New Asgard

Ghosts and a Shell

As the Pathfinders worked to repair and restore the sunken Watchtower, Aa’rya pointed out a disturbance above. Hundreds of ghostly pirates appeared from the open sea, raining havoc on the Korvosan shoreline. Rather than rush into battle unprepared, the heroes took a few moments to concoct a strategy. Spectre was to beam aboard the pirate flagship and negotiate with, or at least, distract the captain. Meanwhile, the others would rally the naval defenses and prepare to meet the invading armada. Once prepared, they set out.

Spectre, disguised as a pirate, teleported to the large galleon leading the assault. As he approached the Captain, however, the keen-eyed ghost recognized Spectre and ordered his men to detain the imposter. Spectre tried to talk them down, but the brigands would have none of it. When they surrounded them, however, Spectre erupted with channeled energy – vaporizing the nearby crew. Frightened into listening, the Captain held back as Spectre explained that since their connection to Oblivion has been severed, once the ghosts were destroyed they were gone forever. They cease to exist. The Captain, well aware that he and his crew were dead, explained his torment in replaying their final voyage repeatedly for a century. He said that a war was coming, one brought on by civil strife amongst the gods. Vowing vengeance for having been abandoned in eternal limbo, he ordered his men to turn around and leave Korvosa in peace.

Later the group decided to investigate Stonestree. Batman and Spectre, made invisible by Fate, teleported to the dig site. They found the bodies of common laborers, killed by something that came out of the tunnel below the tree. There were also several skeletal soldiers, lying haphazardly among them. With the later aid of Fate’s expertise and Hex’s tracking skills, they had come up with a scenario of recent events.

The laborers began digging under the Stonetree, looking for something. Because there was only one tunnel and it lead directly to the core, they were searching for something specific – and knew exactly where to find it and what to expect. At some point one of them, likely their dig leader Poison Ivy, somehow traversed planes into the Abyss – unleashing a swarm of barbed demons, which killed the crew. This sealed off the Abyss, causing rifts such as the one below the Watchtower. Later Ivy did the same for Oblivion, which unleashed a few skeletal champions. Later Oblivion was also sealed, hence Pharasma’s severance from her followers. It would stand to reason, then, that Ivy had plans for the other dimensions as well. In fact the Bloodveil plague, which had spread much faster and further than any normal disease, could by the Material Realm’s result of her tampering.

Inside the tunnel they discovered yet another wonder. A massive flower sat within the core, with a gaping maw and luminous bulbs along its bark. The plant sat motionless, seemingly the only thing in the central cavern – except a half-dozen, shell-like pods which were the captured remains of several demons. Batman, using his incredible stealth skills, quickly explored the cavern. His trained eyes spotted an opening underneath the plant, invariably leading to a lower level and toward the source of the disturbances.

Deciding against the monstrous plant, which none of them could identify, they decided instead to seek out help. They retreated to the Watchtower, where they prepared for a journey to the Meirani Forest. There they would seek their old ally, Queen Eviana Nirgassan of the Meirani Elves. Perhaps she would be able to lend them aid. If nothing else, they would owe her thanks for her assistance in securing Gossamer Keep.

TOTAL XP

Chris: 46,950 XP
Daniel: 51,050 XP
Jordan: 51,050 XP
Koji: 45,000 XP

Fate: 46,050 XP

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A Change of Plans

As Spectre investigated the Watchtower and Fate tried to locate Master Orin, Jonah Hex struck out on his own to scout the Stone Tree. A day into his journey, however, he found himself surrounded by vicious wolves. The wolves surrounded him, toppling and nearly killing his horse. Hex fell to the ground, firing in all directions at the hungry pack. Taking hefty damage, he managed to roll away from the wolves and throw a vial of alchemical fire – which scattered the pack into the woods. As he rested for the night, Batman caught up to his trail and told him there would be a change of plans. Hex happily agreed to return to Korvosa to rest.

Once reunited, the Pathfinders instead set out for the Watchtower together. Spectre had previously had a run-in with a Tormentor Devil while scouting, which nearly destroyed him. Armed with his knowledge, they set out into the inky blackness. Along the way, four massive
moray eels charged them, instantly seizing Hex and Batman in their powerful jaws, but not without a fight. Fate managed to cast a spell underwater before coming under attack himself, killing the mage in the process. Spectre flew to and fro, healing his allies and damaging the eels. Together they at last killed the creatures, and made it down to the Watchtower.

Crawling into the wreck, the heroes were spotted by a Drowned Maiden and her zombie cronies. Batman rushes the Maiden, who tried to lash back at him with her prehensile hair and claws. Having regained much of his strength and prowess, however, Batman would not be bested in melee combat so easily. The others joined the fray, surrounding and defeating the undead. At the same time, however, the Tormentor Devil arrived and tried in vain to ensnare Spectre. Instead Batman charged the Devil and unleashed a devastating flurry of blows, while Fate blasted her with powerful lightning magic.

Hex rounded the corner to finish the job. “Tell Asmodeus Hex says ‘hi,’” he boasted as he pelted her with silver bullets. The last one hit her straight in the blackened heart, and she keeled over.

The Pathfinders prepared to set off the Watchtower’s self-destruct when it was suggested they search for their missing funds and gear. Spectre flew down into the submerged lower level, phasing into the vault. There he did indeed find gold and platinum coins scattered chaotically throughout the chamber, as well as a few weapons they had stored there. Yet it was not the only discovery. Propped against the door was the lifeless Aa’rya. Spectre did his best to heal her, finding it surprisingly difficult. Finally Aa’rya’s eyes snapped open as she jerked to life.

“Access System Data Parameters,” she droned in a monotone voice. “Initiating Memory Reconstruction.” She then blinked and looked around, realizing where she was. Startled by Spectre’s ghostly visage, she asked what on Golarion just happened…

TOTAL XP

Chris: 46,950 XP
Daniel: 46,650 XP
Jordan: 47,050 XP

Fate: 41,650 XP

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Dark Night Rises

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.

“Wayne!!”

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.”

