It is impossible to avoid talk of the civil war that is looming over Brevoy. After a particularly frigid winter that left the majority of Brevoy with little to do more than nurse grudges and chew leather, tempers flare in the Court, on the streets, and even aboard the strange tavern-boat you have been rather cryptically summoned to. As you arrive at the moor of the Barge Wright Inn, you watch as two struggling men shouting, ”The Surtovans are usurpers!” and ”Traitorous dog!” are foisted out over the rail.
Apparently, it’s difficult to continue heated political discussion through chattering teeth. You can see the two drag themselves out of the still frigid Shrike and go separate ways.
As you approach the barge-turned-bar moored on the bank of the Shrike, you can only wonder if the secrecy around this gathering you have been invited to has anything to do the intrigue of the court, a massive score, or just an overly cryptic codger that has nothing better to do than write riddles. Each of your summons were sent by “The Solicitor”, someone you’ve never heard of.
There is a small stable set back a ways from the river, far enough to prevent a chill from the open water, close enough that it’s probably a quick trip to muck the stables. Even though it’s a bit early for a dinner rush and only just the beginning of travel season yet, there are already several stalls full. ] Regardless, arranging stabling for any mounts or companions you might have (even… exotic) is an easy matter and you aren’t even charged if you mention your business at the Barge Wright Inn.
Venturing onto the Barge across a railed plank into the “Common Room” of the deck, you are greeted by large grizzled man with an eye patch that sizes you up for a moment before exclaiming, ”Ah, here fer the Solicitor’s party, eh? Make yer way to the back room and help yerself, he said he’d be there shortly and… ‘ey, we’ll have none of that here! Want to join yer friends for a swim?” He trounces off across the deck towards two men, one of whom has a red band on his tunic, another with a notable white feather in his hat who appear to be arguing increasingly loudly.
Making your way to a cabin marked “Private Room” with a smaller sign denoting “By reservation only”, you find a large table heaping with food freshly prepared: meats, cheeses, vegetables; probably the finest repast you’ve seen in some time. A few bottles of Elven, Taldan, and Brevic vintage are all set to chill on a small table, and a tapped oak barrel keg has several glasses beside it. Clearly, quite the party has been prepared for. And quite the party it is, given the company that begins to fill the room!
Feel free to respond to any of the “posts” (denoting which one you respond to) and introduce yourselves! You are all arriving around the same time, but I’ll let individuals decide if you, say, meet up with someone you know in the stables, though the default assumption is everyone meets here.
A tall and imposing woman grunts in response to the bouncer's question, and moves pushes past him into the boat. She has toned muscles and piercing, stormy grey eyes. On her right cheek, there is a distinctive scar, now whitened with age, across her right cheek. She obviously hardly pays any attention to her wild nest of flaming red hair, only chopping it off when it gets in the way of battle. She also wears a tattered blood crimson cloak emblazoned with an orange flame crossed with longswords, and underneath that battered scale mail clanks. A massive sword, made of worn, dull iron, hangs on her back.
Will post more tomorrow morning, little time now.
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
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Seldom did the voices agree with each other.
The female voice--Countess Sadow, she called herself--was the voice of a seductress. Persistent and sweet, like a siren calling him to walk over a cliff. It was easier to hear, though a jealous voice, and was stronger when he used his blade.
The male voice--Vaarkalikax--was softer, and more difficult to understand. Even so, it was much more insistent, and thoroughly evil. It came from the skull, which was missing its jawbone. It wasn't a bleached, bare skull, either. It had some charred, blackened skin stretched thin over parts of it, and wisps of hair clinging to the top. An eerie aura emanated from the thing, which was almost palpable. This was strapped to his waste, with the skull held in place with a cord. He heard this voice more when he used magic.
Thoughts and suggestions entered his mind from either of them, and by now it was difficult to distinguish his own thoughts from those emanating from the items, he had heard them so much. But the voices hated each other, and both sought for dominance. They were trying to use him...that much was clear. But to what end, he did not know. When they actually agreed with each other, to resist would be madness.
Vorsirion, the "Revenant" they had started to whisper at home, appeared a tired elf with worn expression and a small scar under his right eye. What energy he lacked in his countenance was made up for in his eyes, which appeared somewhat mad.
Aside from this, the elf seemed handsome, with the best features of his race and gender. He appeared tall, lean, and quick, with thick auburn hair. Vorsiron wore black, studded-leather armor and an armored kilt, both made after the manner of elves. He also carried a curved blade of the kind favored by his race, essentially a longer version of a scimitar, but with a thinner blade. Wrapped in cold-weather clothing, the elf still shivered against the cold. He always seemed cold now.
