The elven queen and an elven maid even older than her are talking. As you enter, your escorts bow to both ladies.
"It appears you have come to help end this horrible war. I agree it may be time to help out our wood elf cousins. The dwarves that started this mess are in their large fortress. Rather than force a horrible fight against fortified dwarves, we need to come up with an alternative. The gnomish guide that came with the old warship has visited the dwarven fortress many years ago."
She unrolls a detailed map of throne room and a hidden room behind.
"He has described it enough that I should be able to magically transport a group inside."
Velma raises her hand and bows before speaking:
"We could use our destructive magic to get rid of the fortress for you."
Lady Ciedrel smiles: "You speak for me. You carry the banner, the symbol of our power and support. Do not apologize. Let me make our obligations clear. You are obliged to make your best decision on the spot, and I am obliged to support you."
The last statement is made with a smile and complete candor.
She turns to Seltyn. "As the expert arcanist, leader, and having seen their leader first hand. What do you think about this demonstration?"
Lady Ciedrel grants the new guest a private audience. After this audience, she meets with you. She listens to your inputs and nods politely, then she adds.
"I have talked with the young mage you invited. She is quite knowledgeable and, as Eirel has pointed out, quite dangerous. I believe they wish to use the seeds to ease their domestic burdens and grow more plentiful foodstuffs. It appears their number one food is magically created food with magically created spices. Over the years, they have found it to be dull."
She pauses to collect her thoughts, "But the greater issues is the claims of these people are quite extraordinary. I see a great benefit to cultivating an alliance. As to whether we accept their offer, that is the immediate question. Having seen your ship, Velma has asserted that it will make a quick departure after the spell is started much easier. I have asked why magical means of travel cannot be done. She just assured me it couldn't and would reveal no more."
The queen turns to Seltyn:
"We have been invited to visit the do-gooder wizards you met in their hamlet since you departed. I guess they liked your group after the big troll ambush."
She checks with her advisor.
"The cult is blunted for now. Derrick seem to think moving against one of their temples may be wise. But I would rather let them continue to keep the cult at bay. They may be trying to get us to do their work for them."
There is still the island to visit too.
"Our smiths have crafted a suit of armor and need to fit it to one of your fighters. The wood elves outfit a champion with significant equipment as they put great stock in this dueling. We are not convinced, but we do think you may need better protection if you find yourself in danger."
Lady Ciedrel produces a very light suit of full plate made out of what looks to be delicate material, but actually is quite durable.
Full mithral plate +1 of light fortification (25% chance to avoid sneak attack or critical)
She looks to Seltyn.
As the group returns, the elven queen awaits them at the wharf. She seems to be all smiles on this sunny day. A party of younger elves is waiting to greet the return with a few banners and cakes.
When you return to the war room, the queen is more serious after your relate the details of the mission.
She adds: "The wood elves won two decisive battles after cutting down two of their main leaders with their dueling. Our advisor seems to think their use of glaives and pikes in combat can be quite effective. We have procured some for our armory."
The Queen explains: "The cult has been active and has expanded along the coast. Derrick and Seaview have things in hand defensively, but they are still concerned that they will not escape notice from the other human governments. They are afraid they may be made an example of."
"Anyway, our military thought of striking at the Rovagug supplies. Windfavor wants to hire the wood elves to make a distraction to make it an easier mission."
Lady Ciedrel brings you to the a full meeting of the elven council. The proposal to renounce the 'Wheatfield Accords' is brought up.
An aged elf with a gleaming greatsword with the symbol of Iomedae rises to speak. Murmers of disapproval for the elf who is too old and spent too much time among humans is voiced openly and disrespectfully by many. His words are short and to the point:
He looks to Windfavor for support. The aged elf looks at the queen with a pained look, and withdraws in embarassment.
He unsheaths his sword, and the sword gleams brightly and speaks clearly:"The Inheritor is not for this. The old alliances will crumble."
As you watch, it is clear the proposal has broad support, although many have been swayed by the elderly veteran.
The elven lady also has another issues to resolve.