TOTAL XP

Chris: 44,250 XP
Daniel: 44,250 XP
Jordan: 44,650 XP

Fate: 39,250 XP

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MYTHIC TRIAL - Spectre
"Unholy Ground"

While preparing to venture into the sunken Watchtower and combat the undead creatures within, Spectre received an urgent summons from King Laufeyson. Bound by decree to answer, he delayed his holy quest and traveled to Castle Asgard.

He arrived in the throne room to see a rather agitated Loki pacing back and forth. Upon seeing the king, Spectre respectfully bowed his head.

“You summoned?”

Loki stopped and turned to Spectre, composing himself. “Welcome, Spectre," he groaned coldly. "It is good to see some semblance of loyalty in the midst of such recent anarchy. No doubt you have heard of the attack on our treasury by your colleagues. These Pathfinders have become the lawless brigands they claim to defend against. Not no longer. This kingdom has enough issues without superpowered criminals undermining us from within. I know they follow the rogue known as Blackjack, a terrorist with a hero complex. What I do not know is where he hides. I have a command for you. Find Blackjack and report his position to me. If you are seen, bring Blackjack to justice before he can flee. Do you understand my order?”

“I do,” Spectre reluctantly replied, “But welcome any assistance. I am neither a scout nor a fighter, and this mission requires both.”

“Indeed,” Loki agreed. “I will summon my other agents to aid you – a scout and a fighter. They will meet you when ready. But first, I will help you find him, and make you strong enough to defeat him, but you must trust me. Do you trust me, Spectre?”

Spectre pondered the question a moment before relenting. “I do.”

Loki grinned and retrieved a glowing crystal from a nearby pedestal, handing it to Spectre. “I am sending you to Oblivion, the spirit realm. It will make it easier for you to locate and find the one known as Blackjack, as well as his warded lair. When you discover his location, return here and break the crystal. You will return.”

Spectre nodded in agreement. Loki stepped back and cast a powerful spell, which caused the walls to rumble and debris on the floor to levitate. In a flash of violet-red light, the world faded away into ash and decay. Spectre looked around to see not solid walls but banks of shadow, and auras of energy where people once stood.

Walking about town with a skewed sense of distance, speed and time, Spectre aimed for the outskirts – deducing that a rogue vigilante would not make a base of operations near the center. He focused his view of auras to those of good, then those of chaos, finding the majority of such souls in the impoverished Old Korvosa district to the north. Finally he came across a beacon of light in the astral plane – an ancient cathedral. The church was covered in magical auras of warding and protection. Still the wards must not have targeted one such as Spectre, for he passed right through them.

In one of the rooms, Spectre witnessed a masked man speaking with four cohorts. One of the cohorts referred to him as “Blackjack,” and so Spectre listened in a moment. The group plotted to raid the Castle once Loki left on a secret sojourn within a few weeks time. One of the cohorts suggested in the meantime they strike a dig sight “protected by another minion of the king,” far to the east. Blackjack agreed that the site – marked with the Omega symbol – would be of importance, but they would need more manpower. The Pathfinders, he asserted, are still too new an unfamiliar to trust with such a vital task just yet.

Having all he needed, Spectre returned to Loki. Breaking the crystal, he appeared behind Loki – who seemed to know he was there the whole time. After Spectre revealed what he discovered, Loki thanked him and moved to summon the others – passing straight through Spectre. Spectre realized he returned not as his mortal form, but as his spirit. His physical body must still be trapped on the Oblivion plane.

Loki opened the door and called for Amora to bring in his other agents – Marrow and Hawkman. Their eyes faintly glowing with magical compulsion, they revealed all information they had gathered on Blackjack, his location and the whereabouts of the remaining Pathfinders. Agreeing to strike before Batman, Hex and Fate could return, they set out immediately.

When they arrived at the church, Spectre found he was the only one who could get passed the magical wards – which targeted “Humanoids in service of Loki.” Left alone, Spectre passed through the walls and debris to witness Blackjack preparing to leave. Blackjack spotted him, immediately drawing his weapon and demanding Spectre identify himself.

“I am the Spectre,” he explained. “I am a Pathfinder, like your allies. I come at the request of King Laufeyson, who requires your presence. Do you intend to come peacefully?”

“Do you intend to leave peacefully?” Blackjack retorted.

Conflict now inevitable, the reborn Spectre floated through a row of pews and channeled a wave of negative energy at Blackjack and his cohorts. A discordant sound of chains echoed through the chapel. Those affected felt trapped, as if the walls were closing in around them. Still, they fought on. The cohorts drew magic wands and cast magic missiles at the ghost, though they were not very skilled in the usage. Spectre attempted to reach into their souls to damage them from within, but took some time to get reacquainted with his new form.

Blackjack himself joined the fray, wielding a magical and frost-covered sword. The sword strung into Spectre’s side, doing far more damage than he had anticipated. Spectre managed to reach into Blackjack’s soul with a corrupting touch. Blackjack groaned in pain, but kept fighting. Two of the cohorts shorted out their wands, and after desperately throwing vials of alchemical fire at the ghost, ran from the chapel.

After a sudden rally, Blackjack and his cohorts nearly destroyed Spectre. A single blow away from death, Spectre went on the defensive – strategically moving around the chapel while healing himself. His healing barely offset the damage being done to him, but gradually Spectre turned the tide. With several more corrupting touches and energy channels, Blackjack attempted to retreat – only to be rendered unconscious by the astral onslaught. One of the cohorts tried to drag Blackjack away, but Spectre chased him down outside. Reaching a hand into the man’s skull, the cohort howled in pain as his eyes rolled back and burned away, revealing only a skeleton.

Standing over the bodies, and witnessed by distant and frightened onlookers, Spectre looked down at his work. “The guilty must be punished,” he droned coldly.

Soon Marrow and Hawkman arrived, dragging the two cohorts who tried to leave. Unable to return the bodies to Loki himself, Spectre left the task to the others. Instead, he returned into the cathedral to wait for the Pathfinders to return.

Later that day Batman, Hex and Fate returned seeking Blackjack. Instead they found the ethereal form of Spectre hovering inches above the ground, green cloak billowing in the nonpresent breeze.

