|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
Fairly confident that the Arcanists Guild is the only group left that she has any real chance with, Zhi continues her pestering demonstrations.
Influence Arcanists Guild - DD: 1d20 + 36 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 36 + 2 + 2 = 60
Melodie too keeps working on the guard, she knows she is making inroads, a few guards at a time.
Perform Sing: 1d20 + 27 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 27 + 2 = 48
Doesn't matter: 1d20 ⇒ 8
Doesn't matter: 1d20 ⇒ 7
Doesn't matter: 1d20 ⇒ 1
Doesn't matter: 1d20 ⇒ 1
Zhi and Melodie continue to excel at their tasks. Zileska manages to make a few inroads among the royal guard before hitting a wall. Fortunately, Sara is on hand to help the process along, the brawler charming some of the men (and even more of the women) to your cause.
Both the arcanists' guild and the royal guard are now indifferent! Maria can still make her checks for the day, and then this happens:
On the morning of the fourth day of your campaign against Carrius, no sooner have you set foot in Oppara then a band of mercenaries confronts you! A white-robed sorceress with pale skin and dark hair leads the band, surrounded by a shield of crackling blue flames. She is defended by a half-orc in a chain shirt who wields a scimitar and shield. A trio of wiry monks complete the group, cracking their knuckles as they approach. "There they are!" the sorceress shouts. "We are Cullver's Cold Steel, and we've come for the bounty on your heads!"
Maria: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Melodie: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13
Sara: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Zileska: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
Safina: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Enemies: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
Everybody may act before the enemies!
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
"You'll have to come and get 'em ," Zhi snarls as she raises a hand and with arcane words, sends a ray of blackness towards the woman in the white robes. She then vanishes from sight.
Sneaky Disintegrate - Touch Attack: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (18) + 17 = 35
DC 20 Fortitude Save
Failed Save Damage: 28d6 + 8d6 ⇒ (5, 5, 1, 2, 5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 1, 4, 3, 4, 5, 3, 4, 2, 4, 4, 1, 2, 6, 5, 5, 3, 5, 4, 3) + (2, 5, 5, 4, 6, 3, 5, 5) = 140
Successful Save Damage: 5d6 ⇒ (3, 1, 1, 5, 3) = 13
Current Effects: mage armor, greater invisibility
Koriana's Blade: +4 AC, +1 AC to Sara
Current AC: 30 - 50% miss chance for sighted foes
White robes is -8 to Will saves for rounds equal to number of hits.
"Kneel!" Melodie intones, somewhere between stern and contemptuous. She focuses her own power on the half orc after seeing her wife strike the sorceress.
Overwhelming Presence. Let's see if this fight ends in one round...
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
That would be nice, but not probable with three monks bouncing around.
I was going to use Knowledge (nobility) because I was under the impression that only that skill or Perform (singing) could be used on the royal guard, based on the discovery check made previously.
Zileska starts to go for her whip, but the situation is well in hand in a flash. She settles for checking her nails to make sure they're still intact - the short trim being a necessity in her usual day-to-day activities.
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
Not remembering how long the effect lasts, Zhi wastes no time in approaching the white-robed woman and removing her as a threat in the most expeditious manner.
Diplomacy is almost always an option for influence checks, though usually not the best option as the DC is generally higher than that of other skills.
Zhi executes the sorceress without mercy. You can either kill or capture the others at your leisure.
I will post their gear tomorrow. You may make all your checks for the fourth day now.
Maria co-ordinated with the others to direct her efforts where they would be best suited.
