Golaripalooza [1e, Rotating GMs]

Game Master dien


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Gnome Alchemist 3 | HP 27/27 | AC18/t14/f15 | F+5 R+6 W+4 | Per +9 (-2 if sight based)

Nature: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13

Majara squints critically at the skull, uncertainty writ on her face, but she does not seem able to identify it with any certainty. Anyway, she's distracted by the cost of the toll, and presses her lips together, tempted to point out that she brought herself a much longer distance on a river for less than the cost this man wants simply for her mule to cross one.... but with a small huff through her nose she manages to restrain her pennywise impulse.

"Certainly, Mister......?"

A gold sail, a silver shield; Majara has her own toll in hand. She gives Blue a slightly dirty look that he's costing her a perfectly good gold piece. Blue nuzzles at the top of her head in answer.


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

"Cardzi. Skender Cardzi. Thanks." He grunts as he takes payment from Majara.

He murmurs in a low voice, "I know'd I just sayed that. The little gnome-like just can't hear too good... No you shut yerself or I'll throw you back in that river, numbskull."


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4

Knowledge nature: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22

Seeing Majara peer at the skull, Hannelia scrutinises it too. ”An ox calf, I believe,” she says to the gnome. ”Though I’m less clear if it was born with that deformity or if it was the result of an attack, presumably by whatever killed it.”

Majara has already moved on and paid her toll before Hannelia has dipped into her belt pouch but she pulls out the remaining four silvers and hands them to the ferryman so as not to delay things. ”Thank you, Mr Cardzi,” she adds as she presses the coins into a calloused palm.

Judging by the conversation between the man and Ornigaard, it seems like they don’t get a lot of visitors out here. Considering the lengthy journey they had to get here, she can’t say she’s altogether surprised. At the mention of the ‘wolf in the water’, she mouths the word ”Bunyip?” silently to Majara.


Female Human Paladin | Alignment: LG | AC: 20 ; FF 20, T 10 | HP 28/28 | Fort+7 Reflex+3 Will+7 (+1 vs evil outsiders' spells/etc) | Init +0 | Per +0 | Active Buffs: -| Conditions: -

A stirge! She hadn't quite recognized it, but she knows the name well enough. She isn't quite able to suppress her shudder as she looks at the disgusting creature. Ornigaard seems to like it well enough. She supposes it's not too surprising. She recalls digging through the undergrowth and soil when she was young, looking for bugs and worms.

When Ornigaard asks Majara if Roger is her father, Emma winces and turns away, shaking her head slightly. She knows Ornigaard doesn't mean any harm by it - he's just a kid - but still. She feels bad for Majara, wondering how often she gets asked questions like that. Probably too often.

Skender Cardzi is a bit rough around the edges, but seems friendly enough. She hands over her portion of the fare and gives him a nod, though doesn't speak. For the moment, she'd rather follow the others lead. She keeps an eye on the area around them, making sure they aren't drawing any undue attention.

Emma nods at Hannelia's explanation of what the skull is - she certainly wasn't going to be able to identify it, being more new than most of her party to the area.


Init: +8 | Per: +7 LL | AC 16 T 12 FF 14 | HP: 36/36| F +5 R +6 W +5 | Active Buffs: | Conditions:

Roger can't help but smirk at the goings on. He tries to hide it as best he can with his bushy beard, to let the joke play out.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Constantine enjoys throwing details into Hannelia's abridged re-telling of The Demonsbile Affair, especially since he knew the script she was working from twice over. He lets her do most of the telling as she seems interested, but coordinates with her to float little trinkets above Ornigaard's head. Anything to keep the topic off the war...

With Skender Cardzi, he nods a greeting, trying to get a read on the man. There can't be profitable business running a barge out here in the boonies. He purses his lips in thought. They hadn't formally decided how they'd approach questions of Elias Kyle once they got to Ravenmoor. It was one thing to check with people about him on the road. But now--here--would it be better to be surreptitious or forthcoming? He decides to check with Majara (and Hannelia).

Gnomish:
"Do we start asking questions or wait until we've learned more?"


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

"Don't you think I can't hear y'all talkin' 'bout me behind my back! Ol' Skender got ears like a bat! And eyes like a owl!" the old man exclaims. He then starts muttering unintelligibly to the skull as he pulls the ferry across the river.

Once you get accross into the town, Ornigaard guides you to his family's home. You walk through a dirt road past what looks to be the town's center where you are gawked at by folk passing to and fro with food and decorations.

The boy takes you all the way up to a little farmhouse by a smaller bridge crossing. Several children bounce in and out of the property and through the garden and lawn in front of the house, screaming and whispering excitedly to eachother. One of the runs into the house and can be heard shouting, "PAAAAA! There's strangers...! the rest is unintelligible as the child disappears into the home, but you can catch something about "like the one last time".

A young man with a chinstrap and an otherwise handsome face emerges from the door just moments later. He's wiping his hands with a towel which he then hangs over one shoulder. "Hey there, strangers. he greets you. "Son, go get inside and get washed up for t'night. Don't forget to put'cher stirge back in his hutch."

"Sorry you caught us on a busy day. We don't usually get visitors this far out. Name's Viorec Korzha. And yourselves?"


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Constantine thinks to correct Skender that they weren't talking about him, doubting that the man actually speaks gnomish, but decides that it's not worth it. He seems half-mad as it is.

If he can manage it without upsetting the ferryman, he goes up to the skull and rests his hand on it to see if he can get a psychic read on it as per my object reading ability. One of the benefits of being psychically-trained was that his abilities didn't usually have manifestations that were obvious to the common person. That came at the cost of being bedeviled by spirits at near every turn, but power always came with a cost.

