Tom, sometimes I just say what the magic item is in a play by post, to speed things up, and so you can use beneficial gear immediately.
Cautiously lifting the bar to the next room, ready for what may be behind it, you slowly open the door.
The theme of judgment in the afterlife is continued in the carvings on the walls of this room. A wide table stands along the north wall, draped with a heavy black cloth. A single candle burns in a tall, iron candlestick in the southwest corner, but the rest of the room is cloaked in shadows.
A strange voice seems to come from the north, "So, creeper from the dark has shown some courage finally? Come to steal Yrix's things, yesssss?"
A strange creature with a very wide head, large pointed ears, too many teeth and the body of a snake emerges, appearing from underneath the cloth of the table. Looking momentarily surprised, it speaks again. "Ah, you are not from the down below, pitssss. Did you kill the crepper from the dark placessss? Then we may help each other, yessss? Seeking treasure? Seeking fortune? Yrix has many things to tell you, for a price..." The word 'price' trails off into an unnecessary flourish of hissing.
"Yrix knows this church tomb well, knows what lies beyond. The blood of the Kaer Maga wormfolk flows in me, and much knowledge it gives. Draw back veils of mystery in this ossssssuary, yesss. Reveal the secrets of the Ancients, perhapsssss. But first, let us speak of the price, yessss?"
You might use Bluff, Intimidate, Diplomacy, or Sense Motive, or whatever other skills you think might be applicable here. The creature doesn't seem hostile. Perhaps this might be a good way to learn something about the Pharasman heretic you are trying to find, or what other types of creatures dwell in the ossuary.
As both 'Chel and Alexi search the room together, Tom also takes a look. The furnishings are remarkably well preserved, and you find a cloak of resistance +1 hanging in one of the cabinets, as well as some more mundane priest's vestements.
In a rack filled with scrolls, you find two scrolls of delay poison mixed in with the ancient Thasillonian records.
Much of the rest is fairly run of the mill, but the Church of Pharasma may be interested in some of the texts and vestements.
As Gaius rifles through what is left of the creeper, he finds an engraved ivory bracelet, three freshwater pearls, and 27 gp, 32 sp.
Gaius steps forward and literally slices the creature in half.
Well, so much for any interrogation.
Religious carvings depicting the judgment of souls cover the walls of this room. A stone pedestal with a bowl-shaped depression on top stands in the northwest corner. Wooden cabinets and chests of drawers line the walls.
A wooden door, similar to the one you entered, is in the east wall, also barred from the inside of this room.
Gaius, I assumed the darkness was negated (or at least mitigated) by Tom's dancing lights spell anyways, and the Stealth check was while the creeper was concealed from sight - you had to notice him hiding behind the opened door, which Alexi did. That, and I just thought it would be a little more fun that way...
Keep in mind that the dark creeper was trying to flee, and may have felt forced into a confrontation...if you kill him, you may never know why he didn't try to go through the door at the other end of this room.
I'll update the combat round post and have the map uploaded tomorrow. For some reason photobucket is giving me some problems.
Alexi tries to grab the small creature, but its clothing is greasy and it slips away, frightened and angry. It produces a dagger from somewhere in the folds of its garb, and attempts to fight its way free.
Falk (dark creeper) Initiative 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
I'm having some issues logging into my image server for the map - it's set, I just can't provide a link yet!
The small creature tries to stab Alexi, and open up a path to the door.
Sneak Attack 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
At first feeling weak, but steeling himself, Alexi resists the black poison.
This is of course, contingent on what everybody else decides to do first. The room is only 20' X 15' and right now Alexi is in front of the door with the creeper directly north.
Azrim calls upon the power of his god Torag, and bestows a beneficial spell on the party. Both he and Gaius can pierce the darkness with their vision, but the room still appears dim for some reason.
Tom casts a spell, and several luminous wisps materialize, beginning to brighten the room.
Alexi realizes that someone or something is using magic to keep the room dark. You recognize it as a darkness spell, similar to the one the darkmantle used to conceal itself in the stairwell.
