The day was long, the recent cold had bought with it a slew of illnesses, Rogar had spent much of it caring for those who should have known better then to try brave the temperatures without something warmer.
One thing which hadn't changed in the years since he had taken up service for Torag, and that was the Dwarf's thirst for ale. So it was with great anticipation that Rogar headed to his favourite watering hole, The Dry Wind. It would be later now, most likely only a few regulars left, but there was a beer with his name on it, and he was damned if he was going to miss out.
Perception1d20 ⇒ 18
Walking into the common room, Rogar scans the room for familier faces, and spies a few by the bar. As he starts towards it a cloaked figure turns her head his way and he recognises the High Priestess Tikhade.
"M'Lady he says as he approaches, "It's an unexpected pleasure seeing you here, it certainly brightens a long day."
|The Elusive Trout|
Tikhade startled at the dwarf's voice. She had yet again become so enveloped in her thoughts asto what to say that she failed to sense his approach.
As soon as she shook off her initial shock, the priestess put a finger to her lips to indicate that she didn't want to make a scene (or at least more than was already made, even if it was amongst a small group).
"If you're here, that means you weren't present to receive my message, either."
The Kelish woman whispered the last sentence.
"We have much to discuss, along with our friends, here."
Even as the woman said this, the last of the other customers emptied from the main room. Wistli grinned at Rogar, and immediately retrieved his usual order, complete with the last of the prepared meal for the night, which had been kept warm on hot stones. After this, Ga'zirja had a quick exchange with Tikhade in the Vudrani tongue.
The owner and her staff had an informal agreement with the church; their members could stay to hold meetings after hours as long as someone stayed awake next to the closed canvas door to keep watch. Tonight, the bald and silent Pynja held this duty, which he took as seriously and solemnly as everything else.
"A bright servant of the Dawnflower came to me in a dream last night. A soul has been taken by daemons; they have dared to steal from Sarenrae's chosen."
Let's see with some checks how much your characters know initially of daemons.
|The Elusive Trout|
Daemons hail from Abaddon, a plane on the Outter Sphere. They are ruled by the deities known as the Four Horsemen.
Daemons enjoy both the practice of eating souls and trying to end the universe, much like Rovagug. However, unlike Rovagug, these monsters are quite mindful of what they are attempting to do.
Daemons themselves are the twisted offspring (or, perhaps more aptly, experiments) of the Four Horsemen, which gather cults of Soul Drinkers who yearn to harness the power of and emulate their masters.
Daemons are as complex as any other outsider, but they lack order in comparison to most, scheming vaguely. They also are known to allow mortals into their realm to ply in the damning soul trade that these gourmet fiends enjoy.
If a soul is taken by a daemon, it is only the competition for the prize that could save the poor thing from being completely removed from the cosmos in a painful fashion.
Arasmes sits up straighter, and his voice becomes deeply concerned as he responds to the Priestess "That's bad. Potentially very bad indeed, though I suppose competition over such a rare delicacy will keep the soul more or less intact for some small time. Still, something must be done immediately to rescue that soul from its fate, though I know not what would be best to do. What task would you have us undertake in this matter?"
Kanthuun nudges Arasmes and grins, waves of strange color rippling over his skin and through his hair, eyes flashing. He lifts the dregs of his wine, swilling it about. "I don't know what she has in mind, but it sounds like another kidnapped caravanner-rescue to me! Maybe on another plane! Finally, I'll show those Dimensional College snoots with their enlarged heads.
|The Elusive Trout|
Tikhade straightened her back to look each adventurer in the eyes in turn.
"The Goddess dares not send her immortal servants into Abaddon; such an action has dire consequences, though this part of the vision is somewhat lost to me...
Arasmes, I have to send mortals into that horrible place. Mortals who could retrieve the soul of Bahjat without endangering the balance of the cosmos.
I need your help. I need a team to enter Abaddon."
"You expect us to head into the home of the Four Horsemen?" Talon asks with what looks like a mile. "How do we get there? We can't just walk into Abaddon."
Arasmes nods at Talon's words, and turns to Tikhade, speaking calmly "Indeed. We would, as Talon says, need some method of getting there. We would also need some method of transporting his soul out...though I suppose if they have it trapped in a gem or some such thing, that would already be provided. We would also want, though not absolutely require, some method of finding or detecting his soul, specifically, and some protection from the deleterious effects of the plane. How many of these things can you provide us with? If you can do all four, I, at least, can be ready to go very quickly indeed."