"We have heard about the problems at the monastery. Some of the evil monks were not happy and have called us untrustworthy. We have prepared a proclamation to say that the elves are in no way a signatory to the "Wheatfield Accords". The concepts of champions and dueling to resolve issues rather than the field of battle is an archaic, human tradition we no longer support. As King Talmanes has been consulted, he has no problems backing us up on this. The Coastal Kingdoms will not be a signatory either."
She adds: "The dwarves and elves do not agree on many things, but I expect them to issue a similar proclamation. Human ways are not our ways."
She addresses Elorin: "I would like you to convince the wood elves to renounce the Wheatfield Accords. The wood elves, a nation of shapechangers, the Dark Citadel, and the a new dwarf clanhold are the only nonhuman signatories. Our diplomats feel this will reduce the power of the Coalition of Light and the human nations they operate in."
The returning elves are treated to a hero's reception. The news of the successful discusion with the wood elves and the recovery of the human king seem to have the queen in high spirits.
"We have actually a couple of things to consider. Many of my elven councilors are somewhat wary of signing any official alliance with the wood elves. It appears they have mercenary companies throughout the land are quite involved in human politics. The majority now argue that we have more to lose than they do with any formal alliance."
The queen also invites you into the large 'war room' for a consultation.
"We also have a chance to explore far to the north with the Slipstream. Rumors are an island civilization two days off the coast well past the monastery are worth visiting. Their alchemy was of great repute many years ago before we lost contact."
And there is the dryad and the City of Gold--hunting the witches
"It warms my heart to see your safe return. The rift of our cousins has been healed, and our seagoing might has been restored. I declare tomorrow a holiday for all elves on the island. We will celebrate with song and wine what some of our dearest children have paid for with their blood."
The elven queen seems to be excited at your return. She seems less burdened by her responsibility and the years than you have ever seen. Her step is more lively, and the lines on her face seem reduced.
"We will talk tomorrow. Today you will relax and recuperate in the private quarters maintained for your return."
"I do know the sea journey avoids many dangers. We have never considered the land route up the coast from Seaview through the bogs. I think it would be nigh impossible to fight a sea monster going that way. That would be a three week journey to the ships by land. You would probably have to take Windfavor with you to sail the ship back. Interesting idea."
Lady Ciedrel wrinkles her brow in concentration.
"We never considered an all land route, only a landing to traverse the bog, which seemed obviously inferior to an all sea route. It is up to you. A problematic bog versus an almost sure sea monster. Well, which shall you choose?"
The elvish queen is there to see you off. The Lady is wearing a simple shift of white trimmed with light and dark green. A single silver pendant is around her neck.
Lady Ciedrel warns you as she goes into a slight trance, "I have had a glimpse into the future. You will heading into an area of elemental power. Elemental magic and the forces of nature will be strong there. I see you battling a sea creature that will attempt to sink your vessel. The battle will be a tough one."
Lady Ciedrel snaps out of her reverie, "The blessings and hopes of our nation are yours. Fair winds and following seas."
Windfavor smiles, "You remembered the farewell to sailors, my queen. We will be return and make you proud."
The elven court seems quite agitated, but everyone gets a warm reception upon your return. The elves are especially excited to see Wil, Suny, Azlain, and Thalas. The expatriate elfs are given the warmest welcome and shown to the elven library and invited to peruse the archives of five thousand years of history.
Lady Ciedrel speaks in a rare moment of candor:"We have neglected those of our kind out among the humans. in many ways, you have strengths we do not have. Many felt that the touch of the human race is corrupting one, especially given their harsh treatment of our kind. But I think the human flaws are ignorance, arrogance, and short-sightedness."
"The decision to bring your comrade back is a tough one. One that I cannot make for you. To ease the burden, have set a portion of our resources aside for your use. Rather than tax your limited resources, we can draw from your future operating budget. We have come a a long way since having to trade and grovel for food, but we are still limited in our resources. Many of us realize your hope requires sacrifice on our part."
Seltyn is asked for the final decision on the raise dead+restore.
The exercises at the training area go well. The elves also have an outdoor archery range with aquatic targets set up and buoyant practice arrows that are gathered in canoes after rounds of shooting.
Lady Ciedrel speaks about your fallen comrade--"The bannermaiden fought valiantly. We have a capable replacement trained and ready or she can be raised and restored, but that will cut down on the resources we can commit to your support. I hate to be callous, but our high priestess has the diamond and gold dust necessary to perform the ceremony, but resources are limited."
