"Only Vaddrigan can command the golem, but it won't attack anybody dressed in a cult outfit," the dwarf says to Katria.
To Amelia, she says, "I think that girl's a spy. For who, I'm not sure."
When asked about the prince, she nods reverently. "Yes, I think it's really him. I don't know how Pol did it, but somehow he brought Carrius back to life! The boy is so addled on drugs that he doesn't really have much sense of his self, though."
"And will you tell your colleagues in the other room that there's no more coin coming? I think we'd let them leave if they choose that option," Katria asks.
"Then perhaps we can talk to the girl and see what we can find out. And the prince, for that matter."
Her mind reels at the ramifications of the prince's return, unsure what exactly that would mean for Princess Eutropia.
"Oh, we're good at both of those," Katria says.
"Well, not me," she adds with a shrug, "but Li -- everyone else is."
She just barely bites her tongue on identifying her skilled companions, realizing at the last moment that might not be smart.
|Liam of Kozan|
Liam has a terrible thought as some pieces fall into place.
"The dead can be raised. Even after a long time, with potent enough magic. So it could be Prince Carrius.
But they didn't even try to raise him when he died, Stavian claiming that 'So pure a soul belonged at peace.' Did they even try asking the Prince what he wanted through Speak with Dead? It is said Stavian was haunted by the memory of failed attempts to raise his elder brother... attempts that failed for reasons we do not know... and as with any royal court, it is likely that there was someone advising Stavian to not raise Prince Carrius. What if it was the one responsible for Carrius's death? And maybe the elder brother's as well?
Consider - what is the result of Prince Carrius being dead? Stavian's mental state deteriorates with grief, there is no male heir, and when the succession crisis occurs, Stavian reacts violently. Leading to the civil war we find ourselves in.
Then - what is the result of bringing back Prince Carrius now? Princess Eutropia's claim is weakened.
Finally - who benefits? Who has an interest and expertise in souls and the Great Beyond, and could seek to gain the throne of Taldor, and could be involved in a long-term plan possibly going back as far as the death of Stavian's elder brother, or even further? And who we strongly suspect is tied to the Cult through the book we found?
This could be a very long-term scheme on a grand scale..."
He snaps out of his contemplation as Katria almost identifies him. We haven't been subtle about our identities in the city, so with some digging this dwarf can figure it out, but no sense making it easy for her.
"Yes, I can try to persuade these wererats to leave. I believe there was another Aasimar in the room that we will have to deal with. A quick strike with Vanish, perhaps?"
Necromancy. The word sent shivers down her spine. There were some things that weren't to be trifled with and that was one of them. "Perhaps your theory before about the book's original owner might not be as far-fetched as we initially thought." She considers all of the points that Liam made and tried to piece the web together, even if she only had some of the pictures currently.
"No need to spill more blood. If they refuse to leave it cannot be too difficult to dispatch them, but our strength has been waning in this place." The dandy looks around for a cult's regalia before smirking and flicking her wrists, "That's better. Not as fabulous as I would like but better."
Activating her Sleeves of Many Garments
"You could be right, Liam. There's so much to still find out," Katria replies, deep in thought. "But would Panivar have known how Stavian would react? Who could really foretell that, unless they had some sort of predictive magic that still works now, which seems unlikely..." That said, out of character, that seems like a real possibility.
Katria ducks back into Pol's room, to see if there are any other cultist uniforms they can wear. That would at least help with the golem.
"I think if we just attack, the wererats will feel threatened and attack too. I think we need to let them all know Pol's defeated and they can decide what they want to do. If that's fight ... "
Her voice trails off as she looks meaningfully at Doritan's weapon. Also, I really like that aasimar are the bad guys. That feels unusual to me, and I approve.
|Liam of Kozan|
"You could be right, Liam. There's so much to still find out," Katria replies, deep in thought. "But would Panivar have known how Stavian would react? Who could really foretell that, unless they had some sort of predictive magic that still works now, which seems unlikely..."
"Or, Panivar didn't leave Stavian's reaction to chance. He observed Stavian and his brother, allowed to survive the one that seemed more malleable, and then spent years whispering in the Emperor's ear. Influencing him with a courtier's advice or, more likely, magic."
