Chapter 2 Part 1: The Shadows Lengthen - RPG Crossing
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 08:38 AM
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Chapter 2 Part 1: The Shadows Lengthen

Months have passed since the downfall of the Bastards of Erebus. No other bandit group has set up within the city walls, and those out on the highways have been quieter than before. The winter finds the Vero Dottari mostly lying low, going about their independent lives, staying clear of the law. Although the initial fury of the Hellknights' hunt for Arael has abated, rumours on the street indicate that the armoured warriors still want to talk to those involved in the rescue: and that the conversation would not be comfortable.

Additional rumours are beginning to surface: perhaps the city of Westcrown is not quite as abandoned as it seems, and perhaps someone does care about the people: but these rumours are spoken quietly, only to very well-trusted friends, for neither the Mayor nor the other nobles, much less those representatives of the national government who journey as far as the old capital, would look kindly on signs of dissatisfaction among the populace.

-=-

As the weather warms, and the days begin to lengthen, the shadow-beasts that prowl Westcrown's sad streets by night might be expected to retreat. This spring, however, it seems that they are determined to extend their hold; dusk and dawn are more dangerous than ever before and each day seems to bring a new tale of someone found dead. It is in this climate that each of you is summoned to the old Shrine of Aroden, the Vero Dottari's safehouse, for a meeting with Janiven and Arael. The message is short, but compelling: We may have a way to reclaim the nights.

Arriving, one by one, you find Janiven and Arael waiting to greet you along with a stranger, a tall woman in well-worn leather. Once the last arrives, Arael introduces the newcomer as Ailyn Ghontasvos, and in hushed tones proclaims her as a member of the Pathfinder Society.

After she’s introduced, Ailyn explains that she has come to Westcrown secretly and under the guise of a common mercenary, hoping to recover several treasures lost when the city’s Pathfnder lodge was forcibly closed decades ago by agents of the House of Thrune. Called Delvehaven, the lodge has been locked down tight for over 30 years, and even before then no Pathfinder had set foot inside since Aroden’s death.

The fact that the shadow beasts came to plague Westcrown’s streets so soon after the lodge was sealed by the House of Thrune seems to indicate a connection between the two events, and Ailyn believes she has discovered proof while researching Delvehaven in the libraries of Skyreach at the Great Lodge in Absalom. She goes on to explain that, as much as she would want to explore Delvehaven, she cannot - she’s not offcially here on Pathfinder business, and if the society were to find out that she had taken the exploration of Delvehaven into her own hands, she would be in a lot of trouble. Yet if, perchance, another group not directly affiliated with the Pathfinders were to enter the old ruin - say, a group of heroes eager to combat the shadow beast infestation - Ailyn would be able to make a formal request to have Delvehaven investigated again.

Unfortunately, one does not simply walk into Delvehaven. While the House of Thrune no longer actively guards the site, they transferred that responsibility to Westcrown’s mayoral ofce. Worse, the fact that the House of Thrune has been engaged in an act of rewriting history (either by destroying existing documents or changing them to suit Thrune’s preferences) means that reliable information about Delvehaven has become incredibly scarce. Ailyn knows that there are several powerful magical locks and wards on the lodge placed there by the House of Thrune to prevent entry, and her research has shown her that keys to the locks and documentation relating to those wards exists in only one place - Aberian’s Folly. Further, the House of Thrune’s devotion to order and tradition all but ensures that these keys and documents are kept in a complex, twelve-sided puzzle-box container known as a Chelish Crux, and that if it has been secured anywhere in Aberian’s Folly, it is likely to lie within the manor’s vault - a place known as the Asmodean Knot. Unfortunately, her research in the vast libraries at the Grand Lodge in Absalom hit a dead end after that, and so she has come to Westcrown to continue her investigations.

"So what of it?" Ailyn concludes. "Will you work here, infiltrating the Folly to find access to Delvehaven?"

Though she addresses her question to the room at large, it is clear that she does not expect Arael and Janiven to lead the operation directly.

