Whether Meryl is mentioned directly is up to Xanderghul. As is mentioning his Lodge, as both are his responsibility :p If others drop the pursuit, Ary will continue it as best she can.
"I'm uncertain that... targeting the hopeless seeking any means to raise themselves up from their current predicament is really something the Crusades should be involved in. We can't target the bandits until they've taken up arms, otherwise... they're just innocent people. So... my vote is no on the 'target the people she targets before she can.' line of thought." Ary replies, but then as Lann bursts in needing immediate help, she adds, "Also, there is Shadowblood in Drezen." before turning her full attention to Lann.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
"I'll let you know if I find anything," he adds.
"My idiotic student Meryl was ezperimenting on it and overdosed," adds xanderghul. "Perhaps someone should ask Aron if he knows anything about the local Abyssal drug trade."
Lann catches the tail-end of the heroes' conversation about drugs in Drezen and frowns. He had walked into a very serious discussion, apparently.
"I am very sorry for interrupting," he says, apologetically. "Chief Sull received a sending. Just an hour ago. From his son, Javyn. It said..." he pulls out a piece of hastily folded parchment to read aloud: "'Father, it is I, Javyn. I am taken by duergar slavers, near Fellstrok. They make for Hagegraf by way of the Long Walk. Please, send-'... and then he was cut off."
He exhales. "Javyn is a good friend of mine, whom I had feared for dead. If there is anything that any of you could do to help him... I would be in your debt."
Duergar, The Long Walk, Hagegraf... you know that this is about the Darklands, and that these are creatures and places within Nar-Voth, the closest area to the surface. You know that there are maps and atlases of Nar-Voth in your library. If no one present happens to know much about the Darklands off the top of their heads, a quick research trip should suffice. You can automatically succeed at the below checks with a three hour investment of your time in your campus library.
Distance across Golarion is immaterial to you, as long as you can walk the ley to your destination. If you could obtain geographical texts relevant to a target location, you could reasonably find an area nearby where the ley is strong enough to travel to. However, ideally such a place could be found in a safe, or civilized location... blindly traveling into an unknown location could result in tragedy.
The Long Walk is the only major tunnel linking major locations in the Darklands realm of Nar-Voth on the continent of Avistan. It serves as a major trade route in the region, and is regularly patrolled by the duergar of Hagegraf.
Hagegraf is far to the south, deep in the ground within the mountain range that separates the Five Kings Mountains from Druma.
Fellstrok is closer, underneath Belkzen.
Complicating matters is that easy, short tunnels that lead directly into Nar-Voth are rare... most are exceedingly long and winding. However, there is an entrance tunnel that leads directly into the Darklands in Janderhoff, a dwarven city in Varisia. Mendev and Janderhoff are in good terms - crusaders of Torag often use the city as a recruiting ground. If the heroes could get to Janderhoff, fast, perhaps they could intercept the slavers on their path to Hagegraf?
K. Geography: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (12) + 15 = 27
Xanderghul frowns and mumbles. "Hmm. That's recent."
"I don't know precisely what those terms are. Certainly the Underdark. I have atlases in my library, courtesy of the Pathfinder Society. Shall we take a sojourn to the Lodge and research a bit?" He stands up, already ready to go. "Does anyone require preparations?"
"Perhaps not kill them, Ary, but there is nothing preventing us from rounding them up. I doubt, however, the majority of the bandits are simply the downtrodden looking to better their lives. Many such people are simply evil or selfish and are simply interested in taking the shortest path to power and wealth they can, as it was with the fool I took the place of in Gundrak"
"Interesting, his son was capable of such magic? If so, and he was missing prior to now, why did he wait until this moment to use sending," she asks, clearly curious about the circumstances. The spell made it nearly impossible to pretend to be someone else, and could not relay the words of another, leaving the only possibility that the son himself cast it.
"I can aid in searching through the books, Xanderghul. I still have the ability to pore through them in an instant."
While Ehren himself is only vaguely familiar with the Underdark, searching through the memories of druids past is at this point reflexive for him. Right away, he finds snippets of knowledge committed to the stone by those cave druids who ventured deep into the earth and lived to tell the tale.
"Javyn and Chief Sull did not part on good terms," Ehren explains to Isilme, recalling what Lann told him months earlier. "He left Neathholm just days before Lann first brought us there. His journey must have gone well enough, until now - the situation must be truly desperate if he is only now reaching out to his father."
Looking back to Lann, he gives his friend a firm nod. "I will do everything in my power to help Javyn. I can take us almost anywhere in an instant, but I need to know exactly where we are going. The Long Walk is an immensely long tunnel... and going directly to Hagregaf would likely be unwise."
Knowledge (geography) (Surge): 1d20 + 12 + 1d6 ⇒ (17) + 12 + (6) = 35
"Yes, many of my people went with Javyn," Lann explains to Isilme. "When the earthquakes were happening, Javyn argued that the caverns were rapidly losing stability. Javyn is my own age, but he was always wise beyond his years. Not too unlike Ehren," he smiles in memory. "He lead many deeper into the Darklands. His father wanted to remain close to the surface, where our forefathers were first brought here."
"Thank you, friend," His smile widens at Ehren's encouragement. "Unfortunately the route Javyn took has caved in... Wenduag sent scouts to inspect what was left of our home tunnels, whilst we were still living in Kenabres, so I do not know of any other ways into Nar'Voth."
Nodding to Xanderghul, he moves to follow him and Isilme. "So yes, I agree, finding a safe way to get there should be a priority."
Anevia jumps up from her chair and dusts off her hands. "Alright! Sounds like you need to hop to it, then. I'm not exactly the fastest reader, so...Ary, if you need me, I absolutely want to help. You know where to find me."
They leave the Citadel and head across Drezen to Xanderghul's campus along the Southbank. Along the way they pass through Drezen's official campuses within the citadel - they were built close to the barracks, in order to capitalize on the equipment available there to perform military training exercises.
Southbank, in contrast, was largely residental. The restored buildings were now flanked with halfgrown pine trees and housed soldier's families, tradespeople, and council-people alike. Xanderghul had early on claimed multiple decaying mansions as his own, and had them refurbished to serve as a full academic campus - Variska providing much needed brawn, and Xanderghul providing, well, magic. The grounds at this point are kept to the wizard's exacting specifications, and are occupied by a few dozen or so of his own students - mostly those tieflings that he had brought in from Mantarin under his own wing, but also the odd Mendevian youth who favored learning and scholarship over wielding a sword. The grounds were also populated by Pathfinders - hearty, young adventurers clad from head to toe in travel gear, some of them hailing from exotic and far away lands. A few dozen of them had come - mostly they are here looking for work, fame, or adventure - others, to simply scope out Xanderghul's public library for hidden knowledge. For these, the fact that the Lodge operated in the middle of an Abyssal wasteland only added to the mystique of traveling to such a place. In addition, many new faces were visible in the area - newcomers from faraway places that Xanderghul and Valaria had met on their travels from Absalom.
Feel free to add descriptions of however you want this place to look - it is yours, you built it.
While Isilme works to research the initial question of finding appropriate atlases, and Ehren works with Lann to find texts that could help him deduce local ley lines, the others could spend time trying to read relevant texts for information.
Isilme can get information in just an hour and a half of reading - others could spend that time reading different books. With a DC 15 K.Geography or Dungeoneering check, a character has enough baseline knowledge to read one of the following texts in the same amount of time. Multiple characters cannot read the same book simultaneously, so you cannot aid another.
Nar'Voth is the uppermost region of the Darklands (which is interchangeably called the 'Underdark' by surface dwellers). It descends nearly three miles beneath the surface. The region itself consists of countless twisting passages and interconnected caves. Large cave-structures exist - with the Long Walk itself being about forty feet across - forming small cities. However no large caverns that span the size of a country exists in Nar'Voth. Such immense caverns are only found deeper - in Sekamina.
Nar'Voth is home to derro, duergar, mongrelmen, troglodytes, and innumerable vicious subterranean beasts and hazards.
Tunnels that are both safe and that lead directly into Nar'Voth are rare, and often controlled by one of the following races. In general, the Darklands are extremely unsafe for surface dwellers - those who require light to see are at a distinct disadvantage against the natives in the endless dark - and so only very hardy and accomplished adventurers dare travel too deep (and live to tell the tale).
Derro: Derro insane, blue-skinned humanoids usually dwell in tunnels that connect to major surface cities, and conduct nightly raids into them in search of victims for their bizarre and sadistic experiments.
Duergar: Duergar are dwarves that chose to continue to live in the Darklands rather than participate in the Quest for Sky, twisted by millennia of hardship and toil, the duergar are servants to the evil dwarven deity Droskar. Claiming to have since been abandoned by their lesser cousins during the Quest for Sky, they are now among the most ardent slavers in Nar-Voth.
Mongrelmen: Mongrelmen are a peculiar race of patchwork humanoids who make their homes in the tunnels of Nar-Voth. They have the ability not only to mate with nearly any type of humanoid creature, but the offspring of such unions takes on characteristics of both parents. Thus, there is very little conformity in appearance in the mongrelman race. Mongrelmen are the most friendly and hospitable to surface dwellers among the inhabitants of Nar-Voth, sometimes trading with them or providing shelter. This benevolence to outsiders is an attribute that has not garnered them many friends in those darkened tunnels.
Troglodytes: These reptilian inhabitants of Nar-Voth are among its most numerous. Due to their love of infighting and lack of social cohesion, they have never presented a large threat to the other local races, and generally work as mercenaries for them.
