About Talia Dionne
Money didn’t buy happiness, but it sure helped the affordability of revenge, I mused to myself, as I delved deeper into the jungle, treading carefully. It was a tad ironic, that in taking on a contract on my family, and succeeding, the Red Mantis might have sealed their destruction – or at least I hoped so, but my revenge was still some way off from being completed.
My parents were Taldan nobility, rich in status and wealth, which undoubtedly must have made them a target. Someone would have taken issue and paid the exorbitant price the Red Mantis charge for their services, but I never truly found out who as yet. I was fortunate to survive myself, being looked after by the nanny when the attack struck, therefore leaving me effectively the lone surviver. With my parents’ death, came the increased wealth I possessed, and no small amount of interest. People tried influencing, or even (later) courting me, trying to make use of my own status, fortune, although I declind them all. I could play politics with the best of them, but had no desire to mark myself out as a potential rival and suffer a similar fate as my parents, I had a goal, serve destruction on those that had taken my family away, and I would not be denied this. How though, to defeat an organisation filled with master assassin’s, far more skilled than myself in combat? My spellpower was weak, physical prowess even weaker, the chances of success were slim.
Instead, I approached the problem in a different way. The Red Mantis pride themselves on secrecy. There is so much that is unknown about them, and due to this uncertainty, it makes them difficult to combat. I decided it would be me who unearthed all their secrets. Everything they kept hidden. I would aim to know all about them, and in doing so shield myself from retaliation. Hopefully, information, out there, ready to be released should I meet an untimely end prevent retaliation, while I could increase my knowledge, learn more, and then finally set into motion a plan of revenge.
This wasn’t without pitfalls. The Red Mantis would eventually learn that I was researching them. They might abduct me, attempt to learn what I knew, or where I stockpiled my knowledge. With the vast network of spies, it would be impossible to keep my goal secret from them, but I could delay things with a decent cover story, a cloak to hide behind.
So I enlisted the Taldor Museum. I pretended to be interesting in funding archaeological digs under the disguise of searching for old artifacts of Old Taldor. I could feign interest, and I had the wealth. No-one cared how I spent my money, letting me freely hide my intentions.
During this, my studies into magic proceeded quickly. I had no aptitude for arcane magic, or relying on the strength of religion, for no god or goddess had stepped in to help my family in their hour of need. Instead, I tapped into the spirit world, the forgotten souls long since passed, to harness their strength and make it my own. Long did I search for my parents in the void, but they forever remained hidden to me, and I have since given up, expecting the Red Mantis might indirectly be preventing me from communing with them. The knowledge though, that I have been unable to obtain made refining my searches easier, I was able to learn more about my enemies. My immediate goal, was to become the foremost master on the topic of the Red Mantis. Let them see me as a threat, let them come after me. If it brought them into the open then it increased the risks, and the better the chance of a countermove.
My reverie was immediately broken as felt the rustling in my backpack, Midnight stirring himself. Midnight had been a loyal and faithful ally, ironically coming to my aid during a misadventure in a cave system on one of my archaeological digs. I had tripped a trap which had promptly blocked the way to the surface, and so, needing an alternative route, I had trawled deeper into the caves. I didn’t find an exit, but instead an ancient altar, the purpose of which I was unable to discern. It was clearly meant for channelling something, but I had no idea what. Experimenting, I channelled my own celestial spirit, curious as to what would happen. The resulting outpouring of celestial energy transformed a nearby bat, therefore creating Midnight, as I knew him. My ally proved invaluable in getting me back out of the caves, his ability to sense things my senses could not, as well as acting as a star map to help me in directing myself, allowed me to escape, and Midnight had therefore served as a focus for my magic ever since.
“Not long now” I murmured, knowing my destination was near. Iadara, was absolutely a tricky destination to find, and technically I hadn’t been officially invited, but I knew my presence would be valuable there. It wasn’t uncommon for high ranking members of society to call upon my knowledge, indeed, some weeks prior I would have met an audience had I not been waylaid by a Red Mantis attack. I certainly wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity, not after years of research. Feeling revenge close, Midnight and I wove deeper into the city.
