Friday, June 30, 2017

[Pathfinder] Wrath of the Righteous, part 18: Many Blessings

Discussing the dream-visions each of the companions had experienced led them all to recall more details. Jiro had recognized the woman he had seen as Kelei, sometimes inaccurately known as the "queen" of the kami. Kelei had even fired arrows from her fiery bow at dream-Jiro. But he shared only with Bohgong that when her arrow passed through him it seemed to have carried away a dark mist, which seemed to relate to a frightening experience he had once had.

Asami had also seen Kelei, but only in the background of her vision. Her attention had been focused on the ancient guardian spirit of the World Tree,

and on the other creature that had briefly appeared to her. It had emerged from the uncountable leaves of the Tree, a creature made of branch and leaf and root but wearing a skull-like mask where a humanoid face would be. This creature had wielded a sword of wood, its blade perforated by whorled shapes.

It had pointed its sword at her, then turned to look back at the Tree and vanished among the leaves. Then two leaves had shimmered and blown from the Tree, transforming into the figures of Asami's parents. They hugged her and silently returned to the Tree, after which a branch stretched out and touched her forehead where the Golden Flame tattoo rested on her brow. Her mind was suffused with knowledge of demons and how to combat them. Then the branch touched her wooden sword, which her dream-self held, and she knew somehow that she could reshape her wooden sword into other forms with her thoughts and even use it as a weapon, something that had been impossible for her in the past. The myriad leaves shivered in a breeze and the vision came to an end.

While she sat with her companions discussing these visions, Zosta looked at her oddly, and Jiro commented that her hair, which normally had a violet undertone, now appeared to be green. Then Zosta asked her if she was turning into a tree, which she found most confusing. Runa then explained that they could all see swirls and lines on her skin, very faint, like the pattern of wood grain. But when Asami looked at her own hand she saw nothing, nor could she perceive the green tone in her hair.

Jiro took Bohgong out into the garden for his daily meditation. Though his friends weren't aware of it, he had a serious conversation with the white monkey, who kept his ability to speak a secret from the others though Runa had overheard him once. Bohgong warned Jiro not to be too pleased about his new abilities, for the stronger he became the more dangerous the world would become. Jiro then experienced a vision from the spirit animal's memory when it was Jiro's ancestor, a mighty warrior. He watched as his uncle destroyed innumerable oni, but when his uncle turned to look back at his comrades, all of them had fallen.

While Jiro was outside and Asami was still contemplating her vsion, a commotion could be heard from the corridor outside their sleeping room, Runa,and Zosta went out to see what was happening. Asami remained in the room. Her friends struggled to get through a crush of people clogging the hallway, until someone exclaimed that "It's a miracle!" Runa asked what was going on, then began trying to push her way through the crowd. She heard someone say that Irabeth might be alive! Runa immediately began to sing a song of praise to Iomedae.

Amid all this chaos, Zosta also overheard that it seemed Darla Darra had experienced a miraculous healing. Runa began to lead a group of people who joined in her song toward the temple of Iomedae, while Zosta went to find Darra. She found Aegronius with her - and to both their amazement Darra's missing leg had been replaced by a "limb" of golden light. Her injured eye was also glowing. Zosta realized that perhaps some of the divine gifts given to Aegronius by Iomedae had also been extended to Darra.

Once the celebration of Irabeth's miraculous resurrection had died down a bit, everyone met in the hall of Defender's Heart for a celebratory breakfast. Spirits were so high that Jiro felt it necessary to remind everyone not to speak of the destruction of the Wardstones in the presence of others. While they were eating they heard the news that the queen of Mendev was on her way to Kenabres and was expected to arrive the following day. They also heard that Irabeth's survival had been due to the sword Radiance that she carried, which had stored her soul and prevented it from being permanently separated from her body. Though she had survived she was very weak, a state that was familiar to Aegronius and Runa.

