Nay, I have not been here, but they have been supported by our Order in the past. If Lictor Octavio is here, then perhaps we need to call to him? he is not much help otherwise.
Only the shrine’s interior and the path leading to it are on firm ground; the rest is a shallow bog. The waters of this bog slowly rise and fall with the tides of the river estuary.
Beneath the shrine’s dome await two figures clad in tattered rags. Seashells are woven into the man's long beard, while the elderly woman's braids hang down past her waist, shells and bits of driftwood knotted in their lengths.
The both stand as you approach...
You there. Step into the light where we can see you more clearly by the flame. is all the man says then waits.
Lubella said to Benjen, "Wait here for a moment, while I talk to them." She wanted to make sure that they weren't walking into some sort of trap.
She stepped forward into the light and hailed the elderly pair, "Greetings, I am Kyda! Is this the Shrine of Saint Senex? I'm trying to contact someone who may have come here from time to time. His cousin, Setrona Sabinus is here with me." She studied the pair, trying to figure out if they truly belonged here, or if it was a trick.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29 Unless you want to roll Sense Motive in secret.
Ah, where is this cousin? the old woman calls.
Setrona steps forward to join Lubella.
Here I am. Setrona is my name. Have you seen my cousin? Octavio is his name. she holds up her signet ring.
The old man looks at the old woman as she bickers. I told you there was a family resemblance. You never believe me. Your eyes are too old.
The old man shakes his head at the woman. Whatever.
“Octavio has cast his breath upon the Stone many times, long a friend to our shrine. We honor those who honor the watery dead.”
He points behind him...
We admit that Octavio has been granted asylum in the chambers below, but if wish to speak to your cousin, you must pass the altar door and meet the challenges below.
The woman nods "You must prove to Saint Senex you are worthy to speak to a friend of the shrine.
The man unlocks a trapdoor in the floor of the shrine with his distinctive hook-shaped keys and lifts the stone to reveal the way down.
Lubella asked the pair, "How many of us are permitted to face the challenges that you speak of? There are seven of us in total."
She paused, before adding, "One of our number is exhausted, having not slept for some time. Should he rest before passing the altar door? He is one of Octavio's armigers, and would very much like to speak with his Lictor."
Seeing that the water could be treacherous to his shorter nature than all those with long legs, Fhingle follows where Lubella walks to make sure he doesn't drown in the bog.
"Challenges below? What sort of Challenges are those?" Fhingle asks
Talvek would like to know that as well. He feels drained after the day's ordeals, and while it would probably be too much to ask for this to be easy, he doesn't exactly fancy another physical confrontation.
"Would it be possible for the Lictor to come out and meet us? We are weary, and the fate of several of his people is at stake, we need to move fast if we want to save them. We would be happy to prove our worth under any other circumstances."
Diplomacy, inspiration: 1d20 + 13 + 1d6 ⇒ (1) + 13 + (6) = 20
There is no limit to those who are willing to face the challenges. But face them you must. We cannot bring forth he whom you seek. You must be found worthy of Saint Senex to enter.
The challenge is to keep the unfaithful out, not the faithful within.
The elderly couple look at the Armiger.
So you are a member of the Order of the Torrent? You can stay with us, as we owe you a debt of gratitude.
Setrona walks forward with bravado
I am not afraid! I will face whatever it takes to find my dear cousin. Whether he likes it or not. she adds with a smirk.
Who is staying up-top and who is willing to go below?
Sidius asjs, "Given our rather long and difficult day, is it possible to take time to rest and prepare to face these challenges?"
Lubella slapped at one of the mosquitoes trying to land on her arm. She declared, "I am not keen on camping outside in the marsh myself. I will enter and face the challenges."
Camping in or near a marsh would be a miserable experience, I think! I'm going to go with the roleplay angle here. :)
Well, he could hardly back down now! "I will enter as well." announces Talvek, trying to sound confident.
Sidius shakes his head, "Seems preferable to dying because we're fatigued and have no magic... But, like Jackdaw, I won't let you go alone."
Setrona steps forward confidently. Well, we didn't come all this way for nothing. That, and I don't know about the rest of you scofflaws, but I have to run my business in the morning. she winks at Sidius.
The two elders open the trapdoor completely, and step back.
As Seers of Saint Senex, we grant you entry and hope you find what you are seeking.
Once the door is approached, a 3-foot-wide shaft set with iron rungs is revealed. These iron rungs are rusty, and lead 15 feet below passing into a dark, foggy mass which obscures vision any deeper.
DC 25 Knowledge (arcana) check recognizes it as the border of a mage’s private sanctum.
I will need marching/climbing order, light sources and any preps.
