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Dan
House of Pentheru Recap
Since Duane was absent on Saturday, and Stratton had to leave early, I'll recap what happened.

After finishing up with the crypt, the party journeyed upstairs. On the stairs they witnessed a haunt which replayed the memories of Pentheru the Younger's daughter Arisetti becoming engaged, before the Plague of Madness destroyed the household. The negative effects of the haunt were avoided.

Breaking into the master bedroom from the south (there was also an east door) they discovered a trapped chest behind a fake dresser, which contained the Pentheru family's business affairs, including 20 ingots of gold. An illusion aura was noticed on the east door and avoided. After that the party found the bedroom of Arisetti, which contained a hope chest with her personal effects, among them a wedding robe, some jewelry, a self portrait, and some magical makeup.

While attempting to open the door to the next room, Coombes discovered that it was merely an illusion. A voice within shouted "Now!" and two Vargouilles flew through it and attacked (paralyzing Oliver and Shadya with their shrieks, to provide an explanation for why they didn't engage with their players absent). After slaying them, the party searched the room, and an invisible being (a Div) called Imanish revealed himself to them. He chose to try to reason with the party rather than fight, and Coombes in particular seemed willing to see his point of view.

In fact what had happened was this. Imanish was in the master bedroom when they broke in from the south, turning invisible and leaving through the east door. He rallied his Vargouilles and cast illusions of the doors he had left open. Since you automatically disbelieve your own illusions, he could see through them and spy on the party undetected. During the fight he remained unseen, only choosing to reveal himself when the Talons were canny enough to suspect he was there. Imanish cast Charm Person on Coombes, dropping his invisibility.

While talking, Imanish tried to make his side of the story sound reasonable; he had lived here for centuries, the Talons were invading his home, and siccing the Vargouilles on them was no different than setting a guard dog on an intruder. He also claimed there were no hard feelings and would gladly reveal the location of a treasure to them if they left peacefully. Coombes was enchanted and found this all acceptable, Sohatobe was suspicious but couldn't spot any lies, and Mouse immediately realized that Coombes was acting strangely and became aggressive.

In desperation, Imanish fled back to the master bedroom and retrieved a jeweled headband from an old hornets nest that had gone undisturbed, claiming it was valuable and magical, and offering it to Mouse along with casting a Suggestion that she try it on. Mouse resisted the spell (good thing too, the headband was cursed, could not be removed, and would affect the wearer like a Vargouille's kiss), Coombes was able to identify the Suggestion with Spellcraft, which made him realize that Imanish was not a friend and broke the Charm, and the fight was on.

Being a trickster rather than a fighter, the Div didn't last long. His resistance to acid protected him from Mouse's bombs, and his DR from Coombe's spear, but Sohatobe used Smite Evil and chomped through him, though not before he managed to briefly Poison Mouse.
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Akhentepi's Tomb Continued
The first room we encountered, the entrance chamber, decorated with Glyphs singing the praises of the General entombed here. The only feature of note, a second large door blocking our passage on into the Tomb. Here there are signs in the ancient dust of someone entering before us. I hope the previous explorers were not competent enough to find the treasures or our lottery pick will be a waste.

Beyond that door with no traps or lock is a room with a pit, only darkness in the pit, a single rope descends about 5' where it either broke or was Cut.
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Dan
Akhentepi's Armor
I was fine armor, it truly was. Salazar Singh had never seen its like. His expert eyes scanned every stitch and rivet for the telltale signs of forgery, and found nothing. The linen was 2000 years old if it was a day, preserved by a combination of magic, dry desert air, and chemical treatments so sophisticated they were still in use today. His arcane artificer Grimsby had given it his own examination and explained its mystical properties, and they were fine too. Barely a day had passed since the lottery, and already a treasure had found its way to his shop!

So why was he feeling uneasy about the transaction? Was it that it seemed too simple to have a bargain fall into his lap like this? Perhaps a little, but no trader worth his salt hesitated for long when a golden opportunity presented itself. Was it the tall, wild looking man who stood by the door, not saying anything and glaring with such furious intensity that it looked like he held a terrible grudge against the end of his own nose? That was certainly a factor, but plenty of people with valuables to sell brought hired muscle along with them.

No, it was definitely the fact that the seller him(?)self was a dragon. A small black and yellow one. Salazar, who still had to stamp down years of upbringing to resist the urge to grab a weapon whenever an orc entered his shop, was not prepared for that. It didn't help that when they walked in he assumed the man was there to sell the dragon's hide and had blurted out "One thousand gold!" before the creature started speaking. Luckily it seemed to take this as an opening bid on the armor.