Boon: You are aware of the contents from the basic pfsrd bestiary statblocks of derro, duergar, mongrelmen, and troglodytes. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus against knowledge checks to identify subterranean animals and magical beasts and subterranean hazards.
This text, written by a faithful of Torag, discusses in detail the race of the duergar, their history and their culture. It is clear throughout, however, the author's barbed hatred of their entire race.
You find that, while not the most numerous sentient race in Nar'Voth (that goes to the Troglodytes), the duergar are the most organized and thus, the most powerful. They have complete control of the Long Walk, a long trade tunnel that connects the duergar city of Hagegraf under the Five Kings Mountains, to the stronghold of Fellstrok in the Hold of Belkzen. The Long Walk also passes beneath the dwarven city of Janderhoff.
A duergar is relatively similar in appearance to a dwarf, except for the lack of hair on its scalp and its ashen-gray skin ("duergar" means "grey-skin" in Dwarven). Being creatures native to a lightless realm, their darkvision is superior to that of their surface-dwelling brethren, allowing them to see twice as far as dwarves. They have maintained the dwarven resistance to magic, but are also immune to poison and paralytic attacks. Most duergar are raised speaking dwarven (in a slow, dim-witted accent and with crass grammar, notes the author), in addition to the trade language of the Darklands, referred to as Undercommon in Taldane. The author states that due to an evil deal made with the god Droskar, duergar all have the innate ability to turn invisible and enlarge themselves once every day.
Apparently a long time ago, while most of the dwarves left their ancestral homelands in Nar-Voth during their Quest for Sky in the late years of the Age of Darkness, there were many who refused to leave their cities. Those left behind attempted to hold on to their settlements, only to find that their numbers were too few. During the centuries that followed, these dwarves faced constant harassment and attacks from the other encroaching races of the Darklands and slowly had to abandon city after city. When finally faced with their own genocide, the evil dwarven god Droskar offered them a chance for survival; in return he demanded their unquestioning devotion. The dwarves had few other options, and accepted his deal, eventually becoming the duergar. Droskar gifted them with a mastery of magic, and in time they learned to train giant spiders and beetles as mounts and guards. These two developments helped them come back from the brink of extinction, and eventually reclaim many of their lost cities.
Having given themselves freely to the Dark Smith, it is not surprising that duergar society is violent and filled with endless work. Over the millennia, duergar have recaptured and rebuilt many of the ancient dwarven strongholds, though their architectural modifications run along much more functional, almost brutalist lines. Their cities are remarkably free of extreme poverty and signs of dissatisfaction or rebellion. While this may be impressive at first, it is soon clear that a simple, hard truth lies behind it: grey dwarves do not know the meaning of rest and serve their god by endlessly perfecting everything around them, be it structures, weapons, or magic. The only ones who work harder than the duergar are the countless slaves they keep. Through torture and physical might, the duergar refine their slaves as they would their own tools into creatures perfectly and endlessly performing toil for Droskar, without a thought of complaint.
Fellstrok is a large duergar town located directly beneath the orc capital of Urgir in the Hold of Belkzen. It has only recently been retaken and the grey dwarves work night and day to build up its defenses.
Hagegraf is the capital of the duergar which lies along the Long Walk and is built in an enormous cavern with gigantic stalactites and stalagmites. It is the center of duergar power.
The author also notes that duergar are extremely hostile towards dwarves. This makes traveling through Nar'Voth difficult for a dwarf (as they are barred from use of the Long Road or from entering duergar settlements). However, towards non-dwarves, duergar are ready and interested in trade - given that you are willing to pay their many taxes, tolls, and tariffs, and of course, observe their local laws, outsiders are free to visit their cities.
Boon: You gain a +2 to knowledge checks related to duergar, as well as to bluff/intimidate/diplomacy/sense motive checks against duergar (provided you share a language).
One of Nar'Voth's most dangerous features is the nature of the terrain itself. Sharp drops, unstable ground, slippery surfaces, and cramped passages make navigation (and defending oneself) difficult, which is why most people are willing to take the Long Walk despite its heavy tolls and disagreeable stewards.
Sandricaan, a dwarven wizard and Pathfinder, has had many adventures in Nar'Voth. While he recommends attempting to use illusion and glamour to navigate Nar'Voth using one of its civilized routes, despite the omnipresent duergar, he writes extensively about the various hazards encountered if one chooses to leave the beaten path instead. In any case, any such foray into the tunnels of Nar'Voth should be considered an expedition - the area is not comprehensively mapped, even using Sandricaan's notes.
Boon: You gain a one-time +2 to saves versus traps and hazards in the Darklands. You gain a permanent +2 to perception checks versus traps and hazards in the Darklands, and to survival checks made to navigate the Darklands.
You think of Joran - who, has, in passing, mentioned that he once lived in a Dwarven town in the Five Kings Mountains. Perhaps you could ask him for information?
The dwarven satirist, Stoneheart, had followed the both of you all the way back to Drezen. It's not like he could stay in Galt. He's made a few wry jokes about derro and duergar - perhaps he could be approached for information?
Knowledge Geography: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (5) + 18 = 23
The conversation quickly turns to a more urgent topic as Lann makes his hurried entrance. "Let's not waste any time then. The sooner we find out where we're going, the sooner we can help Javyn." Her voice is clipped and hard, and it's rather obvious that she has little lover for brutal slavers. "I'll get to work looking for more on the duergar who captured him. Maybe I can find something that will make catching up to them easier."
Val would love to read Detestable Duergar
Knowledge Geography: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (17) + 18 = 35
"Ahh," she says in response to Ehren's explanation. She knew that Li'an had been down with them amongst the underfolk, but actually still knew little of what had transpired down there. When Ehren reassures Lann, she gives Lann a nod as well. "Worry not, Lann, we'll get to him before anything happens."
Isilme spends the next hour and a half pacing slowly amongst the books in Xanderghul's collection, stopping occasionally to reach out with her senses and determine the contents of the books around her before focusing on specific ones to consume their contents. Every so often she reaches out and grabs a pair of books, taking them back to the table where the others were gathered searching for other useful information.
From what she could gather from the various discussions of the underdark, Hagegraf was far to the south from where they were, and it seemed unlikely that they would have any easy way to get directly to the Long Walk from here.
Spending some time thinking as she paces the shelves again, she begins perusing other books on geography at random, hoping for a flash of inspiration. It was at that point she stumbled upon a book not on geography, but instead one of the old logs of the pathfinder lodge in Nerosyan. The log book documented several trips made from Nerosyan to the dwarven city of Janderhoff, accompanying small groups of crusaders who had been sent to recruit there.
Grabbing the logbook quickly, she walks back over to the table with the others. "I believe I have a solution," she says, opening the book to one of the relevant entries. "The pathfinder lodge in Nerosyan, in the course of its actual duties, sent pathfinders to the dwarven city of Janderhoff. Apparently Crusaders of Torag head there to recruit, which the pathfinders took advantage of in order to get access to the city. Their goal is not what is interesting here, but instead these notes explaining how to steer clear of Hagegraf and the patrolled tunnels around it."
"Perhaps instead of attempting to enter from Kenabres or around here and catch up to the slavers then, we can head to Janderhoff and attempt to intercept them before they reach Hagegraf?"
Your own research brings you to a similar conclusion as Isilme in short order. In a text documenting natural wonders in Avistan, you note one place not too far from Janderhoff - Crystalrock. Crystalrock is a large, natural cavern located in the Mindspin Mountains of south-eastern Varisia near the banks of the Falcon River. It was discovered by the dwarves of Janderhoff who also call it the "Heart of the World". Within the cavern is an enormous crystal formation which hangs suspended from crystal threads.
Ehren knows from the teachings of his clan that many natural caverns found to be rich with such elaborate crystalline structures are a clear sign of the influence of the ley. This area would also be rather safe, as the text notes that the mountain trail that connects Crystalrock to Janderhoff is well patrolled by dwarves, protecting travelers and scholars from the many giants, ogres, and trolls that call the Mindspin Mountains home.
"That is a sound plan," Ehren agrees, looking up from one of the books he was perusing. Naturally, finding a ley line native to the Material Plane was far less complicated than finding one that originated from Heaven. Tapping the page he is on, he explains, "This place, Crystalrock, is not very far from Janderhoff, and the pathway between the two is well defended by the dwarves. The cavern is host to a massive crystal formation - the ley must be strong there, without a doubt. It would take a few trips back and forth, but I should be able to get us there without issue."
Ehren can walk the lines 6 times a day, and can bring up to 3 people with him each time he does so.
"Perhaps then we should set out as soon as possible," Isilme responds. "The sooner we get there, the more likely we will be able to intercept them before they get close enough to Hagegraf to get aid from patrols or other slavers returning."
You have a contact, Sandricaan, who is a dwarf wizard Pathfinder who lives in Janderhoff. You've met before. He has extensively adventured and documented his own adventures in the Darklands. It might be worth asking him for advice before leaving. Attempting to to rescue slaves from duergar within heavily patrolled duergar territory will be no small feat.
The Long Walk from Fellstrok to Janderhoff is 300 miles. For a normal group (30' movement speed) this takes 13 days. However, duergar are slow (20' movement speed), so it will take them 19 days The Long Walk from Janderhoff to Hagegraf will be another 300 or so miles.
Lann's smile widens as the heroes find what they are looking for in short order. "Excellent. When should we set off? Do you want to leave today?" His voice is quick and excited, but he catches himself, and adds. "If you want longer to prepare and to get your affairs in order, I of course understand."
