"It's been... something of an adventure," Val agrees with the archon as the servers begin to bring out their meals. The familiar scent of the Varisian style roast game made her mouth water and reminded her of many, many nights one the road with the rabbit roasting over a camp fire. She carefully sips the wine and nods. "I hope food in every afterlife is this good, or I'm going to be very disappointed." She takes a bite and savors it before getting back on topic. "Honestly, I sort of wandered into it and couldn't just look away from people in trouble. Which is about as Desnan as you can get, really." She taps her fork against the table for a moment, considering the best way to describe it. "I do spend a lot of time out on the road making sure that demons and marauders aren't threatening anyone traveling to and from the city though."
The preceptor archon nods to Valaria. "Ah, yes, I know too well the need to do good when the situation so clearly needs it," he says, cryptically. "It is good to meet mortals who feel the same."
"For you, dew-kissed rye grass and white clover, with a side of apple slices," says Tanniv, placing a large dish of growing plant material in front of Külə. The unicorn remains taciturn throughout the conversation, merely nodding when his name was introduced to the archon.
Külə is usually slow to conversation, but he seems in a worse mood than usual.
"And what of you?" teases Kitarlo, grinning over the table at the archon. "So many questions, yet so reluctant to open up about himself. Surely an old crow like yourself has many a story to tell."
"Mind your manners, my dear azata," laughs Zepha, shaking his willow staff at the raelis. "I merely wish to be a good host. It does not look well, when a man prefers more to speak of himself, than of his guests."
"For you, a Galtian Riviera breakfast composed of poached dodo egg, fermented butter, pink Absaloniam rock salt, and highland parsley, topped with a rich tomato sauce," Tanniv says, placing the plate in front of him, immediately silencing the azata's half-formed retort.
"Ah... there's some memories. Galt, now there was a place ripe with good tales," Kitarlo muses dreamily.
"Let us move on. What about you?" Zepha continues, gesturing to Ehren. "So young, but if I am not mistaken that crown marks you an Archdruid. You must be a remarkable young man."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20
Ary watches Kule for a moment, head tilted... but she knows better than to call out a quiet soul in the midst of a group event. Heaven was, perhaps, too grating for the unicorn, and the group activity far too much on top of that. Though, there was perhaps a way solve the issue without directly drawing Kule into the limelight, Ary wasn't quite certain of it. Taking herself outside might work, but how to get Kule to follow? Her eyes linger on him for a time, before she forces herself to shift her attention to the others as she thinks.
Hearing about how far back the Archon's memories go before he had a first-hand account was... interesting. It meant that simply telling him that they had taken back Drezen left out a great deal of story, that he likely had only gotten through very extended accounts.
She quietly listens to the others converse for a time, choosing to simply eat without interrupting, while she gathers her thoughts.
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Isilme laughs mirthfully when the dish is brought out by Tanniv. The chefs had both answered her question and nevertheless were good sports in playing along with her outlandish request. What they had produced was most certainly the closest thing to her interpretation possible, and they had taken the time to both make it presentable and edible. She claps briefly and looks to Tanniv. "My compliments to the chefs for being good sports and for producing what I imagine may be the most unique bite of food I shall ever have!"
She picks up the amuse bouche, taking the contents of the glass and allowing them to run over her tongue and swish around her mouth for a few moments. The ambrosia, though the glass showed no signs of it, was ice cold and had a slightly oily texture that provided an interesting sensation. The flavor was at once a hundred things, each note somehow clearly separate from the others. Certainly if a drink were going to earn the description 'heavenly', this would be it.
Taking the vial of antivenin, she removes the stopper and sets it to the side of the small plate. Reaching down she gingerly picks up the cube of ice, chaotic forms swirling within, using it as a means to convey the bite-sized morsel of blackened flesh to her mouth. The bitterness and heat of the charred and spiced meat are the first things she notes as she bites down. The flesh manages to be both firm and flaky, with just a hint of crunch from the outer crust. Within moments the subtle flavors of the flesh are subsumed beneath an incredible heat, suffusing her mouth. As it continues to build it takes on an acidic character that begins to overwhelm all her senses. The experience about to be at its end--one way or another--she picks up the vial and downs it, clearing away everything like the bitterest winter wind chases away the clouds, leaving naught but clear sky.
"أقدس الكلمات تفشل في الوصول إليها ، كما الحجارة إلى السماء," she says, setting the cube back down and admiring the shifting colors and forms within. "Again my compliments to the chefs. Though not impossible, the dish certainly surpassed my imagination!"
Turning to Zepha, she begins to answer his question. Clearly he wanted to know more about them than simply what they intended to do in the Library, and certainly she had no qualms about telling stories.
"Lleuad-a'r-Sêr, is as Ary mentions, my proper name, though I have long gone by Isilme. I was once a Raelis for not nearly as long as Xanderghul has been alive, but a long time nonetheless. After a fateful encounter with Minagho, and thanks to the interactions of competing wishes, I spent the better part of a century bound within a blade." She expands upon the story to suit the Archon's interests, reeling out enough detail to keep him intrigued, and moving on when his curiosity is satisfied. "Needless to say, due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, I have now come to occupy this body, the former occupant's soul likely still in Elysium. I have managed to regain some of my former abilities, however." Her form shifts from her currently favored elven form back to Li'an's form, her eyes glowing golden. Holding up her forearm, she pulls back her sleeve, revealing a pair of glowing runes: The first, 'बेडौल' signifying formlessness; the second, 'ज्ञान' representing knowledge. "I am also capable of inscribing the runes for قوة Strength and لغة Language, though maintaining more than two aspects at once is beyond my capabilities still... With my Lady Starsong's blessing, however, I hope to be free of this form one day, and to return it to its proper owner."
"I must add that I am quite excited to browse the library. While we do have books in Drezen, I have read them all. If your collection is anything like I imagine it to be... well if I had to admit that Heaven might have anything over Elysium, that might be it," she says, giving the preceptor a wink.
She knew her limits, and three hours--while not enough to read the entire library's worth of tomes, to be certain--would allow her to consume an amount of written materials so vast that none but Kitarlo could fathom it.
After exchanging words with Zepha, she looks over to Külə, noticing his mood. She suspected it was the plane weighing down upon him, as he certainly was more strongly affected by it than she was, and had not the benefit of being able to ward himself as Xanderghul had. She leans towards him "Külə, əgər siz təyyarənin öhdəsindən gəlmək üçün çox ağır olduğunu görsəniz, biz yola düşənə qədər sizi staziyaya sala bilərəm. Başqa bir şey rahat olmasa?"
Zepha clearly enjoys his conversation with Isilme. They chat as Tanniv finishes placing the rest of his plates.
"Ah, and for the young lady who requested something cool yet also spicy, I have beef tartare brightened by beet cubes, chimichurri, gochujang, and toasted hazelnuts," he says, placing a beautifully arranged plate in front of Valais. Next was Lann, who received "the perfect pairing to bread" - a smorgasboard of fresh figs, gorgonzola, soppressata and arugula served with a freshly baked baguette.
"And for you, reindeer stew, with lingonberries, wild mushrooms, and thyme, paired with Cabernet Galt, 4637," he says, placing a large ivory bowl filled with hearty stew. The glassware shifts to match, transforming from glass to bone seamlessly before the Elect finishes pouring in his wine.
"And, last but not least, honeyed dango," he says, placing a small skewer with three round dumplings pierced onto it. Hinagiku was accustomed to subsisting on very little, but even she could not resist ordering a rare treat that reminded her of her childhood.
"I am quite certain that the Great Library of Harmonious Scripture shall live up to your every expectation," Zepha continues, after a bite of his salad. "It is one of the grandest libraries of the multiverse, and it holds many precious secrets. For eons, we archons have collected tomes from the deepest oceans to the highest peaks and gathered them all inside of the library."
Külə shakes his head in-between bites of clover. "Heç bir şey deyil, İsilme," he responds, quietly. "Bu yemək mənə həm fiziki, həm də itirdiyim şeyləri xatırladır ... və bunları məndən götürənlərə nə edilməli olduğunu xatırladır."
Interest rate seems to be dying down, so once another is ready to go (assuming Xanderghul is) we can move on to the next scene.
Isilme leans again towards Külə, not wishing to allow it to rest on that note. "Nə itirdiyimi də bilirsiniz. Zaman itirdiyinizi yox, hələ əldə edilə biləcəyiniz şeyləri düşünməlisiniz. Bu yaxınlarda özüm öyrəndiyim bir dərsdir..."
