When Alonso announces that they will be waiting for a while, Gwynnis seats herself on the ground and closes her eyes.
About fifteen minutes after the Axial Monitor finishes its spell and resumes its implacable waiting, 25 minutes or so from start of encounter a flying metallic sphere about a foot in diameter with one eye, two decorative wings, and a pair of arms comes floating up.
It is an arbiter inevitable (LN agender advanced arbiter).
It floats up to your party and in a cheerful, friendly metallic voice it says, “Greetings, mortals. This one is classified Eleven-Sun-Truth and represents the one classified Hao Jin in all matters before her Tribunal. I have been informed that you have business with said individual but must inform you that the one you seek is not accessible on orders of the Godmind itself. How else may this one be of service?”
Alonso recovers his shield spell with a pearl of power
Alonso turns to the new arrival, Hello Elven-Sun-Truth, my name is Alonso. We are members of the Pathfinder Society from Golarion. We are looking for Hao Jin as she may be the only person who can save thousands of lives. It is vitally important that we speak to her. Are you the person these good Monitors have sought to contact? Is there any appeal process we might use to seek access to Hao Jin? Can you tell us why she is being held prisoner?
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 14 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 14 + 2 = 21
"And is there anything more you can tell us about the Godmind?" asks Auriferous. "We certainly wouldn't want to cause it any concern."
diplomacy(aid): 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (11) + 14 = 25
Gwynnis stands when the arbiter arrives, "Please forgive our ignorance. We wish to abide by your laws, but are simply unfamiliar with them."
Diplomacy (Aid): 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9
"Indeed, Monitor XJ-13-mod sent this one a summons regarding an inquiry into Hao Jin. This one is Hao Jin’s advocate and case manager. The details of the Godmind's workings are not for imperfect mortal flesh. No offense." It's tone remains friendly, though it seems dubious that mere mortal fleshbags could have anything of import to say.
Alonso grimaces slightly, No offence taken. Can you tell us why Hao Jin has been incarcerated and if there is an appeal process we might be able to help with. She does seem to have been here for a very long time...
|Ragnar "Handy" Sorvino|
Ragnar tries to keep Spot from eating the small flying thing and let's his allies do the talking.
Polanco is uncharacteristically woozy as he tries to handle this law-hangover. He just barely remembers to cast longstrider on himself before entering the portal.
Ah Dinnae understand - what is all this legal mum-mum-mumbo jumbo. Is she a p-p-p-p-prisoner here? Why does she need a ca-case worker? Polanco's speech is especially slow - he's not the best enunciator and elocuter under the best of circumstances but it has devolved into a full on stutter on this plane.
"Is there a right of appeal, to get access to your client?" asks Auriferous, echoing the dwarves words.
"Or a way for us to aid her in this time of need? Some jurisdictions allow for deeds to help compensate for when a rule has been broken."
Alonso nods, The Pathfinder Society currently owns an artifact crafted by Hao Jin. It is home to thousands of beings she collected during her time on Golarion. We are now responsible for thier safety but the demiplane they live in is collapsing. Hao Jin built this device, we believe she can help us reapir it or at least stabilise it long enough to get people out. If we are denied access to her then you are, in effect, condemning thousands of people of many different races to death.
He looks over to the Monitors. You say the matter between her and the Godmind is complete. Does that preclude you from telling us the subject matter of the dispute? Surely, for justice to be done, it must be seen to be done.
Planes on what the Godmind is: 1d20 + 22 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 22 + 2 = 41
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 14 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 14 + 2 = 22
Just Give Me What I WANT! Polanco declares in a non-diplomatic outburst
Gotta roleplay that mega low cha
|Ragnar "Handy" Sorvino|
"He speaks the truth. Many will die if something isn't done."
diplo aid: 1d20 - 2 - 2 ⇒ (18) - 2 - 2 = 14
"We are simply following orders, as you seem to be. We wish only to find a path that respects both our orders and your laws."