Looking for a majority vote as to when to leave.
"I see no reason not to leave right away. It will likely take them nearly three weeks to get there, giving us plenty of time to locate them and scout out the situation before acting to ensure no one is harmed."
"As for... pleasure... I think I have some of that scheduled for next month? See you then?" Ary asks with a wry grin.
"Will do, Anevia." Ary says, nodding to her as she leaves, but wondering briefly if bringing another human into darkness with no answers for it would be wise... especially an archer in cramped quarters. But shakes the idea off, if Anevia wanted to come, and Ehren could afford the energy required to bring her, Ary would definitely bring her along. She could easily be a real life saver if things went sideways.
"Do Duergar have any spells, like demons do, to make dark caves even worse?" Ary asks of the others, wondering out loud.
"There was also that one Duergar that lived up here, right? The one that kinda..." Ary nods her head towards the absent seat where Anevia had been. "I remember he had a notebook and I think Xander mentioned it at some point... but I can't remember what was in it..?"
Ary briefly thinks about going to see Joran about the Long Road... but finds that it would likely be immensely insensitive to ask him about fallen dwarves that had never come into the light of day... and thinks it better to aid in research. "We should also look for escape routes. If there is a safe location we can come back from, it could save us both time and our lives. Also, if there are large enough shortcuts, even a dangerous foe could be worth fighting our way past." Ary says as she looks at the books Isilme had quickly assembled, before choosing the 'Adventures' book for her own perusal. "Maybe I'll find some new stories for Sana, even if I don't get much out of it." she remarks as she begins to thumb through.
K(Dungeoneering): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (18) + 13 = 31
As she finishes she shakes her head, "Aaaand, nope." she shares, finally, "Definitely not a book for children. Positively nightmarish, some of those things." Ary says, pursing her lips. "I may well be a teensy bit more claustrophobic than I already was." she says, finally closing the book. "Basically, it says that it's probably better to trick people along the long road than move about off the beaten path. There's a reason everyone uses the road. But the monsters and pits and such just off the edge could also be opportunities for us... if we can survive. If we're careful, we might also be able to plot paths, and possibly create new ones if we have the right magic and skills at hand, though." she adds, finally.
"We'll need supplies to overcome darkness for those of us that can't, because using light will make us easy prey for everything down there. We'll need ways to quickly cross chasms if we're moving off the beaten path. The ability to create a light source from afar would also be useful, I think." she says, pausing. "Water and rations to keep us from starving or thirsting to death below. Possibly extra food could be better for bargaining in some cases than money, I'd think, especially foods they'd consider exotic. We should bring some of Mother Heartwood's fruit." she says pausing and resting her chin on her fist. "I think if push comes to shove, I might be able to figure out where we are if we get turned around. Especially with help." she adds, finally.
"I think we should be able to leave quickly, but collecting supplies should take precedence over rushing out." she says, drumming her fingers on the table for a moment. It only just then occurs to her that all of them disappearing for weeks at the drop of a hat was rather... insane, causing her brow to furrow, but she doesn't say as much. The Underfolk had risked everything for them quite early on in their campaign, and they'd likely not have survived without their kindness. It was the least they could do to return the favor.
I'll describe the campus another time!
K. Geo (DC 15): 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (1) + 15 = 16
K. Geo (DC 20): 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34
"I think we should leave as soon as everyone is ready. How about we set the menhir as a meeting place and then take care of our individual business before going to the rendezvous?"
Xanderghul opens up the Nar-Voth Primer and begins to flip through it. In answer to Ary, he says, "Duergar's natural magical powers are nothing to be afraid of. They can enlarge themselves and vanish from sight. We should, however, expect some amount of divine magic among the opposition." He continues to flip through it, humming. "I wish to speak with a friend of mine in Janderhoff as soon as possible. He's a Pathfinder named Sandricaan, and he should have some information about what we might face."
"I don't believe that we have anything to gain from hanging around here," he adds. "We're more likely to succeed the longer we spend preparing, and it's been a long time since I've been to Janderhoff. Could be a fun field trip."
Hinagiku was about to lay a comforting hand on Isilme’s shoulder after hearing about her lost memories. She hadn’t realized her companion had lost so much on their trip to heaven. Yet, before she can do anything, she is interrupted by Lann’s arrival.
Hinagiku hadn’t realized that Isilme had lost so much on their trip to heaven. About to lay a comforting hand on the azata’s shoulder, she interrupted by Lann’s arrival. Withdrawing her hand, she listens to the man’s plea. And, after the discussion about the drifter and drugs is abruptly dropped in favor of the rescue operation, Hiknagiku follows the others to the pathfinder lodge. On their way, she approaches Isilme.
”Mrs. Isilme, you have been away from the city for quite some time since our visit to heaven, and it seems we will not be staying her long if we are to help Mr. Lann’s friend. Still, how do you feel now that you are here back with us? ” Hinagiku asks, trying not to pry to hard while still hoping to catch a glimpse at Isilme’s feelings vis a vis her recent change and travels.
While the Valaria and Xanderghul begin to read the Duergard book and Primer, Hinagiku picks up Sandricaan’s adventures. Her brow quickly begins to furrow as she tries to link what she is reading to the topside world. But the names of unknown cities just accumulate. Finally, she is taken out of her reverie when she hears Isilme mention a 3 weeks trip. Not having followed the conversation, she believes thi will apply to them rather than the duergars.
”It is always hard to get a feeling of how things might go when we have so little information. Three weeks might easily become five. So, should we really leave... today? When left unattended, troubles will worsen... like the drifter and the drugs.”
Hinagiku would rather make this a short-trip, or no trip. However, if we spy on them, maybe we could actually time ourselves to leave and arrive close to Janderhoff only 2 days before they arrive. That way our characters don’t waste time traveling the underdark and can continue running things in town.
When Hinagiku returns to the monastery (either to get ready or fo any other reason), she stops by at Joran’s forge. She knew the dwarft had been a follower of Droskar, a deity worshiped by the underground dwarves, and might know some things about those people. So, she just sits with him, and once he takes a moment off from his work, she slowly begins mentioning that they are heading into the darklands, hoping he might volunteer some information.
diplomacy: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (11) + 15 = 26
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Joran's brow furrows when he hears of Hinagiku's latest mission. "Hmph. Duergar. You know I hold little love for my Toragdan kin, but Duergar are a completely different sort of vile."
"Let me explain something to you, Hinagiku, about my people, so that you understand what the duergar truly are. While the dwarves here in Drezen are all faithful of Torag, the truth is we dwarves believe there is a great celestial family of dwarven gods, who have all existed since before the Age of Creation. They say the dwarven gods are many, and they all live within the Holy Mountain of Heaven in the great dwarven city of Forgeheart, where all true dwarves yearn to go, one day. But they are ruled by the Father of Creation and his kin. Torag, he who created the world at his great forge, striking it again and again with his hammer to get the shape he desired, and who created the dwarven race in his own image from its molten core."
"They say Droskar was Torag's greatest student...until one day Torag discovered he was merely copying the work of another dwarven god, whom he had captured and enslaved. In an effort to cover his tracks, Droskar slew his captive, a tragedy as he could never again work at Torag's forge. Torag then cursed Droskar by taking from him an sradag - the Spark - the fire of creation which lies dormant within every dwarf that grants us creativity and innovation. Droskar fled Heaven, and then walked amongst the dwarves, seeking followers... and slaves."
"At this time the dwarves all lived deep within the earth, but Torag had blessed the dwarves with an ancient prophecy - that one day the earth would shake, and they would leave their darkened homes to press upwards in a Quest for Sky. They say some of the dwarves were too cowardly to leave their homes, and so they remained behind as the rest of the dwarves dug their way up to the surface, my forefathers."
"The dwarves left behind, however, found themselves too few to fend off attacks from the Darkland races... the troglodytes and the derro. Worse, the rest of the dwarven pantheon forsook those who rejected Torag's call, and they were left weakened and nigh powerless. They cried out, desperate for aid... and Droskar heard their call. Droskar offered them power and protection, allowing them to reclaim their shattered empire, in exchange for eternal servitude. The dwarves saw the trade as fair, and as they accepted Droskar's patronage, their skin turned grey and they became Droskar's chosen people, the duergar."
"Droskar is a cruel and cold-hearted god... He believes that sufficient toil leads to eventual success, and that those who fail simply weren't trying hard enough. In the pursuit of this goal, Droskar believes that one should be free to do whatever is necessary to accomplish one's goal, even if that includes lying, cheating, the exploitation of others, or even worse crimes," he frowns.
"So, Hinagiku, I know that you are soft-hearted and kind. But you need to understand this. The duergar are not like me. They each and every one are Droskar's chosen people - they wear his mark in the color of their flesh. Their loyalty to him is unwavering. Do not show them mercy, as they are incapable of showing it to you. They believe in the god-given right of the powerful to dominate the weak. If they view you as strong, they will defer to your might, for a time. But if cornered, they will each and every one readily follow the Dark Smith into oblivion if need be. Because you see, deep down, the duergar are just like all dwarves - loyal to a fault, and stubborn as a mule. They promised eternal servitude in exchange for Droskar's power and protection, and not a one will break that vow willingly."
Need Ehren or Valaria's opinions to come to a consensus. Does anyone else who has already posted agree with Hinagiku?
Isilme smiles at Hinagiku's concern. "I have been gone a while," she says. "Elysium was wonderful, but I am glad to be back. We will have quite a bit of time to talk on the trip through the underdark if you are curious about Elysium."