"I think if we just attack, the wererats will feel threatened and attack too. I think we need to let them all know Pol's dead and they can decide what they want to do. If that's fight ... "
"You make a good point. Let's try that approach."
Maya takes in the thoughts of her allies, not really thinking too much on the subject thus far. There had been more pressing matters. But now that they have a moment to rest, the enormity of the obstacles they face begins to set in.
"Considering how long the Prince has been dead, if they really did bring him back, the spell would have either cost an enormous sum to obtain or else the person involved needed to be an incredibly powerful caster. The way the cult has gone about this, it doesn't seem like whoever's responsible has the Prince's best interests at heart. Why not just announce his return to the whole country if they intend to make Carrius the Grand Prince? There are too many pieces of the puzzle we still lack."
As to the more immediate situation, Maya says to the dwarf, "Well, let's get on with it. We'll guide you to the wererats so you can speak with them. I suggest you try to be extra persuasive."
|Liam of Kozan|
So what is the plan?
Are we all dressing up like cultists to fool the golem, or is it locked in a room?
Who do we expect to lead 'negotiations' with the remaining cultist and the wererats? The dwarf? One of us? Doritan with Intimidate? Maya with Bluff?
If we can find enough robes, I am fine with a) all of us disguised as cultists to fool the golem, and b) Doritan taking the lead with Intimidate to scare off the remaining cultist and wererats.
Amelia listened as Maya broke it down to its simplicity, Why not just show the prince now? She looked at her cults robes, the magical garments providing their glamer and had an idea. "Is it possible to transfer one's soul or consciousness into someone else? Perhaps that is the reason this act hasn't been made entirely public yet."
She looks at Katria and Liam, "Surely such a spell must exist and it might be easier than risking a puppetting spell."
I was planning on the cultists' robes for later; it's currently locked away safely. My thought was one of our diplomancers would let them know the cult was defeated and the rats would hopefully leave while we probably have to fight the aasimar. I don't know that we need to dwarf to negotiate, but she can confirm that we've kicked their butts.
Intimidate's not a bad plan if we just want to drive them off and don't think they'll come back for revenge later. But if most folks prefer Maya to try sweet talking them away, she can try that. Dressing up as cultists afterwards seems like a solid plan. I was under the impression that we would have the dwarf accompany us for negotiations, but one of us would need to speak on behalf of the group.
Between the cultists you have already defeated, there are three sets of robes. Amelia has her own magically created disguise, so everybody but Maya could dress up--the halfling being too small for the outfit to fit.
The golem is still inside the supply closet. It has stopped banging on the door. You open the door to the wererats' room to find them still playing their dice game with the aasimar cultist! It seems they were to focused to notice the sounds of combat elsewhere in the complex.
The lycanthropes snarl when they see you and reach for their blades. The aasimar narrows her eyes when she sees the dwarf with you. "Huldrigga! What is the meaning of this? Who are these people with you?"
"It's over, Triellas. They've defeated Vaddrigan. Yer best bet is likely to surrender," the dwarf offers, though she lets you do most of the talking.
"She's right. Your cult and scam are finished," Katria says, urging them to take the easy way out.
Diplomacy (aid another): 1d20 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 7 + 2 = 28
Thanks for pushing/advancing us, GM. I think we were waiting for Doritan to take the lead with Intimidate, but it wasn't worth getting hung up on.
The dandy stepped into the room with the others, her glamer holding true. "It is done. There isn't anyone left to pay you. You leave and let the girl go and there won't be any blood spilt here."
She steps forward offering a sign of good faith, with her weapon by her side.
"So. The door is right behind me."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 16 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 16 + 2 = 24 Adding Aid Another
Maya has her Sleeves of Many Garments so she'll adjust her appearance to match the cultists' robes when appropriate.
Maya nods along with Katria and Amelia's words and adds, "This is your chance to get a fresh start, do something new. Don't pass on it."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (3) + 24 = 27
Diplomacy, Heraldic Expertise Reroll: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (1) + 24 = 25 Welp, have to take the second roll, due to how the ability works.