As the man with the eye patch pointed the way to the back, Vorsirion nodded and wordlessly made his way past.
Vorsirion looked at the spread of food on the tables. The elf still ate--being half-dead only meant he had a reduced appetite, not none at all. But this evening he was not hungry, and gave the food only a passing glance. His eyes lingered for just a moment on the tall woman in the battered armor, and he inclined his head toward her briefly before finding a chair.
You have come to the right place.
Cocksure, a touch too arrogant and certainly brash would likely be the only words used to describe the young man climbing aboard the barge. He was tall and athletic in build, though somewhat more lean and wiry than bulky. Obvious to some was also the pride he took in his outward appearance, clean shaven, well groomed and meticulously clean armor and clothing.
Patting the bouncer on the arm while broadly grinning, the young man somewhat teasingly responded ”Aye Cap’n, appreciate that!” Looking over the bouncers shoulder at the fight brewing, he added with a laugh ”Better take care of that Cap’n, otherwise you might have a riot here on this rickety old thing.”
Glancing at the spread with an appreciative nod, Lucius quickly moves into get a plate. After piling on copious amounts of meats and cheeses, Lucius glances at the booze and grins ”Now we’re talking.” Grabbing a mug, the young man pours himself a generous serving of ale from the oak barrel keg.
After taking a swig or two of ale and downing some ham, Lucius finally takes notice of the other two individuals in the room… a pale elf and a rather large red headed woman. Raising his mug, he addresses them ”Cheers!”
"Cheers." Aris steps into the room in time to catch Lucius's toast and, shedding her brown robes in favor of her bright crimson jacket, steps past the tall man toward the wine. She pours herself a small glass of something that claims to be from Kyonin and looks over the assembled group with sparkling, icy-blue eyes. Satisfied but preoccupied with her research back at Swordlord Koenig's estate, she finds a seat in a corner and shuts her eyes for a second before looking again at the man she followed in, and then at the rest of the assembled group.
"Excuse me, but I assume you're all here because of a letter? I just got my invitation a handful of days ago, which is barely any time at all, so I had to rush down here with practically no time. Koenig was thrilled, of course. Are you sure you're supposed to eat that much meet in one sitting? Oh! I'm Arisl'arial Tathmir." She offers her free hand for shaking, which she does efficiently before returning to her seat.
As the doorman seems occupied with two of the other patrons, Alexei just holds up the invitation and calls out, "Alexei for The Solicitor's party." before heading in.
Hearing a familiar voice, Alexei enters and takes the offered hand. "Good to see you again Miss Tathmir. This must be a special occasion to bring you from the library. Was Sir Koening pleased with the volume? It's not an authoritative source, but so few are for that region."
Nodding to the young man. "I think you have the right idea." Alexei undoes the toggles of his coat before joining him at the table. Helping himself to a wedge of cheese and a few of the vegetables, he introduces himself to the three unfamiliar to him. "Alexei. Clerk specializing in valuation and insurance. I apologize if you've done this already, but would you mind introducing yourselves?"
Vasilyan took a deep breath. It had been a very long travel to Rostland after his one year long stay at his family's castle in the Gronzi Forest. The land was still the same. But the people, the people were very different compared to what he remembered. I've been away for such a long time... he thought to himself. Words of civil war, uprising and rebellion has escalated quickly. When he left, King Urzen Rogarvia sat firmly on the Dragonscale Throne. Now, a new Regent King had been proclaimed: King Noleski Surtova. So many things have changed...But this is still my homeland.
He had been rather cryptically summoned to attend a private meeting aboard a strange tavern-boat on the Shrike River by someone known only as "The Solicitor". As he arrives at the moor of the Barge Wright Inn, Vasilyan grins as he sees two stryggling men shouting at each other. Surtovans and anti-surtovans I suppose...This does not bode well at all. I thought these arguments would have been far less heated here in the south. Well, Solicitor, I hope you're not wasting my time here...
Vasilyan approaches the barge-turned-bar moored on the bank of the Shrike. When he sees the small stable set back a ways from the river, Vasilyan smirks as he sighs. That sight reminded him of his missing mount. I should buy another horse as soon as possible...Traveling on foot is pleasant, but it slows me down...
After jumping aboard the barge, Vasilyan listens intently to the large grizzled man with an eye patch welcoming him. "Think you, I..." tries to answer Vasilyan before the man's attention gets suddenly claimed by someone else. White and Red...Are these the colours of the civil war? Without waiting for the man to come back, Vasilyan makes his way in the back room.
"This is a feast fit for a king" says Vasilyan as soon as he enters the room and sees the plentiful banquet. Only then he realizes that there are several other people in the room. He bows a single time, trying to respect the proper etiquette: the education he received in the court still had its advantages.