"I wouldn't worry too much about it taking longer. We will be heading towards them, and if we move quickly we can easily make the trip in a week. Less if we push more than eight hours a day."
Waiting until the last second seems like a bad idea. I think we're better off going immediately.
"We could meet at the menhir in say, an hour?" Ehren suggests, looking to the others. "That should give us enough time to gather provisions and let people know that we are leaving."
"I believe Irabeth and the others are more than capable of running Drezen without us," he says to Hinagiku reassuringly, understanding where she is coming from. While they have enjoyed relative peace over the past few months, there was no reason to suspect that it would stay that way forever - within the span of a single week, anything could happen. Even so, this was not a matter he was willing to delay. "They can always contact us with sending if they need advisement."
Curiosity was not quite the right word, but hearing about what Elysium was like would certainly be a great learning experience, just like living through the strange world of the Heavens had been. Though Hinagiku was certainly more concerned about Isilme’s current state of mind than her travels.
”Mrs. Isilme, the trip would be quite a good opportunity to catch up. And I expect not only for me but for the others. I am sure you will enjoy the occasion to weave wonderful tales about your trip.”
Isilme’s convincing tone and Ehren’s comment, being her close friend, do help convince Hinagiku. She knew their powers and they were likely to hasten the trip quite a bit. Seven days to go and come back Hinagiku is not understanding this correctly! was time she was willing to take away from fighting off demons at the edge of Drezen. Longer might have been too much though.
”Ehren-kun, I do trust in Mrs. Irabeth and the members of the council, but I also know that there are things that we usually are the only ones to undertake. I am mostly concerned about postponing those. From what you tell me, I seems that we could take the rest of the day to settle a few matters before leaving for the darklands. Like letting Mrs. Irabeth know about the new drugs.”
Hinagiku listens intently at what Joran has to say. Though he seemed distant toward his former faith, she could tell that the beliefs he was passing on to here were deeply ingrained into his personality and culture. He might now be a follower of the Master of masters now, but she could tell that his upbringing was still at the very core of his soul.
”Mr. Vhane, thank you for sharing so much. I am touched by your concern for me, and can tell you that I will be careful. I might show mercy, but I also always make sure that any I fight against is unable to strike back at me while my back is turned. I will be prudent, even if I do not slay those that I fight against. ”
Kiora, did you sustract the amount of money for Hinagiku retraining a skill point to linguistic in order to learn Hallit? I mentioned it a while ago but haven’t made the change to her skills yet.
"I believe that the quicker we get moving, the better," Val agrees with Isilme. "I wouldn't want to leave anyone in the hands of beings like the duergar for long. Their slaves don't have a tendency to last very long to begin with."
@Hinagiku - yes
Lann nods. Despite Hinagiku's initial misgivings, it seemed that everyone wanted to get moving as soon as possible, rather than put it off. "An hour seems fair. I'll see you all at the menhir in an hour."
We will move on once all 6 of you check in. Please state how you wish to spend the hour. Please be specific about your preparations, especially if you intend to bring gear or provisions that you do not typically already carry around (that aren't reflected in the loot document). If you have no preparations to make, simply state as such.
With only an hour to prepare for their departure, Ehren leaves the campus and heads directly to the abode of Clan Unbroken. In his absence, Ailig and Isbeyl were most responsible for the affairs of the Kellid community in Drezen. While this is not the first time he has left the city for an extended period of time, his notice is considerably shorter than normal.
The druid asks the two clan-lieges to keep an eye on things while he is away, particularly on the delicate situation between Xanderghul's students and the Heartwood cult. Though Ehren trusts the wizard's word, Xanderghul is a part of the rescue mission - he would not be able to keep Bellandrus in line. He could only hope that things would remain peaceful while they are gone - beyond the matters Hinagiku expressed concern about, any number of horrible things could happen in the Worldwound.
After speaking to the Kellid magisters, Ehren passes the news to Mother Heartwood as well. At Ary's suggestion, he takes the opportunity to collect some of the tree's magical fruit, filling his polymorphic pouch with as much as he can manage. They would be able to conjure food and water easily enough outside of the Worldwound, but carrying additional provisions would hardly hurt.
With his preparations made, Ehren hurries to the menhir, taking a moment to converse with Grumtarr if he is not the last one to arrive. Given how long this hill has been his home, he was unlikely to know anything of the deeper places of the world. Still, it would not hurt to ask.
Ehren will collect 28 of Mother Heartwood's mythic goodberries (14 pounds).
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
An hour was not a long time to prepare for possibly a week abroad. Luckily, Xanderghul did not need to eat or drink, and he hardly needs to sleep. Furthermore, he always carries all of his gear in his haversack at all times. He is prepared for disaster or adventure always. Instead of packing or checking in with people, he calls a meeting of his students and Pathfinders. One of the manor buildings had once been possessed of a beautiful ballroom, which had been converted into a lecture hall. He calls all of his people over to that building for a check-in and for a bit of direction.
It takes much of the time just to gather everyone. Chatting multitudes sitting in a mismatched variety of chairs scavenged from all over the city on a refurbished wooden dance floor. A newly-constructed stage hosts a podium, which Xanderghul stands at. Once enough people have arrived that he's sure the word will spread, he quiets everyone so he can speak.
He addresses the crowd, his naturally-imperious voice filling the space easily. "I see our ranks have swelled since I started this school," he says. "Though I only returned to the city from a walkabout yesterday, I am about to depart on a dangerous rescue mission into the Underdark. Before I go, I have some things to say."
"I am proud of what we have built so far, but do not think we are done! I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to accomplish here. I have meditated on the meaning of strength and its uses. I have given thought to the world I want to see, and the world we live in, and how to travel between these worlds." He looks around his crowd, meeting many gazes. "Spend time on your own thinking on this subject."
"Strength is key. Our world is a cold, unforgiving place, and no place will teach that lesson better than here, in the Worldwound. Strength means that when the world throws cruelty and pain at you - and it will - that you can look it in the face and say 'No'."
"I have come to realize that nothing in this world is stronger than a group of competent, educated, well-equipped individuals with a unified vision. That is what I want to build. So look around. This is your community now. This is your home, if you want one. Even if you don't, consider contributing to mine. We have lots of work to do."
From there, he begins calling out groups of people and giving out work assignments. Using personnel lists compiled for him by Valais, he breaks up the Pathfinders into small parties and assigns them each a small group of campus researchers. The Pathfinders' job is field data collection and entry, venturing into the Worldwound or conducting interviews or exploring Mendev. They are to write field reports and submit them to the Lodge libraries. They also are meant to collect samples. The research teams' jobs is to get as much information out of what the Pathfinders collect. After assigning jobs to the Pathfinder teams and their research squads, he divides up the remainder of the campus students by their area of interest and assigns each subject a small selection of projects. By the time he's finished doling out work, he's nearly late. Summarily, he packs up his notes and says, "Let's get that work done. See you all in a while."
He hands off the notes to Valais, instructs her to keep a thorough report on whatever he needs to know, and hustles out to the menhir.
"I'll pack for a trip underground then." Val hurries back to her place to refill her travel gear and prepare for their delve into the Darklands. Admittedly, it wasn't on the top of her list of places that she ever wanted to explore, but there were stories about some of the strange things that dwelled down there that she wished they had more time to look into. It was just a pity that most of the civilized beings living down below were slavers. At least Lann's people were kinder. And that was all the more reason to rescue the chief's son before the duergar got away.
Isilme leaves to go gather things, not that she felt they would need much. Running briefly by the quartermaster, she collects a week's worth of rations for the group, just in case. Additionally she heads by the where the Desnan clerics were quartered hoping to purchase some incense for use in her divinations. Having a couple sets of reagents prepared would be handy if they were having issues tracking down the slavers.
After that she takes time to stop briefly by to let Kule and Aravashnial know that she was leaving, before heading out to join the others at the menhir.
Getting materials for two castings of divination along with 7x6 days of rations. Can dump them on Ary once we're heading out.
Spells; I had forgotten about those. Hinagiku leaves her spell slot empty as usual.
After she is done speaking to Joran, Hinagiku collects her belongings, which is as always not much, but adds 2 rations to her bag. Though it might last long for most people, she knew she would be able to live off this food for more than a week. And, just before leaving she drops by Hua Xin's cell to let him know she will be gone for a few days.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Ary didn't have much time, given that the others wanted to depart within the hour... that left a bit of time to fetch Anevia and ensure that Ser Jorsal was informed of the shadowblood having shown up. Then, on top of that, making preparations. It was all... insane, to be frank. She was used to prepping to go out quickly, at the first sign of danger, or what have you... but to drop literally everything to go halfway across the continent to help someone and leave everything as it is here?
Had Xanderghul even done anything with Meryl? Had he informed Jorsal - and if so, would she be wasting her time? She was going to be late.
The first thing to do was to find Anevia, if she divvied up the tasks, everything would flow more easily.
As soon as she found Anevia - sitting under the tree still half-filled with bags of candy sneakily munching away at the treats, she picks up one of the empty bags from the ground, "Hey, Anevia... before we go, I'd like you to collect some things for me." she says, as she digs through her own bag and pulls out some gold; she didn't worry about overspending, she knew that Xanderghul would find a use for it. "Could you go collect six hundred gold worth of scribing supplies, or as much as you can get? We'll be out for a while, and I think Xanderghul will appreciate it. We'll be able to get some Darkvision scrolls in case we need to move in the dark for you and Daisy... and he may be able to make a few more things. After you get that, come meet me up on the Menhir Hill?" she suggests. "Oh, and uh... we leave in about 45 minutes. So... let Irabeth and Sana know. The trip is probably going to be close to a month... so if you don't want to come, just let me know when you get there." she says as she tosses the rogue the bag of coin.