Stealth (Falk) 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Perception Gaius 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18
Perception Azrim 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
Perception Alexi 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (10) + 11 = 21
Perception Tom 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
Perception Nichelle 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
You notice a small figure cloaked in filthy, layered black garb trying to sneak past the rest of the party towards the door you just entered.
As Nichelle takes a closer look at the doorway, she realizes it is actually a double door with the hinges on the other side, meant to swing into the next room - she can barely make out the outline of a board acting as a bar in the middle of the two doors. It's possible that someone or something may have barred the door to prevent the flapping head from attacking them - which would make sense, seeing as how it was trying to clumsily break it down when you first encountered it.
The door is hardness 5, hp 20, Break DC 15.
XP is for the party. If I decide to award it individually for something (like good role-playing) I'll specifically mention the character.
Alexi examines the seven-pointed star amulet, but detects no magical energy emanating from it. He does realize that the seven points have a significance to the 'sin' magic of the ancient Thasillonians, and correspond to the seven 'schools' of magic and seven 'virtuous sins' that they venerated.
The plan executes almost flawlessly, and even as Azrim and Alexi both go wide with a crossbow bolt and arrow, Tom and 'Chel are able to wound the horrible looking creature.
Not giving the thing a chance to inflict any damage on the rest of the band, Gaius quickly charges forward and slices the clumsy flying thing into pieces.
Party gains XP 400 as well as an additonal XP 200 for executing the ambush well.
I'm going to assume you all moved to the east to investigate.
The room that branches off the hallway to the southeast appears to be a vestry - a long chamber decorated with large stone carvings of religious ceremonies and priests handing down judgement to the common people. Stone benches are lined up before a podium at the southern end of the room.
A single wooden door stands at the end of the hallway to the east.
Perception: party - Take 20
A small, unadorned wooden offering box lies forgotten in a corner covered in dust and cobwebs. It contains 17 gp and 20 sp. Underneath it is a strange amulet crafted from silver, in the shape of a seven pointed star.
Do you want to investigate the door to the east?
As Gaius tosses his javelin, the creature immediately turns about, intent on attacking something other than the door. It sails wide, but has the intended effect.
Perception Zombie Vargouille 1d20 ⇒ 13
The creature will not be able to see the rest of the party until it reaches the point where it can perceive the rest of you in the hallway (t doesn't have line of sight to anyone except Gaius presently). Alexi gains concealment at that time.
Initiative Zombie Vargouille 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Treating Gaius's action as part of a surprise round, and the rest of you as having readied actions in that round - unless you want to act in the surprise round, rather than setting up an ambush.
Initiative Nichelle 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
Initiative Alexi 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Initiative Azrim 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18
Initiative Tom 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Initiative order is Azrim, Gaius, Tom, Nichelle, Zombie vargouille, and Alexi. You can hold until the zombie vargouille moves into position, and enter the initiative order at that point if you wish. I'll assume for now you want to follow Gaius's lead and fire when the creature is in line of sight.
Gaius stands like a sentinel, awaiting the diseased looking flying monstrous head to fall into the ambush.
After checking the module closely, I realized after crunching all the numbers for a varguoille's shriek attack (which went really badly for you guys, with 4/5 of the party paralyzed for 5 rounds) this is in fact, is an undead vargouille, and no longer has that ability!
Any of you can act, as you are dropping into the initiative order at the same time, after the vargouille has moved.
Alexi, I'll let you do a redo on all of that when you guys return to the lower level.
Nichelle, I know it was a while back, but I assumed you guys had an eight hour time frame to get any additional gear, so if you had a pack you wanted to bring, assume you have it and any contents in it that would be helpful. In fact, I'll assume you have a small mirror to reflect an image of what might be making the thumping noise!
As the rest of the party catches up to the rogue, all of you hear a faint thumping to the east. Party: Perception - take 10
'Chel pulls out a small polished mirror and what she sees in the dim light is almost comical. A monstrous head with wings sprouting out of the side of it, is repeatedly banging itself against a sealed door at the end of the hall. You might be able to get the jump on it, since it's facing away. It doesn't look friendly, even from the back.