Roll 1: 1d20 ⇒ 9
Roll 2: 1d20 ⇒ 13
Roll 3: 1d20 ⇒ 15
Roll 4: 1d20 ⇒ 10
Roll 5: 1d20 ⇒ 1
Roll 6: 1d20 ⇒ 10
Roll 7: 1d20 ⇒ 10
Roll 8: 1d20 ⇒ 7
Roll 9: 1d20 ⇒ 2
Roll 10: 1d20 ⇒ 9
Roll 11: 1d20 ⇒ 19
Roll 12: 1d20 ⇒ 4
Three sets of: +1 human–bane shuriken (5), +1 shuriken (20), adamantine shuriken (10), cold iron shuriken (10), masterwork quarterstaff, belt of physical might +2 (Str, Dex), bracers of armor +2, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, shock amulet of mighty fists, 235 gp
You continue your campaign of influence for three more days, ignoring the investigators to instead focus your efforts on the palace defenders. The Ulfen Guard proves rather obstinate, but Sara is at least able to convince them to soften their opinions of you a bit.
Zhi completely gains the trust of the arcanists' guild. The mages reveal that the Carrius who sits on the Lion Throne at almost all times is a sophisticated illusion created at Carrius’s request, as he claims to fear an assassination like the one that took his sister. They offer the sorceress a greater maximize metamagic rod in an attempt to entice her to join their ranks after the current unpleasantness concludes!
Melodie, Maria, and Zileska meanwhile fully ingratiate themselves with the royal guard. The guard that Zileska has been sharing a bed with agrees to leave one of the palace gates intentionally unguarded at a prearranged time to allow you easy entry.
At last, the time has come to infiltrate the Royal Palace and deal with the legendary emperors controlling Carrius. This will likely be your greatest challenge yet. You should be sure you are fully prepared before you begin...
The Imperial Palace is surrounded by 30-foot-high stone walls that are reinforced with magic and lined with continual flame spells every 60 feet to provide the palace grounds with at least dim illumination at all times. Each of the five gates bears both an iron door and an iron portcullis, which are kept open by day but sealed every night. Most of the palace interior doors are strong wood with superior locks, while exterior doors are iron with superior locks.
Imperial Palace sentries patrol the grounds in pairs every 15 minutes, and two sentries stand at attention at each of the complex’s gates. The entirety of the palace grounds are blanketed with a permanent dimensional lock effect, preventing the use of teleportation or summoning magic; specific individuals (often members of the royal family, or special guardians) can be attuned to the effect, allowing them to teleport or summon normally. Thin lead sheeting in the walls shields most of the palace interior from divination effects.
Almost all doors and gates are protected with audible alarm spells, maintained by a small army of on-duty magi who respond to assist sentries. All five gates are likewise warded with a unique effect that causes anyone affected by an illusion spell to glow bright blue when passing through the gates and for several minutes after—a seldom-discussed feature that has embarrassed countless nobles who arrive for social functions while benefiting from “mild” illusory beauty treatments. Many doors—especially those leading to servants’ areas or guard rooms—are concealed behind illusory walls, while secure areas are sealed with arcane lock in addition to their mundane locks. Many areas are also warded with symbol of sleep or symbol of stunning spells, while the palace vault is protected by several symbols of death.
Since the Arcanists' Guild is helpful, you can bribe the mages to attune you to the palace's dimensional lock for a price of 5,000 gp per person.
After a hefty dose of funds to the Imperial Arcanists ensure that the group can teleport in, Melodie spends a long time cloistered with her wife, Martella Lotheed and Princess Eutropia attempting to determine the best place to teleport into. Their eventual conclusion is that the viewing gallery of the great hall is the best place, likely to be u guarded but hopefully.close enough to the Prince for Lotheeds ring to access his mindscape.
"We don't want to hurt anyone if we can avoid it." She says by way of summarising the plan. Hopefully this way we'll get in unnoticed and be able to save the Prince. Anyone have additions to make?"
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
Zhi doesn't have anything to add, but she does have eyeless masks for both her and Melodie to wear.
mask from divination
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
When Zileska mentions using magic on everyone to bypass all illusion and concealment magic, Zhi looks a little nervous.
