As seems to happen often in the life of a Pathfinder, a summons arrives, a note requesting the presence of a handful of agents at the Twisting Garden Lodge, the Society’s home in Merab, in the land of Thuvia. The various Pathfinders make their way to the lodge, from near or far as the case may be, assembling at the appointed time before a simple gate of weathered cedar set into a pale, sandstone wall. As everyone begins to size each other up and introduce themselves, the gate is opened by a servant with the typical narrow, pointed beard of the land, though this man’s is white with age. He says, ”Welcome to the Twisting Garden. Please, follow me,” before turning and walking away. After a few steps he says over his shoulder, ”Follow me, I say. Closely.”
It soon becomes clear why, as he leads the party through an expansive, elaborate garden maze. It takes nearly five full minutes, even with a guide, to traverse the maze of hedges and sandstone walls leading to the center of the Twisting Garden Lodge. The path eventually opens onto a spacious courtyard with a large pavilion at the center. A voice calls out, “Please, join me, before the food grows stale!” The guide gestures to the pavilion, where cushioned benches line the edges of the shaded area and surround a large table covered in delicacies. There a woman awaits, wearing a loosely wrapped red and white headscarf affixed at her shoulder with a scarab pin, and possessing the milky-white eyes of the blind. She is nonchalant about her blindness, making no mention of it, but rather introduces herself before requesting introductions from the assembled Pathfinder agents, “I am Venture-Captain Diya Akan. Tell me of yourselves a moment while we eat, please. Then we shall talk.” Her eyes, though clouded with blindness, betray her elven heritage. A dog with sand-colored fur snoozes at the venture-captain’s feet, his ears giving the occasional twitch when someone speaks.
Please introduce yourselves and then we’ll get rolling!
"My name Mogok!" The small, twisted goblin in front of you seems almost entirely out of place. He speaks through mouthfuls of sweets, his chewing visible through his face, which is entirely clear with a third nostril on the top of his pointed nose. As he reaches out for another handful of macaroons, one notices that his arm is covered in small suction cups, almost like that of an octopus. He wears fairly traditional goblin clothing with a bandolier of flasks, jumbles of pointed metal, and strangely, a single banana. A large vulture flies by overhead, which Mogok points to excitedly, "Ooh! That my vulture, Big Squawk." He settles down and grabs a tea cake, taking a large bite of it before saying, "Me from Bogmunch tribe. Been lots of places. Fleshwarp lab. Fairy forest. Heaven once. Blew things up while there. Mogok really like to blow things up. Hehehehe."
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A honey-haired man, skin kissed and slightly weathered by the sun, carts in a large earthen pot. Within it stands a fine quality rapier, around which twines a robust grapevine, a bunch of perfect green grapes hanging voluptously from its sinewy branch..
The vintner's voice rings of southern Taldor. "Milord Akan, I present to you the Finest Sprig, Gift Unto the Rosy Cheeked Lord, Cultivar of Harcamora Herself. Le Apellation Viognier."
The man produces a green bottle filled with golden wine. "May I pour?"
Behind him, the vine begins to coil, wrapping around the grapes to form a torso, then up to form a head composed of tightly bound branches. Grape leaves cascade off of it's sculpted head like a fine mane, while two spindly branch arms lift a pile of leaves—evidently a sturdy leaf coat—around narrow shoulders.
"Thank you, Olivier. Forgive the pomp," the little fellow says reedily. "Even the Drunken Lord's servants take pride in their wares. Please do try the wine, though. Made from my choicest grapes. I am Viognier."
A tall, slender elf turns from his examination of a nearby rosebush, one white eyebrow raised attentively. "Pardon me," he begins, gesturing questioningly with one hand toward the wine. "May I?"
Mafisadi, the monkey-like Vanara, looks tempted by the wine, but then presses his palms together at the center of his chest and gives the Venture-Captain a short bow.
”Wellness and light. I am Mafisadi from the Impossible Kingdoms of Vudra.” Short white fur covers Mafisadi, except for his face and his bare chest, which are a bright red. His long white dreadlocks are tied in a loose ponytail. He wears only a leather harness and a tattered blue sarong. Even his hand-like feet are bare. A curved temple sword, a folded three-part staff, and a coiled nine-section whip all hang from his waist, along with a dog-eared copy of the Mizravrtta Brahmodya. Oddly, his prehensile tail is covered in green scales and would be more suited to a reptile than a monkey.
