GM Omelas' Hangman's Noose

Game Master panegyric

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Amidst a darkness that feels thick with anger and pain, visions begin to materialise: fragments of a truth that is clawing its way back into daylight, that screams to be heard after years of being choked silent. In this haunted pocket of half-consciousness, there is no possible way of resisting the intrusion of depraved apparitions into one's mind.

Talienda:

A clack of wood on wood is followed by a whip crack of rope drawing taut. The crunch of vertebrae echoes off the walls. A man’s booted feet twitch freakishly as his last breath rasps from his ruined throat in a choking death rattle. You suddenly realize the man is you, and you look down in horror at your own twitching legs. The crowd jeers with delight, throwing rotten produce at you and laughing as life begins to escape your body.

Skurly:

A thin elven woman is hunched over in this dark dreary corridor of cold flagstone, her back to you. Her right hand works feverishly, sawing away at something unseen with a blood-slick shortsword. She laughs and gibbers:

"Show me the way, my dear, you can do it! Use your love to show me out of here. I love you. I love you so much. Don't you love me? Just please show me the way!" With a final wet snap of sinew, blood pools at the elf’s feet and she hefts the gory head of a woman. "Thank you, dear, thank you, thank you! I love you."

The elf throws her belt pouch and her sword on the ground, laughing and crying at the same time as she kisses the cold and sticky lips of the disembodied head. She moves forward, thrusting the head forward like a lantern.

Mylok:

A cloaked figure enters a small attic. A woman with dark features and a beautoful red scarf sits in a rocking chair, swaying as she hums and knits a sweater for a small child. She looks up, an expression of disgust on her face. The figure closes in, its back to you as it advances toward her; the woman's expression slowly changes to defiance and then horror.

Rissi:

You see two women, one elven and the other human. The elf is holding a small metallic object with an ember inside. "Hurry, it's getting colder. I think they're nearby," says the human who holds a shortsword in one hand and a small vial on the other. "This will work, it has to," replies the elf as she opens a tiny bag of cloth with multicoloured beads of resin inside. The human suddenly shouts "Gods have mercy on us, they're here, they're both here! Behind you!" You hear a croak coming from behind the women and a dark shape stirring in the darkness to the right.

Sinésiel:

You are lying down in a bed that is not yours, seeing with eyes that are not yours and hearing from ears that are not yours. The voice of a whimpering man echoes in this bare room: "Sveth, my only friend! Please! Help us! Ten years, she says, ten years. The true murderer must hang! Or everyone else, all of them who condemned us, it doesn't matter. I croak, she screams, she is so angry, injustice, injustice and revenge! She hates that entitled maggot, Sveth, please…the true murderer must hang…the true murderer must…hang…" The voice fades away in a croak. You feel this person crying and nodding, their hands stretched out towards the ceiling.

Talib:

The courtroom buzzes with nervous anticipation. Dozens of eyes, from the crowd behind and the jurors' box across the aisle, focus on you. The expressions range from contempt to pity, but there is no forgiveness in their faces, only a barely concealed hunger for blood. The magistrate slams down his gavel repeatedly and snarls for silence. The murmur of the crowd relents as the stocky magistrate draws up to his full height, smoothing a partially silver beard with one hand as he sets down his gavel.

"Jarbin Mord. For the brutal and savage slaying of your own wife and son, it is the verdict of this jury, with which I concur wholeheartedly, that you shall hang by your neck until dead. May the gods take mercy on your blackened soul, for we won't."


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2. Courtroom A
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Rows of dusty benches, several askew or knocked over, are lined behind a waist-high partition that marks the limits of a dusty wooden jurors’ box, rickety from generations of termites and time’s cruel fangs. Fourteen unconscious people are resting on these benches or in the ground nearby; one of them lets out a groan as they open their eyes; another screams in horror and jumps awake in panic. As each person wakes up from nightmarish visions and returns to consciousness, they are greeted by a sight almost as disturbing.

The dying gray light of sunset peeks through slits in boarded windows, barely illuminating a yawning courtroom replete with pews and a towering bench covered in cobwebs. A shadowed mural on the domed ceiling above depicts Iomedae locked in mortal combat with Norgorber, Calistria, and Asmodeus; the faces and shapes of the gods seem unreliable, as if they were ready to melt away the moment one's vision focussed on something else. The same unnatural effect can be seen, to a more grotesque and unsettling result, on the bodies and faces of the people inside this room.

Silence weighs heavy as no one dares saying anything in this seemingly random group whose members include: a fourty-year-old blonde woman, an angry-looking hobglobin missing a piece of his ear, an old dwarf who reeks of stale ale, a gnome dressed as a sad excuse for a jester, a young female halfling wearing a tight-fitting body suit, a dirty and scared half-orc, an athletic fifty-year-old man wearing a suit of chainmail marked with Iomedae's symbol and an elegantly-dressed elderly gentleman.

Kn (Local) DC 10:

This seems to be the abandoned Beldrin’s Bluff Courthouse, located in the Precipice Quarter. Rumour has it is haunted by the vile spirits of a brutal murderer, who was also the last man to swing on its gallows, and his victims. Jarbin Mord, the criminal, killed his wife and son with an axe and then died on the very gallows he tended to as an executioner for ten years.

Kn (Local) DC 12:

A band of adventurers led by Father Kelgaard of the Church of Sarenrae braved the courthouse five years ago, but only one of his band survived. Her mind was shattered by the harrowing experience.

Kn (Local) DC 15:

Mord’s trial was swift, held amid the chaos of the abandonment of Beldrin’s Bluff as an earthquake collapsed several blocks of the district into the sea. Little evidence was brought forward in his defense, and his execution was carried out at sunrise the day after the guilty verdict was reached.

Kn (Local) DC 20:

Many whisper that Mord did not kill his family, but rather was framed for the crime and wrongfully executed. They believe Mord's spirit, together with his wife's, prowl the abandoned courthouse in pain, yearning for justice.

Kn (Local) DC 25:

The jury was carefully selected by Judge Silman Trabe for the trial. Many among them had their own reasons for seeing Mord swing, and rumor has it more than one member of the jury was placed there to help point the others toward a guilty verdict.

The map can be accessed via this link. It will also always be available through the campaign header.


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

Knowledge-Local: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25

Rissi rolls to her feet, terrified but awake. She knows that most fear is of the unknown, and giving in to that fear is giving it power. She scans the area trying to figure out where she is and how she got here. The dim light is no issue and initially the artwork catches her eye. Then she scans the rest of the room.

"The courthouse? How did I get here? This place was closed, and has nothing to do with my trip. Rikkan, what have I stumbled in to?"

Standing all of 3' 8" tall she smooths her whiskers and throws her hood back. No need to hide her race among the oddly mixed group that she sees. Besides, freely sharing information might help with the second half of her dilemma. How did she, or everyone else get here. She calls out to the room, in common, "Hello? I am Rissi Than. Is anyone hurt, and does anyone know how we got here? Or why?"


The elderly human stands up, looks at Rissi and takes a bow. "Pleasure to meet you, Ms Than. I am Killian Paltreth. I don't believe anyone here is wounded…though I do have a splitting headache, if I am to be completely honest. As for your other questions, I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest! At one moment I was writing some business letters at home then the next I know…I woke up here, in this dreary old courtroom."

The hobglobin snarls and rolls his eyes. "When I catch the bastard who threw me in this gods-forsaken hell hole with a bloody talking rat, I'll bash his bloody skull in." He tries to get up and almost falls down, managing to lean on a wall instead. "My head's all woozy and s~@!, f$%#."


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

Ignoring the likely intended insult Rissi filters the statements for anything useful. The elderly human is possibly helpful and diplomatic. The hobgoblin is combative, likely natural for his race. She nods politely to both and calls out to the group, "A good point. Stand slowly and get your bearings. If you aren't wounded please don't hurt yourself by a dizzy rush to your feet. I was working with some business documents myself. My grandfather Rikkan recently passed.... But that matters not at all right now."

"We appear to be in the old Beldrin's Bluff courtroom in the Precipice Quarter, although I don't know why since it's been closed since they executed their executioner, Jarbin Mord ten years ago. For those not familiar with the trivia, there are rumors that the courthouse is haunted. Five years ago a group of adventurers braved this place. The only survivor of that group was a woman that came out with her mind ruined. The area around here was abandoned after an earthquake dumped some of the district into the sea."

"I dislike telling ghost stories, but there were also some that said the jury was stacked against Mr. Mord by none other than the judge that tried the case, and that he was innocent of the crime."


M NG Human (Alkenstari) Gunslinger (Black Powder Vaulter/Mysterious Stranger) 1 | HP: 9/12 | AC: 16, T: 14, FF: 12) | CMB: +1, CMD: 15 | F: +3, R: +6, W: +0 | Init: +4 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +4 SM: +0[ut] | Speed 30ft | Grit 2/Day | Active conditions: None

Local: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8 Off to a great start.

The man with the eye patch stirs and groans in his sleep. He face twitches once...twice...then he wakes with a start. Misfire Mylok sits up straight and wipes the sweat from his face with the bottom of his shirt. His one eye scans the room and settles on the mural above. Well, if that ain’t unsettling, I don’t know what is, he thinks.

At some point Mylok had been sitting in a tavern. On his second ale? No, third. Maybe fourth. And now? Now he was in some dingy, cobweb infested room. A decent sized room too. He struggles to recall the nightmare as he pinches the bridge of his nose and groans again.. A shadowy figure. A red scarf. A woman stricken with terror.

Mylok brushes dust from his shoulder and tucks the cotton shirt back into his trousers. A quick swipe of one hand sees his hair swept back once again. Somewhat content with his appearance, Misfire turns his attention to the iron spike being driven through his skull.

