Rising Tide (Inactive)

Game Master electricjokecascade

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Almas, the Heart of Liberty, capital of Andoran, a thriving city bifurcated by the Andoshen River and home to over 76,000 souls. Verdant, yellow stoned, with a skyline rich with towers, spires, obelisks and steeples. Its great glittering bay plays host almost a hundred ships from a dozen different nations, and everywhere hope lifts the heart of its citizens. Hope that their grand experiment in democracy and equality is succeeding. Hope that their dream is becoming a reality.

It's late afternoon when you receive the summons. A messenger clad in the royal cobalt blue comes to your abode, and delivers in person an elegant scroll tube in which is housed this simple message:

Dear sir,

A matter of pressing national need has come to our attention, and it is imperative that we act in all haste. Please report to the People's Council as soon as you may, and meet me in the Hall of Reliquaries. There I await you.

Yours in the People's name,

Thanasia Eregina
Undersecretary to the Supreme Elect of Andoran

It takes but ten minutes to traverse your quarter, take the Avenue of Freedom to the Field of Concord, and there walk up the steps to the palace. Formerly a Chelaxian fortress, the palace is now famous for housing the Council that determines the fate of all of Andoran, a vast building of subtle architecture and imposing mien.

The message from the Undersecretary opens doors. You are ushered through the grand entrance, then through a side door and into a long series of halls that lead ever deeper into the grandness of the palace. No matter that all Chelaxian ornamentation was stripped from its walls, that the alcoves now stand empty, and the mosaics white washed over; the palace is yet an forbidding and massive building, where your footfalls echo and a mortal can not but feel small and insignificant beneath the vast and vaulted ceilings.

The Hall of Reliquaries is empty. Blue light streams in through the large windows that adorn the long wall to the left, leading down to the altar at the far end where talismans, relics, and symbols of Andoran's fallen heroes are venerated. The floor of is of a marble so polished it appears slick as if covered by a thin layer of water, while hundreds of candles burn along the wall to the right, contrasting with the pale light of evening.

A closer look reveals that no, the Hall is not in fact empty; a single, slender figure kneels before the distant altar, staring contemplatively at painted figures that adorn the reredos: humble peasants, lean merchants, strong warriors. These are the icons of worship in Andoran: the people themselves.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington thanks the messenger with a curt nod, a smile, and a silver coin for his trouble. Then, after locking the front door, he retires to his study to examine the missive. He pulls a set of spectacles from his desk drawer and reads the letter over carefully.

Linguistics to Verify the Letter's Authenticity: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (13) + 11 = 24
+6 for linguistics, +5 to identify a forgery with Spectacles of Understanding

Wallington takes a moment to think. What do I know about Thanasia Eregina?

Knowledge: Nobility: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11

While he tries to recall all that he can regarding Eregina, he begins packing his gear, as he knows that acting in all haste suggests that he may need to leave directly from the meeting. After ten minutes or so of donning his armor, and placing his weapons on his belt, and in a hidden pocket in his sleave, Wallington activates that glamours on both his armor and dagger, so that he appears to be unarmed and dressed in the fashionable clothes of a noble.

Thanasia Eregina. The third daughter of a former Martial Consul, she should by all rights be of little to no consequence.

Francis knows enough, however, to know that is greatly feared by a wise few. Undersecretary to the Supreme Elect, she is rarely seen and never at court or the official Council sessions. Rather, she seems to be a pervasive shadow, meeting clandestinely with notable figures, but to what ends?

Only one thing is certain. His most recent success last month must have prompted this meeting.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Having some little information regarding Eregina, Wallington makes his way to the People's Council. Using the letter to gain entrance to the building, Wallington immediately begins keeping a careful eye out for anything that looks out of place or something to indicate that he's walking into a trap, and he tries as best he can to remember the series of doors, hallways, and rooms he's led into to so that he can make a quick escape should he need to.

Sense Motive on the escort leading him: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (6) + 12 = 18
Knowledge: Dungeoneering to keep track of the route out: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Perception to look for anything out of place: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32

Upon reaching the Hall of Reliquaries, Wallington stops for a moment just inside the doorway, as it is presumably closed behind him. He takes in the scene, and looks twice to see if there are any hidden observers or guards.

Perception to look & listen for hiding creatures: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (20) + 12 = 32

Regardless of what he finds, he takes slow deliberate steps toward the kneeling figure. Although he's not taking any deliberate action to sneak up on whom he presumes to be Thasania Eregina, his armor-cum-clothing drinks up his footsteps, making his movement virtually silent.

