Terflynn's magic works its way towards "Walthus'" mind, attempting to daze the fake halfling.
Will Save: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
The creature laughs cruelly. "Leave your magicssss to yourssself." It seems unfazed by the attempt. He seems equally unfazed by the attack from Ruhk, which he easily avoids. Caerwyn, however, manages to catch the creature with his dagger, opening a small gash in the creature's arm. It hisses in pain. As it recoils in pain, Aldel just barely misses lopping its head off.
Cally's spell flies towards the creature.
Will Save: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Again, the creature is able to fight off the effects of the spell.
Seeing that it's about to be surrounded, the creature hisses and lashes out at Caerwyn in anger.
Slam: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
The creature slams into the rogue and then grabs onto him. Take 6 points of damage and you're now grappled.
The man smiles as Isabella rises without argument. "This one knows her place. She'll do well aboard. As for where we are," he says, leveling a glance at the dwarf, "We're aboard the fiercest vessel of the fiercest pirate in the Shackles - the Wormwood under the command o' Cap'n Harrigan." He speaks with pride, but none of you have ever heard of the vessel or its captain.
When Alain speaks, the man is silent for a moment before cracking his whip at him.
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
He misses you narrowly, and he growls in anger. "There's been no mistake, pretty boy. You're aboard this vessel with this cap'n. Whoever the hells you think you know will do you no good here."
When Zane steps forward, the whip cracks again.
1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22 for 1d3 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
This time, the hard leather finds its mark, opening a gash across the paladin's face. "This friend o' yours needs to fight his own battles - you stay out of it." You take 5 points of nonlethal damage.
"Now, up! Get up there now!" he says, indicating the open hatch leading to the sunlight.
Images of the night's revelry flash in your mind; good loud music, flirty wenches of questionable morals, and numerous (countless?) glasses of rum, ale and wine. The last thing you remember were plates full of sausages and meats being brought out to loud cheers and greedy grabbing.
It was truly a night worthy of the Pirate capital of the Shackles.
Those happy remembrances are immediately replaced by a pounding headache. You must still be drunk, as the floor beneath you is swaying at regular intervals. As you lick your dry lips, the taste of the wine is replaced by an ashy, unpleasant flavor.
Cracking open your eyes, you discover that you are in a ship's interior. You see others around you slowly coming to. You recognize some of the faces from the Formidably Maid the night before, and all of them appear worse for the wear. Looking around, you quickly realize that you've been stripped of all your belongings, with nothing more than the clothes on your back. No weapons. No magical components.
Lifting your head, you see a tall, skinny man in a long coat and breeches and boots. He wears a dark beard braided down his chest and his mouth gleams with gold teeth as he snarls cruelly at the lot of you. Six other burly men stand around him, all armed with saps.
His voice rings out in a shout as the whip in his other hand cracks out above your heads. "Still abed with the sun over the yardarm?! On your feet, you filthy swabs! Get up on deck and report for duty before Cap'n Harrigan flays your flesh into sausage skins and has Fishguts fry ye up for breakfast!"
You are on a boat. Against your will. And this man, standing above you, is apparently your new superior.
Your pirate career is off to a dramatically different start than you anticipated.
First to post is the first to wake. Welcome to the high seas!
1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15
Walthus - 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (20) + 2 = 22
Walthus makes a hissing sound. "You! Stop there," Walthus calls to Terflynn. "Stupid intrudersss...Thisss isss my home now...Leave me alonesss!"
Walthus' face ripples and melts away to reveal a mottled brown-and-red flesh and a spherical head with no true face. You see a rasplike tongue lash out from a barely visible slit where his mouth would be. The creature makes a sound similar to a cough before saying, "You will die for thisss intrusssion." He lunges towards Aldel with his body.
Slam Attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Though Aldel is startled by the attack, the creature merely bounces off of the inquisitor's scale mail.
Terflynn - you've been spotted by "Walthus" and aren't hidden.
"NO! You stay outside!" Walthus' cries suddenly. He tries to quickly compose himself, but seems to be failing. "You aren't needed or wanted here any longer. Go get your goblins and leave me be!" He stands in the doorway, not moving, but clearly barring your path.
You see a rippling effect pass across the halfling's face - it doesn't appear to be natural and becomes more noticeable when the halfling gets angry.
