Once in Kerse, it is easy to get directions to the manor home of Temel Passad - it seems the entire city knows the prominent Kalistocrat, and his name is spoken with utmost respect. You find your way to an opulent manor, and upon presenting your wayfinder are quickly ushered in by a pair of uniformed servants into a richly decorated parlor.
"The Master offers his apologies for a delay, but he is currently finishing an important business and will be with you as soon as he can. Please make yourself comfortable." With that, the perfectly schooled servants retreat, leaving you to once again ponder the contents of the mission briefing, while treating yourself to the finest Chelish wine and a gleaming silver plate of delicate sweetmeats.
Society agents recently learned of a lost, previously undocumented Sky Citadel in what was once Sarkoris, the land now consumed by the Worldwound. As we cannot push into that demon-infested wasteland ourselves, we have recruited dwarven aid in the dangerous expedition. In exchange for military assistance and historical expertise, the dwarves will have the opportunity to reclaim this lost stronghold. Two weeks ago, Highhelm sent an entourage of diplomats and tacticians north toward Mendev to meet with Venture-Captain Jorsal of Lauterbury to discuss terms and develop a plan of attack. When they failed to arrive in a timely fashion, Jorsal commissioned sending magic to contact Rakuska Ingardam, the mission’s leader. Rakuska’s return message—cut off due to the magic’s limit—was as follows:
“Passed Xer, paid our way, but attacked and overcome. Razmiri priests hold us for unknown purpose. We are held somewhere near the Glass River at…”
One of several possible places they are held is the Gray Revelation Inn, about thirty miles east of Xer — we suspect the Razmiri priesthood uses the site to interrogate prisoners. You must investigate and liberate the three dwarven envoys — if indeed that is where they are imprisoned — and then escort them to Mendev. Accompanying you are two other dwarves who will take the captured envoys’ places if you aren’t successful: merchant Metella Raugar and respected Pahmet mystic Amauhak. The Kalistocrat Temel Passad, a Druman with whom we have dealt in the past, has volunteered a boat to transport you north, and I see little reason why we should not take him up on this offer. Building a good working relationship with one or more influential merchants would be to everyone’s benefit.
Good luck! Ambrus Valsin
Seated at the table is a young, thin, and fit half-elf. He has willy, brown, wavy hair that covers his pointed ears, and a close kept beard and mustache. He wears weather beaten and rough-spun clothes with good quality leather armor and carries a light shield emblazoned with a long sword; which stands out due to it's fine polish. He wears a long sword and dagger at his hip. A paladin of Iomedae, far different from the polished proper knight; Carrick is more rough around the edges, preferring lighter armor, than the bulky Platemail.
I'm Carrick Castermill, servant of Iomedae. The half-elf offers in introduction to his fellow pathfinders.
A beautiful half-elf woman with long, dark red hair and deep brown eyes catches everyone's attention as she walks into the room. She is tall and slender, and graceful in her movements.
Her leather armor, dyed blue and with gold trim, seems new, without the slightest blemish or crease as if worn for the very first time just today. She carries a longsword on one hip, a spiked morning star on the other and a shortbow and quiver upon her back. Doves are etched on many of her items and an angelic ankh, the holy symbol of Sarenrae, hangs upon her chest.
With a warm smile and an angelic voice, she addresses the other pathfinders in attendance.
"Well met friends. It is my deep honor to serve the Society and join you for this mission. My name is Veres Sol and I offer my bardic magic by way of song to both inspire and to heal." She offers a deep bow before taking a seat and partaking of the refreshments and looking over the mission briefing.
From another table in the room, you see a casually dressed man with the look of a constant traveler stand up from a game of cards.
"Peace, gentleman. If you aren't drawing the cards you want, don't go blaming me.
I can see my presence at the table is no longer welcome, and it appears my business partners have finally arrived, so I bid you adieu."
Picking up his wide brimmed hat and bow, he makes his way over to the group table.
"Druma, eh? I could get used to this place. The money moves freely here, and I get the feel that the more shadowy businesses do a brisk trade.", he say with a wink.