"Umm... when you do that, uh, could everyone take into account that being four months pregnant isn't ... umm ... It's not as easy as it might seem to make one's self ... presentable," she stammers out, her face turning a shade pink. Her eyes move heavenward and she reaches up to brush at them. "No judging, ok?"
Anyone looking her over after the spells are cast see that her clothes don't fit her anywhere near as well as they appeared. In fact, she looks quite frumpy. There are a lot of loose strands of hair escaping the previously neat braid down her back and blemishes cover part of her face.
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
Zhi's face whips around to her wife. "Don't even ...!" she begins, but the rest of the sharp words are left unuttered as her lip begins to tremble and her expression crumbles. "I'm sorry," she says as the tears begin to flood her eyes. "I've been such a b~$ to you lately." She steps close and wraps her arms around Melodie. "You've been so good to me and I'm just a mess."
The round of tears only lasts for a minute or so before the current wave of emotional craziness passes. Zhi wipes her eyes as she gathers herself together. "Sorry about that, everyone. Let's do this."
Teleport: 1d100 ⇒ 7
Once everybody is fully prepared, Zhi teleports you into the Imperial Palace. You arrive right on target, concealed within the rows of seats in the gallery overlooking the throne room. The semicircular auditorium below reflects the grandeur of old Taldor: a sunburst pattern in blue and green is worked into the marble walls, radiating out from a gilded throne atop a dais. The crest of Taldor, painted on an enormous shield, hangs proudly above the throne. Gilded chairs with red velvet cushions fill most of the room, and a red velvet carpet leads up the center of the room to the base of the throne. The domed ceiling reaches 50 feet overhead.
A trio of hulking Ulfen Guards stand watch here, two wielding greatswords while Carrius's personal guard, a burly woman named Vorr, clutches a gleaming greataxe. None of them have noticed your arrival yet.
It would appear the Prince Carrius himself sits upon the Lion Throne, but the true seeing spells Zileska provided reveals him to be illusory. The wall behind the throne itself is also illusory, and there seems to be another room beyond it--perhaps the private sanctum where the true Carrius lurks.
Melodie just holds her wife, well used to the emotional waves now, and lets the feelings pass before leaning over to press a kiss to her wife's wet cheek.
With that done she slips Lotheed's Ring of the Recalled Soul on and stiffens as she detects the presence of several powerful minds jumbled together at the edge of her perceptions.
"Right." She says quietly. "Stay close." She weaves magic to bend light around the group and then concentrates as a thin line of light appears in the air in front of them and twists into a doorway.
"So." Melodie manages a small smile. "Who wants to go first?"
Sara volunteers to remain outside the mindscape to protect your bodies as you work to rescue Carrius. As you step through the doorway, the physical world fades away into a white mist. When the mist clears, the view has changed. Instead of a landscape of marble and plush velvet carpet, six doors lead out from this crack-riven circular chamber. In the center of the room, a human-sized rag doll sits on a wooden throne, his body and clothes stitched together from several sources and bound together with six distinct chains.
Each of the six unlocked doors is slightly different:
Fire Door: This red marble door glows from within and is warm to the touch. On its surface is engraved a vista of leaping flames. Tormented faces hidden within the flames stare out from the door with despairing eyes.
Sword Door: This iron door is dull and marked with countless slices and nicks. A curved scimitar embedded in the door drips a constant stream of red blood.
Harbor Door: This narrow, rectangular door is cut from blue variegated marble. The top of the door is very pale, almost white, darkening to deep azure blue near the floor. Engraved into the door is an image of a three-masted ship
Whisper Door: This white marble door is covered with a shifting silver film of mist. Engraved into the marble is the image of a hooded figure, its hand covering its face as it whispers into the ear of another man.
Crown Door: This polished steel door is inset with an inverted golden crown. A single, teardrop-shaped ruby sits embedded in the crown, like a drop of blood
Lion Door: This arched door seems worked from solid gold. In the center of the door, the image of a lion rears on its hind legs, its mouth open in a silent roar.