OOCAberian's Folly (Vaneo Arvanxi) is the Mayor's palace, located in the south of Westcrown. I'll post a bit more information soon.
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Last edited by HenryLockwood; Jan 7th, 2011 at 09:46 AM.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 10:07 AM
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Stumpet's eagerness is obvious from the moment the woman is introduced as a member of the Pathfinder Society. A real Pathfinder! Here! The more Ailyn speaks about what she wants the Vero Dottari to work toward the more jubilant Stumpet becomes. By the time that the tall woman finishes speaking, asking the question that Stumpet has been waiting to hear for years the veritably glowing dwarf leaps forward. "YES!" ahem "Yes." Stumpet looks embarrassed for a moment at her uncontrolled outburst.

With a start, as if just remembering something, she reaches into her pack and pulls out the old wayfinder she received some time ago. As if she were displaying the greatest treasure on earth she present the battered thing to Ailyn. "I was sent this by an unknown Society member a couple years ago. I have been waiting to explore Delvehaven since I first heard about it when I was but a wee dwarf tyke." Stumpet straightens her shoulders and stands up to her full four feet height. "I would love the opportunity to serve the Society and begin the process of liberating Delvehaven from the oppressors and servants of Asmodeus. You have my mace and Desna's strength in this effort."
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 10:56 AM
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The months pass easily in decadence for Lycullus, the only real contact he maintains with the group being a discovery in Keira's bakery of a small, fine cake and a small letter of apology for accidentally shooting her...twice.

The rogue thinks to himself as Ailyn outlines the caper before them. Likely a small trove of rare, saleable items are locked away in there - curios and the like. Could be fun.

Looking at the group, Lycullus takes his ease on his habitual bench, a coiled spring waiting for release. "While none of us bear the thrice-cursed House of Thrune any good-will, breaking into the manor is likely not the sort of caper we would be able to pull off safely - and that says nothing of breaking into this Asmodean Knot you speak of. Do you have a suggestion beyond willful suicide?"
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 01:46 PM
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Ailyn smiles at Stumpet's enthusiasm, then raises an eyebrow at the wayfinder the dwarf produces. "That's more than a mere token, and you do well to keep it by you."

To Lycullus' more reserved reaction, the Pathfinder gives an approving nod. "Indeed; straightforward housebreaking was not what I had in mind. However, Janiven has been able to suggest a more subtle approach."

At this, Janiven steps forward and explains her idea. "Mayor Arvanxi is well known to love the theatre, and the Theatre Mortrescci in particular. You know the 'art'? Half play, half bloodsport. The tradition is to invite the director and any surviving cast to a banquet at the home of the production's patron."

There's a sceptical noise from Arael.

"Yes, I know you don't like the plan: but do you have a better one? They normally use menials, starving beggars, for the cast: and if the cast survive you will win fame throughout the city, and it'll be the best way into the manor. Look at the advantages!"

Ticking points off on her fingers, Janiven explains the attractive features of her plan.

"First, if all goes well you'll be in the manor as invited guests: no need to sneak. Second, those parties run on long and hard, reportedly for days sometimes, so you'd be free of time pressure. Third, you'd be expected to be in costume: and the main characters in the play are heroes, warriors, so you would not need to leave arms and armour behind. Fourth, the mayor's love of the theatre will mean that he'll talk to you far more easily than otherwise, if you're there as actors, and he'll tell you at least half of what you need to know before he passes out from drink."

Arael, having sat quietly during Janiven's explanation, seizes the opportunity to speak.

"Yes, but you know which play it is: it's the Six Trials of Larazod. You know it hasn't been staged for two centuries, because it was banned. You know it was illegal because no cast has ever survived a production!"