“Any chance you folks can hold off on the shouting?” Mylok grips the bench beside him and forces the one leg to bear his weight momentarily as he stands up. He sways a moment before catching himself. “This hangover is something else…” he places a hand on the side of his head as if trying to force memories to realign. When was the last time four drinks did you in like this, he asks himself.

Misfire blinks and shakes his head as the ratfolk rattles of random facts, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down there, uh, Rissi, was it? We’re in some ratty-er, dilapidated courthouse? Gods be damned! My head is pounding!”

Misfire lets himself fall back onto the bench before continuing, “I don’t know which one of you slipped some Crush in my ale, but I would appreciate an apology.” The man forces a smile, already regaining his normal disposition, "Oh, and for you to let us out of here."


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8

Talib does not as much startle into consciousness as he cautiously inches towards it. Finding himself in a strange place, the sounds of confusion and panic all around him, he nevertheless forces himself to remember his training: the inquisitor allows the inevitable feelings of anxiety, disorientation, and fear to flow through him in one breath, swiftly designating them to an advisory role in his decision-making. Before even opening his eyes, he takes a quick stock of all the information streaming in from his extremities: no bindings, no obvious injuries. Drugs, or poison? No, probably ensorcellement—he had no eaten anything since breaking his fast at his current residence, a reputable inn with little to no fertile ground for bribes or other criminal exploits.

Finally, at the end of his mental checklist, the inquisitor moves his hand to his sword belt, feeling for the pommel of his falchion.

Do we have all of our equipment?

Rising from his slumped position, uncomfortably leaned halfway over his seat against the railing of the jurors' box, Talib suppresses a groan: the muscles in his neck and upper back are calling for immediate restitution for their mistreatment. Slowly cracking his neck as he does, the inquisitor allows his gaze to sweep over the room and its inhabitants, silently assessing each in turn. No one he knew personally—save for one of the halflings. Geddinloe? More likely to be a coincidence than not, considering the number and sheer diversity of those gathered. That in itself was certainly not a trifling matter: his mind shook at the cost and logistics of kidnapping and transporting fourteen people—doubtlessly residing in differing parts of a bustling metropolis—into a dilapidated courtroom for seemingly no reason...

"Courtroom..."

Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10

Listening intently to the ratfolk's conciliatory chatter, Talib quickly collates her information with his own. She appears to be far better informed about the location than he is—suspiciously so, even. He makes a mental note to question this "Rissi" later, to ascertain her sources. For now, the inquisitor finds comfort in the confirmation of their whereabouts: the Precipice Quarter is not as known to him as some of the other districts, but at least he could navigate through it when needed.

Or is this place so unfamiliar, after all? Talib is not used to putting much stock in his dreams, but something about his erstwhile revelries struck him as meaningful. Looking across the aisle, he feels an odd sense of reversal—vertigo, even—as if the room had been flipped over, shaken around, and he had been dropped through both time and space, falling neatly into the opposing side of the courtroom. He focuses on that feeling, trying to recall as much of the dream as he can.

"Jarbin Mord, he mutters under his breath, finding the name queerly familiar on his tongue.

From the folds of his grey kaftan, the gaunt man produces a small journal and a stick of charcoal. He makes a few notes in an incomprehensible Kelish shorthand, while keeping an eye on the situation—without his holy symbol visible, he would not be immediately recognisable as a lawkeeper. He intended to get a candid impression of everyone in the room, before trying to assert his limited authority. The hobgoblin might get violent, but he trusted the Iomedaean to interfere in his stead...

Is anyone in the room especially recognisable? I don't know if you want me to roll Knowledge (local/nobility) and Sense Motive for everyone, but that's the essence of what Talib is doing: observing. Additionally, just to confirm—is this the same courtroom, and are any of the people in the juror's box the same as in Talib's dream?


NG Female Half-elf Occultist 1 | HP: 4/13 | AC: 18, t: 12, ff:16 | F: +3, R: +2, W: +1 | Init: +2, Perc: +5 | Speed 20ft | Conj. 2/2, Evo 1/3 | Spells: 1st 0/2| Active conditions: None.

When Sinésiel awakens, she does her best to stifle a groan as she sits up and clutches her head. Why did I sleep in my armor? And those dreams...

She silently scans the room and takes note of the odd ensemble of captives. While listening intently to Rissi's conjecture of their location, she grasps her mother's holy symbol tightly. She whispers to herself, "The dawn brings new light." As Mylok voices his complaints, she casts create water into her waterskin, stands up with some difficulty, and passes it to him. "Here, this is all I can give for your headache."

Sinésiel worries that she is far out of her league here. A real paladin of Sarenrae would know just what to do here. Looking over at the Iomedite in mail, she cannot help but smile. Smoothing out her tabard, she does her best to look presentable. If the place was truly haunted, as Rissi said, then who Sinésiel pretended to be would be the perfect person to get them out of here.


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

Talienda trashed for a moment as she clutched at her neck. She whimpers then screams as she sits bolt upright and gasps for air. Her face is pale, the color drained by whatever nightmare has awoken her. She looks around, her eyes wide and filled with panic as she does not recognize anyone or anything in this room other than herself and her possessions.

FInely made clothes in the hues of mourning, once elegantly done up hair now falling free and framing her terror-filled expression, silver jewelry set with sapphires along with a silver symbol of Shelyn, and fair skin speak of someone from the higher echelons of society. Her face is one that most would label cute instead of pretty or beautiful, at least when it isn't wearing an expression of confused fear and panic. Her small frame and the way she huddles where she awoke give off the impression of a timid bunny finding itself in a den of ravenous wolves.

"T-tyr-r-re?" Her voice calls out softly as she looks around for any familiar faces. "M-mr. Feilds? Ms. M-m-m-monteblance?"

Finding no answers and no one she even knows the name of, she finally focuses on the others for the first time.

"W-where are we? W-who are you? What's g-going on," she asks everyone as she clutches at the holy symbol hanging from her neck.


At the mention of the rumours regarding the fairness of the trial, the man in chainmail jumps to his feet with a furrowed brow. "Miss, I would advise you against tarnishing the good name of Silman Trabe and the reputation of Absalom's justice system. What you're saying is nothing more than baseless rumour and gossip. Mord was a blood-thirsty maniac who murdered his own wife and son. Trust me, for I, Sir Rekkart Cole, was here that day and am proud to say I contributed to making sure justice was served." He puts one hand over his chest, holding Iomedae's symbol, and raises the other as if saying an oath. His eyes land on the evidence table. "See over there? That's the murderer's axe, still stained with the blood of his own family."

Meanwhile, the halfling echoes Mylok's complaints. "Gods, Malgrim, stop yelling and cursing, will ya? It's not like you smell or sound any better than the rat." Her high-pitched voice has a tinge not dissimilar to that of someone fully convinced of how special and important they are. "Name's Madge, and I also have no idea how we ended up here, out of all places. But I do know I won't be staying here long."

The 40-year-old woman stands up, goes to Talienda and hugs the fair-skinned girl. "There, there, little bird, don't worry. We are not sure where we are, but everything's going to be alright." Rekkart smiles at the scene. "Always so kind, Patrissa. It is lovely to see you again, even if the circumstances are unpleasant."

You all have your equipment with you and everything is more or less where it's supposed to be.

Talib:

This courtroom does look the same as the one on Talib's dream, though much, much older and grimier. The evidence table is on the same place together with the same items lying on top of it, as well as the mural on the ceiling.

The jurors, audience and judge, however, are a different story. Their faces were obscured and blurry, making it impossible to ascertain if anyone here was present in the dream.

Regarding observing people, give me two rolls: one for a general assessment of the group, another for one person in the group that you want to focus on. You may delay this choice until you finish observing and start interacting.

separate rolls

Kn Local DC 15:

When Madge says the name Malgrim, the memory of some in the room stirs awake. He is a fearsome criminal and leader of the Grindle Street Shades, a bloodthirsty gang involved in all sorts of illegal activities. Malgrim's trademark is his spiked chain, which he often uses to strangle those who get in his or his clients' way.

Kn Local DC 15:

The halfling is something of a minor local celebrity in Absalom, a street performer whose acrobatics have earned her the nickname Marvellous Madge.


M NG Human (Alkenstari) Gunslinger (Black Powder Vaulter/Mysterious Stranger) 1 | HP: 9/12 | AC: 16, T: 14, FF: 12) | CMB: +1, CMD: 15 | F: +3, R: +6, W: +0 | Init: +4 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +4 SM: +0[ut] | Speed 30ft | Grit 2/Day | Active conditions: None

Dice Rolls:

Local 1: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Local 2: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21

With a nod and a smile Mylok accepts the waterskin and takes a long draught of the water within. Some water dribbles down the side of his chin and Mylok wipes it away with the back of his hand before handing it back to the woman. He cocks his head to one side, eyeing the tabbard. Had they met before? Maybe? Absalom is such a big city and people are constantly passing through, he thinks.

What he says is, “Thanks.” He quickly follows it up with, “Maybe you should drink some yourself.” Misfire passes the waterskin back to the woman with mild chagrin.

He glances at the young girl. Young. Timid. Possibly well-off. In a foreign and possibly dangerous place. She could probably use a hired bodyguard. He opens his mouth to offer services but gives pause at the mention of names. His hand instinctively falls on the butt of his pistol at his waist.

“Malgrim, eh? I think I’ve kept some of your mooks off of a merchant or two.” He rises from the bench again, “And how’s come the ‘Marvellous Madge’ is on a first name basis with someone that strangles anyone brave or stupid enough to tell him no?”

In his haste, Mylok completely misses the fact that at least one person here had a direct connection to the place.


