Oh, do close your mouth, woman, comes the same tinny voice you heard only moments before. Honestly, you look like a carp that someone just dragged from the oceans.
The silence that passes as you await Grovnaidel's response is palpable. Eventually, it responds.
If you so swear, Zak, then I'd better make sure you don't drown yourself. Simon has placed his trust in you, and if I find that trust to be misplaced, I will be...displeased. The last word is said with a steely resolve that causes Marythsan to raise an eyebrow and squint his eyes in Simon's direction, shrugging a few moments later.
Lay me upon his shoulder, Grovnaidel requests. As the blade is lowered upon Zak's shoulder, both the blade and he are suffused with a warm glow. Almost immediately, Zak feels the weariness from battle with Huyanwo lifted. Make use of this gift, Warrior.
...or Zak would, had the magic been imparted to him. A wheezing sound comes forth from the cane. It takes a few moments to recognize the sound for what it is - Grovnaidel has sighed.
Exactly how does this help the House?, comes a muffled voice that can only be the blade. I can only do this once a day, and let's be honest, you need the help more than Flyboy here.
There's a short silence, and the blade speaks again, quieter this time. I've heard your cough. It's more persistent now. Winning the Tournament is your last best hope for cleansing the curse upon the ancestral lands...on your line, Simon. If I do this, and something happens to you before I can do this again, I've damned the whole line.
Backing things up slightly...
Marythsan looks impressed as Zak suggests giving the coinage to the people of New Harbor. "That's...actually a very good solution. I'll get a few monks to help with retrieval, as I don't want someone's greed to outweigh their ability to swim. And I'd also request you wait until the end of the day to make this announcement. The Emissary would be...displeased if there were a mass exodus out of the Grand Pavilion before all of today's bouts had taken place."
He turns to leave to make the arrangements, and stops at the alcove. "The Emissary will want to know if you are planning to do any of the Tests of Iron Body. You might have seen those iron maidens around the fight stage. They're to demonstrate your resistance to pain that you've built up through training. You get locked in one of them and subjected to the trials particular to that iron maiden. You just need to remain conscious for the entirety of the trial. There's five of them. The Drowning Idol tests your lung capacity, as you're completely submerged in water for four full minutes. The Fiery Idol tests your resistance to fire, as the casket is set upon a blazing pyre for ten minutes. The Pain Idol tests your tolerance to pain as twenty knives are stuck into the slots. The Poison Idol tests your natural constitution, as you are forced to breathe in toxic incense for a full minute. Finally, the Winter Idol is the polar opposite of the Fiery Idol - no pun intended - as it is placed in an ice water bath for ten minutes. You each can do any and all of them, and should you remain conscious at the end of the trials, you'll receive the rewards. Do you wish to participate in this?"
Marythsan nods in approval of Simon's suggestion. "I'll have to run it past the Emissary, but I think it's a splendid idea as well. I'll take it up with him this evening, and that title should be created by morning. That should take care of any lingering distaste in the mouths of the honest competitors."
"As for the dishonest ones, I have strict laws I must follow, but your hands are less bound. For instance, I can't accept your assistance in interrogating the remaining teams. That would suggest a bias towards your group by tournament officials, which is entirely true in at least one case. You'd have to participate in a less official capacity, I'm afraid."
Marythsan's face grows grim as you explain the broad details of the plot, and gestures for you to attend him in one of the preparatory alcoves for the contestants. Here, the noise is less deafening, though the noise shows little sign of lessening. During the short walk, he has composed himself and he speaks with restraint, though you detect a righteous fury behind his words.
"You've confirmed our worst fears," the paladin says solemnly. "Whatever the Golden League and the Aspis Consortium are planning can't be allowed to succeed. That they're working together is bad enough. The fact that they went to the trouble to secure Huyanwo's assistance indicates they've got some greater plan in play. You've come closer to rooting out the corruptive influences at work here by accident than I have in nearly three days of dedicated investigation. Normally, tournament by-laws would require me to take your statements and do the investigations myself, but I'm not about to look a valuable resource when I see one. I can't authorize you to look into this, but if you've got a plan, my status as the current Ruby Phoenix Champion can legitimize any solid information you present. What have you got?"
If Poog had unfilled slots, then I don't have any problems with that.
Marythsan's eyebrows raise when Asha mentions the Consortium. "THE ASPIS? HERE?", he asks incredulously. "WHAT'S THEIR GAME? DO YOU KNOW?"
1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Marythsan blinks a few times, and looks around suspiciously. He made his Will save, so you're unable to scan his thoughts, Poog.
My, what big crimson frills you have, Asha!