---

In Ravenmoor proper, Constantine wonders if he should have tried to blend in a bit better. Out this far in the country, any stranger was likely to draw attention. It was harder to disappear out here unless you tried very hard to blend in. You'd probably have to disguise yourself as someone that everyone already knew. Not worth it.

Constantine bows his head to handsome chinstrap with a smile. "Good day, Viorec Korzha. My name is Constantine Sarini, from Saringallow upriver. It's good to meet you."

Like the one last time.

Hmmm. Might as well start asking questions.

"Ornigaard seems like a good boy. We helped him find Applesauce outside of town before anything untoward happened. Are you a farmer, Viorec?"


Gnome Alchemist 3 | HP 27/27 | AC18/t14/f15 | F+5 R+6 W+4 | Per +9 (-2 if sight based)

Earlier

At Hannelia's muttered question about the bunyip, Majara just jerks a shrug. Hannelia's identification of the skull as mere calf means she doesn't put much weight in the man's words... and less so when he continues to mutter in a somewhat addled way. She arches her brows but keeps her mouth shut-- at least til Constantine speaks to her in Gnomish.

She responds in the same tongue, albeit quietly, from the corner of her mouth.

Gnomish:
"Personally? I'd keep quiet on that front til we know if he made enemies. And anyway, this man seems-- crazed."

***

Majara continues to hold her tongue as they pass through the town, attracting many a stare. As a gnome she's used to them, but unlike many gnomes she doesn't enjoy it, particularly. Some gnomes revel in their departure from the bigfolk societal norms around them; Majara might dye her mule blue, but her lips press slightly together at the pointing and staring all the same.

She is more than content to let Constantine do the putting-at-ease. She keeps her hand busy with Blue's rein, and her other, with plucking out a few stray goathead burrs that have gotten caught in the mule's azure locks. Her own eyes dart to and fro, warily taking in the farmer, his fields, and any gawkwers who happen to be following them.


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

The ox calf skull:

After about a minute of handling the skull, (and of Skender inquiring, "wot sorta hoodoo witchcraft you think yer doin!" and the like) you're able to discern that this skull belonged to a stillborn calf, unrelated to the "Wolf in the Water".

You catch visions from the last several days of Skender unburdening his all-too personal problems and past onto the skull. And how even after all of his homeless wanderings and failings, "... by the grace of the Dream Tender, good Mayor Kreigler take me back in with open arms and gave me purpose again." You notice an occasional smoky haze surrounding the skull at night as well. Perhaps last night.


_____________

Viorec seems to narrow his eyes, "Yeah. We're farmers. We just grow what we need, and what our neighbors need. There's a few of us that grow, a few of us that do other things."

He pinches the bridge of his nose, "I told that boy not to let his pet of the harness... well, no harm no foul I s'pose. Thanks for helpin' him out."

"We don't normally get visitors, like I said before. I could spare the barn if y'all ain't mind sleepin' with the livestock. I think the Mayor's house might be big enough to keep the whole lot of ya. Last fella in town stayed there too. Didn't mix too much with us, seemed too good for anyone but Mayor Kreigler." He huffs.

You can make a diplomacy check to improve his indifferent attitude toward you if you like.


Female Human Paladin | Alignment: LG | AC: 20 ; FF 20, T 10 | HP 28/28 | Fort+7 Reflex+3 Will+7 (+1 vs evil outsiders' spells/etc) | Init +0 | Per +0 | Active Buffs: -| Conditions: -

As they walk through the town, Emma does her best to smile towards the various people around them. In a small town like this, it's no surprise that their little party sticks out a bit. She figures there's no harm in doing her best to put off a friendly vibe; if she can put even one person's worries at ease by doing so, she'll consider it a success.

Emma gives a friendly nod towards Viorec Korzha. "I'm glad we were able to help Ornigaard out. He's a friendly kid, though I won't lie that his name for the stirge threw us off a bit at first," Emma says with a slight chuckle. "My name is Emma Blackford - a Paladin of Iomedae. It's good to meet you."

Diplomacy Check: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (14) + 9 = 23

"Also, we appreciate the offer Mr. Korzha. We may even take you up on it, though we have some business to look after first, and should probably check in with the mayor ourselves just to be proper about it. I don't suppose you could tell us anything about the guy who passed through before us? Sounds like a rather rude sort, if you ask me," Emma says. She hopes she's being at least a little subtle when it comes to fishing for information; it's clear that Viorec didn't care much for the previous passerby.


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

"Oh sure, yeah. Everybody 'round here keeps at least one stirge as pets. They're really kinda friendly once you give them the chance. We keep ravens too, although that might be a little more obvious what with our town bein' called 'Ravenmoor'" he says and indicates a caged raven over on the porch of his home.

"He was rather rude!" Viorec replies. "let's see... Funny-lookin' redhead with a pretty sword. Big city type. He came on last month's Founder's Festival just like you. Heard somethin' about him comin' to town to collect taxes. Seemed he got what he wanted and left. Nobody comin' to collect taxes for decades, not so much as a single soldier this way to defend us during the War, and now they want taxes! The nerve o' them people..."

He sighs and adds, "I don't like speakin' ill of folk, but I heard the man had a gamblin' problem and he was on his way out west to lose the money. If that's true, I'll be right pissed if y'pardon my Galtan."

As if realizing something, he adds, "What brings y'all to Ravenmoor by the by? Can't imagine adventuring types like yourself would come out to a place like this just for the Founder's Festival. Though it is a heck of a good time!"


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4
Majara Pricknettle wrote:

Earlier

She arches her brows but keeps her mouth shut-- at least til Constantine speaks to her in Gnomish.