The bannermaiden can be raised and restored for about 5200gp in material costs alone. This can be taken as a two year advance on money allocated from the elven treasury to support your group.
The queen speaks to Suny, "We have an accomplished Admiral named Windfavor who is a sea elf. Our ties to the sea cannot be forgotten."
"First, the cultists have been very clear we have a delicate truce. The moment we act against them, the truce is off. Furthermore, the cultists still have the dryad in their power. Right now, we have been giving aid to our human allies so they can act against the cultists. It is how I plan on containing the cult until a serious rescue is mounted. Our scouts have reported that the jungle is now filled with malevolent creatures and they are servants of the cultists. This includes black, nasty evil trees capable of uprooting themselves to defend the heart of the wood where the dryad is probably being held."
"Second, the pursuit of ships to gain mobility or dealings with any potential allies would be wise. Reports of the desert people with ties to djinni and other servants of air intrigue me. The nearby jungle people are mostly following the Rovagug cult. An active diplomatic effort to the jungle people would be needed to sway them from going to the Rovagug side."
"Finally, active work on the large human city may not be the answer. My advisors tell me their bureaucratic nature and large size makes them like a slow plodding elephant. But, given the appearance of the shrine in the city, advancing the agenda of this new shrine may be useful. I am extremely happy that you have spurred the intervention of Labelas in our cause. Having a god on your side is quite useful."
Derrick Save vs survival 1d20 ⇒ 9
The prince has a boat with foodstuffs bound for elfhome add you to the manifest. The two hour voyage home is uneventful and you barely have time to look around before you are rushed to 'the tower'.
The tower of delicate beauty that is the last one standing, but was once one of many. From the top of this tower you can see the island of jungle and bog that is all that is left of a once proud empire. Oft in the distance, on the clearest days, the large continent that was taken from by the humanse can be seen in the distance. Lady Ciedrel reminds you that they human race is a race of the quick and convenient; a race often of violence and hatred.
The aging silver-haired beauty with golden eyes that is your queen remains the center of elven power. Lady Ciedrel is a startling contrast, a contrast of unearthly beauty lined with the stress of bearing an excruciating burden, that of guiding the elves back to the glory she personally experienced as a child. Her features are marred by subtle lines like that of a fine crystal goblet that you worry could shatter at any time.
Lady Ciedrel seems to speak to you as she says, "It does my heart glad to see you safely back home. You will have time to rest and recover. Wilaml Fmelvan, come forward. For dedication to others and true service to your heritage in foreign lands, I present you my badge of the knight-healer."
She places a silver necklage with diamond moon set in a pendant of white gold around Wil's neck. Lay on hands on others with the necklage is +1d6hp and removes the fatigued condition.
"Now, what is on your mind?"
The gold last time was 150gp for the party +1000gp all given to the party = 1150gp. Monthly income going to the party is now 300gp with the added wealth from trade with the humans.
You may wait for information from Silverstrike (one week) or head back to Seaview. You actually have your own dock slip labeled from last time.
It is possible to explore inland and move on to the former provincial capital. It is a massive distribution center and a center of activity as well as the largest city by far in the area.
"By the way, the humans seem to want our approval for their new king. What do you think of their choice? Did you sign their paperwork or bring it back for me to sign?"
The intelligence advisor briefs you on direction of the queen. He speaks to all of you quickly and waits for questions before departing.
"We did receive word that most of jungle ruins were burned. Our high priest has informed us that the dryad in the area is still alive but most probably in captivity. That is definitely surprising. Thank you for returning one of our best agents."
The trip back and forth is not very long--so returning quickly some or part of the group is always and option.
Lady Ciedrel greets you upon your return.
"This is Silverstrike, one of our top undercover operatives. He has been missing for many years. We must get him to the healers immediately. Thank you so much for his return."
When she hears about the payment, Lady Ciedrel insists you keep it for returning Silverstrike.
"Silverstrike is from a prominent family. He has paid for significant healing privileges. I predict he will be up an about in a week. I am mainly concerned that his mental faculties may not return fully. It appears he was tortured and maimed. Who did this?"