Fhingle will be in the middle, Life Link on whoever is in front. Also I will cast Light on a Stick I found outside
Fhingle follows everyone inside, "I Feel like that swamp would just suck me up if I slept out there."
Lubella approached the open shaft and looked down.
Knowledge Arcana: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
She pulled the holy symbol she was wearing around her neck out from her tunic and uttered an arcane phrase, causing the ankh to glow. She prayed to her goddess for courage, and descended the rungs.
Casting Light on her holy symbol (of Sarenrae). Her scimitar is sheathed.
Lubella is prepared to go first down the ladder.
Sidius prepares to cast light , but stops when the others do. More than enough light to see, now... Especially thanks to my Thrunic eyes... He then reconsiders, casting the spell on a found pebble before dropping it down the shaft. "Might as well be sure we can see the bottom," he explains... Then casts Guidance on himself, just in case he needs a bit of luck.
Knowledge arcana, inspiration: 1d20 + 11 + 1d6 ⇒ (15) + 11 + (4) = 30
"This is... peculiar." Talvek murmurs as they approach the shaft. "It distinctly feels like the border to a mage's sanctum."
Talvek will follow behind Lubella and prepare to drink his Long Arm extract if needed, which will allow him to hit in melee without being in front."
The glowing pebble drops into the dark fog...and disappears in the darkness. No sound is heard from it.
Undaunted, Lubella climbs down each rusted rung and enters the darkness followed by Talvek, Setrona, Fhingle, Sidius and Arcos.
Lubella is the first to reach the bottom of the shaft, her boots and robes splashing as they do so. The rest of you aren't too far behind. You find the light on the dropped pebble. The features of the room become directly apparent to you. Setrona is third, looking up at the barrier of mist that has passed over all of you like a funeral shroud. She shivers as she reaches the floor, pulling out her dagger.
The ceiling of this damp chamber to seven feet high, bolstered by square supports of rough-hewn wood. A shallow pool of water lies in the northwest corner of the room, where the increasingly rusty iron ladder descends from a hole in the ceiling above. An iron gate blocks access into a corridor to the east. Piles of sail canvas and jumbled coils of rope litter the stony floor, and the walls, floor, and ceiling have been carved to look like wood. Brown paint clings in patches, and it's easy to see how the room may have once looked very much like the hold of a ship. Directly beside you stands a statue carved from driftwood depicting a woman dressed in robes, holding the body of a drowned sailor in her arms. And yet, the room appears to be empty of living creatures. Octavio's certainly not in this room.
Lubella examined the statue and cast a spell, scanning for magic auras.
Casting Detect Magic.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
Knowledge Religion: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
She wondered if the statue depicted the shrine's namesake. She kneeled before the wooden figure and addressed it, "St. Senex, we seek passage through the gate, and into the shrine."
Fhingle makes a slight splash as he touches down in the water, "Do we know more about this St. Senex? Torrent generally has to do with water so I can see why the Order of the Torrent allied themselves with this St." Fhingle says casting the light from his stick around.
you recognizes the driftwood statue as being a depiction of Saint Senex herself.
The entire area has a magic aura, likely from the sanctum Talvek mentioned, but more aura's may be present with further concentration.
As Setrona steps forward to allow Fhingle a place to land from the ladder, a voice is heard in the room.
“Those who would visit the drowned departed must bring to these lips the gift of lung’s bounty, lest my guardian stand before your approach.”
Lubella concentrated further, trying to pinpoint any more auras.
She commented, "Lung's Bounty must mean air! I think I need to blow into the statue sailor's lips. Can someone give me a boost?"
She tried to climb up and act out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the drowned sailor.
Climb: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
Lubella's only 3 ft tall, so she could use some help!
Sidius suggests, "Maybe Jackdaw or I could do it, given our height?"
As the status is approached and the remaining party members reach the ground and disperse, a pile of knotted rope in the middle of the room swiftly coils and loops in on itself, rising into a 7-foot-tall, roughly human-shaped figure made of knots and coils.
Setrona whispers Um guys...I hope that works. I think we just found the guardian.
I will need to know who is specifically trying what action with the status and sailor (climbing, assisting etc)...
Sidius helps Lubella reach the driftwood saint's lips, "There's suddenly less time to discuss, I think."
Lubella told Sidius, "I think I should try the sailor first — that's the one that logically would need the breath."
Trying to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the sailor figure.
Sidius nods, "Done."
K. Religion: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
Fhingle holds his light stick high, "Yes Sailor first then, the woman appears Alive? and he needs help I would assume." Fhingle draws his heavy mace "Also the wooden woman is Saint Senex herself"
BTW the statue of the lady and sailor is entirely crafted of driftwood, so it is not really 'alive'
As Sidius takes a breath and breathes onto the mouth of the 'dying' sailor, the rope guardian uncoils into its original strands, reverting to its 'dormant' mode.