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8

Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6

Talib notes the various interactions between the suspects, both compassionate and strained: Malgrim he considers a threat purely due to his heritage, and Madge is self-important enough to be someone of note—he does not recognise her, however. The man speaking to them acts like someone who likes to start fights—and with an Alkenstari firearm, he might be more than capable of ending them. Also, he is streetwise and conveniently without any tact: Malgrim is a violent criminal, then. Theological quarrels aside, a priestess of Sarenrae is always good to have—even if she looks a bit inexperienced.

The inquisitor pegs Sir Rekkart as a possible ally, watching him closely as he steps in with an impromptu little speech—a rather idealistic one, though he would expect nothing less from a Sword Knight. The fact that the man had been here before could be useful, as well. He raises an eyebrow at the mention of the murder weapon.

"For what possible purpose would that still be here...?"

Finally, his flinty eyes fix on Patrissa—who seems to share a past with Sir Rekkart—and then, the girl in mourning black. For a moment, he ceases his scribbling.

"Hm, she looks familiar..."

@GM:
Talib will focus his attentions on Sir Rekkart, in order to ascertain whether he seems trustworthy (i.e. he is actually who he says he is, and seems generally honest-like). Abadar and Iomedae are allies, after all, and he might need help in controlling the crowd.

Knowledge (nobility) on Sir Rekkart: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16

Sense Motive (General Assessment): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Sense Motive (on Sir Rekkart: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25


Madge rolls her eyes and is about to reply to Mylok when, completely unsolicited, the gnome jumps on top of a bench and looks at Rissi: "Oooooh! Ghost stories, eh? Good ole Ebin here knows how to lighten the mood! You know what streets ghosts like to haunt?" After a second of silence, he jumps down the bench, the chimes that pepper his whole outfit ringing. "Dead ends! Ta-daaa!" Malgrim's eyes go from Ebin to Rekkart, as if considering whether the paladin would stop him if Malgrim tried to murder the gnome.

@Talib:

Though Sir Rekkart is not particularly famous, Talib has seen his name mentioned in the past in connection with a minor noble house.

As far as the man's personality and actions, there's little doubt about the sincerity of his actions. The way he speaks and the intensity of his gaze betray an amount of fervour that would be hard to manufacture in such a realistic manner. That said, Talib has seen men like Cole before: through flaw of either intelligence or imagination, they struggle to see how could anyone not share his morals and strong commitment to the law and general good.

The rest of the group is a complex and tangled bag of tricks. There is a certain animosity lingering between most of them which gives Talib the certainty many already know each other, as unlikely as it would sound in such a diverse group. At the same time, they also seem to be trying to hide that animosity as much as possible.


M LG Halfling Investigator (Sleuth) 1 | HP: 7/7 | AC: 17, T: 14, FF: 14) | CMB: -2, CMD: 11 | F: -1, R: +5, W: +4, +2 vs. fear | Init: +4, +6 if Luck > 0 | Perc: +8, SM: +6 | Speed 20ft | Inspiration: 1/3 | Luck: 2/2 | Active conditions: None

Knowledge: Local check 1: 1d20 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ (19) + 7 + (5) = 31
Knowledge: Local check 2: 1d20 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ (5) + 7 + (2) = 14
Knowledge: Local check 3: 1d20 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ (9) + 7 + (2) = 18

Before any charitable soul can give the gnome a token chuckle, his performance is met with a very different sort of reaction. A shrill, piping scream cuts through the chatter and batters itself silly against the rafters above before fluttering down to earth in a rasping whine. An endearingly plump child- no, scratch that, an impressively plump halfling- is standing on one of the benches, apparently roused by the the gnome's landing on the seat-board, and is holding his arms out stiffly to ward off the throng of strangers. Perhaps he's a wizard of some sort?

"NO. This is not real. I am asleep in a safe place, and there are no hobgoblins there, or mad jesters. I am not in... in..."

His eyes roll around in his head as they pan over the fresco above, and although they are beady and bright, somehow they seem to grow larger and larger to take in the awful facts of his circumstances. Definitely not a wizard.

"I am not in Mord's Moot. I am not." He begins to pinch his- admittedly pinchable- cheeks, as tear glisten visibly in his eyes.


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

Knowledge-Local: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
Knowledge-Local: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13

Rissi watches the face of the man as he does his verbal assault. If he could read the expression on her rat-like face he wouldn't get much. She isn't scared, regardless of the size difference between the two. "Well, Sir Rekkart Cole, If you're so worried about the good name of Silman Trabe, I assume he was the judge?, I suggest you start marching up and down the streets of Absalom screaming out the truth of the story. I was only sharing, as I stated, common rumors about THIS establishment. We've all been brought here by an unknown agent and the more we know about this place and each of us, the quicker we can resolve this little mystery. Unless you don't care about 14 citizens being accosted, possibly drugged or magically sedated, and deposited in this ruined building for who knows what reason!?!"

Hearing the new 'performance' of the halfling on a bench Rissi turns and tries a friendly grin, "Mord's Moot? That's an interesting name for this place. But this courtroom by any other name is still where we all are. So does anyone have any information on how we all got here? Did someone sense a cast spell? Taste a strange substance? Oh, And are we all from the Absalom area? Not as in 'originally' from here, but I mean currently in the area? I was trying to get some paperwork done, details on my Grandfather's death. Otherwise I'm from Omash, in the northern desert of Qadira."


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

GM:
What do I need to roll to keep a dagger strapped to her leg hidden?

Talienda stiffens as the woman pulls her into a hug. Though she learns Patrissa's name a moment later, Talienda feels no more comfortable than before. Her right hand twiched for a moment before the young girl tried to prize the older woman off of her.

"I don't know how I wound up in this awful place," she answers the strange rat-woman, barely managing to keep her composure as she speaks. "I was painting in the garden, then there was a letter, and the next thing I know, I'm dreaming of being hanged and– and then I wake up here with people I don't know. I want to go back to my home! I... I don't know why everything keeps getting worse and worse!"

She buries her face in her hands as she starts to sob.

"What have I done to deserve this? I want to go back to where I'm safe!"


Patrissa seems to take no offence and allows Talienda to escape her embrace. "Poor little bird…it's fine…let it all out…" she says, keeping the dark-haired girl at arm's length.

Cole instead is caught by surprise at Rissi's defiance. "I am sorry if I came off as aggressive, miss. Us paladins of Iomedae are very passionate about our honour and the righteousness of our actions, to the point it can…uh…blind us to bigger, more immediate problems. I stand firmly by what I said, though I wish I had said it with more agreeable words."

The scared half-orc stands up without saying a word and makes for the set of doors to the west, but seems to change his mind and move to the smaller door to the north. He stands in front of it, shakes his head and nervously looks about himself. "No, not there, perhaps here? Or there? I want to leave, this ain't a good place, no, Halgrak, it really ain't a good place, what have you gotten yourself into, old Halgrak," he mutters to himself, ignoring the other 13 people in the room.

In the meantime, Malgrim walks up to Mylok and gets close enough so the human can smell his bad breath: "you're smart enough to know who I am, so you should be smart enough to stay in your f#*#ing lane, boy. I'm warning you now: next time you put your hand on your stupid weapon when looking at me like that, you'll loose it."

@Talienda:

It's already there, right? As long as you don't use it or someone begins to actively search for it, you don't really need a roll. If they do, I'd assume Talienda took 20 to hide it properly when she first got dressed and the result of that would be the perception DC.


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8

Noting the half-orc's attempts to find an exit, Talib stows his journal under his sword belt and steps forward, his holy symbol held aloft like a watchman's badge. He speaks in a soothing baritone, his words clipped and sparse, but nevertheless forceful enough to reach clearly across the courtroom.

"Attention, citizens!" declares the inquisitor. "My name is Talib Adb al-Abadar, a Collector in association with the Vault of Abadar. Stay where you are. I require your cooperation: we have been the victims of a crime, and it is my prerogative to solve it. Answer my questions, please..."

He raises a finger, as if in anticipation of presenting more in the near future. "First, who in attendance has been here before, and under what circumstances? Speak one at a time."

Diplomacy (to take control of the situation): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22 +1, if Intimidate would be more suitable.


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

Rissi smiles at the Paladin's words. "Understood then and thank you for that. Personally I don't know the man and have no opinion of him. I wouldn't normally even mention gossip but this situation is hardly normal. We'll have to pull together to know what we're facing.... Unless we can just walk out the front door? Not likely with the resources expended getting us here but possibly worth checking out, if someone can safely check the doors for arcane energies and possibly traps?"

Hearing the whispered words about dreaming reminds her of her strange vision before she woke here. She moves over to ask, "Girl. Did you say that you had a strange dream? I assume that you don't usually dream of being hanged. Can you remember any details? I had a strange.... dream or vision too before I woke here. Nothing like my regular dreams. Scary. But these dreams might mean something."

"I dreamt about two women, a human and an elf. You can imagine that being what I am that alone is strange. Anyway, the elf girl had a small object with a fiery ember in it. The human girl had a short sword in one hand and a vial in the other. Then the elf girl pulled out a small cloth bag with pretty resinous beads inside. They were worried about whatever they were doing, if it would work, but then they were caught by some creature making a croaking sound. I didn't see the croaking creature, just a dark shape. Then I woke up, here."

When Talib announces himself and makes his proclamation Rissi almost squeaks in surprise. "Interesting. So you're like some government investigator? Well, I've never been in this building before. I only came to this city for my first time ever to investigate my Grandfather Rikkan's disappearance and later death. Once I get the details I'm supposed to return to my family to report and they'll decide who is to replace him in our business. Do you need anything else from me?" While she doesn't look or sound upset, it's pretty easy to determine that this little ratfolk doesn't like the idea of 'reporting' to government officials....