As you get your bearings, the mindscape door that you entered through suddenly slams shut and vanishes! It would seem that exiting Carrius's mindscape will not be easy...
Knw Arc: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (19) + 16 = 35
"That's Carrius." Melodie says in a hushed tone. "Or how he perceives himself, which is the same thing in here." She pauses for a moment and examines the doors. "A door for each Emperor... without knowing which emperors Lotheed harvested I can't guess, except for that one." She points to the golden door with the rampant lion. "That must be Taldaris. Let's try him first, perhaps we can reason with him and get his help with the others." Despite her optimistic tone she doesn't seem entirely certain of success...
The journal of Barenby Ghoom specifically names the six legends he helped track: Beldam I, Cyricas, Daronlyr XII, Gennaris III, Stavian I, and Taldaris—six of Taldor’s most famous former grand princes.
During his reign, Grand Prince Beldam I contributed greatly toward stabilizing Taldor even as its cherished colonies rebelled, and surely without his oversight, the Even-Tongued Rebellion would have continued until all of Taldor was torn apart. Beldam I’s evenhanded and diplomatic approach eased much of the transition, ensuring that the newborn states of Cheliax and Isger did not fall into anarchy in their early years.
Grand Prince Beldam I spent most of his life deeply concerned that Qadiran agents would poison him, just as they did his predecessor, and so he employed more food tasters than any other emperor in Taldor’s history. Despite this worry and his reputation as a coin counter, Grand Prince Beldam I is also fondly remembered by some for his delightful if esoteric sense of humor. He appointed a horse, Katalon, as a senator in what most historians agree was a quiet critique, implying the governing body of the time lacked “horse sense.” On other occasions, he would hide in the palace curtains and leap out to surprise guests.
Grand Prince Beldam I’s sense of humor was not shared by his young wife, Grand Prince Cydonus III’s granddaughter Wynalia, and the emperor died when his startled wife struck him with a marble bust bearing the emperor’s own likeness.
Cyricas spent much of his young adulthood traveling, taking special interest in the natural world. His love of hunting in particular eventually led him to the heavy jungle interior of Garund. There, his guides had chained a mighty gorilla, offering it as a trophy. Cyricas was horrified, releasing the beast and chastising his well-meaning hosts for debasing a free creature. Though Cyricas left the ape behind, it followed him for 8 days and nights, until the great adventurer accepted his new companion and named him Mardu.
Back in Taldor and approaching middle age, Cyricas held court with all manner of Taldans, from senators to commoners. He spoke to thousands in a series of popular public lectures, regaling them with tales of adventure and calling on all Taldans to overcome their circumstances and achieve greatness.
Upon the death of his father (may his corrupt and vile name remain ever struck from the record), Cyricas won approval for corronation over his elder brother, his will and abundant allies making him a stronger candidate to lead Taldor into a new era. The Leaping Lion could not be contained, however, and no sooner was he crowned—on the same day of the year as Taldaris himself—than he made plans to join the Sixth Army of Exploration in northern Garund. Countless often-contradictory tales tell of Cyricas’s many great deeds in the 2 short years that followed, but the accounts agree that at the end, the mighty Leaping Lion fell in glorious battle with the vicious Gorilla King, fighting alongside his people.
The dutiful Ulfen Guard leaped to the defense of their emperor, but Daronlyr’s skill and focus turned their blows aside, and his blade found succor in Parmain IV’s heart. He seized the Primogen Crown and declared himself emperor, and the Ulfen Guard ceased their attack and bowed before him. Many repeat this parable as a demonstration of the Ulfen Guard’s loyalty to the position of emperor, rather than to any individual who holds that title, but surely all historians of merit can agree that such a feat would never have transpired for a less gifted orator than Daronlyr.
Following his swift coronation, Grand Prince Daronlyr XII proceeded to secure Taldor’s borders and renew the empire’s efforts to pacify the upstart Kellids to the west. Perhaps the best-remembered part of his legacy, however, was the founding of several longstanding arcane organizations throughout Taldor, including the First Imperial Arcanists’ Guild in 3571 ar and Oppara’s famed Kitharodian Academy in 3578 ar.
