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65 posts. Alias of Hawkmoon269.


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  Most of the undead and fiends lie destroyed, and Koth’Vaul vanished just as you cornered him between a hard wall and a pack of ghouls. With your remaining foes scattered, you set off for the maftets’ temporary camp. There, the worst of Ashasar’s conditions have faded thanks to Erayu’s ministrations. Even so, the geniekin admits that the Mana Wastes is a far more extraordinary and difficult challenge than he was ready to admit.
  You aren’t too eager to stick around, either. After all, it’s only a matter of time before another storm hits, and every day you carry the Atramentous Eye increases the chance it begins feeding again.
  If there’s anyone who can suppress its magic and keep it safe, it’s Zarta Dralneen of the Pathfinder Society’s Dark Archive. It’s time to return to Absalom.
  There are bargains to be made and promises to be kept.


  At last you knock the orb out of the sphinx’s grip, sending it rolling down a dusty hall. She flails about, screaming in pain as her fiendish features begin to fade. Within moments, she has recovered and looks to you with fatigue and relief.
  “Koth’Vaul. He approached me in the guise of a djinni on the pretense of trading riddles. When I bested him, he offered me a single wish. I asked for a riddle that would reveal a truth I had never fathomed. He granted it along with that orb, telling me it was a clue.” She grits her teeth in shame. “The more I pondered it, the more relentless I became. I began to change, hunger, then transform. He returned only days ago to mock me and show his true form: an immense, scaled demon. Even knowing him for a fiend could not stop my curiosity. I have hurt too many.
  “Let me pose a riddle to you: How can I atone?”


  Several maftet cultists lie dead, and the others have scattered, crying out for their sphinx patron to help as they flee toward the ruined fortress. You take a moment to study the expanse of bizarre patterns they created by carefully arraying stones atop the rocky soil. The patterns align with the partly healed tattoos incised on the fallen cultists’ skin, and you can’t help but be reminded of the ritual foci you helped arrange for Ashasar.
  The fleeing maftets have almost reached the citadel but thankfully have received no sign of reinforcements. Could the sphinx be preparing an even more powerful ritual for the fiend Koth’Vaul without knowing it? Worse, how might the Mana Wastes’ unpredictable magic affect this rite?
  If you are to intervene, you need to hurry. You set off after the fleeing maftets, hoping to catch them before they bring the wrath of the sphinx down upon you.


"That’s the last of them,” shouts Ashasar as you reunite under a shower of glowing hail. He turns toward the storm’s heart, plants one hand on the ground, and holds one toward the sky. Across the miles-wide area, the disks begin to glow, and the storm begins to slowly dissipate.

You run over to congratulate Ashasar, only to find him shaking. His veins stand out with sickly purple energy and he coughs teal smoke as he stands with some difficulty. Then he points toward the east. On the horizon, you can see winged figures flying your direction.

Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.


  Your journey has been as harrowing as Cloudreaver Keep’s guards predicted. Fortunately, for every couple of tribes that sought to beat you senseless and take your gear, another tribe offered you hospitality and a welcome respite before urging you to keep moving.
  Your current hosts are a tight-knit clan of ratfolk led by the matriarch Saka Naht. Deep in their underground warren, she warns you of a terrible storm that struck to the east weeks ago and has not abated. What’s more, foes far stronger than those you’ve faced before live to the north and the south of that region, so skirting around the storm would be very difficult. Saka continues to describe the storm’s danger, but each warning only increases the intensity in Ashasar’s eager expression.
  The forecast for tomorrow looks grim.


  Gulreesh chortles with delight when you tell him that you have dealt with the smugglers.
  “You Pathfinders are my kind of folks.” With one of his tentacles, he pulls a map from Sarenrae-knows-where and presents it to you. “There’s a warehouse covered in illusions where some shady-looking Qadirans have been moving the missing people—mostly women, I think, though you humans are so difficult to tell apart sometimes. This map will lead you to a secret back entrance from the undercity that bypasses most of the defenses. Enjoy!”
  Of course, the back entrance is on the opposite side of the undercity from here, so that means even more trudging through sewers. Given that Venture-Captain Perseis is a noble and a Shelynite, you didn’t expect her to be willing to put up with the filth, but then again, she flies above the main flow and seems to have some magic that keeps her clothes pristine.


