The four of you approach the Devildrome to take in the day's spectacle. A rather large, surly looking half-orc at the gate is about to ask you for the admission price, when he catches a glimpse of the near-by Rance Lucca waving the four of you in.
Once inside the arena, you see the list of competitors for the day and the current odds on each bout. Unfortunately, you note that Thraxius is not slated to compete today.
As you take your seats, you see the masses also filing in to watch today's bouts. Vendors make their way through the aisles, selling any manner of food and drink.
A few moments before the start of the first bout, the same gruff looking half-orc you met at the gates approaches you.
"Lucca said he wants you guys to sit up with him." he says heading off toward Lucca's box without waiting for your response. He stops briefly and says, "Oh...he also said to tell you that Thraxius would also be there."
After giving you a tour of his home and artwork that lasts nearly an hour, Rance informs you that he must end the visit in order to prepare for today's bouts.
"I wish you luck in your battle with Thraxius tomorrow. Take care and rest well. I shall see you tomorrow. Try to arrive around 10:30 or so."
With that, Lucca shows you out and you are once again on the streets of Rego Cader.
It is just after 11 am, what would you like to do with the rest of your day?
"Friends may be a bit of a strong word, my good sir. Business associates may be more appropriate, as Thraxius and I have both made a good deal of coin from our partnership throughout the years, and as long as he continues to make money for me, he is certainly welcome here."
Rance pauses a moment before adding, "Though that is not to say that someone new holding the Hellcaller's Cup wouldn't be good for business too."
It seems pretty certain at this point that Rance Lucca is not going to tip his hand if he has a preference as to who wins your bout with Thraxius.
Black Addie wrote:
"Thank you for allowing us to admire your art collection, Lord Lucca," Addie graciously thanks their host. "And no, we certainly have not developed 'cold feet' about facing Thraxius. We are looking forward to it, and trust the specatcle will be quite profitable for you as well."
Rance smiles, hearing the confirmation that you still intend to do battle with Thraxius. "Good. And yes, my dear, it should prove to be quite profitable for all involved...except for the loser of the battle of course."
Valeron Legis wrote:
""Wagers? Perhaps you'd be interested in a wager yourself, Lord Lucca? What exactly are the odds on us and Thraxius?"
"If I were not the proprietor of the Devildrome, I would certainly be interested in a direct wager with you, but since I am the proprietor, I cannot. Conflict of interests and all, especially when it is fairly well known among my more frequent clientele that Thraxius and I do not get along as well as we once did." Lucca says in way of politely declining the offer. "As to the odds, based on the wagers that I've taken in, five gold will get you four more for a successful wager on Thraxius. Please note that these odds are based on how the people are betting, not my personal opinion. Honestly, if I were a man on the street placing a wager, I very well might put my money on the four of you."
Having purchased a few items that you feel may be of use to you in the arena against Thraxius, the four of you arrive back at the Devildrome shortly before 10 o'clock in the morning as requested by Rance Lucca. The proprietor of the Devildrome appears to be pleased to see you once again.
"Welcome back, my friends! I hope you haven't gotten cold feet about facing Thraxius." Lucca says with a smile.
"I believe you are here to see some of my statues, yes? Well come along then, I need to be back out here before too long to start taking wagers for today's bouts."
Looking around as Rance leads to the statues, you get your first look at the Devildrome itself. A 100 foot diameter arena, encased in a cylindrical iron cage that reaches 25 feet in height. The interior sides of the cage are laced with spikes and blades that would appear to be deadly to anyone or anything that was unfortunate enough to be slammed in to the wall of the cage. At the north and south ends of the arena, sit two protective cages. Rance mentions that, "The cages are there for the protection of the conjurers that are summoning the combatants, not that they will be needed for your fight with Thraxius." In the center of the arena floor resides a platform, 15 feet off the ground, with stairs leading to the top from each of the cardinal directions. Two ten foot wide, thirty foot long pits reside along the eastern and western edges of the arena, about ten feet away from the cage walls. Along the top edges of the seating areas to the east and west are numberous statues, most of which are of creatures such as dragons, centaurs, and manticores.
You arrive in what can only be Rance Lucca's living quarters. Lavishly furnished you see what must be the pride of Rance's art collection, numerous statues from across Golarion.
Perception DC 10 and Knowledge (Local or History) DC 15:
You have little difficulty picking out which of the statues you believe to be the mortal remains of Aiger Ghaelfin.
After allowing you to look around for a while, Rance asks, "Have you found the one you are looking for? I assume we still have a deal, fight against Thraxius and I'll give you all the time you want with the statue."
Valeron spends an hour or so wandering around Rego Cader, asking various individual about Thraxius...
Thraxius is really more of a stage name for the champion. Growing up on the streets of Rego Cader he was known as Davon Thrax. In the arena he favors hell hounds, lesser devils, and other fiendish creatures. His favorite summons though is his near constant companion, Calebros. In more recent battles, he has used Calebros less and less and has begun using a tactic of over-running his opposition with shear numbers of summoned creatures. Thraxius has developed a bit of a vicious streak the past year or so, showing no mercy to living opponents.
