The City of Arch: Arch Academy (Inactive)

Game Master Doomed Hero

Central Planning

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It had been a year since Talas and Garridan had forged a partnership on a blasted beach. They'd taken work where they cold get it as local guides, scouts and mercenaries. They'd made a name for themselves as reliable and professional. Their unofficial office was a tavern called The Stock and Barrel.

They were waiting for a client. They didn't expect it when Thedra sat herself down across from them.

"Evening, gents. I have a proposition for you."

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

That day on the beach had left Talas with some new scars to add to his collection-- nothing too dramatic, no disfiguring facial scars or the like-- mostly, the mementos were in his hands. The rope weal had healed, but he had tiny, odd scratches on his hands and forearms, where the sand had scoured his flesh and where bits of shrapnel had bit in passing. Occasionally Talas would stop and look at his long-fingered hands, remembering; flexing his fingers and caught up in the sense memories of that day: the smell of sand-fused-to-glass, hot and acrid; the stink of charred gnoll meat; the warm wind blowing salt sea air and smoke over the destroyed land.

They'd stood in shock that day after the two strangers had vanished-- or at least, Talas had-- stirring only when it occurred to him to go down and check the ruins. There were no clues down there either, no explanation for the two powerful people that had hired them... but there were things the duo hadn't bothered taking with them. Treasures enough to provide a nice bonus... on top of what was in the purse.

Talas had spent the next year keeping an ear out, asking questions of the caravans-- describing Spectrum and Thedra, and trying to find out just who they were. There were powerful cabals of all sorts in the world, from the Pathfinder Society to the Aspis Consortium-- but nobody had ever heard of the two strangers that he described.

He'd put it out of his mind and focused on their little business, as well as his own hobbies. He continued to dabble with alchemy, always telling himself he'd find a real tutor in it someday; he read books and scrolls from distant places; he whiled away his time with lock-cracking and scarf-dancing and learning to cook (Garridan was forced into being the test subject for these endeavors more than once) and practicing contact juggling and pulling coins from behind the ears of children... The scouting paid the bills, at the least, and he never failed to ask their clients if they'd seen these two strangers...

It was, he told himself, a pretty satisfying life. He'd come close enough to death, back on that beach, to relish survival.

But when Thedra sank into the seat across from them, he realized that on some level, all he'd been doing was biding his time.

Talas blinked at the woman, then smiled slowly and crookedly.

"Well, good evening to you too," he said lightly. "My mother always told me not to take propositions from strange women. And you are that, aren't you, Mistress Thedra? --is Thedra actually your name, by the by?"

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She grinned. "Yes. I don't tend to use pseudonyms, actually. I don't usually stick around anywhere long enough for them to matter."

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas barked a short laugh. "Well, that's honest," he said.

And then paused for several seconds, his gaze thoughtful and weighing as he looked Thedra over. "Honest... as you weren't when you first passed our palms with coin. Oh, I ken you did not lie as would be found as such in judges' court; perhaps you merely neglected to tell." Talas smiles a sad smile. "We're Varisians, ayuh? We know all about the dozen ways to tell a truth-- or part of it-- to an outsider, giving out a taste you want them to have, and no more."

Talas spreads his long-fingered hands. His voice has a rising lilt and fall to it, and Varisian caravaneer's cant in his idioms and speech patterns. "Truth, I can't even fault you. 'Tis clear enough you are-- someone beyond my reckoning. What right has the child to question the rom baro? Garridan and I both came out the deal richer, and with our skins intact. So: high-and-likely I've no call to complain of your wine, for we drank it, so to speak."

He leans forward a little bit, regarding Thedra seriously. "But if I'm to be drinking again, I'd like a true vintage, so please it you. You want us for a gig, Mistress Thedra? Well enough, but tell me who you are."

(Still trying to get a handle on Talas's voice in my head. Bear with my odd linguistic experiments along the way.)

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Thedra nodded slowly, appreciating Talas' candor.

"I come from a city that's about as far away as it's possible to get. I'm a troubleshooter. They pay me to go places and solve problems. Sometimes I'm working for the city's interests. Sometimes I'm working on a contract from someone who paid the city to care about their problems. There's a lot of similarities with your Pathfinder society. In fact, they hire us sometimes to help them on tough jobs."

