Welcome to Game Day :)
The air is crisp and cool as the boat arrives in Iceferry, a small town just across the Rimeflow river from Kalsgard. Waiting on the ice-crusted wharf is an enthusiastic gnome, who is bundled in a number of exotic furs and brightly-colored scarves, waving energetically with both hands. She bounds over and introduces herself as Lirall, adding that the venture-captain is waiting. She then volunteers to serve as a guide through the icy streets to the local lodge.
Although the journey through Iceferry is short, the warmth of the lodge is initially invigorating. Before anyone can warm themselves by the fireplace for too long, however, the gnome walks to a panel of labeled and colorful pulleys near the entrance, looking them all over closely before pulling one labeled “Library.” The cord, which runs across the lodge’s ceiling before disappearing through a small opening in one wall, goes taut. There is the sound of something flapping in the air, almost immediately overwhelmed by the excited and friendly barking of a large dog. A door opens, letting forth an energetic husky that rushes out to greet the newcomers, before a deep voice echoes from beyond the opening, offering gentle admonishment to the dog. "Now, now, Mahki, you know better. Let our guests come in."
The owner of the voice proves to be Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen, a dashing half-orc with a short black beard braided into three points, and a long ponytail. He looks up from reading a book on the history of the Linnorm Kings, and, after carefully marking his page with an old brass key, places it atop a nearby book on gnome physiology. "Thank you for coming. There have been a series of unusual deaths lately in Kalsgard, just across the river."
As he speaks, he makes a series of gestures with his hands, and it soon becomes clear that he is speaking both aloud and in sign. "Before we proceed, what do you know about what gnomes call the Bleaching?"
Guidance, Heal re Bleaching: 1d20 + 10 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 10 + 1 = 30
"Howdy, Cap'n," "Long" Beau greets Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen. "Bleaching? I've heard of that affliction from which some gnomes suffer."
The man is about six feet tall and weighs just over 12 stone. Steel-grey eyes peer from a tanned face crowned with long black hair. His mithral breastplate gleams from beneath his cloak and tunic. His attire is mostly homespun browns and greens, and he smells of summer rains and freshly-plowed fields. A holy symbol of Erastil hangs around his neck.
"My name's 'Long' Beau Blakros. First time in Iceferry, and I've never been to Kalsgard, either."
He points to his companion, a celestial mountain lion. "This is Scratch."
|Celestial Mountain Lion Scratch|
Scratch eyes the husky with eyes wary from experience. *Don't even think about it, Dog.*
She pads over to "Long" Beaus, sits back on her haunches, yawns, and licks a paw.
A small wayang in dark robes speaks in a whisper, The bleaching? In my opinion it is an improvement. On the plane of shadow, the colors gnomes prefer are considered offensive, but I understand that tastes can be relative.
Mely isn't entirely normal and you're biggest question might be how she got here. Perhaps she convinced Mr. Beau to allow her to ride his lion to the lodge. She's wrapped several lengths of fabric around her body in shades of blue to white and grey that give off the impression of a stormy sky and drape down well past her waist. Still, there's no hiding the fact instead of legs she has a long, fish-like tail of cerulean colored scales curled beneath her.
Her skin is pale to the point you question if it could be her natural color, and her hair is a shade of blue that perfectly matches her scaling. This merfolk has an expression of curiosity on her face when at ease that helps to offset the unnaturally wide pupils of her green eyes. It seems as though she's new enough to the surface that every other thing she comes across is something she's seeing for the first time.
In particular, both Scratch and Mahki have distracted her from Torrsen's briefing, as she tries to lure either of them close enough to run her hands through their fur. When he asks about the bleaching she looks up from her efforts and tilts her head to the side in thought, glancing to Long Beau. "Is that where they stop being all sorts of lovely colors and turn very pale?"
Then after another moment. "Oh, I never introduced myself. My name is Mely, Mely Ara."
|Celestial Mountain Lion Scratch|
Scratch doesn't seem to mind the merfolk woman running her fingers through the tawny fur of her neck.
*Yum. This one smells delicious.*
The celestial mountain lion licks her hand with a rough tongue.