  The thriae are scattered and slain, and Alhaman grins as he lowers jars of reddish honey into a bag. “Nicely done, Pathfinders! We found a cell imprinted with that cartouche of yours over there.” You break open the wax barrier and search Mnesoset’s possessions, finding a reference to the army she sought. It was not mortal, but machine, built by the Jistka Imperium ages ago. If you are to find the sage, her trail leads to Rahadoum. You had best hurry before anyone else offers to help you.


  When the dust settles, one of the guards thanks you.
  “Without your help, Kholoran might have gotten away. As for this undead loving miscreant,” she gestures toward the slumped form of the pasha’s agent, “she seemed to be under mind-controlling magic.”
  The pasha’s unwitting agent speaks quietly, “A vampire ordering dangerous prisoners to be freed from Nex? He is likely from Geb. You won’t find a better guide to that realm than Nyctessa. Please, let us strike together against our mutual enemy.”
  If you agree to her proposal, you’d best keep an eye on her.


  You have beaten back the fiendish forces, buying you a chance to catch your breath. As you do, you and your colleagues finally break open the prison. Within lies a sparkling gem of unparalleled beauty, and you could swear that something within it speaks and conveys words of gratitude. Master of Spells Sorrina Westyr scoops up the jewel and motions toward the exit. “We’re not out of this yet, Pathfinders! Let’s topple the last of these daemons and head home!”

CONTINUING THIS SCENARIO
If you complete the scenario with time to spare, after rebuilding your decks, put the location cards and all of the cards from the location decks back in the box. Summon and build the location Scorched Obelisk (do not add a villain or henchmen). Return the blessings deck and discard pile to the box, then create a new 10-card blessings deck. If you close the location, report one success to the Overseer GM. Repeat until the Overseer GM announces the end of Part 3.


  As you shatter and melt the last of her prison, the marid Zhaleh calls to her servants and rallies her army. “For eons, the marids of Vialesk have toiled for the tyrant Kelizandri. Today we can repay him for countless offenses by standing at your side,” she promises. “As a sign of my gratitude, I offer you a single wish. I would happily grant one of you the strength of a dozen heroes, or I can bestow a lesser fortune upon each of you.”
  She listens intently as if to an imperceptible voice. “We have
little time to consider the options. The way to the vault is close,
but until we can disrupt Ayrzul’s hold on Aucturn’s Tear, he will
bar our way forward.”


  As you neutralize the last of the malfunctioning runes, the oracle seems to notice you for the first time. She speaks a few words of magic, and suddenly you can understand her words with ease. The spirit identifies herself as the Voice of Seven Songs, and although she remembers only a fraction of her life on Iovo, she speaks with authority about the marid—a powerful water genie—named Zhaleh who guards this route into Aucturn’s Tear. It’s said that Zhaleh never served willingly, and when Elemental Lord Ayrzul’s captive in the asteroid began to break free, the marid rebelled. The Voice of Seven Songs can guide you into the ice caverns below. Perhaps there you can find Zhaleh and the treasure beyond.


  The dwarf screams at the sky, his face twisting with rage.
  “How dare she use me like this? I’ll kill her!” He startles as if noticing you for the first time. “Hey, cool your fireballs. Muhlia al-Jakri’s vampire pal made me do all this. If you’re going after al-Jakri, I’m in. I know she hates you Pathfinders, and I want to teach her what happens when you mess with Urgraz!”
  You recall the mutilated clergy of Sarenrae as he rages at your foe from afar.
  A bloodthirsty grin spreads across his face. “C’mon, you know you wanna.”
  Away from the sight of the guards, the choice of whether or not to accept his offer falls squarely in your hands.


