation in Numeria, or patrolling Varisia, the most unbelievable doom magnet ever. Seriously, when something goes wrong you can bet it's Varisia. Desna knows why."
"Anyway, I've been keeping tabs on you, and you managed to survive all this time, so you must have some talent. The necropolis belonged to the Adella family, an old Taldan family that fell into disgrace and decadence many years ago. The man who contracted us will be waiting for you is looking for the secrets that may be hidden in the graves, since he believes to be an Adella scion and wants to clear his family name."
"I can teleport you to Zimar, there it will be a couple of hours until the... The Lion Sleeps Inn. The man who hired us goes by the name of Hanoris Dellum, he'll show you the directions to the necropolis. It should be about thirty miles northeast of Zimar, in any case."
"As for compensation: I'm getting my payment from Dellum, so you can keep any money or items you may find in the necropolis, and you may take any course of action you deem best for any obstacle you meet. I wish I didn't have to say it, but that doesn't mean "go merrily graverobbing and blow stuff up". First, there are stories about that tomb, it's said to be filled with traps, so the corpses are likely protected somehow. Second, don't shame me or my Troubleshooter Society. If you screw things up, I'll be disappointed."
These five scandalous murders had no clear connection to the other two clans, yet they triggered a cascade of increasing bad luck and ill fortune upon the family nevertheless. The Voxus branch was next to fall. Known for their nautical prowess, members of the Voxus clan traced their lineage back to Pasco Adella, admiral of the Taldan Third Fleet during the 42nd century and veteran of over a hundred sea battles. Later generations would exploit their family’s seafaring renown to become great import/export tycoons, controlling vast fleets of merchant ships plying the oceans of Golarion. But this branch of the Adella family withered during a literal civil war between twin brothers Vespacio and Vincenzo, who went so far as to field armies against one another. The crimes of their five murderous cousins may or may not have directly led to the fratricidal feud that dealt utter ruin to the Voxus branch in a single generation.
The last surviving branch, the Daellum clan, at first seemed likely to weather the ignominious end of their cousins. The cunning and ruthless Bartolomae Adella, who led the Daellums, was an exemplary and highly successful commander in the Taldan military, and for some months it seemed that what had come to be known as the Adella curse had passed this final clan by. Yet Bartolomae went on to suffer a crushing military defeat on the fractious Qadiran frontier. Humiliated to the point of blasphemy (although some held that Bartolomae’s blasphemies were nothing new), he fell on his powerful sword Infensus Mucro in contrition, yet even this act was hardly salve enough to atone for the family’s military failure.
Indeed, so appalled was Grand Prince Beldam II by the family’s impressive descent into murder, hubris, and blasphemy that he proclaimed the entire family damnatio—their memory was to be wiped from every public record and monument, and all members stripped forever of noble status.
Mahb's face splits into an unpleasant grin. "Completing the job, wiping out my debt, AND disappointing you at the same time... sounds like a win-win to me." She chokes on a chuckle then gets to the matter at hand, "I know a few things about that family's history... not a pretty story. Just what does your client expect us to dig from a tomb that will lift the Damnatio on the family name? I'm willing to poke around but it seems like he's looking for a miracle."
K: History: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (11) + 19 = 30
Making knowledge checks for Anton, my sage/figment familiar. From what I can tell with the figment archetype, the familiar still has a physical form and is visible to others, despite being a figment of my imagination. If I'm incorrect, please let me know.
Know(Nobility): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29
Know(History): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (18) + 12 = 30
When the elf mentions the Adella family, a previously still and quiet lump in one of Gabriel's pockets begins to move. A tiny black scorpion crawls out of his pocket, then flies up on a pair of wings to his shoulder, where the beast begins making a series of clicking sounds. Gabriel splits his attention between the insect and the elf.
When Mahb asks her question, Gabriel chimes in. "Perhaps the fellow is hoping there was a malicious curse pointed at the family, something beyond their control? It does seem a bit of a stretch, but those hoping for nobility can often stretch quite far. Nasty family history there, whatever the case."
To Salmindrade, Gabriel asks "Will this Dellum challenge us for any items we might find in this necropolis? It belonged to the Adelia family, and he claims to be a part of that family, might make things complicated."
Yes, the figment is basically an illusion made real and tangible, as far as I understand.
"Do that and we'll be even. Of course, you might like working for me. There's good pay and good action."
Salmindrade rustles through a stack of paper.
"Wait a second, I've got his letters here... There. First and foremost, Dellum is looking for any information you may get on the last surviving members of the family, to prove his lineage. Then, he suspects that there was a conspiracy to have the Adellas fall into damnatio; if you find proof that they were framed, he'll want that. If you find proof they weren't, he'll want that too. But mainly he's asking you to get information on the last members of the family, Bartolomae Adella's siblings Cadimus and Lucretia. They vanished in 4417 and were never seen again. Since searching across Taldor bore no fruit, Dellum is asking you to find any traces of them in the necropolis."
"As for the items, he forfeited the rights to them as part of the payment, which may suggest that he's rich but not too much of it. However, it would be common practice to give him a chance to examine whatever you find and make you an offer. Especially if you should find Bartolomae's sword, whatsitcalled... ah. Infensus Mucro. He seems to be extremely interested in it."
