Jillia paces the courtyard of Sharrowsmith's Exports, circling the fountain at its center with lazy turns. At least the heat is something you get used to after awhile, she thinks to herself, throwing a couple of shadowboxing jabs as she paces.
"Stay in Natambu, they said. There'll be something to do, they said," she mutters under her breath while she circles around the area, taking in the sights and smells of the various goods for sale.
Kaylee skips along the street, her pack jangling with items, her large silver symbol of the open road bouncing against her chest with every step, smiling at everyone she passes. Another assignment! I feel like it's been forever since Nalshene sent me on a mission! I can't WAIT to meet my fellow Pathfinders! she thinks.
As she gets close to the fountain, she sees a halfling woman pacing back and forth, and can already tell that the two of them are going to be BEST friends!
Jillia sees a gorgeous young woman, wearing a leather outfit which leaves very little to be imagined and carrying a large pack bulging with items, walking toward her. Around her neck is a large silver talisman that many would think might be a holy symbol, but instead the symbol of the open road is etched on its surface. Draped across her shoulders is a beautifully-sewn scarf with several patches meticulously sewn onto it.
"OhmigoshhiI'mKaylee!" she blurts out as soon as she gets within fifteen feet of her new friend. "It's SOOOO nice to meet you! Ooh, that is a REALLY cool weapon! It's like a big... tooth-covered sword! That's SOOOO cool! Is that, like, your FAVORITE weapon? I like to use these when I have to fight, but I usually stay back and cheer everyone on with THESE!" she pulls out a pair of what used to be cat-o-nine-tails whips but have been cut short and painted in bright, garish colors. She then launches into a cheer including a dance routine.
Perform(oratory): 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (15) + 20 = 35 Perform(dance): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (4) + 18 = 22
During her dance, it's easy to notice a tattoo of the dancing god(dess) Arshea.
"I can't WAIT to meet our other Pathfinder friends!!"
Jillia offers a four-foot-three-inch high-five greeting.
"Jillia Tennille, Student of Swords, pleased to meetcha!" She introduces herself. "As for the weapon, Marcos always says every job needs it's own tool." She points to a mishmash of other weapons at her back, including a greatclub that has the symbol of the Aspis Consortium engraved in it and a small-sized longbow and quiver. "But I usually use this one," she says, smiling widely, and proudly presents a shortsword with a trio of notches on the backside to mimic a holy symbol of the Calamitous Turn, Chaldira Zuzaristan. To punctuate, she jabs the air with the sword a few times, before pointing it straight up in an exaggerated victory pose.
"Nobody beats the Society on my watch," she proudly boasts, tapping her wayfinder, which looks like it's weathered its share of abuse.
"Ooh, did you take that from one of those Ass-piss guys? That's cool! I like commemorating my missions too, you can see them all here on my scarf! I make a new patch after every mission!"
On Kaylee's bladed scarf, you can see several patches sewn, seemingly to tell the story of her deeds:
The first patch is a stylized version of a gnomish spellcaster standing in front of a large dinosaur.
The second patch is of an earth elemental
The third patch is an ugly fey covered in what looks like feces.
The fourth is a crown with a large ruby
The fifth is a Wayfinder above a broken chain.
The sixth is a large fish-like creature.
The seventh is a female goblin holding the skull of another goblin.
The eighth is a kobold wearing a large feather hat and beating a wardrum.
The ninth is a monstrous-looking creation made from bones and trash, in the vague shape of a goblin.
The tenth patch is that of a regal and menacing-looking silver dragon.
Know: Pathfinder (Local?): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
"Getting patches made seems like it would be significantly less painful than remembering missions by the bruises, scars, and dents in your armor," Jillia replies, unconsciously running her fingers over the latest damage to her chainshirt- -a trio of puncture marks from four-pointed broadhead arrows. "As for the club, it came as part of field training, just before my Confirmation. It was actually a piece of a haywire training dummy- -now it's a reminder to always have a backup plan in case things 'go Galt,'" she says in an exaggerated Marcos Farabellus voice. "I've only actually dealt with the Consortium proper once," she admits, clenching a fist, "but if I see them again, I owe them a bit of comeuppance for destroying the Grand Lodge Spire."
In walks a man of rigid posture and stern countenance. He stands just under 2 meters in height, but is thin of frame. He is undoubtedly of Osiriani birth (and indeed his Taldane is slightly accented.) His pate is shaved clean, though he sports a meticulously maintained mustache and Van D!@+ beard. His clothes, obviously tailored, have the flowing fit of a desert dweller, but they are in rich black cloth of Vudrani styling. Racing throughout the folds and seams are cerulean highlights. His jewelry is simple, yet the quantity stands in contrast to the otherwise plain garb. Both his ears are pierced with gold and his fingers each bear simple golden rings.
This is Nemis.
"Salutations Pathfinders. I am eager to test our worth. Admittedly I have only been on a few missions thus far. My younger brother was my inspiration, and it was time to leave my guru."
"Hey!" Jillia calls out to the well-jeweled newcomer. "He knows how it is, proving worth. Being the best usually means proving it to everyone!" Jillia assures, half-boasting, offering a high-five to Nemis.
