A female voice rings inside your heads. "I sense great danger ahead of you, heroes of Korvosa. Let me aid you."
Your visions blur for a moment and you blink. You're suddenly standing in a cozy chamber within a small home, filled with a fragrant haze of flowers and strong spice. The haze comes from several sticks of incense smouldering 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 throwcloth and several elegant tall-backed chairs.
A middle-aged Varisian woman with long dark hair stands next to the table, and smiles at you. "It's been a while, friends."
The woman smiles at Imoya. "Do not be alarmed, Imoya. My name's Zellara. I'm the one who gathered the group of people who took down the crime lord Gaedren Lamm, and set them on a course to change Korvosa for the better. The group's composition's changed since, but its purpose has not. I'm glad to see a strong person like yourself has joined them."
Zellara's face saddens and she turns to look at Mavor. "It wasn't within my powers to save you or Baer. I'm glad you're back from the death, and sad to see Baer did not return. I can however sense Baer was the one who made this choice, and did so consciously. She's in a better place now, where she's at peace with herself."
Her gaze turns to Quorthos and she shakes her head remorsefully. "I am so sorry for what you had to do to rescue your friends. You do not deserve the cruel fate that most surely awaits you, Quorthos. You're by far the most noble soul I've ever met."
"I do however say most surely, as it's not set in stone," Zellara says as she motions at the table, where a set of Harrow Cards materialize. "There are two copies of the contract you signed. If you were to succeed in destroying both, the contract would be voided. What this would mean for Mavor is unpleasant, as the wish that returned him to life would be undone as well, but perhaps you'll be able to work around that obstacle in due time. You could bring him back through other means."
"But time's not on my side, so let me keep this brief," she continues as she addresses all of you. "In the past you've received the Harrow from me, to guide you in your quest for justice in Korvosa. I have not contacted you in a long time, because I was saving up my magic. My magic pool simply doesn't refill as fast as it did when I was alive. I have therefor not saved up enough magic to work miracles, but there's something I can do for you during your fight with Glorio Arkona."
"I grant The Cricket, Tural, a blessing to heal others more effectively for a limited time."
"I grant The Peacock, Denario, a blessing to empower some of his magic."
"I grant The Uprising, Mavor, a blessing to overcome the enemy's damage resistance for a brief moment."
"I grant The Wanderer, Quorthos, a blessing to decrease the damage everyone takes from a single spell cast by Glorio."
"I grant The Marriage, Imoya, a blessing to overcome the enemy's spell resistance for a brief moment."
You may each decide to use your blessing in any of your turns. It'll be a free action, because Zellara will active it for you.
"Now, before you go, there's one more thing you should know... Melyia intends to keep her word, but she is no different from Glorio. Whatever happens, do not provoke her. You need her on your side while facing Glorio, and you've already proven you're no match for her during your brief exchange of attacks earlier on. Seal the deal with her, and get out with Blackjack and the Seneschal."
Zellara waves at you, smiling faintly as she and the chamber blur. You blink, and you're back where you were before.
"Good luck, heroes," says her fading voice.
"Hmm... Maybe I'll include one next time, provided I have enough energy to do so."
Zellara holds up one of her hands, which has become transparent. "Performing six Harrow readings in succession has already drained me. I feel I cannot keep this image up much longer. It's probably for the best that I make it fade now, to preserve what little strength I've left."
Zellara's barely stopped speaking when her entire body becomes transparent. She smiles at you as she completely fades.
"I'll be with you if you truly need me, but I'll have to enter a passive slumber to refill my magic pool and ensure I can manifest again in the future. Good luck, my friends."
Uh, yeah. The second Baer was Mavor.
Clearly saddened by the messages from the Harrow readings she gave you, Zellara absentmindedly starts shuffling her deck while staring at the wall. "I wish I could've given you prophecies of a kinder nature..."
