|Kujo, the Slayer|
The blue skin and hair of an undine woman draws the eye of locals on Nantambu's streets. She ignores the stares and walks towards a shop.
Curios and magical wares fill the shop, drawing Kirana in. Reserved among strangers, she focuses on the items with a purpose. Settling on a set of druidic vestments, she purchases them with a stack of bag platinum coins. "May Gozreh favour you with calm tides," she says to the wizened old merchant before departing.
The vestments, which sport numerous animal motifs, fit loosely over her leaf armor. She tugs at the green fabric, uncomfortable with the additional layer, and walks off through the crowds towards Sharrowsmith's Exports. Now, to find my fellow Pathfinders...
Purchases some Druid's Vestments before the start of the scenario, FYI.
|Amenhotep of Wati|
A weather-beaten man with leathery skin and a dark tan, dressed in comfortable leathers, and with a darkwood bow across his back, quietly steps into the meeting room, bowing courteously when he spots Kirana.
"Greetings, my name is Amnehotep, and I have the honor of being General Akhentepi's vessel for engagement with this Age."
He glances to his left, nods, and then returns his focus to Kirana.
"The general extends his most sincere felicitations, as well."
Kirana glances to Amenhotep's left, raises an eyebrow, then gives a barely perceptible shrug.
"Well met, general and his vessel," she returns the greeting and takes a seat. "It seems I am not the only one who is early. Since we have a moment, will you indulge me with a personal question? How is it you became a spirit-speaker, Amenhotep?"
The Keleshite is in his late twenties, wearing loose clothing typical of Qadiran origin and a metallic armor covering his chest. A turban covers his head, revealing his piercing blue eyes, aquiline nose and well-tended short beard. His face has already known too many hardships, as his many scars testify. He is quite muscular and has the strong hands of one who has worked since the earliest days of his childhood. A tall, shafted weapon called a fauchard rests next to him, the blade bearing many engravings and arabesque dedicated to the Dawnflower.
When one of his companions shows up, he extends his hand and introduces himself. "Well met, I am Jhalan Aajav, blade of the Dawnflower and righter of wrongdoings. I understand we are to work together on this mission."
A Taldan man strolls in wearing mithral chain and a bow over his shoulder. They just can't give me any time to rest, can they? What part of the world am I being sent to save this time? Taking a look about the room he notices he is not the first to arrive. Well, you don't look like rookies, that's good. Try not to get me killed and we'll get along.
Kirana takes the Keleshite man's hand and shakes it. Her blue hands are moist, but not in an uncomfortable or sweaty way.
"A pleasure to meet you, Jhalan. One can only hope that there are fewer wrongs to-" she stops as Jaysin enters, then listens as he says his piece. With a conspiratorial wink she whispers to Jhalan. "There is always one like him in a group, no?"
All in the room hear heavy trodden boots long before a short-winded half-elf clad in red and white plate mail trundle into the room. He stops to catch his breath, "Sorry friends...I was told...the briefing was..." he points to the south as he finishes " in a different location." He quickly catches his breath. "Sorry for the delay. I am Caduceus Via and it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance..er acquaintances? Ah dung, let's just say well met, shall we? I hope to get to know you all over the course of our time together." he finishes with an affable smile.
Get yourself together, man! You don't have to get to know me, just make sure you don't get me killed and we'll get along just fine.
"Well, as you are still alive, you must get along 'just fine' with everyone you have ever met. I thought the goal was for all of us to look out for one another."
His face takes on a look of genuine thoughtfulness as he continues,"Seriously though Jaysin, if you are so concerned about dying, perhaps you should pick a less dangerous career. The memorial wall is filled with agents who have passed while working for the Society. I hope the last name has been etched upon it, but I know that will not be the case. "
Jaysin looks at Caduceus with a sour look, as if he drudged up a bad memory.
Perhaps I should say "again". This job is important and one I know the risks, however that doesn't mean we should be careless.
Yeah, he died once. It was no one's fault but don't tell him that as it certainly wasn't because of anything he couldn't do, oh no.
With a consoling look, Caduceus offers, "That could not have been an easy time for you. I hope your soul was not too traumatized by the event. Rest assured, I will do everything by Iomedae's blessed power granted to me in order to keep all of you safe!"
okay, we just won't point out anyone's short comings, hee hee.
Ah, speaking of death, are any of you particularly attached to your bodies should the very thinkable occur?
A Chelaxian man sporting a tightly cropped beard and surgeon's vestments peeks his head into the room.