Grand Prince Daronlyr XII fell not to conspiracy or violence but to an outbreak of the Blanching Sickness that gripped western Taldor in late 3587 ar, proving that despite Daronlyr’s mastery of so many skills, Pharasma herself knows no mercy or admiration for even the best among the living.
During Gennaris’s day, Qadiran forces had occupied Taldan soil for 2 centuries. At the head of the Taldan Phalanx, High Strategos Gennaris looked southward with his steady gaze and said, “No longer.” Gennaris led his troops to victory after victory, pushing Qadiran forces farther south and reclaiming Taldan lands from the invaders. Soon known as the Conqueror to his soldiers and enemies alike, Gennaris fought to the Jalrune River.
Meanwhile, tragedy struck in the north. Gennaris’s two older brothers died suddenly. Gennaris left his campaign on the southern border and returned to Oppara to wear the Primogen Crown, but courtly living did not suit him. Within 2 years, Gennaris returned to the front lines, once again defending Taldan lands against aggressors. Gennaris’s field musicians composed the rousing “Hail Our Conqueror King” to celebrate his return to the front, and the song rightfully remains a staple for military marches today.
With Taldor’s heart as well as its arms at his command, Gennaris planned the daring Heaven’s Step Offensive to invade Qadira itself. In a series of brilliantly planned maneuvers on the Plains of Paresh, Grand Prince Gennaris outwitted six Qadiran generals. He faced all six in personal combat, defeating each and taking their swords as trophies of his cunning and prowess.
The Qadiran forces broke, opening up vast swaths of Qadiran land to Taldan control. Gracious in victory, Gennaris refused to allow his troops to overrun and slaughter their fleeing foes. This benevolence was his undoing, for the delay allowed the Empire of Kelesh to reinforce the flagging Qadiran forces. Knowing the Qadirans held little chance against the fabled Conqueror in battle, Keleshite emissaries counseled the Qadirans to ambush the emperor. Grand Prince Gennaris was slain on a predawn ride to assess his troops, leaving Taldor poorer by one champion but richer one martyr.
Following Micheaux the Magnificent’s sudden death in 4526, Stavian I and his five younger brothers fell into bitter squabbling. A Sarenite soothsayer had declared one of the six brothers a bastard, not descended of imperial blood—a bold claim given Grand Prince Micheaux’s own adoption into the line of succession rather than blood descent. After a summer of unprecedented violence, Stavian calmed his brothers, demonstrating the nobility and leadership that mandated his princely blood, and ascended to the throne at the end of Rova, once again demonstrating his bountiful relationship with Taldor’s fortunes and harvests.
Grand Prince Stavian I revitalized the Grand Campaign. Recognizing the soothsayer who instigated his family’s infighting for the traitor he was, he declared all who proselytize on behalf of Sarenrae to be enemies of the state, invested only in lies and sedition. The Great Burning of Witches—now known as the Great Purge— saw treasonous foreign agents driven from Taldor’s borders; despite its sobriquet, the Purge involved few pyres, ultimately burning fewer than 100 Sarenites.
Despite his marriage to the Countess Sutepa Mavrosenus in 4528, Grand Prince Stavian I remained a popular fixture in noble circles, and maintained 18 concubines of various genders to appease the sudden shifts of humor to which he grew prone in later years. He fathered a total of 12 children, and he was succeeded by his oft-overlooked third son, Dominus II, after the death of his eldest son, Gosse, and exile of his second son, Manderval.
Taldaris’s parentage remains unknown, but it is almost certainly divine. As a foundling raised by lions, Taldaris grew up to be a strong and savage survivor. Accounts suggest he beheaded a cockatrice that threatened his pride while he was still in swaddling clothes; this astonishing feat set the stage for a life of great deeds. When soldiers from the citystate of Oppara found the wild boy, they adopted him into their unit and taught him of politics and metalwork. Such was his ferocity and insight that he had risen to the rank of commander by the time the soldiers returned to Oppara.