She gives a short salute and heads off to find Ser Jorsal to ensure that he's aware that Shadowblood had made its way into the city. It wasn't as though it would be exceedingly rare inside of the worldwound so it was no surprise someone had found some,b ut the possibility of things growing worse nagged at her mind. She informs him that Meryl, Xanderghul's student, was in the hospital ward and that they'd be helping to treat him over time. She explains the signs and symptoms, as well as the debilitating drawback... she didn't bother going into detail about how awful things could get or how quickly - of all people, Ser Jorsal didn't need even a slight reminder.
She purses her lips as the conversation comes to a close... maybe they should have built that bunker out east. Thoughts of the shadow demons remind her of Icerift and the half-forgotten threats it held. They may well need to go back and finish clearing it out. Maybe with the northern tunnel they'd dug, building a fortification in between (perhaps even within the cliff face itself) could act to have both within a short supply line and improve the fortifications of Drezen itself. She pulls out her little notebook of Celestial Learning and scribbles into one of the corners - Wall of Stone, Cliff Fort? The rest of the page is covered in other writing. An articulated E is in the top left of the page... surrounded by more scribbles.
She also informs the Eagle watch to inform Nurah a week after she's left that she's out of the city for a bit and will return when she has more time... hopefully with more stories to share. Then... outwards to the Menhir. Along the way, she recalls having walked into the room with the mercenaries to let them know they were safe, that she was with the Crusades... and their immediate reaction. She contemplates taking off her tabard so as not to involve the Crusades in their combats with the Duergar... but eventually decides that she shouldn't be worried about making enemies of insane dwarves. She already had a few that were friends, after all.
Ary finds herself a few minutes late. She had spent the last hour dashing from office to office, ensuring that everything that needed to be set in motion, was, before heading out to the menhir to meet up with the others.
Grumtarr is there on his hill, snoozing while basking in the summer sun. He didn't know a thing about where they were going. It's hard to say how old Grumtarr is - he doesn't actually know, himself - but he has spent his entire life either within Dirt-home as he calls it - or here, on this hill.
Within a few trips, Ehren is able to transport all eight of them to Crystalrock, fusing his own essence into the leystream beneath their feet, and using the maps he had studied in Xanderghul's library to guide them to an eventual point in the ley where the stream rejoined with the surface.
The heroes find themselves transported to a large, natural cavern. The space inside is the size of a small keep, and several stone walkways have been constructed to make moving around easier. The ceiling is completely encrusted in beautiful, opaque white crystals. At the center, however, is an enormous, glowing, crystalline structure the size of a small carriage. It floats in mid air, as if weightless, slowly rotating in space. Crystalline threads as fine as spun silk drape across the structure from the ceiling, but never touch the rotating structure at its core, seemingly suspended in mid-air themselves.
You can hear a faint hum throughout the cavern, resonating with the crystals. It is quiet, but it never ceases. It is reminiscent of a tuning fork, or an uttered mantra.
The dwarves call this crystal "The Heart of the World".
Upon his initial arrival, Ehren had startled a poor dwarf who was very focused on examining the enormous crystal, so that he slipped and fell on his bottom. A hasty explanation later, and he was only mildly scolded for having so rudely teleported directly into his research camp, scattering notes and instruments all about in a flash of light.
As beautiful as Crystalrock is, the heroes had come here to make for Janderhoff. They exit the cavern and find themselves facing the setting sun across the Mindspin mountains of Varisia. Here, the dwarves have carved a road directly into the mountain, making traversing its peaks a breeze - as long as you don't spend too much time looking over the sheer cliff face at its edge. The road is well traveled with dwarven patrols, travelers, and traders. The mountains here, too inhospitable for other humanoid races to settle, were heavily settled by the dwarves. They carry goods to and fro using carts and wagons that are drawn by enormous mountain rams - the creatures were tamed by the dwarves long ago.
Val and Xanderghul get a +5 to this check because they've been to Varisia before
The Mindspin Mountains are not a pleasant place to live, even for the dwarves. Unfortunately, a great many ogres, trolls, and other giants also inhabit the mountains, and clashes are frequent and violent. Many dwarves have disappeared in this region, and, although dwarven troops from Janderhoff patrol the mountains, far too many dwarven settlements—mainly mining camps, hunting lodges, and the like—are wiped out long before a patrol can arrive to check on their well-being. There is little wonder that many dwarves feel a deep, cultural hatred for giants, as these sorts of clashes were typical around the Sky Citadels, who are featured heavily in their own mythology as villains and monsters today.
It isn't a long walk before the heroes can see mighty Janderhoff in the distance. The first thing they see are the massive iron curtain walls of the city, proud reminders of the glories of dwarven architecture and engineering at their peak. It was truly only the dwarves, out of all the civilized races, who truly made the mountains their mistresses, carving out grand cities all the way to their vast peaks, and they did so through unparalleled architectural ingenuity.
They pass through a number of checkpoints without any delay, though the number of armored guards increases the closer they get to the city. Soon they are at the gates. The enormous iron doors to Janderhoff are wide open, emblazoned with enormous hammers.
Valaria can use K.Local for the below check if desired.
The hammers are actually not the same as the design used for the holy symbol of Torag. Rather, they are the hammers from the Harrow card, the Hammer.
Harrow is a popular recreational past time, and divining tool, with roots in Varisia.
At the doors they are stopped by a pair of guards. Looking around, they can see that other guards are stopping all travelers entering the city.
You can hear a lot of requests for trade permits and other such documents. From what you can overhear, the dwarves tax all imported goods prior to entering the city.
"Halt, travelers," a heavily armored dwarf raises a hand to stop them. "What brings ye t'Janderhoff?"
Ary or Hinagiku can make the below check with a diplomacy roll instead, having gained the same information over many different conversations with Joran.
Dwarves are an incredibly long lived race, and are known for being both stubborn and loyal. They are generally friendly and open to other races who wish to trade with them, or who wish to visit their cities, but they are slow to admit immigration into their underground homes. Their homes are carved directly from the rock, meaning that residential space is at a premium, and they prefer that there be enough homes for dwarves before allowing others to live in their cities.
They can appear xenophobic and traditionalist to outsiders, but their ways are set due to necessity. Though long lived and hardy, they reproduce extremely slowly, each female dwarf only coming into fertility typically no more than five times in her lifetime, and dwarf hybrids (like half-elves, amongst the elves) appear to be impossible. Further complicating the matter is that male dwarves are more common than female dwarves - approximately three male dwarves are born for every female dwarf.
As such, family is precious to dwarves, and dwarves tend to form fiercely loyal ties to their family members, forming large cohesive clans. Their civilizations can be fragile when confronted with war or disease, as a few battles going awry can wipe out an entire generation of able-bodied dwarves, not to be replaced for another century. This can explain their cultural disposition for defensive structures and fighting styles, and their disdain for un-necessarily risky behaviors... as well as other cultural norms that can appear foreign to other humanoid cultures, such as arranged marriages, coupled with intense familial pressure to produce grand children.
Not all dwarves share these same old-fashioned views, of course - however dwarves that remain in the most populous dwarven cities, whom can often trace their lineage uninterrupted to those same dwarves who dug their way to the surface so long ago, tend to be traditionalists, while those families who move out to live amongst the many human cities are less so.
Though she had made the trip to Nerosyan a few times along the ley lines, including when they fought off the most recent invasion, Isilme still found the experience fascinating. Though effectively a teleport, it shared nothing in common with the experience of teleportation, with which she was fairly familiar.
The sight when they materialize is no less fascinating. The giant crystal floating in the middle of the room hovers there prompting questions of those who view it. Needless to say it wasn't surprising that their arrival startled a dwarf who had been trying to answer those very questions.
Though they don't hang around long, Isilme takes a moment to apologize to the researcher for their abrupt appearance, helping to clean up the things he had dropped due to their unexpected arrival.
Not to long afterwards, they find themselves approaching the city of Jaderhoff. Though Isilme had been to dwarven cities before, this was not one of them. At least not as far as she remembered anymore anyway. The architecture was always impressive to look at, even if the insides were too far removed from the skies for her taste.
Perception: 1d20 + 26 ⇒ (14) + 26 = 40
As they approach the gate, Isilme watches as the guards interact with those entering the city, listening to them discussing permits and levied taxes.
When they finally arrive at the front, Isilme steps forward and begins speaking to the guard in dwarven. It never hurt to address people in their native language, so she does so in--as with all the languages she speaks--fluent, flawless dwarven.
"Beannachdan, tha sinn air siubhal bho Mendev gus a dhol a-steach do na raointean dorcha. Fhuair sinn fios gun deach buidheann de fo-thalamh a ghlacadh le tràillean dubha dubha. Tha sinn air ar ceann sìos gus an teasairginn mus tèid an toirt gu Hagegraf."
Once the chaos flying sheets of papers is replaced by well ordered piles and a disgruntled dwarf is now... less disgruntle, Hinagiku's ear perk up. And, as she pays attention to the resonating mantra hummed by the very land, her ears slowly come to rest sideways.
"It is truly beautiful. Not only this wonderful sight, but the relaxing sound. I wish I were able to get such a peaceful chant in our monastery." she says to both the dwarf and Ehren, but loud enough to be heard by the others.