"Seltyn, I will teach you any two level 1 spells personally. I think Radriel realized the difficulties the elven nation had when she intervened. Had we lost half your group and half the gear, we would have been in a difficult position. Once the Rovagug cultists realized you were not with them, they had to consider you as enemies. Rovagug has felt it is him against the entire pantheon of good and the kingdom of men have spread many stories that make many reluctant to trust elves."
"Your open-mindedness to the humans enabled your first mission to succeed better than any of the more experienced old-timers I could have sent. This open-mindedness was somewhat your downfall versus the human barbarians. Being stuck in their lair wounded and then separated put you at an extreme disadvantage. It turns out that the impetuous barbarian's counsel to fight at that time was probably best given perfect hindsight."
"I have talked to our religious advisor. When a great druid departs, as was the case with Radagast the Brown, he can bond an entire natural community together to put aside their natural animosity to fight and prosper as a whole upon his death. His daughter Radriel and her special tree survived him as 'the Heart' of this community. We were not informed of these events as the secret of 'the Heart' is essential to its survival. Your refusal to aid in its destruction is to be commended."
"My religious advisor also tells me that only hostile actions against this community or retaliation upon predators attacking will alienate this advanced druidic force. Elvish doctrine will not allow hostile acts to rescue victims of predators from these creatures as an attack on one is considered an attack on all. Unfortunately we could not know this rare community existed at all to warn you. If you run up against this phenomenon only possible upon the death of an ultrapowerful (level 20+) druid you will know what to do."
"Lastly, my religious advisor recommends leaving the Rovagug cult alone. If they sacrificed the dryad, their power in the short term and the long term has significantly increased. Although the jungle ruins represent the greatest haul of magical and monetary treasure in this area, the risk of clashing with these cultists is great. They will not become a significant offensive threat for months."
"Radriel, daughter of Radagast, attended my birth and coronation ceremony. She will be missed. Her vow to support my reign I now claim has been satisfied with interest. She has upheld the legacy of her father well."
"The resources of our kingdom continue to be at your disposal."
The elven kingdom continues to produce the equivalent of 3 level 1 potions per encounter (month). With the new human kingdom helping out, this will produce an additional 150gp in resources in addition to the current output of 150gp. You can decide how you want this.
Consider you have 150gp credit and will accumulate 300gp per month now.
You are ushered to meet the queen and make your report. She has not aged a day since you last saw her, and her classic beauty is still startling. Looking directly at her at times feels like staring into the sun.
As she wants to hear things in you own words, feel free to make a summary of events or cut and paste from previous posts. This is not intended to feel like 'work'.
At the beginning of your audience with the Queen you notice she is quite happy. "Although you return empty handed, things are going extremely well. Your safety and well-being is my primary concern. That you are all safe and sound is an answer to my prayers. Please make your report to me before the full council. One of the few benefits of being Queen is getting to hear the news first. Tell me what happened."
The natives talk amongst themselves in a strange language - let me know if anyone uses spells to understand what they say. They seem to have immediately accepted your presence. Marlamin gets a sense that they seem very comfortable with their environment. There are three footpaths leaving the beach - one heads inland, the other two roughly follow the coast. The forest quickly becomes dense with much underbrush, but the footpaths seem clear of underbrush.
"I have not heard from Valesia, perhaps she is somewhat preoccupied with the elven holiday celebrations. I would hope she makes the journey. The boat is ready and Marlamin and Valesia have not been around too much lately. Let me know your destination and when you are ready to sail Seltyn. Currently Valesia and Marlamin's berth on the ship has not been reserved."
"Our diplomatic status seems to have increased with our latest 'accomodation' with the Coastal Kingdom according to our highly place informers in the human lands. The new religion, whose followers call themselves Ciedrelites has spread inland to the interior."
As we are still in the holidays, no need to rush things along.
Elorin Silentall wrote:
"Your predecesors did not return last year from that mission. Windfavor deposited them a day's travel from 'the Yard' and waited over a month for them to return to no avail."
After dismissing the ten counselors, she addresses Elorin: "Elorin, I have met the human boy and will take care of him personally. You have other things to tend to. This Derrick 'situation' opens up a fourth option."