"No matter what job i'm on, I have a couple of standing orders. One of them is to scout for people who might make promising citizens. That's why you two were hired last time. You both had the spark we're looking for and we wanted to see how you reacted when things started getting crazy."

"So, that's why I'm here now. This isn't a gig. This is a recruitment pitch."

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas sat back again with a blink, his brows arched up as he absorbed this information. He worried his lower lip with his teeth for a moment.

"Cha, a test, then. And we passed, or you wouldn't be here now."

Absently, Talas fished out a dinged-up copper coin from a pocket and made it dance across his knuckles as he mulled over the 'proposition.' He glanced at Garridan then spoke in the full Varisian tongue.

"We've made ourselves a good business here. This is comfortable. Traveling to a city far away? Starting over-- and not as our own chiefs, but taking orders... there's reasons to say no."

From the corner of his eye, Talas tried to surreptitiously observe Thedra-- to see if she seemed to be following along with his words. It was useful to know if your 'private language' was really private, after all.

"What is your thinking on the matter?"

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If Thedra understood Varisian, she didn't show it.

Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Garridan closed his eyes and let his head roll back with a slight groan as the familiar pretty face sat down across from he and Talas. "Somehow I knew I would see you again someday..." Truth be told, he had expected something else to occur after that fateful day in the ruins; he had been left rather dumbfounded after the duo had suddenly teleported away. He listens quietly while Talas banters with Thedra; Talas was better at that than Garridan, so he always let the man setup their contracts.

He eyes Thedra as he listens to Talas, nodding at his words. They had indeed started something quite comfortable here. They were their own bosses, made their own choices, didn't get blown up by strange elves... And yet... It was so easy to fall into the trap of comfort and luxury... Something had changed in Garridan that day in the Gnolls ruins. He had never told Talas, but every time the two of them wasted another lead on finding Thedra and Spectrum it was a serious blow to his morale. And here she was again, that brazen and beautiful woman... While he didn't appreciate the deception, he at least understood it... Adventure again, excitement... Being able to get out and see the rest of the world...

"Aye, but are you happy with this life? The Open Road calls us, Talas. This is an opportunity to see things we have never experienced before... I must go. If I do not, I will never forgive myself."

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas shrugs a little, the coin flickering in and out between his fingers, half-smile on his face. "I have no hold on you, my friend. You are free to walk any road that calls you. As every soul should be."

The coin threads in and out, weaving a little path of bronze as he thumbs it through in a pass-pattern that was old when he himself was but a child. Talas watches it, imagining a crossroads in his head. He had first left the caravan seeking... something. Something he wouldn't find there-- the other half of a life, perhaps. His father, ostensibly, but to Talas that was never more than an excuse, really. The man had left when Talas was a child: he has no illusions of finding a home with the elf, if indeed he ever found him at all. So... to travel alone, for a while. That had been the plan. Free of responsibilities or entanglements.

And yet: his soul is not one that does well with solitude. That desire was what had prompted him to first greet Garridan, in a tavern in Tamran, a year ago. And he supposed that was why he was still here at all, in Varisia, continuing to work with Garridan. Garridan was a friend now, even if Talas knew that it would most likely end with his watching Garridan age like other humans.

Maybe the prudent course would be to let Garridan go wherever his road took him: to part like this, on good terms, no death-shadow approaching.

Talas smiled his crooked smile at the coin and flicked it into the air to catch it again. He had never been known for being prudent, had he.

The lanky half-elf shrugged, and switched back to the common tongue. "Supposing it is not a good fit, between your city and ours: I assume we are free to leave, if we wish it? There is no binding?"

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Thedra made a slight face. "Almost. There are conditions. If you decide to join up, the city will be investing an awful lot of resources into you. It expects a return on it's investment."

"The short version is, up until you take the Oaths of Citizenship you're free to leave at any time. If you do, the city will remove the experiences and training it provided you. You'll be back to where you are right now. You'll have lost some time and probably gained some wealth, but that's about it."

"If you complete your training and tests and decide to become a Citizen, there are oaths you'll be expected to fulfil. You can still leave the city to live somewhere else if you want, but you'll be expected to be a local area contact for city operatives like me, and to do things like scout out new people with the kind of Spark that you two have. You'll be provided a stipend, and a secure place to set up a home, and mostly be left alone unless the city has a mission or an interest that crops up in your area."