"Vasilyan Medvyed, it's a pleasure to make your acquiescence ladies and gentlemen" he says politely, as he takes a sit and rests his bow on the table. He shakes Arisl'arial hand firmly. "I'm here for the same reason myself, Mrs. Tathmir. I must admit that the invitation was rather...cryptical"
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
Vorsirion took in the new arrivals. Once he would have gladly raised a glass with the brash warrior. Now, he didn't drink at all. This only amplified the voices.
She looks familiar, the elf thought as Arisl'arial spoke, and when she said her name, a flicker of recognition crossed Vorsirion's face.
I do know her...from before...
The elf did not say anything, though. In response to Alexei's request for introductions, he reluctantly said "I'm...Vorsirion."
As soon as Raven entered the room, she felt a sinking feeling in her gut. No way someone with this much money would hire just one mercenary, she thought, and her suspicions were confirmed by an insane-looking elf walking in, followed by a boisterous son of a nobleman, an Abdaran, and a bookish looking elf. Raven had just resigned herself to having to look out of the idiots until the job was done until Vasilyan walked in.
She was sitting down at one of the chairs, barely touching her food and paging through a dusty old leatherbound tome titled Classical Taldoran Tactics in the Age of Exploration while studiously ignoring everybody else when her old comrade walked in. Putting down the book, she asks incredulously, "Vasilyan! What the hell are you doing away from that filthy mudhole that you like so much! I haven't seen you since I was a brat in Flame's Fury! Come over here!"
Vasilyan widens his eyes as he notices Raven among the guests. Wait, why is she here? He smiles at the girl, but his smile soon turns into a sneer as Raven greets him potraying his old village as a filthy mudhole. "I suppose you're referring to Velinstadt, Mrs. Sirkas". His sneer turns into a smile again, but there's something in his tone revealing his hard to conceal irritation. Vasilyan gains his composure again quickly though, excusing the girl for her offending comment. After all, he didn't expected nothing different from her. But at least she's honest, and respects her pacts...Rare commodity, nowadays, he thinks to himself as he moves closer to Raven.
"Well, I've left Velinstadt several years ago, milady", answers Vasilyan, intentionally remarking his last word. "The first gift you ever receive is your family. A man grows from the seeds his parents plant. I had to return to my own family", says Vasilyan citing the Parables of Erastil.
"And what you tell me about you, milady? I thought you were crushing troll skulls somewhere in the River Kingdoms. What brings you to Brevoy?"
If Raven has one good trait, it's her levelheadedness. She doesn't even react to Vasilyan's mocking, and instead replies, "Flame's Fury gets around. But actually, I was up here taking time off with my family when this courier rushes into the Tipsy Kobold and hands me this letter from this. 'Solicitor.' Said I had to come here right away, and I'd be fired if I didn't. And here I am."
Raven then whispers, "Believe it or not, I'm actually glad to see you. You and I both know that Brevoy is about to explode into civil war. I was hoping to get my mother, uncle, and little sister (adopted from a friend, loves Raven a bunch, Raven loves her too, just thought I'd add that in for some eventual cute moments) into Velinstadt before that happens. I want to them be safe. Restov is probably going to be one of the first battlegrounds."
Raven continues. "I honestly hope I survive this job. We have a banker, a librarian, an elf who looks like he's hearing voices, and a nobleman who probably spends too much time drinking to actually train with that sword of his. Who in their right mind would gather a group like this?"
Moving forward a bit. If anyone needs to do a call back for an introduction, feel free to do so!
As if appearing on cue, a non-descript human male in his late 20s emerges through the door, surveys the room, and closes the door once more. His features are unremarkable and decidedly... average: average height and build, dark hair and brown eyes. The only things notable about him are his clothes (clearly marking him as some sort of Court functionary) and the confidence he shows in his every movement.
Looking about the room, his eyes glance to each occupant before speaking in a voice that sounds like he belongs in a theatre. "All present and accounted for? Introductions in order?" Glancing around, he notes some hesitancy from the group, before continuing on. "As you may have surmised, I am the 'Solicitor' in this matter. You see, you have all been selected as potential candidates for an Expedition to the Stolen Lands." He pauses once more.
”I’m sure you all have all sorts of questions, which I will endeavor to address.“
“You may wonder as to the secretive and cryptic nature of this entire affair? That, you see, is a matter of politics, as is this whole Expedition, really. There are many that don’t think Brevoy is doing enough to secure its southern border, that the only way to survive another coldsnap is to increase our foodstores from reclaimed fields, or just think that an expansion to the South would be a good locale to distract and send local hot heads to. Yet there are those within power that see this entire matter as folly, a waste of time and resources that could be better used for more… civil… pursuits. Further still, residents of the River Kingdoms are most resistant to foreign incursions, nor are any neighboring kingdoms eager to see their borders growing closer. So, we have the current arrangement at hand.”