Diplomacy (Ick, Order!; Gallant Inspiration) - Inspired: 1d20 + 28 - 2 + 2d4 ⇒ (4) + 28 - 2 + (2, 2) = 34
Diplomacy (Ick, Order!; Gallant Inspiration) - Inspired: 1d20 + 28 - 2 + 2d4 ⇒ (11) + 28 - 2 + (2, 3) = 42
Knowledge (nature): 1d20 + 12 - 2 ⇒ (7) + 12 - 2 = 17
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 - 2 ⇒ (9) + 6 - 2 = 13
Ehren watches Zepha closely when he arrives at the table, curious about the outsider who owes the Queen a favor. The druid's very first thought is that the archon resembles one of the trwynhir people, like Graukur, but the resemblance is superficial at best. Having never been in a conversation with a true celestial - Isilme being a very special exception - he is initially uncertain of what to make of him. However, he is quickly won over by the archon's friendliness and good humor, things he did not necessarily expect to see from a native of this plane.
While he could sympathize with Xanderghul's desire to simply get what they came for, he is all too happy to indulge the preceptor's archon curiosity.
"Yes, indeed. I am Archdruid of Sarkoris," Ehren affirms with a slight smile, taking the archon's compliment in stride. He raises a hand, brushing his fingers against the crown's silver band. "My predecessor died at Storasta, fighting the demonic hordes till his last breath. The crown was thought lost, then, but whatever path it took over the years, it eventually fell into the hands of a shadow demon. I still do not know what designs he had for it, but our paths inevitably crossed. Once he was defeated, by the will of the Green, the crown revealed its true nature to me.
"It is true that I am still young, but that just means I have more time to live up to my those that came before me." Ehren's smile falters slightly. To realize his dream, he would have to do more than just live up to his predecessors. He would have to surpass them. "Vorian, Auzmezar, and all the rest of them. Ah!"
The druid's face brightens again when Tanniv brings out his order, its aroma hitting him almost at once. He had not doubted the chefs' ability to provide. Not after they brought Isilme whatever in the world it is that she ordered - he was almost certain that she had just made it up on the spot.
Hinagiku elegantly pours herslef some of the tea that was just brough to her. She rarely drank any, even back home, but now seemed to be the right occasion. While she enjoys the warm and subtle aroma of the beverage, she quietly waits to eat the dangos; they were a special treat that she used to only eat on her birthday. This last year had been an exception, and although her monk training steered her away form disappointment she was looking forward to savoring it.
As Ehren smiles falters upon the realization of the upcoming challenges, Hinagiku kindly lays a reassuring hand on his forearm and smiles to him.
After sipping her tea and closely listening to the conversation, Hinagiku puts down her handleless cup and grabs the stick holding the dangos together. Yet, before she eats, she looks up from her plate to Zepha.
”We have spoken quite a bit about ourselves, but know so little about you. Your interest honor us, but we cannot extend the honor. May we know your position here in the heavens, or any or your interests?” Hinagiku says, making effort to revert to using formal Taldan. Hopefully, asking more politely about the angel than Kitarlo did would be successful.
Politely waiting, she only starts eating when the angel is done answering her.
Ary nods appreciatively as Isilme opts to speak with Kule... in a language she couldn't speak. It was a good way to speak with him without forcing him into the center of the conversation, though she turns her attention to Ehren. She couldn't recall having ever seen him in such high spirits. Ary was definitely going to need to find a way to give Hinagiku, Ehren, Irabeth and Anevia a chance to visit Nirvana... so that they could all unwind and relax without the added pressure of the lawful plane. Thinking of Anevia and Irabeth brought her attention back to the server, "And you, as well. It's not every day we get to meet with a petitioner to the heavens, and certainly not one so practiced in serving others. What made you decide to take this job?"
Ary focuses most of her attention on her bread as she listens to the others converse. There would definitely be plenty for later on the trek, it seemed. Afterthe Archon had shifted his attention less pointedly towards one person at a time, there would be more opportunity to join in on the normal course of the conversation - even if that had to wait until they had all finished eating and were already on their way up the rises.
Tanniv perks up when Ary addresses him specifically. "Oh! Wouldn't you know, when I was alive, I fought in the Shining Crusade," he says with a laugh. "I know you wouldn't think that looking at me now! But when I came to Heaven, I decided to take it easy. I had devoted my entire mortal life to fighting in the name of Aroden, and I had never the opportunity to live what you'd consider a normal life. I figured it'd offend none to try my hand at such a simple life in Heaven, serving tables. Eventually I imagine I will get bored of it and offer up my sword to Swordhome once more. But for now, I am content, and I get to meet all sorts of interesting people!"
"Düşünmək üçün mənə çox şey verirsən, təşəkkür edirəm," murmurs Külə in response to Isilme's concern.
"And I am sure that you will continue to rise admirably to the challenge, Archdruid Ferron," Zepha responds kindly.
"As for myself, I am but a simple servant of Andoletta. My role in Heaven is to observe mortals and to act as a patient guide, gently nudging those who are on the cusp of making a righteous decision without forcing their hands. True redemption can only come from within," he adds, shifting his gaze from Hinagiku to Külə, but he does not make further comment on the unicorn's condition. "The circumstances that brought me here have been long forgotten, but I do suspect that I have followed my lady Andoletta in my previous lives as well."
"Ah, this has been a very pleasant meal, but I fear I have taken up too much of your time as is. I am certain that you all have duties to attend to back in the mortal realm, hmmm?" He reaches into his satchel and then hands each person a small, golden token that resembles an open book. "That is all that you would need for access."
"Additionally, I do have gifts for those of you who were so gracious and patient with an old crow like me," he says. To Ary, Isilme, Hinagiku, Ehren, and Valaria he hands them a small cookie, cut in the shape of a wing. "These treats have been infused with a spell of cure critical wounds."
Loot added: cookie of cure critical wounds to Isilme, Ary, Hinagiku, Ehren, and Valaria.
He stands up, stretches, and then leans forward to rest on his walking stick. "Come, come. We have a very long walk ahead of us. I would be happy to escort you up the mountain to the library."
The heavenly road winds for hours, and hours and hours up the side of the mountain. It is mostly up steep hills or up flights upon flights of stairs, but the temperature remains consistent so that the heroes do not feel uncomfortable or overly sweaty. Those who derive comfort from the familiar sight of a Golarion sun crossing the sky see the time change as the hours pass, whereas those who prefer to stay at an eternal time of day, remain fixed at that perfect moment.
As the road winds away from the city of Heaven's Shore, the scene becomes more pastoral, until at last they reach the terraced garden walls that mark its boundaries. The archons allow the party through, as escorted by Zepha, with little fuss. Beyond the city, the slopes of Heaven contain all sorts of different environments, from seemingly endless plains, vast lakes, yawning canyons, and all sorts of other utterly alien environments, each created to accommodate the needs of petitioners from millions of different backgrounds. Zepha is happy to serve as a sort of tour guide, answering any questions the heroes may have, and pointing out any noteworthy landmarks as they pass.
"Ah, we're passing by second level now. Known as Proelera, this tier is a mustering ground for vast Heavenly armies. To the left, you can see in the distance, Swordhome, the realm of Iomedae," he gestures to a limitless realm, nestled amongst the mountain's side, composed entirely of thousands of castles and keeps dotting a large, Avistani-esque landscape. Cities and towns pop up around the defensive fortifications, crafting a scene not too unlike what the heroes were accustomed to in Mendev. A grand citadel-fortress rises taller than the rest, its highest tower emblazoned with the glowing sword-cross of Iomedae, the seat of the goddess-general herself. "Here, archons train dutifully for their roles in Iomedae's many crusades, alongside many devoted Elect. Iomedae is our youngest god, but she also controls the largest of Heaven's armies, a testimony to how enrapturing her rhetoric has been since she came to dwell here."
The heroes climb an enormous staircase for a couple of hours, skipping most of Proelera entirely in favor of moving swiftly to the third tier.
"Ahhh... at last. Requius, the third tier of Heaven," he says, gesturing outwards for the heroes to witness. The crusader-citadels of Proelera have given way to a sweeping, pastoral scene, dotted with idyllic cities and villages. Here, petitioners re-create idealized versions of the communities they knew in life, with families and neighbors pulling together to work the land and welcome each new generation that arrives. "Requius is predominantly composed of the Summerland's, Erastil's realm, governed by my lady Andoletta, the shepherd of souls."