“Sit,” he pleaded with a hand peacefully extended. “We have much to discuss.”
.
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BONUSES

XP: 3,600
PP: 500

TOTAL XP

Chris: 21,000 XP
Daniel: 21,000 XP
Jordan: 21,400 XP

Fate: 12,000 XP

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The Omega Key

While Spectre left to pursue a quest on his own, Hex remained in his hideout to create a cache of ammo and Fate studied fervently in the Acadamae, Bruce Wayne answered a summons to see Field Marshal Kroft. She informed him of Grau Soldado, a former guard who claimed his niece asked for Wayne by name. The niece, Brienna, had fallen ill and Grau implored Wayne to see her – which he did. Before he left, Kroft handed Wayne another summons to see Loki – this one more stern than the prior. It ordered him and his colleagues to return to Castle Korvosa at once to sign Loki’s commission contract or suffer the consequences. Wayne elected to ignore it.

Grau led Wayne to a lower-class neighborhood called Trail’s End. There they met with Brienna’s mother Trace, as well as an apprentice clergy of Abadar named Ishani Dhatri. Ishani concocted a brew he claimed would help Brienna, though Grau angrily swore such swill hadn’t worked before. Ishani explained it was all he could do, as the Church of Abadar has forbidden him from using magic or true potions to aid a family that would not pay them for the service. Instead, Wayne paid to have Ishani fetch a vial of remove disease, and went to see Brienna himself.

The creaky steps opened up into a bedroom loft above the main room of the Soldado home. A young girl with dark blonde hair lied in one of the beds, her slight frame dwarfed by the bed’s size and the pile of pillows, afghans, and quilts surrounding her. Splotches of an angry red rash covered her face and arms, appearing in irregular shapes and sizes. Her restlessness was interrupted by violent fits of hacking coughs that jerked her entire frame, lifting her well off her pillows. The spasm passed after a moment, dropping her back to the bed, but seemingly having done little to ease her breathing.

Wayne, who had developed an incredible tolerance for diseases, bravely held the girl’s hand and assured her he was there and wanted to help. It seemed to relax her a bit. In time Ishani returned with the vial – and the remainder of the gold Wayne gave him mysteriously missing. The priest administered the potion, and within minutes the signs of the disease faded. Brienna awoke and immediately seemed to recognize Wayne. She asked to give him something in private, and Wayne asked the same of Trace and Ishani. Granted a private audience, Brienna handed him a brown satchel she claimed a woman matching A’arya’s description had handed her.

Inside were about 50 gold pieces, an arcane puzzle tube, and an enigmatic note which read:

Some twist truths into lies,
As well knows Master Wayne,
So seek instead what this implies,
The answer then is plain.

Accompanying the not was a puzzle tube with five rows of letters that could be aligned. Misalign them, Wayne knew, and the secret inside could be lost.

Wishing to think on the clue further, Wayne brought the satchel to meet Fate and Hex at the White Pillar. There Hex looked over the tube and immediately came to the conclusion Wayne had hesitantly considered.

“The answer is plain.” Lining up the letters to spell P-L-A-I-N, the group gasped in dread as a flash of light and puff of smoke from within the tube indicated its failure. Still able to force the scorched letters to move, they tried once more. Fate took over, examining the arcade device with the care of a scholar.

“Seek instead what this implies,” Fate repeated. “What’s another five-letter word for ‘plain?’” The group brainstormed possibilities. Hills. Vally. Bored. Empty. Finally they came up with an option that seemed too humorous to be true, and yet too perfect to ignore.

S-T-A-R-K. It worked. The case opened to a puff of smoke, revealing a half-burned page inside that simply read “Omega Key,” with the picture of an old key beside it. Fortunately Fate knew a spell that would restore the page, but he would need to wait until he could rememorize it. The others decided to wait another day to learn more about the message.

The next day, Fate cast mending on the paper, restoring it. He then set about researching the passage on the page.

Meanwhile, Jonah and Wayne decided it was best for them to leave Korvosa for the time-being, considering their new outlaw standing. Jonah informed Blackjack, and Wayne informed Kroft, of their decision to fall back to Gossamer Keep temporarily. They also left a note informing Spectre, as well as urging him to try to talk sense into Loki – who seemed to be ignoring the spreading disease among his people. As Spectre was the only one still “loyal” to Loki, he had the best chance of anyone to get through to him.

After travelling for several days, Wayne and Hex returned to Gossamer keep to find the ruins under the restoration and protection of the Meirani Elves. The elves gave the regards of Queen Nirgassan, and regrets that she could not come personally. However, grateful for the Pathfinder’s assistance in restoring their own corrupted town of Celwynvian, the elves were honored to return the favor. They had cleansed the area of all darkness and corruption, built several huts and hastened the growth of flowers and herbs throughout the keep. They then bid farewell, their duty completed, and returned into the woods.

A few days later, Fate returned with quite a bit of news and information he had discovered. First there was the story on the page. It told of the dawn of time, in which the Five Planes were one. Then, out of pride and conflict between the gods, the Planes were divided. They came Oblivion, Mana, Elysium, Golarion and Abyss – OMEGA. The Omega Key, he surmised, has something to do with traveling between them or unlocking the Planes.

The hand-written note at the top – presumably written by A’arya – was another clue. “A’ra are dumb.” A’ra, he had discovered, are a race of planar beings that speak backward, giving the impression that the cannot communicate. They note then, he figured, was an anagram. Indeed it was – of Enumar Ba’ad. The Omega Key then, in theory, correlates somehow to Thor’s disappearance. Because the Enumar Ba’ad is a planar shift spell or ability that pulls an extraplanar being into a native plane, Fate deduced that Thor wasn’t banished to another realm – he was kidnapped from one. While this potentially exonerates Loki from any involvement, the God of Trickery cannot be discounted just yet. Only a god or extremely powerful being could perform the Enumar Ba’ad – and Loki is, technically, a demigod.

Returning from Gossamer Keep, the Pathfinder trio reunited with Blackjack. The vigilante revealed his plan to steal from the Bank of Abadar and distribute it amongst the people. The Bank, he claimed, had grown wealthy in the last week due to the disease outbreak. While Wayne agreed to Blackjack’s ends, he had a problem with the means. He instead asked for 24 hours to speak with the clergy of Abadar in an effort to persuade them to change their ways – or at least make a sizeable donation – without resorting to thievery. Blackjack allowed the delay.