"Ah, and of course, remember that you're heading into the necropolis of a formerly powerful family, so you may want to stock up on holy water, silver, and any such anti-undead gadgets you like."
I picked up a couple Holy Waters with my remaining cash.
Mahb hitches a thumb at the winged scorpion on Gabriel's shoulder, "Are you gonna transport all our pets as well or will I have to do it? It's been some years since I was there but I expect I remember Zimer well enough."
"We certainly aren't getting any younger; let's get a move on."
I'd like to pick up a wand of see invisibility with 25 charges, if possible. From a quick search, it would seem that glitterdust doesn't help vs ethereal :(
Gabriel will also hobble on out to make his purchase, seeming to argue with his scorpion the whole way out. "I know I should have a wand of See Invisibility; bought a whole dang quiver of new wands for this trip, knew I was forgetting one. Yes, I know that one's important, why do you think I'm off to get one? Don't make me leave you here, I'll do it if you don't quit your yapping..."
He'll return after making his purchase, ready to set out when everyone else is.
With nothing else to say, the crone grunts goodbye to Salmindrade and hobbles out to await the return of her new colleagues. Outside, a battered and ancient tumbril, half-filled with hay, rests against the curb. A few bystanders glance at it nervously. Their nervousness could be due to the fact that tumbrils were often used to transport criminals (and innocents) to their executions. Or it could be that the warped driver's bench is occupied by an aged, rough-feathered raven with a heavily scarred beak. The creature's gaze is uncanny and unsettling as it invariably falls on anyone giving the bird more than a passing glance. But the likeliest source of bystander angst is what adorns the long break lever alongside the bench. It is crowned by a lopsided, fleshless, and pitted humanoid skull.
Mahb shoos away the watchers with a hard glance and climbs onto the bench gingerly. She shoves her cane into a slot purpose built for it beside her seat. Settled into place, she gives the bird a rough pat and grabs the buggy whip. She snaps it once and the tongues of the tumbril rise... as if an unseen draft animal has been yoked to the vehicle. Mahb's voice creaks almost as much as the ancient wood contraption as she informs her companions, "We've got business with the dead near to Zimer." Tasks done, Mahb hunches in silence, pondering thoughts best left unvoiced.
Ready to go!
Sorry for the absence, my sister was in town. Don't get to see her much.
At being called a show-off Rasil mutters something about trying to rid himself of a farm-boy, but tries not to draw attention.
K (Nobility): 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (14) + 12 = 26
"Hold, I'll just be a moment," with the agility of a man a quarter of his age, Rasil darts to the door, but vanishes before he reaches it.
He returns very soon with an extra kit visible on his pack. Undead Slayer's kit purchased. Profile update pending.
He quickly saddles what seems to be a midnight black hippogriff. He repeatedly tilts his head as if listening for something. He then simply sits back in his saddle, as if satisfied with the results of his listening.
He has the 'griff trot up next to Mahd, and then the ninja sniffs the air, "Is that a...skull?" he asks.
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (2) + 20 = 22
The hag glances beside her then back at Rasil. Mischief tinges her face, "No, it's a raven." She shakes with a silent chuckle. "It is a skull... but more than that, it's a reminder that all things pass."
After you all get ready, you meet Selmindrade outside her building. "Alright. You've got directions, go hear whatever this Dellum fellow has to say. And don't get killed, it would stain my reputation."
That said, she affixes small magical marks on all of you and your entourage before taking out a scroll. "Zmień granice przestrzeni!" she says in a crisp voice, and you feel yourself yanked in a fourth spatial dimension.
As Salmindrade told you, you find yourselves on the outskirts of the Taldane city of Zimar. The road towards the World End's Mountains is clearly marked, and it only takes you a couple of hours of travel to get to the inn. I'm assuming you all go at the same pace, no need to scout the area.
The two-storied building looks like the sort of inn whose patrons are local sheepherders and travelers, and its common room is large, the ceilings high and a warm fire popping in the hearth. On the walls you can see the mounted heads of many wild beasts, including, just over the hearth, that of a manticore. Behind the counter is a surly-looking man, currently cleaning goblets, and a handful of men are chattering at the tables, drinking from large mugs of beer.
Just to the west of the entry door, firmly affixed to the wall, is a fancy bronze plaque of a sort not uncommon in various Taldan establishments—a marker that commemorates the visit of some historical notable. This one reads: “Micheaux the Magnificent, Future Grand Prince of Taldor, Father of Stavian, Slept on these Premises on 5 Lamashan in the Year 4497. May Divine Providence Reward Him as He Deserves.” The date embossed on the plaque at the bottom is only 2 weeks after the commemoration date—19 Lamashan 4497.
I used the wrong date earlier, Cadimus and Lucretia Adella vanished in 4497.
Rasil's sightless eyes visibly roll back in his head at the witch's joke. But upon hearing her serious explanation says, "Hm. I wouldn't think those in our line of work would need such a reminder."
Alias updated to show new gear, also Akumu has stats now.
"May what indeed?" The blind old kayal asked when upon hearing Mahb. "Are you all reading something?"
K Local: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (14) + 22 = 36
GM's choice, as I'm sure Rasil's fellow adventures will likely share anything they read with him..., but just for RP flavor, you may want to spoil anything that has to be read since Rasil is blind and can therefore not read.