"Those who have come to dwell here are petitioners who have chosen to abstain from joining Heaven's righteous war machine," he says. "Instead they wish to only rest in quiet communities surrounded by their loved ones and kinsfolk for the rest of eternity. I will ask, as representatives of First Sword-Knight Galfrey's Crusade, that you abstain from any recruitment exercises on this tier. It is strictly forbidden... a fall-out from a bit of a misunderstanding between Iomedae and Erastil when she first came to Heaven. The young goddess has no shortage of fervor when it comes to seeking out new soldiers..." he chuckles to himself.
"Ah, but we are come now out to the capital of the Summerlands, Erastar," says Zepha, as they arrived at the borders of yet another mighty Celestial city. Erastar resembles Heaven's Shore in its eclectic architecture and cosmopolitan residents, a testament to Erastil's belief that his petitioners need these city-hubs to foster trade of goods and ideas amongst the different settlements of the Summerlands. To dwell in pure isolation can lead to prejudice and fear, the god teaches his followers, and thus it is important to meet with other communities and learn to appreciate what makes their own homes unique. Petitioners from a wide variety of homelands can be seen peddling their goods on an open-air market, or otherwise just mingling with the other residents of Requius.
They wind through the downtown district of Erastar for some time before finally topping a large hill, revealing a sparkling building composed of nine towers. Built from shining white stone and ribbons of crystal, the intricate towers twist into beautiful shapes that would surely topple without magical support.
"Welcome to the Great Library of the Harmonious Scripture," says Zepha, leading the way up a dizzying spiral stair into the heart of the nearest tower. Upon reaching the top, the archon holds open the door into the building with a kind smile and says, "This is where I leave you. Ah, but first another gift," he says, giving Kitarlo a small bag, laden with golden apples. "So that mayhaps you won't have to steal them. Try asking next time, hmmm?" he says with a wink, then takes his leave.
"Oh! Hello! Hello! Hello!" calls a cheerful voice from inside. An orb of glowing light and spinning wire floats above a stone altar covered with open books within the only room inside the tower entrance. The lantern archon speaks with an excited and airy voice, accentuating her speech with flashes of brilliant light. "My name is Akarah, and I am charged with overseeing visitors to this wing of the library," says the glowing orb. "Please present your token of entrance, and let me know how I can be of assistance!"
Book keeping: planar adaptation wears off from Xanderghul. planar infusion wears off from Isilme.
Despite his confusion over some things, Xanderghul cannot deny forever that there is a certain charming beauty to this place. The way the light hits the rolling grassy fields reminded him of mortal paintings, for example. However, the idea that this was perfection, and that this was the height of goodness still eluded him. Xanderghul had always considered wars and armies to be what might be called "a necessary evil". But would Heaven be right to employ those things? That is, things which were evil in their execution but which were employed in the first place in order to accomplish good.
If that were the case, what was it about Xanderghul himself that was so uncomfortable here?
As Zepha leads them through the tiers of Heaven, it becomes clear to him that they were permitted to travel around Heaven. He knew that mortals would not be considered trustworthy enough to do the same, but he wondered if Elect were also considered above reproach? Furthermore, he idly fantasized about what might happen if an archon or angel were to fall and breach that trust. Would the rules be changed? Now that he thought of it, what he had read on devil was essentially that many of them were fallen angels. He wondered about the history of Heavenly legislature regarding that debacle.
Finally, the group reaches the Library of Harmonious Scripture. Just as they do, however, his spell expires and his awful, terrible headache returns. It's coupled with a certain nausea, a feeling of unwelcome so powerful that it distracts him from thinking. "Ugh," he grumbles as he withdraws his token. He gestures towards the majority of the group. "We're here to research ley lines. Specifically, planar ley lines."
Then he gestures towards Valais and Kitarlo. "We're also here to read up on soul surgery, body creation, and spiritual vivisection."
Isilme thanks Zepha for the gift, having just experienced a dire need for healing only a few days prior. Remembering passing through that wall not once or twice, but three times sends a shiver up her spine.
The trip onward is unsurprising. While there was certainly plenty of nature in Heaven it was always neatly ordered and categorized. Layers on the mountain each served a specific role and were tightly controlled. Of course the rest of the trip was significantly less interesting after having enjoyed a truly phenomenal morsel at the Angel's Wing.
The library, however, was another matter. She had visited a few major libraries on Golarion, and though she did not care to stay within them, the time spent in them was always enjoyable. If there had been any drawbacks to the libraries amassed by mortals it was the fact that they were simply limited. Limited in space, limited in distance over which works could be collected, limited in the time available to writers and collectors to amass them... The Library of Harmonious Scripture had none of those constraints however.
After seeing off Zepha, Isilme enters the front seemingly distracted. While an observer that did not know better might assume she was simply uninterested as the Lantern Archon flitted down to greet them, the truth was she was busy searching through the pile of books atop the stone altar it had alighted from. When Xanderghul begins to reply to the archon she snaps to, bringing her attention back to the matter at hand. Holding up the mark they had each been given to enter the Library, she adds to Xanderghul's list of things they wished to research: "I would also like to peruse any works you might have upon the creation of the wardstones and the menhirs they were constructed from. Their ability to hold back the Abyssal taint may be useful in further reclaiming parts of the worldwound."
”Ah, very good, you are being sponsored by Shepherd Zepha. These tokens are good for 3 hours of access each to the library, so do try to use your time wisely!” chirps the perky lantern archon. ”I’d be happy to assist you in any way that you could need!’
”Actually, I have a list of books that I need to procure,” Kitarlo takes out a piece of parchment from somewhere inside of his robes. ”These books should help us conduct a ritual to cure our friend, Valais, of her demonic affliction.” He shows it to the archon who looks over the list approvingly.
”Oh! I have to say, sir,” Akarah begins. ”Those are from our forbidden magic sections, and require special authority to peruse…ah, never mind!” she chirps as Kitarlo reveals the golden library card he had obtained in his own travels. ”Seems like you have everything in order! However, please note that your card does not allow you to actually check these books out. Their contents will need to be read within the library itself.”
”Perfect… with me, you’ll find that I can read very fast,” Kitarlo says, with a wink to Isilme.
”Good! Good! After me, after me,” replies Akarah.
The lantern archon leads the heroes through the entryway. The door opens out to a hallway that resembles a sort of pier, jutting out into space. Archons and Elect can fly, naturally, and so the angelic library was not designed to be easy for mortals to use. The library itself spreads out for miles and miles - a much larger space than what the size of the tower from the outside would suggest - the space within this tower was indeed the size of a large city, filled with bookshelves. The bookshelves themselves float through the air in swaying rows, constantly rearranging themselves to facilitate the research of powerful archons and angels that flitter throughout the shelves. There is no floor that the heroes can walk upon. The only way to peruse the shelves is either to fly, or to literally climb amongst the bookshelves.
”Ah, I presume you are not all flighted? We have these rowboats available for mortal visitors!” Akarah says. ”They only travel on aethereal currents, however, so you may need to climb on the shelves to locate specific titles.”
”I myself am required to stay at the tower entrance to watch for new arrivals, but I am happy to provide guidance on where to locate any desired books,” continues the lantern archon. ”Now… as for the specific tomes…”
The heroes have 3 hours to explore the Great Library of Harmonious Scripture. Here they can conduct a variety of research tasks. However, the library spans for miles upon miles, so the time required to locate specific books can be substantial. While the heroes can travel together, using the aid another action to increase success at given checks, it is recommended that they split up to get as much out of their time here as possible. The heroes’ may also make suggestions as to how Annabelle, Lann, Valais, and Kule utilize their time here.
The most difficult objective here is seeking out the 10 Heavenly Tomes required to help piece together the ritual to cure Valais. These Tomes are located in Restricted areas in the library, and are even more difficult to traverse than the rest of the library. As such, once a book is located, additional skill check(s) and challenges may be required to actually obtain the book. Kitarlo has selected 4 of these 10 tomes to find himself, leaving 6 that he has requested the heroes help him find in the time they have.
Finding Specific Books:
6 Heavenly Tomes:
Base time to locate per book: 3 hours
1. The Luminous Libram Akarah’s hint: ”Oooh… that book is on one of our more…lively bookshelves…and by that I mean it has a mind of its own! It floats around wherever it wishes, and has a nasty habit of trying to buck you off or flee if it senses you looking for it.”