  Not all of the elemental creatures fought of their own volition. Some were enslaved warriors, but you managed to free them and ask the lay of the land. Apparently Aucturn’s Tear is where the evil elemental lord of earth Ayrzul stores his greatest treasure, deep within a vault in the asteroid. There are two likely ways to the interior. One is on the asteroid’s dark side, which is now a frozen field of icy caverns. The other is on the asteroid’s bright side, now a labyrinth of sizzling tunnels cooked by the sun. The choice is yours, Pathfinders. Which way do you go?


  Several maftet cultists lie dead, and the others have scattered, crying out for their sphinx patron to help as they flee toward the ruined fortress. You take a moment to study the expanse of bizarre patterns they created by carefully arraying stones atop the rocky soil. The patterns align with the partly healed tattoos incised on the fallen cultists’ skin, and you can’t help but be reminded of the ritual foci you helped arrange for Ashasar.
  The fleeing maftets have almost reached the citadel but thankfully have received no sign of reinforcements. Could the sphinx be preparing an even more powerful ritual for the fiend Koth’Vaul without knowing it? Worse, how might the Mana Wastes’ unpredictable magic affect this rite?
  If you are to intervene, you need to hurry. You set off after the fleeing maftets, hoping to catch them before they bring the wrath of the sphinx down upon you.


  Each hall held its own pedestal and a variety of artifacts, but figuring out the right relics to place on each one took some work. As you place the last, a beam of light shoots from each doorway to the pyramid’s central room, forming a pedestal of light atop which rests a trio of lanterns.
  Three lanterns, three pyramids? You grab the set, hoping these are what the Pactmasters seek. There is a booming of thunder outside the pyramid, suggesting you must have done something right. Or something very wrong.
  It is time to find out which.


  Neither the traps nor the sand creatures slowed you down enough for al-Jakri to escape. Outmatched, out of tricks, and out of places to run, she surrendered and is now in the custody of Venture-Captain Esmayl ibn Qaradi. It’s only a matter of time before she’s shipped back to Absalom to face justice, and it’s satisfying to see her led away in chains. Even a statement from the Satrap arrived, declaring that al-Jakri’s title would be stripped. As your patron Tallah predicted, she’s a pasha no more.
  Al-Jakri had attempted to escape with some damning written evidence, including a journal in which she detailed her plans to incite chaos in Absalom and instigate war between Taldor and Qadira. Her co-conspirators’ names appear all over her plans: both the vampire Stavros Nightcrescent as well as someone named Koth’Vaul. From her notes, it sounds like Koth’Vaul is a fiend of some form, though al-Jakri doesn’t go into specifics— in fact, it seems the two weren’t even terribly fond of each other. As you continue perusing the journal you come across an especially alarming name: that of the information broker Grandmaster Torch!
  The journal solves one other mystery. Some time ago, an artifact disappeared from the Society’s vaults, yet there wasn’t enough evidence to trace where it had gone. Al-Jakri’s notes suggest it’s currently hidden in the foreboding Mana Wastes, where you should be able to piece together the clues needed to find the artifact. Whatever its exact nature, this device seems to figure into her—and Koth’Vaul’s—bigger plans.


  The woman’s eyes snap into focus.
  “I am Linxia, Hellknight of the Order of the Rack. I am grateful to you for releasing the compulsion cast upon me. I must face a reckoning for my actions here today; there will be much pain in my future. However, Pasha Muhlia al-Jakri must also face the rightful consequences of coercing a vampire to use me as a tool of destruction. If you also seek to exact the righteous force of the law, follow me.”
  You recall the mutilated clergy of Sarenrae as she coolly dissects your strengths and vulnerabilities.
  “If not,” she says, “this is where we part ways.”
  Away from the sight of the guards, the choice of whether or not to accept her offer falls squarely in your hands.


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Suddenly, a light begins to emanate from all around the ruins. A portal opens up, pulling you towards it. On the other side you see yourselves from back when you entered the ruins. You begin to merge with your former self. The process will surely kill you all. Except Grazzle discards a few cards and heals everyone. Now you are back at the beginning safe and sound.