Whew. is all Setrona can muster as she sighs in relief. Now what?
Lubella declared, "That's better. Now to find how to get through the gate!"
She examined the gate to see if it was locked, and if it was trapped.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Lubella told the others, "The gate seems to be open — let's see where it leads!" After looking though the gate, she opened it and stepped through.
Talvek steps through the gate, keeping his eyes peeled for any more surprises.
"I don't want to jinx it or anything, but that was easier than expected. That was some quick thinking, Kyda, and quick action, Brakisi!"
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (5) + 11 = 16 +1 for trapfinding
Fhingle follows, placing a Life link on who ever is leading the group and in the Rear.
"Some people don't think quickly on their feet and would have been hung. Or Drowned, that seems to make more sense really." Fhingle offers.
Good show, either way. Now let's find my cousin and get out of this place before something else drowns us. Setrona adds as she draws her short sword and follows.
As the first of you advance down the hall and reach another turn, the hallway comes to an opening.
This seven-foot-high vault contains over three dozen human-shaped bundles of sailcloth, each wrapped tightly, sewn shut with heavy thread, and laid respectfully side by side on the cold stone floor.
A shallow pool of water lies in the southeast corner, while in the northeast corner of the room someone has set up a camp.
A man in heavy plate armor steps to the center of the chamber.
He tiredly makes his presence known with a gruff baritone comment as the sound of his halberd being drawn is clearly heard.
“These shrouded bodies are those of drowned sailors with no living relations, given a place of honor down here by the grace of Saint Senex.”
Lubella held up her hands, leaving her scimitar in it's sheath. "We mean you no harm! We're looking for Octavio Sabinus. Don't worry, we're no friends of Barzillai Thrune; he isn't exactly a fan of my faith!" She touched her glowing holy symbol of Sarenrae.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27
"And we have with us people who are known to you, if you are Octavio. And if you are not, they can vouch for our good intentions." adds Talvek, stepping forward.
Diplomacy aid: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (11) + 13 = 24
Octavio immediately lowers his weapon and attempts to parley, motioning all forward with a wave of his gauntlet.
Seeing Setrona, she runs to him and hugs him, which he grudgingly allows.
Oh cousin, I feared the worse. I am so happy to see you are alive.
Ah dear Setrona, you know I desperately want to oppose Barzillai,
but moving against the lawful government of the nation is something I cannot yet do. So I am here...brooding.
Setrona makes an impassioned plea to her cousin
But you must return to Kintargo and join the Silver Ravens.
There is nobody else willing or able to stand up to the villainous Thrunes!
The Lictor sighs heavily before replying. Turning to Lubella, Talvek and the rest.
“You are certainly hopeful idealists, but in my experience, passionate revolutionaries lack discipline.
Like my cousin, you have good hearts, but it takes more than heart to stand up for what’s right.
If I’m to throw in with the Silver Ravens, I need two things.
First, I need to know that my surviving armigers are safe.
Second, I need to know that the Silver Ravens are more than thugs who seek to fight in the streets—
I need to know you can exercise subtlety and work at least partially within the bounds of the law
to solve problems when such an option exists.
As it so happens, this is a perfect chance for you to accomplish both goals.”
Sidius holds up a hand, "Before we agree to anything, I just want to remind you that the law would include His Lord-Mayoraliship's proclamation against your Order... and all of the other equally harmful edicts. That is to say, I can be subtle, and I'm not actively seeking anarchy, but I'm far more concerned about what is doing right for the people than following edicts.... I can only hope that you consider that to be law enough for your purposes."
Lubella bowed to the Lictor, "Kyda at your service! Kyda's not my true name, by the way, but a nom de guerre. It's safer for our families if we use pseudonyms, given our activities."
After introductions, she told Octavio, "Benjen Preveau is safe. He was being 'doghoused', to use Barzillai Thrune's term for his sick torture — but we intervened and got him out of there. He's now under the care of the keepers of this shrine. He's exhausted, of course, and needs a few good meals, but is otherwise physically okay.
"But three of his fellow armigers are still imprisoned at a holding house — we will have to organize a mission to free them. There's some added urgency, because we've heard a rumor that there's some sort of fiend at the holding house."
The Hellknight responds to Talvek with his brow furrowed in thought: “We were investigating rumors that Lord-Mayor Bainilus didn’t actually flee the city for Arcadia as the government claims. I believe she’s been imprisoned—or worse—by Barzillai Thrune. It didn’t help that I took offense, quite publicly, at our new lord-mayor’s recruitment of the Order of the Rack as additional guards. The man spins webs like a spider, though I can’t decipher his design yet. Whatever his reason, I’ve come to believe it bodes ill for all of Kintargo.”