He gestures to a parchment that he holds in his hand. "I have been authorized to grant an exclusive Charter to an adventuring company to Explore a tract of the Stolen Lands, as well as allocate resources that would prove quite handy to such an endeavor. However, this is not a matter to treat lightly to relative unknowns, whatever pedigree of lineage or banditry you might have." He looks pointedly at a few of you.
He continues. "Here, I wish to kill two birds with one stone: a chance to prove yourself discreet, reliable, and up to the task. Several of you are familiar with the Godsmouth Osuary?" He doesn't wait for a reply before continuing on. "A relic of the past, a paid permanent place of rest that only the most wealthy of Restov's nobles are interred to. It is a matter of prestige to be housed in there, though I truly doubt the dead care overly much where they go to rot. Yet, there they go, kept under the protection and foundation of the Pharasmite Cathedral."
"Until, of course, something has become amiss."
"I have had reports of several caretakers that have gone missing from those hallowed halls of the dead. The clergy there are normally as tight-lipped as their Mistress, but they accede the need for a... neutral party to investigate. And by 'neutral', they are more meaning 'politically expedient and expendable' than a philosophical orientation.
So, this is my offer. Investigate the Godsmouth Ossuary and ascertain what transpires there. You will be adequately rewarded in of itself. But then... then is when the real interesting matters begin." He taps the parchment and folds it into his coat.
After hearing "Stolen Lands," Raven, who has not touched any alchohol yet, drains a nearby mug of ale.
Once the Solicitor finishes his briefing, Raven sighs and says, "Just a few: In case I die, I want to know the real name of the man whose name I should be cursing as I'm dragged to the grave by some sort of abomination." She smirks slightly at this remark. "Secondly, have you already signed the rental contract with the Flame's Fury mercenary company? And thirdly, are you aware that you will have to pay my family the insurance policy in full if I die on this mission, unlikely as it may be?"
Vasilyan smiles as he hears Raven's concerns for her relatives. She's a good girl...And cares for her family. I won't be failing her he thinks as he nods and answers, "I'm sure we can arrange something Raven. Velinstadt is a rather safe place to stay, I agree. I'll see if I can write a letter for them, so that they can take it with them and show it when they'll arrive. I'll do everything I can to ensure their safety". That said, Vasilyan sits next to the half-elf, fills her glass and his own, in this order, before toasting to her relatives' safety. "Although these lands are far more dangerous than I remembered, Raven. I fear that the travel could be risky for them. Maybe we can escort them to Velinstadt together. But first let's hear what this Solicitor wants from us" he whispers.
As the Solicitor describes nature of the business, and its true purpose in the Stolen Lands, Alexei's attitude changes from polite interest to fascination. "Finally. he says quietly.
As the man opens the discussion to questions, Alexei stiffens at the red-haired mercenary's manner. After the Solicitor has a chance to address her concerns, Alexei speaks up. "Thank you for the invitation and food. It's encouraging to hear talk of expansion, and even more that there are those willing to put resources to that effect. I look forward to seeing the charter's details."
"As to the Ossuary, is there someone in particular we should speak to at the Cathedral, and who is allowed to know our purpose?
Raven does accept Vasilyan's toast, and then whispers, "Aye. Velinstadt may be a mudhole, but it's a pleasant mudhole when it isn't being ravaged by trolls. As for getting them across, I was thinking that we could take them once we've explored and somewhat tamed the Stolen Lands. It's the most direct route to the River Kingdoms, and we would know the land well enough to be aware of its dangers at that point."
Expedition to the Stolen Lands?
Vasilyan almost chokes on his drink as the Solicitor mentions the "expedition". What does that mean? He would have wanted to stand up and ask for a number of questions immediately, but seeing that the man is eager to continue his speech, he regains his composure and pays attention to his words.
Tsk, pedrigree of lineage or banditry...I have both he thinks ironically as the man speaks.
When the Godsmouth Ossuary is mentioned, Vasilyan nods. He had heard a lot of brevic nobles bragging about the huge number of dead relatives they had in that reputable ossuary. He had never cared too much about it. His ways were far more simple and cold, as those of his strict family.
When he has heard the entire proposal, Vasilyan takes a few seconds to carefully consider his options. I've come back, but I refused to take on my rightful duties as a landlord. So I need something to do. And this could actually be something good.