Unless otherwise interrupted, Wallington stops a mere five feet from the kneeling figure and introduces himself with a formal bow, saying, "I have come as requested, my lady. How may I be of service to you and Andoran?

The escort is effected by a guard, a heavyset man with a florid face who walks with an air of confidence underscored by indifference. He leads Francis to a small camarilla where a long-robed adviser finishes the escort. Where the guard was indifferent, the adviser is cautiously curious, but wise enough to ask no questions, and to back away once Francis is brought to the Hall's entrance.

The route, while torturous, is not purposefully labyrinthine, and Francis, moments before entering the Hall, is confident that he could trace his path back to the front gate.

Confident that they are alone, he approaches the Undersecretary, who rises as he draws near. She is tall, with a willowy figure and pale, porcelain skin. Her shoulders are bared, and her clothing is elegant, refined, and of shifting metallic hues. White hair is cut short at the back and reaches past her jawline at the front, and her face is at once perilously beautiful and harsh, with piercing eyes and full lips that look like they may never have curved in a smile.

"Thank you for coming so swiftly, Sir Wallington." Her voice is husky, and her eyes scan his figure before locking on his eyes. "Word of your successes have reached my ears, and I have kept you in mind should a suitable occasion present itself where your talents might be of use. I regret to say such an occasion is upon us."

Stepping to one side, Thanasia gestures at the polished marble floor. Grass sprouts across its surface even as tiny forests grow rapidly into being, with small mountain ranges and a hammered mirror of an ocean to one side.

It is, Francis realizes, a perfect model of Andoran in miniature.

"You are aware, of course, of the conflict on our eastern border." Thanasia gestures, and tiny armies appear on the border with Taldor. "This... ongoing war has dragged on for three years now. In an effort to end this conflict, the Supereme Elect has, in his ineffable wisdom, committed almost all of our armed forces to that area. Our Eagle Knights. The Free Legions."

Her smile is bitter, and she turns to consider the western border where the Asphodell Mountains form a barrier to Cheliax. "Something our old friends to the west have noticed. I have received word that an army is gathering in Brastlewark, just to the south of the most southern peak."

The small, Chelaxian city glows briefly. "The army is of sufficient size that we believe the threat of invasion to be very real. Already word has been sent to the eastern front. Reserves are being drawn back. Levies are being raised here in Almas and our other main cities. It will strain the treasury, but we believe, with some effort and a modicum of luck, that we should be able to muster a force of sufficient size to contest any attempt to sweep into Andoran."

This statement, however, does not seem to cheer the Undersecretary. "There is one complication. You are aware, no doubt, of the Asphodell Pass. It is the only means for an army to pass through the mountains themselves. Of course, that is precisely why we have the Iron Keep. It is a bulwark that can hold against a vast force, and its presence has ensured that no Chelaxian force has ever entered the Windburn Vale."

The Iron Keep glows in turn in the center of the Asphodell Mountains.

"I have just heard, however, that Lord Junsar, master of the Iron Keep, has betrayed us. Even as we speak, the Iron Keep is being invested by the forces of Cheliax."

She turns to Francis and smiles at him. "You can understand how this changes the equation."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington nods gravely, "Of course, my Lady. The gate we have relied on to keep our enemies at bay, has just been thrown wide, almost welcoming them into the heart of our nation."

Wallington considers even as he speaks, Why would Lord Junsar betray Andoran? There must be a reason.

Knowledge: Nobility for information on Lord Junsar: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20

Wallington continues, "You obviously have a specific task for me to complete. As I am but a diplomat, and not an army, I can only assume that you wish for me to undertake a mission to convince a wayward ally to come to our aid, and bring their forces to bear to retake the Iron Keep?"

Lord Junsar:
A former soldier who earned great glory, and whose retirement to the Iron Keep was both well earned and highly approved of. Highly decorated for bravery and strategic thinking both, he has held the Iron Keep for two decades without incident. He is a widower, and has two children who are now both grown and reside with him at the Keep; Ansel Junsar, a lieutenant in his guard, and Kirilli Junsar, his daughter and talented artist. Her works have been displayed at certain key galleries in Almas, and you recall hearing that they caused a stir, but don't remember quite why.

Thanasia nods as she considers her own map. "I do indeed have a specific task for you, but it does not include gathering forces to retake the Keep. Retaking the keep is a task that has been assigned by the Supreme Elect to the Golden Sky. They left last night. With a little luck, they will infiltrate the Keep, gain access to Lord Junsar, and either convince him to renege on his new treaties or take the Keep by force."