1d8 ⇒ 6
1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15
You step into the room and move to inspect the hammocks. The room is full of the small hammocks all of them occupied by a small, sleeping child. Even though you aren't being especially sneaky they don't seem to hear you as they all continue to snooze without movement.
The floor has recently been swept, so no one notices any footprints or signs of recent travel through the area.
There are two sets of stairs, both leading to closed doors. You don't hear or see signs of movement behind either.
As you move through the room, please make a stealth check - or not, if you choose not to sneak.
"So apart from them two b+++#es and that cheating, gambler gnome fella, who else we bringin' aboard?" an unpleasant-looking, gold-toothed man says to an equally unpleasant-looking man wearing a blue scarf. "Cap'n Harrigan needs a crew and thems three ain't going to cut it alone."
"There are five of 'em we can take," the man responds in a raspy voice. "See that sad-sack of a man over there? Word is he's a fancy-ass paladin in the service of Besmara. Never heard of such a thing, but seems like his devotion could be of some value to the crew. Next we've got our eye on that halfling woman over there…" the gold-toothed man shoots him a look, but says nothing. "Yeah, I know we already got one of 'em, but this one's just as tough and capable. Plus the crew like having them little women around. Third is that peg-legged dwarf over there. Seems he's been on a ship or two in his day. We could use more experienced sailors aboard. Fourth we like that skinny, bookish fella. He looks like a dandy, but apparently one of the boys overheard him mentioning something about his spell skills when telling some ol' pirate story." He scans the room to find the last person he had picked. "Ah, there she is," he says, smiling. "That half-elven woman over there. Apparently she's lost her husband and has been investigatin' his disappearance. Don't know if she'll be of much help aboard the ship, but she's a sight to look at, in't she?"
The gold-toothed man nods. "So that's it, then? Fine. Don't suppose there's much better choices among this lot." He stands to leave. "I'm headed back to the ship. Get them aboard. We'll be heading out in less than five hours - don' be late."
The selected party is:
Once again, well-played, friends. There were some amazing characters here.
Those selected, please head over to the discussion thread to check in.
Hello, and welcome to the game!
If you haven't yet finished creating your character, please do so using the criteria listed below.
Please insert the following in the Class/Levels field of your profile (updated with your information, of course):
Please let me know if you have any questions.
I can't wait to get started!
Caerwyn's inexpert hands somehow manage to soothe the halfling's pain. As Caerwyn binds his wounds and uses some swamp mud to staunch the bleeding, the halfling smiles and sighs - clearly feeling much better when the task is completed. "No...no...can't come inside now," he says. "Too messy. Yes. My home is far too messy."
In response to Cally he says, "Oh, it's dead. I had to smash its head in when it bit me. Foul beas...I mean...tragic thing to do. Heartbreaking."
Sense Motive DC14:
You get the sense that the halfling is hiding something or not being completely truthful about the nature of his injuries.
"So goblins, eh?" he asks, once the treatment is complete. "I don't know much about 'em, but they're southeast of here. Their camp can be reached via the Old Fish Trail. That's all I know. Thank ye' kindly for your healing, but I really must be getting back inside. Must clean...you understand."
With that, he turns to go back inside.
As he turns you notice a strange rippling effect that seems to slither over Walthus’ face.
"Uimh. Níl aon duine sa teach. Tá sé díreach tar éis mo nathracha - fuair amháin dom deas go holc. Tá mé cinnte go leor tá mé fós nimhe."
No. No one is in the house. It's just my snakes - one got me pretty badly. I'm pretty sure I'm still poisoned.
Seeing that not everyone understood what he just said, he repeats, "My snake bit me pretty badly. I can still feel its poison runnin' through me." He looks around at your group. "Don't suppose any of you know how to care for such a thing, do ya?"
@Adelaine - I don't need too much crunch - just a general idea of your character's concept.
@Apollo - I'm not sure - which two domains would you take? We'd have to figure out if that'd be fair.
Here's an updated list.
@Everyone - I was just speaking in generalities about the traits, not specifically commenting on those who've already applied. No one needs to change, but new applicants may want to keep their trait in mind.
Also, average gold for your class - sorry that I forgot to include that originally.
@ShadowyFox - I'd allow Undines.
@Viscount - I'm impressed so far - let's see what you got!
After Cally knocks and calls out, the door to Walthus' shack cracks open. You can see a halfling with a ruddy face, brown hair and eyes, and a surprising number of bruises and cuts covering him. "'Ello? Don't see too many visitors out this far into the swamp. Must be serious. Serious indeed," he says, glancing back into his home, before stepping outside and closing the door behind him.
