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Joran stands up to see Ary off - the often drunk dwarf was always very polite to her in spite of it all - but still he only grunts into his tangled beard in response to her goodbyes. By the time she's headed back out into the hall, he has his back turned to her, hunched over and inspecting the resplendent suit of armor now laid out on his workbench.
The sky above Ehren is beautiful and sunny in Nerosyan - a pleasantly normal brilliant blue compared to the garish colors it could get in the Worldwound. Autumn was about to turn to Fall, and a biting cold wind hit the streets of Nerosyan, carrying air from the distant Rimethirst mountains. But such was the weather than the Archdruid had known his whole life.
The capital was bustling with people, soldiers, even the odd Celestial. Mendev had surged the border cities into a total war economy. Every man, woman, and child in Nerosyan was involved in the war effort one way or another... yet spirits remained high as this was the Fifth Crusade, and all knew that the Crusader Queen has moved on the offensive for the first time in nearly seventy years.
Despite the crowds, Ehren was directly confronted with his own newfound celebrity. More people than not recognized who he was, thanks to his distinctive crown and garb. After he makes his inquiries as to acquiring a divination, he is introduced to a young but talented cleric of Iomedae called Sister Marion.
She takes him to a small prayer room to prepare for the ritual of divination - a ten minute long devotion to the Lady of Valor involving the burning of specific incenses and intense prayer. Upon meeting him, she smiled wide. "Oh, the Archdruid! You know, you're much younger than I had imagined." Marion herself could not have been much older than Ehren.
Divination chance: 70 + 7 = 77
As the ritual comes to a close, the smoke furling from the incense abruptly shifts into the form of a longsword. Sister Marion's eyes light up with excitement when she sees, and she smiles. She inhales the smoke and closes her eyes. "Her soul is lost," she intones, slowly. "It must be found."
Aron shrugs, his hand on his hip. "Dunno, you can ask him yourself. But you know, Toragdans are an honest sort. I'll warn you, though, he's still a bit sore about the whole thing," he says, his voice dropping down low so that only Valaria could hear him. "Joran's a lot stronger than he looks!"
That morning, while Ehren is still in meditation, Joran Vhane visited Hinagiku's temple to Irori. Full reparations of much of Drezen's infrastructure - roads, walls, bridges, were still being worked on, so sparing too much extra manpower to help with Hinagiku's project was a bit too much to ask. Still, Hinagiku and Hua Xing had selected a small former residence for the purpose, and had patched it up - fixed the walls, roof, and so on. They and Shu Lien were the only worshippers of Irori in the Citadel, so it served its purpose as a place of worship just fine. But there was still much work to be done to remodel the interior to match the Tien aesthetics Hua Xing was used to.
The dwarf looked nice when Hinagiku came to greet him. His beard and long, black hair were neatly combed and braided. He had on a clean, leather work apron over his armor.
"Ah, hello, Hinagiku, ma'am. The Commander said ye needed help fixin' up this temple?" he asks, glancing past her at a half-finished attempt to break some walls down and open up the interior space to create a room suitable for exercise.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (5) + 18 = 23
It took some time for Ehren to grow used to being so easily recognizable. Having status among his own people was one thing, but it seemed that thousands of total strangers - crusaders or otherwise - now knew who he is. The archdruid smiles pleasantly at passersby, but does his very best to avoid being a spectacle.
"I hear that a lot," he replies to Sister Marion with amusement.
Ever patient, Ehren kneels quietly as the priestess conducts her ritual. His face brightens slightly when he sees the longsword form in the smoke, but quickly falls when he receives his answer. It was brief and cryptic, but for the most part, told him everything he needed to know.
"I see," he remarks with a nod, having already braced himself for disappointment. He withdraws Terendelev's silver scale from his belt pouch and turns it over in his hand, brushing a thumb over its surface. Even now, he remembers the sadness and resolve he felt when he first touched it. "Is there a locate to find a lost soul? Another divination spell, perhaps?"
Magiggs takes a swig from his flagon and nods. "Aye,I did, and th' wanker deserved it too." The other dwarves around him nod and exclaim in agreement.
"Aye, he's a blasted cultist - traitor, and disgrace tae all dwarves!" agrees another dwarf, known as Dangrim.
Sister Marion stands back up, smoothing out creases in her habit. "Ooooooh. No. Sorry, I don't know of any such magic. It would have to be pretty powerful, I would think, to be able to see across the many worlds. My own magic is befuddled by things as trivial as running water, or sheets of lead."
Sister Marion K.Religion: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (6) + 18 = 24
Magiggs gestures into the air with his free hand. "Nah, lass, hims punchin me pissed me off. Puir sod's sittin' aroond blooter'd aw t'time - e'en on t'job an' thas jist bad form. Do ye hae onie idea how much a dwarf's gotta drink tae be drunk all th' time? It's a lot, an' a waste a perfectly guid ale tae boot! Disgraceful."
"Anyway, ah was thinkin' of invitin' him tae services, mebbe get his min' offn things an' back tae th' light. Weel he called me some names an' tauld me tae sod off, 'n ah tauld heem... 'jus' cause yer brother's a traitorous piece of demon worshippin' auroch dung dornt mean ye gotta go doon his path too and... 'en he sucker punched me." He takes a sip of his drink, and swirls it thoughtfully. "What ah git fur tryin' tae be trustin' 'n honest, ah suppose. Shouldn't have bothered."
An audience with a more powerful cleric might yield more answers, but Ehren had a feeling that they would be of little use compared to the one he received just now. At the very least, he now knew for certain that they should not waste precious resurrection magic on a futile attempt to bring Terendelev back. His thoughts linger on this unfortunate reality, until the faint scent of incense reminds him that he has other business to attend to.
"Might you know where I can acquire the materials for a hallow spell? I require rare oils, herbs, and incense."
Hinagiku greets Joran with a polite nod and her usual feint serene smile. Stepping aside, she shows the dwarf with a motion of her hand.
”Please forgive me for welcoming you in this state.” she begins before taking some time to dust some of her fur. ”Help is always welcome. Hua Xin senpai and I have been trying to repair and make this place a better house for the Master of masters. He does teach that we should perfect ourselves and learn many things and trade, but we are not really experienced in these kinds of things. Much of our training has focused on fighting… So far, we have mainly focused on patching up the roof and creating some space for training here. We’ve also been working on the inner courtyard in hopes of creating a place to meditate.” she adds, pointing to the poorly patched roof, the room with an half-demolished wall in it, and the rubble filled courtyard.
[b]”It’s really nice of you to come and help us. Do you know how much time you will have here before you have to go back to your other duties?”[b] Hinagiku asks, wondering why exactly Ary had taken away some of the workpower from the city and sent it to their temple.
Deductng 1k gp from party funds
Sister Marion was looking a little downcast at Ehren's initial reaction, as if she somehow had influence on the outcome of her portent. So when he compliments her, she perks up.
"I am glad to be of service, Archdruid," she says, honestly. "Oh, a hallow? I know of some places we could try. Come on, this way."
Sister Marion leads Ehren out into Coopertown, a mercantile neighborhood of the confluence district. The businesses here were staid and respectable, and almost universally religious in nature. Store selling holy water, various potions useful for a foray into the worldwound, metal-workers crafting custom crusader's crosses... It doesn't take long for Ehren to find the things he needed, in exchange for the right coin, that is.
Joran shrugs. "Nah, this ain't official business. Supposed tae be my day off, actually, but t'Commander asked me a favor, and I certainly owe her several of those."
He sets down a large wooden tool box on the ground, then starts inspecting the walls and ceiling. "I don't know this 'Master o'Masters', but I do know it's good I'm here. If ye had gone too much further, ye would have destroyed a load-bearing wall right here. Whole place gone flat under the weight of the roof. If ye want an open space, you want tae keep a column here... here... o'er there... and an other o'er there."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (7) + 18 = 25
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Gonna move on since I think we're only waiting on Val/Ary (Hinagiku is traveling). Val/Ary and Hinagiku should continue their conversations in spoilers. I won't resolve that plot thread until that RP is done, no worries.
18 Gozran 4715
Seven months later and Drezen had successfully weathered its second winter. Spring had come, and Mother Heartwood's influence, thanks to the efforts of the Archdruid and the heroes, had fully extended past Sesker's Gully. This sphere of reclaimed land formed several acres of fertile farmland beyond the cities walls. Now that the heaviest snows had passed, several new farming settlements were sprouting up, though with expansion came new challenges. With more and more people living outside of the walls, the more Drezen had to spread its forces thin to protect people from all sides.
This morning was the first all six of the heroes had been in Drezen at the same time for awhile.
Xanderghul had been gone the longest - nearly a month. He had brought his tiefling charges with him to Absalom (he believed experiencing new sights and culture would be good for their education) to answer a summons by the Decimvirate to discuss his founding of a new Pathfinder Lodge in Drezen.