With the aid anothers, you manage to hit the DC.
The wererats glance at each other before scurrying out the door, eager to preserve their freedom. The aasimar cultist sighs heavily and raises her hands in surrender. "I guess we're done for, then. We had a good thing going for a while."
You are able to unlock the door to the south and release the girl being held prisoner there. The frightened woman is baby-faced and seems to be barely out of her teens. "Thank you! Thank you so much! Those monsters had kept me locked in there for a week! My name is Cassaranda, and I am ever so grateful!"
|Liam of Kozan|
Liam goes to check on Cassandra.
"We will get you to safety, and make sure you are well taken care of."
He tries to make a quick appraisal of her condition after a week of captivity. Heal: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (17) + 14 = 31
"I have some water here, and I am sure we can find some food around. If I may ask, why did they imprison you?"
For all his genuine concern for Cassandra, Liam does not forget that Huldrigga did think the girl is a spy, and sometimes there are plots within plots. He will listen carefully to her response.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (10) + 16 = 26
The woman is dirty and somewhat malnourished but otherwise in good health. "They caught me snooping around the theater after one of their sermons," Cassaranda says, looking abashed. "Honestly, I was just curious about them. Aasimars are so mysterious! I had no idea how wretched this lot was!"
Liam doesn't sense any deception from her.
Amelia lets them pass with no guile, before walking up to the girl. "Where are your parents? Where are you from?" Her tone seems impassive but her stance shows some relaxation. "This isn't an interrogation, but we need to know the whole story here."
The interrogation may come after.
Katria lets her companions take the lead, concentrating for a moment before studying Cassaranda.
Casting pierce disguise.
AC 22, touch 15, flat-footed 18, CMD 20
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +9
Speed: 30 feet
Inspiration (Knowledge/Linguistics/Spellcraft checks): 1/4
Mental Focus: 14; Abjuration [3/3]; Divination [1/3]; Enchantment [3/4]; Transmutation [3/4]
Resonant powers (+1 saves; +2 Perception, low-light vision; +2 Charisma
checks; +2 Con)
Spells/day: 1st [x][x][x][x][x]; 2nd [x][x][x][x]; 3rd [x]
Wands: Scorching ray 0/20; lightning bolt 0/20; magic missile (CL 5) 0/47; magic missile (CL 5) 3/35
Effects: heightened awareness, resist acid 20
Katria's spell shows Cassaranda the same as she normally appears. The woman is not magically disguised or shapeshifted.
"I was born in Oppara, but my parents died when I was very young. I was forced to fend for myself. Made my way up here to Yanmass hoping for more opportunities to get ahead in life. Unfortunately, I found this place to be just as unforgiving as the capital.
"Who are you all, by the way?"
|Liam of Kozan|
We have been open about our goals, not using a cover story. Would be silly to start using one now. And we don't need to act like we have something to hide.
"We are representatives of Princess Eutropia, here in Yanmass to win support for her cause. We are doing this by attempting to solve various problems plaguing the city."
Cassaranda nods approvingly, and her facade of wide-eyed innocence fades away, replaced by a calm confidence. "Well, why didn't you say so in the first place? If you are loyal servants of the princess, then there's no need for the ingenue act. Cassandara Florint, of the Lion Blades, at your service." She performs a smart salute. "The truth is, I heard of the Cult of the Twilight Child while passing through Yanmass on another mission and sought some preliminary information about them to report back to my superiors in in Oppara. I underestimated just how strong these cultists and their allies were."
|Liam of Kozan|
Liam nods approvingly. "You're good. I had no idea.
Well, I think our priority now is to check on Prince Carrius. Who may in fact be the real deal. We'll see. Will you accompany us in case there is more trouble?
Oh, I am Liam, servant of the Everbloom."
Katria's mouth falls open as Cassaranda reveals herself; she hopes she's being honest, but isn't really sure.
"We're not sure about the prince," she says. "It seems fantastic, but I don't think we can rule it out yet. Were you able to find anything else out about the cult? Some seem to think it's just a scam, but we were also approached by a mysterious someone saying it's something more dangerous."