Wayne made his way to the opulent Grand Vault of Abadar. Towering over the surrounding buildings, the Grand Vault offered a vision of divine luxuriance amid a sea of mortal troubles. Radiant, as its grey-veined white marble reflected the midday sun, there was little question that this place was the house of a god. Yet, for a deity of law, the steep stairs and ramps leading up to the temple’s great bronze doors offered a strangely discordant scene. Dozens of citizens—mostly of the working class, although the silks of a few merchants showed through the crowd—thronged the entry, scarcely held back by a group of gold-armored Abadarian clerics. All seemed intent on gaining entry to the temple, but the clerics turned away nearly all comers. The clerics’ reasoning became clear as one desperate believer was turned away, his pitiful countenance mottled with violent red sores.

Muscling his way through the crowd in disguise, Wayne gave the name of Ishani Dhatri to grant himself access. Soon he met with the apprentice, introducing himself as Lord Quigly, and offered to make a donation to the Bank if he could meet with its supervisor. The surprisingly shrewd cleric didn’t quite buy Wayne’s charity, and instead offered to set up an appointment in about 10 days. Wayne accepted, but as Ishani left he decided to investigate on his own. He snuck through the packed hallways, spotted a few times but bluffing his way out of capture.

tuttle.jpgSwiftly changing from his disguise to his new and improved Batman suit, Batman stealthily flew up to the ceiling to continue scouting. He found the largest and most extravagant office he could find, and presumed it belonged to Archbanker Darb Tuttle. During a changing of the guards that night, Batman flew into the closing room. Clinging to the ceiling unnoticed, he did indeed watch as Tuttle filling out ledgers and paperwork. Soon Tuttle retired for the night, stepping into the bedroom portion of his master suite.

Batman descended and silently picked the lock of Tuttle’s desk, removing a financial allocation document for the week’s proceeds. He also looked over the Order of Numbers, the Abadar holy book. Finally crept over the Archbanker’s bed and gruffly pulled him awake, silencing him with a hand over his mouth.

”Don’t talk,” Batman growled. ”Just listen.” Outside they could hear the moans of the sick and dying, the pleas for aid and the shouts of anger from the citizens to the clerics. ”Is this the peace you were sworn to uphold? Is this the mercy you were sworn to show the people? Your faith claims commerce brings civilization. That money equals stability.”

Batman rushed the frightened Tuttle to the window, nearly throwing him out. Instead he dangled the middle-aged merchant, viewing the scene of chaos and desperation below. ”LOOK. AT. THIS! This is what your hoarding has caused. This is the fate you have brought on your own people. Where is the civilization your commerce has brought? Where is the stability your money has purchased? How many more have to die because of your lies and greed?”

Batman held Tuttle by his silk robe, precariously leaning him out of the window over the masses below. “What… what do you want me to do?” Tuttle sputters. “I’ll do anything, just—“

”Do what’s right,” Batman interrupts. He pulls Tuttle back in, handing him the allocation document. ”Physicians. Treatment wards. Medicine. THAT is what the people need. That is what civilization can provide.”

Tuttle quickly grabbed a quill from a nearby bedside table and crossed out the insanely high salaries of several Abadar officials, including himself, and redistributed it to the Korvosan Hospice and the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden.

With that, Batman tossed Tuttle into his own bed. Tossing in a smoke bomb to mask his escape, Batman dove out of the window and flew off into the night.

Later Batman descended into the ruined Cathedral of Iomedae, where he explained what he had done to Blackjack and handed him the document. Surprised but grateful, Blackjack agreed to stay his thievery for the time being. Instead, he and the others rested and prepared their next moves against Loki and to find Thor.

XP TOTAL

Chris: 21,000 XP
Daniel: 21,000 XP
Jordan: 18,000 XP

Fate: 12,000 XP
View
The Quest for Peace

After resting for the night, Batman, Volstagg and Spectre returned to the Dead Warrens to retrieve the remains of Sekh Gaekhen. Doctor Fate – by request – headed to the Pantheonic Temple to see what more he could discover about Thor’s disappearance. The Pathfinders gathered at the mausoleum where they met a distraught Jonah Hex, who broke the news to them about the Watchtower’s destruction. Devastated and stunned, the group decided the best course of action would be to complete their mission to retrieve the serpentfolk and prevent a pending war.

The heroes cleared out a few respawned monsters, including a troop of soldiers, an otyugh and a dark stalker. Hex took out the otyugh single-handedly with several clustered shots between its many eyes. Volstagg charged the dark stalker and took it down before it could properly react. Feeling quite confident, they moved into a nearby corridor. The walls and ceiling of the tall hallway were encrusted with dozens of yawning skulls, their mouths open into dark holes in the walls. Batman and others searched for traps and, finding nothing, moved in. Unfortunately there were traps, and jets of acid sprayed from the walls. Though they did little damage, the traps obscured the arrival of five Necrophidius constructs that slithered from the walls. The human-skulled snake skeletons shook in a mesmerizing dance, entrancing all but Volstagg. Two attempted to attack Hex, but the incompetent creatures spent most of their time missing or hitting each other. One bit Batman and injected a paralytic venom, rendering the Dark Knight invalid on the floor. Volstagg swung his massive sword, crushing the Necrophidii with each blow. Spectre eventually snapped out of his trance and treated Batman’s poison, while Hex instinctively grabbed one of the creatures as it attacked. He came to and put his revolver to the Necrophidius and unloaded point-blank until it was destroyed. Volstagg hurried over to finish the last creature. Licking their wounds, the Pathfinders moved on.