Plopping himself down in a chair, he reaches for the mission briefing and gives it a quick scan.
"Ah, a bit of piracy and smuggling under the guise of a rescue operation, is it? Sounds like fun.
Anyone up for a game of Harrow while we wait for the others? These Drumans... Drumashites?... whatever, play the most uninteresting games. Don't worry, we'll keep the stakes low amongst friends, eh?"
With that, he breaks out a Harrow deck and begins flamboyantly shuffling it.
Elemenar looks around the parlor. Extravagant. Opulent. Ostentatious. The tall elf finds an overstuffed chair and sits down, arranging his traveling cloak neatly around him. He holds his oaken staff across his lap and silently takes in his surroundings. At Veres's introduction he nods, "I'm Elemenar. Pleased to meet all of you."
Two silent servants open a pair of richly lacquered doors, and a human and two dwarves stride into the lavish parlor. The man, clad in immaculate robes of whitest silk, is short and round with a blond oiled beard, and his eyes are alert and amused. He takes a touch of snuff from a golden box and sneezes before saying, “It is a pleasure to welcome Pathfinders to one of my estates once more. I am, as you may know, Temel Passad. Allow me to introduce — ”
One of the two dwarves, a redheaded female in deep scarlet robes, curtly interrupts the man. “We can introduce ourselves, Passad. I am Metella Raugar, representing the interests of several Highhelm mercantile consortia. My companion” — she gestures to a dwarven man with leathery skin baked by the sun, his head swathed in a bright yellow scarf — “is Amauhak of Reth Bezel, a mystic of the sand dwarves of Osirion.”
The Kalistocrat is slightly taken aback by this blunt outburst, but quickly regains his composure. "I hope this morning finds you well and the Druman hospitality does not disappoint. Are the refreshments to your liking?"
The young man enters into the room, dressed in red and gold. His shiny new armor and his bastard sword at his side are well maintained and shine with the love a warrior has for both weapon and armor, a holy symbol, that of Ragathiel, lies around his neck.
Greetings fellow Pathfinders, I am Crisicus Hispanius of Cheliax, just come off my Confirmation. I look forward to working with each and everyone of you.
Carrick gives a bow to Temel Passad, Esteemed One, thank you so much for hospitality. I am Carrick Castermill. And yes the refreshments are, um, quite refreshing.
He then bows to both Metella and Amauhak, My lords. He says respectfully.
Allow me to introduce the rest of the Pathfinder team. We have the lady Veres Sol; Criscius Hispaninus of Cheliax; Elemenar; and Jacques N'Fey. He indicates to each person in turn, then waits for Passad or one of his fellows to offer the next words.
Now realizing that I horribly misread the introduction post...
Flourishing his hat before him, Jacques bows deeply. "Very eloquently spoken, Sir Carrick. I shall have to remember that line. Refreshing refreshments indeed.
Madame Raugar, Monsieur Bezel, pleased to make your acquaintance. I am sure we shall become fast friends on the journey before us.
Monsieur Passad, your hospitality exceeds our expectations. Perhaps at another time we could discuss the arrangement you have with your suppliers. I am sure that I could help you find more profitable arrangements.
Of course, that can wait. You called us here for a purpose. Is there anything you can tell us that is not contained in the briefing?"
At the mention of her name during the introduction, Veres stands and gives a gracious bow. "It is a great pleasure to meet you all." she says with her dulcet voice.
While Jacques rattles off his comments and engages their hosts she leans slightly over toward Carrick and whispers, "Thank you for that wonderful introduction."
She then smiles, and waits for Jacques question to be answered before saying anything further.
Temel meets each introduction with a polite bow. "I can see that Ambrus made a good choice. I'm honored to have you here." The dwarves remain silent and motionless.
"To our business, then. The Abacus, one of my boats, will take us along the shore of Lake Encarthan, before entering the mouth of the Glass River in Razmiran, on the bank of which the the Gray Revelation inn is located. We will investigate the site for any trace of the missing dwarven envoys, and will take them with us if we can.