There was a lot of discussion about how to integrate crusaders with Pathfinder operations in the Worldwound after what had happened to Ser Jorsal, and the Decimvirate. In general, they were concerned that Ser Jorsal was forced to kowtow to crusader rule, which made him vulnerable to demonic attack. They agreed that Xanderghul take up the mantle of venture-captain of the Worldwound, and instructed him to be wary of how much Pathfinder information he could share with the leader of Drezen, Lord-Commander Ary Bishop. They hoped that his good rapport with her would allow him to operate more independently than Ser Jorsal could have in Nerosyan.
The rest of the month was spent in considerably less exciting meetings than the one with the Decimvirate - to work out budgeting, construction, staffing, and other such banalties of creating a new Pathfinder Lodge.
Feel free to add description as to what your Pathfinder Lodge is like. You can create one or two Pathfinder NPCs to work at your lodge if you would like.
Hinagiku and Ehren had been gone nearly two weeks. They had originally left for Sesker's Gully to help settle a land dispute made by a kellid descendant of Clan Sesker. The crusades had sent both laborers and soldiers to reclaim the fortifications built there. Aron Kir had declared most of the residences and stores in the town unusable due to decades of rot and neglect and the harsh Worldwound weather. As a result many of these buildings had to be destroyed to make way for new structures.
So, when Siani Sesker arrived to find that her clan's ancestral hall had been demolished, she was not pleased. Ehren and Hinagiku were sent to smooth things over as tensions began to boil between the kellid and crusader populations working on the village, then ended up staying longer than expected to protect the village from an onslaught by a marauding band of fiendish trolls.
The crusaders and kellds banded together to fight the trolls, and this common cause proved to be the catalyst that brought the two sides together again. You are returning to Drezen to report that things have mostly calmed down in Sesker's Gully.
Feel free to make things up to add to your reports to add embellishment to the story..
Islme and Valaria had left a week ago together along with Kule to investigate a string of robberies being made on supply shipments being made to Drezen through Keeper's Canyon. While the caravans were always guarded with armored soldiers, the bandits were equipped with strange metallic contraptions that could blast holes right through even a finely crafted breastplate. They had deduced that someone must have been providing these criminals with these "guns" and firepowder, likely a criminal mastermind, and hoped to find out the source of this supply to put a stop to it once and for all. The two women were the most adept at disguise and subterfuge, and so were sent to try and gather information from whomever they could find.
Your efforts lead you to the discovery that while someone was definitely behind supplying these bandits, the different attacks were actually lead by completely independent criminal groups, rather than an organized operation stemming from a single source or even cult.
From interrogating some bandits that were captured alive at an attack, you discover that this mysterious benefactor went simply by the name 'The Drifter'. Interestingly, accounts of what The Drifter looked like varied wildly from bandit to bandit, though they all agreed that she was a female.
Isilme had sent the two bralanis (the outsiders she had met from Nerosyan eventually came to her seeking excitement and adventure) on the hunt for 'the Drifter'. Now, you are both returning to Drezen to report on this key finding to Ary and the others.
Feel free to make things up to add to your reports to add embellishment to the story of how you came to find this information.
Ary Bishop had likewise been gone for a week. She had personally lead a large military force out to deal with repeated nocturnal ghoul attacks that had tormented the eastern farmlands for the past month. When the first contingent of paladins, all seasoned veterans of the Battle of Drezen, vanished without a trace, it became apparent that the Lord Commander would need to take this problem into her own hands.
There ended up being a rather large subterranean tunnel system which lead to what could only be described as an underground fortress of ghouls. Together with Ser Jorsal and Anevia, Ary lead a short military campaign against the army of ghouls, slaying their terrible leader, Choq Blightshadow, in the process.
Feel free to add your own embellishments to this.
Now, all six heroes of Drezen were together in the Citadel's grand entrance hall, attending an administrative meeting. Lord-Commander Ary Bishop sits at the large chair at the end. It sits higher on a platform to allow her the ability to see all of the others in the room. Behind her the Sword of Valor hangs suspended from golden rope. To her right is Chevalier Irabeth Tirablade, and to her left is Anevia Tirablade.
In large stone chairs to her left and right sit Archdruid Ehren Ferron, Spymaster Isilme, Valaria Alazario, Venture-Captain Xanderghul and Priestess Hinagiku. The rest of the Drezen council sit at wooden chairs at long, rectangular wooden tables on the right, and left side of the room. At the center of the room is a podium, at which people could stand and speak, surrounded on all sides with the leadership of Drezen.
These meetings served to allow all council members the opportunity to report to the others of the goings on at Drezen. Most people simply stood to give a short report, while others voiced concerns or problems to the group. The leadership would then be able to help deliberate possible solutions, move around funds and soldiers, and so forth.
Now, both Ayavah and Annabelle both stand at the podium, the co-Magisters of Beautification and Restoration. While the two women generally were able to bounce ideas off of one another and had gained a lot of mutual respect with one another over the past year, sometimes they came to butt heads. This was one of those times.
"We have come to an impasse and require your assistance to come to a resolution," begins Chevalier Kir. Her long blonde hair is wrapped in an elaborate up-do with a series of intricate braids Hinagiku had assisted her with this morning, and she wears her armor under a long baby blue jacket.
"That's an understatement." mutters Ayavah, her arms crossed.
Annabelle ignores her and moves on, though her nostrils flare with agitation. She exhales and continues. "As Father Vaenic and Cassiel are aware, we had two new ministries arrive at Drezen this month and request their own additions to the Unity Cathedral."
Sosiel Vaenic's multi-denominational "Unity Cathedral" had largely been a success so far. It consisted of two large wings that once were an Iomedaean temple, and a third wing was scheduled for construction within the next year. Each wing consisted of many separate shrines along the walls of an enormous gathering room. Citizens of Drezen could walk the halls, past several shrines and their attendants, and observe their religious rites, artwork, and sermons. This was a place where a shrine of Desna stood next to a shrine of Sarenrae, and their faithful could be seen teaching each other their respective dances or discuss the astrological movements of the sun and stars. Or where Caydenites would drink with Toragdans, and where Toragdans compared metalwork with Shelynites.
"Yes, Jesker Helton of the Erastilians, and Arvin Vladinov of the Calistrians," Ayavah continues for her, glancing to her right as Sosiel nods. "I was commissioned to create a sculpture in relief to serve as a backdrop for Arvin's shrine at the Unity Cathedral."
"Problem is.." Annabelle continues. Ayavah shoots her a cold look. "It's extremely sexually explicit. Its...very public inclusion is offending many worshippers who come to the cathedral. Partciularly Iomedaens, Erastilians and Toragdans. There are complaints that they do not feel welcome in the Cathedral any longer, with particular concern about exposing young children to such artwork. I suggest that we re-make the sculpture and alter it, in a way that is still representative of the domains of Calistria without being so lascivious."
"And this is just another classic case of crusaders catering to Iomedaens and being completely phobic of any other points of view. Sexuality is normal. This is censorship, plain and simple, and stifling the Calistrian's religious rights. What is the point of a 'Unity Cathedral' if the Calistrians cannot worship openly for fear of 'offending' people?" snaps Ayavah, clearly very worked up about this.
"And so we've come to an impasse," says Annabelle, likewise irritated and exasperated with Ayavah.
Where you live in an apartment adjacent to the Desnan way-shrine, Ayavah had moved out to her own apartment which contained her own studio and living space. She naturally still shared your bed often and stayed the night. You haven't been able to speak to Ayavah since you arrived in Drezen, but you do recall her mentioning Arvin, the priest of Calistria, as a new friend she had made in the city. You also know they are sleeping together.
All 6 PCs are considered important and powerful people in Drezen. Feel free to contribute to these discussions with authority rather than merely deferring to what Lord Commander Bishop thinks is best.
I'll do another post for responding to other stuff later. I'm tired tonight.
Life over the past seven months had been... relaxed. Or at least as relaxed as it could be in the city that was the one thing standing between the Abyss and the rest of the world. Isilme had settled into a routine of time spent practicing and researching magic with Ai'sintar, overseeing her ever-growing network of informants and spies with the help of Duke, and wandering the periphery of Mother Heartwood's increasingly large area of influence.
The respite had been most welcome, and the hectic times from her rebirth to the conquest of Drezen seemed quite distant now. Nevertheless, the worldwound always loomed over the horizon, and it was only a matter of time before they would be needed to intervene directly again, either due to attacks or their quest to continue to push into the worldwound to retake Iz and somehow close it--how they would accomplish that remained to be seen.
In the past month, attacks on their supply lines within the canyon had been causing them issues, and due to the unnatural success of those attacks, she and Val had set out to determine what they could about them. On several occasions they had managed to infiltrate bandit groups in the surrounding region, but somehow always slightly too late to find out who was providing the firearms that they were being supplied with. This 'Drifter' who was responsible always seemed to be one step ahead of them.
In Council Session
While most of their sessions were fairly mundane, the issue before them today was entertaining to say the least. Certainly it was a problem and needed to be handled properly, but there was something reassuring about the fact people were able to spend time griping about whether sexually graphic statues were appropriate in a temple, as opposed to say whether they were going to be murdered by demons tomorrow.