Drovya starts at the shifting colors of Kanthuun's skin and hair, before composing himself. A chance to go into Abbadon! Deadly, but potentially very informative... I must attach myself to this expedition. Wait, was that me, or the sword? Damn this blade, how do I know which thoughts are my own?
Master... Talon, was it? In any case, he is right. One does not simply walk into Abbadon. Arasmes, I thought I had made a thorough study of the planes, but from your words, I think you may have a deeper understanding than I. As such, I only have two other question. Assuming we can reach that plane, and assuming we can find the soul of Bahjat and secret it away. How do we get back to Katapesh, or must we deliver this soul elsewhere? I am as you see me, and can travel at a moment's notice. If you would have me, I will pledge myself to this quest.
Arasmes narrows his eyes and examines Drovya, then speaks, slowly and carefully "I can see that you are a good man, and would be honored by your company, but you bear something...unpleasant. Can you give me your word it will not endanger the mission? If you can, I, for one, will accept your aid unreservedly."
Using Detect Good on Drovya. He shows as faintly Good since he's 5 HD of Good aligned non-Cleric, assuaging Arasmes worries somewhat.
Talon it is then, and we are agreed.
He then turns his attention back to Arasmes. I will not lie. The blade is potent, but I am yet its master. I will do everything in my power to control it, and should that be insufficient, I will... neutralize any threat it poses. This I swear to you, on the souls of all the Gregorovitches who have served as its caretakers. Is that sufficient?
|The Elusive Trout|
"I have already spoken with a powerful scholar, Yoshihiro Kateyoka, at the College of Dimensional Studies. We are able to open a small portal and maintain it as long as it remains undiscovered within the plane."
The priestess placed her hands on her lap.
"I was surprised at their immediate compliance, but the school has leapt at this chance to assist us. The headmaster himself has retrieved an artifact from their vaults that may assist you. Aside from that, a senior student has agreed to let me give our main force this."
The woman produced a breathtaking green gemstone tied on a chain.
"This stone will allow the wearer, as well as anyone touching them, to shift planes with the command word written on its back. However, it has only two charges left."
"As for your needs, we have enough rations procured for seven to subsist comfortably packed into a bag of holding."
Arasmes nods thoughtfully "So, no method of tracking the soul, or way to transport it? We can, I suppose, do without the first if we must, but the second seems esential unless we know for a fact how the daemons are transporting it and are certain we may use the same methods. Or is this artifact you mention useful in those pursuits?"
|The Elusive Trout|
"It is, and, forgive me if I've yet to explain it...
Abaddon is not a static place, and a map would be a fruitless object. Instead, you will be granted an old and powerful wayfinder that can track anyone or anything on a plane if one knows their true name. For mortals, this is not as complicated, as the device can function by the name given to the person at birth.
Also, chances are that Bahjat is within a soul gem already. If he is freed, even if within Abaddon, he will walk amongst you as a petitioner, albeit in the wrong plane. A petitioner's soul may warp to the alignment of their current plane, but for the strong-willed, such a process would be slow, perhaps even taking centuries, and time in such a place mirrors our own, even though the residents may not see it as such."
Hanethes smiles, but it's obvious he doesn't quite understand anything about the nature of the planes.
"So, we're going somewhere else... Potentially dangerous I take it?!" The last was said with a grin. "And freeing a soul to boot. Freedom is what I live for. When do we leave?"
Petrova finishes her meal, drains her wine, and stands up. She begins a casual wiggle, making her way closer to the group, saying in her sultry voice, "My, my. So many long, sad faces, here. Why so sad? The Dry Wind is a happy place. Let me cheer you up."
She begins one of her trademark firey dances in front of the menfolk, shaking things that shouldn't be shakeable. "If only you had some help for your problems, somebody who would love to repay a debt to this city, accompany you on your long journeys to keep your spirits up. If only." Petrova makes her way to the curtain leading to the back. Once in her dressing area, she unlocks the chest that contains her Shadow Dancer costume and slips out the back, masking her way through the night to the customary spot Arasmes usually finds her when he needs her help.
Perform Dance: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (3) + 12 = 15
Bluff: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
Kanthuun takes this all in. "So...we have a way to get to the plane we seek; a portal that may or may not escape detection. If it does, it will obviously have to be closed. The alternative is an item that gives us two chances to return; we could only use it once as a group, unless we went to an interceding plane before returning here. This makes that gem exceedingly precious. We have another item we can use for tracking--equally precious.