M NG Human (Alkenstari) Gunslinger (Black Powder Vaulter/Mysterious Stranger) 1 | HP: 9/12 | AC: 16, T: 14, FF: 12) | CMB: +1, CMD: 15 | F: +3, R: +6, W: +0 | Init: +4 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +4 SM: +0[ut] | Speed 30ft | Grit 2/Day | Active conditions: None

“Chatterbox and The Constable are right, we need to calm down and think about our situation before anyone starts flinging doors open,” Misfire says, one finger pointing at the half-oc. He relaxes the grip his other hand has on pistol. Mylok gives a quick wink and a half-smile to Talib.

Mylok turns slowly to look at the portly halfling. He holds his hands out, palms up, and gives his most disarming smile. The last thing we need is some crazed halfling getting everyone riled up, he thinks.

“I’m guessin’ that you had a particularly frightful nightmare as well? Maybe one that's got you a tad addled?” Mylok asks the halfling. “My guess is, we all had one." He pauses to look around the room as if looking for confirmation and then continues, "I know I sure as hell had one. There was a woman knitting a red scarf and then a cloaked person...did something to her. I’m not sure what it was. And quite frankly, I don’t know if I want to know. She had the most terrified look on her face just before...before...before I woke up.”

Misfire Mylok glances around the room at the others, “Now, I feel pretty secure in speaking for everyone else, seeing as how we’ve all been dragged here against our wills, but I don’t think anyone here is going to do any harm to you.” Mylok extends one hand to the halfling, “I’m the magnanimous Misfire Mylok. And you are?”

Dice Rolls:

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22 Looking to aid Talib. If we’re going with intimidate, it’s the same roll.


M LG Halfling Investigator (Sleuth) 1 | HP: 7/7 | AC: 17, T: 14, FF: 14) | CMB: -2, CMD: 11 | F: -1, R: +5, W: +4, +2 vs. fear | Init: +4, +6 if Luck > 0 | Perc: +8, SM: +6 | Speed 20ft | Inspiration: 1/3 | Luck: 2/2 | Active conditions: None

Oddly enough, the sight of a giant, talking rat seems to calm the halfling down a touch. Maybe it's simply because it confirms for him that this must indeed be a dream, as such things are beyond the pale of the Precipice's endless supply of horrors. His blubbering dwindles to mere sniffling, and when the commanding presence of the Abadarite makes itself known, he wipes the tears and snot from his face with a handkerchief drawn from one of the seemingly endless series of pockets on his vest.

At the offer of a hand from the gunslinger, the halfling visibly pulls himself together and places his pudgy little paw in the much larger mitt. He seems to be trying to give it a manly clasp, but winds up with something more like a toddler grasping a grown-up's finger for comfort.

"Skurly. Skurly Geddinloe." He lets go of Mylok's hand, and hops down off the bench to approach the rest of the menagerie of captives, steering well clear of the hobgoblin. He peeps about, a bit sheepishly- casting a solicitous smile of recognition at Talib. It's alright then, you old woolly-headed thing, he thought. Everything's under control, the Vault of Abadar has sent help. Everything will be ok.

"I did have a dream, an awful one. I saw this woman, this horrible old woman, doing something terrible to an elf. She seemed like she was lost, and gone mad." His eyes light up with fresh fear. "That won't happen to us, though, right?" he asked no one in particular.

Finally, he waddles over to a respectful distance from Talib. "I've never been here, exactly, sir. This isn't a place anyone wants to be." He shudders, and wears an almost guilty-looking face for what he says next. "I've been near, though, more than once. Close enough to see the dome of the courthouse- we'd use it sometimes, as a landmark, when we were on a mission. The Grey Boars and I." He looks down at his feet, scraping the toes of his boot through the dust on the floor nervously. "It's a bad place. There are stories about all the awful things that happened here, although no one agrees on who is the victim and who is the villain, exactly." He said no more on that, with a respectful glance toward the Iomedaean.

GM:
How many jurists in an Absalomite jury? If it's not common knowledge, what would be the appropriate roll?


NG Female Half-elf Occultist 1 | HP: 4/13 | AC: 18, t: 12, ff:16 | F: +3, R: +2, W: +1 | Init: +2, Perc: +5 | Speed 20ft | Conj. 2/2, Evo 1/3 | Spells: 1st 0/2| Active conditions: None.

Sinésiel takes Mylok's advice and takes a drink from her waterskin before putting it away. There seems to be a lot of rough fellows among us, I should keep my guard up.

When Talib reveals his authority, she stiffens and goes to attention. The best she can do for now is follow orders—she knows nothing about the law or the place she is in. As others share their dreams, she goes pale and breaks into a cold sweat. I can't actually deal with a haunting. I can't exactly come clean, either...

When Skurly finishes, she chimes in as well, "I don't know anything really about this place, but I did have a pretty bad dream myself. I was lying in a bed, almost as if I was someone else, and I heard a man whimpering." Doing her best to mimic the voice that she heard, she whimpers: "Sveth, ten years, help us, the true murderer must hang..."

Struggling to keep her composure, she looks to Skurly, "In those stories... what kinds of awful things happened here?"

GM:

Knowledge (arcana): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10
Knowledge (religion): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
To see if I know anything about odd group dreams like what we had.


The dwarf claps his hands when Talib takes the helm. "You show'em, Collector! 'Bout time some imposed some order…and only to be expected it would come from a servant of Abadar! I'm Tablark Hammergrind and–" Tablark is interrupted by a shriek followed by a sobbing.

"We're all gonna die! It's Mord's revenge! No god can help us now…" Halgrak the half-orc frantically grabs his own hair. "We're all here! Don't you realise?! Malgrim, Patrissa, Madge, Tablark, Cole, Ebin, Killian…it can't be a coincidence! Mister Abadar, all eight of us were part of the jury that condemned Mord!"

"Aye, ye filthy orc, and we did it right, just like Sir Cole said! The man was a bloodthirsty monster!" Tablark shakes his head and huffs. "Keep your gob shut, if whimpering is all you'll do!" When he hears Skurly saying his surname, the dwarf smacks his knee and laughs. "Geddinloe!? Geddinloe?! Ha, how's Amalfia? Such a fine, rowdy lass! Almost a dwarf, that one!"

Skurly Kn Local DC 15:

Skurly is not very sure, but all the juries he had heard about hovered around 12 jurors, commonly reaching 14 for high-profile cases.

@Sinésiel:

It's a rare event, but Sinésiel has heard that certain horrific and psychically potent events can trigger dreams and visions on certain individuals. The stronger the event, or events in the case of a particularly cursed place, the more people will experience said visions.


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

Hearing Halgrak proclaim their doom, Talienda looks up and goes deathly pale. It's too much! It's simply too much! She's never been out of the Petals District and now she's going to die?

She feels faint.

Fort DC 10: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16

She doesn't give in, though. She forces herself to calm down, and wipes away the tears in her eyes. It was something about some trial that happened ten years ago, but that was ridiculous. She wasn't a party to any trials. Why would they drag her here? Skurly's mentioning of dark stories has her wanting more than ever to stay close to someone, but who could she trust? The paladin probably, but then there was the man who served Abadar and the one-eyed Mylock as well as the older woman Patrissa that had seemed to be at least trustworthy if not kindly. Taking a deep breath, she tries to decide and picks the older woman, Patrissa.

"If what the half-orc gentleman says is true, then what I about the rest of us, I was only six at the time this would have happened," she asks Patrissa before adding, "my apologies for how I reacted earlier. The past week has been an unkind one for me."

GM:

Yeah, it's not exactly a poofy dress, but it's enough to hide a small knife strapped to her thigh. Thanks for the ruling on that. I'll add the DC to perceive the knife in the header so we don't forget.

Also, what was in that letter that Talienda was reading before the magically abduction? Does Talienda remember?


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8
Rissi Than wrote:
When Talib announces himself and makes his proclamation Rissi almost squeaks in surprise. "Interesting. So you're like some government investigator? Well, I've never been in this building before. I only came to this city for my first time ever to investigate my Grandfather Rikkan's disappearance and later death. Once I get the details I'm supposed to return to my family to report and they'll decide who is to replace him in our business. Do you need anything else from me?" While she doesn't look or sound upset, it's pretty easy to determine that this little ratfolk doesn't like the idea of 'reporting' to government officials...

"I do not work for the government," Talib says plainly, without bothering to go into detail. "Your business is your own. Thank you for your cooperation."

Misfire Mylok wrote:
“Chatterbox and The Constable are right, we need to calm down and think about our situation before anyone starts flinging doors open,” Misfire says, one finger pointing at the half-oc. He relaxes the grip his other hand has on pistol. Mylok gives a quick wink and a half-smile to Talib.

Talib nods appreciatively at Mylok, even though his eyebrow raises just an inch at his newly coined appellation. The gun-toting troublemaker had been the last person he would have presumed on for support, but the upturn was more unexpected than unwanted. He hoped it would not be followed by a sudden recession.

"I also had a vision," he says in contribution to the ongoing discussion. "I dreamt of this very room—about Jarbin Mord's trial, to be specific."

He looks at the crowd with the assumed omniscience of a cop on patrol, hoping to give off the impression that he might know more than he actually does—perhaps cause someone to slip up, and reveal something they might otherwise withhold. Halgrak was already a few steps ahead of everyone else in that regard, and the inquisitor hoped to capitalise on the upset.

Skurly Geddinloe wrote:
Finally, he waddles over to a respectful distance from Talib. "I've never been here, exactly, sir. This isn't a place anyone wants to be." He shudders, and wears an almost guilty-looking face for what he says next. "I've been near, though, more than once. Close enough to see the dome of the courthouse- we'd use it sometimes, as a landmark, when we were on a mission. The Grey Boars and I." He looks down at his feet, scraping the toes of his boot through the dust on the floor nervously. "It's a bad place. There are stories about all the awful things that happened here, although no one agrees on who is the victim and who is the villain, exactly." He said no more on that, with a respectful glance toward the Iomedaean.