In any case, we continue onwards towards Mendev, our final destination, where your escort mission will be fulfilled - and ours will begin in earnest."
The deeply tanned Pahmet mystic notes:
"Given what happened with the earlier team, it would not be wise to advertise our presence in Razmiran." Metella nods in agreement.
"You may want to know the identities of the dwarves you'll be trying to rescue. Rakuska Imgardam is a well-known Five Kings diplomat and devotee of Torag; Holfist Sendstrom of Taggoret; and Pechas Domri — like Amauhak, a Pahmet dwarf of Osirion. All are valued for their strategic and military acumen. Should you fail to find or rescue them, Amauhak and myself will take their places. But it would reflect far better on the Society were you to rescue the captives. Regardless, it will be important to continue to Mendev in a timely fashion afterward."
Temel looks at Criscius. "A follower of an Empyreal Lord coming from Cheliax is not a frequent sight to see. If there is a land with less freedom of faith than Cheliax, it is Razmiran. It’s a strict theocratic government presided over by a vast priestly bureaucracy serving a being said to be a living god."
Amauhak scoffs and nearly spits on the floor but contains himself in the presence of the owner. Temel raises an eyebrow but continues calmly. "All other faiths are prohibited in the nation, though foreign priests are tolerated as long as they are not proselytizing and just passing through. All nonresidents are subject to sundry tariffs and unannounced inspections."
You can attempt a Knowledge (Religion) check to see what you know about the nation of Razmiran and its state religion
Razmir, known as the Lord of the 31 Steps, claims to have taken the Test of the Starstone and ascended to divinity. He appeared before the people of Xer in the Duchy of Melcat 52 years ago and now acts as both sovereign and god of those captured lands.
know religion 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
The young warrior responds to the comment Growing up in Cheliax, my family is an oddity, though we do pay "homage" to the Lord of the 9, officially.
know religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Carrick doesn't know much about the Razmiran faith, other than a brief encounter he had with one of their priests once. He listens eagerly to the details provided.
Very interesting about Razmiran, I spent some time in the River Kingdom's previously and came across a town near the Razmiran border, they were know to be resistant to the new faith, but had suddenly been converted. As it turned out it was all trickery. So the Razmiran clergy are not to be trusted should we encounter them.
When the talks turn to tariffs and inspections.
Unless you feel we may be detained, it would seem to be prudent to submit ourselves to the local laws, the less trouble we cause the quicker we can find out what happened to the missing envoys.
know. Religion: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
"I'm afraid I can't offer anymore insight into the Razmirans than the rest of you." Veres says with a slight frown and gentle shake of her head.
Obviously bothered by the comment about other faiths not being tolerated where they are going, she remains still for now regarding the subject, but she does reach up to stroke her holy symbol before tucking it away under her armor. She closes her eyes for a moment in silent contemplation, I will endure this for the sake of those in need. I won't like it, but I will endure."
Her eyes open slowly and her smile returns as she continues to listen to the exchange around her. "These are good people. Thank you for guiding me to them Dawnflower."
Temel Passad nods with a smile at Carrick's suggestion. "This course of action seems most prudent to me as well, if not entirely risk-free. There will be charges levied, especially if we want to make our passage smoother if you know what I mean, but I will ensure that you don't have to worry about it."
Metella abruptly intervenes: "Bah! What's the difference whether the inspection is authorized or not? Port authorities, faith barges, bandits - they are all the same in Razmiran if you ask me, only looking for a barest excuse to fill their coffers with the gold of honest travelers! Better take our chances to remain unseen than willingly submit to robbery - I bet this is exactly what the fools before us have done! Um, with all due respect, I mean." She glances at Amauhak apologetically but the mystic remains indifferent to her temper flare.
Temel resumes calmly, making a peaceful gesture with his white-gloved palm, but there is a steely undertone in his voice: "We shall have enough time to choose the course of action while on our way. Plus, we now have Pathfinders with us, and their fabled resourcefulness and luck will help us, I'm certain. May I suggest that we reconvene at the docks at sunset. The Abacus will be waiting."