”I too fought in the flesh-warping labs. My great shame follows me everywhere. But the road to enlightenment is a twisting as this garden path.”
And we’re off to an excellent start!
Venture-Captain Akan’s pointed ears perk up in curiosity as she hears the small, wheeled cart exit the maze. Before she can fully make sense of its arrival, however, those very same ears flatten low, like the ears of an alarmed cat, as she hears the voice of a goblin! Mogok’s statement of his interests does little to allay her alarm, but the fact that he appears mostly focused on laying waste to the pastries on display soothes her somewhat. When Viognier offers wine produced, quite literally, by him, she smiles warmly and accepts a glass with a gracious nod.
She responds to Kelevan and Mafisadi’s introductions with a courteous bow, then turns in the direction of Teehax and Emmylou to await theirs.
Go ahead and do your intros as part of your first post, Teehax and Emmylou. I’m going to get the briefing up while I have a moment.
With introductions complete, Diya begins her briefing. “If you have spent any time in Merab these past few weeks, you have no doubt witnessed the ongoing construction as this city expands to meet its fast-growing demand for housing. You may have also heard that an archaeological dig team accidentally loosed an angry spirit on the city when they broke into an ancient section of the undercity. Rumors are swirling, and the creature is causing serious harm. Usually this would be left to the city watch, not the Pathfinder Society, but— well, I will let the Sapphire Sage explain.” She hands a letter over and says, “Read it aloud, would you?”
When the reading is complete, the venture-captain continues, “Merab’s officials have requested that your first order of business be to inspect and clear the ruin. You may learn something of the creature’s purpose in the process. I suggest you interview the dig team and speak with the scholar Obahar, who is probably already nosing about the site. You can trust his assistance. After investigating the ruin, follow up on these leads, and any others you discover. We must discover what this creature wants, as Amenopheus asked.” She lays another slip of paper on the low table before her, before asking if there are any questions, and saying that Merab, as the largest of Thuvia’s city-states, has many markets to meet any outfitting needs the party might have before beginning their mission.
Hello Prince Joli! Are you in the right party? I feel we may have met in another life...
”A restless spirit may be the result of a tragic death, or a sign of dissatisfaction in life. Curious that it is seeking out relics. Greed and power can motivate even the undead.” Mafisadi scratches one of his round ears in thought. ”Do you know much about Obahar, the scholar?”
Since we may be dealing with a spirit, Mafisadi will buy 2 flasks of holy water. Should we visit the dig site first?
A seemly malnourished begrimed human steps from the corner and into in the circle of adventurers. On closer inspection, you discover that he has pointy ears nor actually malnourished, a half-elf. "Hello All, my name is Teehax."
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
"Is a frightful creature. The whispers on the street that this creature is a div. People will not talk of it openly, but one can hear all rumors when fear is loosened in the pub. Thuvians know it; fear it. I have not met one, but one gentlemen believes it's the spawn of genie misdeeds. I know not much more as he fell asleep with drink. Sadly, I don't think it was his first night of drowning worry. I'm sure he'll be praying to his gods about his hangover in the morning."
Replying to Mafisadi’s question, Diya says, ”In fact I do, as I’ve worked with him a fair bit. I regularly consult with Obahar on historical and archaeological matters here in Merab. Interestingly, he is a former Pathfinder who retired early in his tenure when he realized the dangers of the job.”
I’m going to assume you guys are going with Mafisadi’s suggestion – and the Venture-Captain’s direction – and heading for the dig site. If there are any more questions or someone wants to make the remaining checks, go ahead and post about it and I’ll weave it in.
After being led back out through the maze, the Pathfinders – carefully not thinking about the irony of that name in this situation – make their way to the construction site, where the workers recently unearthed more than they bargained for. At the site, nearly a dozen workers mill about the area as a wide array of excavation tools gather dust in the corners. An older bearded man busily examines charts and objects laid out on a wooden table shaded by temporary awnings. A muscular young man in his late teens walks up and says, “I am Anaref. If you’ve come to cleanse the ruins of evil, I’ll tell you all you need to know!”
