The Slave and Her Sovereign

darkbard

Legend
Chanvati and his goliath slave emerge from the vaults of buried Audaseie ancestors into a dark stillness that contrasts sharply with the earlier winds of the Warlock’s wards, Hakhaman’s hound, Hazard, trailing closely at Pa’avu’s heels. The wizened old dwarf, Margred, sobs uncontrollably. “They’re children! Innocent children!”

Pari and Farzin seem terrified, as much at their lack of understanding as anything else.

“Mommy, where will you go? When will we see you again?” little Pari stutters.

Pa’avu watches impassively, for she understands more than most the cruel ways of the world, how the little ones’ lives will be given over in enslavement to the Church. A grim fate, but they will learn their duties. As she has. Still, this troubles her.

The Inquisitor Eyo-urth-shala and her force of Knights Speculative surround a pair manacled in glowing blue adamantine: Chanvati’s treacherous relatives. Tarquin is blubbering quietly. Amna glowers through a colorful and swollen eye; clearly she did not come quietly. “You will pay for this, cousin!” she spits as the pair approaches.

Chanvati smirks ever so slightly.

Eyo-urth-shala, cradling the stolen Scrolls of Xanthar in the crook of one arm, intones dryly, “For the crimes of heresy and treason against the Church of Mavi-Ishiq, Lord of the
Heavens, and His Faithful Delegate, the Empress Scheherazade, Herself, it is you, cretins, who shall be judged by Bas-Billan’s Court of Justiciars and make payment.”

* * *

Later, as the midnight hour approaches, Chanvati sits crosslegged on a divan in his study chamber. Eyo-urth-shala had begrudgingly thanked him for his service to the Imperial cause. Quwaenthi had had a good chuckle over that. “The Empress and her courtiers shall find me a much less malleable tool than my brother!” Instead, House Audaseie, with the knowledge stolen from the Scrolls of Xanthar and under Quwaenthi’s leadership, is poised to stand firm in its enterprises, emboldened and enriched.

In the candlelit chamber, Chanvati’s Unseen Servant Theari holds a parcel before him,
and it seems to unwrap itself in midair. A note flutters out, and he retrieves it.

“Dearest Chanvati, you have my congratulations on your recent successes. The tasks at hand and my Stalwarts occupy me, but I long to see you again. In the meantime, a gift that may help you better understand Ruffly Gelded. –BB.” The crimson of jealous anger and then embarrassment stains Chanvati’s cheeks. But as Theari turns the pages of the unwrapped tome,
Secrets of Society Laid Bare, Chanvati finds his jealousy lost to the call of study. And power.

* * *

Meanwhile, Pa’avu sighs deeply to herself, supine on the rush mats outside her master’s chambers. Crimes and betrayals. Such matters bring reprisal, ever, in the intricate web of Bantouk’s politics. Hazard raises his head, tilts it, and then whimpers inquisitively. “You’re a good boy, Hazard. And now we sleep.”





Chanvati recovers Battle Harness Cloth Armor +1, a carmine silk sash that Hakhaman had stolen in his defilement of the burial vault, and claims it for himself.

Tarquin’s estates are forfeited to Quwaenthi, as reigning Vizier of House Audaseie. Amna’s children, enslaved now to the Church, will live a life of servitude. Perhaps the ranks of the assassins of Ubka are enlarged by particularly apt prospects drawn from such assets? Tarquin and Amna will be judged by the Justiciars of Bas-Billan. Is their penalty death? A life of grueling slavery? Probably the former, for these are serious crimes, but I defer to your judgment.

We will take an Extended Rest at Chanvati’s home. All Daily and Encounter resources refresh.

Chanvati will take the eight hours necessary to add and master the Seek Rumor ritual into his ritual book. Then he will spend 30 minutes and 20 gp worth of alchemical reagents to cast the ritual, with the intention of gleaning what he can about the 2nd Nation and Ruffly Gelded.

Arcana r(14) + 10 = 24.

Chanvati’s Updated Stats AC 18, Initiative +3.
 

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Minor Quest & Skill Challenge Goal: Discover the goals of the 2nd Nation (4 success) and formally ally or convince B.B. to eject if you oppose (8 success)

Level +2, Complexity 3 (DCs will be for level 5 so 10, 15, 22 while ATK vs AC is 19/21 and vs NAD is 17/18)

ADVANTAGE USES:


✦ (wagered before roll) A success against a hard DC counts as two successes: a success against both a hard DC and a moderate DC.

✦ Refresh Skill Training Exhaust status.

✦ Remove a Complication (like Healing Surge loss or -2 Skill/AC forward) on a Failure.




Medium DC +5 required for Seek Rumors. Success.