"I'm in," he says right after, "Pharasma makes cradles for us all. We all need to pay The Lady of the Graves back eventually, and this seems just like a good chance to do that."
"I've got several questions for you, Mr. Solicitor. Many of them concern the expedition you've been talking about. But I suppose there will be another time for those. For now, I just want to know if we will be allowed to enforce the law as emissaries of our country during the course of our endeavour. You know, my life has taught me that when someone goes missing there's nothing good ahead. Are we authorised to capture or kill the possible responsible?"
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
Vorsirion listened to the instructions skeptically, looking askance at
Arisl'arial, who apparently did not recognize him. He didn't bother to find a seat, but stood in the corner with his arms folded across his chest.
The tomb...seek the power there...
Vorsirion did not like enclosed places. He could already feel the weight of the Godsmouth Ossuary crushing down on him. And yet, he felt strangely compelled to go.
"When does this preliminary expedition leave?" Vorsirion finally asks. "And how far away is the Godsmouth Ossuary?"
He did not know what to make of the expedition to the stolen lands; apparently, neither did the voices.
"I think we should be leaving as quickly as possible. After all, time and Pharasma wait for no one. Besides, the Ossuary isn't my interest, but the expedition that comes after..." Aris grins at the others. "Besides, the Lady of Graves will protect us, no doubt."
She cocks an eyebrow at the strange elf, hesitantly offering a hand. "I'm getting the strangest deja vu. Have we met?"
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
Vorsirion looks hesitant for a moment and takes a breath, as if he has been caught doing something he shouldn't.
That is her...
"Yes, yes," he says, now trying to smile. "We have met...perhaps twenty years ago in the River Kingdoms. I was part of a delegation, and you helped us with some research. If I recall, you were quite helpful and very intelligent. It was...another lifetime, almost," he says.
"Just a few: In case I die, I want to know the real name of the man whose name I should be cursing as I'm dragged to the grave by some sort of abomination." She smirks slightly at this remark. "Secondly, have you already signed the rental contract with the Flame's Fury mercenary company? And thirdly, are you aware that you will have to pay my family the insurance policy in full if I die on this mission, unlikely as it may be?"
The Solicitor raises a brow at the questions. "While I'm sure that a few have cursed my name, I'm unaware of any that have been drug to their graves. As for your other requests, I believe that we can come to accomodations."
"As to the Ossuary, is there someone in particular we should speak to at the Cathedral, and who is allowed to know our purpose?
"The specifics will be available to you before you go there, however, it is a matter of some discression. I do hope you understand. There is a contact waiting for you, rest assured."
"Are we authorised to capture or kill the possible responsible?"
"Whoever or whatever is responsible for these disappearances should be dealt with. I will not speculate what it might be, and you will have limited authority vested by the Sworlords, but the way you handle that authority will reflect on you greatly.
He turns to the rest of the group.
"If you are all agreed, I arrangements are made for you to meet at the Godsmouth cathedral first thing tomorrow morning. It isn't all too uncommon for a group of armed civilians to venture there, so you would not draw too much attention. As to the where, it is only a short walk from where we now float."
Any more questions? If not, we'll move forward this evening!
"It's fine" agrees Vasilyan with a nod, taking a look at his next allies. I hope they can fend for themselves...I've never seen two elves together in the same room in my entire life. The Swordlords must have some weird plan brewing in their minds...
"We'll meet again tomorrow, then. It's been a pleasure to make your acquiescence" says respectfully Vasilyan with a bow before exiting the room.
This still sounds strange to me...What does this Solicitor wants from us, and from me in particular? Why was I chosen, among everyone else? I guess I could spend the whole day thinking about it without making heads or tails of this thing. It's like trying to get blood out of a stone. I guess I'll just wait and see what the lies ahead...
Raven nods tersely before finishing off a turkey leg glistening with fat and pushing out of her chair, stalking out of the boat.
Better let Mother and Lily know that my visit will be cut short, she thinks grimly as she navigates the bustling streets of Restov to a somewhat grimy establishment, from which a sign depicting a drunken kobold hangs. Shoving open the door, she calls warmly, "Mother! Lily! I'm home! Let Maica tend the bar for a few minutes, we... have some things to discuss."
And Raven growls goodnight.
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
To the Solictor, "Certainly."
As the group begins to break up, Alexei offers the others a short bow."May we prosper together." He lingers a while to sample some of the vintages presented and take advantage of the fine meal.
If there are no further questions, The Solicitor provides directions to the Cathedral, and gives the name of your contact: Priestess Valanthe Nerissa.
You are able to stay and eat as long as you would like, and accommodations are provided on the Barge for you to sleep off any... over-indulgences the group might have. The morning, and your first step towards an Expedition to the Stolen Lands, comes early in the morning, however.