The next room was an alchemy lab, though most of the vials and equipment had been destroyed. One one of the tables was a civilian, bound and gravely wounded. He claimed to have been a gravedigger who was captured by Rolth’s forces, and experimented upon for days. He pointed out the general layout of the crypt and hastily ran off – despite suggestions to remain with the Pathfinders. The heroes explored the empty room and found a boarded-up storage room. Volstagg tried to rip the boards off but wasn’t quite strong enough. Instead, he and Batman pried the boards away one at a time. Finally they opened the door to reveal a destroyed store room, filled with a fine mist. In the midst of the mist stood an imposing ice golem that immediately attacked. It blasted a cone of icy breath on Volstagg and Batman, then proceeded to attack Volstagg with frozen fists. Not able to damage the golem, and unwilling to throw alchemical fire that could injure Volstagg, Batmen fell back. Hex shot the construct several times, but his bullets had little effect. Batman prepared a volley and called for Volstagg to fall back. When he did, Batman and others tossed vials of flames at the golem. Volstagg moved back in to finish it off, and the golem crumbled with explosive energy.
The Pathfinders moved on to a chamber of prisoner pits. This foul-smelling cavern was bordered on three sides by ten-foot-deep pits. It is from these pits that the rancid smell of excrement and decay filled the air—each pit containing a few heaps of moldy straw, a wooden trough of filthy water, a few rotting body parts, and a couple still living prisoners. Guarding them was a deformed, ogrekin monstrosity named Cabbagehead. Upon seeing the heroes he excitedly clapped and proclaimed. “Master give Cabbagehead big reward for Heaven Man and Man-Bat. Cabbagehead bring you to Master!” Cabbagehead charged at Batman and punched, but Batman effortlessly dodged. Spectre magically commanded Cabbagehead to fall to the ground, which he did. Wasting no time or mercy, Volstagg stabbed into Cabbaehead’s back, killing the ogrekin in one blow.

After freeing and escorting the prisoners to safety, the Pathfinders moved into the last segment of the lair. There they discovered the last remaining pieces of Gaekhen, attached to what looked to have been an attempted flesh golem.

From within the rear room, a deep chanting bellowed. A necromancer summoned and strengthened multiple skeletons, who marched out to face the Pathfinders. A massive battle ensued as the skeletons blocked off the entrance to the room, surrounding front-runner Volstagg. Hex slipped into the room and fired on a few of them as the necromancer – an imposing half-orc cleric in blackened plate armor – stepped into the fray. He immediately blasted Volstagg with a ray of enfeeblement, sapping the Asgardian of much-needed strength. He then unleashed a wave of negative energy, scorching the flesh from the Pathfinders. Spectre tried to counteract the evil cleric to the best of his abilities, but the strengthened skeletons soon overwhelmed the group. They subdued Volstagg, but as they moved to finish him off Spectre healed him again. Volstagg rose as a combination of skeletons and magic from the necromancer dropped Spectre. Soon Batman found himself at the receiving end of a skeleton’s sword and fell. Hex used the last of his revolver bullets on the necromancer and, desperate, pulled his single-shot rifle. As the fates would have it, he nailed the half-orc straight between the eyes. The necromancer gasped silently and he fall back against the wall, covered in his own blood.

Enraged, the last skeleton standing stabbed Hex in the chest and howled in victory as the bounty-hunter collapsed onto the floor. Shortly before, fearing for his life, Volstagg had retreated into the next room. On seeing Hex fall, he emboldened himself and donned his shield and mace. He and the skeleton squared off, exchanging blows for some time before either could land a hit. Finally Volstagg’s enfeeblement wore off. With renewed strength, he reared back and clubbed the skeleton’s head clean off. Panting, wounded and claiming victory for himself, Volstagg used healing potions to revive Spectre – who then magically restored the others.

Fortunate to have survived their most dangerous encounter since arriving in Korvosa, the Pathfinders gathered what valuables they could – and the precious body of Gaekhen – before returning to the surface to rest and resupply.


XP TOTAL

Chris: 18,000 XP
Daniel: 18,000 XP
Jordan: 18,000 XP
Stephen: 12,000 XP

Fate: 9,000 XP

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Skyfall

After recouperating from their first venture into the Dead Warrens crypts, several of the Pathfinders opted for more supplies before continuing. Marrow and Hawkman set off for town while Volstagg, having followed Hawkman from a tavern, arrived to replace them. Yet he was not the only new arrival.

Jonah Hex, possessed by the demon Haures, marched into the catacombs and opened fire on Volstagg and Fate. Volstagg charged Hex with fervor until the others urged him to hold back. Batman disarmed him with a batarang and Spectre magically commanded him to drop, and in an instant the group surrounded him. With a final knockout blow from Batman the brief skirmish was over. Jonah awoke, as himself, with no knowledge of what had happened. He explained his ideal in the Abyss and, sensing no threat from him, the others allowed him to venture with them.

Healed and caught up, the group continued into the southern rooms. In a round chamber filled with bones, they encountered two large and grotesque otyughs. The flesh-eating aberrations lashed out with long tentacles, ensnaring several in the party for a time. Volstagg resisted the tentacle snares but took several powerful bites to the legs and neck. Slowly but surely the Pathfinders managed to rally together to defeat the creatures, taking a brief moment to rest.

Before they could recuperate fully, however, Batman scouted ahead into the next room. A Dark Stalker spotted him, unleashing a swarm of mutated mosquitoes and the intruders. Volstagg rushed in, but the Dark Stalker cast a field of darkness and tried to attack the armor-clad Asgardian. Dueling to a relative stand still, Volstagg asked what the Dark Stalker wanted. The shadow creature claimed to serve Master Rolth by defending his domain and demanded they leave. The Stalker disappeared, and the Pathfinders grabbed what they could – the lower half of the serpentfolk Gaekhen – before retreating from the crypt.

Batman and Volstagg headed to Citadel Volshyenek with Gaekhen’s remains. Along the way they were stopped by Vizier Amora, who informed them that Jonah Hex has been implicated in the murder of Thousand Bones, ambassador to the Serpentfolk. As any allies of Hex would likely be implicated with him, she once again implored them to sign Loki’s contract of commission. The reward would be diplomatic immunity in such a troubling time. Batman took the contracts, but had no intention of signing them. Instead he surrendered himself to Cressida Kroft and explained the situation to her. He encouraged her to magically interrogate Hex as she had with Trinia Sabor to determine the truth for herself. She agreed, and after discovering Hex’ possession and venture through the Abyss, she agreed to hide him in the Citadel for as long as she could. She warned them, however, about the Sable Company – the griffon-riding military branch of Korvosa – whose jurisdiction supersedes her own. The Sable Company, she warned, was hunting Hex down with a vengeance and has the power to bring him in by any means necessary.