1 Successes (2 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/3 Secondary Skills Available/2 Advantages Available)




Noises fade away, replaced by the whispers of alleyways and clamor of taverns. Through the jumble of words, you hear a few choice phrases related to your purpose, and you feel a tug toward their source.

<STATIC>

The 2nd Nation has a mole in the royal household who has minor access to The Empress. They are trying to gather intelligence on if her will has been subverted or if her own agenda is being done. If its the latter, the mole might be "deployed."

<STATIC>

An Imperial Mole is embedded within The 2nd Nation to suss out who The 2nd Nation's mole is. There is an important meeting taking place at Ruffly Gelded this evening with high-ranking officials where sensitive operational matters will be discussed.





What's the play from here (and please review the goals above)?
 
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darkbard

Legend
It is dark again, past evening. CHANVATI and Pa'avu, Hazard at her heels, are in a crowded Lowtown piazza, the last of the merchants packing up their carts and stalls, replaced by revelers seeking out food and drink and entertainment in the smoking lounges, taverns, and flesh houses that open their doors to night custom.

Tucked into a corner of the piazza, beside a dark alleyway, a shop that's been closed for hours, a kennel and veterinary practice by the look of it, admits several cloaked visitors, arriving singly or in pairs. "
Ruffly Gelded" reads the sign above the recessed door.

Chanvati approaches, his companions in tow, and knocks. "I am a friend of Bita-Bousseh," he states. "She recommended we bring our ... pet? ... here for grooming."





The goals above are clear. We are here to attend the clandestine meeting and discover what we can of the 2nd Nation's goals, armed now with our greater understanding of the agents placed by both sides in a struggle for power.

If you would like to begin the challenge with my above fiction, please consider it a Primary Skill Diplomacy check, r(14) +8 = 22 vs unspecified DC. If not, frame some other obstacle, ask for any necessary clarifications, etc, please, and we'll go from there!
 

@darkbard , started it with your Seek Rumors use above! So this will be Success 2 (at Medium DC).

2 Successes (2 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/3 Secondary Skills Available/2 Advantages Available)




The sliding mechanism of the door opens for communication through the "speakeasy grill." Eyes probe from dog to Chanvati and a quiet, adult, male voice accompanies the inspection. “Expected you. 68 Gold entrance fee (1/10 3rd level item). You’re going to want to mask up or otherwise shroud yourself.”

The eyes pass over the hulking mass that is Pa’avu. “No. She is too well known and disguising her bulk would be impossible unless you have some sort of magical ace up your sleeve. Besides, she is a slave. Leadership has its policy. She can loiter in the alley with the urchins and the other slaves until business is finished, upon which time she can join us.”

The way stays shut, the doorman awaiting your compliance.





Medium DC if you comply. If you press matters with Pa’avu, it will be Hard DC. If you grant them the 68 gold and press matters regarding Pa’avu, you can get auto-credit for a Medium DC success and then test against a Hard DC obstacle throttled down to a Medium DC (as if you had spent an Advantage).
 

darkbard

Legend
CHANVATI allows an uncomfortable silence to prevail for a moment. Then, “Sahtree, take the hound and wait in the alley out back. Formalities must be observed,” he notes drolly. “If I need you, I will call,” he says, placing noted emphasis on that last word.*

The psion removes a plain lacquered-wood mask, bleached an ivory white, from his satchel, purchased especially in case of this contingency.** With that simple addition, he appears no longer the young scion of a powerful merchant House but one of the pantomime actors of Bantouk’s Black Stage.

“Your coins, compatriot,” he says, with a hint of sarcasm.





* Chanvati trusts that his ability to Send Thoughts (100 feet) suffices to link him with Pa’avu.

** This is using a “Flashback” scene, where we see Chanvati picking through the wares of a milliner and headdress merchant earlier in the piazza and exchanging 10 gold coins for the mask. Mechanically, I spend 1 Healing Surge (and the coin) for this privilege.

I pay the 68 GPs for an autosuccess at the Moderate DC.

Chanvati 33/33 HPs, 6/7 Surges Remaining.
 

Nephis

Adventurer
Pa'avu leans against the wall of the alley, Hazard seated at her side, her own eyes idly watching the remaining merchants finish packing up their wares for the night. Her attention is caught by harsh words given sharply to a small enslaved female human. The girl's face holds one of the saddest expressions the goliath has ever seen, affecting Pa'avu far more than witnessing the loud wailing of Margred for her young charges. The goliath knows that - while those children are certainly entering servitude - their servitude will utilize their pretty manners and knowledge of genteel ways, to the benefit of their new masters. This child, however, seems bewildered and bruised (in spirit as well as body).