Zellara stops shuffling her deck and stares at it. She then quietly hands it back to Denario. "The Harrow sometimes shows the path you're most likely to end up on, but you're the ones to decide which path you walk in life. I've seen you work miracles before, and I'm sure you can do it again. Be careful though, as trying to avoid a specific path may be the very reason you'll reach it."
Zellara finishes shuffling her deck and lets each of you draw a single card. After you’ve taken a look at your cards and Zellara’s also seen them, she puts the cards back in her deck and shuffles it again.
”We’ll start with Allyph.” Zellara draws nine cards, which she places upside-down in a three by three square in the couch. She then flips them over.
”The Desert shows me that you went through trials you wouldn’t have been able to overcome without the aid of your allies,” Zellara says as she point out the card. Her hand then moves from the Desert to the two cards below, which she taps with her finger. ”These two are both true matches. The Forge confirms that dangerous events, requiring many sources of strength to overcome, occurred in your past. It’s no surprise we find this card here, because you and your allies had to overcome many trials in the past few weeks. The Tangled Briar indicates that a person in your past has greatly influenced why you ended up where you’re now. That person is now dead. Or to be more precise, murdered. I can say with quite some certainty this was Gaedren Lamm…”
Zellara moves her hand to the top card of the middle column. ”The Waxworks, misaligned. In this position it means you currently hold an abundance of energy, which you can use to change all at a crucial moment. The card below it is the Empty Throne. It shows that this energy comes from a person in your past, one who will always watch over you when you need it. However… the Publican, the card at the bottom of this column is misaligned. It shows me you’ve found refuge in untruth, though I cannot tell what untruth that would be.”[b]
[b]”We now move to your future,” Zellara says as she moves her hand to the last column. ”It’s the Twin, a troubling card. You will face indecision as you waver between tough choices. The Juggler shows me that fate will play with the lives of those around you, but you will achieve your goals if you can keep up with the play. Finally, the Foreign Trader shows me that you’ll be drawn to the path of the shadows. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean these shadows are of a bad nature.”
Allyph gains 3 Harrow Points.
”Baer, you’re next.” Zellara shuffles her deck again and places nine new cards on the couch, which she flips over.
”The first card that’s revealed, the Rakshasa, is misaligned. It shows me that you were able to escape a force that would’ve controlled you otherwise. Though it’s unclear to me which force exactly, the Juggler shows me that you were toyed with at some point. The Keep confirms this, because its misaligned position reveals you almost fell in the face of a force greater than you. As I cannot see what force the cards speak of, I advise you to be wary of its return…”
Zellara point at the top card of the middle column. ”Yet another misaligned card, the Lost indicates clarity of mind. In combination with the Rabbit Prince, a card that indicates bravery and skill, I can see you’re at the top of your game both physically and mentally. Be careful though, as the Rabbit Prince’s broken sword shows that even the best can fall.” Zellara laughs softly. ”I could say the Forge then means that you should invest in better equipment, but that’s not what it actually symbolizes. Instead it shows me that you’re only at your peak due to the strengths of your allies, who compliment your own strengths.”
”the first card in your future, the Tangled Briar, is an opposite match,” Zellara says as she points the card out. ”Here I see something from your past will try to influence you again, and it’s tied to death. Now I see this card I wonder if it has to do with visiting the necromancer’s hide-out a while ago… However, the position of this card tells me that hope will accompany pain. The combination of the Peacock and the Sickness shows me that you’ll encounter something you’ll like, but should try to avoid it. Interaction with it could lead to widespread disease.”
Baer gains 2 Harrow Points.
Laid cards out for the others as well, and will write the readings down after getting some sleep! :)
Don't want to spoil too much, but I'm going to add some more before your characters wake up in the morning. Can't post it now though.
It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to present the following, but I figured it out! I see you went ahead with posting, so I'll use my time traveling GM powers to bring you back to the moment before your characters fell asleep.