I mean, you can't take it with you, right? he says, measuring Kirana's head with a craniometer.
Although the city of Nantambu is hot, the interior of Sharrowsmith's Exports is cool and dim. Aya Allahe, the Dealer in Dreams both Tangible and Ephemeral, gestures to a sideboard of iced drinks and jungle fruits as she settles in behind her tidy desk. Please, refresh yourselves, for I'm about to ask you to journey far from the comforts of civilization, she offers in her silky-smooth voice. The only other person in the room is a half-elf named Fola Barun, who has curly hair and dark skin painted with delicate designs. Fola stands behind a massive oak table, meticulously adding details to a half-finished map.
Allahe's brow wrinkles over her golden eyes, hinting at her worry. North of Bloodcove is the mountainous Terwa Uplands and a scarp called Azlant Ridge. For more than six years, Pathfinder archeologists at Azlant Ridge have been excavating an Azlanti outpost of vital historical significance; it's perhaps the only Azlanti outpost on the Mwangi coast. Allahe pauses. Fola, you mentioned to me before that you wanted to learn how Pathfinder agents begin a mission. Why don't you hold off on that map for a few minutes and listen? The half-elf carefully sets her cartography aside and strides over behind the desk.
Allahe nods approvingly and continues, My good friend, Juliet Dias, leads the expedition at Azlant Ridge. During their first year, the expedition was beset by a horde of ape-men, but was saved by the timely intervention of a group of Pathfinder agents. The site has been mostly quiet ever since — Juliet provides monthly reports. Archeology is a slow and careful science, as Juliet is keen to remind me. Not all Pathfinders are reckless thrill-seekers. Allahe flashes a conspiratorial smile.
Fola Barun speaks up. The monthly correspondence from Juliet Dias is a week overdue. Her last missive described a strange light emanating from somewhere deeper in the Terwa Uplands, and her intense curiosity about it. She slides a folded letter across the desk.
Allahe adds, I fear for my friend. Go to Azlant Ridge and seek out Juliet Dias. If she has met danger, please assist her. If my fears prove true, and Juliet is injured — or worse, Allahe swallows hard before continuing, please ensure that the Pathfinder archeologists under her supervision are safe and continuing their valuable work, and then bring Juliet back to me. I have a riverboat to Bloodcove ready to depart, and I'll provide you directions from Bloodcove to Azlant Ridge. Although I ask that you make haste, it is important that you ask whatever questions you may have before departing.
"Can you provide us with Agent Dias' description? Perhaps your cartographer there can supply a map of the area as well?
Jhalan listens carefully to every word Aya has to say, happy at first to meet the aasimar. He waits politely until she is finished before speaking.
"How wonderful it is to see you, Aya! How have you been since that dreadful Sharrowsmith affair?" The smelly, unwashed Keleshite enthusiastically says as he's about to give a hug to her. At the last moment, he notices that she might not like that and takes a step back, preferring a respectful nod. "Err... So back to business, I guess. You know my talents as a tracker, I might be of help here. You can count on us."
Any Knowledge checks we might roll?
If someone, with this PC, has played 2-02 Before the Dawn Pt 2: Rescue at Azlant Ridge, they have been to Azlant Ridge and have met Juliet Dias. Otherwise, Allahe gives you a description.
The Terwa Uplands are north of Bloodcove; as you can see, the Azlant Ridge site is on the southern end of the Uplands. However, time is of the essence, and there is no need to spend any more time than is necessary in that wretched hive of scum and villainy. She pauses a moment, then continues. The Aspis Consortium is in control of Bloodcove, the closest settlement to Azlant Ridge, so it's entirely possible that they might be involved. To the best of my knowledge, they are unaware I am sending you after Juliet; but keep a watchful eye for their meddling.
Kn (history) checks to know something of Azlant Ridge would apply, presuming no one has been there.
Jhalan isn't trained in that skill, sorry.
The Keleshite soon grows restless when Aya mentions that time is of the essence for the lives at stake there. "We'd better leave at once then. I'm ready to go."
After brushing Markolf away from his cranial measurement taking, Kirana asks, "Do you know anything of the ape creatures that beset Azlant Ridge? Should we expect that kind of danger during the trip? Are there other elements we should consider?"
She looks over the group. "We should have no reason to approach Bloodcove. Jhalan and I should be able to lead us without too much trouble. Especially with some smart provisioning."
Kirana will prepare Dream Feast and happily track down berries and roots that are safe to eat.