She responds in the same tongue, albeit quietly, from the corner of her mouth.

Hannelia shoots Majara a look, waiting until they are off the barge before replying. While it is handy to be able to converse and not be understood by others, the expression on the boatman's face is one of suspicion. Probably his default, she thinks considering their brief interactions.

Gnomish:
"Majara! she says quietly but sharply. "I'm not sure how to put this a lot more, er, diplomatically, but it wouldn't surprise me if our friend there is pretty typical for such an isolated place." She can't help but think of their young companion and his unusual pet. "Let's see, but the feeling in my bones is that we should prepare for a way of life that differs somewhat from our own." She looks at the gnome and also make eye contact with Constantine, checking to make sure that he is also listening.

* * * * *

The glances as they walk through town - clearly outsiders are a rarity - seem to be another point in the favour of Hannelia's theory. As Ornigaard introduces them to his father, she takes in the bearded face and musculature that comes with a lifetime toiling on the land. He certainly seems a bit more welcoming, if a little guarded, but his straight talking seems reassuring. "Mister Korzha, thank you for welcoming us into your home. I'm Hannelia Venator," she says by way of introduction, before leaving it to first Constantine and then Emma to lead the conversation.

She nods as Viorec gives the description of their missing person. So he had indeed made it as far as Ravenmoor - and then cleared out again, apparently. "No, that's fair," she agrees. "Nobody wants to see their hard-earned coin vanish into the hands of a wastrel."

At the question of why they were here, she decides to hedge. Although he seems open - relatively, at least - and on the level, they have only just met him after all. "Actually we had business with the mayor too. The fact we've managed to time our visit with the festival is a fortunate coincidence though. Ornigaard has been telling us all about it and is clearly very excited." She shoots the boy a smile. Turning back to his father, she asks, "What else can you tell us about the festival? It would be fascinating to hear about its history and to have an idea of what to expect so we don't look like ignorant outsiders."

She pauses a second so the man has time to register the question before she continues. "And is there anything else we shouldn't miss while we're here? I know most folks don't like strangers coming and poking their noses in unwanted and this is a hardworking community so we don't want to disturb people from their work. But also we don't just want it to feel like we're only interested in seeing the mayor, if that makes sense," she finishes.

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24


Gnome Alchemist 3 | HP 27/27 | AC18/t14/f15 | F+5 R+6 W+4 | Per +9 (-2 if sight based)
Hannelia wrote:
"Majara! she says quietly but sharply. "I'm not sure how to put this a lot more, er, diplomatically, but it wouldn't surprise me if our friend there is pretty typical for such an isolated place." She can't help but think of their young companion and his unusual pet. "Let's see, but the feeling in my bones is that we should prepare for a way of life that differs somewhat from our own." She looks at the gnome and also make eye contact with Constantine, checking to make sure that he is also listening.

Majara's brows once more perform the arduous task of climbing towards her hairline, and she regards Hannelia from under them for a moment before pursing her lips very small.

Gnomish:
"He's talking to a skull. He's threatening a skull. Of a calf. If that is the 'cultural norm' here, I shudder to imagine we'll learn anything useful. I'll not name them nutters noisily, but in my native natter? A spade is a spade is a spade."

***

She dutifully keeps her mouth shut as introductions are made to the farmer and the Charmers, as she thinks of them, do their thing. She pulls the bit of knotted string from her pocket, running it over and over through her small fingers, keen eyes fixed on the farmer. She speaks only once:

"Stirges as pets? Are they useful with pests, then? I hope there are few accidents-- your son spoke of needing to put down those who get a bit of people blood."


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

Viorec beams, "Oh! Well yes, y'all seem like friendly folk. You should come to the Founder's Festival later this afternoon. It'll be down in the field over west. We have one every month followed by a Founder's Feast in the evening. It's a good time to get together and set up games for the children and enjoy some song and dance and drink. I'm not really the fella to tell you all about it. Some of the girls fixin' to be the Founder's Feast Queen have the story all memorized. They'll be recitin' it to win the title and take a seat at the Mayor's table."

He smiles at Majara a bit patronizingly, "Oh not often at all. I don't expect most folk understand the buggers, but like I say, they're real friendly once you get to know 'em."

"I'm awful sorry to cut this short, but we really oughta be gettin' ready for the Feast. If you need to speak the Mayor he's just up the hill, Viorec says hurriedly as he points east, to the only two story building in town, "Other folk'll be gettin' ready down in the square or in the field. The only businesses in town are down in the square though. If there's anyone to talk to they'll be there." he points south.

"May the Dream Tender guide your way." he says, bowing his head.

Knowledge (religion) DC 12:

The Tender of Dreams is one of Desna's names.

Festival Grounds are H. Mayor Kreigler's Manor is J. Other places in the town square include E, C, D, and F.


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Init: +8 | Per: +7 LL | AC 16 T 12 FF 14 | HP: 36/36| F +5 R +6 W +5 | Active Buffs: | Conditions:

"Aye, and may your Tenders be crispy and your oil fresh." Roger answers with such a similar reverence that one might take him for being serious. Maybe he was? Getting fresh oil for frying aboard a ship may be rare.


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4
Majara Pricknettle wrote:

Majara's brows once more perform the arduous task of climbing towards her hairline, and she regards Hannelia from under them for a moment before pursing her lips very small.

"He's talking to a skull. He's threatening a skull. Of a calf. If that is the 'cultural norm' here, I shudder to imagine we'll learn anything useful. I'll not name them nutters noisily, but in my native natter? A spade is a spade is a spade."