"Also, if you are invited to join one of the Great Houses, at some point you'll be expected to breed. Every house has different ways of doing things. Some are like arranged marriages, some are more like business arrangements. Some throw big social mixers and just let nature take it's course. They try to make the whole thing as un-intrusive as possible, but it will be expected. Not everyone is accepted into a House, but it definitely has it's rewards."

"Those are the big caveats to the whole recruitment thing. The rest is just a job kinda like what you've already been doing. Just on a different order of magnitude in terms of resources, training, and expectations."

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas sobers up as Thedra lays out the conditions. He sets the coin flat, listening with full attention. "...I see."

Expected to breed? Talas's brows do a little dance like a caterpillar twisting across his forehead. He tilts his head to the side. The half-elf is silent a few seconds, processing all of that, then he says, "How long does this training take?"

Which really means, how long does one have to make up one's mind for good, doesn't it?

An abrupt, sharp grin flits over Talas's face, and his finger taps the coin once, decisively. "--I know where your City is," he says with some self-satisfaction at having figured out the riddle. "Very distant, oaths of citizenship, obligations, powerful citizens, terribly secret so that nobody I've met knows who you are....?"

He leans back, crossing his arms. "You're from Hermea, aren't you."

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Thedra laughed. "No."

"Training varies depending on your profession. For you two, it would be at the shortest end of the spectrum. Mostly, it would be an evaluation of your skills, and some civics lesons to learn the laws and customs of the city. I'd guess you two could make it through the academy in four to six months."

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

The half-elf's face falls at Thedra's easy dismissal of his theory. Oh. Well, can't win them all...

He scratches at one ear, musing on this. Well... that's a fair bit of time to decide for sure, isn't it... and if it's not Hermea, where is it? Curiosity is one of Talas's strongest motivators; it always has been.

He looks again to Garridan, and shrugs, spreading his hands. "...what the hell, eh?"

Because those words always presage a wise choice.

"I'm interested enough to try the training. When it comes to making oaths... we'll see."

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Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Sorry, potty training my son this weekend and it's rather time-consuming.

Garridan once again listens to the offer given by Thedra, his own thoughts matching that of Talas' in regards to her comments about breeding. 'She did say it was not a requirement to align with one of these Houses, only an option.' His thoughts are distracted when Talas declares he knows the secret of the strange duo and their city...

And then promptly smiles at the rebuff. "I also interested in seeing this city of yours, Thedra. I shall keep my vow of citizenship until after I have been exposed deeper into this rabbit's hole of secrecy. When do we begin?"

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"Now." She said finishing off her mug of ale. "Grab your gear and dress warm I'll meet you outside."

Then she walked out the door into the warm, humid summer evening.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas turns and looks sidelong at Garridan, his brows arching upward. "Dress warm?" he echoed to the other man, shrugging since it seemed hardly the sort of weather to merit such.

Yet more fool he, to discard a warning from a guide. Plenty of their clients had done the same.

Did we make any mechanical gold in that year's time? ;) I'm mostly teasing, haha. I'm also like 8 SP short of the money for cold weather gear. Oi, Garridan! Spot your pal a gold piece?

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It won't matter for long. Don't worry about the bean counting yet. Use it as an opportunity to establish your character. I'm going to assume Talas has some long johns and a heavy cloak or something, stashed wherever he's been calling home. Or maybe he doesn't and won't be very prepared. It's up to you. Just show us who Talas is.

Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Garridan shrugs to Talas, indicating his confusion as well for her warning. "Best throw on something a little heavier then. Clearly we aren't sticking anywhere close to here..." Garridan gathers up all his gear, checking over to make sure he has everything ready to go.

Once he is prepped and ready to go, he nods to Talas as they get ready to depart the life they knew and understood for something completely different and, hopefully, exciting! "Are you ready, my friend? I have a feeling that our lives are about to change more than we realize." He smiles, feeling almost giddy about the new path his life was taking.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Copy that, GM.

Talas nods, thoughtful, and darts up the stairs briefly to the room that he lets in the upstairs of the Stock and Barrel. He snags the fur-lined cloak and boots that he keeps against the sometimes-sharp Varisian winters. A brief look over the things in his room-- detritus of his many hobbies, the collection of things that happen when you put down roots.... when you start accumulating more things than can actually be thrown into your backpack at a moment's notice.

