Ruka misses and hears what sounds like a sigh in her head Stop worrying so much about what you should have done and focus on what it is you need to do right now. You can reflect during a more appropriate time.
Lor-Sinn knows that the undead they previously fought were simple skeletons, but she is right to be wary of this one. While most skeletons lack the memories and abilities of their former light, so retain their intelligence and prove to be especially dangerous warriors. This skeleton before her now is a champion of the undead and is significantly more dangerous than the last lot of skeletons.
Both Kajiwara and Lor-Sinn miss their strikes, but Asuka stays focused and is able to land a both blows with her claws, one of them critically struck. A dozen bones rattle off of the skeleton's body, but it stays focused on its target and with expert precision buries its blade wickedly into the tengu's body, ripping open a horrific wound that stretches across her entire chest that nearly sends her to the ground. Damage: 1d6 + 5 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 5 + 2 = 11.
R3: Poppy, Asuka, Samton, Ruka, Kajiwara, Lor-Sinn, Skeleton
Attack Asuka: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Attack Asuka: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Ruka nearly freezes as Murasamemaru speaks to her. She's not using it, not even touching it except in the general sense of it being sheathed on her back, but it's still talking to her still in her head...
Asuka's cry of agony snaps her attention back to the fight. "Asuka!" The wound is terrible, the worst one Ruka's seen yet. She isn't sure how Asuka is still standing. Murasamemaru is completely forgotten as her entire world narrows to the creature in front of her. The creature who just nearly killed her companion. Her friend.
Ruka wouldn't let it live long enough to attack again.
Her feet shift slightly into a more balanced stance. Her hands also shift, both gripping the flail's handle firmly. With all her strength she whips the heavy ball right into the skeleton's sternum.
L. Flail, ST, Flanking, PA: 1d20 + 5 + 1 + 2 - 1 ⇒ (15) + 5 + 1 + 2 - 1 = 22
B. Damage, ST, PA: 1d8 + 6 + 1 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 6 + 1 + 3 = 17
Despite the name, a light flail is not a light weapon and can therefore be wielded two-handed for a strength bonus.
Ruka's powerful strike shatters the remaining bones in the undead champion, sending them scattering all throughout the room. The fancy blade held by the skeletal warrior tumbles to the ground as the threat to the party is eradicated. Out of combat.
A single jade and cherry wood chest lay in the corner, the object that the undead skeletal warrior was protecting. Just like the chest you found back in the village, this one is intricately carved, more so it would seem. The chest is locked, but when the key is removed from around the warriors neck, it opens. It's obvious that many objects have been removed from numerous slots in the chest's velvet-lined interior, however it still holds ten different potions, a ring, a wand, masterwork chain shirt, masterwork col iron wakizashi, 11 Desnan candles, four skyrocket fireworks, 3,820 sp, 421 gp and various pieces of fine jewelry (560 gp).
In addition to the key around his neck, the warrior carried a fancy wakizashi, and broken masterwork chainmail.
The potions are Cure light wounds x5, Cure Moderate Wounds x2, Potions of lesser restoration.
Wand of Identify x19 charges.
Ring of Climbing.
Examining the fancy wakizashi the warrior was wielding, you find a secret compartment hidden in the pommel. When you press it, a scroll pops out. The contents are written in Tien.
"Well done! Those were some masterful blows!" Lor-Sinn cheers Ruka and Asuka's victory as she rushes by the wounded tengu's side to help support her. And once again winces at the inner voice pointing out in scathing detail how utterly useless she had been in this battle.
Perception potions: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (10) - 2 = 8
Kaji's face hardens as Asuka is gravely wounded, but before he can strike, Ruka exacts vengeance in a most brutal manner. Nodding, he says, "Well fought, Asuka, Ruka. You struck true, and did not waver. Poppy, Samton, do either of you have healing for Asuka?"
Bending down, Kajiwara picks up the wakizashi. It was a weapon more commonly found in Tian Xia. How had all these Minkaian artifacts ended up in the Brinestump Marsh in Varisia?