You have heard of the Golden Sky. Every Andoran has. They are a small group of heroic individuals whose names are on the lips of every citizen, their exploits celebrated and even turned into plays. They have been sent on numerous missions for the Supreme Elect in the past, and never failed him.

"I have utmost confidence in the Golden Sky, but it is in my nature to be cautious, if not pessimistic. Hence your presence here. I regret to say that Windburn Vale has been... neglected, shall we say, by the Supreme Elect these past few years. With our attention fixed firmly on our eastern border, and with more pressing matters ever clamoring for our attention, the settlements in the Vale have been left alone for far too long."

Thanasia waves her hand, and a number of white balls appear, glowing on the map within the Vale.

"To the north lies Alastor, a sizable city of nearly 15,000 souls. Ruled by a council which is headed by Aurion Thorn, they are a source of much economic activity, and the most important settlement in the area."

She then turns her attention to a small town in the center of the Vale. "Granthelm is of middling size, a large town once strongly fortified but whose walls were destroyed in a siege decades past. Now it is the domain of a man who goes by the name of Sinaiva. He leads a mercenary army for whomever pays him best. I do not know if he is currently in residence, but Granthelm has a poor reputation."

Thanasia gestures, and a third town glows, this one nearly in the mountains on the very southern edge of the Vale. "Naugrathim is a former dwarven mine that has been taken over by Kadrian Hekkus. He is a grim and powerful man, and he runs this mining town with exacting authority."

The three cities are roughly aligned on a vertical axis, with Alastor at the very north, Naugrathim at the very south, and Granthelm in the center.

"Then there is Ascension, which acts both as a staging ground and supply depot for the Iron Keep, as well as being the home of one of Iomedae's most holy sites." A small town glows, esconced right in the angle of the Vale, a few miles from the Iron Keep. "It is a small town, and led by both Palasthinia, a powerful cleric of Iomedae, and Harust Golmer, who minds the more practical affairs. They will be the first to encounter an Chelaxian incursion."

Thanasia sighs. "The final settlement of any note is hidden deep within the Asphodell Moutains in the northern range. Built atop a narrow spire, Crux is the abode of Ilyumar, a powerful mage who consorts with the Underdark and houses, I believe, some thousand people in his domain. These are a mixture of adepts and common folk. He is a power unto himself, and being perfectly situated on the border between Cheliax and Andoran, has never had to answer to either."

Thanasia looks up to Francis. "What I ask of you, Sir, is that you turn this disparate group of towns and cities into a unified front against Cheliax. That you forge them into a single entity that will offer the greatest resistance to the incoming army. Once you have done your work, I will ask that the Supreme Elect send forces to bolster whatever defenses you have managed to build, along with dwarven craftsmen to help strengthen walls and gates."

Thanasia's eyes glitter. "Should the Golden Sky fail, I believe you can expect Cheliax to invade within a month. You have that much time to unite these lords, estimate where the invading force will most likely attack, and then distribute their assets and what men we can send you to block Cheliax from entering Andoran further. Questions?"

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington furrows his brow and sighs before replying. "Yes, I have several questions. The first ones that come to mind are what resources are being placed at my disposal, and what am I authorized to offer on behalf of the Supreme Elect in return for the rapid and forthcoming assistance of these settlements to unify?

Surely there has to be something they can offer the leaders of these places as incentive to fall into line ...

"Resources. But of course."

Thanasia moves to a rucksack that sits by the altar, and sets it without ceremony before the holy icons. From within it, she pulls forth a pair of worn and battered boots.

"These should come in useful. With so little time, you will not want to waste it riding between towns. Once a day, these will teleport you to any location you can vividly visualize. Since you have not visited these locations, I have taken the liberty of preparing the following for you."

She draws forth a large scrolltube, which she uncaps and then extracts five canvases. On each is a geometric painting, black and white stones that resemble a complex mosaic.

"Each of these reflects a unique pattern inlayed within a location in each city. I took the liberty of having my men create them some years ago as a precautionary measure. Each is housed within an innocuous business establishment run by an agent of mine, whose presence is unknown to the local ruler - except for the location in Ilyumar's realm. He is aware of the pattern, and insisted it be placed in his audience chamber."

She rolls up the canvases and returns them to their scroll tube. "To activate the boots, simply say the words I would go farther, if the fates allow, and you shall be transported to whichever destination you are visualizing."

She then withdraws a sizable money pouch. "This should ease your travels. Five thousand gold. I am also providing you with a small squad of palace guards, led by Rebecca Graystone, my most capable sergeant. Their livery and presence will add credence to your claimed status, as well as these letters of mark."