Talib nods, stepping closer to the halfling in an apparent attempt at reassurance, though the gesture is perhaps not quite as comforting as intended. "Many places in the Precipice Quarter are said to be haunted—it remains to be seen whether this is one of them. Thank you for your cooperation."

Leaning over to pat Skurly on the shoulder, the inquisitor whispers, "Please, stay close to Mister Halgrak. If he tries to run off, trip him. I will handle the rest."

GM Omelas wrote:
"We're all gonna die! It's Mord's revenge! No god can help us now…" Halgrak the half-orc frantically grabs his own hair. "We're all here! Don't you realise?! Malgrim, Patrissa, Madge, Tablark, Cole, Ebin, Killian…it can't be a coincidence! Mister Abadar, all eight of us were part of the jury that condemned Mord!"

With the practised confidence of someone used who is used to de-escalating tense situations, Talib raises his hands placatingly towards the half-orc.

"Please," he says, "Mister Halgrak, remain calm. I was not in the jury, and yet I am here. Let us not jump into conclusions."


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M LG Halfling Investigator (Sleuth) 1 | HP: 7/7 | AC: 17, T: 14, FF: 14) | CMB: -2, CMD: 11 | F: -1, R: +5, W: +4, +2 vs. fear | Init: +4, +6 if Luck > 0 | Perc: +8, SM: +6 | Speed 20ft | Inspiration: 1/3 | Luck: 2/2 | Active conditions: None

Knowledge: Local: 1d20 + 7 + 1d6 ⇒ (15) + 7 + (5) = 27

Sinésiel Arvine wrote:
Struggling to keep her composure, she looks to Skurly, "In those stories... what kinds of awful things happened here?"

Skurly looks up at the Sarenite priestess with an expression of conspiratorial affinity- glad to have his store of hoarded gossip, rumor, and folklore drawn against.

"Some say Mord was a cruel, hateful man who tied his hangman's knots just so to make sure the condemned would twist on the gallows as long as possible, and never a clean drop to send them off. Others called him a cannibal, who'd steal off the bodies of the dead and share them with his wife, who was truly an ogress in disguise, and-"

He broke off his litany of tall tales at the sound of the half-orc's shriek, mirroring it with a little squeal of his own and a startled hop, spinning in midair to face the cry like a jackrabbit.

That's it, then, he thought to himself miserably. Eight jurors, plus six of us. Some devil has mistaken us for parties to this debacle, and now we're in the soup with the rest of them.

That thought was wiped away at the sound of his sister's name. He took a few paces toward the dwarf, his eyes piercing bright with fresh tears, and a quaver in his throat.

"Amalfia? You... you know my sister?" He reached out his hand toward the dwarf, as if somehow the memory of her name was something he could hold on to and pull back into this world.

But then the Abadarite's whispered instructions drew his attention. He turned and gave the slightest nod- though consumed with melancholy and fear, he was still a little proud to have his services requested by such an important personage. Even little pebbles can stop up a great door, he assured himself.

In the back of his head, the wheels were turning, fitting together the pieces of the puzzle. But for now, his conscious mind was singularly focused on the memory of his sister, and he returned his attention to Tablark, pleadingly. "How do you know her? When have you last heard of her? Please, Sir Hammergrind, tell me what you can- Amalfia is missing, has been for years. I'm sure she lives still, but..."

His little, sharp eyes would melt the heart of Asmodeus himself.


Patrissa whispers back to Talienda: "Don't worry, my dear. I'm sure a silly man dressed in white sheets and pretending to be a ghost will show up any moment now asking for gold to appease Mord's spirit. Though I'm not sure what sort of gold they expect to get out of someone like Halgrak or Elbin."

Tablark's smile becomes a frown. "Oh, I'm so sorry, lad, I…I did not know. Last time I saw her was ten years ago…you see, she was part of the jury too." Tablark puts his hand on Skurly's shoulder and grips it hard. "But she was a strong lass, little one, I'm sure she'll turn up somewhere soon, richer than an elven queen."

Slowly more people begin to come forward and answer Talib's questions, with the notable exception of Malgrim who has now moved to one of the windows and is trying to open it without success. The ex-jurors all have similar stories: ten years ago they were called to serve as jurors, together with six other people who are not present, on the trial of Jarbin Mord. After hearing witnesses, examining evidence and hearing the barristers make their cases, the group unanimously decided Mord was guilty. The following day the man was executed, shortly before a series of natural catastrophes forced citizens to flee the area. This is the first time the jurors have seen each other ever since that day.


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

Rissi climbs up on a bench and listens, then calls out to all, "Perhaps I was wrong mentioning the stories or rumors, but even with them let's stick to just what is important about this place. I'm a trained Bard and could regale you all with stories and songs about famous haunts from all over and waste our night and likely the next day. But that would be just a waste of time."

He notes the exchange with the halfling and adds, "It is interesting that you eight were on the original jury, but does anyone remember all of the persons that were on the jury? Maybe there is a familial tie to the rest of us? For example, was there a ratfolk on the jury? Not me of course since I would have been but three years old, but maybe one of the elders in my family?"


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8
GM Omelas wrote:
Slowly more people begin to come forward and answer Talib's questions, with the notable exception of Malgrim who has now moved to one of the windows and is trying to open it without success.

Talib meets Malgrim's impatience with a commensurate reserve of patience. "Remain calm and stay where you are. Soon, we shall make an organised attempt at egress. Wandering around the Precipice Quarter alone is foolishness."

Truth be told, he was not too worried about the hobgoblin's safety: if he chose to listen to him, they had extra muscle—if not, they would be rid of a violent criminal.

Rissi Than wrote:
He notes the exchange with the halfling and adds, "It is interesting that you eight were on the original jury, but does anyone remember all of the persons that were on the jury? Maybe there is a familial tie to the rest of us? For example, was there a ratfolk on the jury? Not me of course since I would have been but three years old, but maybe one of the elders in my family?"

The inquisitor listens to the ratfolk come to the same conclusions he had. She is clever—too clever for a bard and a merchant, perhaps? There was a fine line between healthy suspicion and paranoia: many in Talib's profession fell victim to the latter, finally isolating themselves from even their trusted contacts. Sometimes one has to take a chance and put their trust in Abadar—the Gold-Fisted would give him the alacrity of thought to squash any treachery before it occurred.

"I second Miss Than's question," he says with all his gathered authority. "Who else was in the jury, in addition to those present? Mister Geddinloe has a connection to one of the jurors, which leads me to suspect the rest of us are similarly implicated."


M NG Human (Alkenstari) Gunslinger (Black Powder Vaulter/Mysterious Stranger) 1 | HP: 9/12 | AC: 16, T: 14, FF: 12) | CMB: +1, CMD: 15 | F: +3, R: +6, W: +0 | Init: +4 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +4 SM: +0[ut] | Speed 30ft | Grit 2/Day | Active conditions: None

The ratfolk raised an interesting notion but, if his uncle Perdam had ever served on a jury, the man never told Mylok of it. Then again, who sends word to a relative thousands of miles away regarding a jury summons? Certainly not the most interesting story to tell.

The Constable seemed comfortable enough in the role of, well, a constable, and Mylok is more than happy to sit back and let the man lead the investigation. Still, something about the stories does not sit right with Mylok.

Listen to your gut. A man’s gut is where is true brain is, one of Primal Perdam’s nuggets of wisdom floats to the surface of Misfire Mylok’s mind. Mylok scratches at the stubble on his chin.

Addressing the man in white, Mylok lowers his voice and speaks in Kelish, “Tatakalam kylysh , 'alays kdhlk?” He waits for a confirmation from Talib before continuing.

“'Ana la 'aqsid 'iisdar hakam, lkn kayf yantahi zaeim aleasabat alqatil , almasluq bialsilsilat , 'iilaa hayyat muhalafin 'iilaa janb bialadiyn min The Inheritor?” Mylok’s singular eye passes over each of the others as he speaks though it lingers on the hobgoblin longer than he had intended.

Kellish:

“You speak Kellish, no?”
and
“I don't mean to pass judgement but, how does a murdering, chain-wielding, gang leader end up a juror alongside a paladin of The Inheritor?”


Malgrim gnarls at Talib. "Why don't you go and egress a cactus out of your arse, priest," the hobgoblin mutters before grabbing a piece of broken wood from the ground and using it to hit the window.

Cole, whose hand seems to drift closer to his sword with every word uttered by Malgrim, makes an effort to focus and answer to Talib's question. "There was the young halfling girl, Amalfia; a respected absalonian businessman, Diago Blackhorn; a sarenite priestess who died on the day of the execution, but I can't remember her name…" he stops to listen to Rissi and nods…"indeed, there was a ratfolk male, Rikki? Ritan?" He shakes his head. "My apologies, can't remember his name. Then a troublemaker, some human from outside Absalom, Perdam? Had a silly nickname to go with it."

Tablark interrupts Cole: "and that great old lass from outside the city…I'tidal?" He looks at Talib for second. "She…she was also a follower of Abadar…cor…" The dwarf's face goes pale for a moment.

The half-orc begins sobbing again. "I told you…Mord wants revenge…we're all going to die! And if we don't die, he'll come after our families!"


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8
Misfire Mylok wrote:

Addressing the man in white, Mylok lowers his voice and speaks in Kelish, “Tatakalam kylysh , 'alays kdhlk?” He waits for a confirmation from Talib before continuing.

“'Ana la 'aqsid 'iisdar hakam, lkn kayf yantahi zaeim aleasabat alqatil , almasluq bialsilsilat , 'iilaa hayyat muhalafin 'iilaa janb bialadiyn min The Inheritor?” Mylok’s singular eye passes over each of the others as he speaks though it lingers on the hobgoblin longer than he had intended.

Talib nods. "لغتي الأم ، نعم."

