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The interior of the aviary is quiet, and rising up from either side of a winding path are numerous trees, each with many colorful birds sleeping while perched on their branches. The aviary is dark, and a number of small orange lamps illuminate the trail. High above, one of Cato Neimoidia’s moons shines down through the canopy of trees, casting a faint silvery hue over everything within.
The protocol droid is here, staring off toward the far wall. When you enter, he gives a hoot and ambles toward you. "Greetings, honored guests of Darga! I am TC-663, but you may call me Six-Six. I understand we have a mutual friend: Switch of Sel Zonn Station."
The evening passes without incident, and you gain a full night's sleep before heading to the courthouse to register your new evidence.
Once again, the trial is packed, this time with even more people, eager to hear the grisly details. The prosecutor begins his opening speech, detailing the murders of the children of Hergstag, painting grisly details of the Beast's deeds, culminating in his being chased off by the villagers and the town abandoned.
The sisters Garrow, Starle and Flicht are called as witnesses, and tearfully recount the events, leaving out the bit where the Beast was gone when the last murder was committed. The judge lets them down and the defense is called.
Gustav looks at you and gestures for you to take the floor.
The discussion continues on the nature of the Force and its permutations. The suites are comfortable enough and you sleep well.
The next day dawns brightly and you head down to discover a breakfast spread placed for the residents of Darga's palace, but also discover that Darga does not rise before noon. You explore a bit and discover that the palace contains quite a bit: an aviary containing rare birds, a moneychanger's office as well as larger guest quarters that are currently off-limits to you.
Care to explore any area more fully?
About that... Yes, I intended to have them reveal new powers when each chapter started. And I forgot. I plead... well, I plead I forgot.
Ezechias - Masterwork Heavy Mace improves to +1 Heavy Mace
Unless he took pains to hide it, yes.
The Hutt chortles and the rest of the scum around you take this as a sign to lay bets. Credits are flying to and from in front of you as the combatants line up!
The Hutt lowers his hand to signal the melee to begin. The Gamorreans hurtle toward the opposing team, vibroaxes humming. The decrepit combat droid suddenly explodes into action, launching tiny bits of itself at the Gammorreans who disappear beneath the assault. One struggles out, while the other is overwhelmed and goes down in a spray of blood. The remaining Gammorrean hits the droid bits, which fly everywhere but allow the Rodian to drop on him from above, a small stilleto flashing. In a second it's over and the droid reforms from the tiny parts.
The Hutt chortles loudly and there are groans and cheers from the crowd. Chel you receive 300 creds as the odds favored the Gammorreans!
As the Hutt chortles, he invites you to stay and has his major domo, the Neiomodean, take you to a suite of rooms. The rooms are nice, decorated with opulent furnishings.
Anything you want to do overnight?
Slumper dives toward Pai, but the beast gets one last swipe at him! Claw: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (4) + 25 = 29 for 3d6 + 16 ⇒ (2, 5, 3) + 16 = 26 damage and 1d4 ⇒ 4 Strength damage! NPCing Corbyn follows, ducking to avoid a claw attack, and barely reaching Pai as the beast screams and lurches toward them again!
Her friends all around her, Pai trigger her spell and the world shifts. Where are you teleporting to?
Ezechias' smite is enough to end the wraith forever, as his sword cuts deeply through the smoky form and causes it to dissolve away into the ground. For a moment all is quiet, then the spectral forms of seven children stand around you, gazing sadly at you. As one they wave and disappear.
What now? You have the bodies of four children, and a graveyard where two more are buried. The town is now quiet, no longer haunted. What would you like to do?
Will: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
The wraith, full of children's eyes, hisses as Sonny boldly presents his holy symbol. The holy energies seem to burn away quite a bit of the wraith's essence, causing it to wail in pain, the underlying sound one of children's laughter, as if heard from far away.
Caesare, Cireth and Ezechias are up!