You've barely changed and stepped into your beds when the door that separates the men's bedroom from the women's bedroom opens. When you turn to look who opened it, you see no one there. You blink once, and an attractive middle-aged Varisian woman with long dark hair stand in the door opening. Most of you instantly recognize her as Zellara.
"Good evening, friends," Zellara says. "I've been waiting for a good moment to contact you all day long, but there hasn't really been one."
"You never do rest, do you?" she jokingly adds.
Zellara looks at Tural. "We've met before, Cricket. I'm Zellara, the one who guided you to this tavern. Back then I could only speak to you telepathically, but I told you we'd meet in due time. Here I am."
She then turns to Quorthos. "I didn't have any strength left to contact you, Wanderer, but with my last strength I steered the others here toward you. You were meant to join them, and I was glad to see you did."
Zellara walks over to the couch in the ladies' bedroom, her footsteps not producing any sound. She sits down on the couch's arm, next to Majenko. "I don't think the others have informed you about me, Cricket and Wanderer, which is why I'll briefly explain to you who I am. My name's Zellara. I was murdered by Gaedren Lamm, but my ties to this world kept me from fully passing on and turned me into a ghost. I'm tied to the Harrow deck that I possessed while alive, which Denario carries with him."
"To take revenge on Lamm, who also killed my son, I sought out individuals that hated him as much as I did. However, ever since I became a spirit my divination skills with the Harrow deck have greatly improved. I soon sensed that most of the individuals I'd sought out were destined for more. Korvosa was, and still is, in grave danger. Now you're with six, and my Harrow deck tells me you're the ones that can change Korvosa's bleak future."
Zellara turns to Denario and holds her hand up. "Could you hand me my deck?"
When Denario hands Zellara's Harrow deck over to the ghost, Zellara starts shuffling the cards. "You met several people with red pocks on their faces. Tomorrow you'll meet more. Allow to me to perform a Harrowing for each of you. I won't be able to provide an abundance of details, as the future holds many paths that you could choose to walk, but I can give you some insight on what's to come."
Zellara's eye twitches when Baer blurts the name out loud. "Yes... that's the name..."
She picks up her cards and shuffles the deck while the table and chair slowly disappear. After handing her deck of cards back to Denario, Zellara slowly fades away. "It won't be too long before you'll see me again. Take care till then."
Zellara smiles at Majenko. "You'll first have to see if you want to be. This ordeal may drag out longer than the duration of your promise, tiny dragon. The cards show me several paths, and I see paths with and without your presence at the others' sides."
Mavor seems to be looking for a chair, which Zellara did not create with the table, and suddenly a chair appears in front of him. When he asks his questions, Zellara closes her eyes for a second.
"The Wanderer's name," Zellara says after some time, "is Quorthos. Though none of you should use that name before you've heard someone outside this house say it. For some reason, though not all, most paths that have you use the name before that moment will alter the course you have to take. Understood?"
"The greater trouble you want to hear about, is something I cannot tell about now. Currently, the future's too murky for me to clearly see it. All will be revealed in due time."
"Something big, Baer. I can feel it stir. It does so stronger than when you went after the Lamm, the dead bastard." A frown appears on Zellara's face when she realizes she's also dead, but she pays no further attention to that detail.
Zellara takes a few steps backward and a table appears where she'd just been.
"The Dance showed up in my first prophecy," Zellara says as she places The Dance on the table, "but it soon proved The Dance wasn't a good match with the other cards. He had to be replaced."
She looks at each of the old party members, placing their cards on the table as she names each of them. "Baer, The... well, Bear... Allyph, The Courtesan. Denario, The Peacock. And of course Mavor, The Uprising."
"After The Dance's leave, I felt The Cricket would join you. Here's where I made a mistake. Due to Uriah's own affinity with the Harrow, I mistook him for The Cricket. He was not."