He considers the issue for a moment, finally deciding to put his trust in Mylok, at least for now. The man had not been a juror, and had already lent his support. "من المحتمل أن تكون عملية الاختيار عشوائية: فهناك بعض الاختلافات في الممارسات بين المناطق ، ولكن اليانصيب هو المعيار. بالطبع ، بعد أن تم التشكيك في شرعية المحاكمة ، لا يمكننا استبعاد احتمال التدخل في العملية القضائية ..."

The Keleshite is obviously more comfortable speaking in his native language, or at the very least possesses a larger vocabulary in Kelish than in Taldane. He glances at the hobgoblin's ongoing struggles with a disinterested shrug. "لن أحاول منعه ، لكنني لن أسمح له أن يقود أي شخص آخر إلى عذابهم."

Kelish:
"My mother tongue, yes."

"The process of selection would likely have been random: there are some differences in practices between the districts, but a lottery is the standard. Of course, with the legitimacy of the trial having been called into question, we cannot dismiss the possibility of meddling in the judicial process..."

"I will not try to stop him, but I will not let him lead anyone else to their doom."

GM Omelas wrote:
Malgrim gnarls at Talib. "Why don't you go and egress a cactus out of your arse, priest," the hobgoblin mutters before grabbing a piece of broken wood from the ground and using it to hit the window.

Talib opens his mouth, about to correct Malgrim's erroneous use of titular nomenclature, but thinks better of it. He dismisses the hobgoblin with a shake of his head, but keeps an eye on his feeble attempts at escape. Everyone has a place in Abadar's great plan, even if it happens to be something as small as breaking a window.

GM Omelas wrote:

Cole, whose hand seems to drift closer to his sword with every word uttered by Malgrim, makes an effort to focus and answer to Talib's question. "There was the young halfling girl, Amalfia; a respected absalonian businessman, Diago Blackhorn; a sarenite priestess who died on the day of the execution, but I can't remember her name…" he stops to listen to Rissi and nods…"indeed, there was a ratfolk male, Rikki? Ritan?" He shakes his head. "My apologies, can't remember his name. Then a troublemaker, some human from outside Absalom, Perdam? Had a silly nickname to go with it."

Tablark interrupts Cole: "and that great old lass from outside the city…I'tidal?" He looks at Talib for second. "She…she was also a follower of Abadar…cor…" The dwarf's face goes pale for a moment.

The half-orc begins sobbing again. "I told you…Mord wants revenge…we're all going to die! And if we don't die, he'll come after our families!"

Furrowing his brow, the inquisitor strokes his beard thoughtfully. He takes notice of Diago Blackhorn being included amongst the list of names, but files that information in the "not urgent" category of his mental archive. Most likely a coincidence, just as Geddinloe's presence. Not everything had to be connected, and should not be considered as such until proven otherwise—it was evidence that separated him from the mentally imbalanced, seeing conspiracies where there were none.

"I'tidal was my grandmother," he admits. "May her soul prosper in Aktun."

Raising his voice above the din of discussion, Talib raises his hands to get everyone's attention. "Please, remain calm! This much seems certain: our present circumstances do relate to Jarbin Mord's trial, in one way or another. Maybe there is a vengeful ghost haunting this place. Or perhaps there are disgruntled relatives, or someone else misguidedly playing at vigilantism. We simply do not know all the facts. Regardless, I am not intent on letting anyone here come to harm—injustice should not be repaid with another injustice, especially when the circumstances are as unclear as they currently appear."

"Does anyone know the layout of the building?" he asks, tearing a page out of his journal. "If so, please draw me a map, as best as you are able. No one goes anywhere alone. Understand? We shall split into groups and find an exit. Anyone not willing to join a search party will remain here, together. That is assuming Mister Malgrim does not presently complete his apprenticeship as a reverse burglar, and graduate to a journeyman housebreaker."

Even as he ventures into the territory of something resembling humour, Talib's face is set in a grimace, as if speaking so many words in rapid succession was either physically tasking or just plain distasteful. Nevertheless, his words are even and measured, never betraying anything but ironclad confidence.


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

At the name Diago Blackhorn, Talienda looks as if she's been slapped in the face and punched in the belly, but she keeps quiet, shivering where she sits as she grabs her arms and tries to calm down. She knows that as soon as the relatives of the other absent jurors reveal themselves, everyone will know who she was related too, but fear and more than a little paranoia kept her from speaking up.

"I-is splitting up wise? M-maybe we should all look together," she asks, her face paper white and her blue eyes wide with fear.


Cole nods in agreement. "I do not believe many of us are battle-ready, so I will stay here to protect those who do not join a search group." Madge snorts and speaks in mockery: "oh, geez, thanks, Cole, your bravery is an example to us all." She looks at her nails. "I'm staying here. You go on, open the door and call me once you're sure everything is fine and the idiots who put us here are dead. Ugh, Ebin, shut up, don't you dare opening your mouth!"

Patrissa and Killian approach Talib and together try to sketch out what they remember from the old courthouse. The woman, playing with her fire-red necklace, tries several times to draw something that approximates the layout of the place. "I am sorry, it's been such a long time since I've been here…and even then we only had access to a few rooms…here's where we discussed the verdict room #6, here's the courtroom where the trial happened, which should be where we are now room #2, and in between them there's the great hall room #1." The old man adds: "yes, and there, on the north of the great hall there were some stairs that led to the barristers' quarters…and I think also to the attic where Mord used to live with his poor wife…"

Malgrim stops what he's doing when he hears Diago's name. "So someone here's related to that old devil? There's a nice ransom on his family…" He scans the room, looking for the man's relative. "This might end up being a lucrative thing after all! You, with the stupid gun, are you his nephew or something? Heard old Blackhorn had gone and got himself a new torturer who got all creative and stuff with his black powder." The hobglobin steps closer and sniffs Mylok. "Even saw a corpse with burst eyeballs…exploded fingers, with nails all broken and blackened and s+$+…I could see you doing that for yer rich bastard of an uncle…"

Map updated with the rooms pointed out by Patrissa


M LG Halfling Investigator (Sleuth) 1 | HP: 7/7 | AC: 17, T: 14, FF: 14) | CMB: -2, CMD: 11 | F: -1, R: +5, W: +4, +2 vs. fear | Init: +4, +6 if Luck > 0 | Perc: +8, SM: +6 | Speed 20ft | Inspiration: 1/3 | Luck: 2/2 | Active conditions: None

Skurly's face sags as the old skeletons are dragged out from everyone's closets- disbelief and anguish warring across his features. Just because a few of them have dead relatives who were here doesn't mean anything, he tried to persuade himself. People die all the time- this isn't a pattern yet, just a few coincidences...

He also listens intently to the words passed in the Kelish tongue between Mylok and Talib, and with a furtive tug on Talib's sleeve, murmurs to him, "استميحك عذرا يا سادة. أعتقد أنك ربما تحاول التحدث على انفراد ... قد لا تعرف ، كونك من أراضٍ أخرى ، لكن الكثير من أبسالوميت يجيدون اللغة الكيليشية. عسيرياني أيضا. لا تثق أن أحدا هنا اشتعلت ذلك."

Kelish:
"Begging your pardon, sirs. I think perhaps you're trying to speak privately... you might not know, being from other lands, but a good many Absalomites are fluent in Kelish. Osiriani, too. Don't trust that no one here caught that."

Not wanting to draw more attention to their sidebar, Skurly ambled over to the side of the wan-looking girl in the fancy clothing, offering her as cheery of a smile as he could. His naturally cherubic features did a good deal of work in bolstering the effort, though inside he was still staving off a creeping, icy sense of dread.

"I know this is scary, missus. It's scary to be a little person caught between big things- any halfling knows that. When I would get scared, my big sister would tell me stories to help me remember to be brave. Do you know the story of how Desna met Chalira, and they became friends, miss... He hesitated a moment. "I'm sorry, I don't know your name yet! I'm Skurly."


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

Rissi hears the name and confirms the fear that she'd begun to suspect. "Grandpa Rikkan... Missing. Found dead. Maybe..."

She recovers and again focuses on the others. This may have solved her mission to Absalom, but there were more details to find out, once they resolved their own problems. "Good thinking. We need coordinated teams to gather information about this structure. Does anyone have training in construction? It may be important to assess the stability of the building before moving into a room or down a hallway. Wouldn't want the floor opening under anyone or the ceiling collapsing. Whether or not there really is a haunt here this building has not been properly maintained for 10 years! Knowledge of physical traps and the ability to maintain a scan for magical auras should also be a consideration. I can scan for magic, but can anyone detect anything else useful? Spirits, or evil auras?"

Rissi smiles as Skurly points out that using a fairly common language doesn't ensure privacy. Not everyone was multilingual, but enough were especially in the city of trade! Then, "Skurly brings up a good point. Anyone that hasn't done so yet please state the name that you prefer used. That way if someone needs to tell you something important like, 'Duck! That blade trap is about to cut your head off!' or 'Run! The ghost is behind you!' we won't be delayed with a 'Hey You' miscommunication. Just call me Rissi."


M NG Human (Alkenstari) Gunslinger (Black Powder Vaulter/Mysterious Stranger) 1 | HP: 9/12 | AC: 16, T: 14, FF: 12) | CMB: +1, CMD: 15 | F: +3, R: +6, W: +0 | Init: +4 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +4 SM: +0[ut] | Speed 30ft | Grit 2/Day | Active conditions: None

Despite his best effort to maintain a composed appearance, one corner of Mylok’s mouth curled into a smirk at the mention of Perdam.

’Then a troublemaker, some human from outside Absalom, Perdam?’ the Gunslinger thinks. I’d kill the ol’ waster if he was still kickin’.

