A couple of days after your first assignment, Venture-Captain Valsin summons you to his office once again.
"Greetings, Pathfinders," he rumbles, absent-mindedly leafing through a small mound of paperwork that constitutes his desk. "Venture-Captain Amara Li has requested your presence at her annual Snapdragon Festival. It seems you've made something of an impression."
Valsin indicates to a small batch of beautifully-prepared envelopes wrapped with a single red ribbon.
"Your invites," he says by way of explanation. "Everything you need to know is in there. Now, off you go. You'll probably need the time to prepare."
Inside the envelopes are matching invitations, cordially inviting the group to the Lantern Lodge in Absalom's Petal District as guests of Venture-Captain Amara Li. You are encouraged to dress as befits the occasion and that once they arrive they are to seek out the Venture-Captain immediately.
Uh, that sounds nice, thse thoughts run through Targ's head, as he prepares for the festival. First of all, he will take a bath - a good excuse - and then has a look through his wardrobe. Not so much there, but he will pick appropriate clothing for the festival which will fit the style of it best. And with that he will head out at the appropriate time.
It takes longer for Kernsten to get ready, for the request to dress fit for the occasion has him at a disadvantage. His mind returned to the time at the abbey, it must be like the dinners there, plain and simple but clean clothes. To be clean of mind and body, to show gratitude for the food of the field and forest. He takes a simple tunic and clothes and starts to wash them, even if they are a little damp, it would be better than having them dirty.
He then uses the water to wash his own hide and cleanse himself. Satisfied with his work he returns downstairs to wait or meet with his fellow Pathfinders. His hair is still wet and with his jerkin, drip on the floor. He does however smell differently than usual, it must be the soap. He stands unarmored waiting as the puddles develop around him.
"Sorry I'm late, sir," Lillia says abashedly as she hastily collects the invitation, her hair clinging to the side of her face as though she had recently been sleeping with her head resting on some hard surface, the smudges of ink on her cheek providing further evidence of the nap she was having in the library when the message had arrived for her to come to the office of Venture-Captain Valsin.
Later, ready to leave for the event, she is far more presentable; her hair clean and properly brushed, and her robes smoothly pressed.
As you mingle throughout the party you realise that it appears only the luckiest or most influential Pathfinders have received invitations to the Snapdragon Festival celebrations. The aroma of blooming orchids and flowing wine mixes with the acrid tang of recently exploded fireworks, and then the sound of strangely discordant music comes from a duo of Tian women playing an unusual stringed instrument and a reed flute. The crowd mingles calmly, most guests clearly hoping to be seen more than actually paying attention to those with whom they converse, though the plum wine seems to have affected many who now move about the lodge's grounds waving sparkling wands of fire and shooting whirring, whizzing fireworks into the sky above the koi pond.
It is immediately obvious that many of the Festival's participants have put a lot of effort into dressing well for the occasion with many of them dressing in the Gokan style. Some people seem to openly score the plainer style of dress that you have.
After almost fifteen minutes, a servant appears from the crowd and bows to the group.
"Venture-Captain Amara Li requests your presence in her private study," he says quietly, motioning with one hand towards the opulent mansion in whose grounds you currently stand.
After a few minutes of walking, you are shown into a room where a woman is seated on a reed mat before a low table which is set with an exquisite porcelain set. She indicates to the group to take seats around the table and waits for the servant to close the door behind you. Once you are alone, she begins to talk in a low, hushed voice without a hint of a Tian accent.
"Well met, Pathfinders, and welcome to the Lantern Lodge. I hope you find the Snapdragon Festival and my hospitality worthy of your time and energy. I have not brought you here for mere pleasantries, however, and wish to ask you to partake a dangerous mission on my behalf," she leans forward to pour each of you a cup of tea.
"Long ago, one of my most esteemed ancestors, who was rich in power but poor in sense, gave a gift to a foreign prince, a gift that prince did not deserve and my foolish ancestor had no right to give - a ceremonial jade katana. At the time the gift was sent, its recipient was invading this island. He laid siege to Absalom from his fortress in the foothills of the Kortos Mounts. Like those who come before him, the warlord failed to take Absalom and perished in the attempt. On the very day of his defeat, his castle crumbled to dust in a violent earthquake and has been lost to the centuries ever since. My family's heirloom was lost with it," the Venture-Captain seems slightly annoyed by her ancestor's actions.
"A recent report by a group of Pathfinders gives me hope that they have finally found the ruin, and I might finally recover my family's treasure. I'm looking for an intrepid group to retrieve it for me, and I'm hoping that is you. The fame and wealth you will doubtlessly recover will bring you much honor within the Society, and if you deliver the katana to me, you will have my favor as you begin your careers as full agents of the Pathfinder Society," Amara Li stops to allow her words to sink in.