A quick glance at the girl's ragged clothing reminds Pa'avu of clothes worn in the Issyc Sehari region - a region she'd traveled through with her clan once or twice in the long before time. In fact - the goliath looks more closely at the girl - lingering on her arm is a faded henna tattoo, surely one of those given to novice Lucent Messengers at their temple of Omthala. She remembers being fascinated and wanting to paint her own skin and the hiding she'd received from the clan uncle for doing so with costly berries in their cargo. How does a child in service to the Sect of Omthala end up in servitude to a merchant?




Minor Quest: Get the girl to the Sect of Omthala: her role in life is not as an enslaved person to a merchant but to be in service to the Sect.
 

@darkbard

3 Successes (2 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/3 Secondary Skills Available/2 Advantages Available)

The meeting-goers at Ruffly Gelded exchange no pleasantries and its not long after you enter the kennel when the MC begins their seemingly incoherent ramblings. The overwhelming smell of dog, the stray bark and whimper, the sound of shuffling sandals against the loosely packed earth of the floor comingled with the fabric of the elaborate shrouds worn be the membership. The subtle smell of Bita-Bousseh's perfume amidst the gathered throng.

The distractions to trying to resolve a cipher for the clearly message-encoded "nonsense-speech" are intense. If you don't break the code in short order, your time here will have been wasted.


HARD DC




@Nephis

Level +1, Complexity 2 (DCs will be for level 4 so 10, 14, 21 while ATK vs AC is 18/20 and vs NAD is 16/17)

Goal: Get the girl to the Sect of Omthala: her role in life is not as an enslaved person to a merchant but to be in service to the Sect.

0 Successes (1 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available


Despite dusk having fully consumed the cramped public square the market resides in, signaling the end of sales, the place is still abuzz with the noise of conversation and wares being packed.

The 2nd story building tops that flank the relatively small piazza are dotted with shadowy movement. Each merchant has their own personal retinue of bodyguards, but the state also employs its own security apparatus to protect this important commerce, typically drawn from the ranks of discharged military sling-snipers.

Between Pa'avu/Hazard and the girl and the merchant is a wave of people and a good 30 paces at a full gallop. There are a two ways out of the place and it would appear the the merchant is directing their two, armed and armored, security personnel to cut a path through the crowd in the opposite direction of Pa'avu.

Despite her size, the undulating terrain plus the vast array of people and structures could quickly create a line-of-sight problem for Pa'avu and her quarry.


If your first move is to try to evaluate the building tops or the general layout/schematic of the public square, its against the Medium DC.

If you're trying to tail/track down your quarry (whether that is physical or social), your DC is Hard!
 
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darkbard

Legend
"Distracted" undersells the state of Chanvati's upheaval. Certainly, the bizarrely-encoded dialogue that swirls around him confounds reasoning, and the cacophony of canine vocalizations instills a reflexive surge of fear, as if he is surrounded by a closing pack of predators. But cutting through it all is the scent of Bita-Bousseh's perfume, and Chanvati finds himself struggling against a flush of longing for her.

"Focus," he demands of himself. "There will be an appropriate time for such dalliance; but that time is not now."

Chanvati sidles up to the shrouded feminine figure of the barrister, for there is no mistaking the Tiefling's sheep-horned form, despite her elaborate headdress.

"Bita-Bousseh, I do not understand," he whispers. "I mean, I literally cannot understand what the gathered are saying."

She cocks a shrouded head to one side, amused. "It is a little game we play amongst compatriots. To keep out the uninitiated from prying. '
Roughly Gelded' should have given it away. If you but purge the speech of innuendo, metaphor, embellishment; meaning becomes clear as the desert skies at dawn. It may surprise you how much we actually say, once looking past the cruft, darling," she says coyly and refocuses her attention to the spirited debate around them.

Chanvati does as invited, focusing past the babble, paring away the excess, attending to gesture and tone and the nugget of true meaning in what is otherwise a salad of words.





This is for the fourth Success and thus upon it hinges Discovering the Goals of the 2nd Nation.

Secondary Skill Diplomacy check to convince Bita-Bousseh to divulge a hint in parsing the cypher, r(4) +8 = 12 vs 10 Easy DC. Success for +2 buff to

Primary Skill Insight check to decipher the speech around him, r(19) +11 +2 = 32 vs 22 Hard DC. Success.
 

Nephis

Adventurer
After first indicating to Hazard in a reassuring tone that he should remain where he is and await her return, PA’AVU turns to examine the walls of the alley for easy egress. Seeing her path, she leaps into action, scaling the stones easily to reach the rooftop. Once there, she carefully leans forward at the edge of the roof for a better view of the crowd before.