His attention is pulled to the street performer, "I'm none too keen on the idea of splitting into smaller groups either. If someone or something is out for some sort of revenge, it seems to me that safety lies in numbers," Mylok says. Before anyone can interject he adds, But if some of us refuse to leave, we can’t be expected to wait around and do nothing.”

Mylok watches as the rough drawn map is created. Something pulls at him.

Why does the old man know where… the thought does not get a chance to finish forming before Malgrim gets uncomfortably close. Caught in his thoughts, Mylok speaks the first words that come to mind.

"What if I am? Maybe you’d like exploding eyes to be the last thing you see?” Misfire thumbs the hammer on his pistol. "I can even do it for free. Just. This. Once.”

Skurly Geddinloe wrote:


He also listens intently to the words passed in the Kelish tongue between Mylok and Talib, and with a furtive tug on Talib's sleeve, murmurs to him, "استميحك عذرا يا سادة. أعتقد أنك ربما تحاول التحدث على انفراد ... قد لا تعرف ، كونك من أراضٍ أخرى ، لكن الكثير من أبسالوميت يجيدون اللغة الكيليشية. عسيرياني أيضا. لا تثق أن أحدا هنا اشتعلت ذلك."

Mylok mutters out from clenched teeth, "Something you could've mentioned earlier, Professor."

Dice Rolls:

Bluff: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13 Against Malgrim.


NG Female Half-elf Occultist 1 | HP: 4/13 | AC: 18, t: 12, ff:16 | F: +3, R: +2, W: +1 | Init: +2, Perc: +5 | Speed 20ft | Conj. 2/2, Evo 1/3 | Spells: 1st 0/2| Active conditions: None.

Skurly's tales send a shiver down Sinésiel's spine. As she listens, she pulls her bronze dove figurine from her pocket and holds it tightly. If she needs to summon something battle with them, she needs to have her implement at the ready. I think I can trust most of these people, though Malgrim makes me uncomfortable.

As talk of the old jury begins, Sinésiel holds back from crying. She knows that Sarenite priestess is her mother, there's no way that's a coincidence. They used to do everything together, but that was a day Siné had to train at the temple without her.

"My mother was the priestess, I even have some of the belongings she had on her when she died," she says, holding up the figurine of the dove. "I would like to be with the group that scouts this place out. I have some knowledge of the occult that may help us if we encounter any restless spirits."

As Skurly informs the others that Kelish isn't exactly code among this crowd she can't help but smile. It is much more comfortable than Taldane for her because of her mother and faith community.

At Rissi's request for names, she chimes in. "My name is Sinésiel, though please just call me Siné." Sinésiel (shee-nay-see-el)


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

Sense Motive DC 17:
Bluff: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
There's a brief flicker of panic on Talienda's face that she manages to hide when Malgrim mentions a ransom. Despite her efforts, her growing distress as Malgrim describes in gruesome detail the supposed acts undertaken on her father's orders.

The young woman looks up with a bit of a start as Skurly introduces himself. She didn't recognize the tale, but she did recognize the effort to help her.

"Talienda. It's just Talienda," she introduces herself. Her voice is soft, but it's loud enough to be heard by anyone wanting to listen.

The others talk, taking the attention from her for a moment. She listens with half an ear, more interested seeing who might be interested in her, hopefully without arousing their suspicions.

Bluff(To not seem like she's studying anyone.): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
Sense Motive(Who's paying more attention to me than the others?): 1d20 ⇒ 18


Malgrim squints and gets close enough to almost touch Mylok's nose with his own and then smiles. "You don't have it in you, boy. I'll have to find another excuse to murder ya, but Imma take a wild guess and say it won't be hard." He turns his back on the gunslinger, sits on a bench and lights up a cigar. "Tell you what, priest: I'll smoke this cigar, finish it in five minutes, and then I'll get the f&!$ out, using the front door. And you–" Malgrim exhales a large cloud of smoke–"will just stay out of my g#+@~%ned way. And the same for your faithful."

"Oh, golly, you are all so serious! Let's play a game! That always helps! Tablark, pull my finger!" The dwarf distances himself from Ebin with an expression of disgust. "Oh, you're no fun! How about you, Sinésiel?"

Cole, ignoring both Malgrim and Ebin, tries to lend more support to Talib's idea. "There is safety in numbers, but it can be difficult moving around in a large group of untrained civilians in a possibly hostile environment. Especially a group like this."

Sense Motive DC 15:

It's increasingly obvious that Cole holds very little respect for the other jurors. It's also clear that the feeling is mostly reciprocated.

Talienda:

Talienda feels that the only person who is immediately interested in her is Patrissa and that this interest has grown since it has been proposed that people in the room are related to deceased jurors. The woman seems to be kind, but now that Talienda is a bit more in control of herself she cannot avoid feeling that there's a certain hawkish coldness to Patrissa's penetrating gaze.

rolls:

Malgrim (SM): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
Patrissa (Bluff): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

Sense Motive: 1d20 ⇒ 12

Talienda takes in another deep breath as she tries to steady her nerves. She is fast running out of people she could trust, but the Abadarite seemed level-headed and competent enough. She starts to wonder how foolish Malgrim could be. What was to stop what or whoever did this from just nabbing him again, or just killing him outright. Besides, no one would believe those obvious lies about her father, right?

The thought of him brings back memories of his death and the threatening letter she'd received shortly after. Grief and terror threaten to pull her under again, but she knew that giving in would only invite more trouble. She was helpless and alone. She needed someone she could trust to protect her.

Her eyes fall on Mylock and Talib. They seemed competent enough and the two of them might be enough to ward off any that figure out her true identity and believed Malgrim's tale of a bounty on anyone related to her father. She just hoped they knew nothing about how she looked or her name. Terrified, but not seeing any other way, she stands and begins walking around to burn off some of her nervous energy while making her way over to Talib and Mylock. Her path meanders a bit, but it's almost a beeline for the pair. Her nerves get the better of her in the last few feet and she quickens her pace.

Bluff(To make it seem coincidental): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6

What they can probably tell without a roll.:

The girl is scared, though she has it under control for now.
She's trying to hide her hands.
She's oh so very much out of her depth here.
She's choosing to trust you and probably doesn't trust the others in this place.


M LG Halfling Investigator (Sleuth) 1 | HP: 7/7 | AC: 17, T: 14, FF: 14) | CMB: -2, CMD: 11 | F: -1, R: +5, W: +4, +2 vs. fear | Init: +4, +6 if Luck > 0 | Perc: +8, SM: +6 | Speed 20ft | Inspiration: 1/3 | Luck: 2/2 | Active conditions: None

Skurly pouts as Talienda walks away, feeling a bit awkward. She'd seemed like the only person as far out of their depth as himself, apart from the half-orc, who was no one Skurly was interested in getting closer to. Well, what did you expect, you clod-for-brains, he admonished himself. You're not brave or strong, so why would you think you could help someone else be brave and strong? He missed Malfi so bad, it began to knot his guts painfully.

Hoping to distract himself from his melancholy, as well as put some distance between himself and the mounting tension between the big, swinging dinguses of the crew, Skurly begins to perambulate about the room.

He peers intently up, down, and around, beginning to fill his head with an orderly arrangement of significant parts, tallying up every affordance of the room- doors, windows, any sort of compartment or aperture. He inspects the judge's bench, the jury box, and finally, the evidence table. He approaches it sidelong, as if the axe with it's decades-old rime of blood might take offense to his scrutiny, peering intently for anything that might elaborate on the grim pattern of facts established thus far.

Performing a general survey of the environs, and the evidence table in particular- providing two Perception rolls, should they be counted as separate acts.

Perception:
Perceptions roll 1: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Perception roll 2: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10


M NG Human (Alkenstari) Gunslinger (Black Powder Vaulter/Mysterious Stranger) 1 | HP: 9/12 | AC: 16, T: 14, FF: 12) | CMB: +1, CMD: 15 | F: +3, R: +6, W: +0 | Init: +4 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +4 SM: +0[ut] | Speed 30ft | Grit 2/Day | Active conditions: None

Smoothe, Mylok says inwardly, get a fight going in this crowded room. That can only end well. He releases the hammer of his pistol and watches the gang leader take his seat. Mylok does not particularly care if the hobgoblin believes Mylok’s roughspun lie. Then again everyone except for the girl had confirmed their connection to the deceased jurors.

”Well, if we have to form groups,” Misfire says, finally pulling his glare away from the hobgoblin and addressing the paladin, “who should go and who should stay here? You’re the Inheritor’s chosen, perhaps you can offer some wisdom?” The words are tinged with slightly more sarcasm than Mylok intends, residual heat lingering from Malgrim.

As if to cool his temper the gunslinger turns to regard the girl and is surprised to see her only a step or two away. One look at the girl was all he needed to confirm Big and Ugly’s statements. Mana’s mutants! She’s about to jump out of her skin, Mylok thinks.

Could this timid girl be the daughter of someone who would do the things Big and Ugly described? He shakes his head and tries not to put too much stock in the hob’s words. Then again, she must be this Blackhorn’s daughter, based on the process of elimination alone. Mylok had heard of a “Blackhorn” in the past but that had always been in taverns. Whispers on the lips of folks that knew better than to say the name too loud. Hear cutthroats speak any name enough times and it will stick with even the most dense of men.

The man glances once more at the hobgoblin before addressing the girl, ”You okay, Duchess?”

Dice Rolls:

SM on Cole: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (1) + 0 = 1 His temper seems to be clouding his judgement a bit
SM on Talienda: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (17) + 0 = 17 Or not?


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8

Talib's hand hovers over the burnished brass of his falchion's pommel for the entire length of Malgrim and Mylok's confrontation. The latter handles the situation just about as well as possible, given the circumstances—bullies jump at the merest whiff of weakness, and Mylok showed no outward signs of hesitation. Could this man be related to Diago Blackhorn? He was certainly rough enough around the edges to have a foot in the underworld...