Thanasia places the pouch of gold and the letters back in the rucksack, and hands it to Francis. "As for authorized claims, well." She takes a deep breath and shakes her head. "The situation is sufficiently dire that I will trust your discretion. If in doubt, return to consult with me. If pressed, promise what you believe is reasonable, and know that I will work hard to convince the Supreme Elect to agree. Our coffers are already stripped by the war effort, but we can promise up to fifteen thousand gold to each settlement, to be paid over a span of ten years."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington contemplates what he knows about those that are in charge of each of the settlements.

Know. Nobility re:Thorn: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
Know. Local re:Sinaiva: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Know. Local re:Hekkus: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
Know. Local re:Palasthinia: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26
Know. Local re:Golmer: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Know. Local re:Ilyumar: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24

Young, politically ambitious, but thwarted five years ago from entering the running for Supreme Elect by the revelation of shady negotiations with shipping interests from the coastal town of Augustana.

Leader of the Honeycats, one of the most dangerous and effective mercenary companies of the Inner Sea. Said to be as amoral as he is charming, he rules Granthelm without assuming any title, making a mockery of its Council. The city itself has both prospered from his influence, but word has it that crime and corruption are shockingly rife.

You have heard much of what Thanasia just reported; Kadrian is said to be exacting, harsh and fiercely intelligent.

Palasthinia has led the worship of Iomedae in the town of Ascension for almost half a century, and as such is known across the Inner Seas as one of Iomedae's most devout priestesses. She is said to possess great feathered white wings, the ability to gaze into men's souls, and a dedication to her shrine which transcends the fanatical. Wise, patient, and powerful, she tolerates the mercantile activity of Ascension but has no truck with it. Her followers include the Silver Circle, a group of five paladins who journey throughout Andoran but always return to Ascension to commune with their leader.

Golmer has effectively managed the provisioning of Iron Keep for almost fifteen years, and in doing so turned Ascension from merely the site of a holy shrine to a bustling if ragtag town in its own right.

There are many legends surrounding Ilyumer, in large part due to his drow heritage. With charcoal skin and alabaster hair, he is said to consort with demons and worse - but you know that's not the case. What you do know is that Ilyumer is still in contact with the drow, whom you've heard have access to his tower from the Underdark. Powerful but by no means an archmage, he nurtures his dark reputation so as to allow it to do the work of keeping outsiders at bay.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington nods subconsciously as he takes in Thanasia's words and finally replies, "The resources should be sufficient to get the job done. Thorn will most likely want some sort of increased political sway; if pressed, can I offer him increased access to the Supreme Elect, or at least a promise that the Supreme Elect will support his position as the Head of the Council of Alastor?"
"Likewise, Sinaiva may request that the Supreme Elect drag his feet when it comes to combating corruption in Granthelm; might I be able to agree to such a promise?"
"I ask these questions, not only because I anticipate these requests being made, but also, because it has been my experience that the only time that diplomacy fails is when one or more parties flatly demands what another party is not willing to give. All of these cities, towns, and settlements have motivation to band together and fight the approaching Cheliaxian hoard. So, the only way I see this mission failing is if you have hard boundaries that you are not willing to cross, or if one or more of these settlements has already allied itself with Cheliax."

Thanasia smiles cooly.

"Your suggestions are suitable. I am confident the Supreme Elect would be willing to grant greater access to Aurion Thorn, though the man has yet to request it since his debacle five years ago. Likewise, while Granthelm is a sore on the land, it is our sore, on our land, and if keeping it as such requires we turn a blind eye, then I am sure we can do so for some time to come."

Her voice takes on a steely tone as she dismisses the illusory map. "Find what it will take to unite these cities. Build me a wall against which the Chelaxian army will founder. Their forces cannot enter Andoran through the Vale. You have one month, Sir Francis. Do not disappoint me."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington nods, "I believe we have an understanding, my Lady. I stand at the ready; as soon as Greystone assembles her guards, we will depart."

Thanasia nods, and turns her gaze toward the entrance to the Hall. She narrows her eyes but a fraction, as if exerting her will, and the large door swings open of its own accord. Five soldiers who had clearly been waiting march inside, their boots ringing on the polished marble floor.

Each is clad in half plate, the steel surfaces lacquered Andoran blue, the chain oiled and nearly black, with a white surcoat emblazoned with the heraldic crest of the Andoran nation across the chest. Each wears a longsword at the hip, a helm, and carries a shield slung over one shoulder.

The tall soldier at the front removes her helm, and reveals a feminine face of surprising beauty. Ash brown hair is coiled into a bun over the crown of her head - no doubt to cushion any blows that might strike her helm - and her cheekbones are pronounced, her nose aquiline, and mouth generous. It doesn't take much effort to imagine her clad in the silks of a courtier - until Francis take in the severe expression, the firm set of her jaw, and realizes that this woman would never consent to living a life of indolence and ease.