*Yum. Tastes good, too.*
Knowledge (religion): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
"Greetings, Mely Ara. Welcome." 'Long' Beau runs his eyes up and down the merfolk woman's form, trying to discern which deity or faith she serves.
The cleric eyes the shadowy wayang in the dark robes, curious. "Do you have a name you'd like us to call you, friend? I'm 'Long' Beau Blakros. Please call me Beau."
Where I'm from they call me Korfunatu because I'm so noisy. A korfunatu is a kind of parade on the Shadow Plane, he says in a barely audible whisper. Someone at the lodge started calling me 'The Korfu' and the name stuck.
"I came as soon as I heard that there were gnomes in trouble!" The burly tiefling blurts out, as he hears mention of his favorite creatures.
Knowledge (local) re: gnomes: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (4) + 12 = 16
"The Bleaching is a feared disease, but its causes are mysterious."
A fine, shadowy mist constantly swirls around the inquisitor, as if the shadows seek to wrap themselves around him.
'Long' Beau's eyebrows shoot up at the sight of the newcomer. "Welcome to the team, friend. Who might you be?"
"I'm Beau, and this is Mely Ara, and the Korfu," he adds, indicating the merfolk cleric and the wayang wizard.
Scratch sniffs at the strange mist swirling around the tiefling.
"Pleased to meet you. I'm Brenden Fain. Some call me the Black Fist."
He gives a half-bow, but it isn't very convincing. The well-muscled Pathinfder seems a bit lacking in social graces.
To The Korfu, he says, "Good to see you again, shrouded one."
Mely -does- seem to mind having a giant cat tongue lick her, and gives the sudden drool on her fingers a poorly hidden look of disgust. "Ew... I didn't know they did that." She tries to casually wipe the now slightly slimy hand through the cat's mane to give it back its own drool.
She glances between Brenden and Korfu, giving them both a bright smile much at odds with their dark demeanor. "Hello both of you. I don't have any fancy titles, I'm afraid. But The Black Fist and The Korfu both sound very impressive. This should be an experience, whatever it is."
And you, Brenden Black Fist. I see the shadows have kept you well. Greetings, Long Beau and Mely.
A series of giggles and laughter erupts from the doorway. Despite the Venture-Captain's orders, Mahki decided to give a very warm welcome to one of the guests. And the guest now lies on the floor laughing and getting his face licked.
As the guest finally manages to get up on his knees, it is quite obvious that this one is a gnome - the small size and wild hair in multiple hues of yellow and gold are hard to miss. The gnome is covered in worn, but comfortable-looking set of heavy furs. Underneath, there is a chain shirt, and a bandolier with many pockets runs across the gnome's chest.
"Who's a good boy now, huh? Who's a good boy!?" The gnome has now managed to reverse the situation, and is now standing above the dog giving it a furious belly rub. "Oh, did I miss the introductions?" he says, remembering at last where he is. He pats the husky one more time, and proceeds the shake hands with everyone - including Scratch. "I am Roudantaimi Kaihomieli Ruusuntarhanairut, champion of Shelyn the Beautiful. Very nice to meet you all!"
"You were discussing about Bleaching? A most horrible fate! Withers one's body and soul. We should do everything to help any fellow gnome going down that way." Roudantaimi visibily shivers from the very thought of Bleaching.
"Is there a particular reason you're asking this, Venture-Captain?"
You see that the venture captain looks at your lips while you speak.
"You are right, the bleaching is some sort of unusual part of gnome physiology, supposedly tied to their distant connection to the First World. Any gnome that fails to find enough excitement in their life develops a sort of lethal ennui, which slowly drains away their will to live, their ability to experience emotions, and, ultimately, the very color from their bodies. If a gnome is afflicted long enough, the condition can become fatal. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more common here than some other places. Likely due to the isolation caused by our climate, I suppose." the Venture captain answers and smiles.