Short Story( already posted previously):
“Welcome to Oppara” a heavily bearded man exclaimed, warmly greeting Talia, as she swept into the city, her guards behind her. Talia had protested, of course, at having to be escorted to the capital at the request of the Grand Prince accompanied by a host of guards but the men had refused to take no for an answer, insisting that her safety was the primary concern. Talia had begrudgingly accepted, fully aware that the invitation was likely to hear her latest research into the Red Mantis, something the Grand Prince had shown more and more of an interest in. Shouldering her backpack, Talia observed the guide with faint curiosity as she attempted to sidestep and weave deeper into the city.
Talia considered the office for a moment, before giving a half shrug. “I don’t see a problem exploring for a moment, however, there are eight of us here, which might make mobility a little difficult in the streets, I suppose that might limit some of the attractions the city might offer?” she asks quietly noticing the crowds of people in the streets head, idly wondering how pleased her bodyguards would be at having to navigate that situation.
“Ah, that is no problem, we can visit the gardens if you wish instead of touring some of the markets on display", the guide eagerly responds, happy to make use of his vast knowledge of the city itself. “They can be found just up Aroden’s Way, or, if that wasn’t to your fancy, we could also visit-"
“The gardens are fine, thank you” Talia swiftly cuts in, holding up her hand to forestall a flood of information the man was clearly eager to share. Gesturing the guide ahead, Talia falls into step behind him, her protectors following suit, watchful eyes always moving.
The procession continued on, her guide nattering on, blissfully unaware that Talia had long since stopped listening and instead had fantasised about buying a scroll of deafness for some wondrous silence. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the man’s efforts, just that she preferred to explore on her own, something sadly not possible in her current circumstances.
Chatter aside though, Talia had to admit her guide knew the city well, the gardens were certainly impressive as they slipped through the entrances and were met with the lovely aroma of flowers. There were stone benches helpfully placed around should someone wish to rest and relax, but otherwise it was a picturesque scene as Talia wandered into the center of the garden, following a stone path weaving its way through the flower beds.
“Is it your first time in Oppera?” the guide asked, taking advantage of the fact that Talia’s attention was currently distracted by the wonderful scenery on display.
“Yes, yes it is” Talia mummers, still slightly entranced, before she hears a sudden twang in her ear, as she turns sharply, to spot one of her guards fall suddenly to the ground, a crossbow bolt protruding from his neck.
“I thought so” her guide responded smugly, drawing a Sawtooth Sabre as several other assassins materialized from around the gardens, masks on and weapons ready, moving swiftly towards her.
“Stand behind me” Talia orders instantly, hearing her guards swiftly move to intercept the guide now revealed assassin, as she shouts out a mystical word, summoning two barbed chains out of the ground, which immediately crash into the crossbowman, staining the nearby flowers with blood. The minor victory was immediately short lived, as Talia witnessed more of the Mantis striding forward, ignoring their fallen colleague as the chains vanished into thin air. Without looking, Talia knew that there were more behind her closing in, as she could hear the sounds of clashing blades, her bodyguards doing what they could to keep their charge safe.
Stuck for options, Talia taps into her magic again, this time putting a little more venom into her words. At her command, a blast of colour roared out towards the closest group, and Talia felt no small amount of satisfaction watching the entire bunch cry out in agony clutching their eyes as they fell down. Breathing hard, Talia took a step backwards, as the sounds of combat ceased. Whirling, Talia checked, noticing most of her bodyguards had suffered minor wounds but were otherwise ok. Talia checked back, noticing that there were many servants still standing, including the chatterbox assassin that had driven her into the ambush, both sides warily appraising each other now that the element of surprise was lost.
Watching carefully, Talia watched the Mantis closely. She had time to wait, someone would have heard the combat, and the cities law enforcement would eventually arrive. While her bodyguards were wounded, it was nothing life threatening and she had proven that she couldn’t be taken head on, the fallen Mantis were proof of that. Therefore, she fully expected them to back off and retreat, yet the assassins made no move.