"No," he thinks to himself, watching as Talienda rather unsubtly inches towards their corner of the courtroom. "He is far too rough, not nearly genteel enough to pass for the relation of a respectable businessman."

He lets the gunslinger deal with the girl, keeping an ear open to their conversation as he turns to discuss strategy with Sir Rekkart, before the knight has time to take insult over Mylok's tone of voice. "Good suggestion. I will lead a small team to scout out our surroundings, and you will remain here with the civilians. As soon as we have reached a safe place downstairs, we shall move the non-combatants there, and make another push for an exit. But first, my team will sweep the upper floors for threats. I will give you a signal with my whistle, should we require aid—two short trills. Otherwise, remain here."

"Misters Geddinloe and Mylok, and Misses Sinésiel and Than," lists Talib—people with useful skills, and no direct involvement in the trial. "With me."

Okay, that should be the last from me until Monday!


Malgrim mutters yet another complaint whilst Talib summons some of the people in the room to organise a search party. He stands up, cigar still on his mouth, puts his spiked chain over his shoulder and opens the set of doors that lead into the courthouse's main hall.

At the same time, Skurly is approaching the evidence table when, suddenly, a guttural scream erupts from the mosaic above and a huge chunk of stone comes crashing down, destroying the table and sending the bloodied axe flying towards Talib. The halfling jumps away at the last minute, avoiding most of the damage. Likewise, Talib, who had been watching the scene with the corner of his eye, is not caught completely by surprise and ducks at the last moment. The weapon continues its trajectory until it hits the wall and its blade digs deeply into the stone.

Before anyone can react, the set of doors that were used by Malgrim slams shut. Just outside the room, a harsh staccato whisper builds to the rasping croak of a strangled man that echoes through the entire courthouse. A familiar voice -- Malgrim's, though without its onverconfident tinge -- screams frantically. "No!" The croaking continues; it seems to emanate from the walls, as if this voice belonged to the building itself. "Get away from me! You’re dead! I saw you swing! Nonononono!" The jangling of a chain; the sound of ripping flesh; a scream of pain; a wet gurgling. And then silence.

Summary
------------------
Skurly takes 4 points of NLD.
Talib dodges the flying axe and takes no damage.

rolls:

Skurly (reflex save): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Skurly (B dmg): 1d6 ⇒ 4

1 Mylok, 2 Talib, 3 Sinésiel: 1d3 ⇒ 2
Flying axe: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
S dmg: 1d6 ⇒ 4


F NG Human (Taldan) Sorcerer 1 | HP: 7/7 NL: 3 | AC: 12, T: 12, FF: 10) | CMB: +1, CMD: 13 | F: +1, R: +2, W: +2 | Init: +2 | Perc: 0, SM: 0 | Speed 30ft | Elemental Ray: 5/6 | Spells: 1st 3/4 | Active conditions: None
Perception DC 24 (Physical Examination):
Under the dress is a dagger strapped to Talienda's right thigh.

talienda looks up at Mylock when he calls her Duchess, but before she can say a word, everything goes wrong. The falling stone and the axe that whizzes past are shocking, but it is the horrifying death of Malgrim that will be providing fuel for her nightmares for years to come.

Assuming she lives that long.

The young woman clasps her hands over her mouth. Tears stream down her face from eyes rounded in terror. She trembles for a moment before her legs buckle and she drops like a puppet with cut strings to sit on the floor. She feels a scream clawing its way up and only manages to not gibber from fear thanks to her hands keeping her mouth closed.


F NG Ratfolk Bard | HP: 9/9 | AC: 14, T: 14, FF: 11) | CMB: +0, CMD: 13 | F: +3, R: +5, W: +2 | Init: +5 | Darkvision 60ft, Perc: +9, SM: +2 | Speed 20ft | Bardic Performance: 7/9 | Spells: 1st 1/2 | Active conditions: None

With all the drama playing out between the various people Rissi feels a wave of shock go through her when the ceiling collapses and the axe is launched. Then she hears the croak.... "The croak! Just like my dream...."


Male Human (Keleshite) Inquisitor of Abadar 1| AC 16, T 12, FF 14 | HP 12/12 | Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5 | CMB +3, CMD 15 | Init +2 | Perception +7, Sense Motive +8

Talib's hackles are up just a moment before he consciously notices the threat. His eyes go wide as he leaps aside, dodging the axe, but whatever panic and terror might be roiling inside him come out in the form of a long, controlled exhalation—there is no time for needless vociferation. Before he even has an opportunity to scan the area for threats, the soothing weight of his falchion is out of its scabbard and in his right hand, helping to slow down the wild swirl he had launched himself into in order to avoid danger. With no assailant to pursue, he fixates on the screams of terror from outside.

"Search team, assemble!" he calls to the others, rushing towards the doors. "Everyone else, stay where you are!"

The obviously supernatural nature of the incident is not lost on the inquisitor—nor is the fact that he very nearly lost his life. His heart is pounding, his every natural instinct making it known that what he is doing is completely and utterly suicidal. But now, more than ever, it is important to act, to remain calm and give people things to do. Even an illusion of agency is better than the feeling of utter helplessness, strangling any civility and semblance of order from the traumatised masses.

Even as he struggles with his survival instincts, a part of Talib exults in the ultimate stress of a life-and-death situation. This is what he was meant for, his purpose and role in the great plan: to dive into the darkened crevices of civilisation, to root out whatever festering wrong had taken root there. He fears for his life, yet he sees beyond his own immediate need for self-preservation. Like a mould filled with liquid metal, the burning of his mortal terror is tempered by the divine will of Abadar.


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1. Great Hall
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The doors open with a loud creak, revealing an impressive room: eight enormous marble pillars fill this great hall, holding aloft a high ceiling which in the past must have been wonderfully decorated in abstract geometric patterns. Years of dust cover the floor and a rusted crystal chandelier to the south sheds a dim, greyish light emanating from a few guttering candles; the remains of an equally grandiose chandelier lie on the ground to the north.

Malgrim's body hangs from the ceiling, one end of his chain wrapped around his neck, the other having been forced on the wall. The hobglobin's limbs are twisted and wounded, as if someone had tried to remove his skeleton but changed their mind halfway through the procedure. Cole is the first to enter the room, but once he sees the grim scene the paladin turns back and partially covers the doors. "Patrissa, Madge, everyone! Stay inside. It's best if you don't see this."

Close to where Malgrim's body hangs, an awesome clock (marked in cyan) more than ten feet tall rests against the center of the western wall, bits of gore from the recently deceased crimelord stuck against its surface. Its face is lavishly decorated with guilty souls suffering Asmodeus’ torments such as evisceration, force-feasting of coals, scalding blades tearing them apart, and other less savory punishments.

To the north, muslin coverings are draped over the railings of baroque staircases on both sides of the fallen chandelier, curling like lazy serpents up to the raised landings above.

To the east there are three sets of doors: one that is baroquely decorated and leads back into the room where the group woke up, one that is labeled "Judge Silman Trabe" and a locked iron door (marked in red).

To the south there is the largest set of doors in this room, made of particularly thick and solid wood further reinforced with rusted metal.

To the west the group sees three doors, each bearing a small plaque: Courtroom B, Judge Rayndros Felgor and Jury Deliberation room (listed here in order, from south to north).

Survival DC 15:

The dust on the ground has been disturbed recently: footsteps and other markings indicates that a humanoid creature dragged something quite heavy into Courtroom A.

Survival DC 20:

The "something quite heavy" could actually have been eleven to thirteen humanoid bodies.

Survival DC 25:

The humanoid creature dragging the others was at least as big as a human male.


M LG Halfling Investigator (Sleuth) 1 | HP: 7/7 | AC: 17, T: 14, FF: 14) | CMB: -2, CMD: 11 | F: -1, R: +5, W: +4, +2 vs. fear | Init: +4, +6 if Luck > 0 | Perc: +8, SM: +6 | Speed 20ft | Inspiration: 1/3 | Luck: 2/2 | Active conditions: None

As the dust settled from the collapse of the fresco, a pile of broken rubble was the only thing visible from where Skurly had stood a moment ago. After a few moments, a feeble coughing issued from amidst the destruction, and a small, pudgy hand poked its way out from between two plinths.

The famous luck of the halflings had apparently manifested here, as a particularly large chunk of the ceiling had landed atop him with one end resting on the evidence table, creating an unexpected shelter from the rain of stone. Skurly made a silent prayer to a nameless god of carpenters, in thanks for the sturdy craftsmanship of the table, as he squeezed his large round head and ample belly through the gap.

He totters out, dazed and shaky but apparently unharmed. "Are we dead yet?" he murmurs, to no one in particular, but Talib's authoritative call to action seems to snap him out of it.

"Wait, wait!" he squeals, scurrying over to between the benches where he had awoken. From there he produces an overstuffed pack of sturdy leather, from which he draws forth an assemblage of armor pieces- simple boiled leather inset with shiny metal studs. Fumbling, hopping, and struggling, he squeezes his girth into its protective shell, which takes him a good few minutes. "I'm almost ready, don't go without me!" he pipes, apparently more afraid of being left behind than whatever lies beyond the door.

When the job is done, and he's girded for the unknown- looking more than a little comical, like a child playing at knights with a cookpot on his head and a wooden spoon for a sword- he rushes to peer around the corner of the great door. A halfling-sized crossbow is now clenched in his plump fingers, shaking ever so slightly as he advances.

Survival roll:
Survival, spending 1 Inspiration: 1d20 + 2 + 1d6 ⇒ (5) + 2 + (4) = 11

He stares for a long time at the clockface, with the blank regard of a prey animal in the face of an unfamiliar predator. By now he has a new respect for depictions of the afterlife, and waits patiently for Asmodeus to leap from the scene and drag his soul to Hell.

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