Kersten, whose eyes seem to spin like the Catherine wheels in the fireworks display, blinks and stands agog at the wondrous party, its colors and sounds, even the aromas seem more intense, the perfumes sweeter. Nothing had prepared him for the splendor of the occasion, this was a new experience. Mesmerized he is almost pulled along by Tarq towards Amara-Li's room.
Even the well groomed lady speaking, is exotic and delicate, in keeping with the party. Her demeanor though business like, seems far more friendlier than that other woman who tricked them a few few days ago. As the words dance into his mind, he hears only reasons to help this woman. Then he is confused, "A katana? pray my Lady Amara Li, what is that? though I'll honor such a task for one such as you."
Crar attempts to find his way into the celebrations inconspicuously. He had cleaned up as best as he could, preening himself and his clothing. However he is conscious that his attire pales in comparison to the rich dress worn by the other celebrants.
And what a party! He had never seen anything like this in the frozen lands of the north, though he had seen a few Tian travellers from time to time.
Meeting up with the others, he tags along to the meeting with Venture-Captain Li - and falls in love! Like the others, he finds himself more than willing to help in any way. "Well, alright then. Where do we start?"
"Alright then, so, it is an fortess in the mountains. Can you tell us more about it? Maybe even have a map? and, is it still inhabited?" Targ asks. He really enjoyed the festival, nevertheless, he knew business would come. On the other hand, everything is so excusite, he enjoys everything.
The Venture-Captain smiles at Kernsten's question. "Obviously you are not well acquainted with our customs. A katana is a sword, comparable to your own longswords but thinner and with a curve to the blade. It is lighter and easier to wield than a longsword and ceremonial katanas are often given as gifts between powerful people."
Amara picks up a folded piece of parchment and hands it to Crar. "You will find a map of the region in that parchment," she says, "It is not far from Absalom."
"I can tell you little of the fortress itself. The group who located the ruin were not able to penetrate very far due to an attack by a ghoul. They killed it, but not before one of their own perished. A most unfortunate event. I have faith, however, that you will prevail," the Venture-Captain smiles sweetly.
"I must impress that while you undertake this venture as Pathfinders, the retrieval of the katana will be a personal favour to me, she says, leaning back to rest against a cushion, "Now, please, enjoy the evening and rest, before heading to the Cairnlands tomorrow. With the local seismic activity, there is no telling how long the path to the ruin will remain open for."
Anyone with Sense Motive may make a check if they so desire.
"Ah, it would be nice to do some actual archaeology;" Lillia says cheerfully, "been too long since my last excavation."
"I don't suppose you could give us more information about the identity of this warlord, could you? It might give us some valuable insight when it comes to interpreting the things we uncover."
"It sounds a mighty fine weapon, it shall be a pleasure to return it to you. Like the others, I will happily go in search of it, for your hospitality is most wonderful." Kernstern returns to the main room of the party, wandering aimlessly, gazing at the beautiful objects and going outside, to look at the gardens, where the fireworks lit up the sky. He keeps himself to himself, unless approached, when he responds politely.
He drinks the exotic wine and eats the fine foods on offer, yet he feels a bit like a fish out of water and soon retreats to his bed, ready for the next days exertions.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
As the group mills around the party, speaking with various Pathfinder Society luminaries, a man dressed in the full regalia of the Eagle Knights - a bright blue overcoat with polished gold buttons, gold eagle epaulets, and a fine black felt tricorn hat - approaches.
"Greetings Pathfinders," he booms loudly, as though he wanted the entire party to hear the conversation, "I'm Major Colson Maldris and I hear that you're headed out to the Cairnlands on official Society business. Best of luck outside the city walls, though you look like sturdy enough adventurers. Perhaps not Eagle Knight material, but qualifed for the work of a Pathfinder."
"A word of warning though, friends - beware the walking dead. The crumbling ruins surrounding the city are rife with them, and you’re likely to run into more than your fair share over the course of your career. Undeath and the undead are more than just a physical peril, however. Undeath is the worst kind of slavery. And it should be eradicated like all servitude, whether to aristocracy or to mental control. Being enslaved to the flesh beyond when Pharasma calls one’s soul to the Boneyard is a fate I wouldn’t wish upon my greatest enemy," the Major says with fiery passion.
"So while you plumb the depths of Asad’s Keep, remember your solemn duty to your fellow man — both living and dead. Any undead you encounter along the way should be freed of their earthly shell. If you prove your dedication to freedom, the resources of Andoran will be at your disposal in your future endeavors.”