Hannelia tugs at her ponytail uncomfortably, taking a breath to gather her thoughts before replying. Truthfully she suspects her companion is on the money but her work has given her practice at walking a delicate diplomatic line with people she doesn't find particularly savoury.

Gnomish:
"I'm not saying you're wrong," she says, more calmly than she feels. "In all likelihood you're probably right. But we're strangers here and it doesn't feel like they get a lot of visitors so just... just tread carefully. Please."

* * * * *

GM Kubular wrote:
Viorec beams, "Oh! Well yes, y'all seem like friendly folk. You should come to the Founder's Festival later this afternoon. It'll be down in the field over west. We have one every month followed by a Founder's Feast in the evening. It's a good time to get together and set up games for the children and enjoy some song and dance and drink. I'm not really the fella to tell you all about it. Some of the girls fixin' to be the Founder's Feast Queen have the story all memorized. They'll be recitin' it to win the title and take a seat at the Mayor's table."

"Yes," Hannelia agrees, "we should. As long as we can get our business sorted as well we'd love to attend the festival. And I do enjoy a good story so I look forward to hearing all about its origins."

Knowledge religion: 1d20 + 2 - 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 - 2 = 7

Viorec remains polite and helpful but is not exactly subtle in indicating that he has things to do. Hannelia looks around the group, signalling with her eyes that it's time to take their leave. "Thank you for your hospitality, Mister Korzha, you've been extremely helpful." She doesn't immediately recognise the name he invokes but figures there's no harm in returning the parting words. "And may they guide your way also." Turning away to head back outside she coughs lightly to stifle a laugh as Roger echoes the blessing in his own inimitable style.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

* * * With Skender * * *

"No hoodoo, and no witchcraft," Constantine assures the ferrier. "Just admiring your decorations."

Bluff: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (8) - 2 = 6

It was a lie, of course, and probably not a convincing one. But since there was no apparent change to Constantine or the skull, hopefully the man wouldn't ask follow-up questions.

Of course, Constantine wanted to ask follow-up questions. Like about this Dream Tender, and whatever Skender had done to piss off the Mayor.

Local politics.

With Hannelia and Majara, he concurs, and tells them what he learned.

Gnomish:
"He seems mostly harmless, but I caught an interesting vision of him talking privately to the skull. The skull is normal, just like you intuited, Venator." Oh crap, that was awkward. Constantine certainly hadn't mastered the Gnomish system of titles and honorifics, and Constantine's usual social deference struggled under the lack thereof. He wrinkles his nose, clears his throat, and hopes that Hannelia doesn't mind. "Er, Hannelia. Just a stillborn. But spade or not, he referenced someone or something called the Dream Tender and implied that he and Mayor Kriegler were not on good terms. It's something to watch out for."

---

Looks like the Diplomacy is all well and taken care of!

Constantine agrees with the plan to stay tight-lipped about their quarry until they've learned a bit more, but it soon becomes apparent that Elias had been here and had not been warmly welcomed.

Thankfully the Friends of Saringallow were no tax-collectors, nor bounty hunters. Adventurers was more accurate, and Constantine didn't want to make a habit of lying.

(He had been boxed enough in the ears as a child, whether he was lying or whether he was merely disbelieved, to put the fear of Asmodeus in him and be precise with his words.)

So bless Hannelia--as usual--for her keen sense of diplomacy. Sometimes, Constantine has to remind himself, it's as much about what you don't say as what you do.

"Thank you for your hospitality and your time, Viorec. We'll see you and your family at the Festival!" Constantine does seem genuinely excited about the festival, oddities aside.

Knowledge (religion), DC 12: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22

It's not until Viorec references the Dream Tender once again that Constantine's memory jogs. He looks over towards Hannelia. Surely as a Desnan, she got that reference, eh?

Learn From What Is Different. An ancient Desnan aphorism, and one that Constantine was trying to take to heart.

"May the road rise up to meet you," Constantine says in response, with a nod of his head and a wave.


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

* * * Skeeeeeeeeeeender * * *

"You watch it there! Ol Skully my best friend. I'm warnin' ya!" Skender doesn't much like you doing that and shakes his fist violently.

He gives you a dark look and grumbles, "You watch yer step 'round these parts mister. Folk ain't take too kindly to strangers pokin' they noses where it ain't belong."

While it would seem Skender is probably not on the best of terms with the rest of the town, he doesn't seem to like you very much in particular.

If you get caught snooping about where you aren't supposed to be, it could yield unwanted consequences in the future. But potentially worthwhile information.

____________

Viorec smiles and waves and tilts his head at your responses. He heads inside to complete preparations for the Feast. "Festivities start at 3 PM or so!" He calls to you. Its about noon at the moment.

Where do you go next?

Sense Motive DC 12 or Knowledge (Religion) DC 15:
Even though Constantine's response was a standard liturgy among worshippers of Desna, Viorec doesn't seem to have heard it before as he tilts his head quizzically at that specifically.


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4

Sense motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21

Hannelia clocks Viorec's curious expression at Constantine's reply, which see assumes is a standard response to his parting shot. Interesting? Or meaningless? She resolves to ask Constantine once they're away from the house just to satisfy her need for understanding.

"Great, see you later." calls Hannelia in reply.

Once they are outside and ready, she suggests, "Shall we visit the mayor first? We might have a wait and would be good to get business wrapped up and can then see what else the village has to offer?"

As they move, she mentions the final exchange between Viorec and himself to Constantine and the man's reaction to it. "Does that seem strange to you, or is it nothing? What was that, by the way?"

I'm assuming based on Discord chat that we're going to see the mayor.