Volstagg set off to meet with Loki once again. He asked the king what he knew of Thor’s whereabouts and how he could help with the Hex situation. Loki admitted to seeing Thor over a month ago, but when he flew away from the castle he was never seen again. The castle guards confirmed this. Loki also claimed his hands were tied regarding the Sable Company, and that with Hex being convicted of initiating a war with the Sekh he was law-bound to bring him into custody – and placate the Serpentfolk with a public execution. Had Hex signed his commission, he reminded, the entire situation could have been avoided. Unmoved, Volstagg once again denied signing it himself unless it allowed him to remain loyal to Odin, he never would. Loki wrote up a new contract with the caveat that Volstagg would not need to follow orders contradicting Odin’s edicts. Volstagg copied the contract and signed it, though Loki warned that the “unofficial” copy would not have guaranteed acceptance for all factions in the kingdom. Volstagg laughingly dismissed the warning and went about his way.

Batman took Gaekhen’s remains to a village encampment outside of Korvosa’s walls, where he had been informed a detachment of Sekh may be. He did indeed find the Serpentfolk, and spoke with their current leader. The chieftain mourned for the loss of both Gaekhen and Thousand Bones. He explained that Thousand Bone’s son Torn Claw was preparing for war against Korvosa, and that he would need the bodies of the two murdered Sekh to in any way appease him. Batman promised to do his best, and departed.

Volstagg continued his search for Thor throughout the night, following a faint trail of information to the prisons near the Patheonic Temple. There witnesses claimed Thor Odinson had arrived at the temple and demanded the patrons leave. They did so, and after quite some time of silence they returned to find him gone.

Later, Batman returned to Kroft to inform her of the Sekh situation and bring in Hex – disguising him as a corpse to gain entry into the Citadel. Kroft was amazed at Batman’s speed, claiming she had just seen him leave a few minutes prior. This “other Wayne” asked where Hex was staying, and when Kroft reminded him he left in a hurry. The real Bruce Wayne ran off of the imposter, tracking him to the White Pillar Inn. There the quarry appeared to have searched the room, without waking the sleeping Spectre, and disappeared into the rooftop.

The tracks vanished, but what Wayne next saw was even more disturbing. What appeared to be a meteor, glowing with white-hot energy, plummeted from the heavens. It fortunately missed the city and crashed into the bay, causing much commotion by the docks.

Eventually Batman, Fate, Hawkman and Volstagg rejoined Spectre for a night of rest – with as many new questions as answers, and a pending war to contend with in the morning.


XP TOTAL

Chris: 15,000 XP
Daniel: 15,000 XP
Jordan: 15,000 XP
Larry: 10,000 XP
Stephen: 9,000 XP

Fate: 9,000 XP

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Old Allies, New Foes

As the Pathfinders recovered from their ordeal in the dungeons below Citadel Volshyenek, they retreated to the White Pillar Inn to rest. The next morning they split up to discover more about Korvosa and its current state of affairs. With the threat of an assassin at-large quelled, a traitor to the Guard behind bars and most citizens begrudgingly accepting Loki’s rule, the streets of the Kingdom had quieted over the past few days. Spectre found the Bank of Abadar, the largest treasury in the kingdom, to be tight-fisted with their money in goods as the citizens have become more demanding. Fate discovered the same situation with the arcane Acadamae, though the mage’s guild had far less to offer than the church. Marrow uncovered rumors of turf wars and skirmishes in the criminal underground.

Batman, after reprimanding Marrow for nearly getting the entire party beheaded, inquired on the political situation and status of the nobility. Visiting his acquaintance Amin Eldrin, he learned that a serpentfolk youth had been killed by thugs in the city, straining already-thin relations with the Sekh – a tribe of serpentfolk forced into the Mwagi jungles far to the south. The Sekh have vowed revenge for the killing, and their attack has only been halted by the peace-keeping efforts of their shaman Thousand Bones.

When the group finally reconvened and met back up with Cressida Kroft, they found her meeting with Thousand Bones himself. The aging reptilian reiterated the conflict between their peoples, and gave details on the death of his grandson Gaekhen. He implored the Pathfinders, a neutral party in this politically tense situation, to find Gaekhen’s body and return it to their people. In exchange, he offered to provide what little information he had on the whereabouts of Thor Odinson. With no other leads on Thor the heroes agreed, and headed to the cemetery district of the Dead Warrens.

As the Pathfinders prepared for their dungeon expedition, another outsider appeared in Korvosa in search of Thor. He was Volstagg, an Asgardian himself, sent to check on the progress of the search for Thor. Unfortunately the Bifrost which beamed him to the planet was sabotaged, and though he arrived safely he found himself as weakened and exhausted as the Pathfinders on their arrival. Still the jovial warrior immediately sought out his wayward prince – Loki. Volstagg met with King Laufeyson, and like the others was met with no information or assistance. Loki offered him a contract to serve as his Royal Agent, which Volstagg laughingly dismissed. Calm yet dejected, Loki ominously warned he could not guarantee the Asgardian’s safety while in the city.

After purchasing supplies and hiring a Priest of Pharasma to escort them to the proper mausoleum, the Pathfinders journeyed into the underground maze of tunnels and vaults. In the ossuary of the crypt they encountered a large group of skeletons. The undead quickly swarmed Marrow and Batman, doing heavy damage to Marrow. The others rallied together, but it was Spectre that dealt the heaviest blows. He channeled holy energy, nearly vaporizing most of the skeletons. It took little effort to defeat the rest.