When last we left our intrepid resistance fighters, they had agreed with Rance Lucca to do battle with the Devildrome's champion, Thraxius, two days from now and at the same time made arrangements for a viewing of the Devildrome's statuary tomorrow morning around 10:00...
As you walk away from the Devildrome, Sejanus mentions again that he has alchemical weapon blanches that may aid in defeating Thraxius's summoned minions.
It is roughly noon, two days before your scheduled bout, is there anything you would like to do prior to the next morning?
I imagine you are right about losing Tanner. Kind of a bummer, but no real worries as he was not really established in the group as of yet anyway.
Looks like Nazard (Kevorin) and Wakedown (Valeron) are still active on the boards, provided that they are willing to give this wayward DM yet another chance to keep the bloody game going, do we want to recruit a new 5th member of the WMD or just move on with four?
I have my initial opinion on the matter, but can be swayed either way.
"Something like that may be able to be arranged, though I simply do not have the time to do so today. Perhaps tomorrow I could show you around were you to return say closer to ten o'clock in the morning, provided of course you agree to a battle of some sort with Thraxius." Rance says with a mischievious grin.
"Typically the battles in the Devildrome are until disapation of one of the conjured creatures or the conjurer in question is unable to do more. I won't go as far as saying that deaths have not occured in the instances of mortals versus summoned creatures, but those details can be worked out among the participants prior to the bout." Rance says rather matter of factly, before adding with a devilish grin "...Though the purse and the grandure of the entire specticle would certainly be greater for a to the death bout."
Valeron, give me a Diplomacy check
"How much is the purse? That's a good question, my friend. Honestly it depends on the bout. It could be fairly small for a little known conjurer's creatures versus another conjurer's creatures. It would be significantly more, should there be one to be a true threat to end Thraxius's reign as champion. The prize money to be had tend to increase if it is mortal competitor's going against conjured creatures."
A near predatory grin crosses Rance Lucca's face "I have many statues surrounding the Devildrome. The presence of all of the statues adds a bit of....gravitas to the spectical I think."
"Now, as far a Pathfinders go, I suspect a number of the statues are of Pathfinders, including my favorite piece...a bust of the former Venture-Captain of Delvehaven, Aiger Ghaelifin."
"I'll tell you what, do me a favor and I would be more than happy to let you spend some time among my statues, including old Ghaelifin. Go a round in the Devildrome for me, it would be tremendously good for my business to have the cast of the Trials of Larozod in the Devildrome. Give me two days to make the arrangements and properly promote the bout. What do you say, do we have a deal?"
The guadily dressed man smiles as you approach and ask your questions. "Rance Lucca at your service. I am well aware that you are players from The Trials. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance that afternoon." he says darting his gaze around as if looking for someone or something. "Where is your Larozod? Not a fan of sport I take it?"
I have a few moments before I have to be inside, what can I do for you this morning?"
Addie leads the group, now including Sejanus, through the streets of Rego Cader toward the Devildrome. The circuitous route through Rego Cader takes you to the northernmost edge of the cities ruins.
Arriving, the structure before you can be nothing other than the Devildrome. An immense two-story cage rises out of what at one time was a block of apartment buildings. Smells of roasted meats of varying quality fill the air, while you are propositioned by any manner of street vendor while you approach the building.
It is still early enough in the day that the fights have not started yet as you see a short line of what you can only assume are competitors lined up before what appears to be sort of a make-shift office near the front of one of the crumbling buildings.
Behind the desk at the "office" sits a dark skinned man, dressed in gaudy, red and gold finery. The man seems to be alternately accepting potential competitors and taking bets for the day's events.
Hearing the dwarf's complaint, Ailyn looks at the parchment containing the poem, "Well the poem is rubish. There seems to be something odd about the rhythm and meter of the stanzas."
Thinking about it a bit further, "Really not that unusual for a Pathfinder cipher. Sejanus could probably figure it out, or if you would like I can work on it while you and the other pursue the other leads."
Knowledge (Local) on Addie's behalf: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (9) + 12 = 21
Rance Lucca owns the Devildrome, and he puts on gladiatorial style contests from noon until 5:00pm most days. Typically these matches are between conjurers who summon forth the combatants for the spectacle. Occasionally a mortal competitor will enter the Devildrome and compete against the summoned creatures.
A gather information check will be needed to gain anymore information ahead of time.
Looking at the candles you do indeed identify them as Grave Tallow. In order to function a grave candle must be placed amid the physical remains of the body to be spoken to. These remains can be partial, or even just a handful of ash or grave dust, but a totally destroyed body (as results from destruction or disintegrate) does not leave enough material for a grave candle to function. When it is lit, the smoke rising from the candle grows thick, and a ghostly shape similar to the creature's in life manifests in the smoke. The grave candle does not impart any additional language understanding, in all other respects the candle functions as the spell, speak with dead. A dead body can only be subjected to a grave candle once - the burning of the candle "burns out" the latent necromantic and spiritual energy left behind by a soul's parting from this world.