Gnome Alchemist 3 | HP 27/27 | AC18/t14/f15 | F+5 R+6 W+4 | Per +9 (-2 if sight based)

Religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13

Majara doesn't know whatever it is she doesn't know. She plucks a stem of grass from beside the road and chews absently on the stalk as they wave off the farmer.

"The mayor's a good direction. It seems like Elias Kyle made few friends for himself here. We could leverage that as we're looking for him-- to bring him to account for his misbehavior-- or... we could continue with the current lack of connection. But I think sooner or later, we will have to ask directly about him to get direct answers."

Hannelia's observation just makes her blink, then shrug. "People of faith have strange ways." A little pause, then a slight nod at Emma. "No offense."

(It doesn't seem to occur to her that others in the group might also be 'people of faith.')


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Init: +8 | Per: +7 LL | AC 16 T 12 FF 14 | HP: 36/36| F +5 R +6 W +5 | Active Buffs: | Conditions:

"Well aye, but only cause people of faith all be party to the crew that is people." Roger answers.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

* * * Earlier * * *

Constantine thinks it might be worth it to try to smooth things over with Skender, but then again maybe not. He takes the warning to heart and plans to rely on less obvious means of investigation going forward.

How did he know? Or was he just suspicious?

* * * Now * * *

Knowledge (religion) DC 15: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14 Bruh...

Constantine nods at Roger. "Our old sea dog has the right of it. Every church with its rites and rituals is ultimately run by people chasing after a god's ideals."

Then he turns to answer Hannelia's question, brow raised. To that end, I don't blame you for not recognizing it, even as a Desnan. I think your goddess has more names than almost any other, given how ancient she is. The Song of the Spheres, Starsong, Lady Luck, Queen of the North Star, Mother Moon...and as it stands, the Tender of Dreams."


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

You turn your feet toward the Mayor's manor. The tallest building in town, atop a hill overlooking the plebs hardworking folk of Ravenmoor.

You're able to make it up the hill roughly in under a half an hour, perhaps fifteen minutes. Even though the stature of the building is high and mighty relative to the town, it is a humble structure compared to many you have seen in the past. Still, it appears to be well-kept and clean, at least as you view it from the road. Its walls are painted white and made from wood.

As you approach, you spot a large young man working in the yard in front of the house. He stands up tall as if to greet you, but he squares his shoulders and grips his sickle. He's taller than any of you, and has the mass to match it.

"Whatchu wont?" He demands in a low gravelly voice. "My brother don't got time ta en'ertain guests. He's very busy." He spits and stalks a forward few steps, but doesn't get any closer than fifty feet from you.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Constantine sizes the large man up. Between his size and demeanor, he was clearly trying to present an intimidating front. Probably the sort of man used to swinging his weight around and getting what he wanted, especially if he was the mayor's brother. Best to try to play nice, mollify him and all that.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Kreigler," Constantine begins. "I'm sorry to bother you. Would you mind if we came closer so I don't keep shouting?"

If he accedes, Constantine strides closer. If not, then Constantine has a strong enough voice that he can conduct business from afar. Either way, he keeps talking. "I'm Constantine Sarini. We were hoping to meet the Mayor before the Festival, but if we need to wait then we can. Either way, Viorec Korzha said we might be able to stay in the Mayor's House while we're in town, if it's not too much of an imposition."

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10

*cough* Damn. Okay, well DC 10 to aid if someone wants a +2.


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4
Constantine Fioritura wrote:
Then he turns to answer Hannelia's question, brow raised. To that end, I don't blame you for not recognizing it, even as a Desnan. I think your goddess has more names than almost any other, given how ancient she is. The Song of the Spheres, Starsong, Lady Luck, Queen of the North Star, Mother Moon...and as it stands, the Tender of Dreams."

Hannelia's eyebrows rise in surprise at the realisation that Viorec was invoking her goddess. I suppose that does make a kind of sense for someone living remotely and trusting to luck. And he was welcoming enough to us, she acknowledges. The net most gods cast is wide, after all. Slightly embarrassed, she says quietly, "Actually for me it's, well, more a matter of the heart than the head, I suppose. Aspects of Desna speak to me - as do elements of other gods - but I've had no formal religious training and my studies have never taken me in that direction either. Something to rectify I suppose," she resolves.

* * * * *

Diplomacy aid: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14

At the mayor's abode, they are greeted by a bulky, intimidating figure who presents himself as the mayor's brother. Constantine takes a polite but direct approach and Hannelia backs him up in the face of the man's aggressive manner. "It's business we're here for rather than entertainment," she adds, "I'm sure he does have a lot to do, especially with the festival, but I don't think we're likely to keep him long and then we can be out of your way." And if you're like that all the time I suspect most people are keen to be out of your way as quickly as possible.

Based on her preliminary impression of the man, she's not too fond of the idea of sleeping under the same roof as him. She hears Zuke's voice in her head, warning her to "Keep your knife under your pillow, girl."


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Constantine smiles at Hannelia. "The gods don't require formal religious training from those they inspire: just a heart to heed the call." He decides to open up. "Take me. There were three likely ways I could have gone as a young man: stay wholeheartedly within the Asmodean faith (no thank you), abandon the enterprise of religion altogether (a tempting thought), or hew to another deity. For me, I wanted to get as far away from the Dark Prince as I could. I'm no holy warrior, but I generally give thanks to Milani: The Everbloom. But The Light of Hope was certainly not in any library in the Orphanage, and the Everbloom's faith isn't popular enough in Isger to have experts illuminating her teachings. So I've picked up what I know of her, and of any other deity, through fragments. I listen in taverns. I read books when and where I can. Formality has its place, but most of us have little time for it."