Metella doesn't have to be asked twice and bows curtly before leaving with Amauhak.
When the group first meets at Passad's home, a friendly nagaji greets them all and introduces himself as Zorahas. "It is an honor to be working with you all this mission. I have had some previous experience on boats working for the Society and it was not really my cup of tea. Hopefully this excursion will be more pleasant."
The hooded nagaji listens silently to the briefing and all the subsequent jabbering. He bids the dwarves farewell as they exit abruptly. Then he grins and says, "Sunset is a terrible time to launch. I wouldn't advise dinner before a boat ride."
"Sunset it is," Elemenar says with a steady voice. He nods at the departing dwarves, somehow making it look like he was the one dismissing them. "Master Passad, is there anything else we should know before we depart?"
Temel shakes his head in response to Elemenar's question. "I've disclosed all that I am aware of at this point. If everything was known in advance there would be no reason to involve the Society in the mission. Prepare for anything." With that, the servants close the ornate door behind him as he heads up the stairs.
If you want to do some last-minute shopping in Kerse, the time is now. I will advance the game in about 8 hours.
As the twilight descends upon Kerse, you find your way towards the dock where The Abacus is anchored. Contrary to Temel Passad's lavish manor, the 80-foot boat is quite modest, though it is built with quality and attention to detail, and the crew of five sailors is well-groomed and professional. You settle down in your bunks for the night as the boat begins its journey along the lake coast.
The night passes uneventfully, and those of you who are lulled by the gentle rocking of the boat to sleep longer than usual, are awoken by one of the crew who asks you to come up on the deck urgently. Outside you notice that the boat has left the lake behind and is now going east along a river. Temel and Metella stand near the captain and continue yesterday's argument which, as those who came up on deck earlier know, has been ongoing fruitlessly for a while.
"We're entering Razmiri waters", says the captain. "The port of Xer is a couple of miles away, all foreign ships are supposed to dock there for paying the customs toll."
Metella turns to you, her expression desperate. "Can anyone explain them that you're only supposed to dock for customs when you're not trying to smuggle anybody unnoticed?! There is no way this is going to end well, mark my words!" she exclaims in frustration.
Temel nervously reaches for his snuff box and draws a pinch, which helps him to restore his usual confident demeanor. "As I have repeatedly pointed out, if anything can draw unwanted attention here, it is a foreign ship not abiding by the local customs. And if we encounter a faith barge further upstream and fail to provide proof of paying the expected tribute, we run the risk of even greater trouble. I actually agree with you that the customs toll is a thinly veiled extortion. Fortunately, this is a type of threat I am well equipped to deal with." He opens his purse and produces two platinum coins. "This should be more than enough to make them forget we ever passed this way."
The captain speaks up again. "The decision must be made quickly, master Passad. If we don't start the maneuvers soon, the stream will carry us past the docks."
Temel looks at you. "Kalistrade teaches that the true worth is revealed through negotiation. If your experience suggests Metella has the right view, I will accept it. What say you, Pathfinders?"
"If we had intended to smuggle our way in, we picked an odd way to do it. Smuggling requires night time travel, baffled oars and a much less ostentatious craft.
Or so I have heard." Jacques says with a wink.
"Less attention now means more chance of success later. It might be a good idea for the dwarves to have a sudden fit of motion sickness and be unable to leave their quarters, though."
Upon seeing Temel's coins Veres' eyes go wide as she exclaims, "Platinum! Put that away! Do you want them to think we are rich?!"
Then in a more reserved tone she continues, "I've performed in taverns and inns aplenty and no one uses platinum but the wealthy. That is just inviting suspicion. If we decide to dock and pay any tolls, I recommend looking a little less fortunate and at least pay in silver, maybe even adding in some copper for effect."