Holding her helm beneath her arm, she steps up and bows deeply to Thanasia, and then turns to consider Francis. Her eyes are liquid and dark, and her face betrays no expression. Whatever judgment she forms remains hidden, and she finally nods her head.

"My lord. Sergeant Graystone at your service."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington returns Grayston's nod with air of practiced courtesy, subtly implying a sense of respect, without implying that either is above the station of the other. As he speaks, he unshoulders his pack, and begins filing the scroll tube, minus one canvas, into the primary compartment, which may look like a tight fit. Next, he places the sizable bag of coins into a side pocket of his pack that definitely should not be able to accommodate the load. Finally, he replaces his pack on his shoulders and adjusts the boots to fit in his left hand, while he holds the loose canvas in his right hand, at the exact moment that he finishes his statement. "Sergeant, I am Lord Wallington. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I wish you to know that your assistance, and the that of your soldiers, is greatly appreciated. There is a good deal that I wish to discuss with you at our first opportunity. However, at the moment, I believe we have a nation that sorely needs our attention, and an invasion to avert; so, I shall have to postpone the enjoyment of our discussion until after we have made our way to our first destination."

He then returns his attention to Lady Thanasia. "My Lady, if you have nothing further for me, I will take my leave, in the company of this fine unit of soldiers, so that we may precipitously secure Andoran's boarders on behalf of the Supreme Elect and the Andoran people."

If Thanasia has nothing more to add, Wallington bows deeply to Thanasia, backs several steps away from her, and then turns sharply to leave via the door through which he entered, still carrying the boots in one hand and the loose canvas in the other, and presumably now trailing a beautiful sergeant and a unit of five soldiers in polished and lacquered plate mail behind him.

Thanasia nods, her expression at once grim while her eyes coldly appraise her ambassador, and then, without further words, she turns and marches toward a side door, clearly intent on her next order of business.

Even as the echo of her footsteps fade, Sergeant Graystone is watching and waiting as Francis packs away his sudden boons and new resources. Her face remains impassive, though as he finishes his introduction, her eyes glance but briefly at the boots that glove his left hand, and the faintest of smiles quirks the corner of her lips before smoothing away.

She follows a few steps behind Francis, her four soldiers in two short files immediately behind her, the sound of their footsteps precise and accompanied by the faint jingle of chainmail.

Down the length of the Hall of Reliquaries, and out into the high ceilinged hall. Sergeant Graystone nods to one of her men, who closes the tall doors behind them, and turns to Francis. Still she does not speak, but rather arches one fine brow, as if asking, What now?

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington sets the boots down next to him on the floor as he looks to Graystone. "Sergeant, have you and your men been briefed regarding the details of our mission?" As he awaits an answer, Walling brings his left knee to his chest, as he begins peeling off his boot, while balancing on his right foot.

Sergeant Graystone nods, one hand resting on the pommel of her longsword.

"Yes, sir. Thanasia briefed us half an hour ago. I'll repeat my commands, however, so that we're absolutely clear on both my loyalties and what you can expect from myself and my squad."

She glances back at her four men, and gives them a nod, flicking her eyes to both the north and south of the hall. The squad splits, two guards moving to guard each approach, giving the sergeant and Francis about fifteen feet of secured space.

"I have two obligations. The first and foremost is to pursue the interests of the Andoran government in Windburn Vale, doing whatever is necessary and within the reaches of the law to ensure the cities there aid in rebuffing the invasion."

Sergeant Graystone speaks in a calm, quiet voice, her green eyes never straying from Francis' own.

"The second dovetails with the first, in that you are the leader of this expedition, and your actions and decisions will serve to further our primary goal. I am to obey all commands and safeguard your life with my own. I am to offer counsel when it is asked, and ensure that your dignity and office is respected, as you are now a direct representative of the Supreme Elect."

She pauses, and then nods once, decisively. "I will do everything within my power to help you succeed in this mission. You can count on me, absolutely."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallingon nods with a smile, while he dexterously dons the left boot that was provided to him, and then begins peeling off his own right boot. "Excellent, Sergeant. Do you have any objection to beginning our mission in Ascension?"

The sergeant blinks. "Wherever you think best, sir. My men and I are at your orders. I assume we're to leave now?"