Now he focused intently on the item, afraid to look up at its purveyors. Turning it down would be stupid, but he was at a loss on what to offer. Reading a human customer was easy, you just rattled off little observations like "This stitching is loose" and "See, if you hold it up to the light there's discoloration", and watch their reaction to see what they would accept. He couldn't read a dragon; that look could be hunger for all he knew.

Damn it all, this wasn't fair. How was he supposed to negotiate with a glowering mute and a winged crocodile?! This was one trick that was NOT in the book. They couldn't have put him more off his game if they tr-

Light dawned. He HAD seen this before, but not since his niece Aida's last birthday. Oh, clever, clever. He glanced up sharply at the man, still looking like a bear with a tummyache. The dragon kept babbling on about generals and military history, but now that Salazar knew what was up he kept his eyes only on the man. Not so much as a twitch, even as the dragon prattled off some nonsense about metal snakes. That settled it, he was dealing with a professional here. Someone who surely knew the value of his goods and wouldn't settle for less.

"Three thousand, six hundred and sixty four gold," he said firmly. "And five silver," he added after a second. That was always a good tactic; make it precise and customers would assume he had calculated the value perfectly. The dragon thanked him profusely. The man merely nodded.

Only after they had left with their coin did the shopkeeper allow himself to laugh. What an act! They could run rings around every merchant in town with it! Convince them they are negotiating with a dragon, and watch them fall apart! And to think he would have fallen for it if Aida hadn't asked to go to that carnival. He had thought the mummer who made it look like his dummy was talking instead of him was silly at the time, but it seemed such a skill could have other uses. Salazar Singh began polishing up his new armor for display, whistling a cheerful carnival tune as he worked.
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No, not to the death. To the pain....
The Talori Talons- Initial Impressions

Coombes

While an sufficiently adequate combatant and able hunter, the man is impatient, abrasive, and high-strung. His solitude is derived from his derisive speech, pushing away those who aid him, and barking orders as if he was born to wealth and privilege.

Sohatobe

This pitiable creature seems enamored with his rescuer to the point of crippling his own potential in order to serve as a defacto pet for the wild huntsman. As long as he sees himself as nothing but a partner to Coombes, he will be limiting his own growth.

Oliver

The youth has an eye for detail and a kind heart. He is practiced in cooperative combat and has skills necessary to bypass the many traps left to us by the ancients. While I can admire the martial prowess of Coombes and Sohatobe, it is Oliver whom I shall likely have to thank if we make it through the general's tomb alive.

----------------------------------------------------

The Talori Talons- Update

Coombes

Truly a focused man, Coombes measures worthiness by success, and in that I cannot fault him. His earlier moodiness seems to have given way to a man more sure of the value of his more recent companions- myself perhaps included. He's still high strung, and no doubt his abrasiveness will wax again in the future. But the Coombes I have seen today is a man I can work with, a man worthy of the hope I had upon first encountering the Talons.

Sohatobe

The Wyvern is far too modest, and his powers are impressive indeed. While I was, and am, prepared for the pain our explorations bring, it is... pleasing to know that we have one capable of salving the wounds brought by our opponents. That he does so with good cheer and a kinder heart than one would think possible from one who has experienced the sorrows Sohatobe was inflicted with is uplifting indeed.

I may have been hasty in my judgement of the relationship between Soha and Coombes. Coombes seeks to push us all beyond our own weaknesses, and this eager striving may yet help the young wyvern flourish.

Oliver

Ollie is as skilled and insightful as I earlier believed. Despite an early failure to detect an ancient trap, Ollie showed nerve in standing up to the pressure Coombes placed on him, and was able to prevent several more potentially deadly problems. His cool head in the false burial chamber saved us all from possible drowning. He is an able and level-headed combat partner, and together we complement the wyvern and wildling.

------------------------------------------
Pain

I have seen the reign, I have felt the pain.


A was blessed with a new sensation of pain in the tomb of the ancient general. Steel vipers envenomed with ancient poisons. While the bite itself was of a familiar piercing sort of pain, it paled in comparison to the coursing pain within my blood itself.

Skillful and timely application of healing magics prevented me from succumbing to unconsciousness, allowing for an extended experience. The slow natural healing over the next few days allowed me additional minor pains to remember.

While I am reluctant to inflict potentially lethal pain through poisoning, its memory will serve to sharpen my reflexes when encountering other venomous foes.




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A Look at What Came Before ( Part 1 of ? )
The sun and the sand were scalding.

Winston supposed that was what he missed most about his homeland. It wasn’t the people or the buildings. It wasn’t the food or the language. What he missed most was the ability to step out in the sunlight without being crushed by a hundred degrees of oppressive, ever-present heat. It was dry in a way that Cheliax was not. It cracked his skin and burned the corners of his eyes and made the whole world feel like a dream, combining every sensation with searing, baking misery. It made him sweat. It made him itch. It made him burn. It made him glad for the nights, which froze him to the bone and he drank in the hours spent in darkness like water from a cool glass.