Cassaranda reveals herself and Amelia's eyebrows raise. "Interesting development." She bows and offers her own introduction to the agent, "Lady Amelia Reed." The dandy was not about to let one man's stubbornness stop her from becoming her lie.
"How trained are you? I can offer you my bow for the time being, though it does require quite a bit of strength to pull it, the magic should handle the rest." Her hand idly moves over her wheel, "Alternatively I can offer you daggers or this mace that we had just found."
Not wanting to come off as rude she waits for Katria's question to be answered, the chronicler liked things being in order and Amelia had realized very quickly that her talents with the occult were invaluable.
Maya is content to let her companions do most of the talking for once. The development with Cassaranda was surprising, but not at all unpleasant. Still, doubt nagged at the back of the halfling's mind. Could someone specializing in subterfuge like that truly be trusted?
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 23 ⇒ (15) + 23 = 38 Just seeing if anything Cassaranda has said so far is untrue or appears to have an ulterior motive.
"I mostly found out about the interior of their holding cells," Cassaranda says sourly. "You've probably already learned more about it than I have. I'll take the daggers, if you don't mind," she says to Amelia.
Maya doesn't sense any futher subterfuge from the woman. It would seem she is being honest with you now.
|Liam of Kozan|
"Let's head back and check on the Prince. He has been kept in a drugged state, so I don't know how he will react. Let's be careful not to startle him."
Did we already search Vaddrigan for loot? I can't find the post. Mostly looking for a key to the Prince's cell, but of course wouldn't pass up other items. Edit: thanks, found it.
Yes, you did search Vaddrigan. The prince's cell isn't locked, only barred from this side.
You return to the prince's cell and slide open the bar holding it shut. This room contains a jail cell with a simple bed and a small table with a tray of half-eaten food. Floor-to-ceiling iron bars running from the north wall to the south wall separate the cell from a small entryway on the west edge of the room.
Prince Carrius himself sits on the bed, staring at the wall. He turns to you and favors you with a tired look. "It's not time for the ceremony," he protests weakly, slurring his words. "Let me rest."
|Liam of Kozan|
Liam approaches, his hands open and his voice gentle. "You do not need to do the ceremony any more, Your Highness. You are free from that. I wish to take you to the Temple of Abadar that they may help strengthen and clear your mind of the fog. Will you come with us?"
I am assuming that is the right play - we have a good relationship with Enumerator Abrun, and a Taldan prince would hopefully respect Abadar, and we can't keep the Prince in secret custody on our own.
Still dubious as to the young man's true identity, Maya goes along with Liam's plan and adds, "Might can get you a better variety of food, too. And better accommodations."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 24 ⇒ (6) + 24 = 30
Amelia smiles and hands over the dagger, "Be careful and follow our lead." Moving to the prince's cell, the dandy looks over the drugged Carrius, "We are here to help. Come with us and this can become so much better."
Diplomacy (Aid): 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (13) + 16 = 29
She starts to look at his motion in this drugged state, the words and wondered if whether or not this was the real deal.
So this is an interesting question. Does a Ranger know when their Favored Enemy applies? In this case I have Favored Nation for Taldor, which only affects royals, officials, courtiers, etc. Would Amelia know from the way he speaks and the movements that he is a noble or not?
Amelia can definitely tell that Carrius has a noble bearing, despite his currently addled state.
Katria does not detect any disguise surrounding Carrius. The young man blinks in surprise as he peers at you. "Anywhere is better than here. Assuming this isn't another of Vaddrigan's tricks. Who... Who are you, again?"
|Liam of Kozan|
"My name is Liam. I am a priest of Milani and I am here to help you. I oppose tyranny and slavery in all its forms.
Much has happened in Taldor of late. Some of it you may find distressing. I assume you must know that you died, and have been restored to life. Do you know how long it has been?"
I don't want to shock him with the news all at once...
|Liam of Kozan|
Does he know his father is dead? That his sister aspires to rule? That it has been many years since he himself died? That Taldor is in a state of civil war?
Liam tries to judge how much he can tell Prince Carrius given the man's seemingly fragile mental state.