"Jillia Tennille, Student of Swords!" she shouts, as much an introduction as an exclamation.
Nemis stares at the high five and holds his hand similarly, bu doesn't actually execute the hand contact. Instead bowing with his hand up.
His ignorance is genuine, and has no idea how high fives work.
"It is a pleasure to meet you both."
A young, elvish lass meanders through the export's shop, looking over everything with a keen eye. As the others make introductions, she quietly watches. Finally, brushing her long red hair out of her eyes, she says "I am to be travellin' with you, it seems. Name's Inira McCullagh. I'll be watchin' yer back, to be sure." She holds up he bow, and then sets it down.
Kaylee jumps in and double-high-fives both Jillia and Nemis, probably surprising Nemis a bit. "Yeah! Pathfinders RULE!!"
A lanky Dwarf dressed in rough spun cottons arrives a bit late to the party. He has a wooden devise which might very well be intended as a weapon hanging from his side and a long slender sword strapped around his back.
As he sees Kaylee all joyful and jumping the Dwarf stands for a moment and takes a deep breath and steadies himself then approaches his face rather earnest.
Me names Stonegrin. The lot of ye wouldn't by chance be Pathfinders?
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.
"Anything else you can tell us about Ms. Diaz?" Jillia asks. And before waiting for an answer, she adds, "And should we expect trouble in Bloodcove?"
"I know of this mission. My brother's sponsor to the Society was a sorcerer named Castamir. He was on that mission. The mission seems straight forward enough, but can you tell us a bit about the terrain, weather, and any dangerous flora and fauna?"
Excellent question. Allahe nods at Jillia's inquiry. She brings out a map. She says, With a rank or two in Kn (geography), you'd already know this, with a wink and a smile. The Terwa Uplands are north of Bloodcove; while the Azlant Ridge site is on the southern end of the Uplands, 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.
Allahe next turns to Nemis. The area around Azlant Ridge is mountainous and mostly above the jungle canopy. Creatures such as snakes and monkeys are common, including the violent charau-ka ape-men. There aren't any communities nearby; Azlant Ridge is quite remote. Juliet has more than 20 archeologists and workers in her charge.
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.
I GM'd 2-01 & 2-01, but this character was not connected.
"I have hear bad things about Bloodcove, but Azlant ridge sounds like an interesting area. Anything we need to pack in particular?"
"Ohmigosh Monkey-men!?! Can I make friends with them??! I bet they're SOOO CUTE!" Kaylee has completely ignored the more tactical aspects of the briefing and focused only on the "cute" monkey-men.
Unlikely, says Fola, shaking her head. According to legend, the charau-ka stem 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. The half-elf gives a wry smile. You could say they are expert guerilla gorillas.
Once questions are done, I'll take Kn (history) checks regarding Azlant Ridge.
An unexpected voice clears its throat at the back of the room. "Forgive my tardiness," says a man of Keleshite complexion and Qadiran robes. He appears in all ways to be a Sarenite priest, complete with a scimitar at his side and sun motifs adorning his garb. "I am Trade Prince Muzhaa'f of the Burning Desert, also joining this expedition. Have there been any reports of... oddities within the Azlant Ridge camp? Unusual behavior? Strange illnesses?" A leatherbound journal and pencil stand ready in his hands.
Knowledge (History): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11
"If the Chauru-ka only attack weak targets, we shouldn't have an issue," Jillia boasts with an eager smile.
Untrained Knowledge:History: 1d20 ⇒ 17
No, no, nothing like that has been reported, Allahe responds to Muzhaa'f.
Nemis can recall that Azlant Ridge was the site of an incredible discovery some six years ago: clear evidence of Azlanti occupation, refuting the common belief that the Azlanti had no settlements in the Mwangi Expanse. The dig was halted back then by an enormous simian Abyss-touched champion, which was fortuitously defeated by an enormous iron golem activated by the site's ancient defenses. The original foray was quickly abandoned, but Juliet Dias evidently convinced others to join her there again and resume work.
Jillia also recalls reading that, several millennia ago, the western Mwangi Expanse was a contested battleground between the declining serpentfolk empire and he cyclopes of Ghol-Gan. Although the Alzlanti were not generally allies of Ghol-Gan, they shared the insidiuos serpentfolk as a common enemy.
Willing to give Alex Mack a bit more time to pick a pregen, but we will get this moving to the next scene shortly.
Jillia proudly recites what little she remembers from her studies as an initiate.
If there's anything she picked up from Shaine's droning history lectures, it was likely military-related.
Muzhaa'f quietly returns Nemis' greeting off to the side. "Indeed, Nemis. You and I had the pleasure of a journey to Pezzack about a year hence. I see the toll of time has treated you well."
Okay, we gotta move on.
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.
"This must be the place. Over the top?" Jillia jests, mimicking an easy climb, as she leads the group to the enterance of the palisade.
Map flashbacks! My first time playing the original 2 parter, the second part ended in a near TPK where I was the only survivor (Mike, AKA Ali was one of the fallen.