The Lucca family is fairly insignificant these days, having been at the height of their once significant powers in pre-Thrune Westcrown. All that remains of the once proud Lucca family in Westcrown is the blood-bookie, Rance Lucca. Rance runs the Devildrome, a semi-legal summoning tournament and battle arena at the southwest edge of Rego Cader.
"I think stone to flesh would be a messy proposition, Sejanus. Or did you not hear the part about the smashing of the statue?" Ailyn says with a grin. "The letter also mentioned something about Grave Tallow, did anything of the sort come out of the Crux?"
Reposting what fell from the Crux when it was opened:
Finally, a shrieking, disembodied, female head. Other items falling to the ground include: a leather portfolio inscribed with an ornate "D", three scrolls, a silver box engraved with dancing skeletons, and a pair of matched slender oak wands.
Ailyn looks up from the portfolio, "Seems to be a few items of note in here. First is a ledger of the contents of Delvehaven from 4674 to 4676. This first page seems to imply that the Pathfinders hid a portion of their treasures and clues of how to enter the deepest vaults off-site somewhere in or near Westcrown. These documents are pretty damned vague, but could be of use in Delvehaven."
Pulling single piece of folded parchment from the folio, she continues. "This seems to be nothing more than a poorly written poem entitled 'Cugny's Wedding'. Ailyn's expression becomes one of surprise as she looks at the poem a bit longer. "It appears that Dargentu Vheed was working with this parchement and believed the poem to be code cipher that led to the whereabouts of the hidden cache...Very interesting."
Pulling yet another piece of paper from the book, Ailyn announce that it is a list of missing Pathfinders, just before reading the page aloud.
Mayor Vheed -
Presented below is what I have been able to piece together regarding the Pathfinders who escaped notice after they sealed Delvehaven during the initial riots in the pre-Thrune unpleasantness. After the passage of seventy some years, it would seem likely only Sivanshin still lives, and if you wish, I can send my agents north to Nidal to attempt to find him. The use of the Grave Tallow to interrogate those who have been dead these past several decades ironically makes them more available to interview than Sivanshin - provided we can find their remains, of course. I am happy to report that I've made some progress in that area.
1. Dontalus Brisby: Leader of the Amber Privateers and one of only two survivors of a journey to darkest Mwangi - he has firsthand knowledge of at least one magical artifact that could well serve our needs for control. I would seem Brisby was sealed inside one of Delvehaven's lower vaults as the others fled, but I'm unclear if this was a voluntary sacrifice.
2. Ilnerik Sivanshin: Brisby's chronicler, a half-elf, Sivanshin fled Westcrown a week before Aroden's Fall. Evidence suggests he fled north , toward Nidal, and with a stolen relic.
3. Corina Heavenscape: A Westcrown native and, if rumor is to be believed, an aasimar, Corina remained in Westcrown and organized the Father's Bulwark, on of many groups of rebels glorius Thrune smashed in pursuit of establishing order. She was slain and her remains collected by the Sisters of Eiseth - I've got them sifting through their holdings in an attempt to find her.
4. Loremaster Liriam: Delvehaven's master of lore - no other would know more about the vaults below. Alas, no evidence of his survival has surfaced - like Brisby, his remains might still lie within Delvehaven. I do suspect he was the author of "Cugny's Wedding", and if so, your suspicion that it is a cipher may well be correct.
5. Venture-Captain Aiger Ghaelfin: Aiger was certainly the one who ordered the sealing of Delvehaven. My early research indicated that he planned on fleeing Cheliax for Absalom, but further investigation revealed this to be false. He remained in Westcrown and fought alongside Corina in the Father's Bulwark, but was laid low by a Thrune wizard who petrified him and then smashed the resulting statue. Scuttlebutt among the blood bookie circuit is that the remains of the man's petrified body have been in the possession of one of the lesser noble houses involved in bloodsport, but I've not yet determined which family (I suspect the Luccas). These filthy has-been nobles play well enough when faced with Thrunish agents, but without the direct aid of your allies, master, I'm afraid I won't be able to learn more.
Your ever faithful servant,
Finishing the letter, Ailyn surprisedly remarks, "It appears that is was not the House of Thrune who sealed Delvehaven, but the Pathfinders themselves....interesting."
At the question of transportation, Khazrae offers a solution. "I have no need to breath, putting me in a simple bag or pack while you are around those who would be more...disturbed...by my appearance would be fine. All I ask is that you not put me back in that damned Crux."
While the group continues to watch over Khazrae's head and have a conversation with the body-less devil, Ailyn's attentions have turned to the leather portfolio.
"Delvehaven? Yes I lived inside its walls for a time with Vheed." upon uttering the name of Vheed, Khazrae launches into a long string of profanity in Infernal all concerning her former "master". Eventually calming down long enough to say, "Although I have to admit it has been quite sometime since I have been there and my memories are a bit clouded. Perhaps if you were to bring me with you, my memories would be rekindled within Delvehaven's walls."
Black Addie wrote:
Actually, I believe the wand casts the level 4 Restoration spell.
That is correct.
Valeron uses a charge off of the potent wand a moments later the head stops shrieking and screaming, but switches to simply pleading.
"Thank you...please, please do not put me back in that damned box. How long has it been? Does Darghentu Veed still live?"