2. The Slates of Klador Akarah’s hint: ”Those tomes are written on a kind of stone that crumbles to dust if taken out of water… here, if you take this paper and water-resistant vellum, you can create a rubbing. But first you’ll have to dive down to find it…”
3. Asaru’s Grimoire of the Planes Akarah’s Hint: ”Ah, we call that floor the Labyrinth for a reason… the shelves there form an impenetrable maze of ever-shifting texts. The grimoire you seek shall be somewhere in the center.”
4. The Tome of Stars and Moons Akarah’s Hint: ”I believe that tome was actually a very private dream journal…. as such it is enchanted to try and camouflage itself to look like the books around it. There is no text on its spine so it will take some patience and a keen eye to pick it out…”
5. Elgar’s Forgotten Compendium Akarah’s Hint: ”That one is at the very top of a seven hundred foot tall book shelf! Be careful!”
6. Incunabulum of the Ages Akarah’s Hint: ”Ah, that’s in a chamber a little off the beaten path… the hallway that leads there is designed for creatures about a foot tall, so you will have to squeeeeeeze through. Please don’t get stuck…”
The heroes may also elect to find other specific named books. Their tokens also entitle them to checking out up to three books each, and they may not be from forbidden sections of the library. To do so a hero may choose which books they want to find. Finding these books requires a base time of 2 hours per 10,000 gp of books looked for. Examples of books include mundane books like the Tome of Epics or wondrous items that happen to be books. They can also check out books on a generalized topic, which can be consumed for the purpose of paying retraining costs. There are no [evil] books in this library. Heroes do not need to roll checks to know about what books there are in existence, as the librarian is happy to make recommendations if the heroes can voice what sorts of things they are looking for.
Please note that all base times to find books are assuming the heroes are using the rowboats to get around the library. Being able to move independently of them halves the base time required for a given action. This requires either the ability to fly, or a successful DC 18 athletics check per each 1 hour. (The Athletics check reflects someone strong enough to climb and jump from shelf to shelf)
Alternatively, the heroes can set out to research, by finding multiple books on a related topic, then taking them back to a reading room to consume their topics. This can allow the heroes to access the information of more books during the time allowed, than they would by spending time to find specific books to check out. There are two ways of going about doing research, basic and applied.
Basic research is research that fills in the knowledge you don’t have; where one tries to learn things that aren’t always directly applicable or useful immediately. A character conducting Basic Research may choose to focus research into a Knowledge or Lore skill. For every hour of research, a character may gain 1 rank in a Knowledge skill or 2 ranks in a Lore skill. They cannot gain more ranks in a skill than they have class levels, as normal. Alternatively, they can focus research into a Knowledge or Lore skill that they already have maximum ranks in. For every hour of research, the character gains a boon, that may be used once in the future as a free action, consuming the boon. This boon adds a +10 insight bonus to any one Knowledge or Lore check made.
Applied research is research that seeks to answer a question in the real world and to solve a problem. A hero may define a question, such as “where are Celestial ley lines in Golarion?” and then spend time researching it. Once they are done researching, they must make a DC 10 intelligence check, with a bonus of +2 for each cumulative hour spent researching. This check can be aided if multiple characters assist with research. Questions must be conceivably answered using texts within in the library (for example, “How did Aroden die?” is not an answerable question).
Applied research can also be done in order to conduct spell research, using the forbidden magic section of the library. A character can research a spell to add it to their spells known, using the library as a resource. Each 1 hour spent researching can fund up to 1 spell level worth of spells.
Isilme has the ability to read books with her mind, greatly expediting her ability to find books as well as to research. For her, the base time to find a book and to research is halved.
The heroes continue speaking with the archon, inquiring her as to where to find specific desired books. She’s happy to provide maps that help the heroes navigate the library to rows she has suggested they begin their search. She also indicates to them the location of a private reading room, with chairs and tables conductive to quiet study.
”Ah, I have one more request, a selfish one,” Kitarlo says. ”I would like to research a means to regenerate my lost arm.”
”Oh! Naturally! Would I suggest -“ Akarah begins.
Kitarlo cuts her off with a wave of his hand. ”Please, more privately. Allow me to cast sending…” he closes his eyes, then nods. ”Yes. Thank you very much, Akarah.” Noticing the puzzled look of the heroes, he explains, ”The primary purpose of this journey for me is to assist Valais. I am unwilling to take the chance that any of you would direct your charity towards myself instead. I will travel the road to regain use of my own body alone.” He grins, breaking his somber tone. ”Ah! I suggest we look for our books, and reconvene in Reading Room 2B… right here on the map, yes? I would greatly appreciate your help in locating these books for Valais, as I fear that not even myself could find all of them in the time allotted…”
Akarah glitters in a prism of different colors. ”I am assuming you are ready to go. If you’d like some time to prepare, feel free to return to Erastar! The timer on your tokens won’t start until I say so. However, once it starts going, that’s it! You may not exit and re-enter for any reason. Also, I do beg of you to keep your voices down. This is a library! People need to concentrate. Please converse amongst yourselves in one of our designated private Reading Rooms.”
You can propose how your PC plans to spend the entirety of the 3 hours, or, you can resolve things hour-by-hour. I am also looking for recommendations of how the NPCs should use their time. If you do not make recommendations for them, they will figure out how to use their own time.
Given the amount of effort they would need to expend to find what they needed within the library, coordinating their search would be important. Anything they would be able to speed their search would free them to look into other topics in the Library, an opportunity they might not ever get again.
"I believe it would be wise to take some time to consider how best to approach the research we need to do here, would you be opposed to discussing a plan this evening and coming back in the morning, Kitarlo?"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 28 - 2 ⇒ (20) + 28 - 2 = 46
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Xanderghul nods along with Isilme. A day in a celestial inn, while bothersome to his constitution, would still do the group a lot of good when it came to preparing for the trip through the library. To be honest, Xanderghul hadn't considered until this very moment the implications of being able to find any information he wanted within the library... He imagines things that he might be able to research in this twisting, floor-less hulk.
The next day, when they decide to return, he is ready with a myriad of spells for himself and the rest of the group, and takes off as soon as he is given permission. He has a lot to get done and not much time to do it.
Cleric Spells Memorized
1st (3/day) - endure elements, skim, clarion call
0 (at will) - create water, scrivener's chant, stabilize, mending
Wizard Spells Memorized
5th (2+2/day) - create mindscape (2), planar adaptation, overland flight
4th (3+2/day) - greater invisibility (2), shadow conjuration, dimensional anchor, mnemonic enhancer
3rd (4+2/day) - major image (2), beast shape I, blood biography, clairaudience/clairvoyance, fireball
2nd (5+2/day) - minor image (2), knock, locate object, spider climb (3)
1st (6+2/day) - color spray (2), comprehend languages (2), detect secret doors, heightened awareness (2)
0 (4/at will) - read magic, spark, arcane mark, prestidigitation
Step #2: Halfway through, cast heightened awareness and comprehend languages again.
Step #3: Find Elgar's Forgotten Compendium as requested, flying up to the top of the 700' tower of books to retrieve it. That should take 1.5 hours, and Xanderghul can read it four times as fast as normal. I'm going to mark off 30 minutes' time reading the book for applicable information.
Step #4: Perform Basic Research. Xanderghul wants to gain 2 ranks in Lore (apotheosis). This should take 30 minutes.
Step #5: Perform Applied Research. Xanderghul wants to answer the question, "How can a shabti gain a true and complete soul?" This should take 30 minutes. INT Check: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Despite the subtly stifling atmosphere of Heaven continuing to irritate him, Ehren thoroughly enjoys the lengthy trek to the Library. Few mortals have the opportunity to see the afterlife before death, let alone the domains of the gods themselves. Of greater interest is the myriad of alien landscapes, some indicative of biomes with which he is wholly unfamiliar. As beautiful as they are, what amazes Ehren more is that somewhere in the mortal realm, every one of them exists. It is a refreshing reminder that even in his world, there remain countless sights in nature that he may quite possibly never see for himself.
After parting ways with Zepha and entering the Library proper, Ehren marvels at the absurdity of its sheer size and scope. As Akarah explains the rules and layout of the place, he cannot help but feel that it is all a little convoluted. Since the start of his journey, he has developed something of an appreciation for the written word, but it still strikes him as for more efficient to ingrain knowledge and wisdom in stone. Finding the information that they seek would not be easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is. And for Valais's sake, he is more than happy to put in some extra legwork.