Diplomacy (Aid): 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (17) - 1 = 16
Auri nods at the words of Alonso. "Surely justice demands that the offence be able to be discussed? How else can others learn from the mistakes of another and thus avoid making such mistakes themselves?"
diplomacy(aid): 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (18) + 14 = 32
Diplomacy Aid: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Sir Godfrey puffs out his chest and motions grandly with this hand to the others. "As my fine companions have pointed out, there must be stipulations for settled issues to be brought up again! Particularly when entire planes of reality and the people within are at risk!"
While the arbiter remained cheery at Alonso's words, it also seemed to remain skeptical of their worth. But as the party unleashes a barrage of words, its rhetorical defenses crumble.
"Dimensional Instability, you say? Hmm, while justice is already being served, and the one known as Hao Jin has agreed to the terms, perhaps I could mediate a short discussion between yourselves and the one known as Hao Jin. You may follow me."
Eleven-Sun-Truth floats over to the axial monitors and commands them to open the gates. "Follow me, but be careful: it is a lawless realm that lies beyond these gates."
As you move through the gates, Ser Godfrey distractedly whistles a jaunty tune. The rest of you, however, notice a tiny sort of distrubance floating over Ragnar's head, moving with the party... Alonso quickly realizes it is some sort of scrying sensor.
My apologies for the lag. Found myself without internet unexpectedly for nearly 2 days...still twitching from the withdrawal.
Perception Alonso: 1d20 + 23 ⇒ (2) + 23 = 25, +2 stonework, +2 with heroism
Perception Ragnar: 1d20 + 21 ⇒ (7) + 21 = 28 +4 urban +2 underground/dungeon +6 vs Human +2 vs Undead +2 vs Evil Outsiders
Perception Spot1d20+5[/dice: 1d1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Perception Polanco: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (16) + 13 = 29
Perception Sir Godfrey: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18
A spell: 1d20 ⇒ 14
Alonso glances towards the disturbance and floats over to their guide, whispering he says Do you realise someone is spying on Ragnar there, thats the scrying sensor of some meddlesome diviner or I'm a hobgoblin
The arbiter turns and looks over at Ragnar, then says to Alonso, "Hmmm. I see nothing there. Does the one known as Ragnar require supervision?"
Alonso grins, Oh yes, probably, but the lad has a good heart. Nevertheless, I assure you it is there.
"There is little the one known as Eleven-Sun-Truth can do about such matters." It continues heading in the same direction.
Alonso recognizes the sensor as a byproduct of Scrying or perhaps Greater Scrying.
"Really?" says Auriferous, having a look above her companions head.
"I've never seen one of those before. The question is... is this someone who wants to help, harm or is just casually indifferent to us?"
Turning he back on it, she asks "Can you hear through it, or just see?"
Sir Godfrey stops whistling the melody to a prayer for Sarenrae as the party begins pointing at Ragnar and whispering. He seems slightly confused before the reality of the situation strikes him. "Friends, Ragnar is truly a bit woodsy, but it is rude to gossip about or tease other people! Especially companions!"
It strikes him out.
|Ragnar "Handy" Sorvino|
Ragnar looks at it and waves. Then he shrugs.
"Let them watch. We have nothing to hide."
"Ragnar... there is someone watching you through an invisible sensor ." says Auriferous, carefully to the ranger, where Sir Godfrey can also hear, but with her back to the sensor itself.
"I'm curious if they can hear, or act through it, or only see."