Ailyn steps in to calm matters, saying "So there you have it. An imperfect plan perhaps, but I believe you are capable enough to survive where starving runaway slaves could not, and we have no better plan."
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 08:00 PM
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With dead eyes to match the deadpan voice, Lycullus replies to the plan; "...Delightful. You truly expect us to willingly sign up for suicide? I may dabble as a thespian to hear tidbits now and then," he nods at Kami and Keira in rememberance of their encounter with the insufferable oaf, Umberto. "But that doesn't mean I want to be a famous one - it would completely ruin that disguise! Assuming we survived, which is apparently highly in doubt. I'd rather just make it a snatch and grab; despite the lack of finesse."
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 10:03 PM
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Vesper listens intently as the plan for their next mission is laid out before the group. She wants us to pretend to be actors? I’ve pretended to be many things for many men in my past, but nothing quite like this. Though if we can pull this off…

After sitting out her friends’ most recent battle the raven haired young woman is eager to take part in any upcoming plans. “I’ve…ummm…done some acting myself in the past and…ahhh…well I think all of us can pull this off.”

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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 03:03 PM
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"It's superstition, Lycullus," Kami says suddenly. The interjection is something of a surprise - after the expulsion of the Bastards from Westcrown, she had been uncommonly quiet and distant, seeming lost in thought. "Bad luck matched with idle rumor. There's nothing cursed or wrong about the play itself. Hells, my father used to read it to me as a child. Besides, I doubt we'll be putting on the show, and I'd hardly pass up such an excellent justification for a disguise."

"I'd be honored to assist you, Ms Ghontasvos. The pathfinders have done much to serve Westcrown, whether they know it or not. It's a pity intelligent histories have taken a backseat to the violence and evil that plagues this place now.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 03:44 PM
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With a wry look at the arcanist he has come to respect - anyone who can detonate the ground under the hellknights is someone to mark in his book - Lyculls shakes his head at her patient words. "Arael just admitted the stars have never survived before and Ailyn pointedly mentioned that we would be starring in it - how do you figure we wouldn't be putting on the show, my dear? Surely I'm not the only one who sees the madness here!"
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 04:00 PM
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"Hm." Kami says, reviewing the conversation in her mind. "I apologize, Lycullus, I misinterpreted. I assumed we'd be disguising ourselves as stagehands or something a little less dangerous. But I suppose they'd be less likely to be invited to a fete.

All the same, tarting up the Trials with a bit of sport seems less dangerous than trying to fight our way past the entire mayoral guard. It's earned its reputation because they feed bedraggled prisoners to it, not competent fighters and thinkers. The fact that it's developed this mythical quality makes it all the more appealing as an avenue of approach to the mayor himself. "
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 05:01 PM
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Janiven smiles at Kami's words, glad to have a supporter in this proposal.

"Exactly! And think of the public reputation: fame and adulation, and you'd be the visible leaders Westcrown needs!"
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Old Jan 9th, 2011, 01:32 PM
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"Certainly not a downside," Kami says, "Though I expect we will want to remain incognito until we have a stronger position with the Mayor and the few good souls left in Westcrown."

OOCI'd like to make a Knowledge: Local or History to see what I know about this play at 23.

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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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Stumpet considers the plan and discussion for several moments before replying. "I've no experience 'acting,' but this looks like acting comes second to dying brutally on stage. Who do the 'stars' usually face in combat? Hellknights? Other slaves? I'll not fight and kill helpless people whatever the reason."
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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 09:26 AM
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In reply to Stumpet's question, Janiven answers:
"It's not quite like that, you see. The "trials" of the title are perils faced by the hero, battling against hideous monsters. In the abridged version of the play, those are illusionary: but the uncut version calls for at least some real danger. It won't be other cast members, or helpless victims, you'll have to cut down."

Arael snorts in the background. "Well, that's a relief. Nothing to worry about."

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Old Jan 10th, 2011, 09:29 AM
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"Hideous monsters? What do they do go capture goblins and orcs and release them onto the stage?" Stumpet apparently isn't familiar with this play and is somewhat amazed that the 'leaders' of Westcrown would allow actually monsters to be released in town.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 01:22 AM
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"It wouldn't be my first choice of subject, but you aren't going to deny me my chance in the spotlight." Thee jokes, pretending to preen. But she's quickly serious again. "If the notion doesn't please everyone, those of us who are willing could participate in this play, and if we survive to gain entrance, we could then let the others in."
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