A scream sounded again, from behind her as a blade slashed through a neck. Talia glanced around, but saw nothing. An invisible opponent she thought. Blast.
“RUN” one of her guards yelled before the blade slashed again, the unseen attacker again striking without warning, tearing down another one of her defenders as the rest of the Red Mantis engaged, moving in, taking advantage of the disarray. Stuck without options, Talia took the advice, sprinting deeper into the gardens without taking any note as to where she was going, running hard for a few minutes, glancing over her shoulder until she was certain she had lost them.
Trembling slightly and full of adrenaline, Talia frantically checked her surroundings again, realising that she didn’t actually know how to leave the gardens, so intent on escaping, she hadn’t quite realised she had gotten lost. She hoped the Mantis would assume she had found an alternative way out and leave the gardens, thus allowing her to hide here.
A twig snapped.
Heart pounding, Talia twirled in a full circle, but saw nothing, which meant the invisible assassin was still around, moving closer. Talia turned, but no matter what direction she faced, there was always a blind spot at her back, she couldn’t orientate herself without knowing where the assassin would was. The aasimar let out a small sob of fear and panic before her rational mind took over, crushing the feelings down. If she was going to get out of this, she had to be smart.
It was the hardest thing imaginable, to keep calm while being stalked by an invisible assassin, so Talia closed her eyes. She forced herself to listen, to hone in on the one emotion she was waiting for.
Talia felt the stab of alarm, somewhere behind her, and whirling to face it, igniting a blast of flame from her fingertips. She heard a yell of agony as the assassin appeared, now rendered visible by the clothing ignited by the rush of fire. “Burn” Talia, muttered, her tone mixed with a desire of revenge and satisfaction at eliminating the assassin that had delighted in tormenting her while unseen. His howls of pain though, would bring others running.
Talia reached behind her, gently taking Midnight out of her backpack and into her hands. Alone and stuck without options, she had relied on her friend’s ability to perceive the unseen, and the empathy link they shared to locate where the assassin would attack from, thus allowing her to aim accordingly.
“Now now, I know you hate the daylight” she murmured, petting the bat carefully, who had proceeded to send her feelings of irritation through the link after being taken out of the dark backpack. “Its important though, I need you to lead me out of the gardens, and from there an escape route where I won’t run into anymore assassins. Can you do that for me?”she asks quietly, to Midnight, waiting for feelings of a grumpily sort of acceptance, before tossing it up into the air, watching it soar upwards.
A plan in motion, Talia cast two spells in quick succession, firstly casting a billowing fog, and then casting a hypnotic pattern of lights in the opposite direction to her planned escape route. She hoped the fog and misleading lights would draw more Mantis away allowing her to make as much of a clean getaway as she could. Tapping into her magic yet another time, she threw her magical strength into the grass around her, creating a wicker horse which she promptly mounted, directing it out of the gardens as swiftly as it could run, relying on Midnight’s aerial abilities to direct them out of the gardens.
It was a fast, frantic ride, as Talia left the gardens and returned to the streets of the city. Fortunately, Midnight had selected a route largely devoid of people to increase speed, but it did mean it was empty of law enforcement, apparently they did not police far into the Narrows. Heading down a straight section of street, Talia experienced another surge of panic as yet more assassin’s wearing the trademark masks stepped out ahead, rushing in from nearby alleyways, hemming her in. Dismounting, she saw Midnight circling over the top of a nearby residence, and charged ahead, running into the advancing Mantis, making it into the building seconds ahead of them. Hurtling up the stairs, she gave a shriek of surprise as a man leaped through an adjacent window. Talia fell back, falling down the stairs, her ankle twisting slightly before she thrust her hands forward, a blast of water rushing forward, slamming into the man who uttered a surprised scream as it sent him hurtling back out the window to the ground below.