You walk for about 20 minutes through the Empty Court, and along the way you see skirmishes happening in the distance. Eleven-Sun-Truth says, "That's just angels, devils, and other beings skirmishing to claim territory. As long as the eight of us steer clear, we should be able to avoid the chaos and violence. It's interesting that the Tapestry is what brought you here, because that's the root of the case surrounding the one known as Hao Jin. The Godmind held Hao Jin accountable for having captured that which was not hers, threatening planar stability, and violating cosmic laws by the ways in which she created her demiplane. The original verdict was the destruction of the Tapestry. But the one known as Hao Jin offered to make things right. Unfortunately, a mere mortal clearly could not be trusted to fix this issue, particularly not a mortal with such conflicts of interest. At last, the one known as Hao Jin bargained to have the demiplane preserved, offering her services to Axis and surrendering the tapestry’s foundational secrets to guarantee that she never violate the same unspoken strictures again. She has upheld her promise ever since, hoping that she might prove herself to Axis and be reborn in its eyes. Ah, here is the location known as the Amphitheater of the Last Azlanti. The one known as Hao Jin is inside."
You see an ancient, multistory theater built into the side of a hill. The structure’s outer walls bear faded murals of Aroden’s life: his mortal life as a blacksmith, his leading of the Azlanti survivors from the ruins of Earthfall, his planar travels, his raising of the Starstone and creating Absalom, his battle with the wizard Tar-Baphon, and more. Inside, the amphitheater’s stadium-style seating partly surrounds a raised, stone stage where a small tent is pitched next to a campsite. Nearby sits a female human who could only be Hao Jin.
She is studying and sketching several dozen broken sculpture pieces made of throneglass, a magically hardened glass associated with certain ruined cities in Azlant. She looks up with curiosity as you approach and greets you with a courteous nod without breaking eye contact.
“Welcome, Eleven-Sun-Truth. You have not brought me visitors in some time and certainly never from my home world. What calamity has befallen Golarion that you come all the way to the Eternal City to find me? Has the Whispering Tyrant escaped his confinement? Has a new spawn of Rovagug been released in Casmaron? Or has Arazni perhaps decided to stir from her torpor and lay claim to Garund? What is the matter? I see the strain of grave news in your faces.”
Its yer tapestry miss. Its busting apart at the seams all ye collected - all the people who live on it is about to DIE terrible deaths. Plaese! We need yer help! Polanco breathlessly exclaims.
Thank o the Children!
Hao Jin gets a whiff of Polanco and her nose wrinkles a bit as she mutters to herself. "Cheap ale...there are some thing about Golarion I do not miss."
First she turns to Eleven-Sun-Truth, "This is not the doing of the Council of Axis, is it? I have upheld my end of the bargain...for centuries." After the arbiter assures her that nobody from Axis has taken any action regarding the tapestry, she turns toward the Pathfinders and looks Alonso in the eye. "I need more information. What is happening? What was done to my masterpiece?"
Alonso digs through his pack and brings out the various documents they were given. These should help explain. Our organisation has worked hard to protect your demiplane but others have punched holes in it over time. The whole thing seems to be coming apart at the seams.
Auriferous can't help but be a little in awe of Hao Jin. There are not many things that stop the knight in her tracks, but coming face to face with such a legendary person... ranks right up there.
She stands gob-smacked letting those who understand the situation more clearly do the speaking.
She nods her thanks to Alonso and begins to closely read through the documents. As she reads, she inquires about the places and people still left in the tapestry, asking if any of the you have had any personal interactions with them.
She becomes somewhat incensed when she realizes that both the Aspis Consortium and the Pathfinder Society created “backdoors” into the tapestry. Her nostrils flare as she asks, "Were any of you responsible for these 'backdoors'? These actions obviously degraded the demiplane and triggered its imminent collapse. I am vaguely aware of the Pathfinder Society, but who are these Aspis?"
Please share personal knowledge/stories about Aspis and/or adventures dealing with the Tapestry...
Alonso shakes his hand, No, no, we do not possess such powers. Ou work has been done very carefully by Aram Zey, our Master of Spells. He has now merged himself with your Phoenix Guardian to hold things together until we can find a solution. It was an...unexpected self sacrifice.