The Emissary's eyes open wide at Zarina's response, and silence falls over the Tournament grounds at Simon's request. All eyes fall to the Emissary, who leans in to whisper something Marythsan. The knight nods in response, and begins descending the ziggurat. As he does, The Emissary rises to speak. "The menace that has plagued Xielan Bay for almost two hundred years has fallen! Accept our thanks, Warriors of the Five Elements, for you have succeeded where countless others have fallen. For this, we honor you with our sincerest thanks." The aging man then bows deeply from atop the ziggurat, a gesture that is reciprocated by the audience and attending monks. After a few moments of grateful silence, The Emissary speaks again. "People of New Harbor, give a cheer for these men and women!"
The noise that comes from the crowd is as deafening as it is heartfelt.
Marythsan finishes climbing down the steps, and leans in close. He has to nearly shout to be heard over the din of the crowd. "WHAT HAVE YOU DISCOVERED?", he cries. "HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE TOURNAMENT?"
You did not, because detect magic told you that it was non-magical. However, examining it again with the aid of the identify, Poog realizes that the rock has had a magic aura spell placed on it to mask the stone's true power. Poog, make me a Will save if you'd like to (officially) know what the rock does.
As for the ioun stone, both that and Asha's headband grant enhancement bonuses, so they don't stack. The advantage to the stone is that it offers a slotless bonus, which would free up that slot for something else. Unfortunately, the headband affects more than just Asha's Wisdom score, so it's a judgment call on her part whether she wants to use it or not.
You march back to the Tournament grounds, where you see that The Heroes of the Amaranthine Golem have fallen to the elven samurai. The gnome and his eidolon look particularly sullen. "If we'd won, I'm sure our stories would have been told far and wide," you hear him say in passing. "Now nobody will ever hear of me!"
The monks are in the middle of arranging the fight stage for the final bout for today, between the hobgoblin monk Gomwai and a man in scholar's robes, heavily tattooed with strange runes that glow with power. As they prepare the stage, you note that a number of iron maidens have been wheeled into the arena. You hear a muffled cry come from one of them, where a pair of monks have slid the tenth in a series of ten knives into slots in the device. The padlock is removed, and a bloodied Mol Kor emerges, raising his fists in triumph.
"You have done well, Mol Kor," The Emissary says. "You have shown the crowd your training has allowed you to withstand incredible hardship. Take this in recognition of your achievement." Kiang Zhen teleports next to the half-orc, and hands him a vial with a bubbling liquid inside. As she does, The Emissary notes your arrival, and looks to you with great interest.
Sounds like the general consensus is to take the big coinage and all of the magic stuff, and leave the pocket change behind for now. As for the possibility of scrolls...
Scrolls? (low=bad): 1d100 ⇒ 35
...you can easily find someone selling identify scrolls. There are 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5 available. (Seriously, I've rolled a 4 for that every single time I've done this. I'm going to stop doing that now. There's apparently always five consumables available if you can find them from here on out!)
Sorry for the delay, folks!
The horde includes:
And a bunch of stuff that radiates as magical:
From what you gathered about Huyanwo, he arrived on Xielan Island just under two hundred years ago. At that time, the only settlement on the island was on the southwestern tip, and was simply known as Xielan. He landed in the center of town one day, and demanded that the people pay him tribute for living upon his island. They refused, and the dragon laid waste to the village. The huts and buildings still stand today in the ruins of what is now known as Old Harbor, and Huyanwo has more or less left the people of New Harbor alone, though he does return to guard his underwater lair when the Tournament occurs.
You carefully climb down the path towards the pagoda at shore's edge. A cool mist sprays you each time the water crashes against the cliff shore, spraying you and the stone with its salty spray. The walls of the pagoda itself are pock-marked and salt-encrusted on the side facing the ocean. As you approach, the water below you explodes outwards, showering you in the cold waters of Xielan Bay. A large form takes to the air, and massive wings unfurl to catch the wind.
Having made your purchases and gathered as much information on Huyanwo as you could, you head towards the so-called "Ridge of Graves." Named not for any past service as a cemetery, this isthmus received its name for the long list of deaths attributed to the prey you now stalk. The noonday sun shines down from its zenith, and you hear the sound of the waves crashing against the wave line some sixty feet below. A steep path leads down to the rocky shoreline, and at the base you see a stone pagoda standing defiantly against the harsh elements.
"It is not an official exhibition match, Warrior," a nearby monk explains to Simon. "And as such, there's no deadline, other than the end of the Tournament. Of course, one of your competitors might choose to take him on, and steal the glory for themselves!"
Your research into Huyanwo suggests that he's a mature adult, giving him some impressive abilities. In addition to its acid breath and dessicating bite, his talons are so laden with crystallized ocean salt that a strike from him will be excruciatingly painful. Additionally, he would have the ability to use several spell-like abilities, the most salient among them being ice storm and greater invisibility. Lastly, he has an impressive resistance to mundane weaponry, but magical weaponry should be sufficient to deal with that.