I'm afraid I can't tell you much about them specifically, Allahe says. The reports from Juliet indicated little issue with them regularly.
Fola chimes in. The terrain between Bloodcove and Azlant Ridge is dense jungle, but the area around the Ridge itself is mountainous and mostly above the jungle canopy. Snakes and monkeys are common, and of course the charau-ka ape-men. They tend to be violent, but you should have little issue with them; there aren't any communities nearby.
Allahe nods. Juliet does have more than 20 archeologists and workers in her charge, but Azlant Ridge is quite remote otherwise. If you need to stock up, you will wan to do so here. I can of course come to a fine arrangement for you — shall we say, half off of double list price?
Jaysin has been quiet though you believe he has been listening intently enough.
History: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
I might be spotty for a bit, I've been through to worst time of it lately.
Markolf would like to scribe Investigative Mind into his spellbook on the way. He will then cast it and Heightened Awareness and concentrate.
After hurriedly scribing a scroll into his book, Markolf makes a series of wild incantatons and gestures.
Azlant Ridge? Hmmm.....
Kn (His): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (1) + 13 = 14
Kn (His): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (6) + 13 = 19
Edit: He'll take the 19
Thank you Iomedea for surrounding me with wise and thoughtful companions.
"Ah my friends, my faith is strong, but in these areas I will defer to your knowledge and wisdom."
|Amenhotep of Wati|
Jaysin has no recollection of Azlant Ridge, but Markolf recalls that, several millennia ago, the western Mwangi expanse was a contested battleground between the declining serpentfolk empire and the cyclopes of Ghol-Gan. Although the Azlanti were not generally allies of Ghol-Gan, they acknowledged the insidious serpentfolk as a common enemy.
The journey through Bloodcove proceeds without incident. Approaching the Terwa Uplands, a series of thin switchback trails climb ever higher out of the jungle; near the top, a dilapidated camp comes into view.
The camp is surrounded by a wooden palisade wall forming a semicircle that both starts and ends at an imposing cliff face looming hundreds of feet above the camp. A gatehouse towers over the palisade, guarding a wooden gate. Near this gate is a large gap of splintered wood, as though some enormous creature recently smashed its way through the wall.
Party is approaching from the upper right hand corner.
Jhalan, true to his word, acts like a true scout. Kneeling to get a closer look at the ground, he inspects any tracks that may have been left.
Survival: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26 +3 track if applicable
Motioning to his companions to remain silent, he approaches the palisade gap with the clear intention of having a quick, discreet peek.
Stealth: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22
Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
An examination of the broken palisade wall reveals that the breach happend a couple of days ago...and it came from inside the walls, not outside. Someone has dragged the logs from the breach into a haphazard pile just outside the palisade, but whoever did it was no tactician — the pile doesn't provide any cover or impede movement in any way.
Jhalan turns back to communicate the intelligence he's gathered to his companions.
"One man up the gatehouse, a half-elf who definitely isn't a soldier. As for the palisade, it was broken from the inside. Logs have been moved outside, but they're way too randomly put to be of any use as a cover or impediment. Has anyone a way of dealing with the sentry? I could try climbing and disabling the sentry, if someone could grant me invisibility. Alternatively, it seems many of you are archers, so we could use that tactic as well."
Additionally, I'd love one of Caduceus's Life Link, please!
|Amenhotep of Wati|
"I will go."
The armored medic walks up to the gap, "Hello? We bring word from Aya and Fola. We are here to support the dig." Walking through the gap, Caduceus addresses the sentry directly. "Well met brother. Iomedae's Blessing to you. Tell me, were any injured when this wall collapsed? My friends and I can help."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (5) + 13 = 18
The gate is constructed from thick logs, lashed tightly together and sealed with pitch. A square platform atop the gate serves as a lookout post. Immediately outside the gate are three recent graves.
Caduceus catches the half-elf in the tower by surprise with his hail. Oh! Um, yes, hello, who goes there? He looks expectantly at the armor-clad man, awaiting a reply, though it doesn't take a great Sense Motive check to see that he has noticeably relaxed at the mention of Aya Allahe.
Continuing to walk up next to the sentry, "My name is Caduceus Via. My friends and I have been dispatched to check in on the scholars and archaeologists here. Aya has missed here most recent correspondence from a Ms. Juliet Dias. Is she here? Given the state of your wall, I would venture to say she is missing."
|Amenhotep of Wati|
The "guard" shakes his head. Ms. Dias is not here. She— he hesitates, then continues: You probably should talk to Happ Voltz about the break and about the report and about Ms. Dias. He begins to turn a wheel in front of him, which slowly raises the gate before you. He's in charge in Ms. Dias' absence. You'll find him in the camp area straight ahead.