The group moves cautiously, with 'Chel scouting ahead silently, seeking out traps and hazards.
Perception 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Nichelle, you hear what sounds like a clunking noise to the east, almost like someone banging their head against a wall.
Alexi, I'm not sure that a Knowledge (arcana) check is going to tell you anything without using detect magic yourself. You need to see or otherwise perceive the magical effect to discern the nature of it, and the statues are inert at the moment.
Alexi, using his extra sensory perception, sees that the black statue is carved from dark diorite and threefold in form, portraying a tall woman with three faces looking in different directions. One side has a kind face and cradles a baby in its arms, while a second side displays a more stern expression and holds an hourglass. The third face has a crazed look; its hands are empty, but thornless roses twine up both arms.
Working on the map for the next area, if all are in agreement to head north.
Gaius takes a close look at the door, but perceives nothing out of the ordinary.
Perhaps it is due to the strange magic the ancient Thasillonians imbued the statues with, or some type of interference, but Tom is unable to determine precisely what kind of magical energy is emanating from the statues below.
There are two large brass doors on the lower level to the east and west. It may be possible to circle back around and enter from those, rather than risk a broken limb climbing down from the bridge.
Does the party proceed forward, climb down, or head back the way they came?
Azrim, you are actually elevated 30 to 40 ft. up on the arched bridge overhead, so you'll have to climb down somehow to more closely investigate the statues. A grappling hook and rope can be affixed to the bridge rail, and will require a Climb skill check (DC 15) to successfully descend. Unless you had handholds... It might also be wise to make a Knowledge (local, history) check - even untrained, as a dwarf you may be able to reveal something useful about Thassilonian architecture or engineering.
Tom, detect magic tells you that both of the auras from the statues are faint and of the same strength. A successful Knowledge (arcana) check for either statue can identify the school of magic.
Azrim Knowledge (history) 1d20 ⇒ 17
Azrim, you recall hearing about the Irespire in Magnimar from one of your relatives. It is said that the Thasillonian stone is probably imbued with some kind of preservative, hardening magic. They even salvage pieces of it to build constructs in that city. However, you also seem to recall something very bad happened when they tried to actively dismantle it. Perhaps the stone itself has some strange ancient magic - whether it can erase tracks is speculative, but it may have a preservative effect on the contents of these catacombs.
Tom, you don't want me rolling your Knowledge (arcana) rolls, trust me!
As Alexi scrutinizes the surfaces of the bridge for clues, he is surprised to find no evidence of anything having passed this way recently - with the thick dust covering everything, there should have been some sign of recent traffic, and the inquisitor's keen eyes surely would have noticed a disturbance in the dust. The previous tracks may have been a false flag, or even someone or something trying to throw you off the trail.
The two statues nearest to you, below your postion to the SSE and SSW, emanate distinct magical energy.
As Nichelle enters and does not view any immediate threats, the rest of the party follows cautiously behind. What you see is quite a spectacular feat of underground engineering.
The ceiling of this cavernous chamber vaults to a height of 60 ft., unsupported by any visible columns or buttresses. You are standing on an elevated stone bridge, about 40 ft above the ground at the highest point. It has elaborately carved railings similar to the scenes you saw in the first room you entered. From what you can see, the center of the floor level is inlaid with a spiral symbol, recessed in the floor, with eight staircases leading up to a wide ledge that encircles the ground floor. Eight larger than life statues stand upon the ledge, evenly spaced around the room's circumference. You will have to get closer to examine them - the room is large enough where your lights only illuminate a finite distance, and even those of you with darkvision are unable to make out any fine details - other than the statues all depict humanoid figures, are all different, and one of them is carved from black stone, whereas the rest are white. There are large brass doors to the east and west on the ground floor.
The bridge ends in another set of bronze doors to the north.
You can climb down using some rope and a grappling hook (Climb DC 15) to explore the large room, or you can continue along the bridge north.