As you deliberate amongst yourselves, the Emissary clears his throat awkwardly in the silence that has arisen and shrugs dramatically. "Very well. Let the Tournament continue! The next quarterfinal match will be between Payudiel Arikametsu, samurai of Jinin, versus the Heroes of the Amaranthine Golem!" One on side of the fight stage, a tall elven warrior bearing the backbanner depicting a white leafless tree with many branches upon a black field readies a katana of pure light. On the other, another quartet of warriors have arrayed themselves: a tall, well-built woman of Kellid descent wielding an impossibly large blade; a Vudrani man with the shaved head denoting his monastic origins, wielding a curved temple sword; a Garundi woman with a massive golden headdress whose eyes are white and clouded; and a gnome that is flanked by what appears to be a rooster-headed feathered snake, each bearing the same glowing rune upon their foreheads. "The rest of the competitors, I give you leave to take care of any other...business you may have upon the island." The Emissary then takes his seat and begins watching the battle unfold.
One of the monks offers Simon a quick bow in thanks as he catches the packet of salt and begins applying it to the leeches in order to remove them. The bloatmage howls in pain as the salt is pressed into his wounds, but it's clear he will be making a swift recovery.
The next bout the Emissary calls is another group-on-one fight, this time between The Four from Avistan against Seishuku, the Scarred Ninja. You recognize the members of the Four: Risha Coaltongue, who has traded out her local clothing for studded leather and paired shortswords; Darys Shrike, who looks quite menacing in his chainmail and greataxe; Mol Kor, who seems eager to begin the fight bedecked in his spiked full plate; and Pirin Agramont, who seems both disinterested in the fight and intensely focused upon it. Seishuku, on the other hand, briefly removes the scarf that covers the lower half of his face, and you can see that the right side of his face is horribly burned and scarred. He quaffs a potion, and prepares an unusual weapon - a double-edged blade that has a second curved blade coming off of it, all of which is attached to a cord, at the end of which is a metal ring.
The Emissary calls the fight to start, and it too is not especially long. Seishuku's tactics are about what you'd expect from a ninja - he disappears into thin air, only to reappear briefly to attack from an unexpected angle. After a pair of strikes that take down Pirin, the three cluster up in order to take him when he reappears. This proves to be a mistake as well, as the ninja tosses a flask at them that showers the remaining three in acid. Despite these setbacks, the Four are able to take down the Scarred Ninja, and also secure themselves a spot in the semifinals. Based upon the brackets, they will be the team you will need to defeat tomorrow morning in order to enter the finals.
After their bout is over, the Emissary stands to make another announcement. "By now, it is clear to everyone present that the remaining teams are all skilled and powerful warriors. It would be very difficult to find someone upon Xielan Island that could rival their power. Difficult, but not impossible. For generations the brine dragon Huyanwo has menaced the region known as the Ridge of Graves. All who have sought him out have perished. I challenge any of the contestants to end his threat to the island! As for a reward, besides the obvious glory earned from defeating a dragon, whatever riches lie in the dragon's horde will act as your spoils. Who among you will accept this challenge?"
The Emissary's words echo in the arena, and the crowd is silent, awaiting a response from the contestants. The remaining participants each glance between your group and each other, but none of them immediately rise to the Emissary's challenge.
It ends as swiftly as it began. Asha follows after Hok Fung, and four strikes from her glaive send the bloatmage crashing back down to earth - or, at least, into the marsh. Almost immediately, a hidden swarm of leeches latch onto his body and begin feeding on the cache of blood within him. Tournament officials quickly enter the ring and begin pulling him to safety, as it is clear that you have won!
"My congratulations on another swift victory, Elements!", the Emissary proclaims from atop the ziggurat. "You are the first team to qualify for the semifinal bouts tomorrow. For defeating Hok Fong, you have earned another reward. It is ironic that Hok Fong did not win this, as I am sure he could have put it to good use." Marythsan descends with a silver chain that glistens in the sun. A blue stone dangles from a setting in the chain, and he offers it to your group.
Spellcraft DC 25:
The Emissary wasn't kidding. That's a periapt of wound closure.
Well, first I need to make a few rolls. I forgot that blink is a double edged sword. He might enjoy a 50% miss chance, but his spells have a 20% failure rate due to being on the Ethereal plane when he finishes casting. That might change a few things. As always, low is bad!
Mass Hold Person Failure?: 1d100 ⇒ 53 pass
So, conveniently, the spell from last round took effect while the spell from this round didn't. Zarina, you are not actually affected by his dominate person, so if anyone was taking actions in response to that, go ahead and make any changes you wish.
Dang. You'd think I'd remember the spell effects I have on my own bad guys.