Scrambling to her feet, Talia heard a BANG as the door below flung itself open and Talia saw her chatterbox guide, now revealed chatterbox assassin stride upwards, grinning as he saw the injured Talia hobble up the stairs.
“I don’t know why you are running” the man stated, following Talia, seemly in no particular hurry, his movement far quicker than her own, impaired as she currently was. “The outcomes been pre-determined you might say, all the while you thought you were escaping, whereas you were actually running straight into net. Usually, we wouldn’t be quite so cruel, but the plan was my idea after all, and I do like seeing the crushing despair when a target realizes that there isn’t a way out,” he continued conversationally, before finally reaching grabbing distance.
Hoppling back, Talia cast yet another spell to buy time, trying to hold the man in place, wincing as her magical reserves got lower and lower. The man glimmered for a moment, freezing in place for a half step, before noticeably breaking the enchantment, moving forward again, the spell only giving Talia another few feet of distance as she made it to the top of the stairs.
“Oh please, you’re trying to restrain ME? Someone’s got a little too much self-esteem today” the man remarks in a bored tone, reaching out and grabbing Talia by the waist, before hurling her into a wall, ignoring the aasimar’s groans as she falls to the ground. “Not much of a fighter either to be honest” he continued, deliberately standing on Talia’s hurt ankle, ignoring her scream of pain. “Look at you, unable to really walk, pathetic at fighting…without your spells you really are nothing more than a pretty face really aren’t you?” he asks, smiling happily.
Pushing through the pain, Talia focuses on the last dregs of her power, sending a blast of water towards her attacker, sending him stumbling back. Making use of the distance it granted before crawling into a nearby room. Desperate to stall she drags some furniture to barricade the entrance as best as she can, before turning for an escape route, feeling a stab of panic as she realised the room is effectively a dead end. There’s a balcony outside, but Talia doubted she had the strength left for a climb, and a bulky wardrobe in the corner, which Talia attempted to move but gave up as simply being too heavy. Exhausted, she slumped to the floor.
“Ah, so you did have one more spell remaining, I guess we miscounted” her chatterbox smirked, observing Talia through the barricade. “Credit where credit is due though, even effectively powerless, forced to a crawl speed, you decide to pointlessly delay your fate by this pathetic looking barricade in front of me. What did you want to achieve, maybe an Icarus moment with that balcony? If so, I wouldn’t exhaust yourself further darling, we pulled our remaining operatives outside the building, so falling, while stylish, isn’t going to help out here” her chatterbox remarked helpfully, before viciously kicking at the furniture blocking his way, slowly shoving it aside piece by piece. Still lying on the floor, Talia crawled to the balcony, decide to check anyway, before pulling back slightly as she realized what the man said was true, there were indeed the remaining Mantis surrounding the building, gazing up, watching, waiting.
“I think you should be thanking me though, the mission statement was to prevent you spreading any of our little secrets,” the man said, watching her reactions and slow movements. “Now usually, that would mean duly carrying out our divine mandate, but then it stuck me, we could simply take you back to the Citadel. There, you can blab our secrets to anyone you like, no-one will care. Besides, I think you would look lovely in Sivlamlik” the man finishes, leering slightly.
Huffing slightly, Talia glances out across the balcony again, before spotting Midnight again, circling over a building on the opposite side of the street. Talia glanced at Midnight puzzled, before understanding glimmered and she squinted, spotting a door that would allow escape with the remaining Mantis placing themselves all outside her building. That said, the distance from balcony to the building opposite was the width of an entire street, too far to jump unless…
Talia struggled to her feet, as the assassin glanced at her with surprise, kicking aside the remnants of the barricade and stalked into the room, watching Talia take faltering steps towards the wardrobe. “Has it really come to this? Hide and Seek?” the assassin remarks in a confused tone. Talia ignored his remarks, fixing her destination in her mind and thanking her lucky stars she had had the foresight earlier in the day to prepare herself for any threat. Gasping slightly, she opened the door of the wardrobe, and slipped inside.