"Agreed," Ehren says with a sagely nod, knowing that they would need a solid plan to find everything they need in the short amount of time granted to them. He looks to Isilme for a second, his interest piqued by the subject of her independent research. It occurs to him that given the vast knowledge contained within the Library, he could conceivably find any information he desires. That is, should the opportunity present itself. "Tomorrow I will prepare some spells that should help with our mobility... it looks like we will need them."
As he ponders on which of the six books he should search for, he turns to Lann. They might require his help, but at the same time, Ehren does not want to deny his friend a chance to take advantage of this place. Especially if there are answers that he seeks for himself. "This place is incredible. Three hours hardly seems like enough time. But you know, if there is anything you would like to look for..."
4th (3+1/day)-air walk (2), flame strike (DC 20), spike stones
3rd (4+1/day)-aqueous orb (DC 20),
2nd (6+1/day)-burdened thoughts (DC 18), burst of radiance (2, DC 18), eagle eye, gust of wind, stone call, wood shape
0 (at will)-create water, detect magic, mending, read magic
I will add the details of Ehren's part of the plan tomorrow. :o
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”Thank you Zepha-sama.” Hinagiku softly says as she accepts the angel’s cookie with two oustretched hands.
Awed by the grandiose sight of the library, its floating and endless alleys of books, its flying guests, and the beauty of the room, Hinagiku slowly falls into a daze. Gazing for quite sometime into the distance, thoughs of the strangeness of the afterlife slowly creep into her mind. There was so much beauty, time itself kindly listened to the flora, slowing it’s passage to let blooming flowers bask into the sun longer, and hastening itself in the rare bloomless moments. There was so much kindness, everyone seemed happy and nice. Being here almost felt like being reunited with her mother, she could feel the harmony of everything like her inner ocean was made manifest. But there was also something strange. Having to fill endless forms might have been a challenge, especially since Hinagiku did not read quickly, but it felt so far away form enlighment and peaceful bliss. Where were the answers? The detachment? Something seemed to be missing. And, so she pondered what would happen to her soul when she passed away once more. Would she be reincarnated, rejoin her mother, join heaven, or find herself into another realm... maybe one where the Master of masters resides in. So far, the afterlives she had experiences were nothing like she had been told, and she was beginning to feel apprehensive about them.
Hinagiku is drawn out of her reverie when Isilme suggests they should leave and come back in the morning. As the monk prepares to follow her companions out of the glorious building, she stops in front of Akarah. For a moment she hesitates to speak, for a soon as her question was asked, she knew she might be giving up an opportunity to gain knowledge, and in doing so perfect herself, and get closer to her patron. Yet, the sacrifice seemed worth it if it spared and help the people of her world. And so, with a profound bow, she asks: ”Akarah-sama, each of us has been given the honor to look into the library... but, some of us are more adept at searching it than others. Would it be possible to give my time to one of my companions so they could do research in my place?”
Will wait for the rest of the day for people to propose how they spend their time, otherwise I am assuming you are going forwards with Isilme's plan.
Akarah flashes with a series of soothing lights. "Oh! Certainly! The tokens you possess are currently bound to your souls, and cannot be traded or exchanged at the library. However, with a simple series of forms prepared in triplicate, OSM-174-B, CSOS-771 and 222-C, co-signed by your sponsor, Zepha, notarized by one of the Heavenly librarian-clerics of Winlas, and approved by the Grand Administrator at Iuduca at the sixth tier of Heaven, you can have the tokens converted so that they can be recalibrated to a different life waveform! Both creatures would need to be present for all necessary paperwork, and all forms would be subject to random audit, naturally, so please be precise and careful with filling out your forms!"
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"Oh... small world." Ary says with a grin, "You know, I hadn't ever considered being anything but a soldier once I'd found my faith... but it's interesting to realize that there are other options than to shine in her legion." Ary says, twisting the ring on her finger idly, looking wistful. "But... the thought of being able to explore all of heaven before joining Swordhome seems... lovely." Ary says with a slow nod. Her grin widens, "Well, regardless... thank you for your service, Tanniv."
Ary accepts the cookie graciously... but then flounders on just what exactly to do with it. She chews her lip for a moment, before wrapping it in a napkin and placing it inside of her belt pouch for quick access.
* * *
She keeps up casual conversation with the archon as they steadily climb, explaining everything that she could recall having happened in the last few years of import - at least things that they knew of first-hand. The destruction of the wardstones, the discovery of Arastrax, the siege of the north, what had befallen Icerift... and so on, always happy to fill in the blanks, or suggest someone else to do so when the archon had questions. She truly seemed to be a different person here than she was at home.
As they begin to reach the peak of the stairs, Ary begins to maneuver ahead of the others... and it becomes quickly apparent as to why - she's come to a complete stop at the very first point that you could see Iomedae's throne-tower. Only after everyone has passed her does she begin to move along with them once more.
She's less chatty once they reach Requius, lingering at the border for some time, but then falling back in line with a bit of hustle once more. Her thoughts linger for a moment, as they pass through the lands of Erastil, on how her father could have easily become a worshiper of the Hunter god if things had gone differently. She thought, in some ways, that he would have liked him, if he'd taken the chance... though ultimately, he'd been a bit vindictive in the last bits of his life. Idly, she wondered if he'd made it into Heaven, and her attention to those around her starts to wander, as she thinks of everyone else's parents who were likely here. Were Daisy's adoptive parents - or at least her father - somewhere in this realm? What of Grim? She chews on her lip for a moment, they should have thought to bring Sana.
But she didn't linger for long, instead moving her attention to all of the people working together, and eventually the bustling city - a location she had never considered the existence of until having passed through it.
* * *
As soon as it is mentioned that the information for Valais is in a restricted section, Ary dons a mirthless smile and rolls her eyes slightly. Of course it wasn't going to be easy. Then as the Archon begins to describe where everything was, she nods slowly in time to each. None of those things were skills that she personally possessed... and as a result, she understood better than the rest of them what likely needed doing. They were all already formulating plans to talk to each other about, there was just...
Her head turns to Hinagiku as the Kitsune, usually one to stay silent while plans are being made, suggests precisely what Ary had been thinking for herself. "I... agree. Though, I believe you are likely the most capable, besides Ehren, of the underwater one... and even then, you may be still more capable." she pauses for a moment, "We need to treat this like any adventure thus far. We need scouting before we rush in. If we try to dive straight into any of these things and don't plan for failure, we absolutely will fail. I'll volunteer my time to Isilme, because she can likely make the best use of it among us... if we're able to give up our time. Besides..." she says with a broad grin, "I've already had a day here..." she looks to Isilme, "So... if you want it, and they'll let me, you can use my time to make sure we don't fail. Just, if the token doesn't disintegrate, I'd like it back as a momento." she finishes suggesting, as she recalls her previous visit to heaven... and the lack of anything besides memories that she'd taken with her.
Then she frowns at the understanding that no... indeed they could not maneuver the tokens around, or even share time amongst them. She huffs, but nods. "Right, sooo... we should still offset our time a bit. That will ensure we get an additional chance if we fail more than once. They don't all activate at the exact same time, do they, Akarah?"
* * *
Ary will use Keep Watch on the first two people who want to stay up with her - she intends to explore the surrounding environment. She'll also ensure that each person has a scroll of comprehend language handy - if we have enough. I also plan to use my time in chunks, not preplan everything, as I don't know whether we will succeed or fail.
"Oh, no, you can each reserve your tokens for a future visit, naturally! There is no need to visit the library together. Reading is often a lonesome affair, after all," Akarah says, cheerfully. "Do be aware that if you leave Heaven, you will need to obtain escort from an Archon to leave Heaven's Shore in order to return to Requius. Such is to respect the privacy of the Elect."
"Do... you know if there are any Menhir in heaven, particularly nearby?" Ary asks Akarah suddenly, as it occurs to her that if there are stone recordings there may well also be stone recordings.
"Hmmm... menhir?" the lantern archon asks distantly. "One moment. Query: menhir?" She pauses. "Oh! Menhir! Definition: A religious and cultural artifact crafted by mortal human beings in the northern regions of Golarion, star system 616-B, Material Plane." She twinkles for a moment. "No, we have no menhir in the library. However, if your interest is in oral traditions or recordings made by pre-literate mortal civilizations, we do have docents available for select societies as curated by our esteemed Empyreal Lord, Winlas! Additionally, if you are yourself illiterate, we are happy to provide translation services for any texts you would like to peruse."