Zellara now looks at Tural, placing the card he found on the Three rings Tavern's door on the table: The Cricket. "You're the true Cricket, one whose mind's as quick as his body. Your card represents speed and quick travel. Your journey to Korvosa was a short one compared to what's to come, but if all fares well you'll find something that makes it all worthwhile."
"Even with borrowed strength I cannot perform a Harrowing for you now, Tural. The timing's off. I will reappear to you on my own volition when the timing's right. Though I'll reveal you something that happened in the past, for which I don't need to perform a Harrowing: the man responsible for the drugs that killed the one you cared for is dead. His name was Gaedren Lamm, and these people took care of him."
Returning her attention to everyone, Zellara draws one more card which she places upside-down on the table. "There's one more thing I can do for you now. I mentioned it earlier: something big's stirring. For that reason I'll guide you toward one more person. For some reason, fate guides you toward yet another person affected by the wrongdoings of Lamm. I don't know why the Harrow does this, but so be it."
Zellara flips the card over: The Wanderer. "This card, The Wanderer, symbolizes a person who finds value in what others find worthless. He's a collector of what others regard as broken, and has taken more than a single unique path."
"You will meet The Wanderer today, in a place you did not expect to be at. After which I suggest you shift your attention to dealing with something that wants to deal with you. Events will pick up soon after that."
A weak, translucent image of a middle-aged Varisian woman with long dark hair becomes visible in front of the deck and Allyph. The woman's image becomes less and less translucent as Allyph's magic is sapped. Eventually the drain of magic is halted, and in front of you stands Zellara.
"Thank you, Allyph," Zellara says and helps Allyph back up. She also picks up her deck of cards. "I was able to temporarily manifest myself with your aid."
Allyph's daily spells and magical abilities are halved (rounded down) for today.
Zellara smiles at everyone who's gathered. "Hello everyone! And nice to meet those who haven't seen me before, Tural and Majenko. My name's Zellara. I originally sent these fine people, who accompanied you here, out on their journey to make Korvosa a better place."
She focuses on Tural. "You'll probably have some questions, but let me first tell you the following. I'm able to feel the general flow of time due to my affinity with the Harrow. I sensed your arrival in Korvosa, and decided to contact you when you arrived at the Three Rings Tavern. Your wish to make Korvosa a better place is also what this party tries to achieve."
"Yes, the card Tural showed you came from me," Zellara says to everyone who's gathered. "Though I'll admit the 'due time' I mentioned on the card came a bit earlier than I expected. Even I cannot predict everything."
@Denario: You're ahead of me :P
I sent him your way, a familiar voice rings inside the heads of the 'old' party members.
Uriah, who's idly twirling the Harrow card he found between his fingers, will notice it's suddenly gone.
You found them, Zellara's voice says inside Uriah's head. You should go with them. Have faith in the Harrowing.
"It does feel good. If I would have a physical body I'd kick Lamm, or what's left of him, some more times."
Zellara disappears and ends up inside the building, next to Lamm's body. She tries to kick it, but her foot passes through the body. "Sadly, I can't..."
"The Harrowings were originally meant to give you the strength and courage to go out and find Lamm, but what they revealed went beyond the scope of defeating this single man. I feel the force of a greater evil in this city, and the cards revealed your destinies intertwine with it. That's why I asked Denario to keep my Harrow deck safe."
Zellara smiles, but there's something sad in her eyes. "I figured you could use the help."
"Uhm... no thanks," Zellara responds after staring at Baer few a few seconds. "Though if you could bury my head, I'd like that. Doesn't have to be at a cemetery, just bury it please. The food you ate was real by the way. Just a bit old and moldy, but I made it appear just fine."
"Oh don't worry!" Zellara says when she realizes what she just said. "It was fine! Really! It's wasn't that old yet, I bought it just before I died!"
Zellara looks relieved when Denario says he'll keep the card safe. "Thank you, Denario. I expected they'd be safe in your hands, but for a moment I worried if you'd perhaps start throwing them. That'd be... problematic for me."