Chris, any checks we can make to know about Divs? And by we I mean other PCs because Mafisadi has zero points in knowledges...
Mafisadi gives Anaref a friendly bow. ”Indeed, we are. What can you tell us about these ruins? Were you here when the spirit escaped?”
Knowledge (planes) would tell you something, though there are various sorts of divs, so it’ll only be general knowledge.
The strong young man is clearly pleased to be asked questions of such important visitors, puffing up a bit with pride, making his muscles bulge even more. “I saw the creature with my own eyes!” he exclaims. ”A floating head, with a tongue as long as my arm and eyes like ice. It tried to lick me! I asked my gran, and she says it was a vargywheel.”
Another man nearby, a few years older than Anaref, says simply, ”I didn’t see all that, but I know it was hideous, angry, and could fly. You want the details, you should speak to Kehl, our boss.” He nods his head toward a sun-bronzed woman, her eyes narrow after years of squinting in the hot sun, who seems to be simultaneously scanning the dig site for more trouble, watching Obahar in his studies, and scowling that the work on the site is still stopped.
And that is a funny coincidence of names, Khel and Kehl!
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
”And surely you wouldn’t lie to your gran,” Mafisadi says with a sly grin. ”We are most appreciative of your information.”
Mafisadi moves to Kehl and after a bow of greeting, asks. ”Were you working that day? Did you see the creature?”
From across the dig site, an older lady in a coral jacket dress with white gloves and a pillbox hat with a immense white feather picks her way across the rubble. In her handbag, a small dog yaps. Emmylou waves to the group.
When she reaches the group, she smiles.
Hey, I'm Emmylou. Mighty nice to meet you all. I'm so sorry I'm late. I was saying goodbye to all my grandbabies! There are so many of them. I got 37 now, you know. And, they're all so sweet.
Emmylou puts her hands on her generous hips and surveys the group.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
The little vine man picks up a goblet off the venture captain's table and pours Emmylou a glass. "It is good to have fertile soil."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14
Knowledge Planes: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Sensing an opportunity to offer refreshment, Viognier produces a number of goblets from his bag. "You've been working so hard. The Lord of Liquid Mirth would want me to offer cool drink. I am Viognier, his servant."
As an aside, Viognier invests his own fruit with the nourishment of Cayden each day. He would likely have one day plus this new day.
Goodberry x 2: 2d4 + 2d4 ⇒ (1, 1) + (2, 3) = 7
Seeing the drinks, Mogok's eyes light up. "Ooooooh, dizzydrink! Mogok..." His face immediately trails off as he hears the dog yapping. He furrows his eyebrows and buries his face in Big Squawk's feathers. If one gets close, they can hear him muttering, "Dogs bad. Want burn. But Mogok promised not to burn dogs. What do? What do?"
Viognier conjures some watered down wine into Mogok's tankard. Cayd likes happy drunks, and he likes dogs.
Kehl gives Mafisadi a curt nod and says, ”I were working that day. I work every day, except when my team can’t work, like now. They don’t earn silver sittin’ about – though I don’t want to put ‘em to undue risk neither. As to what I might have seen or heard, I’ll not speak of it.” As she says this, she makes an odd circling gesture with her hand, held in front of her body.
Anyone wishing to get more out of Kehl, please make a Diplomacy check with your post.
The workers look eagerly at the goblets offered by Viognier, then glance at Kehl and shake their heads. ”Can’t be drinking on the job…dangerous enough as it is,” one of them offers by way of explanation, ”what with sharp tools and heavy stuff and things popping out of ruins.”
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Kn (Religion): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Oh, my dear. Please do tell. I'm sure my grandbabies will ask me what happened. And, we'd all like to know what to expect, wouldn't we, fellas?
Emmylou repeats the Pharasman gesture to ward off ill fortune and turns it into a little dance.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Religion: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
"The Lady of Graves assigns to each spirit their place. Let us not speak of those that forget theirs. The place, though. Where should we go? How shall we get there?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Mafisadi doesn't notice Kehl's gesture, and doesn't have the knowledge to interpret it even if he did..
"Yes, let's investigate this dig site," he says eagerly. "Exploration leads to understanding."