Emerged from his home, you can see that the wounds on his face are matched by the wounds on the rest of his body, he looks incredibly exhausted and is wearing torn, disheveled clothing. "So who'd you say sent you?" he asks, his voice equal parts curious and wary.
Terflynn, you take a -5 penalty to this check as you've hung back.
You notice that as Walthus emerged from his home and as he speaks, it seems as if he's looking past you, into the swamp, as if he's looking for something or someone.
@Faratim - I'm fine with the change.
@Alexander - I'd prefer you just apply with one - that will make it easier to narrow down. And changing to a blood Orc is fine. Nothing's final until the game begins.
All right, here's the current list of applicants:
We've got some great applicants here.
One quick note, in addition to the class, it might be good to have some variety on the campaign traits - not everyone can be blessed by Besmara or the son of a famous pirate.
1d100 ⇒ 28
1d100 ⇒ 31
Fingers manages to unlatch the lock and peer into the room. It is dark, so it takes a moment for his eyes to adjust, but he can clearly see that, for the moment, the room is empty. Stepping into the room you find the floor here is slick with seawater, bits of seaweed, and fish blood - the air is thick with the accompanying scent. Wooden catwalks to the north and south allow access to the western part of the fishery, while the floor here is only five feet above the river below. An open bay to the south allows direct access to the sloppy, muddy water, while to the northwest stands an immense ten-foot-tall wooden vat, its sides caked and waterproofed with tar. Inside is a foul-looking mixture of chum, seawater, and who knows what else. To the east are stacked many barrels and crates, each marked in paint with a fish. Nearly two dozen small hammocks hang from under the catwalks, each with its own ratty blanket and pillow.
Please tell me the order you're marching in. Feel free to discuss this in the OOC thread before posting here.
Glad to see there's some initial interest.
To clarify one of the points in the submission guidelines, when I ask for what you'll contribute, I'm referring to your character - will he be a frontline smasher, ranged threat, arcane spellthrower, etc.? Out of combat, will he be a face, a fount of knowledge, a crafter? I just want to get a sense, beyond your class, what your character will do. Does that make sense?
I’m interested in running one more PbP adventure here on the Paizo boards. I’m intrigued by the Skulls & Shackles AP and think it could work really well in this format. However, it requires a TON of random rolls and checks.
Thusly, I’d like to get 4-5 players who are familiar with the AP - perhaps they started in games that died or have just heard about the basics of the early “grind” - and are willing and able to shoulder some of the daily burden. Namely, rolling for all the day’s activities, understanding when they were successful and when they failed, and posting a full day’s action in one post.
Familiarity with the AP isn’t required to apply - I’ll share what rolls need to happen each day, the associated actions and the results of certain DCs.
Additionally, this requires a pretty loyal posting rate to pull off. One to two posts per day on weekdays would be mandatory.
If that sounds like something you might be interested in, you’re encouraged to apply!
Optional Variant - Co-GM’ing:
Additionally, I might be interested in trying out a co-gm game. I’ve never played in one, and if there’s someone who’s interested in taking over some of the NPCs and run combat if I get busy, that could actually be pretty nifty. PM me if you’re interested in taking on that task, rather than posting in-thread.
LET THE APPLICATIONS COMMENCE!
As you enter the swamp, you are forced to slow down - even the well-worn trail is is a tangle of nettles, reeds, and other swamp plants. Additionally, most of the sunlight is blocked by the dense limbs of the cypress, eucalyptus, oak, and willow trees. The air is thick and humid.
The entire atmosphere is oppressive and spooky. You hear animal calls that might be soothing elsewhere - but here they take on a strange, almost menacing tone.
1d100 ⇒ 81
Terflynn: 1d20 ⇒ 20
Every few steps you hear sudden movement in the underbrush or in the tree canopy above, the splashing of something large wading through the swamp just out of sight, and eerie low growls and bellows from deeper in the swamp - nothing directly threatens you as you move slowly along the trail, but it certainly seems there are things out there, eager chew on you - or worse.
Terflynn, Aldel and Cally:
Not long after you enter the marsh, you spot a strangely mutilated animal corpse on the side of the trail - it doesn't look like the victim of a typical predator's attack.