  The calculations became much clearer when you realized that math underlying it changed depending on the phases of the moon. You didn’t recognize the symbol created by the beams of light, but once you created it, a fourth pyramid appeared seemingly out of thin air, its spire glowing a brilliant blue. It seems that you have succeeded where others have failed—you’ve found the Fourth Star!
  The Pactmaster should be pleased. You wish you knew whether that was a good thing. Just once, you’d like to see behind Krimiltuk’s mask to gauge his true intentions as easily as he knows yours.


 The mysterious man shudders.
 “Most distasteful,” the cleric says. “I assure you that the actions I have taken today were not of my own will. I was under the control of a vampire. Perhaps you have heard of the vampire’s ally, Pasha Muhlia al-Jakri? She does not care for your Society. This is an opportune time to ally against a mutual enemy, is it not?”
 You recall the murdered clergy of Sarenrae as he speaks his honey-tinged words.
 “Oh, but where are my manners? My name is Lazzero, faithful of the light-bringer Asmodeus. It is my pleasure to meet you.”
 Away from the sight of the guards, the choice of whether or not to accept his offer falls squarely in your hands.


  The lamia will prey on travelers here no more. With her defeat, the alchemists come to their senses. Alhaman sheepishly offers you potions to recover from the battle.
  At this point, you can hardly turn them down.
  “Thank you, friends,” he says. “I hope these tonics ease your wounds, and once we can harvest reagents from these mountains, we shall be able to produce even stronger medicines. Come, the thriae hive lies just over the next pass.”


  "That’s the last of them,” shouts Ashasar as you reunite under a shower of glowing hail. He turns toward the storm’s heart, plants one hand on the ground, and holds one toward the sky. Across the miles-wide area, the disks begin to glow, and the storm begins to slowly dissipate.
  You run over to congratulate Ashasar, only to find him shaking. His veins stand out with sickly purple energy and he coughs teal smoke as he stands with some difficulty. Then he points toward the east. On the horizon, you can see winged figures flying your direction.
  Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.


 Though you had some close calls with Midasi’s spies, you uncovered several allies and collected some valuable information. You’ve learned that a slaver named Heran Halfwhip is holding Siddique, and an Eagle Knight named Aviera Sacero has helped devise a plan to rescue him. As you suspected, there aren’t any Aspis nearby; the gnolls would have been as much a nuisance to the Aspis expedition as they were to you, and the Consortium is not kind to nuisances.
 You make your way through the winding alleyways to your dingy lodging at the Fleet. As you toss and turn on what purports to pass for a mattress, you steel yourself for tomorrow’s journey into the belly of the beast.


  You’ve fought your way through the compound, defeating the guards and monsters you encountered. As if sensing defeat, the remaining mercenaries either surrendered or fled. However, Muhlia al-Jakri is nowhere to be found. If her goons even know where she went, none of them are in a rush to tell you about it.
  As you interview one of the mercenaries, movement catches your eye. You look up just in time to see a woman burst from one building—it’s al Jakri! That you hadn’t identified her hiding place earlier is a testament to her sneakiness, and as she quickly slips into another building in the compound, you must compliment her speed, too. You had searched that structure before, but when you burst into the building with weapons ready, you notice the telltale signs of a well-hidden trapdoor. It’s so finely crafted that you hadn’t noticed it in your first sweep, yet in her haste, al-Jakri wasn’t able to cover her tracks this time. You throw open the hatch and begin climbing the stairs that descend deep into a tunnel winding beneath the compound.
  Footfalls echo through the passageway, confirming that your target lies just ahead.


  Pierced with ballista bolts and hemmed in by Pathfinders on all sides, the treachery demon Katazuul collapses. The portal shrinks, much to the consternation of demons waiting on the other side. Several frantically tear their way out to reinforce the struggling fiend army, which is on the verge of defeat.
  Help Absalom deal the killing blow, and end this threat once and for all!


  Pierced with ballista bolts and hemmed in by Pathfinders on all sides, the treachery demon Katazuul collapses. The portal shrinks, much to the consternation of demons waiting on the other side. Several frantically tear their way out to reinforce the struggling fiend army, which is on the verge of defeat.
  Help Absalom deal the killing blow, and end this threat once and for all!