"As I was saying, there have been several deaths lately in Kalsgard. All who perished are gnomes whose hair and skin have been turned completely white. At first glance, this looks like just a few more cases of the Bleaching, but one of our agents in Kalsgard, Quil Tabberdash, is a gnome who spends her free time helping to combat the effects of the bleaching in the local community, and she’s convinced it’s something else. She’s tried working with the local authorities, but they’re preoccupied with Sveinn Blood-Eagle’s recent announcement, and all the chaos that’s caused, and simply aren’t interested. So, you’re going to help Quil investigate what’s really going on, and, if it turns out to be something sinister after all, put a stop to it. "
He stops and searches for a piece of paper.
"Here’s the address of Quil’s church. Or perhaps gambling hall would be a more apt description?"
He hands over a folded piece of paper with an address written on it.
"Quil will meet you there after you arrive in Kalsgard and show you to some of the places where bodies have been found. Oh, and Pathfinders? Things are unstable enough over there right now. Try to avoid stirring things up more than absolutely necessary, and I’ll see to it that you’re properly compensated for your troubles."
With that, the venture-captain makes a quick gesture with his hand and nods to you, giving you the opportunity to ask questions.
"Oh, no!!!! My kindred are in trouble! Yes, we must help them, with haste!" Roudantaimi starts yelling as Bjersig mentions about the dead gnomes, and is already making his way to the door when he realizes the Venture-Captain hadn't finished yet.
Sheepishly, he returns to hear the rest of the briefing. And once the half-orc has finished, the gnome raises his hand in order to ask a question.
"Who is Sveinn Blood-Eagle, and what did he announce? Is he the source of the unstable things you mentioned?"
"You mentioned the Bleaching is common here... or common enough." She gives Roudantaimi a slightly concerned look, then turns back to their apparently lip-reading venture captain. "Have these deaths we're here about been more frequent than normal?"
She takes the paper with the address, looking it over though she's not the least bit familiar with Iceferry or Kalsgard. Another glance for their gnome and then she nods. "That's a good question. And what does unstable mean... are we going to be attacked by random toughs in the streets?"
"If the Bleaching is not stealing the gnomes' colors, what could it be? Who would do something so dastardly?"
"Ah, no one’s told you yet? Sveinn Blood-Eagle is regarded by many as the greatest of the Linnorm Kings, old now but still very formidable. He’s announced that he’s tired of waiting for a worthy heir and is planning to set sail on a final adventure to Valenhall, a legendary Ulfen colony on the shores of Arcadia. No sooner did he announce his intent to leave, his children started fighting over who should take over his domain, though none of them have slain a linnorm and secured their claim. Things have gotten pretty tense lately, with violence occasionally breaking out in the streets. Whatever you do while you’re in Kalsgard, try not to get involved in that mess. It's all political, I'd say. People have their favorit candidates, you know. And yes, the death have been more frequently in the last weeks. Thee dead gnomes in a week is far more than usual, even for this colorless reagion." the Venture-Captain answers.
"We don't know what is going on, folks blame the bleaching, but Tabberdash has a different theory. But talk to her when you meet her."
"Politics," 'Long' Beau says. "Messy business in the best of times."
The aasimar nods and shakes the hand of Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen. "We'll do all we can to help Quil Tabberdash get to solve this mystery. With discretion and without embroiling ourselves in local partisanship."
The cleric looks to the rest of them, wondering if they're ready to get started. "Shall we?"
'Long' Beau pats his thigh, and Scratch leaps to her feet, prepared to move.
Brenden nods in agreement.
Let us away, says the Korfu, stroking a black cat that has twined its way out from behind his legs.
You may do some shopping if you like.
The trip from Iceferry to Kalsgard is a short one, and, for the most part, uneventful. The streets buzz with excitement and whispered rumors regarding King Sveinn’s proclamation and the various political maneuvering of his offspring.
Just tell me what you want to do.
|Periel the Pure|
Periel the Pure is a huge young man, about 6`6`` weighting around 220 Pounds. His heritage is not so obvious, as he it only shows in the golden orbs he has for eyes. He has long golden hair cut short, to better fit under a helmet.
While not in combat or working with his caravan, he is dressed in steel coloured long robes of osirian linnen over white cotton trousers and tunic.
In battle he dresses in leather clothes dyed white steel and red under his half-plate.
His trusted Katana of adamantium called Divine Justice is always with him.