Was there a chance the time might be lost due to bureaucracy? Filling in the forms had already been a long and demanding affair for Hinagiku, even with the help of Ary. So, it would seem that sharing the previleges would be unwise. So, It seemed to her that their chances of success might be less, but at the same time she would get a chance to peruse the vast knowledge found within the library.
Sorry Ary, didnt want to steal your thunder, but that seemed like the only thing I could add to the conversation. Also, good call on Hinagiku’s parents, the first ones, the crusaders. You are so on top of things Ary! Also, gonna try to write a bit about the evening later at the inn later.
2) Ehren will wild shape into a diminutive thrush to acquire the Incunabulum of the Ages. If he needs to revert to human form to pack the book in his polymorphic pouch, he will do so before shifting back. (1.5 hours)
3) With Ary's assistance, Ehren will research the matter of locating a celestial ley line we can use for the Forge. (1 hour)
4) Orisons weren't mentioned in the rules, but if it is allowed and everything else goes on without a hitch, Ehren will try to research druidcraft. (30 minutes?)
In the meantime, Ehren will discreetly ask Lann to find one particular book for him, but unless anyone has anything else they would like for him to look for, he would like for him to find something that he himself is interested in.
Val will spend 1.5 hours going after whichever book she's assigned. I believe she's still going after the one that likes to fight back when you try to get it. After that, she will spend her research time looking for info on the Bound Horror, hopefully to answer 'who was the Bound Horror?'.
Hinagiku will go for The Slates of Klador Akarah’s. As usual, she will leave her spell slot empty. I am still unsure as to what she'll spend her time on afterward if she has any.
1) (2 MP, 250 GP, Can Terendelev's scale count as a focus instead of component?) Cast draconic ally first thing
2) (2 MP)Before everyone's start time, Isilme will cast mythic heroism on herself and either Ary or Val depending on who is going for a book.
---- b) Get Airwalk from Ehren
3) (1.5 hrs) At start Isilme will head out to retrieve depending on if Val or Ary is searching for a book, and Heroism on Hinagiku, Ehren and Xanderghul
---- a) The Tome of Stars and Moons
---- b1) Elgar’s Forgotten Compendium (if Val went)
---- b2) The Luminous Libram (if Ary went)
4) (1.5 hrs) Upon completing the previous two tasks, she will research either a level 1 and 2 spell, or a level 3 spell, TBD.
1) (1-3 hrs) Draconic Ally's task will be to gather retraining tomes for the group. He will ask for any suggestions from the rest of the group. For Isilme he will gather 10kgp in books on the subject of the nature of magic and divine runes. He can grab up to 20kgp more, if he has no other things to grab and sufficient time left, he will attempt to find a Tome of the Loremaster.
1) (2+0.5 hrs) Isilme will encourage Külə to research some QoL spells, likely mage hand and alter self
2) With the 0.5 hours he has remaining, he will help Ehren first, or someone else depending on who he prefers to help.
All the above is dependent upon someone helping to research the creation of the wardstone network. If there is no one assigned to it, the Draconic Ally's task will be to gather 10kgp of retraining books for Isilme and then to collect books on the creation of the Wardstones to check out, or for Isilme to devour in the few moments she has spare while doing spell research depending on whether said books are forbidden or not.
Ary will seek Elgar's Forgotten Compendium with 1.5 hours, then if successful, will aid Ehren's research on the Leylines (assuming it is not a DC10 roll to aid him), and will just try to do it herself if it is. The last half hour remains to be seen.
Isilme will ask before the start of there is a book directly on the creation of the wardstones, especially the key stone in Kenabres. Need that info to direct wardstones research tasks"
It isn't difficult for the heroes to find inns in Erastar. The city is one of the few Heavenly cities that is open to trade with extraplanar merchants, going as far as allowing teleportation directly into the city itself (given one possesses the correct permits, of course!). As such, the city has an economy built around trade and hospitality. Unlike a mortal trade city, however, Erastar is massive to the point of incomprehensibility, with large districts cut out for every possible mortal culture. Erastil encouraged his Elect to rebuild perfect cities fashioned from their memories, and to flock together to form communities, so the heroes can find many cozy inns that feel familiar and reflective of the Inner Sea. After a restful night's sleep, the heroes reconvene at the Great Library of the Harmonious Scripture. They agree to first set out and attempt to find the books Kitarlo needed for Valais. The raelis is pleased and grateful for their generosity, being well aware of the heroes' intended reason for visiting Heaven.
"Query: wardstone creation?" Akarah chirps, in response to Isilme's question, as she leads them down the hall once more. "Oh. Authorized Information only. You'd need a higher security clearance, through the Iomedaen Crusades. But, there are a number of recorded first hand accounts stored in the library, if you'd be interested in that sort of research!" She flashes multiple colors of lights for a moment, freezing in mid-air. "Pardon me. Lord-Commander Ary Bishop is authorized entry, alone. Books may not be taken out of Iomedae's section."
Hinagiku sets out to find The Slates of Klador. Enchanted with magic from both Isilme and Xanderghul, she is able to traverse the floorless central chambers by climbing on shelves and on the walls as necessary. Following the helpful librarian's instructions, she is lead to a side-chamber with a large pool in the center of the room. Diving down into the pool, she swims through a long hallway. Hinagiku is not a particularly good swimmer, but she is able to hold her breath for an extraordinary length of time. Swimming through an underground, underwater library, she swims by a few aquatic celestial beings examining books and slabs made of various water-resistant materials. An hour later she finds the room she is looking for, labeled with a plaque: Restricted Section. It leads into a small, donut shaped room, lined with bookshelves. A strong current courses through the room in a circle. It is hard to swim against, so Hinagiku must reach for the large, stone slab as she is forced hurtling past by the current.
Make a DC 26 Athletics check to grab the book. Failure costs 10 minutes of time.
Xanderghul sets out to find Asaru’s Grimoire of the Planes. He simply flies amongst the veritable sea of bookshelves, which is by far the simplest way to maneuver this library. Eventually, though, he comes to a small glowing portal, with arcane runes glowing above it marking it Warning: Restricted Section. Stepping through the portal, he comes to find himself in an enormous maze, completely comprised of books. Even worse, the shelves constantly shift amongst themselves, making it even harder to get your bearings. But studying the shelves with his senses magically heightened it is possible for him to see a pattern in their movements...
Make a DC 18 Intelligence check. Failure costs 10 minutes of time.
Isilme sets out to find The Tome of Stars and Moons. This book was not located in some sequestered off Restricted Section. Instead, the book was hidden in plain sight, worthy of anyone skilled (or lucky) enough to stumble upon it. Isilme rides on Kule down the tops of bookshelves, through a veritable floating city made of preserved knowledge. The lantern archon was happy to point her to the rough location, though, and as she draws near she begins to search, sifting through the multitude of books all around her. Somewhere out there was an enchanted dream journal, written by a fellow Desnan. And it was coyly trying to pretend it was something it wasn't, even to her senses.
Make a DC 28 Sense Motive check to beat the book's bluff and find it. Failure costs 10 minutes of time.
Ary sets out to find Elgar’s Forgotten Compendium. With hands and feet, she climbs along the bookshelves in search of the chamber the librarians indicated to her on her map. She comes to an enormous bookshelf within a stone chamber, cordoned off with a red velvet barrier, and a sign that reads, Warning: Restricted Section. Inside is a single bookshelf within a stone room, that opens out to what appears to be the outdoors. The bookshelf projects up into the sky, past a curtain of clouds to places unseen. With Ehren's druidic magic, however, Ary can simply walk upwards, as if progressing along a series of infinite staircases. After thirty flights of stairs, she comes to crest past the cloud cover. She walks alone in the sunny sky, with nothing else in the distance but herself and an impossibly tall bookshelf. Above the clouds it starts to become very windy.... but there are still many more stairs to climb to the top.
Make a DC 10 Strength check to walk against the windstorm. Failure costs 10 minutes of time.