Batman discovered a hidden passageway dug into the wall, but after a brief exploration he and others decided to stick to the main corridors. They traveled into a larger room where they stumbled upon two Dark Stalkers, shadow-touched humanoids whose footprints they had discovered earlier. Before anyone could react, however, the Dark Stalkers cast a field of impenetrable darkness and got the jump on Spectre – running him through with their blades with seconds. With Spectre down, they turned their attention on Fate and others. Fate was similarly struck down, and Batman repeatedly ran into the magical darkness to retrieve and evacuate his allies. Marrow did her best to fight off the supernatural attackers, but swung blindly. Finally she devised the idea of breaking the sun rod she carried, briefly bathing the area and light and stunning one of the Dark Stalkers. The tactic was valid, though it was far too brief. The Dark Stalker stabbed her in the torso, dropping her beside Fate.

Just when things looked most dire, Hawkman made a timely arrival. He had received a note from the group earlier at the inn, and raced over to help. Though he was as blind as the others, he valiantly charged into the darkness. One of the Dark Stalkers charged him and swung, though Hawkman’s armor proved quite effective. Hawkman made several lucky strikes, managing to cleave into his invisible foe. With the help of Batman, who used Marrow’s sunrod tactic, he utilized the brief flash of light to locate and destroy one of the Dark Stalkers – which exploded in white flame upon death. The other shadow creature raced over to avenge its partner, stabbing Hawkman in the pit of his armor and subduing the warrior.

The priest of Pharasma healed and revived Spectre, who rushed back into battle. He channeled energy to revive Fate, who administered a healing potion to Marrow. Shoulder to shoulder, Fate and Marrow stood against their unseen enemy. They worked together as a team, and when Marrow broke another sunrod Fate concentrated and delved into a mystical reserve of power. He blasted the Dark Stalker with two beams of scorching flame, the second burning the shadow-creature to smoldering ash.

Weakened and injured, the Pathfinders all miraculously survived their encounter and regrouped to heal and rest.


XP TOTAL

Chris: 12,300 XP
Daniel: 11,400 XP
Jordan: 12,100 XP
Larry: 10,000 XP
Stephen: 6,500 XP

Fate: 8,100 XP

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Knight & Day

After being refused at the gate of Castle Volshyenek, the Pathfinders retreated to an inn for a brief rest. Hawkman, Spectre and Marrow headed to the massive and foreboding Castle Korvosa for their promised rendezvous with Loki. Batman and Fate retreated to the orbital Watchtower to help refinance and resupply the station.

As a terrifying testament to the power of whatever mighty overlord ruled the land thousands of years ago, Castle Korvosa’s long shadow loomed over the city. A magnificent achievement of architecture, the castle walls and spires rose high into the sky above. The entire structure loomed even higher for its ancient foundation—a Thassilonian ruin in the shape of an immense flat-topped pyramid.

The Pathfinders initially met with hostility from the throng of soldiers guarding the castle, but with a wave of their invitation the heroes walked unopposed into the keep. They were greeted by the Vizier to King Laufeyson – an enchanting blonde named Amora. The tall beauty welcomed the Pathfinders to “New Asgard,” and offered her condolences on the loss of Jonah Hex.

Amora led the group into the massive and opulent throne room, where she announced their arrival to the one they had been both anticipating and dreading meeting in person – Loki Laufeyson himself. Loki greeted them with a grin, and likewise noted Jonah’s absence. He then dismissed his death as the removal of a “weaker element,” and didn’t seemed surprised at all. When Spectre questioned him on Thor’s disappearance, Loki claimed innocence and ignorance, having no part in his absence nor knowledge of his whereabouts. He did, however, acknowledge the “growing pains” of his regime, referring to the chaos in his new kingdom.

Loki then asked for the heroes’ help in stabilizing his city – in exchange for swearing fealty to him. Surprisingly, the Pathfinders agreed, and swore an oath to follow his orders on pain of treason. They signed a contract as Agents of the King, and were summarily dismissed.

With their new titles and warrant, the Pathfinders returned to the previously-quarantined Castle Volshyenek. The guards humbly let them pass and granted them an audience with Cressida Kroft. Kroft, who had been weakened by poison, revealed she had come under attack by an assassin and that Verik Vancaskerkin had escaped prison. Where the two events were related was unknown. What was known was the identity of the would-be assassin – Trinia Sabor, a former militia informant for King Eodred II.

Marrow led the search to find Trinia, tracing the sales of the rare poison she had used against Kroft as her lead. They followed the clues to Old Korvosa, a northern slum district nearly cut off from the main city. Following further underworld clues and rumors, they narrowed down their search to Jeggare Street, in a neighborhood known as The Shingles. There amidst countless shacks and lofts they found the house of Trinia Sabor. Spectre knocked on the door, and the group heard shuffling within. When they heard a window open, Hawkman busted down the door. By then, Trinia had already taken flight.

The Pathfinders raced after the fugitive across the tangled, confusing maze consisting
of multiple levels, interconnected bridges, ropes, and cluttered swaths of rooftops. Vagrants, thugs, imp nests, stirges, weakened rooftops, and even crowds of children made
the chase even more dangerous. Trinia had a head start and nimble sprinted ahead, but the Pathfinders weren’t quite as deft. The armored Hawkman fell several times, struggling to keep up. Spectre fell as well, and took some time to rejoin the race.

Only Marrow seemed to be at ease keeping up with Trinia. She athletically jumped and twister her way over and through obstacles, blocking Trinia’s path on several occasions. As Spectre eventually regained his finesse and started making up ground, he could swear that a large, hulking green brute had made its way onto the rooftops as well. Yet when he turned around, the goliath was gone.

Eventually Trinia hit the city wall and tried desperately to climb it. The wall proved too tall and steep, however, and soon the Pathfinders caught up. Spectre magically compelled the fugitive to fall down, and Hawkman dealt a damaging blow with the hilt of his greataxe. Finally, Trinia surrendered.

As the Pathfinders began to interrogate the woman, a stranger approached. Clothed only in oversized pants, which he held firmly as he walked, the man introduced himself as Doctor Bruce Banner. Hawkman and Spectre, perfectly willing to let a physician examine the wounded suspect, allowed him into their confidence. Only Marrow seemed to recognize him, though she said little to identify who the stranger was.

Trinia pleaded for her life, explaining that she couldn’t recall the last few days. One minute she was displaying a mural for royals in King Laufeyson’s court, and the next she was in her home covered in blood. She did recall a flash of blue light, which Banner theorized was the work of Loki’s mind-controlling scepter. With no markings or sigils on her, however, Banner’s hypothesis could not be proven.