Excellent. Straight answers for once. Jaysin will allow the paladin to take the lead and fall in behind him.
You know those logs aren't doing anything just sitting there, right? Maybe put them back in a wall shape? Just sayin'.
Markolf looks around eagerly for any signs of monkey people.
Markolf takes ten on his Kn (Local) check but is disappointed to not see any sign of the legendary chauru-ka, who supposedly descended from a demon lord who transformed the bodies of the first humans that tried to wage war against his cult, causing the dead to rise as the first apemen. They are fiercely territorial, and respond to any sizable incursion on their hunting grounds and engage any group deemed weak enough to defeat. They ambush in packs.
Two large but sagging tents stand here—one used for cooking, and the other serves as a mess hall. Between them are 10 smaller canvas tents, outside several of which are tidily packed belongings.
A redhaired, round-faced man is packing up one of the tents, while a half-dozen others work here and throughout the site. The redhaired man notices you and wipes his hands off on his breeches as he heads your way. Hello? Yes? What can I do for you folks?
Caduceus walks up to the man and offers his hand in greeting. "Well met. You must be Master Voltz. Aya sent us here to check up on things after Juliet's latest report failed to arrive. We are here to help. What happened here anyway?"
Markolf raises an eyebrow.
Why are you packing up? Are you leaving? Is that why you haven't bothered plugging the giant-ape sized hole in your wall? Do you happen to have any monkey-man limbs lying around?
He looks around furtively.
Asking for a friend.
Welcome, welcome! Happ is quite friendly, if confused a bit by Markolf's inquiry regarding primate appendages. Yes, indeed, welcome to Azlant Ridge! He hands a bundle to a passing worker and steps forward.
Apologies for our clutter — just packing up, you see. Ah. Pity you weren't here a few weeks back, we were much better organized and had made some remarkable discoveries! He and the remaining archaeologists here are preparing to leave the site tomorrow morning once they've secured everything and have finished packing. Indeed, Juliet told us she wanted it that way. Or would want it. Whichever. I'm paraphrasing, actually. I don't know her views on packing up and leaving, but, well, I'm not exactly her, am I? And I can't lead these expedition the way she can. Or could. Whichever.
The discoveries? Oh, my! Why, did you know that Azlant Ridge is, fundamentally, an arms repository? Yes! The ivory sphere you see in the pit there, it is a defense mechanism of some sort, somehow connected to the Azlanti monoliths — cold iron golems stored within the cliff, through those massive doors there. The monoliths are powerful weapons!
That was demonstrated about six years ago, when a howling horde of ape-men descended upon the camp! I wasn't here then, thank Erasitl. As I understand it, they were led by an enormous four-armed gorilla! An Azlanti monolith activated to defeat the gorilla champion and drive off the horde, thanks to the timely intervention of a team of Pathfinders! Haha! Only sporadic trouble with the ape-men since that time, too.
Now a few weeks ago, ago, a steady white light appeared in the Terwa Uplands. Appeared to be only a day's travel away or so. Ms. Dias took a handful of archeologists with her to investigate. She was obsessed, you see! But she has not returned. In her absence, we focused on the ivory sphere, and found that its glow doesn't just indicate danger — it indicates powerful fiendish activity! you see, when a fiend is near, the sphere activates an Azlanti monolith to seek and destroy the fiend! Fascinating, wouldn't you say?
Just two days ago, another Azlanti monolith activated, smashed its way through the camp and the palisade — several unfortunates were in its path as it departed, sadly — and headed off toward the distant light. I fear the worst, and surely with that activation and her silence, it is logical to conclude that Ms. Dias is dead. We are unsafe here, I fear, so it is our duty to close up shop and preserve what we can. Maybe some others will take our place in the future, after all.
So, it looks like all the mystery went off toward this light in the distance. I have a feeling we'll be heading that way also.
|Amenhotep of Wati|
Markolf is visibly disappointed over the lack of charau-ka.
All right. Well can you tell us anything about what she thought was over there. Any notes of hers we can look at?
And since you're packing up, maybe we can lighten your load and take any supplies you don't need.
Markolf pauses ever so briefly, attempting a solemn and respectful tone.
About those 'unfortunates', do you happen to know if any of them were organ donors? Or at least never explicitly mentioned wanting their remains left alone? Either way can you tell me where they're buried?