He hopes that it's encouraging. He's noticed that she tends to get down on herself when she doesn't know something. Where had that tendency come from, he wondered?


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Gnome Alchemist 3 | HP 27/27 | AC18/t14/f15 | F+5 R+6 W+4 | Per +9 (-2 if sight based)

Though she'd been the one to start the discussion of faith, in a way, Majara doesn't contribute to it as they progress to the mayor's home. She contents herself with her frequently-handled piece of string, and, occasionally, with snatching up a flower or blade of grass from besides the path.

At the mayor's house, she looks first to Constantine, then to Hannelia, her small features indicating a certain wariness at their speech. She then looks to Emma with an unspoken maybe you'll have more luck expression. If the young woman hesitates at all, Majara steps forward and gestures to Emma.

"She's a champion of Iomedae. I've never known a mayor of any town who would be too busy to hear about potential threats-- or protection-- to their town. Do you really want to be the one who stopped your brother seeing a paladin of the Inheritor?"

Attempted Aid Emma's Diplo: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 1 = 20


Female Human Paladin | Alignment: LG | AC: 20 ; FF 20, T 10 | HP 28/28 | Fort+7 Reflex+3 Will+7 (+1 vs evil outsiders' spells/etc) | Init +0 | Per +0 | Active Buffs: -| Conditions: -
Majara wrote:
"People of faith have strange ways." A little pause, then a slight nod at Emma. [b]"No offense."

Emma frowns in response to this. She hadn't taken offense to it - not really. In fact, she was going to point out that the lack of faith in some - like Majara apparently - was just as baffling to her as faith was to Majara. But before she could respond with this:

Roger wrote:
"Well aye, but only cause people of faith all be party to the crew that is people." Roger answers.

At this, Emma lets out a laugh and tips her shield at Roger with a grin. Leave it to the pirate to somehow defuse and sum up a situation with seemingly practiced ease. "Well said, Roger," she says. "Well said."

--------------

It's a decent march up to the Mayor's house, and by the time they arrive, Emma is a bit sweaty - though she's grateful for her new armor, it doesn't exactly do her any favors when it comes to mobility. Still, at the very least, it is a good workout.

The young man standing outside of the mayor's residence is tall - quite tall, in fact. Taller than any in their haphazard party, and broad shouldered at that. Clearly someone used to doing a lot of work outside. And someone who isn't afraid to deal with strangers, should he deem them unworthy of visiting.

"Whatchu wont?" he demands in a low gravelly voice. "My brother don't got time ta en'ertain guests. He's very busy."

Constantine attempts to reach out to the man, though in Emma's opinion, he's perhaps being a bit too formal with the man. Hannelia gives her attempt as well. Unsure if their attempts are enough, Emma begins to wonder what she could say to potentially help their interaction with this man go over better.

And then Majara speaks.

Majara wrote:
"She's a champion of Iomedae. I've never known a mayor of any town who would be too busy to hear about potential threats-- or protection-- to their town. Do you really want to be the one who stopped your brother seeing a paladin of the Inheritor?"

To say that Emma's expression towards Majara conveyed a statement of 'Majara, WHY' would be quite the understatement to anyone that might happen to be observing the interaction. Emma wonders briefly if Iomedae would consider it a breach of faith if she chucked Majara down the hill they'd just marched up.

Through sheer force of will, Emma manages to turn away from Majara and smile in what she hopes to be a casual way as she addresses the man standing before them.

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16

"Well! I guess I hardly need to introduce myself now. That being said, you can just call me Emma. It's true I'm a Paladin of Iomedae. I wouldn't even say I'm a champion. Regardless, I must stress," she says with the slightest of flickering eye daggers towards the gnome, "that I'm not here on any kind of official business relating to my status as one." Emma clears her throat. "Truthfully, we were just hoping to meet with the Mayor to let him know that we were in town, and to ask him a few questions if he has the time to meet with us. The details regarding our circumstances for being here aren't exactly a secret as such, but I would feel more comfortable discussing those in private. Also, please forgive our unannounced arrival - we didn't think to send word ahead of us, given than I don't believe any of us have been to the area before. We weren't sure of what kind of protocols might be expected. But we would appreciate the chance to speak to the Mayor before the festival, if it's at all possible."


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

The large man raises his chin to the group as you speak to him. He twirls his sickle in his hand before readjusting his tight grip. He doesn’t say anything when Constantine asks to approach, but he nods subtly as you do.

He still has hostility in his shoulders, but he doesn’t stop you from speaking. He glances at Emma as Majara props her up, and you can see the gears spinning in his head. He doesn’t seem to want to try to attack you, but he’s not budging.

He growls, ”Like I say, my brother is very busy, what with it being the Founders’ Festival today. Don’t make me say it again. Y’ain’t welcome here. Festival’s for locals only. Go get back to your fancy city and your temples and inheritors or what-have-you. I already told ya-”

He’s interrupted by a voice in the doorway of the manor. ”Leonard, Leonard please!” the voice tuts disapprovingly. Leonard, the large man’s name apparently, gives you one last scowl as he hears his name. He walks back to where he stood from in the yard and gets back to weeding with his sickle while watching you from the corner of his eyes.

The voice belongs to a lean, but imposing man dressed all in white with light, stylish looking fabrics. He dabs his neck with a white handkerchief in the humid summer heat. He coos, ”My apologies for my brother. He means well, but err, seems I got all the manners in the family.” He walks down the path toward you.

”My name is Andretti Kreigler and I’m the mayor of this humble town.”