Bound by law and royal command, the heroes reluctantly took Trinia into custody and returned her to the Korvosan Guard – knowing full well that a death sentence could await her. Yet as the other Pathfinders received their rewards and returned to an inn to rest, Marrow hatched a daring plan to infiltrate Citadel Volshyenek and liberate her fellow rogue. That night, Marrow snuck into the citadel and managed to slip past the contingent of guards patrolling the exterior. She crept into the lower levels, where two more guards stood watch over a locked metal door. Marrow moved into position in the shadows and launched a barrage of her bone daggers, dropping one of the guards – but with enough anatomical precision to keep him alive.

The second guard rushed the intruder and the two exchanged a dervish of weapon slices. Unfortunately Marrow, who was still injured from her chase earlier, didn’t have the strength to continue. With a swift blow from his halberd, the guard rendered the would-be liberator unconscious and dragged her into the prison cell across from Trinia.


XP TOTAL

Chris: 10,700 XP
Daniel: 9,800 XP
Jordan: 10,500 XP
Larry: 9,000 XP
Stephen: 9,500 XP

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Butcher on Stirge Street

After a week in the port city of Veldraine, the Pathfinders took time to earn some money and gather supplies. As they prepared to leave the city, and determine their means of traveling to Korvosa, a messenger from the capitol brought them a royal dispatch. It read:

Hear ye and harken, New Pathfinders,

By royal decree from His Majesty King Laufeyson the First of Korvosa, you are invited to a personal audience. His Majesty awaits at Castle Korvosa, where you will be greeted with the utmost safety.

Please inform Royal Vizier Amora of your arrival date, requests and requirements. The Korvosan messenger is at your disposal.

Signed,

Loki Laufeyson
Amora

With little recourse, the Pathfinders sent word of their arrival in three days and set off to Korvosa. Once there, they had discovered that the chaos and anarchy that preceded their arrival had since calmed. Patrons once more walk the streets and go about their business, though tension lingered in the air.

Patrolling the streets were two primary forces: the over-stretched Korvosan Guard and the heavy-handed Order of the Nail mercenaries. Known as much for their brutality as their effectiveness, the Order of the Nail “Hellknights” put down any resistance by any means necessary (and some unnecessary). By contrast, the more respectable Korvosan Guard had been busy defending civilians and protecting homes from vandalism and arson in the midst of riots.

The Pathfinders sought out Field Marshal Cressida Kroft in the scarcely-guarded Citadel Volshyenek. There Kroft informed the travelers that several people have been going missing lately, including Senechal Gaedren – whom many believed would have been the late King Eodred II’s successor had Loki not intervened.

When Bruce Wayne asks how they can help, Marshal Kroft informed them of a deserter named Verik Vancaskerkin. Vancaskerkin, having no faith in the regime of King Loki, had fled and urged other soldiers to defect as well. Kroft was concerned for what few knights she had left, and asked the Pathfinders to seek out Vancaskerkin and his men and bring them back alive – if possible.

The Pathfinders found Vancaskerkin’s men – who called themselves the Cow Hammer Boys – operating out of the butcher shop All the World’s Meat. The shop appeared to be legit, if shady, but they learned the Cow Hammer Boys also offered mercenary services in secret. When Batman wrote the name of Vancaskerkin on their negotiated hit list, the Boys grew alarmed and sent them away.

Returning at night, the Pathfinders scoped out the shop further. They split into two teams, with Spectre and Hawkman prepared to take on the front door while Batman, Jonah Hex and Fate prepared to infiltrate the rear entrance. Scoping out the large killing floor, however, Batman was spotted by a group of Cow Hammer Boys. The rogue soldiers charged into battle, overwhelming the Pathfinders’ position. Batman launched into the fray, and though he was able to stun one of the mercenaries took heavy damage in their retaliation. Fate and Jonah backed him up with ranged attacks, but were outnumbered and soon overpowered.

Hearing the commotion from the front, Spectre and Hawkman burst into the lobby and engaged the two guards there. Swords met axe and fist as the melee ensued, evenly exchanged for quite sometime before at last the Pathfinder duo won out.

Things did not fare so well for the second group. The Cow Hammer Boys swarmed Batman, knocking him unconscious several times as Fate did his best to heal him. Jonah Hex also fell, stabbed through the chest by a well-placed sword. With Batman wounded and Fate falling back, he was left vulnerable to the mercenary standing above him. With one final blow, the former guard ran Jonah Hex through, killing him.

Fate made a desperate move, flying though the gauntlet of swords to retrieve the subdued Batman. He flew up to the rooftop, where he was free to magically heal Batman to consciousness. Together they prepared to rejoin the fight.

Spectre and Hawkman continued their assault from the front to the rear, engaging the remains of the Cow Hammer Boys. Batman and Fate assisted with ranged attacks from a vent in the ceiling until only a few remained. It was then that a stranger emerged from the sewer grate in the room, furious at the Boys’ reckless waste and morbid refuse being washed to her adopted realm below. Known by those in her world as Marrow, Sarah Rushman drew bone daggers from her body and attacked the mercenaries. Though she didn’t recognize any of the Pathfinders, she realized they had a common enemy – and that was enough for her.

The Pathfinders chased down the one remaining Cow Hammer Boy until he surrendered. Fate then magically disguised himself as the captive, pretending the Pathfinders were his prisoners and offering them to Verik Vancaskerkin in the upper level. Vancaskerkin saw through the ruse at the last moment, falling back with his dueling sword drawn to defend himself. Though he was able to skewer Spectre and retreat partially, Vancaskerkin was quickly surrounded.

“Tell Marshal Kroft that only cowards would surround an opponent like dogs,” he shouted in defiance. “I would expect nothing less from her.” With several more blows, he was down.

The threat passed and most of the Cow Hammer Boys rounded up, the Pathfinders returned to the body of Jonah Hex to keep stock of what – and who – they had lost in their first mission in Loki’s shadow.


XP TOTAL

Chris: 5000 XP
Daniel: 9800 XP
Jordan: 9000 XP
Larry: 7300 XP

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