Ehren sets out to find Incunabulum of the Ages. Taking the shape of a wren, he flies out amongst the city of bookshelves for miles upon miles. Finally, after find a side hallway that progressively gets smaller the further one moves down, he comes to a door, just his new size. Inside is a library made miniature, with books arranged meticulously on very tiny shelves. The librarian had told him exactly which row and shelf to look for. After grabbing the small book. Inside he finds the text had been printed for mass production. Whatever secret magic laid within must have been common knowledge to the author's society.
Afterwards he simply flies back to the reading room Kitarlo had indicated on his map. When he arrives, he finds that he is the first one back. It is a cozy side room of the library, filled with comfortable chairs. He finds Lann at one of the tables, smiling as he thumbs through a picture book. The images within were printed onto the page in glossy ink, but they were perfect reflections of reality. The text is alien, but it depicts beautiful monuments created by that civilization. "Oh, welcome back," he says with a smile. "This place is amazing! I found that book you were looking for, also," he says, gesturing at a text on the table in front of him.
While the others take off to the far reaches of the library, what will Valaria do? Isilme had volunteered to go for The Luminous Libram as well, but will Valaria as well or will she set off to do something else for the time being?
INT: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Xanderghul finds his way through the maze easily, his mind detecting a pattern in the shift of books almost immediately. He floats briskly through the air, turning here and turning there until he finds the center of the maze.
With Isilme's superior book reading skills, Val is left to her own devices in the vast celestial library. "Can you point me to the section on demon lords and their minions?" she asks, turning to Akarah. "I need to do some research on Nocticula and a demon that's she controls."
Valaria can simply take the rowboats to navigate the main chamber of the library. From there she is left to her own devices, lost amongst many floating shelves containing information on the multitudes of demonic lords.
Make a DC 10 intelligence check.
Intelligence (CHAOS, Heroism): 1d20 + 2 - 2 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 - 2 + 2 = 18
Draconic Ally Knowledge - Spellcraft(Order, Ick!; Mythic Heroism): 1d20 + 14 - 2 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 14 - 2 + 4 = 35
As the group prepares for what was likely the most well-planned and grueling library expedition ever attempted, she finds a quiet spot outside the library. They would need as much help as possible, and in thinking their task over, recalls a spell that could summon a pseudodragon to aid with tasks. While normally such magic would have been beyond her capabilities, she had been practicing pushing her limits in using divine runes to allow her access to new magics.
Focusing on the concept of calling for aid, she first traces the symbol for the origin of the dragon, followed by a rune representing the dragon itself, and finally a rune representing a request for aid. The rune for the dragon itself was simply the concept of one, given that she did not know of one specifically.
निर्वाण अजगर बुलाने
The runes hang in the air for a moment as she channels power into them with one hand. The other brings out a small bag of gold pieces she had acquired from Ary as payment for the summon, and then the silver scale that Li'an had been carrying, which she had been informed was a gift from the dragon Terendelev.
Moments later a small dragon, silver in color like the scale, appears before her and with a flap of its wings to control its fall, alights onto the bag of gold pieces.
'זה הוא סימיל, למה אני מתקשר לכאן?' echoes through her mind as it looks around the area. Over the next few minutes Isilme works out the terms of aid from Simmyl. She would aid Isilme by seeking out books on divine and arcane magic within the library, as well as seeking out any books others might need as well. If she had time left in the three hours they would be there, she was also to attempt to find a Tome of the Loremaster, which might come in useful in the future. The contract having been agreed to, the bag of money disappears with a quick poof, and Simmyl perches on Isilme's shoulder to await entering the library.
Rejoining the others, Isilme takes a moment to enchant her allies with heroism, taking some time to discuss their plan. Once ready, the group heads in, with Isilme heading out with Külə. Along the way she suggests he spend some time in the library researching magic to make his life easier. A few minutes later, they split up, Isilme heading on towards the first book she had to retrieve, and Külə heading off towards the areas where he might research spells.
When she arrives at the area the Archon had said the book might be located at, Isilme begins walking along the bookshelves, pausing occasionally to reach out with her senses. The book was expertly hidden, and clearly had been designed to appear as anything other than itself. Isilme, however, was no novice at dealing with such subterfuge. She was, after all, the one who had uncovered Nurah's duplicity and sabotage.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 26 - 2 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 26 - 2 + 4 = 30
Before long she finds it hiding amongst the shelves in plain sight.
Have expended 5 2nd level spells 4 MP and 250 gp
Ary had taken the opportunity not to stay in an inn that felt like home... but instead to traverse a massive section of forest, utilizing her Keep Watch spell to do so. She was careful to keep to the edges, and careful not to disturb anyone that didn't approach her - unless they looked as though they clearly needed help. It had been years since she had been to an actual forest - what was growing around Drezen didn't count yet - and
"I could..? oh." Ary says, smiling sheepishly, "Yeah... that seems useful. I could do that." she says, nodding to the others. Though... that would prevent her from being able to help Ehren fully, probably...
"Before we go... want to play us off, Isilme?" Ary says with a grin. Her triple time wouldn't last long, but it would hardly feel like an adventure without the Azata's ability to grant everyone a burst of speed.
As soon as the Akarah tells them to go, Ary begins walking in the direction indicated, up invisible stairs to reach the top of a bookshelf... and then immediately darting along the top... there wasn't enough time, really, for all of the things that needed doing - as always.
As soon as she reaches the bookshelf in question, she immediately begins darting around it as if climbing to the crenelations of a giant tower, spiraling up the inner staircase, with neither walls, nor stairs... a dizzying experience to say the least... but when she reaches past the cloud cover, covered in the dew and rain that made up its form, she pauses for a moment to bask in the sun. And then she continues to dart up the bookshelf, against the wind, allowing her armor to help to weigh her steps against the precarious nothing that she stood upon.
Strength (Caped Crusader): 1d20 + 4 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 + 4 = 25
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Hinagiku forces her eyes to stay open as the strong currents pass her peering head. She could see the tablet from the tunnel she was currently clinging to thanks to Xanderghul’s spell. After a few tentative trials to get a better grip and pull herself out of the tunnel and against the room’s current, Hinagiku decides against it. She lowers herself back into the calmer water. Closing her eyes, she tries to clear her mind and think of another solution. She might not be smart, but she had long taken to heart one of the Master of masters lessons: Making ones way to perfection comes not from knowing all the pebbles of a single path, but knowing all of its different paths. Pondering this saying had often helped her master new forms by allowing her to focus on parts that did not block her. Finally, an answer comes to the monk’s mind, using her sticky hand, she slowly turns herself around and attempts to get to the tablet by following the room’s current rather than working against it.
Athletics: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Xanderghul decides to thumb through Asaru’s Grimoire of the Planes. He finds that the book is actually a religious text about a Tien focus of worship called Asaru Tsuyo that Xanderghul had never heard of before. Her holy text was composed of her personal journal, and her apotheosis was fascinating. She grew up a poor rice farmer in a serfdom to a lord known as Obuchi. Obuchi had fallen in lust with Tsuyo. He pursued her and she refused him, and when asked why, said that his heart was twisted and incapable of love. Obuchi took offense at this and took Tsuyo prisoner. He attempted to force her to love him-at the beginning with words and gifts, but progressing to threats and torture. To his frustration any wound he inflicted on her healed overnight; he became convinced she did not truly feel pain and was mocking him. Unknown to Obuchi, Tsuyo's burgeoning miracles were not limited to regeneration. Every night before she healed, she would shed her chains and walk among the people, showing to them the extent of her wounds. The population was much moved, and eventually rose up against their lord. His control lost, Obuchi attempted one final victory; he had Tsuyo tied to a stake and set alight-she healed even as she burned. Obuchi pulled out his blade, running her through and pinning her to the stake. But this only served to arm her. Her bonds fell away, and she gripped the blade, and pulled it out of her own chest, using it to put an end to the gibbering Obuchi.
Tsuyo ascended soon after, writing much about her travels across the planes. She accredited her ascending powers as having been born from shedding all sense of vanity and self, a skill born from having endured such horrific torture.
Valaria finds that the Bound Horror is commonly commented on in more recent texts on the subject of Nocticula and her cults. Primarily worshipped by drow, succubi, assassins and rapists, there are texts and texts detailing their past activities and information about famous cultists. A common thread in such accounts is a sort of 'middle-man' who would ferry communication between Nocticula and her worshippers, referred to as the Bound Horror. It always resembles a quasit, but with documented powers far exceeding a normal quasit's capabilities, as detailed in many accounts of various heroes or outsiders successfully slaying him.