Trying to do this one without a map. It's a circular room 20 ft across.
Zanu's arcane bolts briefly illuminate the thing. It looks to be a wraith, however it seems to be comprised of eyes. Eyes that look disturbingly like the eyes of children...
The bolt strikes and harms the creature. With a woosh, the wraith launches itself at Zanu. Xerice's whip lashes out, but seems to simply pass through the creature without harming it! Melee Touch: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7, but it cannot seem to touch Zanu!
Cireth, Caesare, Sonny and Ezechias are up!
Pai readies her spell, as Ruperta tries to dispel the evil in this creature, but her spell is working against the curse of a god, and fails to produce any effect!
The creature shrieks again and pounds away at Slumper, biting at the elemental! Claw: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (13) + 25 = 38 for 3d6 + 16 ⇒ (5, 3, 3) + 16 = 27 plus 1d4 ⇒ 4 Strength Damage
If you take damage, I need a Fort Save DC 30 or take -4 to attacks, skills and ability checks
Corbyn, Paxs and Slumper are up!
The cave is not particularly deep, only a slight incline into the hill, then opening into a round room about 20 feet across. Four skeletons, all the size of small children and covered in rotting clothing, lay scattered around the floor.
From the back of the cave comes a sudden light, as if some thing with many, many glowing eyes opened them all at once. A whisper hisses "Not children, Brother Swarm. But their souls still will taste glorious!"
Knowledge Local check for "Brother Swarm"
Knowledge Local DC 13:
You recall the members of the carnival speaking of a trial of a child-murderer up north, who called himself Brother Swarm. He was convicted and hanged, his body thrown into a nearby swamp as food for the gators.
Zanu and Xerice are up!
Zanu, this far away you can't be sure, but the scarecrow looks decrepit, like a good solid wind would cause it to fall apart, so you doubt it's a construct.
Leading the way, Caesare heads over toward the small hill. He stops you several times, pointing out more bear traps laid through the tall grass, perhaps there to stop a marauding flesh golem?
A rotting scarecrow leans on a scythe at the top of this low hill. Its pumpkin face is carved with a leer and a sheep’s jaw hangs flaccidly below. As you approach, the rotten pumpkin face, perhaps disturbed by your steps, falls off and the scarecrow collapses into a pile of rags and bone. Perception!
Perception DC 20:
Under the pile of scarecrow parts, you can see what seems to be the moss-covered entrance to a small cave.
Caesare, four more pieces of information about the wraith.
Ezechias' longsword cuts clean through the wraith, for a moment causing it to flicker from black-fire to the image of a little girl, a girl who looks sorrowfully up at Ezechias before fading away...
End of combat.
The door is soon opened. Inside, the house has been abandoned. There are still plates in cupboards and furniture sitting under a layer of dust. Upstairs, you find two bedrooms, a master and a smaller girl's bedroom. A single small window stands in the wall, closed and tightly latched 15 feet off the ground. With a little looking about, you discover that the house's outside slatted timber walls are difficult to climb and show no damage consistent with a creature the Beast's size climbing it.
From the high window, you spot movement near the top of a low hill just outside town, where a weathered scarecrow leans precariously.
I'm not a fan of just dropping people because they disappear. You can never tell what happened in a person's life. However, I have no problem with allowing him to fade into the background; if Cireth comes back, he can rejoin. If not, we have a new player. I'm leaving the "whether or not we need a new player" question to you.
On another note, Cireth has been absent since the first week of January. I checked his aliases and it seems consistent: no word since then. I sent him a PM, but if he's not checking Paizo.com, he won't see those.
Do we NPC him for now? Do we have him step off-screen? Do we seek a replacement? I'd like your input.
Special defenses: channel resistance, incorporeal.