He opens his arms and says, ”Welcome to Ravenmoor.” and a wide grin spreads across his face.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Constantine's attempts at formality had clearly backfired and he feels sheepish at having pissed off yet another resident of the town. But Mayor Kreigler seems more reasonable than his brother, or the ferrier Skender. (Not that reasonableness was inherently good or bad. Social niceties could be just as false.)

Let's try this again!

Diplomacy to aid: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10 Aw hell.

Still, Constantine smiles, and approaches to offer his hand for a shake. "Thank you, Major Kreigler. Constantine Sarini. And please, there's no need to apologize. I know how we look. Five out-of-towners walking around in armor and sheathed weapons can't make most people feel comfortable."

Before he shoves his foot into his mouth, Constantine decides to let someone else--anyone else--take the lead here.

While most adventurers liked to think of themselves as welcome, it wasn't always the case. Adventurers could be disruptive forces, especially in small towns, almost as much looking for trouble as dredging it up. He had heard arguments over his years of travel that the only reason dark forces sometimes cropped up in small towns was because adventurers couldn't leave well enough alone. It might take ten or twenty years, but the well-intentioned actions of adventurers might cause a different kind of problem to crop up long after the adventurers had left. Not to mention the property damage.

So yes--Hannelia and Emma could take it from here.


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4

With Constantine responding to the greeting but then literally and metaphorically taking a step back, Hannelia takes a breath, flexes her shoulder muscles and prepares to pick up the conversation.

She looks at Andretti Kriegler with his finely cut clothes, ready charm - at least compared to the admittedly small sample size of other villagers they have met - and senses that he's the kind of person who others instinctively listen to. Yes, it doesn't require much imagination to see why he would be able to easily rise to a position of leadership in a community like this.

"Yes, thank you Mayor Kriegler," she echoes. "I'm Hannelia Venator, from Saringallow," she introduces herself. "Thank you for the welcome; as Constantine says, we're probably an unusual sight here and it's natural if that puts folk on their guard."

Figuring that he still probably prefers plain-speaking, as opposed to the layers of intrigue certain Chelaxian customers of hers revel in, and that he likely is very busy with the festival imminent, she decides to get to the point.

"We're very pleased that we've arrived here with such fortuitous timing for the festival, though I suspect you're brother's not wrong in saying that you are no doubt very busy. We're therefore grateful for your audience and don't want to take up too much of your time." Hannelia pulls at a strand of loose hair and rubs a slightly sweaty palm on her trousers. "While we would love to attend the festival - if everyone is ok with that," - the scowling red face of Leonard Kriegler appears in her mind - "we are here on business and it would surely be more fun for everyone if we're able to wrap it up before the festivities begin. To that end, and with apologies for the directness, we're here on the trail of a man named Elias Kyle. We know that he made it to Ravenmoor and given the nature of his work, he no doubt came to see you. I was wondering if you would be able to tell us about him and your meeting please?"

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17


FEAST OF RAVENMOOR GRID MAP

The southerners, such as Ravenmoor is in Isger, speak with a peculiar accent and air.

"Oh yes, but of course. And please, do feel free to join us for the Festival. Don't mind Leonard. He's just a little overprotective." Mayor Kreigler says. "Ravenmoor isn't known for much, but I make it a point around here to offer hospitality where we can. So please, put your boots up and enjoy a well-earned rest."

"Pardon me, but would you mind if we walked and talked? Leonard may be overprotective, but I am needed by the festival grounds." He says. He'll start walking, assuming affirmative responses from you.

"Yes, Mr. Kyle had visited us, the tax collector, correct? Red hair? Red Face? Pretty sword? Yes. Serendipitously, he arrived on this very day last month!" he says cheerfully.

He continues, "Mr. Kyle wasted no time making a fool of himself - orderin' townsfolk around and making unreasonable demands, when he should have just come to me."

"Once Mr. Kyle did approach me, I assured him that I would be able to pay the taxes in full, but I would need time to scrape the funds together. I invited him to enjoy the festivities and to stay in my home but... Mr. Kyle had little interest in what he called, 'backwoods hootenannies'."

Mayor Kreigler sighs, "He did however take me up on my offer of room and board, though. He... went to bed early. Next mornin' I paid him his taxes in a locked coffer and the man left town just before dawn, presumably heading back to Elidir."

Sense Motive DC 20:

Mayor Kreigler seems to be hiding something. Especially regarding that last statement. You could probably press him on it.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Sense Motive DC 20: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9 (Aaand the string of poor dice luck continues. I must render a proper sacrifice to Nivi Rhombodazzle. Maybe Majara can hook me up.)

Constantine proceeds along behind Mayor Kriegler, asking clarifying questions or providing his own known details to ensure accurate mutual understanding. Elias Kyle seemed every bit the man that Majara had described him as--to his discredit, of course. One such point is that they are not in Ravenmoor on any sort of government business, especially not tax collection, and have no interest in ordering anyone around.

Constantine's understanding was that this was a fact- and person-finding mission. And he'd help people out as he was able to along the way if he was asked.

Unfortunately, it seems that the trail runs cold here in Ravenmoor. The stories related by those interviewed so far all seem to correlate in their chief substance, though with different assumptions about where he had gone after. It was worrisome, but Constantine wasn't entirely sure where to go from there. There was magic to track people down, but any sort of divination was fickle at best, and usually relegated to those with greater power than any possessed by the current company.

Constantine looks to Majara for her reaction. Whatever her take on all this was would prove elucidating, as she was the one who had hired them to start at those increasingly wild snipe hunt.


Init: +8 | Per: +7 LL | AC 16 T 12 FF 14 | HP: 36/36| F +5 R +6 W +5 | Active Buffs: | Conditions:

I'll Check to see what my modifier is after I see if my roll is relevant.: 1d20 ⇒ 15

+1, so close, but no.