That's no way for a true Varisian to live, though. Life on the road means you take the essentials. Talas sighs softly and briefly touches the spines of a dozen books he's purchased, runs his fingers over the delicate glass vials and bottles of his alchemical experiments-- much too fragile to take on the road-- and half-smiles at his collection of metal hoops, balanced sticks, and colored balls that make up the juggler's repertoire.

None of it will travel well. Talas gives a little shrug: easily acquired, easily vanished.

Only or minute or two later he is back down in the common room, nodding to Garridan as he fastens his cloak.

"I think you're right," he says, more circumspectly. "I only hope we measure up to the task."

Hiking his pack on his back, he strides out of the inn, into the evening where Thedra is waiting.

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Thedra was leaning against the wall of the Stock and Barrel. As the pair approached she smiled and started walking, letting them fall into step behind her. She turned a corner into an allyway. Away from the street lamps it was very dark.

Out of a pouch she pulled a strange grey oval stone studded with depressions in its surface. The depressions were colored, gem-like. They'd seen something like it once before, in the hands of the Elven wizard Spectrum just before they had left through a tear in reality. She brought it to her mouth.

"Ready for the next stop, two in tow."

They could very faintly hear another voice, but it was in no language they'd ever heard.

She didn't reply, she just kept walking. A waver in space rippled and tore in front of them. She walked right through it with the two Varisians close behind. The strange tear in space closed gently behind them and suddenly they were walking in snow.

The bitter cold nipped fast at their ears and noses. There were fires lit in braziers hanging from bent poles lighting a stone path through what seemed to be a lovingly manicures Tien garden. It was all blanketed in white.

Thedra continued her stride unbroken from the humid dockside alleyway to the frozen garden path until she reached a small pagoda where a large bronze gong hung. On it's face was a symbol. A near-circle sitting on a pair of flat lines.


She grabbed the cloth-wrapped club hanging next to it and let it's somber tone echo through the peaceful night.

Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Garridan watches in awe as they step through the portal, grinning like a child. Once they in the garden, he suddenly laughs. "I always wondered what it would be like to teleport somewhere. Is this your city?"

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas gazed around him, his eyes darting from object to object, a little tension in his spine despite Thedra's apparent benevolence. Were they in Tien Xia? The other side of the world? He'd heard only stories, but it surely looked like that. How powerful she must be, she and all her colleagues, if they could cross continents with a blink like that.

His eyes flicked to the symbol on the gong, committing it to memory as he tried to note everything else in the same fashion. Unlike Garridan, he didn't speak: he only observed, and rolled his head side to side on his neck, trying to shake the feeling that he was in turn being observed himself.

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"When we get there, you'll know." Thdra said with a small smile. "This is one of our Embassies. It's a monestary on the edge of the Five Kings mountain range."

A young monk with a shaved head and a grey robe came barefoot out into the garden, smiling but still obviously a little sleepy. He spoke to Thedra in a tongue full of rolled R's and extended S's that neither Garridan or Talas spoke.

Thedra nodded and answered in the same language. The monk led them into the monestary to a high-roofed training room. The floor was painted with large circles and lines. The walls were hung with a huge variety of weapons. An impressive shrine was lit up at the far end of the room. It was not a shrine to Irori, as the two half-expected. Instead, a tapestry hung on the wall, a large clenched fist ringed by a dozen other small symbols, all within the almost-circle of the symbol they had seen on the gong. In front of it were carved busts of mostly-older men and women which sat on pedastles. Incense was lit on low tables before them.

Through another door came an elderly half-Elven woman who walked like someone much younger. She smiled when she saw Thedra.

"This is Sister Candace. She runs this place. Be respectful, I hear her lessons in etiquette can be unpleasant."

The two women conversed a moment in that same strange tongue. As they spoke, three other human monks and a slightly cranky looking dwarf were led in by the monk who had guided them to this chamber. The monks bowed. The dwarf smiled when he saw Thedra.

Unless specified, the rest of the conversations in the monestary are being conducted in a language Talas and Garridan do not understand. We're now onto Ariela and Dolgrin's recruitment scene.