Kehl nods thoughtfully at Viognier’s words, then replies, ”All right, I’ll tell you what I saw, as your intentions seem good and I’d like to help. When we’re working in the old city, I prefer to breach any potentially hazardous areas myself. That’s what I did this time, so I got the best look at what came out.”
Making the warding gesture again, she continues, ”Folk around here believe that speaking of a near-death experience is a good way to tempt fate to repeat it, but it’s worth the risk. I saw a floating head, like the others say— thin and ugly. Seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. Reminded me of a rabid animal. I heard it in my mind. It said it was looking for the dungeons, and that ‘she who wears the spiral of death’ would be there. I have no idea what it meant. I’ll admit, I don’t scare easy, but it scared the skin off me before it flew away. Please kill it.”
With a nod in the direction of the bearded man by the wooden table, she adds, ”You’d do well to talk to Obahar as well.”
"May the Lord of Daring bless your intrepid spirit!" Viognier gives a dashing bow and heads over to Obahar.
"Sir, might I offer you some fresh, cold water or a bit of bubbly fresh from the vine?" The vine bark of his face forms what looks like a friendly smile, while his leaf hair flutters... stylishly...?
Plant people are frakking weird!
As Viognier gets closer, he can see that Obahar is an older man whose ill-fitting clothes are an odd mix of styles and colors, all in various states of disrepair; the only aspect of his appearance he seems to care about is his neatly trimmed beard. Obahar is deep in an examination of some old blueprints on a table near the ruins’ entrance, occasionally glancing up at the tunnel and making thoughtful noises. He startles when he finally notices the party.
”Oh!” he exclaims, clearly not having heard a word Viognier has said. “You must be the Pathfinders. I am Obahar, local expert on archeology and ancient history. I’m glad you’re here! With our combined expertise, we’ll have this all figured out soon enough! While I am eager to learn more about the ruins, I am afraid my adventuring days are long behind me. Please go inside and take careful note of what you discover. This is possibly the most important find in Merab’s history—aside from the sun orchid elixir, of course! Where was I? Ah yes. The ruins spat out one fiend already, so there’s no telling what awaits you. Whatever you find, return it as-is. When you report back, we can find out where this monster is from and what it might be up to.”
It doesn’t look like we have anyone from the Scarab Sages faction in the party, but let me know if that’s wrong, as it figures into the story.
Grand Lodge here!
”Have you seen the creature?” Mafisadi asks after greeting Obahar.
Mafisadi takes a look at the blueprints to see if there’s anything of interest marked on them.
Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
Viognier nods at the old fellow and produces another flagon full of wine. "We shall dig our roots into it until we get to the bedrock." He walks up to the entrance and attempts unravels himself, literally sensing roots in the ground to taste the soil.
Teehax takes a moment to study Obahar.
sense motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Teehax joins Mafisadi, and looks at the blueprints.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
"Does the creature have any patterns?"
Hey, y’all, I’m back! I still need Teehax and Emmylou to assign images to their aliases, so I can use them for tokens on the map. For now I’ve just put the letters T and E on the map.
Obahar did not see the creature that emerged from the ruins, and has little to add, merely reiterating his suggestion that the Pathfinders explore the ruins and see what they can learn. The party approaches the entrance, a stone tunnel that extends into darkness. The air cools as the tunnel leads deeper beneath Merab. Wooden supports shore up the walls in more precarious spots, and abandoned side tunnels show where the crew explored layers of older construction beneath the dig site. Eventually, the tunnel intersects a wall of much older construction than the surrounding area. Sledgehammers and other tools lie outside a hole in the wall large enough for a person to step through that opens onto a large room. The southern part of the room is largely collapsed. A sprawling pattern of red symbols covers the floor.
As the party enters the room, the magic symbols on the floor writhe into a spiral, and a voice echoes in everyone’s minds! It is a deep but feminine voice, full of irritation, which says, ”Pathetic slave! Your base obsession with secrets served its purpose for a time, but you have grown tiresome. And now you dare to turn this obsession against me?! Foolish! You could have served a higher purpose, empowering me for all eternity. Now, for your defiance, you will grow to hate your immortality. You will wallow in ignorance forever, and even I, your master, will forget you.”