Perception, Wakizashi: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
Examining the wakizashi, Kaji discovers a secret compartment in the panel. Opening, it he finds a message written in Tien.
I have Tien as a known language, so I can read the message.
Asuka falls back as she finally realizes that, wow, that hurts and, um, she's bleeding. "Oh fudge. That's a big cut. Don't like that." Another hit like that and she would have easily gone down, maybe even died? The enormity of that thought makes it difficult to restrain, and she has trouble focusing on anything else.
Perception for Potions: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5 -2 for sight
Perception for Potions: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7 Haha nope.
All Ruka can see is blood. "Asuka, are you okay? Here, let me help you. You need to sit down or something. I think?" She isn't really sure what to do in this situation, and is desperately hoping either Poppy or Sam has some healing available. Although if they do they still need it themselves...
She glances around the cavern once, confirming there's no more skeletons lurking about, then places herself in the entrance. Just in case something tries to sneak up behind them while everyone is badly hurt.
And just like that, the fight was over. In just a few seconds and even fewer strikes, the skelly crumbled, but not before cutting Asuka gruesomely. She watched with concern as Ruka saw to their feathered ally's wounds and cradled her own. She woke from her stupor at Kaji's question.
"Poppy iz out of curative magix. Uzed last on Ruka." It was then that she noticed the grouping of Lor-Sinn and others inspecting the spoils of the fight and a clutch of potions caught her eye. She saw other items of potential magical function, but felt Sam might have a better handle on those and left them for him to inspect at his convenience.
"Maybe vone of those could help?", she offered, moving slowly towards the containers to inspect them throughly, pushing aside more treasure than she'd ever seen in one place. She'd concocted a few elixers in her day for profit and otherwise, and hoped that experience might aid her here.
Spellcraft Potions: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22 Whew!
Her eyes lit up at the realization of what they had discovered. "Ha! Beton!", she exclaimed before grabbing the bunch, carefully laying them before Asuka and the others, detailing each ones purpose and strength.
Stepping around the undead guardian's jawbone, now lying on the cave floor cracked and missing some molars, Samton gingerly walked up to the tengu and wordlessly touched a single finger to her shoulder. One brief incantation later, the horrific gash across Asuka's chest began slowly stitching itself together, not so much healing in the traditional sense of curative magic but rather recovering naturally - just at a tremendously quickened pace.
And with a strangely uncomfortable sensation somewhere in the pit of the soul.
"You were brilliant, Ms Narukami. You all were," the young wizard smiled. "Honestly didn't think we'd manage any more than confirm these undeads' existence. And now... this."
Sam looked to the skeletal warrior's bounty: yet another chest, this one also clearly of Tian make. Where in the world ha...? Well, no, that was a dumb question; they already knew the 'where' of the matter. 'How' was the question. How in the world had these Tian artifacts wound up in a swamp on the other side of the world?
Hoping to learn something more, the cartographer began poring over the contents of the box. His progress was rather slow, being that he didn't dare let go of his bloodied side. He still hadn't healed himself. And now, having expended the spell on Asuka, he couldn't. But that was fine. Samton had meant what he said earlier: without the rest of the party, he wouldn't even be alive right now. So he might as well put his money where his mouth was, and show them due deference.
Potions: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Wand: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (1) + 8 = 9
Ring: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Wakizashi: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
Assume Sam passes on all information. EDIT: wrote as Poppy posted.
Ruka grabs the healing potions and tries to hand one each to Poppy and Sam. "You both need one of these. Drink them."
Glancing over at Kajiwara, she sees him apparently fascinated by an old piece of paper. "What's that? Does it explain what all these people were doing here?"
Kajiwara slides the scroll out of the blade and begins to read it.
Anyone that understands Tien may check the spoiler.