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington smiles as he pulls on the second boot. "Now that I'm dressed for the occasion, I think we can set out. He takes a moment to stow his own boots in the central compartment of his pack, and then places it back into position. Looking back to Graystone, Wallignton asks, "You've seen these boots used before, and you and your men will come with me to the desired destination?"

Graystone nods. "All that's required is that we be touching your person when you speak the phrase. I believe the boots can transport up to five other individuals at a time, hence the size of your personal guard." She gives a wry smile.

"May I ask why you're choosing to visit Ascension first?"

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington nods in response to her statement and then responds to her question, "Of course. My experience in forming coalitions has taught me that no one likes to be the first to join. It makes them look weak and more in need of the others' assistance. So, in general, the more members that have joined a coalition, the easier it is to convince another group to join, as there's a lower percentage of the overall burden for them to shoulder, and they get to look like they're coming in as a savior, instead of needing the coalition to survive. Ascension is likely to be the first settlement to be overrun by an invading Chelaxian force. Thus, the situation provides the greatest incentive for Ascension to join a defensive coalition, because if they don't then they will likely die. So, when we secure their offer to join with the others, the other settlements get to play the part of the hero, saving the nation from an invading hoard. Egotistical politicians like be able to look like they're playing that role; so, hopefully it will be easier, faster, and less expensive to persuade the rest to do what they have to do anyway after we've secured Ascension the first member of the group."

Graystone listens intently, and when Francis finishes she nods. "I'm starting to understand why Thanasia might have picked you for this mission." She smiles, and as if not wanting to give too much praise, continues, "It's a sound working theory, at any rate. Let me introduce you to your men before we go."

She raises a leather gloved hand and marks out each soldier in turn. "Rahgnall Stafford. Edvard Lincoln. Nyle Burlingame, and Seberg Ward."

Each soldier turns and nods as they're named, but with their helms and half plate it's almost impossible to tell them apart. Rahgnall is a hand taller than the others, while Seberg might be broader of shoulder. All carry themselves with a confidence and ease that speak of years of martial training. While their armor is clearly court issued, their longswords are a different matter; each is clearly a very fine blade, functional, and without unnecessary adornment.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington adopts a practiced impresonal smile and nods to each of the guards as they're introduced in turn. After Ward is introduced, he replies, "As I said before, I am grateful to each of you for your service. I have every intention of doing what I can to help you succeed in your mission of protecting my person, and I look forward to learning more about each of you over the course of our shared journey. But at present, our mission is pressing and I believe that we should depart immediately. So, if you'll all gather round and take hold of some, preferably polite, portion of my person, I will activate these boots and we will be off."

The guards close in. The men, up close, are large. Their armor makes them larger. There's the smell of oiled leather, oiled metal, and each places a leather gloved hand on either Francis' shoulder or back. When all five are touching him, it's a matter of visualizing the pattern, speaking the words, and then everything -

- shifts -

- and the world around you disappears and is replaced by a very small room. The temperature plummets, and the air becomes frigid and dry. Your ears pop as they adjust to the altitude.

Beneath your feet lies the same mosaic depicted in the painting. Black and white tiles form a unique spiraling pattern that is mesmerizing to the eye. The walls are paneled and almost black, unpainted but finely built. There's no furniture here, and the six of you are crowded in. To one side is a door, cunningly built so that it's barely visible, the seams so fine they could easily be mistaken for mere cracks in the wall.

There's a doorknob, however, and twisting around, Rahgnall turns the nob before anybody can speak, and pushes open the door.

"Black piss," says Raghnall at what he sees beyond. A short hallway opens to a large room at what must be the front of some kind of store. There are no lanterns, torches, or candles lit. The air has movement to it, as if a door or window somewhere is open, and rain can be heard falling heavily on the roof above and in the street somewhere beyond. Glass lies shattered on the hallway floor, and the furniture within the large room beyond looks wrecked.

Extending into view on the floor is an arm, the body hidden beyond the corner, several deep gashes cut into the flesh and exposing bone.

Pressed, almost trapped within the small teleportation chamber, it's hard to move, to react. Raghnall steps out into the hall, and there's the sliding hiss of his longsword being drawn.

"Stay close," whispers Graystone, stepping out to stand next to him, her blade sliding free as well.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis nods to Graystone and reflexively pulls a belt pouch free of his belt, and as he does so, the pouch shimmers slightly as its true form is revealed. He listens carefully, trying to discern if there is anyone waiting for them in the adjacent room.

Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27

The storefront sounds silent. The sound of rain is omnipresent, drumming on the distant roof overhead, and then smattering loudly on what might be cobblestones outside, easily audible in a way that indicates an open window. There's a faint coppery tang of blood in the air, mixed in with the rain's mineral taste.