"Well, the scallywag either ran off with the money, or he got waylaid once he had it. Either one's not too uncommon." In fact, Roger may have told a story or two about both scenarios.


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4

Sense motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10

"Of course," Hannelia readily agrees to the suggestion of walking and talking. She listens to the description of their missing person - both appearance and character and shoots Majara a look in order to check whether this matches her assessment of the man but the mayor's story seems plausible enough. She purses her lips - it's easy to see why such a character would have rubbed the villagers up the wrong way. By the sound of it they were as happy to see him go as he was keen to be away from Ravenmoor.

"That does seem to tally with our information," she says. With no obvious leads from here, she decides to lay all of her cards on the table. "So far as we can ascertain he never returned to Elidir. I don't suppose he said for definite that was where he was headed?" Not that it sounds like he appreciated your hospitality," she adds sympathetically. There's so much ground between here and there, and a lone traveller with a sizeable haul of coin would make for a decent target. If the trail runs cold here then I'm not sure we're going to find him. She's not keen on the idea of failure at this point, but right now feels she's exhausted both her information and ideas.


Female Human Paladin | Alignment: LG | AC: 20 ; FF 20, T 10 | HP 28/28 | Fort+7 Reflex+3 Will+7 (+1 vs evil outsiders' spells/etc) | Init +0 | Per +0 | Active Buffs: -| Conditions: -

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25

As they walk with the mayor and listen to his story, Emma finds herself frowning at the way Mayor Kriegler had phrased his last sentence. The hesitation before how Elias had gone to bed early seemed suspicious to say the least. It was a subtle thing, but why seemingly stumble over a relatively simple scenario? It wasn't exactly enough to suspect foul motives, but it seemed fairly obvious the Mayor was trying to hide something.

When she catches Hannelia glancing around at the others, Emma shakes her head slightly, trying to communicate the fact that she thinks the mayor isn't being completely forthright with them.

"Ah, forgive me Mayor Kriegler. I'm somewhat curious about a few things. You mentioned you would need time to scrape together the funds, but then you mentioned that you paid him before dawn? It seems a bit odd you'd only need the single night to do so, or that such an interaction would happen at such an early hour."

Emma keeps her face as impassive as she can as she asks her questions, trying to gauge how the Mayor might respond to the line of questioning.


Gnome Alchemist 3 | HP 27/27 | AC18/t14/f15 | F+5 R+6 W+4 | Per +9 (-2 if sight based)

At the look that Emma shoots her, Majara simply raises her brows, in an eloquent what? of her own. The gnome sucks on her lips as the conversation continues, thinking first of Emma's hesitant suggestion that she hide her holy symbol in Cheliax, and now the urge to-- as Majara sees it-- downplay the presence of her faith. It strikes Majara as something they ought to have a conversation about-- but, unlike the gnomish stereotype, the alchemist is capable of assessing that now is Not the Time.

She accordingly remains silent through the mayor's arrival, though keeps one corner of her eye on Leonard throughout.

Can't make the Sense Motive even if i tried ha

Her thoughts drift to Elias Kyle, the target of her search... a man she had once been willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with, if nothing more, when danger threatened. She isn't surprised he left the town glad to see the back of him.... not surprised, no, but finding herself somewhat disappointed all the same. One hopes that people... can be better, can improve, if given the chance, but...

She is deep enough in her recollections that she misses the glances thrown her way, or at least, doesn't signal anything in response to them. Only when Emma delicately questions the mayor's words does she glance up again, a small frown pinching her features as she looks between the mayor and the Iomedan.


Human (Chelaxian) Male Haunt Collector (Occultist) 3 | HP 26/27 | AC 21 Touch 12 Flat 19 CMB +7 CMD 19 | Fort +5 Ref +4 Will +4 (-1 vs fear) | Speed 20 ft | Init +2; Per +6, SM +4 | Focus (Abjuration 3/4, Transmutation 4/4) | Spells (Lv1 4/4) | Active: Bitter Armor

Oh.

Constantine hadn't noticed that. Emma was a sharp Paladin. Not that Constantine expected different from her having gotten to know her, but that was definitely the sort of thing that he wished he had caught. Agh, no need to be jealous or disappointed. But now that the question was there in the open, it offers a potential glimmer that maybe this case didn't have a dead end (or a completely open one) after all.

This much movement was unfortunately too much for Constantine to make any of his more...esoteric judgments. He needed to concentrate. And with the way that he tended to get lost doing that, he was liable to trip on an exposed root and smash his face into the ground. Given how the ferrier had already seemed suspicious when the occultist was doing nothing other than touching a skull, Constantine wasn't keen on giving anyone else in the town less reason to touch him. So he just tries to keep his typical senses sharp. He could use his extra senses later.


Init: +8 | Per: +7 LL | AC 16 T 12 FF 14 | HP: 36/36| F +5 R +6 W +5 | Active Buffs: | Conditions:

"Oh, hadn't thought a that, is a bit odd." Roger nods along at Emma's question.


Female Human Bard (archaeologist) 3 | AL: NG | Init: +3 | Per: +7 | AC 18, T 13, FF 15 | HP: 27/27 | F +3, R +6, W +3 | Luck 6/6 | 1st level spells 4/4

Wrapped up in her slightly spiralling thoughts of dead ends and failure, Hannelia pauses for a second at Emma's question. Now she thinks about it, the paladin does seem to have a point. It turns out that rather than trying to think ahead through permutations and possibilities, her friend had simply listened carefully and she is glad that she did. Admonishing herself for missing it, she waits for the mayor to respond to the slightly false note in his tale.

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