Will: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6 At Sonny's holy channel, the wraith seems to shrink significantly in on itself, fading slightly. Zanu's arcane bolts seem to strike true, burning away some more of the wraith's form. It reaches toward Sonny, drawn toward his holy energies! It floats swiftly toward him, trying to touch his soul! Touch: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21, it hits, melting away 1d4 ⇒ 4 negative energy damage and eliciting a Fort Save, DC 15. On a failure, Sonny takes 1d2 ⇒ 2 Con drain!
Everyone else is up!
A few moment's work gets Cireth free, though he limps now.
1d100 ⇒ 40 and 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
A few moments later you approach Karrin's house. This house appears to be in better condition than others in the village. Its door is shut and barred. Caesare pulls his crowbar out and begins to pry the door open, but before you can, a fiery figure appears around the corner!
The figure is clearly a child, a young girl, but comprised of black flames that dance in the shape of a child.
Zanu and Sonny are up! We'll do this map-less if we can. The ghost child is 15' away and moving toward you, floating just above the ground. Knowledge Religion to know more.
Knowledge Religion DC 14:
This ghostly child seems to be a wraith, though a weaker than normal one. Incorporeal, undead. +1 piece of info for every 5 you beat the DC by.
Ruperta staggers to the sword and is shocked when it literally leaps into her hands. The form shimmers for a moment and suddenly she's holding a starknife instead of a long sword. She feels an odd warmth from the blade and the sense of a personality, though it seems to be barely awake.
Pai protects the party with her spell, as the beast rears back once more! It smashes its claws down upon the water elemental! Claw: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (13) + 25 = 38 for 3d6 + 16 ⇒ (5, 3, 1) + 16 = 25 damage and 1d4 ⇒ 4 strength damage and Claw: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (20) + 25 = 45 for 3d6 + 16 ⇒ (1, 4, 2) + 16 = 23 damage and 1d4 ⇒ 1 strength damage!
Then bites at Slumper! Bite: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (7) + 25 = 32 for 2d8 + 16 ⇒ (7, 2) + 16 = 25
Possible Crit Claw: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (13) + 25 = 38 for 3d6 + 16 ⇒ (3, 2, 6) + 16 = 27 damage and 1d4 ⇒ 2 strength damage!
Corbyn, Paxs and Slumper are up!
The fires appear to be in the shape of small humanoids...
After conferring, you pick out the house where Karrin died. You head in that direction! However, you've only gone a few feet when... 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13 Cireth suddenly gives a cry of pain! A steel bear trap, cleverly hidden in the tall grass, snaps shut on his ankle, dealing 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (6, 3) + 3 = 12 damage and pinning him to the ground!
Apologies, I had a sick kid the last few days!
The creature roars in pain and anger as the water elemental thrashes at it. The elemental deals it damage, but it definitely encounters some sort of damage reduction.
Corbyn tries to artfully tumble past the creature, but it swings at him! Claw: 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (3) + 25 = 28 for 3d6 + 16 ⇒ (1, 6, 2) + 16 = 25 damage and 1d4 ⇒ 3 Strength damage! I need a Fort Save DC 30 or you take an addition -4 to attacks, saves and ability checks as pain wracks your body!
Only Slumper's first thrust penetrates the thick blubber and even that does very little damage!
Pai and Ruperta are up!
Apologies, I had a sick kid this weekend and just got him back to school this morning!
Armed with information regarding the chymic works, you check the time and decide to head to Hergstag. The road there is lonely, passing through a few small clusters of houses where the residents stare at you with suspicious eyes. Hergstag is abandoned, much of it overgrown and gone to ruin now. It's night as you approach, and from even the edge of town you can see flickering shadows of fire moving among the ruined houses. You're pretty sure they correspond to the houses where the dead children lived.
Suddenly the Hutt begins to clap and the throne he sits upon floats slightly upward, revealing it sits upon a repulsorlift. The whole thing spins around and lights come on behind the Hutt, revealing an overlooking box that looks out over a gladiatorial arena.