Then turning more directly to address Metella, "I agree with you, and think normally docking would be a bad idea given what we know of the authority in this land, but as Jacques has said, we should have taken better precautions if we intended to sail by unnoticed. Considering that, let's dock and keep you and Master Passad below deck, while we deal with any customs toll that may be levied. Just remain silent and don't do anything to give away that we have more people on board."
Jacques and the Lady Veres have the right of it in this case, Madam Metella. We are not likely to sneak past any of these, so called, faith barges and we are more likely to pay the dockworkers the tolls than the zealots on board on of those.
Carrick pauses as he tries to gauge the motivations of both Passad and Metella.
Sense Motive on Passad: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13
Sense Motive on Metetlla: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
I agree we should not use platinum if we can help it and I trust we can convince them to let us pay and go as the local laws dicate. He says, before adding and if the law of the land, doesn't respect it's own tenants and something goes not according to plan then I trust Iomedae will lead as she will.
Veres smiles at Carrick's words. "Well said Sir Castermill. Now how shall we play this? Anyone? What is our business here if someone asks? Certainly we will not be mentioning our real mission."
Looking to the group, she smiles and offers an idea, "Perhaps as entertainers? I would be more than happy to have you all as my personal attendants and guards... but if you have other skills we could work with that." and her eyes seem to sparkle mischievously.
"A game hunting trip, perhaps?
That's the kind of thing someone wealthy enough to own this ship might do for fun.
There must be some kind of big game in the River Kingdoms. That would give us a reason to be on the river and an explanation for our weaponry."
Carrick prefers not to lie about his business, but has been around the Pathfinder Society long enough to understand sometimes a ruse is necessary especially when religious zealots or ruffians are involved.
Yes, fine either of those will do nicely I think. Perhaps the game hunting, we may actually do some hunting at some point between here and Mendev, so it has a ring of truth at least. He smiles at Veres and Jacques for there ingenuity.
"So, Temel is a rich merchant. No reason to stray from the truth there. Veres is his extremely beautiful companion..." *wink*
...I am the guide, Zorahas provides special knowledge of the game, Carrick and Criscius are the muscle, Elemenar is.... well, Elemenar is the mage, that doesn't really require an explanation, does it?
Not too far from the truth, easy to pull off, and an exciting gamble.
What do you say, Veres, can you pull it off?
Hmmm... we should have an explanation for the dwarves ready.
A slight rose comes to her cheeks at Jacques compliment, and she replies, "I can be very diplomatic when necessary. While I am not normally one to deceive others, I will do my best in this case."
Pausing briefly, seemingly mulling over a part of the plan, Veres continues, "As I mentioned before, let's not act as if we are rich and that includes owning this boat. We are just paid passengers and have little money left after this great expense. Let's have Temel, Metella and Amauhak remain below. The rest of us can just be a group of adventurers that heard of a treasure in some remote area further on. We fit that bill easily enough. You can still play the guide, and I can still be extremely beautiful," she says with a wry smile toward Jacques, "and everyone can just be themselves. Less of a lie and so much easier to pull off."
Elemenar listens with silent interest as the more talkative in the group discuss the plans. When Jacques mentions him he smiles, slightly, and nods at the group. "If it helps, I will do my best to appear like a wizened old wizard." He speaks in a slow and low voice.
As the group spreads out, Veres moves closer to Jacques for a moment and whispers in passing "I would never want a performance to be considered dull. I am sure something exciting will happen."
She flashes just the hint of a smile over her shoulder as she walks away, quickly turning her attention back to the docking preparations.
...Veres moves closer to Jacques for a moment and whispers in passing "I would never want a performance to be considered dull. I am sure something exciting will happen."
Jacques attempts to cover his blush by removing his hat and wiping his brow.
Remember never to play cards with that one.
He heads over to lean on a rail near Carrick.
"Beautiful weather for a group of adventurers to set off on a quest to retrieve stolen goods from a group of pirates hiding in the River Kingdoms, isn't it?
The plot seems remarkably familiar, though I can't quite place it. Perhaps I saw this play the last time I was in Sandpoint."