While overall she agreed that they should be respectful of the Calistrians' right to worship, the temple itself was a joint work. Drawing the line between what was appropriate for worship and yet respectful to all those present posed a difficult problem.
"Were these complaints simply about a Calistrian temple within the city there would be no argument here. But in a shared space respect for everyone's right to worship must flow both ways," she says, looking at both Ayavah and Annabelle. "Perhaps if the inner area of the Calistrian shrine were veiled, and another proper depiction of Calistria were to be placed outside that area, everyone would feel more comfortable?" Isilme suggests. "It would be an imposition on the Calistrians for sure, but a minor one compared to having their work of art altered or removed, and people who chose to could still freely come and go from the shrine proper."
She looks to Val, Ary, and Sosiel as they had been chief in pushing to have the joint temple created; Val's opinion was especially important here, since she had the best understanding of Ayavah's temperament and what might assuage her, and through her the Calistrians.
Val privately didn't much care for these meetings, but keeping things running had to come from somewhere and it was better to pay attention and try to help where she could. At least Ary was one leader that she could trust to do the right thing. Even if it was the hardest option they had. Of course, not every day was a life or death decision for the city. Most days, they had to deal with things like this. Ayavah had been improving a bit, but apparently she was taking it hard that one of her lovers the one in trouble this time. Still, it wasn't an unworkable situation "That's... not actually a terrible idea," Val says after a long moment of thought as Anevia, Ayavah, and Isilme all give their opinions. "Every faith has their own ceremonies and times when they could use privacy from everyone else at the cathedral. What if we rework the design of the inside of the temple to give every shrine a private area for secluded prayer or ceremonies that might be... a bit scandalous for public view? That way, it's more a benefit for every faith that has a shrine at the cathedral. The Irorians can use a private area to meditate at their shrine as much as the Calistrians could use an area for more salacious artwork or worship."
K(Religion) v. Calistria: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (16) + 13 = 29 I'll need to know 'how much' Ary knows before I chime in. I really feel like Ary won't much care for Calistria's stuff as a whole, though. :P I think 'veiling the lovers' is the most obvious answer, though, given what I know of Calistria. Sex in the streets is not their thing, religiously speaking.
Sorry, but long day, will get a post up tomorrow morning, probably.
Calistria is a goddess of many faces and guises, including lust and revenge. She is held in especially high regard by elves, who often identify her moods and attitude with that of their people. A fondness of wasps has earned this vengeful deity the title the Savored Sting; such creatures live on after harming their enemies, a trait to be emulated should one seek to inflict pain on another.
Calistria is usually depicted as a female elf of otherworldly beauty, arrayed in seductive dress of flowing yellow silks. These gowns do little to hide her lithe and graceful form, and she is often depicted in the company of giant wasps. Calistria herself is never depicted naked, as her followers believe that imagining her naked form is more arousing than actually witnessing it. However, Calistrian artworks tend to be erotic in nature, serving as 'how to guides' on how to properly satisfy a sexual partner based on passages from The Book of Joy. This is in line with their sacred belief that desire, sexuality, and emotional fulfillment are the proper goals of life.
Calistria's clergy tend to garb themselves in sensual yellow garb that reveals a lot of skin, which they then paint in henna to draw the eye to particularly desirable portions of their anatomy. Amongst human worshippers of Calistria, her followers tend to run brothels or are traveling prostitutes themselves. A typical service to Calistria involves ritualized sex, as Calistrians believe that those who are sexually satisfied will be less prone to violence and harm towards others. However, their services are rarely purely composed of hedonistic orgies (as her detractors claim) and often also include the consumption of spiced wine, the casting of sensual or pleasurable illusions, or the faithful reciting long lists of those who have done them wrong while the other worshippers vow to aid them in making these wrongs right.
A more secretive portion of her clergy also exists - staffed by spies and assassins. Her faithful can be found in thieves guilds all around the country. Her depiction as a vengeful assassin is the aspect more favored by the elves, while her depiction as a goddess of lust and the passions of the flesh are more favored by humans. Woe be to those who wrong a Calistrian, as angering one member of their clergy can bring a swarm of their faithful against them.
Over the last seven months, Ary was true to her word; while she had been busy with all of the tasks that being the Lord Commander entailed (including leading personal crusades against anything that could permanently corrupt or taint the souls of her crusaders), she'd ensured that she had plenty of time for Nurah and Joran, as well as checking in with Chaleb. Ary also spent time helping out in clearing out the surrounding area of Hinagiku's temple, to help set up various gardens, and was in the process of ensuring some water flow to the temple to help with irrigation. Likewise, she'd worked at finding a suitable irrigation in the form of alcohol for herself. In the end, she'd found a dwarven alcohol of all things at Joran's suggestion. While it was potent enough to knock out a horse, the subtle and myriad flavors were enough to subdue the alcohol taste without overwhelming the human-turned-half-elf's oversensitive palate. An obvious result of dwarven craftsmanship made explicitly for elven (and other dainty) ambassadors.
Ary takes a moment while the arguments get underway, to flip through a book she had at her side, she takes a few moments looking it over - she'd been studying faiths primarily in her search for a suitable patron for Joran a year ago, but she still had bits of information in her Little Notebook of Celestial Writings. The book was horrifically disorganized to most, and seemed to meander through poetry and notations. There was even a section on the parts of the Lymirin Discourses that Ary agreed with... and the sections she particularly disagreed with, having read the full book over the course of a few weeks, ensuring that her allies had it in their purview while they were out and about. Calistria is one that she'd quickly written off - it was much too willing to have Joran punch offenders in the face, or worse... murder them heartily.
"While Calistria is a goddess of lust, she's also a goddess of all emotion. She isn't simply relegated to being a goddess of carnal desire." Ary says, after a few moments. "And she's not just a goddess of vengeance in addition to lust. She has many layers, and from my understandings, orgies in the streets aren't really one of them." she says, pausing, sharing what she'd learned. "One of their holy books is a guide to satisfying people sexually, but in the end she's all about the fire of emotions, from what I've read, yeah? Flying into wrathful reprisals, heat of the moment, cold vengeance, a good meal, excellent company, and all that. So... why would you make the relief about just sex, and why would you make it the only thing that people see about the goddess?" Ary asks, pausing once more. She flips a few pages, glancing at the book.
"Honestly, while I don't agree with veiling the entire shrine, I do believe that putting the sexual portions of the relief in sheets wouldn't hurt. Giving them sensual clothing keeps the intent without making it overt to everyone. Adding more aspects of the goddess, especially those we wish for people to emulate simply seems a better choice, yeah?" Ary asks, looking to the others.
In the blink of an eye, another seven months passed by. Saddled with his duties as Archdruid and High Priest, Ehren was always busy, whether he was tending to matters within Drezen or abroad, as far as Nerosyan and Kenabres. In the loosest sense of the word, his days were almost peaceful. No longer were his days filled with constant skirmishes against cultists and demons. But Ehren was no fool. Reaching out to Kellid clans, blessing marriages and name days, greeting other druids, overseeing the expansion of Mother Heartwood’s influence, settling land disputes… what seemed like ordinary peacekeeping activities were ultimately preparations for war.
While Ehren had sentimental reasons for wanting to see Sesker’s Gully restored, what it really came down to was having another foothold against the Worldwound. So when the Green finally spread to that region once more, he was more than happy to support the restoration efforts in any way he could. While he was initially happy to hear that a living descendant of Clan Sesker had emerged, the circumstances surrounding her arrival were a less than ideal. Even so, he was confident that he would be able to smooth things over, especially with Hinagiku by his side. On a more selfish level, he relished the opportunity to spend some quality time with her, even if it was on a mission. However, he did not expect to spend that “quality time” fending off an onslaught of trolls…
Untrained Knowledge (religion), Max DC 10: 1d20 ⇒ 18
Ehren had been a proponent of the Unity Cathedral since Sosiel first presented the idea to the council, but from the start he knew that conflict among the faiths would be inevitable. He just did not anticipate that said conflict would involve, well, this. Nonetheless, as trivial as the matter sounded, whatever decision the council made today could potentially set a precedent for any future faiths that joined the cathedral for years to come.
The archdruid had, at best, a passing familiarity with the Calistrian faith, mostly on account of his wanderings in Nerosyan over the past year. While he did not know the particulars, he is not particularly surprised that Arvin commissioned Ayavah. Having not had the opportunity to visit the shrine or see the sculpture in question himself, Ehren could not necessarily provide a wholly informed opinion… which, for a number of reasons that he would not care to talk about, is probably for the best.
”What of the other faiths? The Desnans, the Caydenites…” Ehren gestures with his hand, indicating that obviously, the list goes on. ”Have they offered any opinions, dissenting or otherwise?”
He then turns to Ayavah, wanting to confirm that this is a grievance put forth by the clergy itself. ”Am I correct in assuming that you are speaking on the Calistrians’ behalf? What are Arvin Vladinov’s feelings on this matter?”