A thorough search turns up what looks like a silver holy symbol of Pharasma, threaded on a leather cord - a round disk with what looks like a circular comet engraved on it. It does not match the style of the archaic symbol you saw on the magically sealed doors earlier, and judging from the lack of tarnish on the silver, seems to have been recently discarded.
The corpses have nothing of value, strangely. Perhaps they were servants, or slaves? Or maybe something has already looted them long ago? It is impossible to know for sure - only that for corpses that are thousands of years old, they seem very well preserved.
The doors ahead, on closer examination, seem to be hinged both ways for ease of entry and exit. They are hammered bronze, and have a rich, ancient patina. Two semi circles form recessed handles, and are embellished with the same ancient Pharamsman symbol you saw earlier. You do not hear anything suspicious on the other side of the door, nor do you detect any traps.
Do you proceed north through the doors?
As Gaius prepares to charge through, making his intention known verbally, the final spider moves up and attempts to bite Nichelle before she can deftly sidestep. Tiny creature, so it is occupying the same space as the one in front of Nichelle on the last map.
Skull Spider D, sting 1d20 ⇒ 14
As it jumps, 'Chel's leather armor deflects the blow. In retaliation, she stabs one of its kin - the one focusing on Alexi. It only briefly sees its death coming, as she makes a vital strike. Hearing Gaius, she quickly moves for a better position.
In what seems like a glorious overkill, Gaius charges forward, and utterly destroys a tiny arachnid. Nothing is left save for a smear on the floor.
Tom, seeking to end the fight, sends a bullet from his sling, and his aim is true. It hits the last spider in the eyes, and it collapses, dead.
The party receives 400 XP for defeating the spiders +200 XP for working together!
In the future, I might only post a map at the end of an encounter if another one is imminent and position is important.
A set of solid bronze doors lies to the north. They do not appear to have a visible locking system, or be magically sealed. Alexi notices the same tracks he saw earlier, but they seem fainter, as if someone has tried to cover them up with some of the copious dust.
Map has been updated to reflect damage from Nichelle's sneak attack on one of the spiders. No harm since it had yet to act in the initiative order. Thanks for catching it Gaius.
The spider that was pinned to the wall must have misjudged how much vitality it had remaining, and it collapses dead before it can do anything.
Gaius is next.
Nichelle, B, A, Tom, Alexi, Azrim, C, Gaius, D
Red denotes damage.
The spider to the left of 'Chel is pinned to the wall by her quick throw. It isn't done for yet, as it pulls itself free of the blade, badly injured, but intent on still trying to do harm to the intruders.
The spiders furthest away scurry up quickly at the sight of the crouched rogue, and try to sink their mandibles into her. Alexi comes rushing up from behind Azrim to assist, but the second spider reaches 'Chel first.
Just a reminder, no penalty to move 'through' a friendly.
Spider B, bite 1d20 ⇒ 11
The catfolk rogue easily fends off the attacks, moving quickly to avoid any damage.
Alexi swats one of the spiders, crushing a section of its body. Tom unleashes a destructive spell on another spider, injuring it as well.
Azrim is up next.
Azrim, you cast resistance and guidance on each party member including yourself as you passed through the door. All saves are at +1, and anyone can take a +1 competence bonus on any single attack roll, saving throw, or skill check; choosing to use the bonus before making the roll to which it applies. The duration of both is one minute.
As you move further through the catacombs, Nichelle hears a rattling, creaking sound. Suddenly, a large spider comes crawling out of one of the eye sockets of a skull attached to one of the corpses. Several more rattling noises echo out in the chamber. They look aggressive, and not at all friendly.
Nichelle is first up. I'll keep track of which spider is which.
As Tom strikes the chime against the symbol, the chime makes a not unpleasant resounding ringing that reverberates for several seconds.
A moment later, the circular brass seal rotates, and the stone doors slide apart with a grating sound.
Looking through the door, you see no immediate threats, only a long corridor with a copious amount of stringy, thick cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. Everything is coated in a layer of dust, and there are at least two alcoves you can see set into the walls on each side, about five feet wide. It appears that on each side of the alcove are recessed areas that hold what look like very, very old interred corpses.