  You corner the Dreadnought and clamber aboard. There, after a deadly duel with Admiral Pythareus, you deal a killing blow that sends his bones and infamous crossbow skittering across the deck. The act sends a shuddering ripple of energy across the fleet, causing several ships to begin sinking and others to list dangerously in the water.
  You’ve averted the worst of the Silent Tide, but there are rogue ships that could threaten the city’s docks. Until you hear the call to arms from your comrades fighting the demon-flesh army, set yourself to destroying the last of this navy. Each ship that returns to its watery grave is one fewer to terrorize the shore.


  Your journey has been as harrowing as Cloudreaver Keep’s guards predicted. Fortunately, for every couple of tribes that sought to beat you senseless and take your gear, another tribe offered you hospitality and a welcome respite before urging you to keep moving.
  Your current hosts are a tight-knit clan of ratfolk led by the matriarch Saka Naht. Deep in their underground warren, she warns you of a terrible storm that struck to the east weeks ago and has not abated. What’s more, foes far stronger than those you’ve faced before live to the north and the south of that region, so skirting around the storm would be very difficult. Saka continues to describe the storm’s danger, but each warning only increases the intensity in Ashasar’s eager expression.
  The forecast for tomorrow looks grim.


  It’s been a pleasure doing business with you,” Torch acknowledges as a pair of muscular half-orcs carries out a chest brimming with tablets, scroll cases, and curios. “I took the liberty of reviewing some of the texts earlier, and the woman you’re after was quite the traveler. She fled the ruins quickly, perhaps to a second home in western Thuvia that she referenced.”
  He snaps his fingers, and a half-orc hands you a letter. “This one’s on the house. I’ve friends among the Halls of Hidden Flame, an alchemists’ guild in Duwwor. If anyone can track her down, it’s them.”
  If there’s one thing you’ve learned, it’s that alchemists have goals of their own.


  Your hippocampus’s tail whips the harbor into foamy whitecaps as you weave through the Flotsam Graveyard’s worst obstacles. Behind you floats the lifeless body of a fearsome sea serpent that will trouble Absalom no further.
  As you draw closer to the dread flagships, the insignia on their tattered sails come into view, as do the scores of undead marines that captain the vessels. A less brave or determined soul may have fled in the face of such overwhelming odds, but you have a plan.


  You corner the Dreadnought and clamber aboard. There, after a deadly duel with Admiral Pythareus, you deal a killing blow that sends his bones and infamous crossbow skittering across the deck. The act sends a shuddering ripple of energy across the fleet, causing several ships to begin sinking and others to list dangerously in the water.
  You’ve averted the worst of the Silent Tide, but there are rogue ships that could threaten the city’s docks. Until you hear the call to arms from your comrades fighting the demon-flesh army, set yourself to destroying the last of this navy. Each ship that returns to its watery grave is one fewer to terrorize the shore.


  Escape! Though you can hear more footsteps cracking through the underbrush, the enemies nearby have all been dispatched. You sprint across the sand and leap into Pegsworthy’s rowboat. Once safe aboard the Bonaventure, Siddique claps you on the backs and gives you his genuine thanks for saving his life. As per your agreement, he tells you all he knows about the traitor Pasha Muhlia al-Jakri, though what he says does anything but calm your nerves.
  Al-Jakri has been busy making powerful friends since her escape from Absalom. According to Siddique, she has the ear of High Strategos Maxillar Pythareous, fueling his dreams of bringing glory to Taldor through conquest of its southern neighbor, Qadira. Not satisfied with instability in eastern Avistan, she’s been working with a Gebbite Blood Lord who provides her with thralls to do her bidding in Thuvia and Nex. Though Siddique confesses he does not know the ends to which these thralls are put, he believes that many are unwilling participants who would, should their mind control be disrupted, cease their actions and potentially help the Pathfinder Society.
  This, it seems, is what hope feels like.