Will move things forward in the morning. Also, I'm looking to cut down on the "dungeon crawl" feeling of the module, in the interest of getting things rolling. When we do have multiple options, the "rule of 2" will prevail: if two people suggest a course of action, it will be followed. Just make sure to be specific and over-communicate in OOC too!
A thte party, Aris sifts through what she knows of the Ossuary, but it doesn't provide much beyond what the "Solicitor" offered. Feeling out of place among fighters and mercenaries, she instead focuses on their later goals. "I heard the Stolen Lands to the south were haunted, or at least crawling with dangerous animals. the Ossuary is probably filled with haunts and frightening things as well. Does anyone have experience in fighting that kind of thing?"
I'm ready to move on unless someone wants to try chatting at the cathedral itself. Sorry for not posting, I've looked at everything and kind of missed a few opportunities to chat, but there will be others.
As she walked out, Raven tossed a sarcastic glare in Aris' direction that screamed, Whaddya think the big sword is for? before pushing open the doors.
At the party.
After the mercenary leaves, Alexei nods towards Arisl. "Some, but I am certainly not an expert. Positive energy is useful in dispersing haunts until a more permanent solution can be found." Shrugging his shoulders, "Honestly the Pharasmans usually have a monopoly on that sort of thing, which makes me very curious. Still I do have access to channeling should we need it, and a basic training on the various kinds of lesser undead and how to combat them. Hopefully that will be enough, or perhaps someone else has more practical experience."
"As for the area south of here, most of what I know related to failed attempts to settle. It seems to be a pattern back to the original Army of Exploration that settled Restov. Records all indicate that the area is fertile and overall quite good, but for whatever reason, every attempt to civilize the region ultimately fails. Some last longer than others, but nothing consistent as happened north in Brevoy. I don't know why."
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
As the others discussed what they might find in the tomb, Vorsirion reluctantly chimes in.
"I...know some of the walking dead. It is fascinating in some ways. Many in this life have hope of a better place where they will live forever. Some...pursue immortality in corruptible corpses. We will likely encounter these," he says.
With no further question, the evening proceeds uneventful if possibly gluttonous, with an early morning soon after. The group assembles and journeys across Restov towards the Godsmouth Cathedral, on the South West side of the city.
At the Godsmouth Cathedral you are greeted by a robed novice, who brings you to meet Priestess Valanthe who in turn ushers you into a small meeting room near the entrance. The priestess is a middle aged woman wearing dark black robes and a holy symbol of Pharasma hanging around her neck, that regards the group with a bit of hesitation. "You are the ones sent to deal with our... problem?" she inquires.
Assuming there is assent
She looks somewhat relieved. "Good, good. It has been a matter of some embarrassment. We have long been the stewards of the Cathedral grounds and those interred underneath, yet two of our order have gone missing in mysterious circumstances. I personally have never ventured far past the entrance of the Ossuary myself and fear what fate may have befallen them. We do have funds allocated for you should you resolve this issue for us... 500 gold should be worth your while? That is the sum that was negotiated."
She gestures towards a wall inward in the Cathedral. "I can escort you to the entrance of the Ossuary; you will be the first living that are not of our order to venture there for some time. Is there anything else you require?"
After reporting to his superiors at the bank, Alexei sleeps and prepares himself for the next day.
Alexei arrives slightly early at the designated meeting point, moving quickly despite the equipment he carries. Simple armor over a gambeson. Spear and crossbow, mace and shield. A practical kettle hanging ready. With no obvious holy symbol or noble sigil, he could be a guard or foot soldier from anywhere in the Inner Sea.
After meeting the Priestess, Alexei glances at the others to check their reactions. If there are no objections, "I believe that is the correct amount. Before we enter, please tell us what you can about your fellow worshipers, and how we can be sure to identify them. If they have joined the River of Souls, would you like us to return their remains to you or inter them in the crypt?"
"Also could you tell us something of the history of the Ossuary, particularly if there are records of something like this happening before. While part of the reason for hiring us is to ascertain exactly what is happening in there, anything you can give us might be important. You must have some suspicions?"
After she has a chance to speak, Alexei ads, "My companions may have additional questions?"
Diplomacy to see if I can improve her attitude towards us and possible get some useful information regarding the Ossurary. Something like this doesn't go wrong without there being rumors and guesses. Sense motive to see if she seems to be holding something back.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
Raven arrives at precisely the arranged time, her massive sword slung across her back. Her tattered red cloak flares in the wind, and she apparently took some time to both repair her armor from whatever struggle she was last engaged in.