Sergeant Graystone places her helm over her head. "Rahgnall, Edvard, with me. Seberg, Nyle, watch our backs." Her voice is cool, calm, collected, but with a hint of tension coiling beneath her words like a black snake preparing to lunge.

The three guards move forward slowly into the front room, Graystone at the point of a triangle formation. When she reaches the mouth of the hallway she pauses, leans forward a fraction and scans the interior of the room.

"Looks clear," she says, voice hushed, and then moves in. The other two follow, and then quickly fan out to check the corners, behind furniture, before turning back to Francis. "Nobody here."

This was clearly a cartographer's shop. The sheer amount of ruin visited to the precious maps that now lie torn and trampled on would make any educated man wince. Two narrow windows face the street, one shuttered and closed, the other torn open and shattered. Through this window gusts ice cold wind and sleety rain.

On the floor is an old man. Human, perhaps in his late seventies, his eyes stare wide in horror, his throat torn out, his forearms deeply slashed. He's unarmed. Graystone kneels by his side, face hard, gaze flicking over his wounds.

The furniture is tipped over. Their backs are shattered, drawers torn out, sides caved in. Deep gauge marks line the walls.

Raghnall and Edvard move to stand by the door and window. Seberg and Nyle remain by the corridor entrance.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

As Francis inspects the outer side of the door to the 'teleportation chamber,' he asks in a whisper, "Any idea what kind of being caused those wounds?"

The outside of the door is designed to blend in perfectly with the wall when closed. While gauges mark the hallway as well, they didn't score into the door.

Graystone reaches down to shift through the old man's clothing, probing and examining him.

Graystone's Heal check: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16

"Looks like a variety of things were used on him. Straight blade, maybe a short sword to begin with. These wounds on the forearms indicate he was trying to block them. Then these... markings on his chest. Look like burns. I'd guess they tortured him for awhile. Then something with claws tore out his throat."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis, noting the door's excellent camouflage, replies, "I think they were trying to destroy this room, so that we couldn't come here, but they didn't find it. The old man didn't give us up. Which means, that the entrance of this place may be being watched. It also means that someone knew about these teleportation rooms, and they knew that we'd be using them. So ... Lady Thanasia has a spy in her company."

Fancis watches the guards in view carefully as he makes the declaration, trying to tell if any of them become nervous or twitchy at the mention of a spy related to the mission.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (1) + 12 = 13

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

stupid dice are stupid

Sergeant Graystone rises to her feet, a frown clear behind the slit of her helm. The four soldiers glance at each other, but their helms do an admirable job of hiding their expressions.

"Stay clear of the window," she says to her guards. Then she turns to Francis. "The Chelaxians deal with devils. Who know what information they may have purchased with their souls. Or what spies they may have planted." Despite her control, her disdain is apparent. "The old man died perhaps a day ago. In this weather and with night falling, it'll be hard spotting anybody watching for us outside. How do you want to proceed?"

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis contemplates whether or not he knows how to get to the Temple of Iomedae in Ascension.

Knowledge:Local: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16

The temple of Iomedae in Ascension is pretty famous - it's where Iomedae herself made a stand against a wave of wraiths and powerful undead, and held the line until reinforcements arrived and drove the undead away. As a result, the ruined splendor of the temple - for it was never reconstructed, to honor the memory of that battle - is well known for standing at the highest point of Ascension. Simply put: always take the steepest street, and you will eventually come to holy ground.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis replies, "With the lot of you, there is simply no way to travel through Ascension discretely. That's part of the reason you're here. I assume that you would object to me sneaking out the back door alone while you five keep your heads down here. So, I suggest that we try to find any back or side entrance that we can, and try to leave with as little fuss as possible. The spies will learn that we're here fast enough. But if we can make it to the Temple at the highest point in the town before they know that we've arrived, we might be able to get at least part of our mission completed before opposition forces have time to react."

Graystone nods soberly. "All right. We'll run in the same formation we moved in here. I'll take point, with the others forming a square around you. We'll move fast. Hopefully the rain and darkness will shield us as much as it hides those who may be watching us."

She draws her blade again, and the other four do the same. "Come. Let's find a back door or the like, and make a move."

The group moves back down the small hallway to a storage room, where shelving and pigeon holes have all been destroyed haphazardly. The floor is carpeted in vellum. A backdoor hangs on its hinges, the lock torn out. Outside, a curtain of sleet is falling, driven to diagonal by the vicious rain.

Graystone moves to the door, pulls her cloak close, sword down by her side, and peers outside.

Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14

Then she turns once to glance back at the others."Ready?"