The goliath brings forth lessons from the clan-uncle who taught her to hunt prey, using her l’pahb’gin to heighten her senses. Finding her “prey” now, she follows them with her gaze as far as she is able, traversing a couple of roofs forward and making careful note of their direction. The merchant’s garb is clearly local, so she should be able to pick up the scent the trail later and find them then.

For now, however, she must remain close and be prepared to assist her gosb’tar, if necessary. Her loyalties remain fixed. Not only that, but the Pa'avu would much prefer there be any possible confrontation not to be in front of so many witnesses ... and guards stationed up here on the roof. Back to Hazard, then.




* Primary Skill Athletics check to climb walls (powerful athlete rolls climb/jump checks twice): r(15/6) + 11 = 26/17 vs. Moderate DC 14 → both succeed!!

* Primary Skill Perception check to watch merchant and girl (using Encounter Power Hunter’s Quarry to gain +2 auto bonus): r(12) + 7 + 2 = 21 vs. Hard DC 21 success!!! even without +2 from Chanvati!! (edited)

* Pa'avu's minor quest/skill challenge will pause here at two Successes, at least until Chanvati's present challenge is complete.
 

@Nephis

Level +1, Complexity 2 (DCs will be for level 4 so 10, 14, 21 while ATK vs AC is 18/20 and vs NAD is 16/17)

Goal: Get the girl to the Sect of Omthala: her role in life is not as an enslaved person to a merchant but to be in service to the Sect.

2 Successes (0 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/2 Secondary Skills Available


From your perch you take note of the merchant, the slave girl, and his entourage entering Burning Row, a middle class district in the middle of the city known for its row house architecture and its famous fire that burned the entire ward to the ground long ago.

Suspended for mow. We’ll pick this up later.




@darkbard

4 Successes (1 Hard DC Available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skills Available/2 Advantages Available)

Discover the Goals of the 2nd Nation





The speaker dispenses with the gibberish, clasps their hands before them and begins to walk amongst the membership, clasping shoulders and engaging in soft embrace.

“When I was a boy I had a terrible vision beset me. A horde of steel and pincer and sting would was over Bantouk, consuming it like a tidal wave.

A few years later, The Bladeling Horde began their pillage…and it has not stopped since.

When I grew old enough, I went to university. I began to understand their culture of conquest. I took lessons in history and warfare. It became clear to me.

The Horde will claim Bantouk and there is nothing to be done about it. The only question is ‘who will suffer…and who will escape their fury…by alliance.’ As always happens in war and conquest, those low…in our society that would be conscripts, slaves, artisans, and lowly merchants…they will take the brunt of the blow. They will fight and die for no good end. They will suffer the full might of The Horde…including their message-sending brutality. Meanwhile, the royals, the clergy, the military? They will deal…or they will egress with their piles of gold.

But not if we strike first.

Not if we preemptively ally with The Horde. Arrange for their tribute. Let_them_in to claim Bantouk in a bloodless coup. The peoples that have lived under their reign have lived in peace and prosperity for decades. We would have a city where the low is no longer so…where slaves are freed…where artisans create and merchants bind our city with great commerce.”

The figure hugs B-B last and hilds the embrace. They look above at the great glass skylight of the kennel where the antiseptic of the sun’s radiance pours in over The 2nd Nation. They then walk to the door and open the slat to the speakeasy grill.

Looking away “…that is what I thought then…but I was a fool. Slaves are ‘freed’ and society is flattened…because The Horde will make slaves of us all if we do not oppose them with all of our might.

I brought you here to uncover the Imperial mole.”

He looks back and pulls his mask off and his cowl back, revealing the twin brother of Bita-bouseh.

“Tis I. I’m sorry dear sister...but treason is treason.”

He nods to figures gathering at the skylight before teleporting through the door via the speakeasy grille.

Soldiers from above sling incendiary glue bombs through the glass skylight. Cloaks and dry thatch catch that serves as kennel bedding catches fire.





@Nephis

Outside and above, Pa’avu sees the slingers quickly gather on top of the structure of Roughly Gelded, preparing payloads in their slings.

You see figures disguised as merchants unrobe; 3 Imperial soldiers headed to the door to barricade it with a heavy cart laden with thatch.

My guess is you get a telepathic message from Chanvati that something is very wrong at some point in the last short bit, but I’ll leave that to @darkbard !





We need to figure out what we’re going to do here? My brain tells me a nested SC to Escape the Burning RG with possible combat downstream as another nested challenge within that. But this could also be a combat interlude with a nested SC to Escape the Burning RG.

Let me know what you each plan to do PC-wise and what you think we should do here procedure-wise.

Regardless Minor Quest (Discover the 2nd Nation’s Goals) completed: 150/2 = 75 XP apiece.
 

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