Taldaris completed 12 great challenges on behalf of his adopted city—including hunting the deadly Sun Lion, the grogrisant—and was crowned Grand Prince of Oppara. From this seat of power, he united the Azlanti citystates lining the eastern shores of the Inner Sea to form the Principalities of Taldaris. In the process he claimed seven wives and four husbands, from whom he sired the first noble lines of Taldor, including— naturally—the resplendent Stavian line, which traces its ancestry directly back to our singular founder.
Grand Prince Taldaris lived to a venerable age, in an era long before the grand princes of Taldor routinely extended their lives by means of the wondrous sun orchid elixir, further pointing toward a potentially divine heritage. He passed away only after saving the people of Golsifar from the terrible dragon Verksaris the Kingeater, from whose gullet he pulled the gold used to forge the Primogen Crown, finally succumbing to the beast’s legendary venom after 3 days.
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
"If any of these soul ... portions? ... had any real wisdom then Carrius wouldn't be in the situation he's currently in," Zhi says as she frowns at the doll. "But if anyone can talk them out of it I know you can." She smiles at her wife with complete confidence.
Mirror Image: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
Spell Turning: 1d4 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Current Effects: mage armor, shield, reduce person, mirror image, fly, mask from divination, spell turning
Mirror Image: 6 images
Spell Turning: 9 levels
Koriana's Blade: +4 AC
Current AC: 36
"Well, they've been compelled as well. Plus I'm sure there are competing agendas," notes Zileska, idly coiling her whip and twisting it about as it sparks. "I agree though that Taldaris is probably our best first stop. He knows us, after all. Or did."
You step through the lion door and into a pastoral scene. Golden fields of wheat, rippled by the wind into ocean-like waves, extend as far as the eye can see, until they meet majestic mountains at the horizon. Bone-white ruins jut haphazardly from the landscape. A heroic figure stands atop a broken column, stark against the endless sunset. This must be Taldaris.
As you approach, he broods aloud. “In a single lifetime, I forged squabbling children into an empire of men. And this is what you’ve done with my legacy. Entitled, foppish, soft little children once again, squabbling and sniping. Taldor needs me now even more than she did before her birth. And I intend to remain, no matter the cost.” It is clear this is not the older and wiser man you met in Axis. As he finishes speaking, an elephant-sized lion stalks from behind the ruins, its six eyes and golden mane glowing in the sunlight—the legendary grogrisant!
Taldaris draws his greatsword, which is limned with glowing golden flames...
You can engage in combat or try to best Taldaris in a verbal duel.
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
"Sic that tongue on him, Princess," Zhi says with smirk.
Allegory - Knw His - +14
Baiting - SM - +27
Emotional Appeal - Bluff - +29, 6 edges.
Flattery - Knw Nob - +17, 1 edge.
Logic - Knw Arc - +24
Presence - Intim - +27, 2 edges.
Rhetoric - Dip - +29, 3 edges.
Wit - Linguistics - +15
"Taldor has changed since you ruled, Emperor." Melodie says calmly, stepping forward to confront Taldaris. "What a child demands and what that child needs are different things. Our nation is no longer a child, for all that many people pray for a strong leader who can make their problems disappear. We must be the leaders, the ones who can guide the children on their proper path."
Allegory: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (12) + 14 = 26
Remember that your skill bonuses for duels are only calculated by adding your ranks in the skill (including the +3 bonus for having ranks in the skill if it is a class skill) and your Charisma modifier (regardless of which skill you choose). If you have other modifiers to the skill, they grant you edges.
Taldaris has a strong bias towards allegory, so +5 on your roll.
"Taldor needs a strong leader, yes. And who better to be that leader than its original emperor? I will restore the glory of the past so that once more our glorious nation will be the greatest in all of Golarion!"