But still he would not trade it for anything. Cheliax was a nation of devils, in the literal and figurative. Tithes needed to be paid and structure needed adhering to. All glory was to the state or to one’s family. Birth was just another kind of shackle, and nobles bore heavier chains than the slaves they employed. As the first in his house he had two duties: to make himself strong and to curry favor with the other nobles and to build up marriage prospects. When he was not training in the esoteric arts of magic or combat, he was up to his neck in other first-born sons and daughters, each vying for the other’s attention in a pointless dance of decadence and debauchery.

It sickened him. And the weight had become too much. He snapped like a brittle twig and he left. He ran as far as his legs and coffers could take him. He lost himself in drink and when drink failed, he turned to other vices.

Like now.

The game had been clever in its wild, foolish way. But the hunt was concluding. He and his pack of hirelings had chased it from dune to dune. It was wounded and wild, all tooth and claw. It had stopped being able to fly long ago, after Winston had clipped the edge of its wing with a wild shot from his firearm. His clothes still stunk of gunpowder and his fingertips were black from loading musket after musket. Those he had paid to accompany him were eager to do the loading for him but he had denied them the pleasure. This was his wine, now. The power in his arms was like nothing this creature had likely ever experienced. Wizards had their fireballs and he had his black-powder and that elevated him far above the fool hunters with their bows and their arrows and their slings.

They were five strong, though had started the venture at eight. Winston was at the lead, promising coin for every creature slain. He had no interests in pelts or trophies. He wanted only to lose himself in the task of ending something strong. It was, after all, one of the only things he remembered fondly from his youth. Before the balls and the galas, before his name had meant anything, his father had taken him on a hunting trip. They had cornered a boar and speared it at length after the hounds had chased it to the winding. Hot blood had spilled on the forest floor and it was the only time he had seen his father smile.
And now he was smiling, clutching his blunderbuss to his chest as he lept over a dune that the wind was in the process of breaking apart. Sand stung his eyes and sweat flew as his foot hit a pocket of loose earth and he started to tumble. Now he was laughing, because the world was spinning and the world was not meant to spin. He felt strong hands pick him up but his world was still vibrating. It was Leon, the company head. An old man with steel grey hair and a body that could have doubled for a scarecrow if he had chosen to take his naps in a cornfield. Stubble lined his face and one of his eyes was only a socket, stolen by some feral creature on a hunt that had ended in his favor.

“Easy, boy.” He old man chided. His voice was like straining leather, what teeth he had were bared in frustration as he shoved Winston’s weapon back into his hands. “You get ahead of us like that again we’re going to have to pick our coin from your corpse.”

Winston ran a hand through his mane of full brown hair and could not help but let out another peal of giddy laughter. “Apologies, Leon--” he managed, looking up over the crest of the dune where the remainder of the company was still straggling behind. “But if we stay at your pace we’ll lose our quarry. All this effort will be wasted!”

“My pace is chosen to keep fatigue at a minimum. You ever hunted wyvern before, boy? Let me tell you. You wound them, they get smart. They get mean.” The old man’s bony finger pressed into the light chain that Winston wore underneath the white robes of a native. “And if you get tired, you get dead. Understand?”

Winston just shook his head and cupped a hand over his mouth and shouted to the group that was having some trouble carrying the compliment of weapons he had demanded they bring. Their satchels were overloaded with cruel looking spears and an assortment of blackpowder firearms, ornate in make and deadly in purpose. Their horses had grown complacent and been left behind a long time ago, leaving a pair of angry looking twins with bald heads and dark-brown skin to lug the equipment. “Your commander seems to think you four are no match for a wounded wyvern!” His voice was cocksure and carried like a clarion over the wastes. “I thought I had hired the best hunting party money could buy!”

“You did,” spat a large, Ustalavi man with a hood he had not removed since the start of their journey. His accent was thick and muffled further by a strip of cloth he kept tied around his nose and mouth. He was carrying the gunpowder. Almost fifty pounds of it hung from his shoulders like nothing. “But you did not pay us extra to put up with your noise.”

Winston looked over to Leon with his eyebrows perked and a smirk cutting across his features. Leon just sighed and hung his shoulders, wiping sweat from his brow and squinting off into the distance. “The wyvern is losing ground. Another ten minutes and we will be upon it. We should all load up. Leave the powder and extra weapons here. Five bullets in the right place will bring this monster down.”

“Nonsense,” volleyed Winston, placing his hands on his hips and echoing the old man’s posture and squint. “We bring everything. I’ll not let it get away because we needed six bullets and only brought five.”

“Lord Rathbone--” grunted Leon in protest.

“Everything, Leon. It was your decision to leave the horses behind. Now suffer the consequences. It is what I pay you for, after all.”
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