  Your hippocampus’s tail whips the harbor into foamy whitecaps as you weave through the Flotsam Graveyard’s worst obstacles. Behind you floats the lifeless body of a fearsome sea serpent that will trouble Absalom no further.
  As you draw closer to the dread flagships, the insignia on their tattered sails come into view, as do the scores of undead marines that captain the vessels. A less brave or determined soul may have fled in the face of such overwhelming odds, but you have a plan.


  Not only have the people of Absalom begun to hope that they might survive this siege, but increasingly they’re recognizing you by sight and cheering your efforts. Thanks to your contributions, Absalom’s soldiers are better armed, and its forces have grown.
  In the distance a powerful construct has arisen. Some call it “Gulgamodh.” In a booming voice, it declares, “Gulgamodh stands ready.” Its towering metal frame soars above the rooftops, and its footfalls make the ground before it tremble.


  You have left the Black Echelon’s broken bones behind you, to the cheers of Absalom’s defenders. Already you can see Absalom’s flag hoisted once more over key forts, and flares of light explode overhead to confuse the enemy.
  The city’s not safe yet though—another contingent of Black Echelon forces has set its sights on a different strategic location. As Absalom’s guards and defenders rush to further secure the places you have just retaken, it falls to you to forge ahead!


  You have left the Black Echelon’s broken bones behind you, to the cheers of Absalom’s defenders. Already you can see Absalom’s flag hoisted once more over key forts, and flares of light explode overhead to confuse the enemy.
  The city’s not safe yet though—another contingent of Black Echelon forces has set its sights on a different strategic location. As Absalom’s guards and defenders rush to further secure the places you have just retaken, it falls to you to forge ahead!


  By the time the event concludes and the last guests trickle out, you’re socially and emotionally drained. However, you’re also triumphant! Raham now understands the damage al-Jakri’s latest exploits could inflict on his business’s reputation, and he agrees not only to break all ties with her but also to support you in seeking her arrest. Metasee is stubborn, yet she quickly severs her ties once she learns of Tautrak’s damning records of her sales. Uticus remains indifferent, though he agrees not to consort with al-Jakri until this whole situation gets sorted out; for now, she is too great a liability. Al-Ibrah is the most difficult to convince, but in the end he admits that any fond memories he has of his friend do not excuse her recent crimes. He even provides her current whereabouts in Katheer, where she is lying low while plotting her next move.
  You have everything you need. Muhlia al-Jakri has nowhere left to run, no allies to support her, and you have enough evidence to make sure she never sees the sun again. It is time to end this.


  Despite tangling with hostile creatures and equally hostile landforms, you’ve made it back to the streambed.
  Your unlikely ally Siddique has had the worst of it, though. The ministrations of the slavers have rendered him unfit for the harsh environs. If you don’t reach safety soon, he’ll die without divulging the whereabouts of the traitor Pasha Muhlia al-Jakri.
  There’s no more room for mistakes, so you backtrack to the most recent landmark and are careful to follow the course without further detours. The correct path eventually leaves you standing at the edge of the promised cove. You must find a ship to get passage from this benighted land, or all your efforts will be to no avail.


  Neither the traps nor the sand creatures slowed you down enough for al-Jakri to escape. Outmatched, out of tricks, and out of places to run, she surrendered and is now in the custody of Venture-Captain Esmayl ibn Qaradi. It’s only a matter of time before she’s shipped back to Absalom to face justice, and it’s satisfying to see her led away in chains. Even a statement from the Satrap arrived, declaring that al-Jakri’s title would be stripped.
  As your patron Tallah predicted, she’s a pasha no more. Al-Jakri had attempted to escape with some damning written evidence, including a journal in which she detailed her plans to incite chaos in Absalom and instigate war between Taldor and Qadira. Her co-conspirators’ names appear all over her plans: both the vampire Stavros Nightcrescent as well as someone named Koth’Vaul. From her notes, it sounds like Koth’Vaul is a fiend of some form, though al-Jakri doesn’t go into specifics— in fact, it seems the two weren’t even terribly fond of each other. As you continue perusing the journal you come across an especially alarming name: that of the information broker Grandmaster Torch!
  The journal solves one other mystery. Some time ago, an artifact disappeared from the Society’s vaults, yet there wasn’t enough evidence to trace where it had gone. Al-Jakri’s notes suggest it’s currently hidden in the foreboding Mana Wastes, where you should be able to piece together the clues needed to find the artifact. Whatever its exact nature, this device seems to figure into her—and Koth’Vaul’s—bigger plans.