"A fourth option is to follow up your success with the Coastal Kingdom with another diplomatic/evangelical mission. There is truly a new religon among the humans brewing since your departure, and if the rumors are to be believed, the are treating me as some sort of demigod and consider Elorin Silentall to be some sort of mystic high priestess."
"I have found that flesh and blood examples may not live up to what rumor, imagination, and mysticism can brew. On the one hand this religon may flourish better left alone or on the other hand this new religion will be brutally repressed by the humans without our intervention."
"I leave you the room."
The Lady leaves you to discuss this amongst yourselves in this well appointed meeting room at the top of the tower. You are instructed to send the page outside the door for her when you have decided. You may take a few days and send for refreshments and retire to your luxurious suites for rest, "as our race has never been a hasty one" .
You are invited to a war council with Lady Ciedrel and her advisors. These advisors number 10 elves of 'mostly' princely heritage as Windfavor is included among these. The others are quiet as Lady Ciedrel does all the talking.
"We have three possible missions for your consideration. The riskiest one and that taken by your predecessors was to travel up the coast to the Northeast to the once great shipyard and drydock called simply 'The Yard'. A large sailing vessel, 'The Albatross' is said to have put there for repairs. Years ago it was the fastest vessel of its time and the means to construct it is long gone. To get there is at least a month's travel up the coast. The master shipbuilder Toti (a human) may still be in the area somewhere. Now 'The Yard' is supposedly guarded by curses and creatures of the deep."
"Alternative 2 is to sail the other way down the coast and treat with the main jungle native settlement. The local ruins are said to contain magics and medicines of great use to our people.
"Finally, your success with the Coastal Kingdom makes it possible for you to follow their main trade route from the settlement you visited to their central supply depot (alternative 3). Future negotiations or bold 'undercover operations' may yield vital resources."
The journal you have is quite short. It contains only a single note addressed to 'The next delegation' written in perfect elven. The note says, "There is a traitor on the island, we do not know who it is. I would be careful about assuming any conversations you have with Lady Ciedrel do not reach the ears of your enemy. At times it seems our enemy is too well prepared. Strangely, we feel the best place to leave this for you is with humans, how ironic."
Your debrief by Lady Ciedrel goes extremely well and she is gushing with praise.
"The supplies are crucial to get us through another year."
"You are correct in that no manner of respect given that horrid king will hurt us in any way. You didn't put anything in writing."
"Bringing back the boy was brilliant, it can only help us learn about each other."
Obviously you will have to decide whether or not to tell her about the journal.
Your first mission is succesfully completed. There will be a post in the main thread so you can see the progress of both teams and compare them when the dwarves get some closure. They are not having as easy a time of it.
I did say the post wasn't required, you would have been in a grand sniping position without posting. The action can move along without daily posts, that was my intent with strong party leaders. That said, if you aren't up for it, I think we start the call for a replacement now? Also let me know if anything bothers you besides the pace; I'll not be offended.
Perception for Talon : 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14 circumstance bonus
Talon sees no combatants on the piers or shore; mostly civilians. He does notice a stain in the trousers of one of the workers. The human dock workers get over their initial shock until the leopard disembarks, then they break into a run for shore.
You are masters of the main pier.
Plenty of buildup. We will go forward.
To briefly summarize the action. A critical mission was assigned to six elf heroes by the elven queen: they need to approach a human settlement and return with five boxes of goods to sustain the elf community for another year. After an augury revealed a possible future of a hostile reception with armed thugs at high noon, the party carefully planned their options. Understanding landing in the surrounding jungle is perilous, they decide to enter the natural harbor as was done the year before, but show up at sunrise (many hours earlier than the scheduled 'meet time') for recon. They have been given two pouches of magic seeds to trade for the supplies, seeds that cannot be replaced and can rapidly reforest entire areas.
Learning that their captain Windfavor, a half-sea elf, is somewhat despondent, the elf queen, Elorin, and Valesia decide to schedule a ceremony in his honor where Elorin performs an excellent song to improve his spirits. Windfavor is smitten with Valesia and invited her for a moonlight cruise in his canoe to see seahorses, but being a complete gentlemen, whether or not they went can only be answered by Valesia. Seltyn addresses the team and gives them well defined roles, but he understands the moment they sail, Windfavor is in charge.