As for the Aspis, they are a criminal orgganisation of merchants, slavers, blackmailers and worse. I believe it was they who first punched a hole into the Tapestry to use it as a means of travelling quickly to Varisia. They had allied themselves with some despicable servant of Lisalla.
Alonso's second chroncile is a GM credit chronicle for Portal of the Sacred Rune reduced to level 1
"One of my missions was indeed into your tapestry, where we found Aspis agents looting a vanaran temple of Ragdya. Disruptions of the demi-plane's weather had buried the Vudran temple inside a glacier, and the Aspis were using slaves to chip away the ice."
#3-19: The Icebound Outpost
"I have never been near this tapestry. The society does not seem to wish me near it... or most of the wall hangings, really." Sir Godfrey adjusts the sword sitting on his shoulder, shifting the way to a better position to absently handle. "I am not certain why, but when I heard of souls in danger and lands at risk of destruction I could not ignore it. So I am here to help defend our more educated members as they figure this out with you."
He nods to the assessments of the Aspis. "I am familiar with the snakes. They take profit to an excess that is shameful and with no regard to law, man, or society."
"My own first dealings with the Aspsis were in the Mwangi. They were trying to monopolise some mines in the area. Then again in Varisia where they were using stand-over tactics to try and force a local market seller out of business. Then onto Tamran where their agents were causing still further problems." says Auriferous.
"I had a mission where I uncovered further information about their attack on the pathfinder society a couple of years ago. Then down in Bloodcove their representatives were attacking town members and poisoning their children."
"Then there was their attempt to disrupt your own competition." she finishes.
Scions of the sky key part 1
Trouble in Tamran
Before the dawn
Blood under Absalom
Guv I was there when it was used as a backdoor by the Aspis to murder Aram Zey, I was - they riled up them there people who lived their whole lives on the demi-plane into seeing the Society as slavers! Polanco spits before gulping down some more liquid courage.
Nasty business that was! Then THEN I was there when the whole damn thing began to unravel. Traveling from place to place trying to patch holes all desperate like. Then we fought the Gosh Darned RUBY PHOENIX itself as it tried to expel us and then Aram Zey- back from the dead somehow - sacrificed himself to replace the Phoenix as GUARDIAN OF THE TAPESTRY. And that's the truff!
|Ragnar "Handy" Sorvino|
"Haven't really been there myself but I've read stories."
After listening to your stories, she seems to calm down a bit and then takes her time finishing her review of the documents you provided. After finishing with the final page, Hao Jin pauses and ponders for a moment before announcing her assessment. “Although I cannot hold the actions of the Pathfinder Society and its rivals as blameless in the Tapestry’s demise, I know that at least the Society did not commit them out of malice. In the end, responsibility for the demiplane’s condition is mine. My time here on Axis has shown me how reckless I acted when I created the demiplane. I did not fully understand the implications and long-term consequences of my actions, but what is done is done and cannot be taken back.”
She lowers her eyes and lets out a long sigh, before continuing.
“If I understand you and the documents you have shown me correctly, I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to save the Tapestry; it has unraveled beyond the point of repair. There may, however, still be a chance to save the places and people inside it. My memory is not what it once was, but I believe that I could perform a ritual that reverses the process I first used to transport various sites into the tapestry, thereby returning a site to its original location. In that way that site could serve as an ark to carry any plants and creatures aboard back to the Material Plane.”
She pauses for a few moments, lost in thought, then continues. ”There are two significant obstacles to my performing the ritual. The first is that the ritual needs to be performed on the Material Plane and reasonably close to where the structure would be deposited. Unfortunately, my self-imposed detention in Axis, which I need to complete in order to prove my dedication, self-reflection, and self-control to Axis’s authorities, means I cannot travel to the Material Plane to perform this ritual. Fortunately, from these documents and your words, I surmise the Pathfinder Society has grown in the centuries since I went into exile, and a contingent of powerful spellcasters from the Society might be able to perform the ritual in my place.