I'm going to do Perception checks in the background for everybody for now, and assume you move forward cautiously through the doors. Don't worry, if something seems suspect or fishy, I'll give you a clue in the narrative text. In fact, I give a lot of 'clues' in the narrative text. Keep your eyes peeled!
As Azrim ponders the nature of the engravings on the walls, and the seals on the otherwise unadorned stone doors, he recalls what he knows about ancient Thasillonian religion.
The ancient empire of Thasillon was built upon seven rewards of rule-envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath-which in turn became known as the seven great sins of the soul. Each sin was associated with a school of magic-envy with abjuration, lust with enchantment, pride with illusion, sloth with conjuration, and wrath with evocation. Divination was not considered a separate school of magic.
You also realize that the Thasillonians did recognize Pharasma, but she was only a minor god in their pantheon. The symbol on the doors is archaic.
Alexi Knowledge (arcana)1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
The doors are magically sealed.
Gaius Knowledge (history) 1d20 ⇒ 8
The engravings depict stylized figures engaged in various scenes that look like orgies devoted to different types of pleasures. One shows a portly man at a great feast, another a sneering man with a crown with supplicant prostrating themselves at this feet; and yet another that show several writhing, naked figures in various decadent positions.
Tom, since you mentioned it, you are in possession of the chime of opening.
Alexi Survival (tracking) 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Even though the hard stone floors makes it difficult to see any tracks, the layers of dust do show some slight disturbances that might be boot prints that lead through the door to the north.
Do you proceed through the north door or the eastern door using the chime of opening?
As Nichelle and Alexi look around the chamber with its ornate engravings, they notice some more recent (but still old) graffiti, scrawled in Common on the northern wall.
"My heart beats on the wrong side of my chest, or is it right? Is left right, or is it wrong? I don't know what it means, or why."
The stone doors all seem to be locked, but there doesn't seem to be any mechanical locking device or keyholes.
As the commotion dies down from the brief skirmish with the creature from the stairwell, you find yourself at the bottom of the stairs where a small landing leads into a square chamber.
Old carvings cover the walls, thick with dust and cobwebs. Three sets of stone double doors stand in the three facing walls. Heavy bronze seals emblazoned with the symbol of Pharasma (a comet with a spiraling tail) secure the doors at whatever lies beyond.
Assume the top of the map is always north. So, in order to tell me what direction you want to go, or what door you want to look at, it's fine to say 'west' or 'south'. If you want to move to a specific point on the grid from your current location, use the direction and how many 5 ft squares you want to move (so, N2,E2 for a four square move of 20 ft, and so on). If you have a question about where you are or where you want to go, just ask! I'll do my best to keep it all straight.
Nichelle miss chance 1d100 ⇒ 96
The agile catfolk rogue slips between everyone and places a surgically precise dagger blade into the creature's...something.
The darkmantle does not attack and does two move actions to escape, moving 40ft into the stairwell
Evidentally, the blade hits something vital, since the creature ceases its attack and begins moving back into the stairwell, even as Azrim tries to end it with a blow from his warhammer - which goes wide.
You can pursue if you wish, but finding it in the space between the stair and the wall will probably take at least 2 hours of searching - and the party receives 400 XP for driving it off anyways. With critical wounds and 1 hp remaining, it won't be attacking again.
Nichelle, assume everyone moved to where you were, near the landing area. You can 'see' the creature's shape well enough to make a ranged attack or move to sneak attack without anyone blocking you, but you still have a 20% miss chance due to the darkmantle's darkness ability.
I'm glad I did a map for the rest of the Ossuary! No matter how well you try to explain it through words, nothing beats having a visual aid for determining position.
DM FuriousPhil wrote:
The stairway is narrow and cramped, with only a small gap between the vertical stone shaft, which is shaped roughly hexagonal, and the stone slabs which make up the spiralling stairs and central column. The space is tight, and you have to descend single file down the stair without squeezing.