Their breakfast was interrupted by a second disturbance outside. Then a huge red-skinned, horned demon covered in tattooed runes burst into the hall. The companions were not entirely surprised to see him, but his arrival caused consternation among the other people present. He strode across to their table, bellowing, "Little Sister!" and swept Zosta up in a crushing bear-hug. As Asami observed Rhino she realized that the demon had acquired more tattoos since the last time she had seen him. Rhino then sat down at the table and demanded that they tell him the details of what had happened to them. They carefully avoided mentioning the Wardstones or the demons that had survived. In the course of the conversation Rhino also revealed that he was distantly related to Areelu Vorlesh, which Asami realized meant that among the demons he must be a kind of royalty. Rhino was very impressed at how the group had been able to deal with ten babau.

When the conversation waned, a large crowd of listeners had gathered around the table. Zosta and Rhino then decided to go outside to meet Zosta's parents, who were just arriving at Defender's Heart. Darra went with them, but they found that Zosta's parents were with Qednys and could not be disturbed at that moment. Zosta then watched Darra spar with Rhino, who was eager to test out her skills. When Zosta joined in and was able to trip the demon and stomp on him, giving Darra room to make an attack of her own, Rhino was delighted and burst out in a hearty belly laugh.

A little later the whole group were invited to join Qednys, Kimroth, Cennami, and Zosta's parents in the War Room, where they found a weak Irabeth sitting in a comfortable chair. Qednys confirmed that as they had heard, the Queen was coming to meet the heroes of the defense of Kenabres. Qednys suspected that the Queen would ask them to complete another dangerous mission on behalf of the Crusade: to seek out the Sword of Valor, the banner once wielded by Iomedae herself, which was believed to be held in the fortress of Drezen, which had fallen to the demons. He also revealed that scouts had reported demons were massing all along the Worldwound, preparing for an attack on the cities to the south, including the capital. Irabeth added that rumor held Staunton Vhane, the betrayer, could be found in Drezen. She was determined that he should be dealt with once and for all.

After these topics had been discussed, Qednys told them that he had spent the night examining the Wardstone fragment they had given him. He had determined that by rubbing it on a weapon or suit of armor, it would impart special abilities to them geared toward combating demons and evil creatures from other planes. These benefits would last for only a day, after which the stones would become inert. Qednys offered to return the stone he had been examining, but Jiro immediately responded that it should go to Irabeth.

When the discussion was completed, the members of the group separated. Asami went to find some apparel appropriate for meeting royalty, and afterward made her way to Blackwing to see Aravashniel. He was already aware of what had happened to the Wardstones. To give him further detail of what had taken place, Asami agreed to allow him to cast a spell to share her memories, as this was now the only way for him to truly see anything. Afterward she left him to return to his researches on ways to guard the Worldwound without the Wardstones. She returned to Defender's Heart and sought to purchase a wand containing a spell to protect a person from evil, which she was able to acquire at a discount as it was not fully charged.

While Asami was with Aravashniel, Jiro had arranged to sell some of the items the comrades had acquired from their battles in the Gray Garrison, and he distributed over a thousand gold pieces to each member of the group. Thus equipped with extra funds, new magic items, and in some cases new clothing, they prepared for their royal audience the following day.

Next: Part 19, A Royal Request

Sunday, June 11, 2017

[Pathfinder] Wrath of the Righteous, part 17: Aftermath

This week our group had a very short session to wrap up some details from the conclusion of the previous session.

Though Asami had at first thought the demons had been called away by one of their demon lord masters, after she spoke with her friends she understood that they had fled when they realized they could not overcome the defenders' defenses and that no matter how much injury they inflicted their targets would not die. With the departure of the babau, the energy that had suffused the six companions dissipated, leaving them weary and full of sorrow. While Runa straightened and cleansed Irabeth's body, some of the others searched the corpse of the woman who had been guarding the Wardstone fragment. On her person they found three spell scrolls, a magical amulet, an enchanted cloak, a quantity of onyx gemstones, and a small amount of gold coins. They also gathered up the six shards of the Wardstone that were embedded in the walls of the chamber. It wasn't until then that Asami realized that the explosion of the stone had torn the roof off the chamber, and the walls were crumbling.