Rhetoric: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (10) + 17 = 27
Taldaris loses 2 Determination. 28/30.
"It's a simple fact. When I first came to these lands, the people were divided into fractious city-states, barely surviving. It was I who united them, raised them up, made them greater than the sum of their parts."
Logic: 1d20 + 16 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 16 + 2 = 34
Ante 1. Anybody may respond.
"Indeed you did." Melodie replies, "And the work you did has formed the greatest empire in history. We are no longer the people who barely survived in warring city states. Taldor is the greatest nation on earth, and it is thanks to you. But the world you return to is not the one you left - its needs are new. Please, show your children your kindness, let us live for ourselves!"
Emotional Appeal: 1d20 + 29 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 29 + 2 = 40
Taldaris cedes Melodie’s points.
”The world has changed, yes, but not for the better. I have seen the bloody conflict that the nation has been swept up in, this War for the Crown. Well, the crown will be back where it belongs now. On the head of a boy with me in his mind, guiding him to greatness.”
Rhetoric: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (3) + 17 = 20
Ante 1, your turn,
Wit: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (15) + 15 = 30 Crap! Rolled too well.
"You and five other Emperors!" Melodie responds with a gentle jibe. "Tell me, does it get crowded in here or do you all take turns with the lad? Perhaps a schedule?"
Taldaris has a strong bias against wit, so -5[/dice]
Taldaris scowls. ”You attempt to jest at a time like this? Perhaps you are as foolish as you look! If you cannot take the fate of Taldor seriously, then I am wasting my breath trying to speak to you. If death is what you desire, I am happy to oblige!”
The grogrisant growls menacingly.
Mockery: 1d20 + 17 - 2 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 17 - 2 + 2 = 33
[ooc]Ante bumps up to 3.
"As foolish as I look?" Melodie demands, her eyes blazing. "What do you mean Taldaris? Do you say I am unworthy? I am a patriot! I love my country and my Emperess as much as you. I am willing to die for my country! Not clutch desperately at a mind hollowed out by a cabal of wizards because I fear my own death!"
Presence: 1d20 + 27 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 27 + 2 = 36
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
Zhi watches on, the pride in her wife's ability to turn someone's words back upon them evident on her face. Her hand, however, doesn't stray far from the hilts of her blades.
She hopes the others will be as easy as this one to deal with, but that confidence is guarded.
Melodie's angry appearance doesn't crack in the slightest, she's far too good at controlling her face for that these days but her wife can feel her amusement.
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
”You say you are willing to die for your country. Care to put that theory to the test? Your friends will see just how little impact your sacrifice will have on the state of affairs,”
Baiting: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (17) + 17 = 34
The baiting is almost, but not quite, enough to trap Melodie. She maintains her composure.
Taldaris takes a different tack. ”You remind me of a stubborn queen I once knew, who refused to bend the knee to me for years. Her city-state suffered while the others around it flourished. At last, she acknowledged that my rulership was superior, and when she finally conceded, her city-state flourished as a part of the Taldan empire. Taldaris knows best.”
Allegory: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
"You are a man of great knowledge and skill it is true." Melodie concedes. "But once again you are hundreds of years out time. Did you face an empire the same size of your own, backed by infernal contracts with Asmodeus? Did you face kingdoms of barbarians with weapons from beyond our world? I don't doubt your skill and your ability Taldaris, but you are a man of your time, not this time."
Flattery: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (16) + 17 = 33 Damn, good rolls again...
"Dead?" Melodie laughs harshly. "Which one of us is dead Taldaris? I live, you are nothing but a story, an image in the minds of the people. I have met the real Taldaris, and treated with him as an equal. You have no power to frighten me!"
Presence: 1d20 + 27 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 27 + 2 = 43
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
She knows that it's just an argument played for emotions, but the closer Taldaris' words begin to sound like threats to Melodie, the tighter Zhi's hands grip her weapons.