From an earlier post. Doing a 3-dimensional map of a spiral staircase proved problematic, which is why I gave the option to make a move into the room without provoking an AoO (allowing you to flank without squeezing or provoking AoO). In other words, this is going to be a strictly narrative combat so you guys can see how I usually do it, and we'll start using the grid/map immediately after this. I'll assume you have enough space to maneuver as you quickly clear the stairs, and move into the landing area (10 x 10). Also, I'll resolve the miss chance rolls (for those it applies), and if you were paying attention, Alexi already had his weapon drawn prior to combat. :)
Alexi miss chance 20% 1d100 ⇒ 1
Alexi wheels around to help the gnome, but even with his heightened vision, manages to miss the creature concealed in the dim light.
However, the hobgoblin moves quickly to assist, and being able to see in the dark, delivers a powerful and accurate blow to the creature, and it emits a terrible spitting, squealing sound.
Tom tries to put the thing out of its misery, but it recoils, skidding on the ground and trying to flap itself airborne again.
Nichelle is up.
Nichelle Perception 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 5 = 6
The catfolk rogue prowls ahead, seeking out any hidden dangers in the dark, but finds no obvious traps or hazards. Using the light from the party, she stays ahead just far enough to be out of sight.
As you descend the steps, you are all struck by the eerie silence. Whatever this place once was, it feels much like a tomb now.
Nichelle finally reaches the bottom first, where there is a small landing. The rest of you are following about ten feet behind on the spiral stairs when suddenly you notice that your lights are beginning to dim....
Tom Initiative 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
A dark shape seems to drop from the space between the stairs and the hexagonal wall from above! It must have been waiting to pick off some prey once most of the party was past, and attempts to attack Tom!
Post your actions in any order, and once everyone has posted, I'll update for the round. Anyone without darkvision has a 20% miss chance due to the darkmantle's spell-like ability darkness which grants concealment. The darkmantle doesn't get a surprise round, since using darkness tipped you off to its presence.
You can make a move action into the room at the end of the stairs without taking an attack of opportunity, while the darkmantle is clumsily trying to fly into position to attack.
The stairway is narrow and cramped, with only a small gap between the vertical stone shaft, which is shaped roughly hexagonal, and the stone slabs which make up the spiralling stairs and central column. The space is tight, and you have to descend single file down the stair without squeezing.
Marching order? Unless you tell me otherwise, I'm assuming it's something like Gaius, Azrim, Alexi, Tom, and Nichelle. Once you get to the bottom, you can go 2X2 or whatever formation you would like.
Those of you with darkvision obviously don't need artificial light to see, but those of you with low-light vision do. Torches, sun rods, light spells, etc. will all provide normal light in the ossuary.
If you have the gp (left from starting wealth, or pooled from the party, or loaned from a party member, etc.) to purchase a mace (or other bludgeoning weapon) and a vial of acid, consider those items easily available in Kaer Maga or from Reeza the tengu merchant.
Since it's not strictly relevant if we head into the Ossuary now or eight hours from now, the 'scene' is still Valanthe and the party at the stone door leading down into the lower level, so we'll go from there!
Reeza looks incredibly grateful as Tom takes the carved bird charm. "Thank you, thank you. If any of you need supplies, Reeza will offer a nice discount for such nice people."
Responding to the gruff dwarf's inquiry, she looks taken aback. "Why do dwarfs always assume we are thieves and stealers? Robbing tombs, ha! Dwarves rob the earth, do they not?" she cackles, finding this amusingly clever. "Fear not noble dwarf, Reeza is an honest woman. No corpse snatching, or purse lifting here, of course! As for my brothers Izzik and Skezza? Well, Reeza won't lie to you."
She abruptly stops talking and goes about selling the party the goods they want, extending a feathered hand for coin.
Alexi - Sleight of Hand 1d20 ⇒ 7 seems to make sense, since Detect Magic has a somatic component.
Reeza notices the inquisitor's spell casting actions, and cocks her head, narrowing her eyes. "Casting spells and incantations, eh? Reeza unfortunately has no goods for wizards and shamans and sorcerers for sale today. See Horuzz for scrolls and potions and such. He sometimes comes down to The Bottoms on...business."