When led to the meeting room, she gives a nod in approval to Alexei's garb. "I'm relieved to see that you're showing some common sense. I've seen far too many battlefield healers rush out without any armor or weapons, insisting, 'faith alone will protect them,' or other such nonsense. Of course they get killed within the first minute of the scrap. Idiots."
Raven then turns towards the priestess and asks brusquely, "You do realize that an ossuary is fodder for necromancers? I would like a few vials of holy water to protect myself in the likelihood of undead abominations. Any unused vials will immediately be returned, and the cost of any used vials will be paid in full by the Flame's Fury mercenary company."
For her part, Aris arrives early enough to pray for the souls of her mothers, both adoptive and real. When she finishes up, she follows the party into the meeting room, listening intently. The moment the briefing is over, her hand shoots up. "Yes, actually. Do you have a rough idea of the Ossuary's layout? Additionally, what does your order usually bring when they enter the Ossuary? Any information on their garb or equipment could help us keep them alive and let us know who our friends and enemies are."
The priestess smiles apologetically. "Unfortunately, I've never gone far inside of the Ossuary; I am more of a cleric in the "clerical" sense, myself. High Priestess of Death Delana Karaheis and
High Priestess of Death Delana Karaheis and Priest of tombs Svilennius Tripe were the primary custodians of the Ossuary, and they are the ones that that have gone missing. Svilennius was the first to disappear on what was a routine matter or maintaing a crypt, and the High Priestess went after him. I do know that there are a number of wards and locks throughout the Ossuary that the High Priestess usually openned with the Skull Key, but that has gone missing with her." She gives a rough description of the two, and adds "They should be readily identifiable by their Pharasman holy symbols. Should you find them and the worst has come to pass, please return them to me so that proper funerary rights are performed."
Valanthe then hands the group a hollow mithral tube about 1 foot long—a chime of opening with 5 charges remaining. "You may use this to deactivate some of the locks, however, one charge will be needed to return, should you not find the Skull Key. Please, do not squander them and leave yourself to remain with the dead..."
[b]"Regarding other aid you might receive, I can provide some small amount of holy water at a discount. Sadly, I'm unable to give it without cost."
You can purchase Holy Water at cost here.
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
Vorsirion checks his pack as he listens to the priestess discuss the tomb. When the priestess mentions that some of doors that can only be opened with the chime, the elf looks slightly alarmed.
"You mean that if we were not to save a charge of the chime...we would be trapped inside?"
That sounds familiar...
Vasilyan listens to the priestess' account attentively and nods several times in agreement with the priestess. "I think we got enough information, thank you Priestess Valanthe" answers Vasilyan with a bow as the woman completes her speech. "I'm ready when you are" he says to his new allies, a confident smile on his face.
Raven quickly calculates the odds of getting yelled at for purchasing potentially unnecessary holy water on the company dime, decides against it, then turns to Vasilyan and grunts, "Let's go."
At the meeting room
At Raven's blunt statement, Alexei opens his mouth briefly, looking slightly pole-axed, before sketching a short bow. "One tries."
Accepting the offered chime, "This is much appreciated. Thank you." Alexei ties it to his waist where it will secure and accessible.
Nodding to Vasilyan, "Agreed. No sense waiting."
No one else indicated taking the chime, I can pass it on to Vorsirion or Arisl once we're inside.
As soon as she enters the Ossuary, Raven unsheathes her sword in a single, fluid motion, then turns to the rest of the party and orders, "Alright. Pretty boy will take point with me. Let's see if you can use that sword and board of yours. Vasilyan, assist wherever you feel is needed. Banker, keep everybody on their feet and swap out if somebody's too wounded to be on the front lines. I hope you can use that spear. Librarian, if we spot anything, tell everybody its strengths and weaknesses so we know how to take it down. And you..." Raven turns to Vorsirion. "What do you do, exactly?" Clearly, the mercenary is in her natural element.
Vasilyan casts a sarcastic gaze upon Raven. "And since when do you give orders to me?" he says with a relaxed tone, revealing that his harsh words are nothing but a joke. The Brevic man smirks at Raven once again before drawing his longbow and extracting an arrow from his quiver. "One can never know" he says then, shrugging his shoulders.
"I'll go last" he says in his gruff voice.
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
Vorsirion, taking queues from the others, draws his elven blade, a slightly-curved, longer version of a scimitar. It's spectral blade flickers, almost as if it's semi-transparent or ghostly. He looks curiously at Raven as she organizes the group.
You should lead, not her...take what is yours!
Vorsirion closes his eyes for a moment to concentrate. When Raven asks him what he does, he looks somewhat peeved.
