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.
Swiftly 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.