Initially, Ayavah perks up at Valaria's suggestion. Her scowl gives way to an expression of relief. She smiles at the heroic tiefling, glad that at least Valaria had her back. "I like that idea, actually. If it's something everyone has to do, it doesn't feel so discriminatory. And in a way, I think it makes it appear more mysterious, which is sort of what Calistria is about...."
But then her smile vanishes as Ary begins speaking, and she rolls her eyes in exasperation. In the last year or so she had slowly become less intimidated by Lord-Commander Bishop, and though she still avoided crossing paths with her if she could help it. "I don't know, maybe you could ask the man who commissioned it - you know - an actual priest of Calistria- why his idea of how to revere his own goddess is so horribly wrong. Sounds about right," she says snidely. "And while we're at it-"
Annabelle narrows her eyes and wheels on the smaller woman. "Show some respect to the Lord Commander, Ayavah, you know who you're talking to," she says, cutting her off. The sorceress wilts under her gaze and stops ranting.
"Thank you, Lord-Commander, that is exactly what I was proposing. The sculpture doesn't need to be radically changed. Some sheets, or fabric, to cover up the most... blatant aspects of the imagery should suffice as a compromise," Annabelle continues. She then turns to Ehren.
"I haven't heard of any complaints beyond some of the worshippers of those three gods, no," says Annabelle.
Ayavah snaps, "And, yes, I speak on behalf of Arvin, because someone has to advocate for him in the face of this discrimination."
Ayavah has a tendency to get riled up on another's behalf - sometimes even blowing things out of proportion - as her own emotions cloud her ability to look objectively at a matter.
While Ayavah has never been the most romantic partner - she isn't one for daydreaming about building a future or a family - she is fiercely loyal to her lovers and partners. For the longest time Ayavah felt like she was powerless, and at the mercy of the Crusades, knowing that if they found out about her beliefs she could be executed. Now she has become comfortable, especially after being given a leadership position within Drezen, and likely feels like this is her chance to protect Arvin as you did previously for her.
"I understand that the Calistrians are concerned that their presence in the Unity Cathedral is unwanted, and that they will be unable to worship their goddess authentically in a shared space with such different viewpoints present. I think everyone present understands how Calistrians tend to worship, so I do believe it is a valid concern," Annabelle gently corrects her. "Just as the Iomedaens feel unwelcome, so do the Calistrians."
Sosiel nods, speaking up on behalf of Annabelle. "I admit I did not foresee such...tension when I accepted Arvin's application. He is of course, not present today because he is not a crusader. I do not believe we have any devotees of Calistria present among our ranks. That being said, I believe that Arvin is not here on an evangelical mission, rather, he intends to build a brothel within the city walls.... so more of an... ah.. business venture, I suppose."
The council meetings were places where important Crusader intelligence were spoken of freely, so attendees were limited to crusaders, and the rare non-crusader amongst the leadership of Drezen.
It seems like Isilme and Valaria are in favor of veiling the sculpture, and Ary is in favor of altering it. Other thoughts?
Val's not particularly surprised that the debate starts to get more heated, but she still feels the beginnings of a headache coming on. She silently reminds herself that this needs to be taken care of peacefully as she counts to ten in her head. "I wouldn't say it's entirely business focused. In my experience, Calistrian temples are often connected to brothels." The tiefling pointedly does not elaborate on her experience with Calistrian temples. "But more to the point... I don't think that anyone wants to make the Calistrians unwelcome in the city, just like I don't think that the Calistrians are trying to offend anyone. Not intentionally at least. But I doubt this is going to be the first time that we have this conflict. Just wait until there's a drunken bender at the Caydenite shrine. The Cathedral is supposed to be a symbol of these different faiths working together despite their differences. It doesn't help anyone if we attempt to shove each others' views in everyone else's face. The point of this meeting is to find a compromise, not get defensive and start a fight. Let's all calm down." She pointedly looks at Ayavah and Annabelle. "I don't think that covering up the entire shrine is the right move either. It would defeat the point of the Unity Cathedral. But Calistrian ceremonies do get very sensual on some days. I feel like providing each faith with a space where they don't have to worry about stepping on each other's toes while they worship would prevent further issues like this."
Knowledge Religion: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (14) + 18 = 32
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (19) + 18 = 37
Ary waits for the response to her question, before shifting gears slightly. "I've actually got a lot more to talk to you about than just Joran. It's... been a while, and I think there are a lot of things that someone like you could help with that the others aren't particularly well equipped for. While Isilme is as worldly... she's also been missing for the better part of a century. Surely your travels have connected you with people far and wide - Honorable merchants, travelers, caravan guards, storytellers and the like. I was hoping to entice people to come here, and of everyone I know... you're the most likely to have a good sense of good people to bring here, even for a short stay, you know? Daisy and Ehren aren't particularly worldly, and Xanderghul is... well... Xanderghul marches to the beat of his own drum and is more... Planarly. Is that even a word?" Ary asks.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
"Arvin is more than welcome here, if you'd like to go get him. It's not my intent to discriminate." Ary says simply, lofting a brow to the demon worshiper. She of all people should know what Ary's intentions were when it came to expressions of faith. "And if no one has any issue with every temple having its own private area, I don't have a problem with it... but it's sort of Sosiel and Aron's baby overall, yeah? And I'm in agreement with Valaria, worried that actively secluding faiths from one another would also create barriers. At the same time... I think that we should espouse the things that the faiths share more than the things that they don't. Not every part of every faith needs to be represented here. You'd need an entire city, not a temple, dedicated to such a thing."
Ary purses her lips at the mention of a brothel in her city. It wasn't just her city of course, but she wasn't certain how to feel about it. If it included depictions of nudity in public places as way of advertisement, she wasn't holding out much hope. And... there were additional risks involved. Angering the Calistrians would see reprisal, she knew, but part of her feared greater risk in inviting a lust cult into the city. If Arvin's perception of proper worship of the goddess was hedonistic, it could have devastating consequences, if left unchecked.
It's been 24 hours so it seems like those present are mostly happy with the solution of adding private areas to the different alcoves.
Sosiel nods. "I agree with Valaria that shrouding all of the shrines would be against the purpose of the building, but adding private areas to them would likely serve as a fine compromise. I'll hold a meeting with the denominations present to inform them of the change."
Ayavah sighs. "Right. I'm sorry for losing my temper. Thank you for not forcing us to take it down or altering it... Arvin would have been devastated, I am sure," she says. Annabelle salutes Ary Bishop as she takes her leave, while Ayavah merely gives her a quick nod. They return to their seats at the long tables.
The next person to approach the podium is treasurer Horgus Gwerm. He is a shrewd grey-haired man adorned in fine tailored clothing made of high quality silk and fur. Although his Kenabres home was among those spared devastation at the beginning of the Fifth Crusade, he had accepted Ary’s request to aid the heroes in rebuilding Drezen. Now serving as the city’s treasurer, he has risen to the challenge this past year, establishing himself as one of the city’s key suppliers and organizers.
”Thanks to a bountiful harvest during our first year, we able to export dried grains that were produced in surplus of the number of citizens we had to keep fed, and our coffers are filled up to the brim,” Horgus says, with surprising modesty. ”Naturally, my first thought was to let this money grow, and invest it to new heights, but as it so stands there have been several requests to my office as of late to fund new projects.”
”So I am here today to request a decision as to how to best allocate these funds.” He unfurls a scroll and clears his throat. He reads aloud:
”I have a request from Forgepriest Olaf to fund an expedition to begin restoration of the Bronzeshield Fortress to the east. It’s an old dwarven fortification that sits along the Heartwood line. Our profits could be used to fund their need for supplies, tools, and rations to rebuild the fort and increase our defenses towards the east.”
”Aye,” says Forgepriest Olaf from the table to the right. He is an older dwarf with a red ponytail and beard. Several rings are laced through the braids in his beard, and he wears a smith’s apron and black leather gloves. ”Our rangers say tha’ the place is infested with demonic vermin, but if you let me, our soldiers will clear the place out and rebuild it. We can stand sentinel to any threats along the Road O’Shields, n’ keep the small folk safe.”
”Alternatively, I have a request from Head Engineer Aron Kir. He wishes to complete the unfinished second floor of Citadel Drezen. He requests a bulk commission of All Tools Vests from artificers in Nerosyan….an enchanted uniform, from what I understand.”
Aron Kir nods from the opposite table as Forgepriest Olaf. ”They allow for the weightless transport of an incredible variety of tools, which would greatly speed up the process of building the second floor. Building the second floor will allow for the addition of more garrisons, increasing the number of stationed soldiers we can keep at the ready within Drezen. “
”Our final request comes from Court Wizard Aravashnial,” continues Horgus Gwerm. ”He wishes to obtain funding to establish an arcane school.”
”Yes,” says Aravashnial standing up from his own seat. The elf wavers for a moment, making eye contact with Isilme for support before continuing, ”As you know, we currently have a school for orphaned children, that provides the most basic training in the arcane arts. However, if there is something that I know there is a shortage of in Drezen, it is proper arcanists, that is, wizards or sorcerers. As we expand, I highly recommend that each forward base be staffed with at least one wizard, however we simply do not have enough trained specialists to meet such a demand. Establishing a school would allow us to train our own in the arcane arts. But of course, it is expensive. Not only would we need to fund materials, but we would need to hire new staff, to help with the gaps of knowledge that neither Quednys nor myself could teach.” He sits down.