The next few days will be the most important I have faced in many years. If our family’s enemies have, as I hope, forgotten us, I shall reunite with you and your wife, and your mother and I shall reveal the truth to you. But if they still seek the contents of the warding box, I fear that I may not speak to you again. The box holds our family’s greatest treasure, so I have returned it to Kortun’s care, and it shall remain hidden in the secret third vault under Brinewall Castle – obscured from our enemies. I hope and pray. I will not grant our foes the satisfaction of killing me themselves – if it comes to it, let my death, by my own hand, be my final act to protect you, so that our enemies believe our line ended.
I have instructed Tsutamu to keep this letter from you, delivering it to you only should I fail to return as I hope to. If I can, I will reveal all to you myself. If I cannot, this final missive from a father to a son must suffice as an apology in place of an explanation, and you must destroy this letter, flee to the south, and never return to Brinewall. If our enemies find what I have hidden, there will be nothing here for you. If they do not, they will lie in wait forever for your return.
I hope to see you again soon, my son. But my heart tells me I will not. I am sorry to have failed you. But I am proud of you, and I know you will survive this old man’s shame. You are strong, and you must remain so. For if you are reading this and I am gone, know that our enemies will never stop searching for us, and that is why I cannot reveal the truth to you until I know there is no chance of them finding us again.
Signed, Rokuro Kaijitsu, Sunday, 29 Desnus, 4687
Asuka drinks one of the cure moderate wounds potions, if no one objects.
CMW: 2d8 + 3 ⇒ (7, 6) + 3 = 16
She peeks over Kaji’s shoulder to read the missive. She is dreadfully confused, having not been given proper context and exposition before the letter popped up, and Asuka tends to need things spelled out for her. The lack of exciting battles or action sequences also makes her end up glossing over large sections of the letter. ”Um, I see. So this is...someone’s letter. To someone else? From a while ago? Oh, ‘Kaijitsu.’ You think that’s the same one as your family, Ruka?”
Poppy who had been examining a wand and confering with Sam over what it might be, doesn't even argue before taking the potion. The ache in her chest was getting pretty severe and she wanted to feel good about their victory. "Thank you, Ruka. Vell done on that final blow as vell. Noroc!" She gulped down the strange liquid, ignoring it's potential contents, where they'd found it, and imagining how long it had been there.
I've drank worse.
CLW: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Her body released it's tension as the pain flittered away. In only a few moments, her freckled flesh had mended and she gave a great sigh. She stretched a little and noted that only a small mark remained. While not back to one hundred percent, she felt significantly better but her siesta ended once she noticed Kaji pull a scroll of all things out of a sword handle. She attempted to read the the words but only had a vague handle on the language. She kicked herself for not making a greater effort to pick it up before this, but tried all the same to decipher its general meaning or even a few words here and there.
Linguistics: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Spellcraft on wand: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
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Knowledge (history) on Rokuro: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17
Kajiwara read over the note, then read over it again. Was this intended for Lonjiku? The name and date make sense...
Kaji handed the note and wakizashi to Ruka and said, ”You should keep this.”
To the others he said, ”We need to investigate the shipwreck from the map. Does anyone know where Brinewall is?”
Kneeling beside the skeletal warrior, Kaji said in Minkaian,
”You have done your duty, Tsutamu. The Kaijtsus have found the message. May your soul rest with your ancestors.”
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"Wait, what?! 'Kaijitsu?'" Ruka practically snatches the letter from Kajiwara. She reads it. Then reads it again. And again.
'My son'...'Our family's greatest treasure'...'Our enemies'...'Signed Rokuro Kaijitsu.'
"This was written by my grandfather. To...to my father." She looks up, a lost expression on her face. "I don't know what any of this means. Father never really talked about his family. All he would say was that his parents both died when he was young and that he'd had to make his own way. But here...in this letter Rokuro talks like he's about to die. At the hands of our family's enemies...no, not at their hands, he says he'll kill himself first..."