As you trek, you come across several swamp bridges crossing the rivers and creeks. These bridges are all soggy wooden affairs with mossy surfaces and a few missing planks. Although
Finally, after a tiring, sweltering walk, you finally seem to have reached your destination. The muddy trail leads up to a swampy lagoon. The open ocean is visible just beyond these shallow waters, while an old two-story building, its walls soggy with moss and its roof sagging with age, sits on the lagoon’s eastern shore. This must be Walthus' Proudstump's home.
Despite Arianna's stepping on a cat while she was trying to hide, if there's anyone inside the building, there's no indication they know they're being watched.
As Fingers and Gyllan move to the north side of the building, they are able to get a closer look at the double doors. They appear to be barred shut from the inside, and would prove to be incredibly difficult to break open. The door further down the stairs is a simple door, and though it too is locked, seems as if it would be easier to break in than the larger doors.
At the appointed time, you all meet outside of the Rusty Dragon, prepared to make your way to the swamp. It is a fine, sunny day; not too warm to make the walk unpleasant.
Feel free to RP the conversations that happen on the walk, but I'm going to move things ahead a bit.
After about an hour, you come to the edge of the Marsh. As expected, you see a small trail heading off from the Lost Coast Road and leading into the Marsh. This must be the fishing trail that Sheriff Hemlock mentioned.
DC15 Knowledge Local or Geography or Survival:
This isn't the only trail leading into the Marsh. There are several more further to the south.
Zellara is clearly pleased that you've taken up her request. (And so is your GM, for that matter). Before you leave she adds, "I'm certain I need not tell you all, but Lamm is dangerous. He will do anything to stay alive. You must be equally as determined to ensure that he does not. Now, though I cannot accompany you, I would like to perform a Harrowing before you depart. Though some of you may doubt," she glances at Fingers with a slight smile, "there is power and guidance in these cards." She shuffles the card and with a flick of her wrist withdraws 9 cards. She then shuffles the smaller stack and says, "First, we must do the choosing." She extends the cards to you, clearly intending that you take a card.
You don't have to draw a card, but please tell me if you decline it.
She seems to make note of the card that you've drawn before taking them back and fluidly shuffling them back into the deck. She then lays down nine cards on the table in 3 rows of 3.
1d54 ⇒ 53 = LG
1d54 ⇒ 51 = NG
1d54 ⇒ 24 = CG
1d54 ⇒ 2 = LN
1d54 ⇒ 48 = N
1d54 ⇒ 25 = CN
1d54 ⇒ 1 = LE
1d54 ⇒ 35 = NE
1d54 ⇒ 47 = CE
The cards are spread out in front of you. In the top row you see The Owl, The Teamster and The Courtesan. In the middle row you see The Dance, The Marriage and the Cyclone. In the bottom row you see the Paladin, The Betrayal and the Queen Mother.
"Yes. It is as I have seen," Zellara says, staring intently at the cards. She speaks in a slightly distant, mystical voice. "You five will be bound together through pain and suffering. You will push together, working to complete your goals no matter what. There is a great and powerful woman who is shaping events and her influence will not leave you untouched. Our city is a fragile universe, held together by a strict set of rules - there are those who are attempting to step out of line, and so doing, cause great change. But this change will bring people together, creating new powers. These powers will both be a force that tear through all who attempt to stand against them - including one another. Those who are expected to stand for good will do nothing. Envy will twist spirits and lead to destruction. And lastly, the poor and the powerless shall be the greatest victims of this struggle."
You all have earned two harrow points (or one if you didn't choose a card). The use for these points may be found in the Campaign Info tab. Additionally, the card you chose will may have an affect later in the adventure.
The reading finished, Zellara stands. " The fishery is less than a mile from my home, up Warehouse Way. I wish you great speed and success in your task."
You may collect your belongings, as any additional questions and then be off.
After a short 20-minute walk, you arrive at the pier without incident.
As you travel, you notice that there is a significant number of people out for this time of day. You don't think much of it, perhaps blaming the fact that you even noticed it on heightened nerves or anticipation of your upcoming task.
You hear the sounds of shouts and breaking glass to the west. You can't decipher anything specific or threatening about the noise, but it's certainly noticeable.
The reek of brine and the stink of week-dead fish hang thickly in the air here. The old double doors in the side of this weathered building are tightly closed, with a drooping signpost hanging above. The sign it once displayed is long gone, leaving behind only a single short length of rusted chain.