You haven't yet reached the entrance. They are arguing in the middle of the cliffside path, effectively blocking your route.
Valanthe seems to be standing back, possibly watching how you deal with this particular event. She says nothing, but seems to be focusing on the half-orc.
The guard is in the employ of a 'guard-for-hire' company called The Free Company. A broken chain link is threaded on a leather cord and hangs around his neck. They are often employed as bodyguards, extra security, and muscle for hire in the city. His armor is chain and leather, and in addition to a halberd, he has a dagger strapped to his inner thigh.
The tengu merchant is female, with decorative red markings on her beak. Several shamanistic charms hang from her sleeves and adorn the wagon, and although it is covered with a oiled tarp, it seems the goods underneath are mostly provisions and supplies of a mundane nature. Several coils of what look like good quality rope hang from the far side of the wagon, as well as some pots and pans.
Nichelle's attempts to distract the merchant seem to elicit a pause in the confrontation as both the half-orc and the tengu look up at her.
"This merchant needs to clear off, the sale of goods is not allowed at this time" the half-orc says to Nichelle, grunting as he does.
The tengu however, senses an opening. "Help? I help you, you help me! Then I go! Will make this brute here, pleased, yes?" Turning to the half-orc the tengu seems to cackle. "Will talk with these lovely people, then go? Acceptable?"
The half-orc grunts again, turns to Nichelle and says "You're with the cleric I see. Fine. This bird woman needs to be gone by the time I come back." He walks off briskly up the path.
The tengu woman seems relieved, but still agitated. "Reeza is my name. Have many supplies for adventurous types, yes? I must find Izzik. He and Skezza and Fisk went into the mountain mouth, and have not come back. They are fools, but Reeza cares for them still. If you find them, give them this." She holds up a totem charm, a small bird carved from wood with some river stones tied to it with a leather cord.
Up ahead, you hear what seems to be an argument between someone with a deep, gruff voice, and another voice which seems high pitched and cawing, almost like a bird's. When you get closer, it appears that a half-orc in armor with a halberd is arguing with a small cloaked figure with a small hand pulled wagon.
The half-orc appears to be losing his patience. This could turn ugly, fast. Do any of you intervene?
As the rest of the group exchanges pleasantries, you look around and spot just a glimpse of a cloaked figure in the shadows, seemingly watching the main door of the cathedral. The figure turns and walks off into the darkness.
Just as Gaius is about to open the doors of the cathedral, a female acolyte in black vestements emerges from a side door carrying a lantern. She motions for all of you to follow her through the side entrance.
Once inside the cathedral, you are escorted to a side chapel - dedicated to what looks like some sort of female saint of Pharasma, perhaps - and the acolyte sets the lantern in a wall sconce and turns and leaves. Several minutes later, an attractive human woman wearing a dark cloak enters.
However you came to be in the City of Strangers, Kaer Maga, one thing is certain: there is plenty for a person of your particular persuasion to keep themselves occupied. Built upon the Storval Rise, the fortress city is a huge hexagonal structure, and the denizens who dwell within are some of the strangest you'll ever see in all of Varisia...in fact, all of Avistan.
It has recently come to your attention that the Church of Pharasma is seeking out freelancers to find out why the interred bodies that the clergy has prepared are going missing. Repeated attempts to contact the necromancers who dwell within the city have met with resistance, but the clergy has determined that the lower levels of the Ossuary show signs of recent activity. Unwilling to risk their own in a possibly dangerous unexplored crypt, the Church is seeking out the right kind of people who would willingly descend into a sealed crypt in search of the answer. People like you.
Each of you has received a handwritten letter, addressed and delivered by an acolyte earlier in the day. The letters are identical except for the greeting and read as follows:
It has come to my attention that you may be what we are looking for in regards to our recent difficulties. I will say no more of it in this correspondence, but instruct you to meet me at the Godsmouth Catherdral in the Bottoms district at midnight tonight.
'Not this year, not yet' - V
Feel free to introduce yourselves to each other as you arrive in front of the cathedral.