She takes a deep breath, trying to compose herself, but her head is spinning. "How did this get here of all places? He said he was leaving the letter with someone named Tsutamu..." Her head slowly swivels to the shattered remains of the skeleton they'd just fought. The skeleton wearing distinctly Tian armor. "Oh," she whispers in sudden realization. "That must have been Tsutamu. Although that still doesn't explain how he ended up here...was he killed by the enemies Rokuro talked about in the letter? What enemies could we even have, we're glassmakers."
She doesn't understand. She doesn't understand any of it.
"Ameiko needs to see this. Maybe she knows something I don't."
As all the pieces finally start to fit together, Asuka’s overactive imagination begins to fill in the remaining gaps. ”Maybe you are all actually secretly the descendants of a god or goddess and the assassins were sent to destroy you before your existence could reveal the clandestine divine relationship that gave birth to your bloodline! Oh wait! No, your family is actually going to become incredibly important in the future because you defeat a great and powerful oni invasion, and you name your son Rokuro to honor your grandfather, but then evil Future Ninja go back in time to try to stop you from being born by killing your grandfather, but then Rokuro goes back after them, falls in love with a kind woman, fails to stop the ninja from killing the man who he presumes to be his great grandfather, dying valiantly in the process, only for it to be revealed in the epilogue that actually he unknowingly fell in love his own great grandmother and—as a result of their affair—he is his own great grandfather!”
As soon as she finishes, she looks about expectantly for people to give their feedback on her theories. She finally notices the confused and dismayed expression on Ruka’s face, only then realizing that she is probably being insensitive and rude and should be quiet. The energy drains from her and she hangs her head low. ”Sorry...I’m just being stupid. Don’t listen to me.” She isn’t looking for for consolation. She doesn’t want to make this moment about herself more than she already has. She’s just a side character in this scene. She pulls herself into an apologetic smile. Her silliness and flamboyance may be the primary methods she cheers people up with, but she also knows that sometimes you need a friend more than a clown. She just has never been good at telling the difference right away. She places a hand on Ruka’s shoulder. ”But this isn’t about me. What do you need right now, Ruka? How can I help?”
As the others fuss over some scroll and take some time to heal their wounds, Lor-Sinn considers the problem of skeletons and their obvious lack of ears. They had been sent into the marsh to deal with the goblin menace, and bring back ears and the chief's head as proof. Now, this undead chase hadn't been part of their original mission, but she expects Sheriff Hemlock will want proof all the same. After all, walking bones were a far rarer occurrence than goblins around these parts.
She goes down on one knee next to the fallen warrior, considering if she should take the entire head. But then, what would that prove? What if the sheriff thinks they raided a cemetery? She reaches for the skull, still wearing the strangely shaped helmet. Perhaps this will be proof enough. Her hand lingers a hair's breadth from actually touching the yellowed bone. "You were a worthy opponent, friend. Sorry that you found your end like this."
Oh. Well, so much for being supposedly smart; it seemed so obvious now. Samton was listening in to Ruka explain the contents of the old letter, not being able to read Tien himself. He took a sip from a potion bottle. He had wondered earlier how in the world these Tian artifacts had ended up in Brinestump Marsh, so far from their home country. Now the answer seemed obvious. In fact, the answer had been part of the group all along: the artifacts had come to Varisia with the Tien family who had emigrated here, the Kaijitsus. The simplest answers really tended to be the right ones.
Unfortunately, the questions raised by the letter didn't seem to have any simple answers. Ancestral enemies? Familial secrets? Blood feuds? The wizard looked at Ruka with concern. This sounded awfully serious. He took another sip from the potion. The concoction had soured over the years, but with his wounds quickly closing he wasn't about to complain. The cartographer was grateful when a prompt from Kajiwara gave him the opportunity to contribute something, however minor.
”Does anyone know where Brinewall is?”
Know (geography): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, it's, uh... It's quite far, up north beyond Riddleport, almost at the border of the Linnorms Kings."
Consulted a Golarion map for this one, GM. Hope that's OK.