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis returns his blade to it's place on his hip, again disguised as a pouch, and then pulls the hood of his cloak up to keep the rain off his head. Francis also takes a good long look outside and then simply replies, "Ready."

Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27

DM Roll: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15

There's nothing untoward in the alley behind the store. The sleet is heavy and cacophonous, and it's hard to make out much more than shadows all around. The street itself is precipitous, angling steeply up to the left, and that's the direction Graystone is poised to take. The only thing of any note is a single solitary raven perched on a roof corner.

Graystone nods, and turns to the door, ready to race outside.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis keeps an eye on the raven as keeps step with Graystone and his honor guard.

Graystone races up the street, two of her men right behind, followed by Francis then the rearguard. The raven turns its head to watch them go, and at the very last dives off the edge of the roof into the shadows, but then fails to reappear.

The cobbles are slick, their interstices filled with slushy rain and ice, and while most of the homes they pass are shuttered and closed, perhaps one in four already seem to stand empty.

Up the street, then a sharp turn, then up again. It's hard going. The sleet is well on its way to becoming snow. Up ahead, they catch their first glimpse of the temple. Ascension is, it turns out, a very small town.

The temple seems to glow in the night, its pale marble walls rising high, made rough by millenia old battles, but still standing strong. A final turn, and the group reaches the small plaza just before the temple entrance. Four knights clad in white surcoats stand at the top of the stairs that lead to the arched entrance. At the sight of the guards running around the corner, they draw their weapons.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington moves to the front of the group as they approach the guards and slow their run into a jog. At fifteen feet or so, he comes to a stop and calls to men, "I am Lord Francis Wallington, Official Envoy of the Supreme Elect of Andoran, on a diplomatic mission of the greatest importance. Please escort me and my guards to Palasthinia with all haste."
Using a first application of the "Charmer" Rogue Talent; rolling two sets of Diplomacy Checks, taking the higher of the two
Diplomacy to imply legitimacy as well as urgency: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (9) + 17 = 26
Diplomacy to imply legitimacy as well as urgency: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (16) + 17 = 33

The knights lower their swords.

"Present yourself, envoy, along with your writs of identification."

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington nods, walking forward slowly. "Of course, is there any chance that we could do that indoors somewhere? I would simply love to be out of this rain, sleet, and ice."

The knights seem about to demur and insist Francis present himself in the standing rain, when at the last moment the lead knight glances up at the heavens then sighs and beckons Francis forward.

"Excuse our reticence. It's been a bad night already, my lord. Please, come in out of the rain."

As Graystone begins to ascend, he holds out his palm. "My lord only. There have been demons and devils seen on the street. Murders have taken place. If you are whom you say you are, than you have nothing to fear from the faithful of Iomedae."

Graystone glances questioningly at Francis, hesitating, one foot on the first step.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Wallington weighs the truth in the knight's words.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (13) + 12 = 25

He seems to be honest.

Sovereign Court

Human Neutral Rogue (9) / Current HP: 75/75 / AC: 21 (16 FF or T) / Active Conditions: Undetectable Alignment, Immune to Detect Thoughts & Discern Lies

Francis gives the smallest of nods to Graystone, and then follows the knight, saying, "Certainly, sir. But once I provide my credentials, I will have to insist on my guard being brought in out of this weather, and the Sergeant is under strict orders from the office of the Supreme Elect to accompany me during my meetings."

Bluff to make the minor addition to the truth seem honest: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (11) + 14 = 25

There are about fifteen high, narrow steps leading up to the temple's arch, a precarious ascent in the sleet, but Francis can't help but appreciate how defensible they make the temple's entrance. Graystone frowns but remains at the step's base with her four guards, watching as Francis joins the knights at the landing before the arch, and then is escorted within by two of them.

The knights are wearing full plate, their metallic surfaces as bright as chrome and beaded with rain. Sleety slush lies in the cracks of their chain and grooves of the armor, but the two knights seem to pay the chill that must seep into them no mind.

Within the archway is a moderate sized room, carved from the same pale, ghost-like marble of which the entirety of the building seems to be constructed. The room is bare but for a large symbol of a burning wheel carved high in the wall over the doorway that leads further into the temple complex. To the left and right, two other doors lead into adjoining chambers.

Up close, Francis can tell that one of the knights - the one who has spoken thus far - is an older man, perhaps even in his late forties, though he moves with confidence and the ease of one much younger. The other knight appears to be a woman, her skin dark, but she watches and waits in silence.

"Your writs of identification, Sir Wallington," says the first knight, planting himself directly before Francis, sword held to the side unthreateningly but not yet sheathed.

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