  The Sandstalkers lose their will to fight, scampering away in all directions. As you untie the captives, they thank you profusely and share that a band of treasure-hunters had asked about the observatory and later returned with countless treasures they hoped to sell in the capital. These three had hoped to find some overlooked jewels when the gnolls attacked.
  Amenopheus arrives as you finish searching the observatory, having found it stripped bare. “This matches the description,” he observes, “yet the looters took the evidence we needed. I shall take you to the capital in the morning, and perhaps we can intercept their expedition before they sell off their ill-gotten gains. We will find them in Katapesh!”


  You certainly didn’t leave the Azure Star in better shape than you found it, but you didn’t let the aluum get away, either. The nonchalance with which the Zephyr Guards regarded the battered golem you left on the Pactmasters’ doorstep suggests that they really do see everything in Katapesh.
  Roderus is far more upbeat. “Excellent work! But the job is only half done. I’ve gathered your supplies, and the desert awaits.”
  You steel yourself for a trip that will not be as comfortable as your urban setting is now. The desert is hot in eastern Katapesh, and quite unforgiving.


  You continue with your story for Venture-Captain Roderus.
“Gathering all the items and wrestling them back into their containers proved exhausting. Zarta reviewed a nearby ledger with irritation while taking inventory. ‘Not only was the monocle missing,’ she said, ‘but there were several additional objects absent, including a locket that I was pretty sure was possessed. None of these items are marked as missing on here, which means we need to talk to the archivist responsible for this area…’ She peered at her records before pointing to a name. ‘Panven Wikar. He’s worked here for several years, so if he’s been helping smuggle artifacts from the Grand Lodge, we have a bigger problem. I’d say we both have many questions, and I doubt we’ll have many answers unless you track down this man.’
  “Our investigation led us to Katapesh, where Wikar was hoping to sell some of the stolen relics in the marketplace.”
  Roderus thoughtfully considers your words. “That is indeed an interesting story.”


  From shipping manifests to contracts to plans for futureheists, the documents Tautrak kept represent everything you’d need to indict Muhlia al-Jakri! His journal suggests he often worried his associates would turn on him, so he likely kept this all for blackmail if he ever needed it.
  Even with this evidence, you’ll still need to work to break al-Jakri’s remaining alliances before you can be sure she won’t escape justice. Tallah has offered to host a party and invite al- Jakri’s persisting allies, providing you an opportunity to meet and convince each one of them so that al-Jakri has nowhere left to run.


 The glories of the past pale in comparison to your deeds just now,” Amenopheus observes with pride as he joins you to examine a set of stone tablets. “Here, this seems a last report by one Mnesoset, bearer of the spinel sage jewel. She apparently departed for a ruin in southern Katapesh shortly before the Kelish invasion several thousand years ago. We have what we need here.”
 The Sapphire Sage glances over the treasures you’ve gathered with resigned chagrin before motioning for you to keep what you found. “And perhaps you’ve found a little more beyond that. Let it never be said we failed to preserve past wonders to benefit the present.”
 What further treasures await you in Katapesh?


  Most of the undead and fiends lie destroyed, and Koth’Vaul vanished just as you cornered him between a hard wall and a pack of ghouls. With your remaining foes scattered, you set off for the maftets’ temporary camp. There, the worst of Ashasar’s conditions have faded thanks to Erayu’s ministrations. Even so, the geniekin admits that the Mana Wastes is a far more extraordinary and difficult challenge than he was ready to admit.
  You aren’t too eager to stick around, either. After all, it’s only a matter of time before another storm hits, and every day you carry the Atramentous Eye increases the chance it begins feeding again. If there’s anyone who can suppress its magic and keep it safe, it’s Zarta Dralneen of the Pathfinder Society’s Dark Archive. It’s time to return to Absalom. There are bargains to be made and promises to be kept.