Runa insisted on carrying Irabeth by herself as they descended to the ground floor. There they paused to cleanse the defiled shrine before leaving the Gray Garrison to return to Defender's Heart. Runa bore Irabeth in her arms all the way there, her face streaked with tears. On the walk back to the inn Zosta berated Aegronius for failing to protect Irabeth. Jiro tried to persuade her that Irabeth's death was not due to any fault of Aegronius's, but Zosta would not listen.

By the time the group reached the inn they were all stumbling with fatigue. They were met by Kimroth Otai, who brought a contingent of the Eagle's Watch to take charge of Irabeth's body. The mongrelfolk left to seek food and rest, while the remainder of the group went to the war room of the Defender's Heart to meet with Quednys Orland and tell him what happened a the Gray Garrison.

Jiro took charge of most of the narrative. Asami listened in silence, still feeling the disappointment that she had been unable to contribute to the battle with the demons. Runa was still grief-stricken over the loss of Irabeth, who had become her mentor in the short time since they met the paladin. Zosta perked up when she asked about the well-being of her parents and the other members of her tribe. Kimroth told her that all seemed well with them, and a message was sent to ask Cennami to come to Defender's Heart to help decide what should be done next. Quednys was horrified when Jiro described what the vision had shown of Areelu Vorlesh's original plan for the Crusaders. Despite the destruction of the Wardstones, at least the Crusaders had been spared that fate. The members of the group agreed with Quednys that they should not share the news of the Wardstones' destruction with the general populace of Kenabres, for fear of causing a panic. All of them hoped there would be a period of reprieve until the demons who survived the Wardstones' destruction realized that the stones were no more.

Once the discussion was concluded, Aegronius went to visit Darla, while Runa went to the temple to say a prayer for Irabeth. Then one by one the group members retired to their rooms to rest. Asami settled on her bed to meditate, holding Kirara in her lap. After a time a strange dream or vision came to her. She saw a scarred woman clad in plate armor, who spoke to her, expressing gratitude for the deeds Asami and her friends had accomplished against the demons' minions, and also telling Asami that she regretted she couldn't help them directly. Though Asami did not know the gods of the West well, she recognized that this woman as the goddess Iomedae. Behind Iomedae she saw a dense wall of vegetation, which formed into a wooden face. When the face opened its eyes she knew that it was a living being, not an image. This wooden entity's hair and beard were made of leaves, and the warm green luminescence in its eyes spoke of living, growing things. Then Iomedae kissed Asami on the forehead, and Asami opened her eyes to see that it was dawn.

As she contemplated what she had seen, Asami recalled an ancient legend she had heard, telling of a great cherry tree with roots that extended all the way to the center of the world. The tale told that this tree gave life to the world, and that it also had a caretaker, a wood spirit who, like the tree, had no name but resembled the being she had seen behind Iomedae. At the same time, she realized that Iomedae's kiss had a lingering effect. She had not only recovered from weariness and all the wounds she had suffered on the previous day; she also felt more hale and hearty than she ever had before. She knew that she could both prepare more spells than she had been able to do before and prepare spells of greater potency.

When Asami joined her friends in the common room for breakfast, she learned that all of them had experienced dreams very similar to hers, in which Iomedae spoke to them and kissed them, but like her Jiro had seen something else. All of them also felt that Iomedae had blessed them with new talents and greater abilities to stand against the demons. Just after they shared this discovery with one another, they heard that Cennami and Zosta's parents had arrived at Defender's Heart.

The characters are now 6th level and have achieved their first Mythic tier. 

In addition to their 6th-level class abilities and 1st-tier mythic path abilities, each character received the following: a +2 bonus to one skill of the player's choice, a +2 bonus to one ability score, +5 hit points, a bonus feat for which the character met the prerequisite, and a special ability tied to the campaign-specific character trait chosen at character creation. All familiars and spirit animals qualify as mythic creatures for the purpose of determining damage and effects. 

Next: part 18, Many Blessings

Sunday, June 4, 2017

[Pathfinder] Wrath of the Righteous, part 16: Victory and Loss

As the group inside the Gray Garrison felt the effects of the energy released by the Wardstone fragment and comprehended what their visions had revealed to them, they were stunned by what had transpired and could not react to the arrival of the babau demons. When the visions of the past and of what was happening elsewhere faded, an image of Areelu Vorlesh appeared to them, accompanied by demons of various other types. Vorlesh sneered at them and threatened, clearly expecting her babau slaves to exact her revenge on them for depriving her of the power of the Wardstones.

