With Spectre having delivered their ally Blackjack into the hands of Loki, the Pathfinders debated at length on their next course of action. Korvosa seemed too dangerous to stay in for any length of time, yet the region held the few existing clues for finding Thor. The Elves were too far away to make it worth visiting, and the nearest cities were under Loki’s control. In the end, they decided the Serpentfolk of the Mwangi Expanse may be their best option for both opposing Loki and locating Thor. Together they packed up a wagon and set off.
Just outside of the city limits, however, Fate and Spectre conjectured on the planar relationship between Earth-One and Gotham – a relationship theorized by Hex earlier. “If Korvosa is Gotham,” Fate reasoned, “Would that not make its resident vigilante Golarion’s Batman?” The Pathfinders considered the theory and suddenly grew concerned. If Blackjack dies, what happens to Batman? The Korvosan freedom-fighter no longer considered an acceptable loss, the Pathfinders immediately turned around and returned to the ailing kingdom.
Their plan to liberate Blackjack came in multiple stages. First they needed to find safe harbor for the aftermath that would surely ensue. Batman would seek out their only remaining ally in the city, noble Amin Enderin, for this task. Hex would locate and rally together the disbanded Korvosan Guard, who were more than likely angered at their disbandment and the murder of their Field Marshal. Fate would locate and destroy Spectre’s binding contract to Loki, with Spectre ready to assist. It was a dangerous and wide-spread plan, but with luck and planning it may just work.
Glorio Arkona was a dignitary from the prestigious Vudran district, a vastly wealthy and powerful noble who maintained an estate in Old Korvosa. As an outside dignitary, Arkona enjoyed a well-connected state of diplomatic immunity, the opulent grounds of his walled estate considered foreign soil. Still, the Arkona family did its best to stay out of and away from the problems literally plaguing Korvosa.
This changed when Amin Endering arranged a meeting between Arkona and “Master Quigley,” who wished to discuss and arrangement.
Palace Arkona was perched at the highest point atop Endrin Isle in Old Korvosa. The grounds were generally open, decorated here and there with tiny copses of trees, exotic topiary animals, beautiful flower gardens, and exquisite fountains. The palace was a breathtaking structure built in the almost Indian-Hindu style, with golden pillars, high windows that rise to tapered points, minarets, and domes decorated with slender spires. Inside, walls were made of ebony and carved with depictions of elephants, tigers, monkeys, and peacock, all with shimmering mother-of-pearl eyes. Doors were made of mahogany and carved with images of the Vudran deity Chamidu, the God of Wild Beasts. Chamidu appeared as a six-armed, four-faced giant who rides a tiger with human hands for paws. All rooms were lit at night by everburning torches, systematically snuffed out by servants with the rising un. Exotic plants in clay pots were abundant, and each room was rich with their scent, mingled with that of sandalwood incense burning in brass censers that hung from the ceiling here and there. The rooms inside the palace were spacious and grand, and central to all was the massive central foyer.
Wayne waited rather impatiently but dutifully for Arkona, who eventually arrived flanked by several servants – each holding an exotic drink, silver tray or large fan made of palm leaves.
“Ah, Master Quigley,” Arkona greeted with a warm smile. The aging man had a faint web of scratches across his left eye – signs of an unfortunate encounter with some wild animal perhaps – and he bowed his head respectfully.
“A pleasure, Lord Arkona,” Wayne responded, extending a hand.
Arkona looked at the hand with disdain a moment before ignoring it with another smile. “This way, please. Come, step into my parlor.”
Arkona and his entourage entered a nearby room that smelled of cinnamon and some other unknown spice, the rugs and walls a deep crimson. He sat in a plush red chair, pointing to another across from him.
“That that we are in more private accommodations, Sir Wayne, I presume you’ve come to me for assistance for you and your Pathfinders?”
Wayne sat, a little taken aback. “How did you…”
“Laufeyson is not the only employer of eyes and ears in this city,” Arkona explained. “We are the Arkona, and beyond his reach.”
“Then let me inform you of someone your spies do not know as well as I do: Loki. Laufeyson is what your people would call a demigod. He is not from this world, nor this plane. He has conquered worlds, eliminated entire races and toppled gods. Loki has a plan for this world as well, and I can assure you Korvosa is the least of his concerns. It is a staging ground for something much greater, and far more deadly. He will stop at nothing until every ruler on this planet has bowed to him. And when that happens? Nothing and no one will be beyond his reach. Not even the Arkona.”
Arkona’s lip twitched slightly as he laughs nervously through a forced grin. “We would tell the Vudran and Cheliax Councils that…”
“Councils that will be subverted and brought under his boot,” Wayne interrupted. “Lord Arkona, there will be no council. No sanctuary. No protection. All your wealth and power will be meaningless. We have the means to stop him, and we are the only ones who can. But to do that, we need your help. Grant us sanctuary within your walls, and we will see Loki brought down. Turn us away, and you are on your own.”
Arkona pondered the proposal for some time, holding his shaking hand from clinking as he lowered the tea handed to him onto a plate.