What we are missing is a way to hide or disguise ourselves during our search. The entirety of a universe will be our enemies. There will be no safe havens, and it could take only a single conflict to alert all sorts of wards and wardens." He pauses, breathes, and looks around the circle, lingering at Tikhade.
"Does anyone have suggestions? Are there other resources we have that could help us move stealthily? Seven travellers can attract attention. We will certainly attract the attention of most anything once we recover Father Bahjat, but that that point we can activate our return--the trick is staying alive until then. We should consider this. ...Unless, of course, the trick involves not disguising or hiding ourselves...but some sort of bait or misdirection at the portal that would occupy those who would chase us."
Arasmes looks thoughtful and reaches up under his mask to stoke his chin "Well, mortal travelers to Abbadon are hardly unknown. In fact, traders in souls are actually relatively common...and considering the nature of our city, them coming from here would not be unusual..."
He turns to Tikhade and asks seriously "Do you have some method to disguise our essential goodness? Actually...I know of a spell to do so, and a Wand of it would last this group a week. Could we perhaps get enough of those to last as long as this mission is likely to take? Or something else equivalent. Going in as traders would seem a viable plan."
He pauses then, for a second "Oh, and I have another friend who would probably like to come along on a mission of this nature. I will need to go collect her before this begins."
Wands of Undetectable Alignment are the item being referred to, and both usable by Arasmes and relatively cheap (it's a 1st level spell for Bards).
"Sounds like a good plan. We pose as traders, find Bahjat and then use the gem to go home. The wand is probably a good idea."
When Arasmes mentions his friend,"Her? You got a girl I don't know about? Holding out on me?" Talon laughes.
|The Elusive Trout|
Tikhade cleared her throat to interrupt the witty bantering going on.
"In going along with that plan, Arasmes, I believe I can provide you with the two wands easily. I actually happen to know where a few are; Initially, we were to send them to Solku, but I think our sister church can understand the necessity.
Drovya's weapon shall help further the illusion, I would think. Now all you need are soul gems to look the part. I don't advocate the abysmal practice, but if you steal a few from the common grunt daemons, you should be able to pretend you're of the common varieties of mortals that visit, you can destroy them and release the poor things when you return."
Concern was evident on her face.
"I understand the risks are high, but... should you succeed, Sarenrae's servants will reward you with far more than the church can give. I will, however, endeavor to scrounge up a grand reward for your return, too. This is, of course, if you're still serious about going.
Talon almost is surprised when Tikhade interjected herself. He'd almost forgotten that she was there. "Sorry, I lose myself sometimes when my friend is talking nonsense." He says as a final jab. "I'm in."
"Courting is best left for our triumphant return, and we'll have more money then for the courting as well," Kanthuun says with a grin. "We'd best depart with haste, as they that have Bahjat have been on the move."
He turns to Tikhade. "How close can this portal transport us to his location? We don't want to be running for days to catch up." He mimes two legs pumping frantically with some leftover bits of scorpion chitin.
Poor girl, stuck on a hellish plane, surrounded by fiends seeking only to seduce and corrupt her. And even if she can survive them, there's still the daemons. Drovya's mouth quirks into an almost smile before he continues. Nevertheless, the strategy is sound. I agree with Kanthuun. Let us gather ourselves and depart swiftly. However, I am still unclear. Are we to return the soul to Golarion, or take it to the Dawnflower's divine realm? Or perhaps somewhere else?
|The Elusive Trout|
Tikhade shook her head with a slight smile(as it was the most she could manage) at the humor being flung about.
"I don't know much about the geography of Abaddon, but I do know that the portal will situated in a covert location next to the River Styx, and that every soul bazaar within the realm is held somewhere on or close to it.
The headmaster said something about having to use the wayfinder in an unorthodox manner to get within, what he is sure, is less than a hundred miles of Bahjat."
The priestess then turned to Drovya to address his question.
"If you retrieve the soul and return to this plane, if it is in a gem, you must break it. Otherwise, simply lead the petitioner to the portal, and, upon exiting, it will be retransported to the Boneyard, where it can be assigned to the proper afterlife."
Tikhade again swept her gaze to all in the room.