"I want all of you to know I can't appear like this too often. So I will only do so when I feel it's required. You make always asks me questions though. I can reply without appearing. This appearance is just an illusion to make you feel less awkward, as I figured you'd feel weird when talking to the air."
"I told you about my son Eran, who went after Lamm to reclaim my Harrow deck. When he didn't return I went after him, but that's where..."
"Lamm killed me. Fed my body to his alligator, like he did with so many kids." Zellara points at her own head. "He saved what he... liked..."
"When I died my soul was bound to my Harrow deck. I gathered you, because I knew you stood a chance to defeat Lamm. I've been observing you for some time."
Zellara steps up next to Denario. "I'd like you to carry my Harrow deck with you, Denario. I think you understand its value the best, because you have an affinity for the cards. Please keep it safe."
"I did, Denario," a voice that's unmistakably Zelara's says. The direction the voice comes from is unclear.
"And why exactly did you kick me?" This time Zellara's voice comes from behind Kwoon. When he turns around she stands directly behind him. "I thought you liked civilization so much, and wanted to spread it? It's not very civilized to kick the dead, Kwoon."
"Now for Baer's reading." Zelara shakes the cards again, places nine cards on the table, and flips them over.
Zellara, like before, starts with the first column: "The Twin... It's a card that makes me wary, as it might indicate a hidden meaning in this spread of cards. I'll have to interpret this spread with more care... The Twin itself indicates indecision. Perhaps this has to do with The Mountain Man, which shows me you faced a force out of your control. Something happened, and you were forced to take walk another way. The needle The Owl holds reveals that your life was picked apart in an instant."
"The Avalanche is misaligned," Zellara says as she continues with the middle column. "You have a chance to avert further calamity, but it may not be without consequence. The Locksmith shows me you now have the tools needed to proceed. Though you should be aware this doesn't mean you know how to use the tools. I see a union between parties in The Marriage. This probably indicates the five of you coming here. This union indicates new power and has the potential to bring forth permanent change."
Zellara then proceeds to the last column: "The Rakshasa, again. And again it is misaligned. Its position in your future shows me you'll obtain information that will enable you to cease a form of enslavement, or another kind of oppression. The Sickness... This card represents plague, pestilence, famine, disease... When I look at The Peacock, which signifies a sudden shift in societal change, I worry that The Sickness indicates a large scale disaster. Perhaps this disaster indicated by The Sickness is the oppression The Rakshasa shows? This would mean you'll be able to make it cease."
Baer gains 4 Harrow Points.
As Zellara gathers her cards she gives a quick nod into the direction of the door. "Your new friend is impatient. Keep in mind the union I spoke of in Baer's reading... and the change Denario could bring, but not on his own... The cards are clear: you will have to work together, or you will fail."
"Of course." Zellara shakes her cards again, and places nine cards on the table. "Let me start with Allyph's, I'll do Baer's next."
"Let us see what they reveal," she says as she flips them over.
Zellara looks at the first column, and points out The Courtesan. "Here is your card, The Courtesan, denoting a woman of power. But in this position, and combined with The Bear, it shows a confrontation with a powerful force that did not got as planed. The Fiend is misaligned and shows you were able to escape calamity."
She continues to the middle column. "The ghosts of the past, she indicates The Empty Throne, "must be avenged and disaster, continuing to The Avalanche, "must be diverted. The Rakshasa is normally a card of domination and slavery, or another force that uses you, but in this position shows you are capable of overthrowing evil forces.
"How will you achieve your goals?" Zellara asks as she considers the remaining cards. "The Inquisitor in the negative position shows that a head-on confirmation will not be successful. Instead, you will need to travel a more difficult path, she indicates The Dessert, to restore order, finishing her reading with The Dance.
Allyph gains 3 Harrow Points.
"You're welcome, Denario. Both you and Mavor are correct. The cards don't tell me everything, but they tell me what matters most."