This entire area is dark, so please let me know what you are doing for light, or if you have darkvision and don’t need it.
The map is linked above my avatar, where it says 'Unseen Inclusion'.
Welcome back! Unless someone can provide magical light, Mafisadi will carry a torch with his lizard-like prehensile tail.
”Immortality?” Mafisadi says in a hushed voice. His eyes go wide at the spiral on the floor. ”Ragdya’s courage be with me. What is this place they uncovered?”
Welcome back Chris! Avatar fixed. Not obvious at all.
I presume that TeeHax's low-light vision is not enough for this level of lighting?
I haven't fully completed TeeHax's inventory, but I would like to think he has a Ioun Tourch since he needs his hands free to pick locks and disarm traps. Considering that an Ioun torch can be nearly obscured to create a low-light situation in combination with his low-light vision, it would be a particularly useful stone to have around. Chris, let me know how you'd like to handle this.
Teehax rubs his chin, and raises and eyebrow glancing at the party, "Hhhmm, immortality, huh? Tables stakes are never good when eternity is in play. I know not what who spoke to my innerself. It is," Teehax shifts uncomfortably, "unsettling."
The ioun torch is fine, Teehax.
All - there is an exit from this room to the north and one to the west. Because there are just doorways rather than closed doors, and you've now got a little light, you can see a little ways into the adjacent rooms, as shown on the map. There is a chest visible in the room to the north, but not much else in either direction.
Planes: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Viognier, fresh from tasting the local soil, creeps into the room. He looks for signs of traps as he does so.
Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
”Insight and enlightenment begin with a question. And a question begin with curiosity,” Mafisadi says, balancing on one foot and pressing his palms together. ”My present question is, what’s in that chest to the north?”
Teehax, let’s check out that chest!
Mafisadi leads his companions to the small room to the north. Like the rest of the ruin, it is dusty and dark, and the very stones give off an air of untold ages since they were last visited. There is little of interest here beyond the chest, and a flight of stairs exiting the room to the north. The chest itself is locked, and the ages have not been kind to it, as is is in rather poor condition.
Disable Device or some other means of opening it, anyone?
Teehax carefully approaches the area where the chest lies, and examines the lock on the chest. Tools appear in TeeHax's hands although you're not sure where they came from, or even if he reached for them.
Disable Device: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Suddenly, Viognier cocks his ear as if listening to a call from someone who is not there. "Forgive me, friends, I've been called by my lord Cayden. Adieu, adieu. Here's a drink before I go." He produces several flagons full of wine and scurries off, embarrassed...
Viognier brushes past a vanaran fellow carrying a fancy looking staff. He waves at Mafisadi as he approaches.
"Cousin, I hope I'm not intruding. I couldn't bear to stay behind while you go and risk your life like such a glorious hero. Look at you, so big and strong!" He puts his left hand on his hip in irritation when Mafisadi pretends not to recognize him.
"Don't act like you don't know me, Mafi. We just traveled across an ocean to get to this hellh... Nice place. All these nice people got to know me too, you know! That one said he even liked me better." He points at Mogok, glad to have a friend even if he's a goblin.
I'll get his stats, etc. posted by sometime tomorrow.
Mafisadi feigns a deep meditative trance.
”Ohmmm...” he intones while Hansee chatters on. Quickly realizing Hansee is not going to stop chattering, Mafisadi opens an eye.
”Oh, if it isn’t Hansee, favorite cousin. So nice of you to join us. And you’ve brought that humble staff I see. Perhaps you can help Teehax bust open that chest over there? I think he’s having some trouble.”
Hansee walks over to Teehax and gives him a slap on the shoulder. "You'll do great, sahib. Fate's smiling down on you like Cynosure."
Guidance: +1 on a roll of your choice in the next minute.
Teehax has no luck with the lock, perhaps distracted by the staffing change and the chattering monkey-man who has suddenly joined the party. Having messed with it a bit, however, he Teehax feels he can probably get it open, as it's a relatively simple lock.
Teehax - you can try again on the lock, or someone can try something else. If you try again on Disable Device, please post several rolls, so we can resolve the lock. I'll tell you now, the DC is 20, so it's well within your reach.