“Bring no harm upon me or my estate,” he softly answered, “and you shall have sanctuary here.”
After purchasing several scrolls of locate object, Doctor Fate set off in search of the contract Spectre had signed. The spell pointed him in the direction of Castle Korvosa. With Spectre trailing behind – trying hard to remain neutral so as not to violate his contract – he traced the spell to the 5th floor of the castle.
Magically disguising, protecting and rendering himself invisible he slipped through a window. He flew over the heads of a few unaware guards, he reached the door of a large vault. Yet guarding it was a frail elder woman, who could somehow see through his invisibility.
“May I help you?” she asked, looking over the tops of her thin glasses.
Fate, under the guise of a Sable Company soldier, tried several times to bluff the woman into opening the vault – using much of his willpower to do so. When this failed, he produced one of his magic scrolls and somehow convinced the vaultkeeper that he was ordered to put it in the vault. As she was unable to so herself, she summoned the one who could – Vizier Amora.
Enchantress arrived and the vaultkeeper informed her of the situation. As confused as anyone as to why such a seemingly useless item would need to be store, she nonetheless bought the con. She opened the vault and prepared to place the scroll inside. Just then Fate cast a flaming sphere, targeting the flammable scrolls. Yet as he conjured the spell, Amora instinctively reached out and dispelled the magic. She then attempted to magically hold Fate, but the strong-willed mage managed to avoid even her compulsion. Resorting to a vial of alchemical fire, he threw the cocktail into the vault and made a hasty retreat.
Rather than pursue Fate, Amora quickly saved one of the scrolls from burning.
Fate tried to jump out of the window but didn’t get quite enough momentum, bouncing off instead. He then cast a spell to open the stubborn portal, flying to safety with the mentally-liberated Spectre behind him.
Meanwhile, Hex was in his element – leading an angry mob against well-armed soldiers. The Ex-Korvosan Guard clashed with the Sable Company in all-out war, storming the Sable Spire and the prison cells holding Blackjack. He led from the front, guns blazing and the first genuine smile on his face since arriving in Golarion.
Spectre drifted in and out of the prison, finally locating a group of prisoners. Batman and Fate charged in afterward, engaging the prison guards. Spectre unleashed several blasts of negative energy, decimating their numbers. With little means of returning fire, the guards resorted to magical arrows which weren’t particularly effective against the ghost.
Blackjack, or at least the unmasked man Spectre presumed to be him, was more bitter than grateful for Spectre’s assistance. “Come to finish the job, have you?” he whispered from his cell.
Meanwhile, outside, the riot waged on. The mob fought bravely, but in time their numbers began to dwindle as the Sable Company rallied against them.
As the Pathfinders prepared to finish off the last remaining prison guards, none other than the General of the Sable Company arrived to prevent the prison break. She promptly drew his sidearm, a laser pistol, and unloaded three shots into Spectre’s back – dealing considerable damage.
Raven moved to Blackjack’s cell to ensure he was still locked in. Once confirmed, she turn to threaten the Pathfinders. “It’s over,” she shouted. “Admirable, but in vain. You’ve lost. Leave now while you can. I do so hate to kill people for free.”
Ignoring the warning, the Pathfinders continued their assault. Spectre attempted a focused channel of negative energy, but she seemed warded against it somehow. She nimble dodged every attack and evaded every counter measure against her, showing the prowess that got her appointed to the rank of General.
Soon Raven grew more aggravated and impatient. She fired her pistol into the heads of a prisoner, killing him instantly. “One down, three to go,” she warned again.
Batman sprang into action. Throwing a smoke bomb at Mystique’s feet, he rushed over an unlocked Blackjack’s cell. Unable to strike back, Mystique chased after Blackjack – yet at the last moment Blackjack made a dash for the window and charged through, shattering glass out into the battle beyond. Fortunately adept at blending in with crowds, the freed vigilante faded into the chaos. Mystique, enraged, returned to the cells – only to find them empty. The Pathfinders had freed the prisoners and fled. Mystique kicked a sword by her feet, shouting through the empty prison.
Batman, Fate, Hex and Spectre rested and recouperated in the luxurious suite allotted them by Akorkona in his estate. They sipped seasoned teas, ate honeyed biscuits and made plans for the future. Soon an elderly butler, Derfla, knocked on the door.
“Master Wayne? You have a visitor.”
The Pathfinders stood as Derfla waved in a middle-aged man dressed in black, who nodded cordially. It was Blackjack, and for the first time the group could get a good look at the man beneath the mask. He had an uncanny resemblance to Bruce Wayne, and his smooth voice was just as familiar.
“I didn’t get a chance to thank you earlier. I don’t know if Loki’s wrath will be overpowering or underwhelming in the midst of this uprising, but with you lot fighting against him? We may just have hope yet.” He stepped closer, extending a hand. “No need for pretense anymore. There are no secrets. My name is Gaedrien Artemis, Senechal of Korvosa. A pleasure to finally meet you.”