As they walk through the mountain and approach the city, Hinagiku gazes at the landscape, architecture, and people to fully appreciate this new place. If Mendev had been completely alien to her when she had first arrived, this place was even more so. And so, knowing little of the region, other than what Joran has mentioned to her, she decides to stay at the back and let Isilme handle their entry into the city.
diplomacy: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (16) + 15 = 31
Perception v. Hinagiku's hallucination?: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (5) + 16 = 21
Diplomacy v. knowing the thing: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
"What sound?" Ary asks, lofting a brow to Hinagiku as she watches the giant crystal warily. Sure, it was pretty, but so was the giant set of crystals that had been set beneath Citadel Drezen, acting as a focus for bringing the whole thing down.
"So... on the left, we have a giant pit that falls off into oblivion. On the right, you can see the same. I... kind of get the feeling we're going to be seeing a lot of this, though... for now, we have sky." Ary says, motioning upwards and trying to make the time pass with a conversation.
"How much were you able to spend on scribing supplies?" Ary asks Anevia as she continues onwards, sticking to the middle of the group... since there wasn't really a rear to guard in the present environment.
As they reach the gates, she pauses and purses her lips as Isilme decides to talk to the dwarf in a language she doesn't know. "Can anyone translate?" she asks, looking towards Valaria and Xanderghul in turn.
K. Geo (DC 30): 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (20) + 15 = 35
K. Geo (DC 30): 1d20 + 15 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 15 + 5 = 36
K. Geo (DC 25): 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34
Perception (DC 20): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11
K. Geo (DC 25): 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (17) + 15 = 32
Xanderghul has spent quite a bit of time studying Golarion cultures, history, architecture and species. In his first few decades on this plane, he as fascinated by the myriad species of mortals and their unique customs. Dwarves in particular have always drawn some of his attention. No other surface species was like them - they were like a hybrid between the terrifying Underdark species of Nar-Voth and the organized, moral species of the surface. However, no historical record existed of them interbreeding with another species. They were quite unique!
When they arrive at the gates, Xanderghul translates for Ary (and he will continue to do so if Isilme continues to speak to residents of the city in Dwarven). "She's just telling them why we're here," he says.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
Ehren apologizes to the dwarven researcher profusely, having not even considered the possibility that the cavern might be inhabited. Only once he has been placated does he look upwards, at the so-called Heart of the World. Unsurprisingly, the texts did not do it justice. Understanding that they are in a hurry, he takes only a few short moments to marvel at the singing formation.
"Perhaps we can take a moment to meditate here, once our work is done," Ehren remarks in agreement with Hinagiku's sentiment. He contemplates Ary's question, suspecting that it is only through their connection to the land that they can hear the peaceful hum.
Only once they have left the cave does it strike him that this is the farthest from home he has ever been - the metaphysical distance between the Material Plane and Heaven aside. Regardless, the Green is omnipresent. Much like the Rimethirst Mountains before them, the Mindspin Mountains resonate with something deep within him, an aspect of nature to which he is closely bonded. Perhaps that is why despite the dangers inherent to the region, Ehren thoroughly enjoys the long stroll to Janderhoff.
Knowledge (geography) DC 30: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (12) + 12 = 24
Knowledge (geography) DC 30: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32
Knowledge (geography) DC 25: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (18) + 12 = 30
Knowledge (geography) DC 25: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 20
The guard narrows his eyes at Isilme, and says gruffly. "Is e am facal air an son duergar - chan e troich a th ’anns na creutairean sin." He lets that sit in the air for a moment, then then nods and laughs, heartily. "Do nae worry, your Dwarven is very good, fer an elf!"
"The word for them is Duergar - those creatures are not dwarves."
Turning serious, he continues. "If a motley bunch like yer lot know of the name of Hagegraf tae begin with, 'en ye don't need me tae be tellin' ye hoo hard of a road you've got ahead of ye. Forge-fire be wi' all ye." He nods, letting them pass.
"Forge-fire" refers to Angradd, the brother of Torag. He is also a god of war, one who aggressively seeks out threats to eliminate, in contrast with Torag, who is the god of defensive war and strategical thinking.
Angradd is as such invoked by dwarves for protection when they set out to do something that would be considered rash or dangerous by others.
Traditionalist dwarves are polytheistic, worshipping Torag at the head of their pantheon, but interchangeably appealing to other dwarven gods as well. Dwarven priests have been observed shifting the focus of their veneration dynamically from Torag to one of his family members as their clan's needs suit them, but in general their focus is on following Torag's teachings. As such, clerics who exclusively worship members of the dwarven pantheon are rare.
The heroes proceed through the gates of Janderhoff. They first pass through a long, iron tunnel - the outer fortifications of the mountain - before coming to another set of open gates. This opens up to the enormous upper-most chamber of Janderhoff.
Janderhoff was one of the last Sky Citadels to be built, and one of the only ones still in possession of the dwarves. Most of them are either completely lost or taken by enemies.
Janderhoff is simultaneously an enormous mountain-top castle, and an underground city. The upper cavern is about a mile across and a hundred feet high. It is filled with stone walkways that snake around stone buildings chiseled directly from within the rock. The roof of the cavern is shaped as a dome, and large panels have been cut from the top and sides of the mountain, causing the cavern to be open to the sky. At this point, however, the sun is setting, and the cavern is becoming dark. Though the dwarves themselves don't need it, most buildings are still illuminated by torch light, and travelers and passers by carry lanterns to help them see their way. The city is bustling this evening, boasting a population ten times of Drezen.
Looking over the stone rails as the heroes pass, they can see that the city extends vertically beneath their feet downwards for several tiers at least, and they pass by the occasional staircase leading down into the dark. Janderhoff's people -- overwhelmingly dwarves, but there are also some humans, halflings, and gnomes -- bustle about the prosperous mountainside citadel, tending to its many forges and bringing in carts of copper, iron, silver, and black marble from the nearby mines. The tall chimneys of its forges let forth a constant stream of gray smoke, that is vented out to the twilight sky above.
The heroes had already determined that they can enter the Long Road by taking the dwarves' path the way they came - deep into the mountain. A long, heavily fortified set of tunnels and barracks lead down to a single point, which exits out a large, heavily guarded, door into a maze-like, cavern structure of Nar'Voth. From there, they can simply walk out into the Long Road.
But first, Xanderghul had wanted to meet with his contact, Sandricaan, who is a Pathfinder and scholar. He had extensively traveled the Darklands below, and would be a good contact for advice to ask questions of before setting off.
The heroes don't have to go with him - any hero who is capable of a DC 10 k.dungeoneering or diplomacy check can navigate (or get directions) to the entrance to Nar'Voth themselves. The heroes could attempt a Gather Information check to mingle amongst the dwarves (it is around the time they're getting off work and heading to taverns and pubs) and find a different contact. Or, they could rush out to get some shopping done before the stores all close. Let me know what your heroes want to do.
Xanderghul finds Sandricaan's clan holdings with relative ease, having remembered the structure and layout of the city from his last visit. The dwarves were very methodical and logical in how they constructed their city, so finding different districts and streets is simple once one understands how it all works. Once within his holdings, Xanderghul isn't surprised once they are escorted to a cramped study - the wizard spent most of his time pouring over historical texts and examining ancient relics.
"Ah, it is good to see you, Xanderghul," Sandricaan says warmly. Unlike most dwarves, he speaks Common without a hint of accent. "Or should I call you 'Venture Captain', now?" He chuckles. "What can I help you with?"
"I am going to search around and see if I can find some maps of the area we will be heading into. Hopefully between Xanderghul's contact and my searching we can get enough information to know what to expect. I will meet you all by the entrance to Nar'Voth in an hour or so."
Isilme begins by asking the guards and others for reputable mapmakers or other places where maps of the Long Walk might be available, then heads off to investigate the leads she gets.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 28 ⇒ (5) + 28 = 33
"The beautiful humming coming from the room." Hinagiku answers matter of factly to Ary (unlike Ehren, it doesn't occur to her that Ary cannot hear the sound) before smiling to Ehren. "I would be nice. I guess it would be like meditating with the very voice of the earth."
Hinagiku nods politely to the guard, mentally noting that she would rather Torag watch over them than Angrad. There was nothing wrong with taking the offensive, but she found the gods focus on it a bit too extreme.
religion: 12 + 15 = 27
Lodge: too tired to post something more worthwhile here, but Hinagiku will follow Xanderghul
Continuing to take in the sights of the mountain and city, truly impressed by the grandiose nature of the place, Hinagiku's makes her way to the pathfinder lodge to meet with Sandricaan. Though, upon seeing how close Xanderghul and the dwarf wizard are, the monk decides to fade into the background for a while and waits to be introduced.
With Xanderghul and Isilme heading out to find their contacts, Ehren decides that now is as good an opportunity as any to sate his curiosity. Confident that he can find their meeting place easily enough, he heads out on his own, asking after any dwarven druids or shamans that might happen to be in the city. He could not think of anyone better to ask about what other threats might await them in the depths, beyond just the duergar; despite his close connection to the ley, there were those that are more experienced, more attuned to these lands.
Gather Information: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
Ehren and Lann head out together into the city, taking time to investigate entire districts and browse various evening markets. Eventually they come across a woman closing down her forge for the night who takes an interest in them. "Boys! You lost, boys? Yes, you lot! Not worth goin' that a way. Forges all closed for taenight," she calls.