”But the second obstacle is far more significant: I no longer know how to perform certain parts of the ritual. When I struck my bargain with Axis to preserve the demiplane, I allowed select memories and technical knowledge to be extracted from my mind. Preserved on devices called memory engrams, these memories not only ensure that I cannot recreate the same violations that offended Axis in the first place, but they also provide a means by which scholars can study these experiences and innovations in responsible ways. If you were to bring the engrams back to me, I might be able to reassemble the rituals so that someone could perform one last transposition—I suspect this process would trigger the demiplane’s final death throes, so there’s only the one opportunity. Unfortunately, recreating these rituals would violate my agreement with Axis…” She pauses and looks to Eleven-Sun-Truth for official clarification.
The arbiter’s eye rotates slowly in thought before snapping back to stare at Hao Jin before the inevitable states, “In the cosmos, law is the ideal, not the absolute condition, thus requiring some interpretation from the inevitables who enforce order. Likewise in this situation, there is no one answer. How you interpret it reflects your identity as the judge.”
Hao Jin scowls in response to this non-answer and then pauses to consider the ramifications, looking expectantly at each of you for input.
Alonso harrumphs. Brrrr, he scowls at the floating eyeball. If we dont do this then thousands of people are going to die. That seems to me to be more than sufficient justification for you to seek these memories again. If "they" have a problem with it they can always remove them again afterwards surely?
"Even if you should suffer for helping the tapestry's residents, are their lives not worth your sacrifice?"
The arbiter inevitable says, "The one known as Eleven-Sun-Truth is merely an observer, who notes that the law is an absolute that speaks for itself. Hao Jin performs her tasks as her own choice, and Eleven-Sun-Truth observes and reports."
Hao Jin merely shakes her head and offers Alonso a wry smile before telling Gwynnis, "Indeed, the lives of the demiplane inhabitants outweigh my current trials, but I must still seek a balance: I will help you recreate the ritual if you can provide the engrams. I will remain here in the Empty Court performing my service to Axis. Bring me the emgrams and I will help you with the ritual."
Eleven-Sun-Truth neither objects nor approves, instead producing several small electrum badges, offering one for each of you, including one on an adjustable collar for Spot. Each badge is marked with the same three vertical lines surrounded by a border of unevenly spaced dots. The arbiter explains, "These badges should help others recognize the ones wearing them are acting as Hao Jin’s advocates in recovering the engrams. But understand, the badges merely serve as identification, not as signs of authority. The ones that currently possess the engrams will choose their own path toward the absolute perfection of the Law."
Of course, says Alonso, with an eyeroll. Where do we find these memories?
After giving each party member a badge, the Arbiter continues:"“These memory engrams are extracted information—memories, technical knowledge, and in some cases, raw feelings—drawn from a subject and stored within tightly rolled, metal scrolls about the size of a human hand, each clasped shut with a cartouche. The subject can no longer access that specific information, but the process usually imprints the device with many adjacent memories that are shared between the device and the subject. For example, extracting knowledge of a particular meal might also store strong memories of the subject’s other meals. The stronger the memories, the more easily they’re accessed.”
“You may open an engram if you so choose. Everyday handling shouldn’t harm the devices.”
“There are three engrams of note, which are part of a more extensive library system. One engram stores a portion of my client’s creative innovation, and as an experiment, authorities in the Adamantine Forge granted it to a somewhat…” Eleven-Sun-Truth scowls “…eccentric inevitable in order to explore new inevitable-forging techniques. That inevitable frequents the domain of demigoddess Chaldira Zuzaristan in its downtime.”
With a final shake of its body, the arbiter continues, “Another engram contains elements of my client’s magical theory, and it is in the Stylite.” The arbiter winces and looks skyward before pointing to a floating building miles away. “There. You should just be able to present your credentials and be done.”