Zellara shakes the cards of her Harrow deck again, and lays nine cards face-down on the table. "Let's see what the cards reveal about Mavor," she says, and flips the cards over.
Zellara gives Kwoon a quick glance, but returns her attention to the cards on the table. She points out the cards in the first column while explaining them: "The Rakshasa shows me you were once used, but its misaligned position means you came to realize this. The Trumpet reveals you went against, or did not fully cooperate with, the one or those who used you. Not any longer. But you didn't decide to leave, did you? You stayed, and waded into the direst situations without hesitation. The Inquisitor shows me that's where it went wrong. You were dealing with a person who would not change. A person you couldn't fool or sway. You were heading for disaster, and met it."
"The Crows signify vile acts, but it is misaligned," Zellara explains as she moves to point out the card in the middle column. "In the present your skills, though vile by nature, can be used for a just cause. The Tyrant is in a strong position, and shows me there's a strong force that wishes you harm. My guess is that it's the same force that brought you disaster in your past. But don't despair! The Juggler reveals that, if you can keep up your current rhythm, you're heading for your goal."
Zellara's face turns slightly pale while she sees the first card in the last column."Now for the future... The Uprising! It's your card! On its own The Uprising represents you will be caught in the clutches of something more powerful than you. It's an overwhelming strength that often crushes what comes into contact with it. The crown held high signifies a leader of some sort will be overthrown... For this card to appear in the spread... You'll face a force that's much stronger than you."
She pauses for a second, rubbing her temples before she continues with the last column: "The Empty Throne reveals there's an important lesson for you to learn, if only you choose to listen. But... The Idiot is in a strong position. Be careful, Mavor. If you don't choose to listen the loss you dignity may very well precede the loss of your life."
Mavor gains 3 Harrow Points.
A playful grin appears on Zellara's face. "Sounds like you should marry that girl."
Zellara takes her Harrow deck from a pocket and shakes the cards. If any of you were holding the card you got earlier you'd notice it was suddenly gone. Zellara places nine cards face-down on the table, then flips them over.
"The Fiend and The Publican are both misaligned in your past," Zellara says as she points the cards out. "Their combination shows me you changed the course of your life by unmasking something false. The Unicorn shows me that, through unmasking what was false, you were offered something in return."
Zellara's hand moves to the cards in the middle column and points at them while she continues: "The present shows me two misaligned cards as well. The Cyclone and The Winged Serpent. You have what it takes to bring change to the current situation, and set straight what recently expired, but you will have to be careful. Make sure you prepare yourself, and seize only the correct moments. The Wanderer shows me you know the worth of small things. The things that are useless to others."
"The Union shows me there's permanent change ahead of you," Zellara explains as she moves onto the last column. "The Midwife is in a rather favorable position. It shows me you'll be source of the change ahead, but you won't be able to make the change on your own. The Paladin, misaligned, is in its strongest position. This card shows me that you will stand strong and do what's right, even when others fail to do so. This could very well be what helps to bring the change ahead of you."
Denario gains 1 Harrow Point. If you want to know what you can use Harrow Points for, check the info I placed about Harrow Points in the Campaign Info thread!
"That trick's my own secret," Zellara replies to Mavor, and laughs. "Perhaps you didn't watch your own purse as well as some others."
Zellara turns to Kwoon. "The guards... Gaedren Lamm has escaped them time after time. They didn't want to put new effort into finding him, even when I begged them. Our friend here may be correct in his thoughts."
"About the reliability of my cards... My Harrow cards tell me more than they tell most. I could prove this to you. Anyone wants a demonstration?"
A middle-aged Varisian woman with long dark hair she enters the house, and smiles at those who've assembled as she closes the door behind her. She walks over to the table and takes place on one of the chairs. "My name's Zellara. I'm the one who asked you to come here. Let me directly tell you why."
"First I want to 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."
"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."