Since the outcome of the duel is a forgone conclusion with Melodie's much higher bonuses, I'll go ahead and call things to keep it moving.
Taldaris takes a step back from Melodie, then smirks. "Good. I can tell that you are not the kind of person to shrink from adversity, to stand up for what is right. The kind of person that the new would-be emperor of Taldor needs in their corner."
He waves off the grogrisant, which growls before running off, disappearing as it reaches the horizon. Taldaris sighs as he sits heavily on the broken column, gazing at the sunset. "Your words ring true to my ears. Taldor was a dream I strove toward, but perhaps that means I am still asleep. The world I knew is the one that needed me, and the world you hold now is one with very different needs. May the gods speed you on your way." After a few moments, he adds, "The boy cannot survive without us to bolster him, you know. Half a life is no life at all..." Then he fades away.
The ruins all around you crumble. Fresh, new buildings constructed in the modern Taldan style spring from the ground until the wild landscape is a flourishing town. As you return to the hub of Carrius's mindscape, the lion door crumbles. A portion of the puppet figure of the prince has been replaced with the flesh of the true Carrius, but there are still five doors to go through.
A shining font of light glows in the chamber now.
Touching the light cures a character of ability damage, negative levels, and other ailments as a restoration spell. Each character can benefit from this ability only once.
"God's with you, Taldris." Melodie replies, inclining her head respectfully as the Emperor concedes their duel. Leaving the door she examines Carriys's body and then shakes her head. "Taldaris is right... saving Carrius is going to kill him. From everything we've found Carrius didn't want to come back. Lotheed must have grasped whatever he could and filled in the pieces with the Emperors. We're in making him to save him..." She shakes her head sadly and then looks around. "Let's try Beldam. He might be persuadable as well, even if we have to play in his fears."
When you step through the Whisper Door, you find yourselves in a large meeting hall. A polished wooden table stands in the center of the room. Indistinct figures line the room’s edge, just beyond a ring of marble busts, shifting and whispering indistinctly. Chairs ring the table, but only one is occupied. The man in the chair is heavy-set and pale, with thick, dark hair. He sits with his palms flat on the table, his brow furrowed with worry, as his eyes flick back and forth between six cups sitting on the table. This must be Beldam I.
As you approach, the emperor ponders aloud, "Good wine rarely makes for good prudence, but I genuinely believed I’d found the exception. Oh bother. I’d really rather not poison his wife." He hasn't noticed your presence yet.
"Is there a problem, your Highness?" Melodies asks, stepping forward so that her companions are less easily visible.
Beldam looks up with a yelp, but quickly regains his composure. "Ah, the servants! Yes, please, step forward. I have decided to poison an advisor who has been plotting against me, but I lost track of which cup I poisoned. To further confound matters, the cups are specially designed to obscure divinations, so I can't use magic to solve the problem. Perhaps you can help me figure out which cup is poisoned?"
Six cups sit before Beldam. Each cup is made of a different material and has a different design. The six cups are as follows, from left to right (facing Beldam):
• A golden cup with a scallop carving, decorated with brilliant rubies
• A silver cup with a dragon carving, decorated with many emeralds
• A golden cup with a hippogriff carving, decorated with pink pearls
• A copper cup with an eagle carving and no gems
• A silver cup with a unicorn carving, decorated with pink diamonds
• A platinum cup with a naga carving, decorated with expensive jade
The PCs can try to pry clues out of Beldam with DC 30 Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge (nature), or Knowledge (nobility) skill checks. No PC can attempt the same skill check twice. If they fail three checks, Beldam declares he is done answering to peasants and will offer no further clues.
|d'Valois Mai Zhi|
Logic puzzle! Woo-hoo!!!!
"We would love to help you, Your Majesty," Zhi says with a smile at the prospect of a poisoned cup challenge. "What do you remember about the cups?"
Take 10 on Diplomacy for a 31.