The Hutt chortles and speaks, and the bounty hunters and guards begin to move. ("Come! Let us have some entertainment. I field a team of gladiators every season on Rikkichik. Perhaps your hatchet man would care to show off his skills?")
"The mighty Darga wishes to entertain you with spectacles of gladiatorial combat." The protocol droid squawks.
Raden's body continues to twitch for a moment then is still. The Gammorreans seem used to this and haul the lifeless meat away. Darga chortles loudly and claps his fat hands. ("Excellent! There may be a place for you here, after all!")
"The illustrious Darga approves of your... actions." The protocol droid squawks.
Ruperta's crossbow fires twice, the bolts streaking like light toward the abomination. They hit the thing, but bounce right off the thick, blubbery skin! Lots of natural armor on this guy!
Pai casts her spell, which roars into fiery life! SR check: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (18) + 13 = 31 The spells hits! Will: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17 and the thing writhes to get free of the flames! Reflex: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17 The flames burn it, and the smell of burnt fish fills the air, creating a noxious aura!
The creature screams again, a mix of pain and anger and surges forward, spewing some green liquid across the party, which burns like acid! 1d4 ⇒ 1 Reflex Save DC 30 for half damage and negates being nauseated for 1 round! Acid damage: 12d6 ⇒ (1, 6, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6, 6, 4, 5, 6, 1) = 57
Corbyn, Paxs and Slumper are up! The creature is five feet from the shore. A creature with reach could hit from shore or one PC may step onto the dock to be adjacent to it.
Paxs summons a water elemental, sending it off to retrieve the sword. A single ripple marks its progress, but as it gets closer to the sword, the sword begins to glow brighter. It retrieves the sword and makes it back to shore, where it lays the sword. But something in the room feels...changed. And you're not the only one who noticed.
What erupts from the water is massive, a disgusting creature that is part immense worm and part humanoid. He is just over 80 feet in length, with sickly pale flesh infested with rot and pustules. Dozens of spiky legs twitch along the length of his body, while his upper torso, bloated and pallid, is still vaguely human. He screams with the tortured voice of a man, but its pain is beyond words! Still, it surges forward, clearly angry and intending to do irreparable harm to you!
Pai and Ruperta are up!
Radniche seems to warm to Xerice's advances quite quickly, but you notice he pockets the 5 gold almost as soon as it hits the table. "Well, for such charming and lovely people with an obvious interest in doing the right thing, I can definitely do my part to help. I sold those to a Master Vorkstag, of Vorkstag and Grine's Chymic Works. They operate a chemical factory and shop that caters to those in the surgical and alchemical field. Odd man, Vorkstag. He's a quiet one. Air of menace about him. Something... otherworldly. But his money is good and he pays his debts, so..." Radniche shrugs. "Their chymic works is not far from here, near the edge of town. Too much smoke and smell to be near decent folks."
And with that useful bit of information, you reach level 5! Now I need to know if you want to investigate the Chymic Works or head to Hergstag first. In game it's nearly 7:30 in the evening.
Ollo seems to get a bit flustered when Xerice's charms are switched on. He splutters quite a bit and seems to spend a lot of time sucking in his gut and puffing out his chest, but eventually lets slip that the tools were sold to a chirurgery supply shop in the Surgeons’ Flats, operated by a shopkeeper called Radniche.
The shop is actually very close and you find yourself outside a dusty supply shop. The door is closed, but there seems to be a light on inside. Radniche’s cramped shop is piled with skeletons, pickled things in jars, and alchemical components. Radniche himself is a small man, with a bald head and a crooked nose, but he exudes a quiet confidence that seems to impress. "My friends, I am closing for the night. Is there something I can help you with?" If you present the tools, he nods slowly. "I had these, yes. But they were sold some time ago. To whom? I cannot possibly simply give out the name of my clients! What sort of business man would I be? Perhaps if you are truly interested, we could come to an arrangement? Perhaps the information is worth something to you?"