As the bloatmage recoils, his wince turns into a mischevious grin. "That would have hurt, had I been there!", he cries, mugging to the crowd. "But since I'm not, I'll have to get someone to do my dirty work for me." He floats away from both women, turning his attention towards Zarina. "You, dragon lady! Kill her! Rip her to shreds!" His shrill voice echoes in Zarina's mind and she feels him touch her mind, trying to crush her will. As Asha watches, his complexion goes from ruddy to pure scarlet, the whites of his eyes taking on a deep crimson color.
Hok Fung will take a five-foot float away, and cast dominate person on Zarina, using a blood point to recall the spell. Zarina, please make me a DC 23 Will save. And, with that, everyone else gets to go!
Xinai is not, much as, I assume, It is not as well. And that's how I understand it as well, Zak; you'll be paralyzed for Rounds 3 and 4, and be active on the potential Round 5. As for ki pool, it says you can add 20 to your speed, and I would assume that works for any speed you've got, whether it's natural or magical in nature. As for your hexes, Poog, it'll have to be on a case-by-case basis. From what I've been able to figure out, you may only take purely mental actions while paralyzed. Since Asha can charge, did you want to as well, Zarina?
Both warrior women leap to the air as well, swiftly closing the distance to face Hok Fung directly. Asha strikes the man hard with the flat of her glaive's blade, and the crowd cheers as the strike connects, sending the bloatmage reeling.
Zak and Simon both take to the air, though Simon's leap propels him to the southern island while Zak defies gravity's pull and takes to the skies again. They both launch missiles at the bloatmage, Zak with his arrows and Simon with force constructs. Both slam into the fat man, and blood gushes from his wounds. "Damn you!", he shrieks in a shrill voice that seems unnatural coming from his massively corpulent form. "First blood to you, but I'll not fall so easily!"
He then leaps into the air after Zak, though where Zak soars into the air, Hok Fung barely manages a lazy float. Still, he manages to achieve a height of 15', and begins casting a spell. The three Warriors still clustered on the original island and Zak begin to a strange disassociation from their bodies. Their limbs feel heavy and refuse to respond to their wills. He lets out a squeaking cackle as he grins maniacally. "Your wills are mine to command, Warriors! Hok Fung will reign supreme this day!"
Will save DC 25 or be affected by his mass hold person for what will effectively be 1 combat.
The potions were requested last night, so it won't be until a bit later today before your contact can bring them from the mainland to you. Simon and Zak, you guys are before Hok Fung. He is currently on the other side of the fight stage, approximately 70' away from you. You five are currently standing on a stone island with just barely enough space for you to stand on without toppling into the marsh, and there are two islands nearby, one to the south and one to the east. Both are about 10' away. The southern island is similarly sized to the one you are currently on, and only has a 5' gap to the eastern island. The eastern island is also the central point in the fight stage, and stretches roughly 30' north/south. There's a 5' gap to the northeast to another small island, and a 10' gap to the island that Hok Fung is currently on. That northeastern island also only has a 5' gap to the fifth and final island.
After catching a simple meal, you make your way to the Tournament grounds, and after the opening ceremonies are over, the Emissary calls forth your group. "The Five Elements have so far bested many," he says to the crowd, gesturing broadly to your group. "But so has their competitor. Hok Fung, present yourself!" The crowd cheers as a grotesquely fat Tian-Shu man waddles towards the ziggurat, a pot-bellied pig following in his wake. Though the day is not especially hot, he sweats profusely as he bows to the Emissary. "Both you and the Five Elements have overcome many obstacles to get to this point, but only one of you can move onto the fifth and final day of the Tournament. Which of you this will be will be determined in the fight stage. Take your places, and prepare for battle!" He sits upon his throne, and the crowd cheers for you both as you make your ways to the fight stage.
As you turn your attention to the fight stage itself, you see that the combat grounds have undergone a dramatic change overnight. Gone is the gritty dust that served as the sand that soaked up the blood of competitors. In its place is a morass of watery mud with five islands of stone jutting up from the swampy bog. The nearest to your side is just large enough to hold the five of you, but there is at least a ten foot gap to get from your island to the next nearest.
As per usual, you have a minute to cast any preparatory spells you wish. Hok Fung certainly is doing so.
Spellcraft DC 18:
You hear some familiar words indicating transmutative magics, and see that Hok Fong's massive body begins flickering. It looks like he's cast blink upon himself.
I was going to update tonight, but I decided to check your XP. Since I've been increasing the challenge of several of your foes to deal with the extra player, I'd basically decided to forgo giving out XP as you defeated foes, and use the printed numbers and divide by the recommended four PCs to find out where the natural break would be.
Turns out, it's right here. Congratulations, you're level 12!