The assassin paused, unsure of the new development. He strode over to the door, opening it with a sing song “found you”.
The wardrobe was empty. It was like it was some kind of magician’s act. Drawing his sabre, he shoved it right through the wardrobe, finding nothing. No aasimar. Confused, he checked behind it and searched the room again. Still nothing, and he was adamant the women hadn’t turned invisible. Perplexed, he moved to the balcony, aimlessly glancing at the building opposite. There, holding onto the doorframe for support, stood his target, a determined look on her face as she appraised him from across the street. Giving the man a wave, the assassin seethed in anger watching his mission go up in smoke as Talia moved to a different doorway, and was gone.
Midnight CR –
Female calligraphy wyrm (sage) (Pathfinder Player Companion: Legacy of Dragons 26)
N Diminutive dragon
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +7
AC 19, touch 17, flat-footed 16 (+3 Dex, +2 natural, +4 size)
hp 36 (3d12)
Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +7
Defensive Abilities improved evasion; Immune paralysis, sleep
Speed 10 ft., fly 90 ft. (average)
Melee gore +13 (1d2-3)
Space 1 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks deliver touch spells, ink spray, sneak attack +2d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +4)
At will—arcane mark, read magic
Str 4, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 13
Base Atk +6; CMB +5; CMD 12 (16 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +3 (-5 to jump), Bluff +7, Craft (calligraphy) +8, Fly +15, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +10, Knowledge (engineering) +10, Knowledge (geography) +10, Knowledge (history) +14, Knowledge (local) +17, Knowledge (nature) +10, Knowledge (nobility) +10, Knowledge (planes) +11, Knowledge (religion) +11, Linguistics +8, Perception +7, Spellcraft +8
Languages Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elven, Infernal, Sylvan, Undercommon; speak with animal (same kind only), speak with master
SQ change shape (golden pen), empathic link, sage’s knowledge +4
Change Shape (golden pen) (Su) You can change your form.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Deliver Touch Spells (Su) Deliever master's touch spells.
Empathic Link (Su) You have an empathic link with your master.
Fly (90 feet, Average) You can fly!
Immunity to Paralysis You are immune to paralysis.
Immunity to Sleep You are immune to sleep effects.
Improved Evasion (Ex) No damage on successful reflex save; half on failed save.
Ink Spray (1/2d4 rounds, DC 15) (Ex) As a standard action, 10 ft cone of ink affects foes as glitterdust (Ref neg) except can end blind with standard act and no stealth pen.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in dim light, distinguishing color and detail.
Sage’s Knowledge +4 (Ex) Attempt all Knowledge checks untrainted and gain bonus on all Knowledge checks.
Share Spells Spells with a target of "You" can be delivered by a familiar with a range of touch.
Sneak Attack +2d6 Attacks deal extra dam if flank foe or if foe is flat-footed.
Speak with Animals of its Kind (Ex) You can communicate verbally with animals similar to yourself.
Speak with Master (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your master.
Combat Spell List:
Special Attacks hexes (chant, evil eye, misfortune[APG], slumber[APG]), wandering hex (arcane enlightenment)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th; concentration +14)
Shaman Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th; concentration +14)
Shaman Spells Prepared (CL 9th; concentration +14)
5th—cloudkill (DC 20), wall of force; contact other plane[S] or overland flight[S]
4th—emergency force sphere, stoneskin (2); legend lore[S] or rainbow pattern[S] (DC 19)
3rd—akashic communion, barrow haze[ACG], communal resist energy[UC], wind wall; daylight[S] or locate object[S]
2nd—barkskin, hold person (DC 17), resist energy (2), suppress charms and compulsions; hypnotic pattern[S] (DC 17) or tongues[S]
1st—barbed chains[HA] (DC 16), heightened awareness[ACG] (2), obscuring mist (2), unbreakable heart[ISWG]; color spray[S] (DC 16) or identify[S]
0 (at will)—create water, dancing lights, detect magic, guidance
S spirit magic spell; Spirit Heavens Wandering Spirit Lore