"If there is no door, then yes. I've heard bad things about this place. Maybe we scout along the outside for a bit. We may hear something inside." Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
"Ooh, this looks dangerous. Let's go, Pathfinders, we can do it!" Kaylee pulls out her pom-poms, ready to cheer on her allies in battle.
"I suggest we take the direct approach." Nemis moves to greet the half-elf.
Inira points to the breach. "What do you think happened there?"
She follows Nemis' lead, and waves at the half-elf in a friendly manner.
The half-elf gets to his feet as he sees the party approach the gatehouse. Yes, hello! *ahem* Er, who goes there? It is clear both that he is no soldier, and that that he is was not expecting people to arrive at the gate.
"Hey! You gonna open the door or should we just go through the hole in the wall?" Jillia shouts to the guardhouse, flashing her wayfinder. "Ms. Dias is expecting us."
Jillia looks to her allies. "She is expecting us, right?"
The "guard" shakes his head. I'm afraid Ms. Dias is not here. She— He stops himself. *ahem* Since you are fellow Pathfinders, you probably should talk to Happ Voltz about her. He labors on 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.
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.
Nemis sees no reason to question a guard, and with a bow heads inside. Obviously this Happ Voltz is the one to talk to.
Jillia heads into the camp, waving appreciatively at the guard, and joins Nemis in looking for Voltz.
Upon the raising of the gate door, the party makes its way into the camp.
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?
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Muzhaa'f too flashes his wayfinder. "Trade Prince Muzhaa'f of the Burning Desert, here on behalf of VC Allahe. We noticed three graves and a hole in your wall on our way in. Have you any light to shed on these matters?"
"Ohmigosh HI! I'm Kaylee, and we're Pathfinders! We just want to, like, know what happened?" Kaylee says, excitedly.
Ah! Society members! Happ is quite friendly and greets you all graciously at the sight of the wayfinder. Welcome! Welcome to Azlant Ridge. My apologies for our clutter — just packing up, you see. Shame you weren't here a few weeks back — we were much better organized and had made some remarkable discoveries!
He explains that he and the remaining archaeologists here are preparing to leave the site tomorrow morning once they've secured everything and have finished packing. Juliet told us she wanted it that way. Or would want it. Whichever. I'm paraphrasing, actually. She mentioned nothing really about packing up and leaving, but, well, I'm not her, am I? And I can't really lead this expedition the way she can. Or could. Whichever.
Regarding the graves, his face grows solemn. Ah. Bad scene, that. Takes a bit of explanation. You see, we've discovered that Azlant Ridge is, fundamentally, an arms repository! The ivory sphere you see in our midst is a...a defense mechanism of some sort, and is somehow connected to the Azlanti monoliths — cold iron golems stored within the cliff, behind those doors there to our south, as powerful weapons. Powerful! We have history on our side with that; six years ago, a howling horde of ape-men descended upon the camp, led by an enormous four-armed gorilla. One of the Azlanti monoliths activated to defeat the gorilla champion and drive off the horde, thanks to the timely intervention of a team of Pathfinders. I wasn't here then, thank Erastil. But I know the story well! Heh.
Which brings us to a few weeks ago, when a steady white light appeared in the Terwa Uplands. Juliet Dias took six archeologists with her to investigate. Although the light appeared to be only a day away or so, no one has returned. We kept working, as is our wont; and we learned that the light in the distance is quite similar to the glow this ivory sphere here! But it doesn't merely indicate danger — it indicates powerful fiendish activity! Isn't that fascinating? And more than that, when a fiend is near, the sphere activates an Azlanti monolith to seek and destroy said fiend!
Then, two days ago, another Azlanti monolith activated! It smashed its way through the camp and er...well, it killed several workers and guards in its way. We buried them outside the gate. It burst through the palisade and headed off. Off, toward that distant light!
We are no match for anything fiendish, I can assure you; and if such a presence is what drew Ms. Dias, well, she is surely dead by now. It is no longer safe to remain. We need to secure the site, but we are departing tomorrow morning.
"Why smash you? Are there fiends among you? Also, without sight of a body, we cannot be certain."
Nemis looks towards the uplands, "Once more into the fray."
"Sounds like there's a recovery mission to do before everybody packs up here," Jillia agrees. "Postpone your exit for a few days, and we'll go find the missing team. Got an itinerary for Ms. Dias' expedition?"
Jillia takes another glance at the massive hole in the palisade, turning to her compatriots.
"And if there are more of whatever did that, we ought to hurry."
Happ points to the first tent on the left. An itinerary? Eh, not really. But that's her tent over there; I don't know that she left much behind before she left, but —
His words are cut off by a shout from the guard from the gatehouse. Attack! We are under attack! The chauru-ka! A quick look at the palisade breach shows a pair of limber, shrieking creatures with the visage of an enraged monkey, but walking upright; alongside them are a pair of smaller, but still agitated, baboons!
baboons: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Inira: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
Jillia: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Kaylee: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Muzhaa'f: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18
Nemis: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Oloch: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 1 = 13
roll-off 1 c, 2 O: 1d2 ⇒ 1
Muzhaa'f and Jillia are up!