"Yes Targ's right, we'll not leave any slaves to the unlife, I appreciate your warning. We shall have to take precautions before we leave. Tell us, what can we do to improve our chances of success against these unfortunates?" says Kernsten earnestly. He puffs out his chest, trying to make himself out to be a fine figure of a fighting man.
"Knowing what I know of the Cairnlands, I'd expect you will run into some of the undead. Certainly that has been the case for other Andoren adventurers I have met," the Major replies.
"I am afraid that I cannot help you with what lies within the Keep, as I do not know myself," the Major says to Kernsten, "However, most forms of undead are adverse to holiness and fire. You might want to consider taking some of those kinds of things with you."
A servant dressed in a silk gown approaches the Major and whispers into his ear.
"Please excuse me, but I have urgent Eagle Knight business to attend to," he says as he snaps off a crisp salute and heads for the exit to the estate.
As the party begins to wind down, a well-dressed Keleshite man approaches the group. Quite the opposite to the Major, this man is soft-spoken and subtle.
"Greetings esteemed Pathfinders, I am Trade Prince Aaqir al'Hakam and like a fast-spoken djinn, I'll get to the quick. I know where you are going. House Damaq of Qadira claim the ruin, but we are willing to allow you access for the price of a small deed easily accomplished during your adventure. You will be well-compensated, I assure you, for profits are most rewarding when shared. I assume treasure-seekers like yourselves are interested in such a proposition?" says the Trade Prince, barely pausing for breath. Without waiting for an answer, he continues, his eyes intent and his posture rigid.
"The ruin is Qadiran, which is why we claim it, and we are willing to defend it, but there are really only certain things left in Asad's Keep we are interested in: trade agreements, of which we believe there to be many within the ruins. All we ask that you do is to turn over all trade agreements you find to us as soon as you return to Absalom, as we will be able to hold the signers to them even centuries after their signing. The satrap of Qadira - nay, the entire Padishah Empire of Kelesh - has much to offer the Pathfinder Society, and I personally have no qualms about sharing those resources with you, specifically. Shall we shake on this agreement?"
Anyone with Knowledge (local) may make a roll. Also, anyone with Sense Motive may make a check.
Kernsten stands looking at the lavishly dressed man, in awe of his fine colourful clothes, a man of such standing must surely be trustworthy, he is after all invited to Amara's party. He smiles at the man, bowing low, beyond the normal requirement of etiquette, as he reveals his country heritage. "It would be an honor, Sir!" he says with some enthusiasm.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
As an eagle shaman, Crar feels an odd affinity with the eagle knight. Likewise, with the trade prince he respects what he sees as a thirst for knowledge and power. However, he has trouble understanding the man's focus on trade agreements. Surely there are more powerful secrets to be learned in the ruined keep? He keenly observes the trade prince before he skulks away.
Sense Motive 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Neither Kernsten nor Crar detect any kind of deceit in the Trade Prince's words.
Latharel, Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Here's hoping your combat rolls are better than your social ones, guys! You just missed the DCs on those last few rolls!
Happy that the group understands his request, the Trade Prince bows low and leaves the party. It would appear that the rest of the revellers are following suit. A number of carriages appear to be waiting in a queue at the entrance to the estate to take the more wealthy amongst your number home. The rest appear to be heading off into the night, perhaps to find more merriment.
Although it is very late at night, you will still be able to purchase anything that needs to be purchased for your adventure ahead. Otherwise, you are free to return to your beds.
|Latharel the Lost|
Working on the assumption no-one needs to purchase anything.
The morning greets you as the sun rises over the rooftops of Absalom. Busying yourselves, you meet at the northernmost entrance to the city and head out for the Cairnlands.
Progress is slow and arduous, but you encounter no resistance. Following Amara Li's directions, you make your way to the entrance to the keep. When you arrive, you see that there is a gully leading to a door.
At the end of the gully, about fifteen feet above the ground on a cliff face, is an ancient, ironbound door. Its wood is dried and cracked. Directly in front of the door is a steep slope of rubble and dust-crusted debris that, as luck would have it, provides a path — albeit a rough and difficult one — right up to the door.
Crar: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (9) + 6 = 15
Kernsten: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (9) + 0 = 9
Targ: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
Lillia: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
A humanoid shape drops from the top of the gully and lands in front of the party as you descend towards the door.
Lillia: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Targ: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
Kernsten: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16
Crar: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Latharel: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Humanoid - 15
Lillia - 2
The humanoid surveys the party and gives you all a rictus grin. "How long will it take you all to cure, I wonder? You seem so full of life and I am oh so hungry."
Lillia may take a surprise round action and then we'll proceed to round 1.