He smiles as Lubella mentions Benjen, but then grows more serious?
And the others?
Lictor Octavio continues "What I have in mind concerns finding out what happened to remainder of the Order's armigers and rescuing them without causing more violence.[/b]
Nodding at Lubella, You are probably right, and I strongly suspect that the other armigers are being held in the Holding House and not scattered. If you can engineer the freedom of the rest I will be able to act more openly against Barzillai Thrune and agree to join the Silver Ravens cause.
If you can accomplish this mission with subtlety, you will have my complete loyalty to the cause. Ready?
He picks up the rest of his gear and turns to Fhingle and shrugs.
As to these, the Seers will know far more than I. They rescue lost souls from the sea. Those with no family ended up here. None of these are recent as far as I know.
Thinking back of their most recent exploits, and the lack of subtlety there, Talvek clears his throat. "Do you have... suggestions for us, Lictor?" He briefly ponders the irony of a bunch of would-be conspirators asking a military commander for advice on intrigue and subtlety.
Lubella said to Octavio, "Subtlety requires information. How much do you know about the dottari's procedures? We could, for example, forge orders concerning the prisoners, but that requires knowledge about their command structure, and how they communicate their directives.
"It seems to me that their are two alternatives: somehow get into the holding house and then get them out, or trick the guards — perhaps with a forged prisoner transfer order — to bring the prisoners out of the holding house, and rescue the armigers before they reach their destination."
She pondered the situation further and mused, "I wonder how often workers go in and out of the holding house? I presume that food and laundry would be ongoing needs; there might also be construction or repair work to be done."
Sidius adds, "And the fiend is some sort of inquisitor, apparently, though whether that is a matter of skill at inflicting pain or discerning truth, we don't know... ".
He then shrugs, "I'm thinking based on the profile of the armigers, the rescue and the fiend, the prisoner transfer trick seems unlikely to work.. Still, we can figure out the best approach when we're armed with more information... Work schedules are definitely a thing to look into. Ideally, we could walk them right out of the front door with the right ruse... in the laundry, with the food waste, whatever... and maybe a touch of illusion and enchantment. "
He responds to Fhingle's question.
I was going to show you out and explain to the Seers that you may be coming to visit. I am not going to be able to visit the city until the armigers are rescued. The risk is too great they will use them to get to me. Even more than they already have.
He pauses, obviously pained that he cannot yet join you, knowing the suffering his men face.
Until then, you can communicate with me through the Seers. Once the armigers are free, I will be coming back to the city within a couple weeks. I cannot directly be seen working against the Thrunes. Not yet.
I want them to think I have fled or been killed. Then I can work more openly. For now I can provide tactical advice that may prevent your operation from being squashed. A frontal assault on the Holding House would end poorly. The suggestion of forging papers and using the Thrune's own bureaucracy against it, seems the most likely to work.
He walks down the hallway and presses his hand on a hidden panel in the wall before the iron bars, which click and open for you.
The guardian will not reactivate by doing this. However, each time you enter you must repeat the ritual to prevent it from attacking.
He climbs the iron rungs and greets the Seers. These are friends. when he sees Benjen, he rushes over and gives him a warm embrace.
Brother Ben, I am sorry that I have not been able to rescue you or the others. One of me against the entire might of the Dottari.
But with these new allies, we now have a chance to break the others free of the tyrant and then work to get our Order and the city back.
Lubella told her allies, "It seems that we have our work cut out for us. I think we will need to watch the holding house for a few days — see who goes in and out of there, what the schedule is, and so on. Maybe we'll be able to eavesdrop on them and learn something that way. We should also check and see if any of the adjacent buildings are unoccupied.
"Right now, we only have enough information for a disastrous frontal attack. Our goal is to change that!"
She followed Octavio up the iron rungs, to the place where Benjen was resting. After Octavio and Ben had a chance to talk of a few minutes, she asked, "Benjen, we will have to return to the city, while you rest here and regain your strength. Before we leave, can you tell me the names of the other armigers imprisoned at the holding house, and what condition they're in?"
After discussing the remaining prisoners, she continued, "I'm sorry to have to ask you when you're so tired: can you tell me what you can remember of the routine at the holding house? Mealtimes, shift changes, waste disposal — that sort of thing. Also, anyone other than the dottari that you saw there."
After talking to Ben, Lubella asked Setrona, "When do you need to be back in the city? Should we sleep here for the night and spend the day here tomorrow, or should we make camp away from the marsh, and return to Kintargo as soon as we can?"
"So we have to breathe into the Sailor each time, got it." Fhingle says, "I am not so adept at sneaking but we could always try to set up a stall to sell things near the holding house so we can watch it. I am a passable painter."