The older woman spoke to the three younger monks and the dwarf. "Thedra has returned to offer the four of you a chance to continue your training at the Master's Temple of the Great City under the tutilage of Headmaster Kale and Grandmaster Caine. For you, Dolgrin, this is an opportunity to rejoin your people. Your grandfather's own clan, in a place free of the stigma that brought you here. You have all earned your passage. Once begun, this journey will take you on roads that may not lead back here for a long time, if ever. You may go now. If you feel you are ready, collect your belongings and meet us in the garden."

Esoteric (Magus) 2: HP 15/15 : AC/T/FF 16/13/12 (20/17/12 w/Shield): Fort: + 4 Reflex: + 2 Will: +3 : Perception +0

Ariela's eyes widened in surprise at the sight of Thedra, accompanied by two strangers, a moment before she bows as do her fellow monks. She grinned slightly noting Sister Candace's expression of slight amusement at the fact that her reaction was never quite as.....centered as the others.

Tall and well formed, the young woman was in exceptional shape. Her exquisite figure, blending feminine curves and sleek muscle, a testament to the work she put into the development of her body.

Her lightly tanned, liberally freckled skin carried the blush of health, her face, blessed with a full mouth and alluring green eyes, framed by medium length dark hair, extending to a long braid down the back of her neck, combine to give her a somewhat exotic look.

It had been a year since Thedra had helped them escape from the ogres, talking of their potential. She knew of the Great City, and the great Master Temple there, the invitation to study there being the highest honor an acolyte could receive. A chance to learn things that she could not even begin to imagine was completely unexpected and something she couldn't possibly pass on.

She turns to glance at Dolgrin, curious as to her friend's reaction, her mind drifting back to that fateful night in the ogre caves.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas looks over the other four... new applicants, if that's what they all are. Recruits. The woman looks.. intense, he thinks. He returns the frank gaze she's giving with a thoughtful one of his own, before moving on to study the dwarf and the others.

Talas is also tall, but where Ariela's body and posture speaks of demanding physical training, Talas slouches. If there's strength to his lanky limbs, it's well-hidden; he looks, as his mother had once said, many years gone, 'like the gears of a grasshopper'. His complexion is olive; long black hair streaked with grey is worn back in a tie, and his brown eyes have a sort of mournful basset hound quality to them. His clothes are colorful, including a black-and-purple patterned scarf worn around his neck, and a long curved sword hangs over one shoulder.

He gives the other new recruits a slow nod of greeting, but doesn't introduce himself or Garridan, yet-- the bigwigs are talking, so to speak, and it seems presumptuous to interrupt.

Male Dwarf Fighter 2 | HP 22/22 | AC 16 T 11 FF 15 | Ft +6 Rf +1 Wi +0* | Init +5 | Perc +0 l CMD 16 l

The Dwarven people had never been graced with 'facial expressions' like those of the humans, but Dolgrin might have been a slight exception. The young Dwarf's eyebrows raised in interest, and his mouth shifted within his long, neatly maintained red beard, as if framing his words before he commits to them.

Dolgrin had spent the rest of the year alongside his newfound friend Ariela, training along with the rest of the monks within the monastery. Though Dolgrin was not nearly as spiritual as most, he enjoyed the rigid training which reminded him of his academy life back in Rolgrimmdur.

He was on the taller end for a Dwarf, and weighed a staggering amount. Dolgrin had been known for breaking several chairs during his life at the monastery. His long red beard was always kept presentable with comb, clasp, and braid, and his long red hair was done in the same fashion. His nose was large and bulbous, while his hands were well worn and stubby.

And although one may consider a Dwarf laughable within Sister Candance's presence, Dolgrin showed them something rather unique. "By your wisdom, Sister Candance, I consider it a tremendous honor to travel to this great city. I look forward to meet my fellow kinsmen, and discover that which waits for me. Thank you kindly for presenting this opportunity to me, and for allowing me to stay for this past year. It has truly been an honor, I assure you."

He bows respectfully and looks to whoever speaks next.

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Sister Candace smiled and offered a small bow of her own to her students and the young dwarf as they left to collect their things. Candace and Thedra spoke for a few moments then began walking back to the garden with the two Varisians in tow. Thedra spoke in the Varisian tonge into her strange gem-studded rock again.

"All done here. Ready when you are."

Again the faint whisper in another language, the same one the monks spoke, came from the strange stone.

"Wow. Lucky us. I thought we'd be sitting around in the snow for a while."