A fifteen-foot-wide loading dock abuts the side of the building here. A few carts sit nearby, partially loaded with large tar-caked barrels marked with a fish-shaped splotch of red paint on the side. Double doors to the immediate south of the loading dock’s ramp provide access to the building’s interior, while a rickety flight of stairs descends nearly to the river’s surface to the east, where a second door provides a secondary entrance.
A slippery boardwalk clings to the side of the fishery, held together by barnacle-thick pilings that have been worn halfway through their thickness at the waterline. (This is the pier to the right.)
"Well, if you need anything from me before you leave, you know where to find me," Hemlock says, standing from his seat. Before he leaves, he says, "You all have your various reasons for taking on this task, but whatever they are, we are grateful for your assistance. We don't ask this of you lightly, but we are confident in your capabilities. Be safe." He nods and leaves the Rusty Dragon.
Umm...upright? Yeah. Upright. Obviously.
Very quietly, the door to the home opens and you see a slight, smiling woman enter as Arianna is speaking. "Plus, those 'pretty pictures' had enough power to bring five strangers to my home," she says, closing the door behind her. "Welcome, everyone, to my home. I am Zellara. I apologize for not being here as you arrived, but I hope you all availed yourself of the refreshments."
As she steps into the light, you see that she is an attractive middle-aged Varisian woman
“Thank you for coming, my friends, and for putting up with my unconventional method of contacting you. I have reason to remain hidden, you see—a terrible man would see great harm done to me if he knew I was reaching out for help. This is a man you know, for he has done something terrible to each of you as well. I speak, of course, of Gaedren Lamm, a man whose cruelty and capacity to destroy the lives of those he touches are matched only by his gift for avoiding reprisal. You see, a year ago, his thieves stole this, my Harrow deck, from me. It is important to me, an heirloom passed down through a dozen generations, and also my sole means of support. When pickpockets stole it, my son, Eran, tracked them down. The thieves were in the employ of Gaedren Lamm, and in reward for finding them, Gaedren murdered my son." She pauses for a moment to compose herself before continuing.
“I sought help from the Guard, but they turned me away. And so I asked around. I paid bribes. I consulted my Harrow deck for advice. And recently, I was rewarded - I found out where Gaedren dwells. He can be found in an old fishery north of here at Westpier 17, where he trains his abducted children to be pickpockets and counts his stolen treasures.
“And now, I need your help. I cannot hope to face this man on my own, and the Guard moves so slowly that if I were to go to them, Gaedren would certainly know of their coming well in advance. Even if they did arrest him, what guarantee would I have he would be punished? This criminal has evaded the law for decades. But you know of these frustrations as well, for word on the street has it that Gaedren has wronged each of you, too. So there we are. It is time for him to pay.”
She goes silent to allow you to respond.
I present Tarbaht Steed Spirit for your consideration. He is a Hawk Clan Shoanti Mounted Fury Barbarian.
Hey there! This game sounds awesome. I have one question: Can I use the Shoanti Steed trait from the Varisia: Birthplace of Legends companion guide? If not, no worries.
Tarbaht's Background Summary:
I can flesh this out a bit more if you'd like.
Tarbaht Steed Spirit is a full-blooded Shoanti of the Shriikirri-Quah (The Hawk Clan). His clan, the closest to the expansionist Magnimarians, developed a relative peace with the Chelish inhabitants, and so from a young age, Tarbaht was used to seeing the pale faces of the traders, diplomats and explorers.
Though he lived and worked on a farm, Tarbaht's true passion was riding - even among his gifted peers, Tarbaht's skill on a horse was impressive. In addition to his riding ability, his comfort with outsiders helped endear him to the traders and others who came to deal with his clan. By the time he was of age, he was frequently serving as one of the "faces" to represent his clan - he was by no means charming, but he was intelligent and friendly enough.
In his 20th year, a group of explorers stumbled onto his family's farm, bloodied and bruised. They had been attacked by a group of bandits and nearly lost their lives. Tarbaht's mother and father cared them back to health, and when they were ready for travel, Tarbaht was ordered to ride with them back to Magnimar.
One of the explorers was the nephew of a Council of Ushers member. The man introduced Tarbaht to his uncle, who was grateful for the Shoanti's aid, going so far as to express an interest in hiring Tarbaht. In the following years, Tarbaht often served as a guide for numerous explorers through the region, sharing his knowledge and protection for the Chelish men and women.