She's an older, matronly looking dwarf. Her long, brown-flecked grey hair reaches her ankles, and is braided out of her face in elaborate fashion, accentuated by many silver hoops and accessories. She is wearing full plate, embossed with the hammers of Torag. "And what do we have here? A crusader..." she notes Lann's tabard. "And... a human prince?" she laughs, warmly. "Pardon me, I mean nothing by it. You're but a wee bae - ah, dhaoine."
She walks with them as Lann introduces himself as well, and proceeds to explain their presence, here. "We've come here to travel into Nar'Voth, because a dear friend of mine has been taken by duergar slavers," he explains. As he elaborates, her expression grows grim.
"Duergar. Now that is some bad news, lads. My husband and I, we raised three strong, healthy sons...lost one of them to the business down below. I had told him, told him always, Torag teaches us to let them break upon our shields. If only he'd have listened..." She looks distant, wistful.
"Duergar are our ancient enemies. Clannish, hateful, malevolent little creatures that believe themselves superior t'all oer races. Duergar were once dwarves themselves, but they stubbornly refused to join us in the Quest for Sky, and they were forever cursed when they turned to a dark god to save them. Duergar see themselves as the true masters of dwarves, and they typically kill us on sight," she explains.
"Their dark god, Droskar, is a god of toil, slavery, and cheating. A dark god, for dark creatures," she sighs. "Look, mae dearies. Is there anything I can do tae help ye out?" she asks.
Ary is decidedly out of her element. :o
K(Religion): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (6) + 13 = 19
K(Religion): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (9) + 13 = 22
K(Dungeoneering): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (3) + 13 = 16
Ary is honestly surprised at the sheer size of the city; the number of dwarves she'd seen outside - even amongst the crusades, was exceedingly tiny. She'd always assumed that the dwarves, as a result, were a tiny population... but perhaps they were simply more insular than she had thought. It doesn't occur to her that she happens to be in a Dwarven 'Nerosyan', as she walks with the others throughout the labyrinth. As they begin to split off, Ary purses her lips, but then offers a small shrug. "I'll go to find the entrance, or at least try."
As Ary splits off, Anevia spins on her heel and tails her, after a quick wave good-bye to the others and a hug for Valaria.
"Wonder how long it took them to build this place?" Anevia asks. "Just wondering, 'cause Aron and his crew back home isn't even close to finishing the top floor of the Citadel, and it's been over a year..." she trails off. "Anyway, are you okay, boss?"
The druid nods slowly as she describes the duergar and their lives of toil, having heard similar stories when he was much younger. Before traveling to Kenabres for that one fateful Armasse, he had not met many dwarves in person - much less the gray ones. Since then, he has only had the misfortune of encountering one such duergar. It is an unpleasant memory, but one he has long made peace with; admittedly, Anevia’s miraculous recovery made coping far easier.
”I am sorry for your loss. I know what it is like, to live so near an enemy that hates so utterly,” the druid says, frowning deeply. ”Unfortunately, we have little choice but to brave the Long Walk ourselves.” He considers her question before continuing. ”My companions and I are no strangers to battle, but this is an enemy we are not accustomed to facing. Do you know anything about how the duergar fight, what manner of creatures might accompany them? I fought one of their kind years ago, who had a giant cave beetle at his beck and call. The fewer surprises that await us, the better.”
"Kaptra Dorethain, at yer service," the dwarf responds with a kindly smile. "Just another forgepriest," she says, gesturing at the apron which covers her armor. "Ye see, I've got four precious stones, fer each o' my precious boys. That'uns for Jorst, my husband. He feasts with Torag now..." She pauses. "That's for Oken, me first born. Moved out to Highhelm, we found him a beautiful wife," she pauses and beams with pride. "I could be a grandmother soon, Torag be praised! That's for Grogahur, me middle son, lost him went he went down below. I always told him, us dwarves must keep our eyes Heavensward, where Torag and his kin live. Nothin' left for us downwards." She says with a smaller smile. She then moves on, "And that's for young Kargin, my baby boy! He's on our local Council, now, couldn't be more proud."
She takes off her apron and folds it carefully before putting it in her satchel. Putting an embroidered shawl across her armor, she would look a retired housewife, but the metal clank of her armored boots and the pace and rhythm of her step in it speaks to a life lived long as a soldier. She is silent while Ehren speaks, then pauses for a moment to contemplate his question. "Well, all of 'em can make themselves massive, tae intimidate and bully, or turn invisible, when they wish tae run as cowards. As for the beetle - duergar often tame vermin such as beetles or even giant spiders, riding them into battle. Dark Spitter Beetles are the most common, named because they can spit gobs of stomach acid at ye. All of those savvies are gifts from Droskar. Most duergar, though, are good with magic. Either innate powers, or those who receive further gifts from Droskar, his priesthood. His evil worshippers wield darkness and trickery, and many use his gifts to demoralize, subjugate and enslave..." she drifts off.
She pauses, wondering if there is something she should add. "Oh, and do you speak Undercommon?" Lann nods. "Good, good! Because most of those creatures down below don't speak any o t'human tongues. Undercommon is the Darklands trade language, or, Harl'rivvin as they call it down there."
"I came here with some allies," he says. "Our plan is to travel into Nar-Voth, travel on The Long Walk, and ambush a duergar caravan. We're going after them to free a slave they took."
"I was hoping you had current information about conditions on The Long Walk. We don't want to run into anything unexpected. Do you know anything about power players in the duergar nowadays? Do you know anywhere that would be a good place to stage an ambush?"
"Is the Lodge looking for anything that we can bring back?"
Sandricaan gestures for Xanderghul and Hinagiku to take a seat. "And who might you be? A new Pathfinder recruit?" he asks politely of Hinagiku before moving on. Once she has introduced herself, he focuses on the task at hand. "Not a small task you have ahead of you," he says mildly, but without any hint of surprise. Xanderghul has read some of his accounts, of course, so he knows that Sandricaan's adventures in the Underdark were primarily carried out to seek out lost knowledge from dwarven ruins - an abolitionist he was not.
"Hmph, power players... truth be told, the leaders of the duergar prefer to keep to secrets. But that's all well and good, a group of slavers are unlikely to be anyone of terrible note. It's not the individuals I'd be worried about, it's the sheer number of 'em," he taps his fingers on his book, pondering Xanderghul's conundrum.
"Any idea where this caravan of yours might be headed?" he asks, unfurling a large, weathered map of the Long Road. He nods and grunts approvingly as Xanderghul points out what he knows about the slavers' path. "Might be a bit of a stretch, but if you can move quickly - or at least march the majority of the day - if you can travel about 200 miles down the Long Walk in less than 7 days you'll be able to get to this side cavern right here," he traces his finger down a long, winding tunnel, that ends in a small cluster of caves. "Tribe of mongrelmen right there. You won't find this system in any map, they like to keep to themselves, and the ways into their caves are perilous, but I found my way through alright, on a past adventure. They call themselves the Gunduara tribe, and they're lead by this old mongrel, Felgriss, an old but kindly druid. They've waged constant war against the duergar in that area, and have had to resort to living where they do to keep their people from being enslaved. Mongrelmen are a... peculiar people, but they're the most friendly," he pauses, correcting himself. "Alright, alright, least unfriendly folk you're likely to find in all of Nar'Voth. You should be able to come to an enemy-of-my-enemy agreement with them, at the minimum. Speaking of, you do speak Undercommon, yes? Or at least have a translator in your group?"
"It's a good idea because you'll need someplace safe, off the Long Walk, to make preparations, rest, and to retreat to. At the minimum you could work to secure that with them," he nods.
"As for ambushes, duergar slaver caravans have to stop periodically to rest their feet - or at least, give their slaves a break before they walk 'em to death before they even get to a duergar city. They usually stop and rest in these little outposts along the way. It'll be the only opening you get. A quick in and out - get whoever you've come for and make sure they don't sound any alarms. With some choice illusion magic," he grins, knowing Xanderghul was one of the finest illusionists in Pathfinder Society. "Perhaps you could get a man out before the duergar even know what's come for them!"
As for Xanderghul's final question, he starts humming to himself while filing through his drawers before answering. Clearly he is looking for something long since filed away. "Hm, hm, hm. Well, it just so happens, the Society is looking for a someone not something. Probably off the beaten track for a time-sensitive mission like yours, but I received word from Major Colson Maldris," he says. Xanderghul has met the man - he is a high ranking Pathfinder stationed in Absalom. He is also an Andoren Eagle Knight, and leads the Liberty's Edge* faction of Pathfinders. He had always struck Xanderghul as a hopeless idealist - the man was in many ways Sandricaan's opposite, with little to no interest in knowledge and discovery, rather leveraging his power and influence within the Pathfinder Society to use Pathfinders to perform altruistic tasks throughout the Inner Sea. But perhaps Xanderghul's feelings on the man have changed since then? "Let's see. I have his letter here," he produces a letter written in Common, clearly one that was mass-produced and sent to many Pathfinders, not just Sandricaan:
*Note that the current game year is 4715 so some events in the wiki article have not yet come to pass.
All Pathfinders on missions in the Darklands are advised to be on high alert for a group of dwarven prisoners. Reports state that they have been taken by a group of duergar. Freeding them from the clutches of their ancient enemies is a worthy cause. You can strike a blow in the name of freedom and justice by breaking the shackles of duergar tyranny.
For those who would undertake such a task, please be aware of the following intelligence which has come to my attention. The gray dwarves take pride in breaking their strongest-willed captives and forcing them to betray and subjugate their own comrades. We know that the most powerful dwarven prisoner is a paladin of Torag. This great warrior, Dornarnus, has won many battles against duergar slavers and is a true ally of our faction. If our suspicions are correct, he now fights for the duergar, albeit unwillingly. I ask that you ensure he escapes their clutches so that he can help us in our continued struggles against oppression.