The young monks and the dwarf made their way to the garden dressed to travel, their few belongings in packs on their backs.

Thedra addressed them, speaking twice, switching languages to address both groups.

"This might be unpleasant for some of you."

As she spoke, the air seemed to hum. The snowfall distorted and flurried outward, pushed by an unseen force. Reality tore slowly along a crackling, brightly lit seam. It was not the neat controlled portal they'd seen before. This was something else. It wavered and snapped looking for all the world like something had frozen a lightning bolt in space and was slowly peeling it apart, unzipping it from the middle.

A blast of warm air flowed through the angry hole in reality. On the other side they could see a distorted vision of a place bathed in red light.

Thedra ducked through.

Esoteric (Magus) 2: HP 15/15 : AC/T/FF 16/13/12 (20/17/12 w/Shield): Fort: + 4 Reflex: + 2 Will: +3 : Perception +0

Knowledge Planes: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11

Ariela stared at the portal, a mix of curiosity and puzzlement on her face. It was clearly a gateway to somewhere but nothing in her studies of planar interaction gave her the slightest indication as to where.

With a quick glance at the others she shrugs and jumps through.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas hangs at the rear of the little company. When the rift opens, he sucks in a harsh breath. This.... this is for real. Despite Thedra's words of there being the training period to decide, some part of his soul whispers, One can never really go back, after a crossroads like this...

He stands still a moment, the cold snowy air burning in his lungs. Talas fingers a small ring of copper that adorns his littlest finger of his right hand. It's a plain, thin circlet, scratched and worn, barely worth the metal it's made of. He twists it around on his finger, thinking of his mother. You should never stop asking questions, Talas. When your mind dies, so does your soul. Seek answers-- and live to tell the tale.

He nods, as if agreeing with the unseen speaker, and straightens up to his full height for a moment as he walks through the rift.

Male Dwarf Fighter 2 | HP 22/22 | AC 16 T 11 FF 15 | Ft +6 Rf +1 Wi +0* | Init +5 | Perc +0 l CMD 16 l

Although surprised by the angry rift before him, Dolgrin was not afraid. He knew that he was about to embark on a grand adventure, and although several years ago he wouldn't have imagined it, Dolgrin knew he was ready. Without a second glance, Dolgrin stepped forward into the rift, taking a final breath of his homeland with him.

Torag, please keep my family safe. One day, be it centuries from now, I shall return.

Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Garridan watches everything passively up until Thedra opens the new portal. He stares at the tear for a moment as the others step through, then smiles and follows close behind. 'Mother, Father... I hope I can make you proud.' With that thought he stepped into the strange portal.

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The portal was like a membrane they passed through. It required effort. It felt as though the air was thick and heavy like water without the wetness. It clung to them for a moment and tried to hold them back. It tugged on their clothing, pressing it into their skin as the pressure increased. It pulled on every single follicle of hair in a way that made the skin crawl. It pushed on the lungs making it feel like they were struggling to breathe. It pressed on the eyes causing them to squint involuntarily. It was not strong enough to stop them, but it tried.

Then they were through.

It was hot.

The heat was like a physical force that grabbed them and held them in a merciless grip. It was humid too. The air felt like soup. Their skin immediately prickled with sweat. Thedra whipped her cloak off and rolled it up as she scanned their surroundings.

The monastery garden had been below freezing. This was a jungle summer. The instant transition was brutal.

The ground was soft. Uneven and earthen. Trees were enormous. The whole forest hummed with insects. Birds chirped and sang everywhere. Massive ferns larger than people blocked sight in all directions except up. Above them the canopy was thick with tangled branches and ropy vines. The air smelled strongly of mulching vegetation and sweet flowers.

And the sky, what little they could see of it through the canopy, was red.

Fort Saves please. DC 12. Failure means the environmental changes have left you Fatigued for 1d10 minutes while you adjust. If you are heat resistant you get a +4 bonus.

Male Human 2 hit dice, Hp: 20/20, Ac. 22 Touch Ac. 12, FF Ac. 19, Bab. +1, Cmb. +3, CMD: 15, Init: +2, Fort: +, Refl: +, Will +*, Perception +. S. Motive +,


Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Fort DC12: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Fatigue: 1d10 ⇒ 1

Garridan gasps as he finally forces his way through the portal, but before he can say anything the hot, humid air he sucks into his lungs gives him pause. He staggers and nearly falls, but catches himself upon a nearby tree. He wipes at the sweat the begins to head upon his forehead and he laboriously begins to remove the heavier clothing he had been wearing, breathing heavily as he struggles with the mundane task...