"I have many skills," he responds. "Traps and devices, hidden knowledge, linguistics, some magic, stealth, and the use of magical devices. I am likely quicker than any here. I have some magical items of some power, as well. You do your part...I will do mine," he adds.
Towards Vasilyan, Raven snarks, "Because I'm smarter than you, Mr. Good-Two-Shoes. While you spend your time collecting virtues, I spend mine collecting books on tactics. Plus, you know, the big sword lends to my aura of authority."
Raven nods. "Got it. I'll let you know if I'm in need of your services. Nice blade you've got there, by the way. Good craftsmanship, looks like its balance is excellent as well. Never seen that design before, though. Wish Harbinger was as fine as that." Raven then turns to scan the rest of the room.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
Vorsirion relaxes a bit as Raven's ignores his unkind tone.
"I...yes, it is a fine blade. It...has a mind of its own, almost," the elf adds.
He observes the room they have entered carefully, examining the entrance to the crypt with excitement, despite his apprehension of again being underground...and potentially trapped.
perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Before taking you to the entrance of the Ossuary, the priestess cautions you. "Please, do not unnecesarily disturb or loot the tombs of the dead. Given the circumstances, you may make use of items you find in your exploration, though I cannot condone outright graverobbing of the Pharasmin crypts."
With that, she shows you to a large door with the mark of Pharasma. Striking the Chime once causes the door to grind open as if from long years of disuse.
Within, a stone spiral staircase descends into the earth. Following the spiral stairway, the party descends 60 feet down a cramped vertical shaft to the second level of the Godsmouth Ossuary. Here, old carvings and religious trappings cover the walls of this square chamber, free of dust and cobwebs. Three sets of stone double doors stand in the three facing walls. Heavy bronze seals emblazoned with the symbol of Pharasma secure the doors against whatever lies beyond, though the ones to the the north and south are open.
To the south, you see a large statue stands in the corner of this L-shaped room, depicting Pharasma, holding up her hand, her fingers slightly gaping as if there is something missing. An inscription on the wall states, "King or peasant, the lives of all men are transcribed by her quill."
To the north, you see a similar statue depicting Pharasma, her eyes looking down towards her upturned hands. An inscription on the wall states, "Whether weal or woe, the fates of all men are recorded in her book."
Beyond both sets of statues there is a smooth wall that is carved to appear like doors, though investigation shows that there is no obvious means to open or move them.
Alexai Perception Skill: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Arisl Perception Skill: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (20) + 0 = 20
Lucius' Perception Skill: 1d20 ⇒ 19
Raven's Perception Skill: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (6) + 7 = 13
Vasilyn's Perception Skill: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Vorsirion's Perception Skill: 1d20 ⇒ 12
With their keen elven eyes, Arisl does find a Stone Quill that presumably matches the indentation of the southern statue.
Raven strides towards the graffiti, a quizzical look on her face. Kneeling down to get a better look at it, she mutters, "Figures. Necormancers are always the crazy type," before yelling behind her back, "Hey! Anybody here speak crazy?"
|Vorsirion the Revenant|
"I am fluent..." Vorsirion says, perhaps only half in jest.
The elf runs his fingers over the graffiti. "It almost appears as if some sentient undead wrote this...perhaps something that has been raised from the dead, and is conflicted over this new state of un-life."
More than they will ever know...I understand this feeling...
"I anticipate we will need to use one of the charges of the chime to bypass these doors. They do not appear to open."
Vasilyan, ignore Raven's reply to you. That was waaay out of character for her. Just my own natural snarkiness bleeding in.
Raven shakes her head. "No... no, I don't think so." Getting up, the mercenary begins pacing. "The 'Key' in Skull Key implies that using it to open doors would require a keyhole. I don't see a keyhole around here. So why would the Pharasmins feel the need to make the ossuary inaccessible unless they held a valuable magic item with a limited amount of uses? It just doesn't make sense. They would only use the chime in case of emergencies where the Skull Key is unavailable. So that leaves the question: how did they get in? It makes sense to provide a secret method of getting in to foil potential graverobbers: after all, this place is for the rich and famous. And correct me if I'm wrong..." Raven turns to both of the statues. "...but it seems that the Lady of Graves is missing some things."
Taking a deep breath, Raven then says to the party, "Canvass the area. We need that book and the quill found if we want to proceed, since we don't want to use any more charges in the chime that are absolutely necessary."
Can Raven spend two minutes searching to take 20 on the Perception check, for a total of 27?
With a thorough search, the only thing that turned up was the Stone Quill; you didn't find anything that looks like it matched the North Statue's hands. Both statues glow with magic when Detect Magic is cast, as well as the double doors to the West (that bear a Mark of Pharasma)