"The portal is still calibrating; it won't be ready until dawn, but I can at least pay for you to use the rooms here until morning."
Tikhade placed a coinpurse on the bar counter before nodding at Pynja. There were no keys to the rooms, as they were merely well-oiled and comfortable tents with three clean beds in each.
"I have paid for three. Do with them what you will (though I suggest you get to your lady quickly, Arasmes), but I shall meet you at the northern entrance to the College tomorrow morning. Come prepared."
Arasmes bows slightly to the Priestess, and speaks respectfully "Very well. We shall be ready by then, I am certain." He turns to the rest of the group, and with a slightly lighter tone says "I suggest you all get some sleep, as we are likely to need it. I have to go speak with that lady I mentione earlier, but will be back to join you shortly. Oh! And I also know a place where some healing Wands might be acquired relatively cheaply. If you could each chip in some gold, I can acquire a couple of those, and I suspect our odds of success and survival will improve."
And thus everyone chipping in on the Wands of Cure Light Wounds is explained IC
|The Elusive Trout|
Drovya sighs and pulls a slim pouch from around his neck. He holds it before Arasmes with obvious reluctance. The last of my worldly wealth, although I suppose it will not do me much good if I should be slain in the far reaches of a strange realm. He places the bag in Arasmes hand and folds the hooded and veiled man's fingers over it. Spend it for the good of us all, yes? A fine jest it would be if I were to be tricked out of all my coin by smooth-tongued rogues my first night in Katapesh. Black Ivan though, he has no sense of humor. The dark haired half-elf smiles and taps the hilt of the sword on his shoulder.
The pouch contains 21 platinum pieces and 5 gold pieces.
Arasmes nods "Sensible to be worried, though you need not be in this case. But you may come with me if you desire it. And then there is this;" and with that he pulls the cloth over his face aside, revealing the hideous burns covering it, as well as a surprisingly white smile, and continuing in a light, joking, tone "If I were to cheat you, I doubt you would have trouble finding me, I have been told I am somewhat distinctive, even in a city as great as this one."
Kanthuun chuckles. "I know where you live, Arasmes, and as for your delightful countenance, how could I forget it?" He slides a pile of gold to Arasmes along the counter with two hands. "My money is yours...as usual." He pushes his chair back with much greater steadiness than half an hour ago.
"Much as I'd love to draw lots to see who gets to sleep with whom--and you all have such large swords--I believe I'll be talking my way past the Guard tonight to return to my humble abode in the Lower City. I have a small item purchased on credit--"--he flicks a wrist and a wand appears in that hand as if from thin air--"Which I now...barely...have funds to pay for. It came in handy on my last jaunt."
Lol, should I make a fort save?
Drovya shudders briefly, then composes himself quickly and looks Arasmes dead in the eye. I can only imagine the pain you must have endured. I trust that you will act with our best interests at heart, otherwise, I would not have given you my coin, or more importantly, my pledge. Also, I am exhausted from travel. I will see you at the northern entrance to the Dimensional College tomorrow morning, provided someone here can guide me to it. As I have said, I am a stranger in this city. Be well Arasmes. Chuckling, he turns to Kanthuun. As for you, my wild-haired friend, you'll find my blades are barbed, and your hands seem otherwise occupied. Hanethes, Talon, and anyone else who I might share a tent with, I apologize in advance for the snoring. With that said, he makes his arrangements with Ga'zirja and retires for the night.
Hanethes reaches into a leather sachel at his waist and pulls out a small bag of platinum coins. He dutifully counts out 21 of them and throws a few gold down as well.
"Well, if its worth it, we'll see. I doubt if you'll cheat me, though. I haven't been chated in nearly... well, as long as I can remember. You're welcome to try though."
Rogar listens silently as the group discusses all things planar, most of it going over the poor Dwarfs head. He knocks back his beer, and starts on a second one to try stave off the headache he is getting.
Letting out a discreet belch, he turns to the priestess as she finishes saying, "...College tomorrow morning. Come prepared."
'Truth be told most of what's been said has gone right over my head, but I knew the poor lad, and I'll do my part in helping find 'im.'
When she's gone, he chucks a bag of coins to Arasmes, 'I can help if any o' us come ta harm, but it ne'er hurts to be prepared.'. He then turns to the rest of the group, 'I dunna know about you, but I've had a long day, and tomorrow looks ta be longer, so I'm off ta bed, lads.'