While there are no firm confirmations as to what exactly the Bound Horror was (while universally regarded as an annoyance, most Heavenly texts do not seem to consider it particularly threatening), Valaria is able to line up many separate dates and accounts to determine that the creature was first sighted shortly after the famous assassination of Vyriavaxus, the demon lord of shadows, over two thousand years ago.
Ary finds herself the second person to arrive at the reading room, Elgar’s Forgotten Compendium in hand. She finds Ehren and Lann there already. Annabelle is also there, sitting in a cozy chair, engrossed in a small Celestial book on the topic of Heavenly fashions. She couldn't even read Celestial, but she liked looking at the pictures nonetheless.
The The Tome of Stars and Moons is now safely in Isilme's possession, but she doesn't have time to rest now. She still needs to find the luminous libram, so she sets off in flight, knowing that it was a great distance away across the library. Eventually she comes to see it in the distance, an ivory bookshelf slowly floating along, moving at a slower pace than the other bookshelves around of it.
Hinagiku is whisked away down the current, past the bookshelf, before she can even hope to grasp the stone slabs on the shelf.
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Reaching the Incunabulum proves to be just as simple as Ehren expected, thanks to his ability to change form. Once he was in the tiny section of the library, finding the book was a simple matter. After pulling it off the shelf with his beak and stuffing it into his polymorphic pouch, he flies off to the reading room where everyone agreed to meet. Upon entry, he reverts to human form and withdraws the minuscule tome, smaller than the palm of his hand, and sets it on a table for Kitarlo to find later.
"Oh, thank you, Lann," Ehren says as he starts flipping through the volume he had asked him to retrieve. Hundreds of elaborate symbols line its pages, accompanied by notes concerning their meanings and pronunciation, thankfully printed in Common. Though the book itself is by no means unique, handwritten annotations fill its margins, evidently left there by past owners. For whatever reason, of the countless copies of the book circulating in the mortal realm, this was the one chosen for addition to the library's collection. If this could not help Ehren learn the language, then nothing would. Short of asking Hinagiku to tutor him, anyway, but then it would no longer be a surprise. Satisfied with the find, he slips it into his bag to check out later. "This should come in handy."
Finding that he still has some time before the others arrive, Ehren takes a closer look at the book Lann is looking through, his curiosity piqued.
Val frowns as she pages through the books she can find referencing her demonic 'babysitter'. While he does seem to make himself rather innocuous, it seems like she'd underestimated just how well he'd managed to conceal his origins and potential. Still, it made a certain sense that Nocticula had decided to make a servant out of her most famous kill. It seemed like the sort of punishment a demon lord would hand out to someone she disliked. It wasn't much to go on, but at least it was a starting point. She copied down a few passages from the texts into a free page in her journal and added a more notes on top of that before returning the books to their place.
With the bulk of her research taken care of, she turns to more books on the Abyss, looking for information on Abyssal geography and the topography of the Worldwound itself. Learning more about just how the terrain could warp would be useful in further expanding the safe territory around Drezen and exploring the alien terrain within the Wound itself.
Unless someone has something else for me to do, Val's going to do some Basic Research to gain 2 ranks in Knowledge Geography with the rest of her time.
After going around the room a few times because of the strong currents, Hinagiku finally succeeds to get a hold of the edge of the entrance tunnel and pulls herself out of the churning room. Forcing her heart to slow down, she looks around the room in the hope to find whatever it is that is creating the currents. Maybe if she knew she would be able to block them or find a celestial that might be able to help her.
perception(hero): 1d20 + 19 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 19 + 2 = 36
Having been previously enchanted with nondetection out of the wand they'd acquired, Isilme approaches the shelf with the Libram nonchalantly and quietly. She appears to browse other books as she works her way towards it, always making sure to spend more time looking at other bookshelves than it. As she gets within range she reaches out to sense the location of the book, hoping that doing so might allow her to walk by close enough to grab it before alerting the bookshelf to her intentions.
Stealth: 1d20 + 21 - 2 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 21 - 2 + 4 = 24
Bluff: 1d20 + 22 - 2 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 22 - 2 + 4 = 41
Isilme will use Blessing of Desna on her stealth check if it fails, otherwise on the bluff check.
Blessed with Desna's luck, Isilme manages to turn a blunder into a boon, carefully sneaking up to the bookshelf and grabbing the Luminous Libram off the shelf before it even notices she is there. She is the third to arrive at the reading room, two books in hand.
Blessing of Desna (crit!): 1d20 + 21 - 2 + 4 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 21 - 2 + 4 + 10 = 53
Hinagiku doesn't understand what could be causing these supernaturally strong currents. It must simply be magic.
"Learning anything neat, 'Belle?" Ary asks as she leans over the book "Made from transformative silks guaranteed to flatter any form, ethically harvested from Desnan Silkworms who aren't ready to continue their journey yet, subsisting on a diet of goodberry bush leaves?" Ary translates aloud, "Neat. I think. Gonna try to branch out into fashion-related beautification?"
Ary places her book down, opening up to the foreword if it has one, to see if there's anything interesting to learn about within. "So... are we really going to let Kintarlo just go after seven of these things on his own?" she asks as Isilme arrives.
Knowing when she is in over her head, Hinagiku starts making her way back toward the exit in hopes she might find some help, either from her companions, or from the kind celestials perusing the library. Using the magic from Xanderghul’s spell, she climbs through the tunnels rather than swimming hoping it might go faster. And, as she does, she keeps aware of her surroundings, memorizing the way to the room and looking for anyone who might be able to help.
Slowly drifting toward the celestial, Hinagiku tries to attract its attention by waving at it. And, when she is close enough, she gives a deep bow to the heavenly being and awaits head bowed for it to contact her mind.
”Celestial-sama, please forgive me for taking time away from you. I am allowed little time here, yet I cannot reach the tablet I am looking for. The currents are too strong. I have come to help a companion of mine who is afflicted by some sort of demonic experiment, and without this text we cannot undo what was done to her. I know it is presumptuous to ask anything of you, but I would be thankful if you could help me in any way.”
diplomacy(hero): 1d20 + 15 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 15 + 2 = 22
"Four, and yes, we are," Isilme responds to Ary as she sets down the books for Kitarlo. "I am certain he chose the four that he would have the least trouble with." Having been a Raelis, she had no doubts he could have trivially dealt with either of the tomes she had retrieved, and all the rest, had he but the time.
"So all that is left is for Hinagiku and Xanderghul to return with their books, and then to focus on the topics we needed to look into."
Hinagiku runs into a pair of aquatic celestial beings, with beautiful humanoid forms from the torso up, but with the bodies of shimmering, multicolored fish from the waist down. They return Hinagiku's bow, then stare at her, perplexed, when she does not speak. Unlike demons, telepathy is not a common skill amongst celestials.
"I'm sorry. Are you lost?" the creature on the left says. Her mouth contorts around strange words, but Hinagiku is somehow able to understand her meaning anyway.
"The exit is that way," the male on the right says, pointing helpfully.
Creatures that can breathe water, can speak underwater.
Xanderghul hums a tuneless song as he floats back through the maze and back out to the main area of the library. As swiftly as he is able to, he returns to the reading room where he is supposed to meet the others. He sweeps in imperiously, carefully lays the book on the table of the room, and then turns to go. "Asaru's Grimoire of the Planes," he says. "It appears to be about a young Tien woman who ascended to godhood. I wonder how that might apply to Valais, but it is interesting nonetheless."
Then he floats right back out of the room to continue his own studies. Hopefully he would have enough time left to complete them before the group ran out of time.
Step #4: Perform Basic Research. Xanderghul wants to gain 2 ranks in Lore (apotheosis). This should take 30 minutes.
Step #5: Perform Applied Research. Xanderghul wants to answer the question, "How can a shabti gain a true and complete soul?" This should take 30 minutes. INT Check: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Annabelle shrugs and smiles. "Oh, no, I just like looking at the pictures!"
Xanderghul is the next to return to the reading room, though there is a bit of a delay, as he had paused to read the text before turning it in. Valais sits in one of the chairs, too anxious to focus on reading at the moment. She counts the books left on the table for Kitarlo to read, once he returned. "Five... out of ten..." she murmurs.
"Hmmm, yeah," Annabelle says, absently. "Hope Hinagiku is doing okay."
Ary opens the book, and finds that the foreword is not written in a language she recognizes.