In pursuit of true liberty, always.
Major Colson Maldris
"Seems like a fool's errand to me. You'd need a damned army of Pathfinders to pull off such a stunt! But, there's a nice reward on there if interested. Six thousand gold to be awarded to each Pathfinder involved in the dwarves' rescue... and a thirty thousand gold bonus, for Dornarnus, if he is brought back alive, which is being awarded by his family. His family is an old, established clan here in Janderhoff - old money, if you know what I mean," he says, missing the irony in his statement - Sandricaan's clan holdings were far from modest themselves.
"Right, now, for my questions. How are you planning to get there? The Long Walk will be the quickest and surest way to your destination to get places fast. However, it's also the easiest way to get yourselves caught before you ever reach your destination. Any dwarves in your party?" he asks, and once he hears the response, he nods. "Good. Duergar won't suffer a free dwarf to walk on the Long Walk. But there's a catch - duergar are greedy little devils. You two have the idea - travel light and modest. But if you look, well, wealthy - lots of valuables, fancy magic items - duergar are gonna catch on to that real fast, and they'll adjust their tolls accordingly. You'll need a silvered tongue in the first place - or real deep pockets - to get past the tolls on the Long Walk. I'd expect a fair price for the tolls on the way, if ye walk the whole damn way, to be about 1,000 gold a person. That's a fair price, mind you, since they're gonna try and gouge a group of surface dwellers no matter what. They'll try and extort whatever they can, if they think they can get away with it."
"But, maybe you can talk your way around it," he shrugs. "If you can't, you can take side-tunnels to your destination. Try to find a path that runs parallel to the road - unfortunately there aren't many of them that go perfectly parallel. Catch is there will be other dangers than on the roads... monsters, hazards, vagrants, and so forth. Also, it will take longer, a good fifty percent longer, by my estimates. In any case, it is imperative to move quickly. If you reach your destination too late, you will not have much time to find allies and prepare. And I absolutely recommend against trying to teleport around unless you're already familiar with the place. Nothing good can ever come of teleporting in the Darklands. It's a good way to find yourself in a tunnel with no exits or entrances, filled with poisonous gas... but you can read my books if you want to find out how to get out of such a sticky scenario," he laughs, good-naturedly.
"Also worth considering is your exit strategy. Best to assume you can't take the Long Walk with a rescued slave in tow. And if you leave any witnesses, they'll be sending patrols lookin' for ya. So be ready for that. Unfortunately, down where you're headed is underneath Belkzen. None of the exit tunnels there are gonna be safe - they all exit into orcish strongholds. So if you're not just teleporting back out to safety, be prepared to run back to Janderhoff...probably gonna be your only safe exit once you're good to go."
Weird - duergars usually kill dwarves on sight. Something feels off about them trying to enslave them...
Once Xanderghul, Hinagiku, Ehren and Ary are ready to move on (or once enough time has passed for each of them) we will move forwards to the Gates of Nar'Voth
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
"But... that's not all. We're a thousand miles away from our mission on... what I think the others assume will be a stealth mission. But... it's not going to be that at all." Ary says, again with some certainty. "We're probably going to want to buy a lot more food, or ask our casters to prepare spells to extend our rations. Because we're going into a situation like the siege on Drezen. Where we have the choice to walk by and keep our eyes down because if we screw things up, we lose every advantage we need. But... we're not the types to keep our eyes down, yeah? That's kind of how we wound up in Mendev... most of us, anyway." she says, pausing and running her hand through the slight growth of hair on the back of her head as she continues walking.
"No... I think we're going to wind up raiding every single set of slavers we run into that we think we have even an inkling of a chance against. I think we're going to use stealth in the same way any ranger or rogue uses stealth - we aren't just going to scout, we're going to hit and run. We're going to free a lot of people... and it's going to be loud at some point. And we're going to be neck deep in territory that will do everything in its power to destroy us, both with the duergar and every other monstrosity that lingers within the depths of this place." she says, leather of her gauntlet creaking as she flexes her hand.
"A couple years ago, we fell down into a cave filled with horrors. Some of us didn't come back up the same at all... but things got better. We even saved lives in the process. And... I think we'll do that again, but it's going to be more dangerous, somehow. It's... the Worldwound, but with horrors that most of us don't understand and likely can't even fathom in some cases. Things that are going to be immune to the magics and tactics we've relied upon to combat demons. It's going to be a whole other kind of hell. And we're going to be dragging a lot of survivors with us. Some will be fighters... but some will be artisans, poets..." Ary says with a small shrug. "It's going to be a lot tougher than 'go now, strike while the iron is hot' and all that. Because we'll see the darkness, and we won't look away from it." she says simply, pausing once more to stare at the road as she stops in place.
"We're gonna do a lot of good here. Even if it's good people dying to prevent them from losing all hope, losing faith in slave pits somewhere, and dying on the inside long before they die on the outside. But... it's probably going to be the riskiest thing we've ever done."
"I'll come find you if you get lost," Val teases Ary before she returns Anevia's hug and heads off to the entrance to the deeper paths to wait for the rest of the group to gather.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (3) + 18 = 21
”It is good to make your acquaintance Mr. Sandricaan, I hope our future endeavours will be fruitful. I am not a pathfinder though, I am a monk dedicated to the Master of masters.” Hinagiku says while taking a seat upon the pathfinder’s invitation.
Hinagiku stays silent during most of the conversation, preferring to let those who outrank her within the organization do the talking. Yet, as the conversation dies down, she does ask a few questions.
”Thank you for all this information Mr. Sandricaaan. Would it be too much to ask whether you know how many duergars are usually part of a slaver caravan and whether they employ people from other racers as protection?”
”Also, when you mentioned duergar outposts, did you mean small villages manned by other people than the slaver caravans or are these more a kind of rest area that they can occupy?”
Sandricaan nods to Hinagiku after her introduction. Withdrawing his hand, he chooses to bow to greet her instead. "Well, a friend of Xanderghul is a friend of mine," he responds.
"Hmm," he closes his eyes. "I've never bothered to count. I would guess they typically bring a few dozen or so men in their squads. They tend to bring just as many vermin - they use them as pets, mounts. But, you won't have to wait long to confirm whether I'm right or not - if you take the Long Walk you'll pass by many slaver caravans along your way."
"There aren't any duergar villages," he explains to Hinagiku. "Life down there is harsh, you need to either be good at hiding, or good at banding together to survive. Pretty much all of them live in the cities. Then there are military holdings..." he gestures vaguely. "Most of what they occupy are actually dwarven ruins, you see. But there are far less duergar than there were we dwarves, so how well they hold their various outposts varies. They've managed to gain power mostly through intimidation and oppression, despite having fewer numbers than the other Nar'Voth races."
The masterwork map details the Long Walk and its major exits and entrances drawn precisely to scale. It outlines major side tunnels that connect to it. It is hand-drawn, and clearly carefully reproduced. It grants a +2 to Knowledge (Dungeoneering) checks made to navigate in the Darklands.
Anevia flashes Ary a grin, refusing to let her mood get too dour. "You don't need to worry about back home, boss, Irabeth won't let anything bad happen."
"Meanwhile, this trip is a no-brainer. I mean, we'd all be dead if Lann didn't choose to help us out when we were lost down there. So, I'm going to do whatever I can to repay that debt," she stretches an arm out and yawns, cracking her neck. "And anyways, no amount of psycho grey dwarves are gonna keep me from getting back home to my family, whatever happens."
Valaria is the first to find the entrance way out of the city and towards Nar'Voth. She waits around, until Anevia and Ary show up next. She points at Valaria with both hands. "Hey! Val! Toldjya we weren't gonna get lost. Pfft."
Xanderghul and Hinagiku are the last to arrive. They are accompanied by a scholarly looking dwarf, with a long brown beard set up in braids, wearing sensible but well-made clothes. Sandricaan gestures to the group waiting for them, "Ah! But my rambling has cost you your time. My apologies. Here, I'll accompany you as we walk, smooth things over with the guards, to make peace."
Sandricaan then leads the heroes the way through the many layers of Janderhoff's connected rooms, stairways, and tunnels, following a complex route that boasts increasing numbers of surly dwarven guards as the path descends towards Nar'Voth. Eventually, he stops at a massive gate bearing the same hammer symbol as all of the city's entrances. He speaks briefly with the captain on duty, and the heavily armed dwarf pauses before giving a slow nod and reluctantly commanding the guards to open the gates.
Sandricaan does not follow them past the gates of the city. The massive, stone gates wheel shut, with only a few dwarven patrols monitoring the tunnel and caverns beyond.
I am pausing to allow the heroes to discuss any new information.
The heroes are bringing 112 rations, which will last them 21* days. You have 6 waterskins, which contain enough water for 1 day.
*if Isilme does not eat, by using her ioun stone, which glows.
Your first decision is how to proceed. The slavers travel on the Long Walk, and the shortest route to them therefore will be on the Long Walk itself! But you can take a longer, alternate path if desired, relying on Knowledge (Dungeoneering) to navigate.
You will also need to immediately determine how you will travel without darkvision. Will you use light to travel? Or will you lead along the blind, slowly?
"Right so, we need to get to the Long Walk, from what I understand," says Lann. "To find the slavers who have Javvyn. So we'll need to be on the lookout for a slave caravan with Underfolk captives. Isilme, you went looking for a map, right? Were you successful?"