“The last of the engrams I suspect she would need pertains to my client’s childhood and their first death. It was last checked out by Yakomo, an Iroran acolyte. Given the hour, I expect him to be busy with religious devotions for several hours yet, after which he would likely return to his home just outside the Serene Circle, Irori’s realm.”
"As for how you can reach each of these places, the arbiter floats a little higher while proudly proclaiming, “As the foundation of order itself, Axis is an expanse of districts and departments, each connected to key partners by means of myriad forms of public transportation and sets of portals. I can provide you clear written directions. ”
Hao Jin wishes you a speedy return and asks Eleven-Sun-Truth to escort them back to the travel portal. “The streets and buildings of the Empty Court sometimes switch places when you aren’t looking. I still haven’t figured that out, ” she mentions off-handedly.
During your walk back to the travel portal, Eleven-Sun-Truth makes a request. ”Since you are already acting as her advocates, the one known as Eleven-Sun-Truth was hoping you might provide mortal perspectives in interpreting Hao Jin’s past actions, her present disposition, and her future potential. Although a host of outsiders have analyzed Hao Jin’s dossier, they approach her deeds with certain biases. You possess a unique perspective as members of the Pathfinder Society—most of whom are the only creatures to have interacted with the tapestry demiplane’s inhabitants in centuries—therefore you could interpret some of the memories stored on the engrams through your own mortal lenses. Eleven-Sun-Truth would like to schedule interviews with you once you’ve secured what you need and sent it to your superiors.”
The travel portal deposits you on a side-street a short distance from the Hearth-Grown House, domain of Chaldira Zuzaristan (see spoiler above). The narrow alley is crowded with petitioners, all of whom seem to be heading for a single destination: a large, wooden gate in the twelvefoot- tall hedge wall that surrounds Chaldira’s divine home. Past the gate is a large, grassy common area surrounded by numerous large and inviting structures that look like the homey country taverns found in Golarion’s more peaceful hamlets and towns. A singing voice accompanied by string instruments and flutes can be heard from within.
Inside, you see countless chairs and tables arranged in a large room around a central stage upon which sits a lillend azata singing a wistful song while accompanied by an unusual collection of natives of the Great Beyond playing an assortment of string and woodwind instruments. The air is thick with sweet tobacco smoke and the smell of good food and drink, while the audience of largely remade petitioners watches the singer with obvious enthusiasm.
“Pretty good, eh?” says a metallic voice just to your left. “Emelliana the Muse, that’s the singer, she only comes here to the House when she visits Axis. It’s the only place she’ll perform! Everywhere else is too stuffy, she says.” The speaker is an imposing medium-sized outsider, who appears to be made of ivory metal. She has four arms, and is covered in dozens of small cuts, scrapes, dents, and scorch marks. She is wearing a leather apron long enough to be a skirt and is tapping her foot to the music.
"Greetings!" smiles Auriferous.
"Her music is beautiful indeed. While I'd love to stay and listen, we are on an errand at the moment. Looking to find .."
I'm hoping here that the arbiter gave us a name
"... who has been studying a particular engrams."
She flashes her badge.
"Studying emgrams? Hmm. Don't know anyone who studies them. If you don't mind, I'm trying to listen. It's a rare pleasure to catch one of Emelliana's performances..." She pointedly turns away and resumes listening to the music.
Alonso cannot fail the planes or religion check. He will fill people in, feel free to open the spoilers
Floating into the Hearth-Grown House he comments, This place really is a bit of an oddity for Axis. Its a pleasant distraction from the general stuffiness of the rest of the city.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 20 ⇒ (17) + 20 = 37
Seeing the kolyaruts reaction to the interruption he mutters through a message spell This one seems to know something about the engrams but poking her now is going to annoy her, or it? Inevitables dont normally have a gender? Maybe wait until the performance is done before talking to her.
Auriferous nods and slips a bit away from the annoyed outsider. "Is that scrying sensor still following us around?" she asks quietly.