If in thoughts he often absentmindly strokes his holy amulet.
"I apologize for my late arrival, the messenger pidgeon did not find my domicil. May the peace of the gods be with you and may our enemies feel our wrath!"
The -first- thing Mely does is grow a pair of legs, because she didn't want to risk her horse freezing itself in this weather and needed a way to reasonably get around. It's a small affair with a rush fog and clouds flowing from beneath her robes to cover her tail, and when it recedes she's left with a pair of pale legs in its place. She then takes a moment to put on some warm boots because barefoot is nice, but not in the snow.
That was a lesson she learned the hard way.
When she stands it takes her a few steps of wobbling before she can find her balance and she never seems quite certain on her feet. Which she thinks is reasonable since she normally doesn't have any.
Once that's all settled she'll use the piece of paper with the address and try to guide the party towards Quil Tabberdash's church so they can get more details. A path that puts Periel right in their way. "Oh! Well hello then! I didn't think we had anyone else for this mission. We don't really have any enemies... yet. But people are dying, so there's probably someone that needs a bit of wrath." She gives him a polite smile and tries to get him to help her search for the church.
Casting Fins-to-Feet with a 9 hour duration!
"Let's make our way to the temple of Quil Tabberdash. No need to get distracted by anything political."
"I'm satisfied I have what I need for the moment," 'Long' Beau says, as he and Scratch follow the rest of the team to meet Quil Tabberdash.
The Korfu follows along behind the party, enveloped in a globe of darkness.
The address on the note belongs to a squat, stoutly built wooden building with a weathered exterior that is meticulously decorated with images of dice, cards, and gemstones. The words "The Hall of Seven Wagers" and an image of a dice with seven pips are painted in bright blue against a red background over a door with well-oiled brass hinges set under a snow-covered cloth awning.
The gaming den is fairly quiet in the mid-afternoon, and when you arrive, they find a gnome woman hanging brightly-colored streamers and other decorations for the evening’s festivities.
The inside of the building is just as brightly colored as the outside and features a variety of gaming tables and equipment for just about any kind of gambling one could ask for.
"Oh! Perfect! You’re here!" cries the gnome woman with goldflecked, black hair. She stands atop a step-ladder, affixing bright yellow streamers to the ceiling. She quickly sets the decorations down and saunters up with a smile, extending a hand in greeting. "I’m Quil Tabberdash. Thanks for coming on such short notice."
Brenden enthusiastically takes the small woman's hand. "We are happy to help. Why are you decorating for a party when there are so many dead gnomes?"
"Greetings, Quil Tabberdash. I'm 'Long' Beau," the cleric points to his cat. "This is Scratch."
He looks around the gambling hall. "You seem busy. Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen said you need some help with your investigation into a series of unusual deaths."
The Korfu finds a quiet place in the corner.
As the others have... rather bluntly introduced themselves to Quil, Mely doesn't see a particular need to be immediately sociable. Especially not when there were other things about to look at. She wanders over to the now available step ladder and climbs up to get a closer look at all the streamers.
With a tilt of her head she gives them a long moment of consideration. "Reminds me of coral. Is it to stave off the bleaching?"
|Periel the Pure|
Roudantaimi follows the others, and proceeds to shake hands with Quil once the bigger people move aside.
"Tere, Quil! Minu nimi on Roudantaimi. Väga tore sinuga kohtuda" the gnome says, smiling wide and shaking the hand eagerly.
Then remembering not everyone perhaps understand gnomish, so he continues in common. "Nice decorations! Are you planning to have a party?"
After shaking hands, she begins gathering her outdoor clothes. A long gray overcoat with sapphire stitching and sapphire buttons shaped like dice, as well as a matching pair of sturdy gray mittens, talking as she puts them on.
"Nice to meet you, Roudantaimi. I'm happy to see you here, helping your kind in need."
"You are right, I'm planning to have a party. The remaining gnomes in this city need fun or they are going to suffer from bleeching. Normally I’d invite you to stay for a game or two, but we should probably jump right into things before there are any more deaths. As I’m sure you’ve been told, gnomes have been turning up dead across Kalsgard, and everyone thinks it’s due to the Bleaching. It’s not."