Male Dwarf Fighter 2 | HP 22/22 | AC 16 T 11 FF 15 | Ft +6 Rf +1 Wi +0* | Init +5 | Perc +0 l CMD 16 l

Fort: 1d20 + 6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 6 + 4 = 12 Endurance

"By the Gods" mutters Dolgrin as they enter the jungle. Beads of sweat immediately surface and cling to his winter clothing and scale mail, which he removes to travel a little lighter. For now, the Dwarf keeps his armor on, but would not be surprised if the heat proved too much to bare.

Seeing the stranger stagger from the sudden travel, Dolgrin pulls out his waterskin and offers it to him.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Fort: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 1 = 20

"....oog," Talas said as they stepped into the thick, wet heat. He hurriedly started hauling off his fur cloak and boots.

"Where... the Mwangi Expanse?" he muttered, and then froze as he looked upward and noticed the sky.

"Garridan--" Talas breathed, looking upward and reaching out to touch the other man to get his attention (not having noticed the way he was reeling with the heat).

Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Garridan gratefully accepts the waterskin, taking a drink of the cool water. "Thank you." He says after a moment, handing they skin back. "I'm Garridan by the by." He glances over at Talas with frown at the way the man spoke. When he spots the way Talas is staring at the sky, he looks up as well. "That's... Not right..."

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Languages are currently an issue. Please spoiler and language tag your speech. If you want to do what I do, just copy-paste from Google Translate. Once we pick a language analogue I'll add it to the Central Planning campaign tab so that the language is locked in for future reference. For Varisian, I'm using Romanian.

When combat starts, the language barrier will add an additional complication that will definitely effect the challenge.

Thedra responded in Varisian. "Noi nu mai sunt pe Golarion. Am călătorit într-un alt plan. Acest loc este similară în multe privințe, dar există unele diferențe mici. Probabil veți observa mai înainte de mult timp."


"We aren't on Golarion anymore. We have traveled to another plane. This place is similar in most respects, but there are some small differences. You'll probably notice more of them before long."

The red sky made the green of the foliage seem more vibrant. All the plants were a deeper green than they were used to. Some bordered on blue.

Thedra held her strange gemmed rock like a compass and started following it, motioning for the others to follow. She moved carefully through the underbrush, pushing ferns aside and constantly scanning.

The whole place felt odd to them. They felt heavier. Moving took more effort here. An insect nearly the size of Arelia's palm landed on her shoulder.

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"We all speak Taldane?" Thedra asked, pushing past another frond that was bigger than she was.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas stumbled a step when Thedra casually said we aren't on Golarion anymore. He froze a moment, staring at the back of the woman's head, then kept walking, more cautiously.

So. So when she'd said 'really far away....' she'd meant it. Right.

"Of course we d--" he began when she asked if they all knew Taldane, and then it began to penetrate. If they were on another... world entirely... then-- that really was no guarantee. He blinked several times, and looked at the others to see if this was as disorienting for them as it was for him.

"...I'm Talas," he said in a low voice to the four recruits they'd met at the Tien place. Suddenly, they didn't seem like strangers-- they seemed like the only familiar faces around, if everything had shifted so very far from what he knew as 'home.'

Swallowing, Talas kept his hand near the hilt of his dagger, and hurried to keep up with Thedra, his head craning left to right as he absorbed the barrage of minor details that were not.... exactly... what he was used to.

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"I'm Kestrel. This is Vance." the other female acolyte said introducing herself and the young man next to her. They both had heritage that was difficult to place, but the wide spaced eyes and aquiline noses spoke of an Azlanti ancestry mixed in with whatever else they were.

Vance nodded but said nothing. He was clearly disturbed and cautious of their strange surroundings. His eyes scanned the canopy overhead warily.