”Unfortunately we would have to choose one, we lack the funding to meaningfully assist with multiple projects at this time,” concludes Gwerm, rolling his scroll back up and inserting it into a container at his hip. ”This is why I wished to submit this for your personal review.”
Untrained Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Ehren watches as Annabelle and Ayavah take their seats, quietly satisfied with the outcome. Things had gotten surprisingly heated for a moment, but Valaria’s thoughtful compromise seemed satisfactory enough to everyone present. He might not have had much of a personal stake in the matter, but he is happy that the Calistrians would not have to compromise their core tenets which seemed to be - judging by Ary’s description of them - harmless enough. The matter of the brothel was another thing entirely; he did not particularly mind its inclusion, but then, he was was not exactly clamoring to visit it, either.
The druid turns his attention to Horgus Gwerm, who presents a more pressing matter than the last one. Unfortunately, there seemed to be little room for compromise this time around. Ehren trusted that the treasurer was quite thorough in determining their available budget. With three projects to choose from, there was more than likely going to be disagreement on which was most worth pursuing.
It was sometimes easy to forget that Citadel Drezen was never actually completed. Aron’s project would be a major boon to the city’s defenses, opening more room for more soldiers sooner rather than later. Likewise, Aravashnial’s proposal, while a bit more of a long-term project, would provide the city with more capable magic users. While some Kellids might be leery about the prospect, Ehren was certain that he could assuage their fears if it came to that. That just left one more request.
”I am of the mind that we should fund Forgepriest Olaf’s project,” Ehren states, leaning forward on the rod of the python, which like the charwood staff before it, has become something of a constant companion to him. The python could not hold a conversation nearly as well as Mother Heartwood, however. ”The area within Mother Heartwood’s influence is the only sustainable region in the Worldwound. Alongside the Sword of Valor, it is key to the success of our mission here. Ensuring that its entirety is well-defended is of the utmost importance.”
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”Still, that’s really generous of you to spend your day off here, working.” she says with a subtle thankful bow. ”So, should we start working on those columns? How can Hua Xin sepai and I can help you?” Hinagiku asks, motioning to her fellow monk to join them.
As they work, Hinagiku slowly comes to realize that despite the dwarf’s expertise, they are far from likely to finish all the modifications before the day’s end. After one particularly exhausting beam hauling, she straigten’s up wiping her brow.
”Your knowledge and skills really are beyond ours. I doubt even now we would be able to make the last column.” she says with genuine doubts. ”Not only that, but the day is almost over... would you be interested in staying for dinner? We do not have much to offer, but what it is we have we gladly share it. And, I know it would be forward for me to ask, but if you stay, maybe we could discuss how Hua Xin and I could finish the last column... We cannot hope to place achieve the same quality has you have here... but maybe, and I know this is forward of me to ask, but maybe you could come every so often to verify our progress? It would not be ideal, but we cannot ask you to spend more of your free time here.”
diplomacy for him to actually come? Hinagiku is not trying to manipulate him, but I am: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (13) + 15 = 28
Later, maybe while eating?
Once they are done and finally resting from their work, Hinagiku decides to broach another subject. Joran's current state. "It seems you have been doing well." she begins, alluding to his well groomed appearance, well, well groomed before they started working. "I am glad to see that this city is doing you some good. Do you enjoy the position you occupy?"
That's all I can writ efor today, will participate in dicussion tomorrow!
Joran shakes his head, meticulously arranging his toolbox after packing up his things. "Don't worry about doin' it yerself. I'll be around sometime next week to help pick up where we left off. Better than hearin' yer roof collapsed on ye when you were asleep cause ye tried to do this untrained." He wipes his brow, and smiles briefly. "Dinner sounds like a fair trade for a hard day's work."
At dinner, he glances around the table and raises an eyebrow. "Would it be tae much to ask fer a drink?" he asks then frowns. "Eh. Assuming ye god lets ye indulge in such things," he adds as an afterthought, his eyes glancing at the holy symbol of Irori around Hinagiku's neck for a moment.
What sorts of things does Hinagiku have to eat?
"Ayavah, I would like to meet with Arvin, personally. Could you arrange a meeting?" Ary asks as the tiefling is returning to her seat.
How far east does Mother Heartwood reach, currently? I'm guessing pretty far short of Silvershore?
"Honestly... it sounds as though it's more a question of when a project is completed than if. There's no way we would leave any of these things unfunded in their entirety if we can find a way to do so. I... think that the finishing of the upper floors should be a priority, but that the vests would be a bit much when it comes to expenses... if they're being placed on a level cost with an entire arcane school or an entire fortification. Are there any cheaper alternatives to the vests, could crews share them?" Ary asks the people present, before changing tack. "And while I do agree that fortifying our borders is a wise decision, I worry that - like the upper floors - these are things that can be solved with a little additional time and effort, not something that requires immediate investment from our coffers." she says, closing her little book.
"Now... an arcane school is something that will have a lasting impact, I think." the half-elf says, turning her attention to Aravashnial. "Arcanists are a rare sight on our side of the war, and have access to capabilities that nothing short of miracles can offer to even the greatest amongst our clergy. Further, I feel supporting education within the arcane arts would be a long-term investment, and the availability of magic items uncommon in this region would likely result in a boost to our economy as well... aside from safety, security, and the reclamation of your halls, what would the restoration of Bronzeshield Fortress provide?" she says, eyes shifting back to Forgepriest Olaf.
Ayavah is obviously caught off guard when Ary calls to her she is seated. She generally didn't have much to contribute to these meetings, after all. "Oh, um, yes, of course," Ayavah responds.
Mother Heartwood's radius is 20 miles, which is not enough to reach the Lake Lost to the Sun in the north, nor the mouth of Keeper's Canyon at the West Sellen River to the east. Silvershore is inside of Mendev, not in the Worldwound, so I am unsure why you'd be concerned she would reach there.
Aron shakes his head. "No, Lord-Commander. Unfortunately the only thing comparable would be mass-producing bags of holding which are even more expensive."
Forgepriest Olaf says, "There are iron ore deposits near th' old Bronzeshield Fortress. They've never been properly mined, but once we gain a foothold in t'region, we'd be able tae ship raw iron back to Drezen tae build arms. Also, there is a small crusader village near there - Sleekrun, I believe tis called - it is too far out from the Sword of Valor tae be safely re-settled. I believe tha re-establishing the Bronzeshield Fortress would allow us tae also settle Sleekrun."
”Yes, of course. I will go and fetch some right now.” Hinagiku soflty touches her medallion as Joran looks at it. ”The Master of masters does not forbid drinking alcohol. But, most followers prefer not to drink any because it can weaken self-control which can be considered a step away from perfection. Although, I think I read somewhere about an order of monk that used it to help the flow of Ki... hummm... the energy of the soul would be a good translation. I will go now, please keep company to Mr. Vhane Hua Xin senpai.” she says, before bowing out and going to Galfrey’s Banner to get some ale, the best she can find, of dwarven make if possible.
Upon her return, Hinagiku follows the smell of freshly cooked rice, boiled vegetables, and bean puree to the kitchen. Knowing that such food might be insufficient for the dwarf, the cleric takes some time to pray to Irori. And, as she makes onigiri’s, she pours into them he god’s power, making then more nutritious than any rice might ever be. Prepare and cast abstemmiousness. Once the food is ready, she brings it to her senpai and their guests who had been waiting for the food to finish cooking in the dining room.
”Here you go, dwarven spirit and food from my land. I believe this is quite different than what you are used to. But I have asked for the Master of master to bless it, so it should be quite filling. Thank you for this meal. ” she finishes, hands gently clasped in recognition. With thanks given, Hinagiku slowly eats her meager portion.
sense motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Legs crossed at the heels, hands on her lap, back straigth, Hinagiku had listened to the discussion with intent, looking back and forth to the different conversationalist in silence. It seemed like a good idea to have each of the faith have a public space to speak of their less contested tenets and a more private one for the initiate. Although, to be truthful, she had not yet considered establishing a shrine to the Master of masters there. Meditation needed to be done in a silent place, and all the sermons of the other denomination were a bit too loud for that.
The next question though, was a bit too much for Hinagiku. Doing her best to follow, she closely listens to what the other are saying, trying to find the simplest ideas and give her simple wisdom.
”It looks to me like schooling wizard would be important for settling new outpost. It might be unwise to take more of them without Mr. Aravashanial’s students. They migh also give extra protection, just like finishing the keep. This is a complex problem, but maybe choosing the school would partly solve all our issues?” she half states, half asks calmly.
Should be writing about the 7 months gap in the next day.
"In a way, I agree," Aron says, then adds, thoughtfully, "The difference is the scale of time. I could get Drezen patched up in a matter of a month with magical tools, where-as I believe it would take a year or two before we had trained arcanists at the ready."