"Perfect. You sing it better than I could and I would request that you preside as Master of Ceremonies and perform this song for him at an awards cermony tomorrow." DC 10 perform for excellent (less =adequate), 15 for incredible, 20 for flawless singing performance (consider + 2 circumstance bonus). You can describe the ceremony where Windfavor gets the Order of the Seas and a 50 year service medal.
Queen Ciedrel schedules an award ceremony for Windfavor's 50 years of service for the elven nation the eve of departure. Elorin is to preside.
The regal monarch calls the group in with a look of concern. She has purposefully excluded Windfavor.
"I am concerned about Windfavor and thought you should know some things about him. He is pining for a wood elf druidess that he ferried two years ago to the mainland. She never returned, and he meditates daily with a leaf of holly perfectly preserved by her tears."
The lady addresses the following words to Valesia and Elorin.
"I am reminded of an elven song from many years ago called Brandy--I think it was about a sea elf that liked brandy--and this sea elf pined for a female ranger. The words I remember some of them...(she sings in a perfect alto) 'the wood elves say Brandy, what a find husband you would be, but my life my love and my man is the trees.' Elorien, if you could somehow adapt this song for Windfavor, it may break him out of his despondency--it is quite relevant. I am worried he will be distracted making this annual trip which has bitter memories for him two years ago if you ask too much of him."
Maybe Windfavor proposed the canoes so that critical actions would be required of others and not of him.
After excusing everyone but Valesia and Elorin
Valesia and Elorin:
"Windfavor makes attachments easily. I would not like anyone to trifle with his affections; dalliances are beyond the best of the last of the Elfmaids."
"But, I have made him a lord of my own family house. He sits at my right hand during councils of war, and he has shown he can be true. He will be the foundation of any elven navy. My own husband was over 100 years old, and my only regret is that this caused me to survive him. These are times where the merit of this half elf sailor is more important than his bloodline. If I would question part of any romantic relationship with him, it will be clearly be the female side."
"Finally, I rely on you to keep in check our elvish males. Like Windfavor they can be too affected by the moment and matters of the heart. Please keep me informed on their progress. Sometimes it takes a lady to lead."
The captain approaches the natural harbor and squints his eyes. The coastline runs from NNE to SSW and a dense jungle goes both directions from the cleared human encampment. "Do I tack to the port or starboard to avoid notice and try for an althernate landing site? A closer approach to the harbor risks discovery.
He looks at the sky and notes the time of day which has yet to be determined.
As as a good #2, Talon helps ready the boat while Seltyn studies his magic books(s). The amazingly docile leopard leaps nimbly aboard and settles on the open deck of the single masted elvish cargo ship. The old sea elf says "You can deploy your best lookout on the prow to look for danger; there is platform there for just that purpose."
I need the planned arrival time from noon on the appointed time to X hours before. Let me know if you want the captain to land in the harbor, or try a landing at an alternate landing site.
I need 2 perception roles for the main lookout once he is chosen, and 2 rolls for three helpers that can aid. Any more forward lookouts unbalance the ship. Clearly label these roles (1) and (2). Seltyn and Talon can roll for anyone that is not timely by their standards. If you are new to Pathfinder, remember your elf bonus.
As the ship departs you realize you are leaving the last place that is truly safe for you in the world.
The queen gazes into the distance. "I saw another possible future. I saw our best seaman challenged by a difficult task, but easily guided by a creature of the sea. I looked futher and I saw a bond form that hindered you on many future endeavors. Your heart is true. My every fear for your immediate peril blinded me to the greater future."
The Sprite, a small cargo ship prepares to leave. It's aged captain with vestigial gills (he must be a sea elf) is ready to sail at the direction of his new masters. The old elf reminisces "One year ago, I remember sailing this short haul and seeing the unfriendly faces of a human mob. Seeing the elven banner unfurled made them even more unruly. I will do my best to get you there. The shoals are treacherous outside the harbor and I have no charts of these waters."
The six months of learning how to appreciate the elven ways and learn how to appreciate the other members picked for this crucial journey flash in your mind. The light touch of the aging silver-haired beauty with golden eyes that is your queen remains as a tingling sensation in your hands. In the few lessons she had with your group, she somehow conferred an appreciation of everything elven through every sense.