In his 24th year, he received an invitation to join an official band of adventurers to establish a colony on behalf of Cheliax. Though this caused some discontent among his fellow clanmates, he was finally allowed to accept the invitation in order to protect the interests of his own clan.
Reason For Being Selected: Tarbaht has proven himself as a capable scout and protector for numerous Chelish explorers for four years and has a personal connection to a member of the council. As a Shoanti, he is also interested in protecting the interest and lands of his people, though he downplays this in his dealings with the Council.
I haven't optimized him, as I don't really care for dump stats, but if you'd like him to be a more traditional barbarian (i.e. stupid and unfriendly), I could be persuaded to make the change - a couple more Dex points would be nice.
Tarbaht Steed Spirit
Horse, light (combat trained)
"Two, three dozen goblins, I suppose? I'm not certain - perhaps Walthus knows better." Hemlock replies.
"I don't know about the boats - the fishermen would know better, but they've all gone out for the day, I'd assume."
"We've no idea where the goblins got their fireworks. I assume they robbed some poor merchant or traveler, but we've had no reports of missing cargo that includes a bunch of sparklers."
"Ah, Cally. There can be no question of your contributions to a group. You and Ruhk here can, at the very least, talk the goblins to death." He surveys the room a final time and sees no one else approaching.
"Well then, looks like it's just you five. Let's get started, shall we?" Sheriff Hemlock sits down at a chair and invites you all to do the same. Once seated, he continues, "So you all know about the bounty, clearly. But in addition to the 10 gold we're paying per ear, we're also offering a heftier 300 gold for the head of the Licktoad Goblins' leader, Chief Gutwad. Normally, that wouldn't be much of a task, but these damned fireworks have bolstered the goblins' courage and ferocity." He pulls out a map and spreads it on the table. "You all know this, I'm sure, but the Brinestump Marsh is a little more than two miles south of here, accessible via the Lost Coast road. The goblins' encampment is somewhere within the Marsh." He pauses as if waiting for a question, but continues on without giving anyone a chance to speak.
"Brinestump Marsh may not be as large as the Mushfens farther to the south, but the swamp is dense and tangled; it’s easy to get lost in the place. No one’s made a really detailed map of Brinestump – there’s never been a need, since there’s not much of value within. But if anyone knows his way around in the marsh, it’d be that old eccentric halfling Walthus Proudstump, the self-appointed 'warden' of the swamp. There's a fishing trail that leads from the Lost Coast Road directly to Walthus’s shack in the swamp. You may not need it, but you could do a lot worse than following that trail to seek out the halfling’s advice." He looks up from the map at the group gathered around. "Any questions?"
Seeing the half-elf coming, the sheriff nods at him in greeting. "Welcome, Aldel. Your assistance is appreciated. Desna's protection will be of no small value." He surveys the room for a few moments and seems satisfied that no others are planning on joining. He frowns at this realization, but quickly regains his composure as he begins speaking. "Well, your group is smaller than I anticipated, but perhaps smaller is better for this task..." he stops mid-sentence and looks up to the room. "Hey, Cally! You joining us or do you just want to deliver platters all morning? You talk my ear off about participating in the bounty and then you don't come when invited?" His voice is stern, but it seems as if he's trying to tease the halfling in his own way.
As Arianna knocks on the door, it opens slightly. No one responds, but it seems as if the occupant intended for his or her guests to come in.
The cozy chamber within this small home is filled with a fragrant haze of flowers and strong spice. The haze comes from several sticks of incense smoldering in wall-mounted burners that look like butterfly-winged elves. The smoke itself seems to soften edges and gives the room a dream-like feel. The walls are draped with brocaded tapestries, one showing a black-skulled beast juggling men’s hearts, another showing a pair of angels dancing atop a snow-blasted mountain. A third tapestry on the far wall depicts a tall hooded figure shrouded in mist, a flaming sword held in a skeletal hand. Several brightly-colored rugs cover the floor, but the room’s only furnishings are a wooden table covered by a bright red throw cloth and several elegant tall-backed chairs. A basket covered by blue cloth sits under the table.
As Arianna moves further into the home and closer to the table, she sees a simple note that reads: Thank you for coming. I had to step out for a bit, but shall return shortly. Please, have a seat while you wait. The basket under the table contains bread and drink for you.