"I am confident I could have at least adepts trained within a year," Aravashnial corrects. "But yes, it would take at least two years before we had a graduated class of true wizards. The odd... unusually talented student... notwithstanding. But the time investment needed is why I believe we should begin immediately."
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When Hinagiku returns, she finds Hua Xing and Joran in the kitchen. The tall monk was slowly walking the dwarf through the steps of rolling onigiri by hand.
"You have to keep wetting your hands in the salt water...like this. Or the rice will stick to your hands too much," he explains, flicking off excess moisture from his fingertips.
Though Joran's onigiri came out rather shapeless, and the rolls were prone to falling apart when picked up, Hua Xing complimented his creations all the same.
When they sat down to eat, the dwarf thanked Hinagiku for the drink and food, then peers around looking for more. "Thas it? No meat?" he asks, incredulously. But his eyes light up at the first bite. "This is really good! And as filling as a proper breakfast of beans n' boar sausage tae boot," he exclaims.
As he polishes off his drink he chuckles. "Eh, funny how all the gods have different ways o' thinkin. What's that Caydenite saying? 'Always wisdom to be found at the bottom of a flask'. Aye well, plenty o' sorrow to be found there too, sometimes," he says. "Don't matter one bit tae me. None o those gods have done a thing fer me, and believe me, I've tried. So they can take all their holy books and shove em up where the sun don't shine." He stops himself. "Eh...sorry fer goin' off. Don't mean tae offend yer choice of life. I dunno how long lived your kind are, but I'm guessin' I've lived longer than you, so I've seen a lot of things, is all."
Ehren's brow lofts slightly when he hears just how little time Aron believes they can complete the citadel in. Clearly, the magic items he spoke of were incredibly potent tools.
"What of Bronzeshield Fortress? Do you have an estimate of how long it would take to clear it out and repair the fortifications?" Ehren asks the Forgepriest, suspecting that it would be in the space of months.
While he still believed the fortress to be their best bet, he could hardly dismiss Ary and Hinagiku's arguments in favor of Aravashnial's school. They all knew firsthand just how powerful an arcane spellcaster could be. At the same time, the large time investment it would take for the school to produce "mere" novices was slightly concerning.
"Do you have any such prospective talents in mind, Aravashnial?" he asks the wizard, his curiosity piqued.
Forgepriest Olaf shrugs. "It'd be defensible enough in a few months, four tae five tops. Full restoration of course, with stonework tha intricate... would take several years. But it'd be a honor to get tae be the dwarf who sees it through. But even I hesitate to try and give a timeline... things along the heartwood line can be unpredictable, ye know!"
Aravashnial scratches his chin. "One of my own students, Fenna, is shaping up to be a talented sorceress, and is interested in pledging to the crusades. Her natural abilities tend towards fire magic - which isn't terribly useful against demons, unfortunately - but with some extra training I believe she could learn more useful magic, and perhaps even to wield a spellbook."
Isilme, Xanderghul, and Valaria have had nearly 48 hours to post so I am just gonna move forwards. We're currently 2v1 in favor of the school, so that is what I'm going with. Friendly reminder that if you don't have time to post, you can always let me know of your character's intentions via discussion posts, or by tagging me on discord. Alternatively, you can always ask me for an extension if you just need a little more time :)
Horgus nods, scratching something down on a piece of parchment with an extravagantly colored feathered quill. "Right. I'll work out a budget and financing for the Court Wizard's school immediately. Thank you, Lord Commander."
Chevalier Irabeth takes to the podium next. "Right, so that concludes my itinerary for the meeting today. Does anyone else have anything to report?"
I will give you all 24-48 hours to post a "report" to the council if you so desire (it is possible that your character doesn't want to give a report in front of the whole council and would rather speak to the other PCs in private after all). This can be a good way of elaborating on anything your PC was up to in the last 7 months. If you would prefer to not report, just let me know.
Val wiggles a hand in a 'so-so' gesture. "I'm not sure just how honorable some of my acquaintances are by your standards. I know plenty of storytellers and travelers, but I also know a fair few thieves' guilds and disgraced old warriors. But I suppose you have a point. Daisy and Ehren are different, Isilme is a bit out of place, and Xanderghul... is Xanderghul. I wouldn't send him to meet with anyone that I wanted to actually like me."
Val breaths a sigh of relief as they manage to come to a decent resolution without any further arguments. The last thing they needed was to start isolating the non-Iomedaean faiths in the city when they'd been spending the last year and some trying to make Drezen a place where everyone could work together. "I can come along if you'd like," she adds as Ary asks to meet with Arvin. Despite their shared connection to Ayavah, Val didn't actually know him well. Perhaps she should get to know him better.
The tiefling leaned back into her seat as Horgus came up to present the next issue for discussion. While she still wasn't fond of the noble on a personal level, she did have to admit that his wealth was well earned. He'd handled the business side of Drezen with remarkable skill. All three of the requested projects had value, in their own way. It felt rude to say it aloud, but speeding up the restoration of Drezen seemed the least immediate concern. While lightening the load on the engineers would make things faster, they could give them as much time as they needed as long as they defended the city properly. That left either the outlying fortress and it's mines and village or the arcane school. "Horgus," she interjects. "You are our treasure and financial expert. Do you know of any potential opportunities that any of these projects could provide? For example, could the ores and weapons produced from funding mines near Bronzeshield provide us with further funds to fund a second or third project in the near future?"
Horgus folds his hands together on the podium. "I am somewhat of an expert myself on mines, owning three of them myself," He looks to Olaf, then back to Valaria. "As to your question... in a word: possibly. We would need to send a team of prospectors into the ground to properly assess its financial value. In particular, if the deposit extends deep enough into the earth to yield cold iron, it could be very profitable. But it is too early to know for sure." He pauses, then adds after a thought, "At the very least, it would reduce our need to import as much iron, which is in of itself of use to us."
"As for the other projects, it is true that if we had more arcanists in Drezen perhaps we could use some of them as artificers, and export scrolls or other enchanted weaponry for use in the war effort. But it may take several years to truly see return on such an investment."
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Isilme listens quietly during the discussion of what project to invest in. Clearly her preferences and her biases aligned so neatly that it was simply better that she recuse herself from the decision altogether. She had discussed as much with Aravashnial earlier when she'd gotten word of the issues that would be brought up at today's meeting to ensure he wouldn't misinterpret her silence for lack of support. Though the other two projects both merited funding, she couldn't help but be pleased by the outcome in favor of Aravashnial's idea.
She had been spending more time with the students as of late, and she enjoyed both teaching them and learning the basics of arcane magic theory alongside them. Naturally she had an advantage, having ages of experience from her time in the world, but the children were capable of leaps of logic that were nevertheless quite impressive and surprising.
Unsurprisingly, the student she spent the most time discussing magic with was Fenna, who in a simple way, was attempting to do what Isilme herself was trying to do: unite the spontaneous and studied natures of magic to surpass either. It just so happened in that in her own case she was also attempting to fold in divine magic simultaneously.
When the discussion of the projects comes to an end, Isilme waits for each of the others to give their updates before standing up to give her own update.
"Members of the council: The past months have clearly demonstrated what we had come to suspect in the first year here. The Sword of Valor has made infiltration of Drezen by demonic forces exceedingly difficult. Without the ability for demons to come and go as they please, and burdened by the weight of its magic upon them, demons have been unwilling to attempt infiltration themselves. This has left them dependent upon mortal cultists to do their dirty work, who lack the innate gifts the demons have for infiltration. As most of you may know, in the past month we have had two separate, small groups of cultists exposed within the city. Both of the groups had barely set up shop before they were revealed."
She, of course, had gone into more detail on the subject with the others in their group. Her network at this point was well developed enough within Drezen that it was difficult for people to move around without Duke's--and hence her own--knowledge. The feline had an instinctive knack for it, and effectively functioned as spymaster within the city walls without significant intervention on her part.
"A sizable portion of the credit goes to the success of the program Lord Commander Bishop set up to rehabilitate cultists. Two of them reached out to us after having been approached, the infiltrators having wrongly assumed that those in the program would be easily turned towards their old ways." They had actually had their eye on the cultists before the warnings had been delivered, but pushing credit upon Ary's program was beneficial in strengthening their willingness to help, as well as for spreading disinformation about the extent and limits of her network's surveillance capabilities.
"While we must continue to be vigilant for weaknesses the demons' servants might attempt to exploit, we should also take time to acknowledge where we have succeeded. Therefore I believe we should commend the group being rehabilitated as a whole. Acknowledging them as a group will both encourage them all to live to that standard, and also prevent cultists from attempting to target those who aided us."
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When Irabeth asks whether they have any news to share, Hinagiku’s eyes instinctually veer toward Ehren. She was only a lowly monk whereas he was the Archdruid, and even though she knew he did not like bearing so much responsability, it still was his burden. With a gentle and supportive smile, she encourages him to speak to the others.