Just reminding you that there's actually two NPC acolytes with you too.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

(Ah, right, thanks. *edits*)

Esoteric (Magus) 2: HP 15/15 : AC/T/FF 16/13/12 (20/17/12 w/Shield): Fort: + 4 Reflex: + 2 Will: +3 : Perception +0

"Ugh" Ariela muttered, removing her heavy fur cloak, scarf and gloves and stuffing them in her pack. As Thedra spoks to one of the others in a strange language, she swatted at the massive bug that landed on her shoulder, nodding as Kestrel and Vance introduce themselves to the strangers. "I am Ariela."

Fort: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20

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Your keen senses pick up the sound of humanoids crying out in pain and anger somewhere ahead through the foliage.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas stops walking, his head snapping up as he peers forward through the leaves. "Hsst-- do you all hear that?" he says, holding up a hand. "Up ahead-- someone's shouting! Sounds like they're hurt!"

He takes a few steps forward, eyes cutting to Thedra as the one who knows this area and who might not wish them to go running blindly into a otherwordly jungle. For that matter, Talas himself doesn't want to blindly run into an otherworldly jungle... but nor does he want to let someone fight off a hideous jungle beast on their own.

He slings his blade off his back, however.

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Thedra lookked around, holding up a hand for silence. It was faint, but once everyone quieted they could all hear what Thalas had noticed.

"That's the direction of our next recruit." Thedra snarled. "Let's move!"

She started pushing through the huge fronds, moving as fast as she could through the thick underbrush.

Any quick pre-combat stuff anyone wants to do, now's the time.

Half-elf Rogue 2 | HP 17/17 | AC 18 - T13 FF15 | F+1 R+6 W+0 (+2 vs enchantments) | Per 10 (+11 vs traps), Init +3

Talas nods, and breaks into a run as well, his long legs serving him decently as he vaults fallen logs and thick stands of ferns, the elven blade clutched loosely in one hand as his other pushes vines and branches out of his face. He charges along, trying to keep pace with Thedra.

Male Dwarf Fighter 2 | HP 22/22 | AC 16 T 11 FF 15 | Ft +6 Rf +1 Wi +0* | Init +5 | Perc +0 l CMD 16 l

In response to handing Talas the waterskin
"Dolgrin, at yer service. The water should still be cold from the winter. What a strange land this is, Talas. The sky's just not right, there be more trees than I've seen in my life, and if I hate anything it would be blasted insects. If this is supposed to be our new home, by the Gods, it will take some real getting used to."

Dolgrin's eyes were wide as he took in as much of the strange land as he possibly could. Even though the air was thick and humid, and the ground pulled hard at his feet, Dolgrin wasn't too upset about it. Dwarves are made to endure such things. What they aren't made to endure are horrible little parasites like vibrant blue mosquitoes and purple phase bees. The poor Dwarf was swatting away at them constantly, which was a losing battle. It wasn't until Thedra caught his attention for silence that he stopped swatting and swearing.

When Thedra runs into the jungle, Dolgrin realizes that not only is there a potential recruit in danger, but their only guide is running in there. If for some reason they lose her, or they get lose, they're done for. So Dolgrin picks up a roaring charge, bashing through the vegetation like it was made of glass. He holds his shield up to keep the dirt off his face, and keeps his waraxe up and ready to strike.

Esoteric (Magus) 2: HP 15/15 : AC/T/FF 16/13/12 (20/17/12 w/Shield): Fort: + 4 Reflex: + 2 Will: +3 : Perception +0

Sensing that whatever they were heading into would not end peacefully, Ariela focuses, running through a mystical koan aloud, her hands tracing patterns of energy in the air around her, weaving the myriad of forces around her to her will.

Cast Shield

A resolute expression crossing her face as she glances at the others from the temple she breaks into a run as well.

Male Varisian 2nd level Monk | HP 20/20 | AC 16 | T 16 | FF 12 | CMD 20 | Fort +5 | Ref +7 | Will +2 | Init +4 | Perc +7 | Sense Motive +6

Assuming Garridan is still fatigued. Duration was 1-minute. If not, then you can assume Garridan follows along with everyone at normal speed, drawing out five chakram as he runs.

Garridan follows behind as quickly as he can, his breathing labored and ragged in the hot, stagnant air; however, in his weakened state he is unable to match the others' strides and is quickly left behind. He follows their path, which is not difficult for the young Varisian who learned early in his life who to follow tracks and survival in the wilderness... He reaches into one of his belt pouches and removes the five chakram from within.

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