Heal +14? Sense Motive +16? Just a straight Wis check? Will use my Inspired trait on the skill check if possible.
She eyed him and his mannerisms, "He is a noble alright." Whispering to the others she continued, "Whether he is the heir-apparent or something else I cannot say." The dandy looked at Kartia, the magic coming off of her and hoped that there was no disguise upon the 'Carrius'.
"I am Lady Amelia Reed your highness, there is no guile here."
Unsure of how to continue with a possibly destroyed boy out of time she kept quiet.
"And I am Lady Katria Delaval," Katria adds to the introductions.
"I think it's probably safe here, but maybe we should finish looking around and then talk somewhere else. Just in case?" she suggests.
Still have the room the golem is in, though we know how to avoid it now.
"Maya Watersby," the halfling says simply.
"I like the idea of getting out of here. Perhaps we should consider getting the prince back to his sister? Might be good for them to have a little heart-to-heart chat."
Knowledge (nobility): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21 Does Maya recognize him as Prince Carrius?
Knowledge (arcana): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28 Seeing about ways to determine if he is, in fact, Prince Carrius, even through some sort of convincing magical disguise.
"My...sister?" Carrius's face brightens, and a few tears fall from his eyes. He seems a bit surprised. "Oh, why am I crying? Yes, let's go."
Liam gets the sense that, although he is currently semi-lucid and easily confused, Carrius is still possessed of a strong will and can probably handle anything you wish to tell him.
The boy definitely is a match for all of the depictions of Carrius Maya has previously seen. Powerful divination spells might be able to confirm the truth--perhaps legend lore or something similar.
|Liam of Kozan|
"Yes, your sister, the Princess Eutropia. She sent us.
This will be hard. It has been twenty years since you died. In a riding accident, we were told. Your father chose to not attempt to bring you back.
Your sister and your father grew apart after that.
Eventually, the question of succession arose. The Senate was poised to hold a vote to end primogeniture, to allow Princess Eutropia to succeed to the throne after your father's eventual passing."
Liam pauses for a minute. This is the hardest part.
"That vote didn't happen. There was a massacre in the Senate. At your father's orders, though I suspect he was a pawn in a larger plot. 78 Senators killed, alongside 102 others, and Stavian himself. Your father is dead, Prince Carrius. I am sorry.
I ask myself how he could orchestrate this violence with such an overwhelming advantage of surprise and the Ulfen Guard and yet fall victim to it? He was not of sound mind as of late, so perhaps it was just an ill-conceived plan... but I believe another was the true mastermind. Duke Panivar Lotheed.
Now, Taldor is in a state of civil war. We are supporters of Princess Eutropia. We believe she can bring reforms to restore Taldor to greatness while correcting many of the errors of the past. There are many other claimants to the throne, the most significant being High Strategos Pythareus.
In presenting ourselves as representatives of Princess Eutropia, we have tried to show mercy and allow for redemption. Even Vaddrigan we left alive."
Then there's the theological aspect - an evildoer you kill becomes fodder for the armies of Hell and the Abyss; but if they repent and later die of natural causes, they may go to a different destination. No need to burden the Prince with that discussion.
"As Maya said, let us get you to your sister."
While the others are being friendly, Doritan keeps up his 'quiet and mysterious' act (privately, he just doesn't want to have to talk to yet another noble), ensuring that no surprises are sprung on them in the meantime.
Ah, the dangers of playing a slightly more reserved character in the presence of many Faces. It works out, though, as it's rare for me to have the time to write an adequate conversation post these days.
"Speaking of Vaddrigan, we can't just leave him," Katria notes. "Perhaps we can find someway to bring him to the temple, and let Chief Enumerator Abrun decide what to do with him?"
Also still want to make sure we've searched everything before we leave.
Maya nods at Katria’s inquiry. “Yes, I think that would be a good plan. Perhaps we can swing by there with Pol before seeing further to the prince. Probably would be good if we tell the Enumerator all about this place so we can get it properly shut down.”
DM, would a scroll of Legend Lore be available in the city? If so, what’s the going rate in the country’s current state?