While Ehren recounts the events of their mission, memories flood Hinagiku’s mind. Negotiating with Siani Sesker and her clan had been quite difficult, most kellids did not appreciate the monk’s subdued approach to discussions which made her appear weak. Luckily, at least in a way, her prowesses fighting the trolls had gained her great respect amongst kellids and crusaders alike. Her ability to both defend her allies, and press on their enemies had had quite an effect. This increased respect, and the fact that Siani Sesker and the crusader’s commander had saved each others lives during battles truly had facilitated their mission.
The time spent in Sesker’s gully had had a second, and unexpected, outcome; she had become friend with Aesirn, the clan’s druid. She had found that, just like with Ehren, she shared many beliefs with her new firend. Time spent together had opened Hinagiku’s eyes to many new customs, and by her boyfriend’s birthday, she had learned enough of his language to surprise him with a short series of Kellid haikus. And so, despite the troubles in Sesker’s gully, the last few weeks had in fact provided some relief from the front to Hinagiku, where she had spent the first few months of the past seven. Indeed, most of her time had been battling demons, with a few breaks in Drezen to inquire by letters or spells about the fate of Shu-Lien through contacts among the crusaders and Wu Kong.
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Val lets Isilme give her speech first. It seems that the spymaster has little interest in further detailing the recent incidents on the roads around the city. Though, considering she was rapidly becoming the de-facto warden of the roads near Drezen, Val couldn't deny that it was her job to deliver the news. "That doesn't mean that we can stop being careful, however," Val adds as the aasimar returns to her seat. "The supply caravans running to and from Keeper's Canyon have recently been suffering numerous attacks, as you all likely know. It seems that most of these attacks have been carried out by independent bandit groups using advanced new weapons they're calling 'guns'. Each of these groups was entirely unconnected to the others and their weapons and equipment were supplied by a female figure that we have been unable to get a solid description of who have been given the title of the 'Drifter'. Given the location and timing of the attacks and the nature of this unknown benefactor, they're likely a cultist or a demon using a middle man to assault Drezen's supply lines. I suggest we add this figure to our watch, but considering their apparent ability in either disguise or shapeshifting, actually finding them may be difficult."
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Ehren returns Hinagiku’s smile before making his way to the podium. Even if they did not always agree on things, he was happy that they could still support one another.
”I am happy to report that our talks with Siani of Clan Sesker have reached a favorable resolution. Her clan’s ancestral hall will be rebuilt with crusader aid, and their ancient claim on the surrounding lands will be honored,” Ehren starts, looking to each member of the council. He decides to leave out the parts about the constant, circular arguments, some of which nearly ended in bloodshed. ”In return, she has renewed Clan Sesker’s pact of friendship with the Crusades. Sesker’s Gully shall remain open to crusaders and Mendevians alike, and all within shall be under both her protection and ours.”
To many, the pact would seem like nothing more than a formality. After all, the Crusades were the ones that reclaimed the village, and could scarcely afford to abandon it, even at Clan Sesker’s request. But by occupying the village with Clan Sesker’s blessing, a much stronger message would be sent to the Kellid people, especially those who remained skeptical about the Crusades.
”The negotiations were not without incident. On the eleventh day of our visit, the village was attacked by a band of the Abyss-tainted trolls that inhabit the region.” Thinking back on that day, after another day of arguments that went nowhere, Ehren recalls being woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of panicked shouting. In a canny move he might not have expected from the lumbering brutes, the trolls had managed to evade the sentries’ notice. ”I suspect that the attack may have been retaliation for the demise of the troll matron Yuzu last Rova, though it is just as likely that they simply saw the village as an opportune target. It may be within our best interest to determine where the trolls are originating from.”
In a way, the entire ordeal had made him realize that his influence as Archdruid could only take him so far, even among his own people. He had grown arrogant without fully realizing it, having relied on his reputation and the power behind his title to give his words weight, rather than learning to better convey his wisdom. Siani was rightfully angry, and for her part, a much better speaker than he was - even still, she showed him nothing but respect. (The same could not be said of her attitude towards Hinagiku, much to his irritation.) She had managed to sway several of the Kellids in the village to her side, ultimately extending what was supposed to be a one day visit into two weeks. Ironically, if it were not for the trolls, they might still be in Sesker’s Gully.
"Siani Sesker will not soon forget the blood that was spilled in that battle. She will be a valuable ally in the days ahead. I believe she intends to visit Drezen sometime soon, to pay her respects to her ancestors.”
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"Regardless... speaking with Joran, he seemed to think that he'd be just better off avoiding the Toragdan dwarves altogether... he said Magiggs insulted Staunton, and that's why he threw the first punch. He doesn't seem too broken up about it, but... then again, he does seem altogether broken up. I'm... hopeful that we'll be able to reach him. He had all the right reasons for the things he did, I think... well, most of them." Ary says, chewing her lip as she thinks of the corruption forge. "Did you hear anything else?"
"Of course, Val. It'll likely be boring, though." Ary says, nodding to Valaria, before looking over to a map on the wall for a moment.
Ary listens to the others, chewing on her lip as they spoke. The half-elf had had her finger in the commerce and culture of the city, doing her best to steer it, though it would seem the Commander was spread more thin than she realized. Until the others had brought all of these things to her attention, she hadn't known a man was intent on building a brothel in her city, that multiple cults had nearly managed some minor infiltration (and that if some were attempting, some were likely succeeding). She had been kept minorly apprised of the movements of the trolls and the use of the new firearms in raids along their supply lines, however.
"Then everything out in Sesker's Gulley is better than you found it, I suppose?" Ary asks of the druid and monk, "How are renovations coming along, out in that direction? Were any of the newer fortifications damaged?"
Awaiting a response, she moves on after listening intently, "What sort of ideas do we have for trying to get in touch with this Drifter? It may well be the case that they're not doing this to attack us directly, but instead to make a fortune for themselves. It's not as though it's easy to raid cultist and demon caravans in the Hinterlands of the Worldwound. Perhaps we could attempt to set a meeting, or set a trap?" she suggests, looking from Isilme to Valaria.
Once more awaiting a response, and threading the conversations together, Ary turns her attention back to Aravashnial, "If we do manage to get the funding for your school, you may be interested in the mage who accompanied me in the campaign against Blightshadow... though I don't know whether she'll be available. Prisca Gala's Siegemage plug! been personally delving into Ghalcor's research, attempting to find more means of infusing folks with ley energy. I spoke in short with her about the information we recovered in regards to Staunton's Diary - that someone else was working on much the same project on the other side of the campaign." she purses her lips, "I'm supposed to ask all of the Heroes of Kenabres for blood samples..." she says, looking to the others, dubiously before shaking her head.
Ary pauses for a moment, changing tack once again, "Blightshadow's fortress had ghouls, as we expected, but what we hadn't expected was the number of wikkawak ghouls present. And perhaps worse, the presence of one of the Chirurgeon's abominations. I'm hopeful that this was an older creature rather than a newer one, but it doesn't bode well." Ary says, drumming her fingers on the table. Ary wasn't one to embellish or go into great detail on any of her own exploits, prefering to focus on the successes of her allies. And besides, there were no polar bears present in that particular battle. "Ser Jorsal, Meridrand Palisard, and Anevia were all vital in our success, leading their respective groups efficiently and effectively, as always." Ary shares, eyes moving back to Jorsal subconsciously. "Once we do get Bronzeshield back up and running, we'll need to establish those mines, and get better eyes on Icerift and the surrounding environs. I don't like our odds of the Wikkawaks and Ghouls having just taken care of each other while we were looking the other way."
”No need to apologize. I know that not everyone ahs the same view on the gods.” Hinagiku answers calmly without even and hint of shock. ”But mine is quite different from yours... it almost feels opposite. I have never really looked at the gods, especially the Master of masters, as beings who give us, mortals, things. They each respresent an idea in its best possible way. In my mind they are a perfect exemple of concepts. What they give is an example, a model. What the Master of masters gives me above all else are his teachings. Through then I find ways in which to perfect myself. It’s the same for the other gods. Believers in Sarenrae find guidance into paragons of mercy. Believers in Cayden Caylen find the perfect rolemodel of camaraderie and courage. But, in the end, choosing a faith is first about choosing who it is you want to be and then finding inspiration in a deity.”
diplomacy to make my point!: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (2) + 15 = 17
Joran listens to Hinagiku's explanation, thoughtfully. "Huh. Never thought about it tha' way before." He takes a swig of his ale. "Dunno who it is I want tae be, though. Think for the longest time, I wanted tae be like my dad. He took care of our whole village growin up, seemed like. But bein' him wasn't good enough, I suppose. Then, I just wanted tae look out for my brother. That didn't work out either. Now here I am."
I wanted to see if any of the others were going to respond to Ary's questions, but it has been 24 hours so I am moving forwards.
I will be botting Xanderghul until I get an answer from him as to if/when he can post.
Xanderghul is the last person to the podium. "As you can see, my business in Absalom has concluded. The Decimvirate has decided to name myself Venture Captain of the Pathfinder Society in the Worldwound. I have acquired the funding to start construction on my own Pathfinder Lodge immediately. This time, without the minotaur in the basement," he adds with a smirk, knowing full well that only a few present would understand his joke. "The Pathfinder Society hopes that this arrangement will be mutually beneficial. There may be a delay in gathering Pathfinders to staff the lodge, as naturally only very experienced adventurers will be able to even apply." he says, glancing at Ary Bishop.