But what was it Rokuro Kaijitsu had left there, and why? And crucially, would retrieving it place the holder in the same danger he had purportedly been in? Or more specifically, would it perhaps place his heirs in the same danger? Sam once again looked at Ruka with concern. Answers were needed. And there was one lead yet that might hold some. Samton thought back to the Licktoads' map describing the cave and a shipwreck, and finished the potion.
Potion, CLW: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
"Would it be worth it to seek out the shipwreck on the goblins' map?" he asked. "There are only two locations described on it: these caves and the wreck. Maybe... they're related somehow?"
Whatever the group's decision, the cartographer's mind was already fast at work mentally mapping out a route.
Know (geography): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
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Ruka stares wide-eyed at Asuka as she spouts off increasingly-crazy theories. Descendants of the gods? Defeating an oni invasion? Having a son she names Rokuro who goes back in time and becomes his own great-grandfather?
It's the last that really gets to her. She isn't sure what part exactly. The idea of a man going back in time? The idea of wanting to honor a grandfather she'd never met by naming her son after him? Hell, the idea of her having a son in the first place? Whatever it is, it completely derails her train of thought.
Her shoulders shake. She covers her mouth with her hand. And then, right about the same time that Asuka begins apologizing and asking what she can do to help, Ruka starts to laugh. It's completely inappropriate given the circumstances, but she can't help herself.
"I'll have to let Ameiko know that any future sons need to be named Rokuro. Just in case. Wouldn't want to accidentally erase ourselves from existence by giving them the wrong name." She imagines the confused look on Ameiko's face at that particular conversation, and starts giggling again.
Stress. It's definitely the stress that's making her find this so funny.
'You are helping, Asuka. Thank you. I needed that." Her expression goes serious once more as she looks at Tsutamu's skeleton, but the lost look is gone from her eyes. "We should bury him, if we have time." She thinks of the skeletons out in the main room, no doubt attendants or other helpers. "All of them. If we don't have the time right now, I'll come back later. They did their duty. They deserve a proper burial. Then...yes. Checking out the shipwreck is probably the best move."
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As Ruka laughs, Asuka feels more happy than at any time since this adventure began. Asuka is thankful as always that her red feathers prevent people from noticing her blush. She smiles, still not able to meet Ruka’s eyes. ”Oh good. I’m glad I am not completely screwing everything up.” Asuka herself is surprised at how meek she’s being, though a less oblivious person could have pointed out that her bravado has always had little power against a woman’s laugh.
Asuka waves away the thought, reminding herself that there is more work to be done. ”I will happily help with the graves.”
Once the graves are prepared and the bodies are placed in them but before they are buried, Asuka asks for a pause so that she can write a final death poem. She spent most of the digging piecing out the meter, so all she has to do is write it. She reads it, then softly lets the parchment glide down the hole.
”Two and thirty years
Words from family lost, found
Thank you, Tsutamu.”
Kaji nods in agreement. "We should definitely check out the shipwreck that was found on the map. It may be there are more answers there."
"Does anyone have a shovel? Digging a grave will go faster if we have a shovel or two to use. If not, we may be need to come back."
"I have a shovel." Given that no one seems to object to taking the time to bury the skeletons, Ruka heads outside and searches for a suitable spot. It's difficult to find one, given that they're in the middle of a marsh, but there's a small hill that she thinks will do.
Digging the graves is rather calming. She can lose herself in the movements and not have to think. Almost like a kata, or one of her training exercises. Once they're finished, she stands by solemnly while Asuka reads her poem. "I hope you all find peace."
The letter has been carefully rolled and tucked safely into her belt pouch. She's still not sure what any of it means, what family legacy might be in Brinewall, what enemies Rokuro had been talking about, but maybe they'll find answers at the shipwreck. Or Ameiko might know something, once they get back to Sandpoint.
She busies herself figuring out how to comfortably strap the chests to Arti. She could carry one herself, but both would be too bulky. And if she can strap one to each side, at least it's balanced?
Once everything is settled, she picks up her pack and, (somewhat reluctantly), unties Murasamemaru from her back. "I'm ready. Let's check out that shipwreck."