"Criscius! It's good to be serving together again!"
When they are discussing their strategy, Zorahas agrees with Veres' plan. "I will let you do the talking, but if questions of game come up for authentication I will step in and assist."
Temel looks confused for a moment, before smiling at Veres. "That's a very poignant observation regarding the effect of the platinum coins, my lady. I still feel obliged to recompense you for the trouble of dealing with that business while the three of us will stay our of sight, so please take these coins to share between yourselves and you can pay the toll in whatever currency you think works best."
Metella harrumphs. "Very well, if the mouse wants go play with the cat, so be it. Amauhak actually suffers from motion sickness this morning, so I will go offer him some comfort. And if you have some wits left in your head, Passad, you better join us downstairs."
Temel doesn't argue and they disappear below the deck, leaving you watching as the river bank comes nearer. The city of Xer occupies the north bank of the Glass River, and its dozens of docks remain busy as ships headed both east and west call at the port. Grubby men and women in bulky jackets patrol the docks, and few smiling faces are to be seen.
The boat’s captain chooses an isolated berth sheltered on either side by tall warehouses, and one of the sailors tosses a rope to the dockworker, who moors the boat to post near him.
Not long afterwards, three gruff men with crossbows, one holding the taut leash of a slavering, half-tamed wolf, approach the Abacus. Their unshaved, permanently scowling faces betray ill temper (and a likely hangover). The one with the wolf cries out to no one in particular: "You! State your business in the land of the Living God Razmir! How many souls are aboard?"
"Thank you for your attention kind sirs." Veres says with a demure smile, "There are eleven souls in total aboard, five crew and six passengers, seeking to travel further on to the nation of Galt. We humbly submit ourselves to your authority." as she says the last, she bows deeply in respect before straightening for their response.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
If anyone else chimes in, we could push this pretty far... you only need a 10 to assist. ;)
Galt?! Nobody travels to Galt! Look at someone wrong and you get your head chopped off.
"How are the waters running upstream? Will we run into any difficulties?
Not that we wouldn't love to spend some time in your fair city, mind you. Unfortunately we only have so many days worth of supplies. Perhaps we'll be able to make a longer layover on the way back downstream."
Diplomacy AA: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (12) - 1 = 11
Carrick keeps a careful eye on the crusty men, as he listens to Veres and Jacques. There story sounds believable so he keeps quiet, but he's ready to back up if needed.
The enforcer grins rather unpleasantly. "We love it when pretty lasses submit to our authority, don't we boys?" The two others respond with whistles and a sleazy laughter.
"The transit toll is one gold piece per soul. Being the kind sir that I am, I'll discount that to 10 gold for the boat. Once in a lifetime opportunity!
If that's still tough to cough up, I think we can settle on - how did that guy put it - layover. It won't even have to be that long, we hadn't had a layover in weeks!" Another bout of crude laughter comes from the docks. "Lower the gangplank so that I can collect!"
Ignoring the crude overtures, Carrick says, Fine, we'll pay the coins, they let me hold the coinpurse. Come on over here. He motions to the leader and begins to fish out - 10 gold coins, making sure to show gold and silver are equally prominent in his beltpouch (His own platinum in his backpack instead). Angling himself so he's between the dock-man and Veres.
Moving up next to Carrick near the end of the gangplank
"Transit toll, is it? I imagine the Glass must see quite a bit of traffic.
Well, we've got no objection to paying the taxes and 10 gold sounds like quite the bargain. Thank you for your generosity.
Here's a couple of gold for yourself, and another for each of your men. Take your girlfriends out for a nice evening." Jacques hands over 4 gold coins.
"If any other groups should happen to come up the river behind us, maybe you could tell them we were headed to Daggermark? It would be good to keep a good headstart."
I can't think of any better way to make sure the goon tells everyone in the city that we were on our way to Galt.
Elemenar stands to the side while the others negotiate with the dock guards. He is prepared to add to the conversation but he sees that Veres, Carrick, and Jacques have it well in hand.