Irabeth drew Radiance and charged the wall where Vorlesh appeared, but she collided with the wall and fell to the floor, then began gasping and clutching at her throat as though something was choking her. Asami heard similar sounds coming from the mongrelfolk in the room behind her. At that moment another wave of energy flowed outward from her and the other members of the Eagle's Watch. When this energy struck the demoness she screamed in rage and agony as her bones visibly snapped and the membranes of her bat-like wings were shredded like dry leaves in a high wind. The portal through which she and her demonic minions were about to enter the mortal world snapped shut.

While Vorlesh had been speaking, the babau had all been gesticulating and muttering incantations. Immediately more babau appeared in the two third-floor rooms of the Garrison, doubling the demons' numbers. One of the demons motioned and for a brief moment the illumination in the chamber dimmed, then returned to the golden glow emanating from the bodies of Asami and her friends. Another babau made gestures indicative of a spell to dispel other magic, but it could not overcome the light.

All of the babau wielded polearms as well as magic. There were now four of them within weapon reach of Asami. Nevertheless, she summoned her splintered spear and hurled it at the demon standing directly in front of her. Two of the demons slashed at her with their blades, slicing open both of her arms. Her spear went wide of its target and splintered on the floor. She drew her wand, realizing as she did so that the wound in her right arm had already vanished. She fired three blue missiles at the babau, but because she had to rely on what power the crafter had imbued in the wand instead of her own skill at overcoming magical defenses, the missiles bounced harmlessly off the babau's slimy hide.

While Asami was ruefully looking at the demon she had failed to injure, she saw Jiro, who was behind the demon, slump to the ground. Irabeth was still unconscious from the suffocation spell Vorlesh had cast, as were the mongrelfolk. The situation was already looking grim for the companions. Then two of the demons attacked Asami with their polearms, their claws, and even their teeth. She felt faint and the light dimmed. She scarcely sensed when her body collapsed on the hard floor.

Despite being insensible to what was happening around her, Asami somehow experienced when Kirara fiercely attacked the ankles of several of the demons with bites and scratches that were unusually severe. But she knew nothing else about what had happened to her friends until she opened her eyes again. She did not see Aegronius swinging his adamantine morningstar against the babau, or Irabeth regaining her feet to stand against them. She did not witness Zosta punching and kicking them, only to fall when overwhelmed by the wounds they inflicted on her. She did not witness Runa fighting furiously in the name of Iomedae. She was unaware of her own injuries healing far more quickly than was ordinarily possible, or of how her friends' attacks were somehow able to penetrate the demons' tough hides and their weapons were unharmed by the acidic slime that coated the babau. She did not know that for some inexplicable reason the power granted her and her friends by the Wardstone fragment was not extended to Irabeth.

When her injuries had healed enough that she no longer hovered on the brink of death and she regained consciousness, she found that the room in front of her seemed to be full of babau. She could see Irabeth lying on the floor, now surrounded by a pool of blood. Aegronius was down as well. Jiro was on his feet again, and there was something large, white and furry lying on the floor behind him. She groped for her wand, which had fallen from her hand when she fainted. There were babau standing close enough to her to strike her, but they were all facing away from her for the moment. She expended another of the wand's charges and saw the missiles successfully bypass the demon's resistance, though they did not appear to do much damage. She heard Runa call out the words of a spell, but saw no effect.

Before Asami could decide what to do next, the babau all vanished, carried off by a spell that she knew to be one of teleportation. It was a powerful spell, strong enough to have transported the demons thousands of miles away. Asami staggered to her feet. Jiro was bending over Irabeth with an expression of grief on his face. Asami looked around at her friends. Though their clothing, like hers, was stained with blood, everyone but Irabeth was still alive. The two rooms were empty of enemies. Several glittering shards of the Wardstone fragment were embedded in the walls. Seeing them, she remembered the vision and her heart sank. The Wardstones were no more, and Irabeth was dead. What would defend the Worldwound now?

Next: part 17, Aftermath