After he sits down, the council members wait for Ary first to speak, then gradually begin to contribute their own thoughts to the matters at hand.
Horgus clears his throat while jotting down notes. The enormous feather on his quill obscures most of his face as a result. "I am glad to hear that the Rehabilitation Program is going well. The fact that we have been able to transition so many of our prisoners into working for their meals means that we don't have to pay so much for their food or shelter, which is a net success for our budget."
Salmir nods, glancing at Ary. "On that note, I do want to notify you that have a few of the Mantarin youth that wish to pledge to the Crusades this coming Armasse. They have come of age, and will be transitioning into the graduation process we had discussed, Lord-Commander,"
"On the subject of the Sesker Clan Hall, it would be useful if we could have some historical research done on what it originally looked like," comments Aron. "Unfortunately when my men surveyed the site, it was so far rotten that it was difficult to discern what the original structure was meant to be. I think this would help with our kellid relations, by being as, um, diligent in our efforts to restore their lost buildings as we have been with our own."
"Oh, and if you need help finding this 'Drifter' person, Val, you know where to find me!" adds Anevia. "You have to have a fine hand with these sorts of... hidden in plain sight kind of villains. I have a lot of experience from working with the Eagle Watch in Kenabres."
Aravashnial nods at Ary's suggestion. "Thank you, I will reach out to her. Our school will only produce mages of the same skill as our teachers, after all, so we will need to seek out only the finest professors. Perhaps allocating some funding into her research interests will convince her to relocate?"
"We'll see," replies Horgus Gwerm. This was his standard response to any and all funding proposals (even by the Lord Commander herself!), but he somehow found a way to make most things work regardless.
I am concluding this scene, but I would like to add that your PCs are in a position that they can certainly delegate tasks. If you'd like to request one of your many groups or NPCs to work on something in particular, or to propose a project, this is a good time to do so. While I am disposing of the Kingmaker rules originally present in this chapter, this is your city, and you have the power and resources to do what you want so that it runs the way you want it to.
The next scene I would like to roleplay out is how your PCs are spending this evening! :) I know we have some other scenes that were requested (Ary/Arvin/Valaria and Ary/Irabeth specifically) but I would like to resolve this one first.
After the meeting concluded, Anevia turns to Ary, and says in a low voice, "Hey, boss... can I ask you a favor? I know you probably had plans to help at the southshore barracks construction site tonight but uh... I kind of wanted to surprise 'beth with a date. You know that flower garden that Daisy has been working on near the menhir? That, and a picnic, and the stars..." She stops to smile smugly at her own romantic genius. "Yes... perfect. Oh wait, getting off track there, sorry. I'll need someone to help babysit Sana. You know how scared she gets at night sometimes. Do you think you can help?"
The evening afterwards, Isilme is attending a rehearsal for Tael's spring recital. They had a public performance in a week's time. The young elf was very shy, soft spoken, and only spoke Taldane with a very heavy accent, but they loved to express themselves with their violn. Their mastery of bardic magic was progressing as well, though they had yet to come to master a masterpiece.
After their performance concluded, Tael gives Isilme a bow. "Hannon le," they say, then waits expectantly for her review.
Elvish: "Thank you"
I would love a sort of description of how her "opera house/theater" base looks, is laid out, operates etc!
DC 15 Perform (Strings) Check:
Their intonation is slightly off. Learning to intone by ear - that is - adjusting pitch by sound rather than muscle memory - would be the best way to improve. Also, they need to hold the bow straighter, between the bridge and the fingerboard, to get the best sound.
Ehren spent the afternoon and evening out in the surrounding farmlands with Crocris and Lann. Crocris had astutely pointed out early that for farming to be sustainable in the Worldwound, they had to secure a means of pollination. Mother Heartwood made the soil rich enough to grow in, and balanced out the harsh Abyssal weather, but she could not make bees out of thin air to help grains and other crops flourish without help.
Many of the Underfolk were brought in to help maintain hives. Their unusual anatomy granted many of them thick skin (if not straight up chitin) to protect against the stinging bees. However, the Underfolk had never encountered a bee in their life prior to moving to the surface, and required a lot of training to teach them to properly rear bees. This evening, Ehren was helping to hunt down a swarm that had taken up residence on a high tree branch.
DC 15 K.Nature:
Bees typically swarm in spring or early summer as the population of the nest – or in the case of domesticated honeybees, the hive – begins to swell. The queen bee, who until this time has never left the nest, seeks a new home with a horde of worker bees in tow. She usually lands within 100 feet or so of the old hive, while a few scout bees go out to look for a suitable new home. The rest of the bees pile on top of her to keep her warm and safe until a scout sends out a special pheromone to call the swarm to the hollow tree, chimney, or wherever they’ve discovered to build their civilization anew. Half of the bees typically stay put in the original nest, where they wait for a new queen to be born from eggs that were already laid. Since a swarm of bees is on a mission and have no babies to protect, the bees are relatively docile and aren’t likely to sting.
Capturing a bee swarm involves calming the bees, often with smoke, and simply shaking them into a large wooden box for transport to a hive. As long as the queen is captured in the box, the rest of the swarm will instinctively follow her.
"Right here's the swarm, so, what do we do next?" asks Lann, looking at both druids for help.
How are your PCs spending this evening? You can set up any sort of scene you want, I only ask that you avoid engaging Joran until his conversation with Hinagiku is finished.
This evening, you are teaching a class on arcane magic to your tiefling wards. Not all of the tieflings you teach are intellectually capable of such a class, so it is a small group - only seven. Variska was left in Absalom to undergo her Confirmation into Pathfinder Society. Xanderghul counts the heads, and realizes that there are only six.
"Zaimaia is still being looked over by the clerics," says Laila ibn Shaba, apparently reading Xanderghul's mind. The girl had uncanny intuition...or perhaps even psychic talents? The Keleshite tiefling draws her blue headwrap tighter around her neck and continues. "She and Bellandrus had a squabble."
"It was an arcane duel, not a squabble," corrects Bellandrus, looking his teacher in the eyes, seeking to discern his reaction. "I won."
Bellandrus was the most talented of Xanderghul's arcane students, but also one of the more unpredictable. In an attempt to distance himself from the circumstances of his birth, the orphan had re-named himself Bellandrus, a name he pulled out of a book on arcane history. The Archmage Bellandrus had been credited with the creation of the first metamagic rod of maximize. The tiefling vowed to someday supercede his namesake's accomplishments with something of his own.
She sighs as they finally get around to the original point of their meeting. "That's more or less what I heard. Maggigs was drunk apparently and thought he was being nice offering to bring Joran to one of their services. Joran didn't want to hear it and they got into an argument. Maggigs provoked him and things fell apart from there. I suggested that they leave each other alone for a while and none of the engineers complained. It's probably best if they don't provoke each other any more for a while."
"We haven't managed to find too much," Val admits at Ary's suggestion. "She's been particularly mysterious and evasive so far and none of the bandits knew much. We might be able to arrange a meeting if they are just in this for profit, but coming all the way out here just to try to make money looting the crusades seems strangely risky for someone who has access to valuable new technology like this. A trap is more likely. Isilme and I will put our heads together and work on a way to find her."
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I'll post a recap of the downtime and other stuff later. Don't have a ton of time to write a post now!
The class he was teaching in was a convertible space variously used for active arcane practice and for lectures. Xanderghul encouraged his students to study independently and give lectures of their own, knowing that teaching was one of the most effective learning tools of its own, but today he was the one giving the lecture.
Despite his pride in the work he had done to mentor a student as talented as Bellandrus - a young man with an underprivileged upbringing but a clever mind and an ambitious set of dreams - he was worried about the impact such a student can have on the class as a whole. He was also cognizant of the type of life these people had grown up in, and the types of activities that life convinced you was okay... and he knows just how stubborn these men and women can be, so when he speaks up, it's carefully.
"I wonder... what the circumstances were that led to this duel?" he asks. "Because in my school, in my philosophy, the most talented students should never be using their talents to lord power over those who know less than they do." Unafraid to dispense favoritism and praise, Xanderghul nonetheless uses it to fuel what he views as good behavior. "Bellandrus, it's no secret that you're talented. Talent is not forged into greatness by proving yourself superior to others, but by proving your future self superior to your present self. Seek out challenges, not social credit."
Xanderghul's hand rests on a desk in front of himself. "I think it's time that our practical life lessons move to a new notch. I'm going to give each of you an assignment. These assignments will be somewhat ambiguous, and it is your responsibility to fulfill that task however you see fit. During this time of assessment, you may return to me for practical instruction on skills or spells required to complete your task."
"Any questions? Otherwise, you may wait while I distribute the tasks. You may collaborate if you choose, as several of these tasks may be difficult to complete on your own."
Can you describe what the other students in the class have talents at, or do you want me to elaborate on my own students? What task I give each person is based on what I think they need.