Latharel - 24
Targ - 18
Kernsten - 16
Humanoid - 15
Crar - 3
Lillia - 2
Latharel moves into combat - trying to move to the side if possible to set up flanking opportunities.
Move action and draw the Curved Elven Blade
"So you want a fight. Maybe you have looked for the wrong opponents then."
Swinging his Curved Elven Blade he attacks
Attack 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Damage 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Mediocre dice rolling. I realized I didn't have a favoured enemy. As we fought Humanoids, Humans already I assigned undead instead. Hope this is okay. Feel free to tell me I should use somethingh else as somehow I have a strange feeling here and don't want to add this now to gain an advantage.
Targ steps in and attacks.
[ooc]Attack 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Damage 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Targ wanted a masterwork wakizashi, that's it.
Can you please let us know the distance when a fight starts? If possible, Targ makes a step forward or whatsover to make a full attack at least in the second round[/dice]
Latharel hisses back at the undead.
"Foul abnomination - go back where you come from"
Nostrus - sorry - my unconciousness must have taken over when I attacked as there was a +2 in the attack (not the damage). Just looking back I felt - I'm good but not that good. It was meant only to be added after checking with you and determining the hunch I had was right.
With a manic gleam in it's eye, the humanoid attacks Latharel furiously.
Ghoul, bite, Latharel: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 4 = 23
Ghoul, damage, Latharel: 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Ghoul, claws, Latharel: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Ghoul, damage, Latharel: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
The creature bites into Latharel's shoulder which explodes in pain. Latharel can feel something coursing through his blood.
Latharel, Fort save, paralysis: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Latharel, Fort save, disease: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
Fortunately, Latharel is immune to the paralysis but he can feel the ghoul fever take hold. The humanoid then takes a five foot step backwards, smiling wickedly at Latharel.
"You taste delicious," the beast smirks.
"Undead! A ghoul!"
Thinking wildly as he sees the foul creature pounce on Latherel, Crar calls upon the forces of nature to punish the abomination. A bolt of lightning energy arcs out from him, attempting to strike the ghoul. Then the half-elf draws his scimitar, waiting for an attack.
Lightning arc domain ability against undead:
ranged touch attack: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
electricity damage: 1d6 ⇒ 3
for move action will then draw scimitar.
Going to DMPC Lillia for the round to move things forward.
Lillia's eye glows as she targets the ghoul with her evil eye hex.
-2 to ghoul's attack rolls for 7 rounds, Will reduces to 1 round.
Ghoul, will save: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
Round One completed!
Round Two - Init
Latharel - 24
Targ - 18
Kernsten - 16
Ghoul - 15
Crar - 3
Lillia - 2
|Latharel the Lost|
"Do you really think I haven't faced abominations like you before. I'm likely older than you and want to keep it this way. So die abomination. Feel my wrath.
Attack 1d20 + 5 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 5 + 2 = 23
Damage 1d10 + 3 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 3 + 2 = 11
Favoured enemy properly accounted for this time
Latharel looks pleased when his sword cuts deep into the undead.
No real point in waiting for Targ.
With the shriek of the damned, the ghoul topples backward and expires for a second time. A cursory search of the corpse finds the following items:
- 3 potions
- leather armor
- 20 arrows
- masterwork thieves tools
- an opal
In order to scale the debris to the door will require a Climb check.
|Latharel the Lost|
Latharel looks at the short bow and scowls.
"I'm used to a better bow. This isn't really elven quality I would say. But I guess I'm in no position to complain right now. If nobody else needs it, then I will take the Short Bow and the arrows."
Just a few hundred gp more to earn and I should get my proper bow back.
"Ah - and it looks some Thieves Tools - quite good quality I would say. The ghoul won't need them anymore. Anyone here who can use them. I don't want to be greedy - but if nobody raises his hands then I will take them as well for the moment."
He then looks at the opal and the potions
"And a shiny bauble - anyone able to appraise it. And anyone here who is able to tell if it's poison or something useful in the vials?"
"I may be able to tell you what's in those, Lillia says, pulling her hair away from her damaged eye to take a closer look at the vials.
detect magic, including the other stuff too, just to be thorough.
Knowledge (arcana)1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10
Knowledge (arcana) 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Knowledge (arcana) 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Sigh. Someone might want to try a perception check for the first two.
|Latharel the Lost|
Latharel gratefully takes the rope and slowly climbs up.
(I would assume DC5 with the rope as help - but up to the GM. Feel free to roll if you dislike take 10)
"Thanks for the help Targ and Kernsten"
Targ - it's your avatar. I always see you as a barbarian and not as ninja. Yes - you make better use of the tools.