  You’ve fought your way through the compound, defeating the guards and monsters you encountered. As if sensing defeat, the remaining mercenaries either surrendered or fled. However, Muhlia al-Jakri is nowhere to be found. If her goons even know where she went, none of them are in a rush to tell you about it.
  As you interview one of the mercenaries, movement catches your eye. You look up just in time to see a woman burst from one building—it’s al-Jakri! That you hadn’t identified her hiding place earlier is a testament to her sneakiness, and as she quickly slips into another building in the compound, you must compliment her speed, too. You had searched that structure before, but when you burst into the building with weapons ready, you notice the telltale signs of a well-hidden trapdoor. It’s so finely crafted that you hadn’t noticed it in your first sweep, yet in her haste, al-Jakri wasn’t able to cover her tracks this time.
  You throw open the hatch and begin climbing the stairs that descend deep into a tunnel winding beneath the compound.
  Footfalls echo through the passageway, confirming that your target lies just ahead.


  After fighting your way through the throng of guards and freeing as many prisoners as you could, you flee into the labyrinthine streets of Okeno. Dodging down alleyways, you frantically wind your way toward the outer edges of the city with Siddique on your heels.
  “You are as good as your word, Pathfinders,” Siddique says. “Would that I could repay you for all you have done today.”
  The buildings start to become fewer and farther between, and before you know it, you stand at the base of the Stonespine Mountains. Soon you shall be free of the Yellow City’s depredations.


  You and the Aspis agents escaped the pyramid safely. After several minutes of waiting with bated breath, the trembling ceases. Glancing around at the survivors, you notice that several Aspis agents, including Ridaiya Merai herself, are nowhere to be found. Praying that they are still alive, you reenter the perilous pyramid.
  After several minutes of fruitless searching through piles of collapsed stone, you come across a secret trapdoor in the ground that Merai did not mention in her reports. Below, a steep spiral staircase winds down for hundreds of feet into the darkness, ending in a door covered in hundreds of magical runes.
  You find a papyrus note discarded on the last step. It reads:
  Don’t bother trying to follow me. I have the only key.
  Thanks for the help, you gullible fools.
           —Merai

  As you consider your hapless fate, the word that bothers you most in that note is “Thanks.”


  By the time the event concludes and the last guests trickle out, you’re socially and emotionally drained. However, you’re also triumphant! Raham now understands the damage al-Jakri’s latest exploits could inflict on his business’s reputation, and he agrees not only to break all ties with her but also to support you in seeking her arrest. Metasee is stubborn, yet she quickly severs her ties once she learns of Tautrak’s damning records of her sales. Uticus remains indifferent, though he agrees not to consort with al-Jakri until this whole situation gets sorted out; for now, she is too great a liability. Al-Ibrah is the most difficult to convince, but in the end he admits that any fond memories he has of his friend do not excuse her recent crimes. He even provides her current whereabouts in Katheer, where she is lying low while plotting her next move.
  You have everything you need. Muhlia al-Jakri has nowhere left to run, no allies to support her, and you have enough evidence to make sure she never sees the sun again. It is time to end this.


 At last you knock the orb out of the sphinx’s grip, sending it rolling down a dusty hall. She flails about, screaming in pain as her fiendish features begin to fade. Within moments, she has recovered and looks to you with fatigue and relief.
 “Koth’Vaul. He approached me in the guise of a djinni on the pretense of trading riddles. When I bested him, he offered me a single wish. I asked for a riddle that would reveal a truth I had never fathomed. He granted it along with that orb, telling me it was a clue.” She grits her teeth in shame. “The more I pondered it, the more relentless I became. I began to change, hunger, then transform. He returned only days ago to mock me and show his true form: an immense, scaled demon. Even knowing him for a fiend could not stop my curiosity. I have hurt too many.
 “Let me pose a riddle to you: How can I atone?”

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