She gives a resolute nod to emphasize that point. "For one thing, the Bleaching is a long, slow process, and these gnomes were all vibrant and full of life just days before. For another, most of the victims have had looks of absolute horror on their faces, and that doesn’t fit with Bleaching, either."
As she finishes pulling on her mittens, she gestures towards the door. "Come on, I’ll show you where some of the more recent bodies were found. You can ask any questions on the way."
Is there any apparent connection between the victims?
"The venture-captain advised us to avoid getting embroiled in the current political struggle for succession in Kalsgard. Do you know the key players and factions involved? It might help us avoid making any mistakes," 'Long' Beau asks.
"Hm, there's no connection between the victims as far as I know. Political struggle? Yes, it's true. The king's does not have a legit successor. But there are no players or factions. It's just people fighting over who will be the next king or queen. Everybody has a favorite canditate. But this won't happen until one of the heir apparents kills a Linorm. If you keep out of discussions you should be find, I guess." Quil answers.
Mely follows along, her steps slightly stumbling from the mixture of walking in boots and being on the rougher ground of a snowy day. Her eyes drift side-to-side as they go, just trying to get a feel for the people around them and the mood in the town. She didn't want to walk right into the middle of a street fight.
"I've always heard the Bleaching is slow, and that gnomes tend to look more depressed than anything as it gets to them. I wonder if there's a way to forcibly drain the color out of a gnome... maybe with fear? If so, someone could be doing that." She was musing out loud to herself.
"How long ago were the most recent deaths?"
|Periel the Pure|
"The most recent death was yesterday. If we hurry, we will may still see the dead body since carrying away corpses takes some time in Kalsgard lately. But you have a good point here, Mely. I heard that fear can also cause hair to become white. Let's go." Quil answers and leads the way.
At each of the four crime scenes, each PC can make a
Perception check to examine the crime scene, and a Diplomacy
(gather information) check to canvas the neighborhood in
search of witnesses. PCs that choose to focus their efforts and
make only a single one of these checks gain a +4 circumstance
bonus on that check. If a PC wants to use an appropriate spell,
class feature, or other ability to aid them in either endeavor,
it grants them a competence bonus equal to the spell’s level.
The first crime scene is the home of Yuenosh Tevrilna, in Kalsgard’s Amber Quarter. The body of an elderly gnome lies in the middle of the living room. The door was closed before you entered.
'Long' Beau pauses at the door to the home of the victim, Yuenosh Tevrilna. After casting an orison to reveal any magical auras, he moves to where the elderly gnome is lying on the floor and examines the body.
Heal: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30
The cleric signals to Scratch to join him.
|Celestial Mountain Lion Scratch|
When Scratch sees the aasimar call her, she pads over to the cleric, sniffing the dead gnome.
Then the mountain lion wrinkles her nose, taking in the scents present in the gnome's lair. She prowls around, smelling, looking, and listening.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 6 + 4 = 19
"You want my help cataloguing the scene, or shall I canvas the neighbors looking for witnesses?" the cleric asks his companions.
He strokes Scratch's neck and scratches her chin. "Find something?"
Waiting to see how successful the rest of the team is before committing to one or both checks.
"I'd rather examine the crime scene myself. People often have a negative reaction to me."
Perception: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (8) + 16 = 24
I'm with you, fellow creature of the night.
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (15) + 8 = 23
"No signs of what killed the victim, but it must have terrified her before she died. Her hands are raised as if she were trying to fend off her attacker." 'Long' Beau rises, dusting off his knees. "Doesn't seem a death due to the boredom associated with the Bleaching."
"No signs anyone broke in, so either she let her attacker into her home, or they didn't need to force their way in."
Seeing Brenden and the Korfu searching for additional clues inside, he signals to Scratch. "Let's see if anyone saw or heard anything."
Stepping outside, 'Long' Beau says a prayer to Erastil and looks around for likely witnesses.
Guidance,Diplomacy to Gather Information, +4 circumstance bonus: 1d20 + 10 + 1 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 10 + 1 + 4 = 24