I was going to write about Aberrant and the further development of Chrissie, but then last night’s Pathfinder was awesome so now you get the highlights of that first instead!
As things in Absalom begin to settle following the Blood Mistress’s rampage, the party kill time until Malliard has finished freeing Vlad from his altar/tomb. Arron tries to see his former friend Kit – with Alexei’s help, manages to visit her where she is held in the Wizards’ Tower – but her mind seems to be gone. Alexei and Kieran question her, try to dispel curses or geas, but it seems she was acting of her own violation. The trial is short and she is hanged.
The new Duchess of Absalom comes by to offer her formal thanks for their assistance.
Alexei spends time in libraries, investigating the various tomes and texts he has acquired, including the one Svetlana keeps safe, the one from an unnamed magician that was found in Varnhold. He learns the reason they are struggling to read the text is that it is written in the earliest language. The things written about suggest parts were written over 4,000 years ago, and parts more recently. It is all written in the same hand, so by someone very long lived (the party know the Cyclops liche they dealt with in Varnhold is named in the text as Vordecai; he had been in the Varnhold area for about 5,000 years when they put an end to him). The specialist Alexei speaks to notices the runes that accompany the text and advises they should be kept in a lead-lined, scry-proof box he provides. They are not safe to be handled, as they may throw magic off unexpectedly. Alexei relays this to Svetlana when he returns them.
|Our GM has provided some amazing props for the game: this is the wibbley magic book with accompanying handmade runes|
Kieran spends some time hunting in the lands around Absalom.
Through her growing network of spies, Svetlana identifies an individual whose promotion to the Grand Council of Absalom – the Council on which she and Alexei now have seats – would benefit Brevoy, in that Noleski considers him fair and even-handed and it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he owed them a favour. He is also not looking for the position, which makes Svetlana suspect he is better suited to it. She puts things in motion.
She spends time with Malliard, hoping to help free Vladimir, and with Noleski, trying to learn more about the diplomatic and political threads she is beginning to need to navigate.
She also returns to the Forthright Men, the group of thieves and spies with a sense of honour. She recalls their apparently insane leader, the Harlequin, and recalls the passing comment from one of his crew that he shouldn’t be taken at face value. Svetlana believes he would be a powerful and valuable ally… and she rather likes his eccentric exterior. She accepts the tea he offers – a cup of water – and asks if he has any gossip. That she is a Countess. Indeed. That the Duke of Absalom is dead. True. That it was the Blood Mistress. Does he know why? No. Does he know how to find out why? Yes. Can he tell her how to find out why? No. Fair enough: she accepts another ‘tea’ (this time hot). Who would he wish to see on the Grand Council? Suddenly lucid, he provides some details, including the Duke she has already begun to manoeuvre into position. Why does she ask? She shrugs. The Council needs to be rebuilt and it seems to her that it should be rebuilt in the best manner to aid Golarion. He makes her a cup of real tea and she drinks it in silence.
When Vlad is freed from the altar, he seems to be ok (as far as they can tell – he appears to be a teenager but this is the baby Svetlana helped deliver only a few months ago). He recalls being on a boat with the creepy man (presumably Thanos) and his companions. He recalls they wanted to put him in a box. That’s about all he tells.
Taking their leave of Noleski and the Duchess of Absalom, the party make their way back to the Dawnlands. Their journey takes them through Mivon. Alexei and Svetlana are struck by how like Pitax it has become. Kieran is initially quite taken with the guards that patrol, until Alexei shares his suspicions that they are, at best, mindless automata and at worst have souls bound into them. Svetlana reiterates her dislike of Irevetti, King of Pitax and now Mivon.
As they near the final leg, Kieran heads to the region to the west that has newly been granted them, to take over from the previous barons. They are not best pleased at being sent from their home (they refer to it as ancestral, but in truth this was previously part of the Stolen Lands and they received it in much the same way as Svetlana, Chester and Alexei received the Dawnlands). The Baron Drevel challenges Kieran to a duel – Kieran bests him and heals him back up before demanding he leave Fort Drevel (now Fort Castello). Kieran advises they can move to the dilapidated inn, as long as they reopen it. They refuse and advise they will take this to Alexei. Kieran lets them go, not mentioning his connection with the Earl of the Dawnlands. He gets to know the people of the town surrounding the fort and realises how badly they were treated by the previous barons. He also finds a letter from King Irrevetti to Drevel and his associates, acknowledging their surrender and thanking them for their continued assistance in infiltrating Brevoy.
Brutus flies Kieran to the Fort of Light, the seat of the Earl of the Dawnlands, and he arrives a day or so ahead of Drevel. Svetlana takes the letter from him and runs from the room – Arron follows her and hands over a letter sealed with Irevetti’s stamp addressed to the captain of a small armed encampment to the south of the Dawnlands – they had seen this abandoned on their way to Absalom and not thought anything of it. Arron advises that his god told him to kill the captain and the rest left – the letter commanded the captain to continue harrying the Dawnlands. Svetlana adds this to the first letter and places these with a hastily scrawled covering note into the box used to communicate with Malliard in New Stetvon.
10 minutes later, a letter from Noleski arrives with a writ of execution for Drevel and his companions. The letter advises he should be dealt with publicly and humiliatingly and apologises for asking them to do this. Svetlana replies simply with “As you wish” and speaks to Alexei.
The next day, Drevel arrives demanding to speak to Alexei who was, of course, holding Court. Svetlana ensures the pettiest problems are brought ahead of Drevel, to show their disdain for him. When it is finally his turn to petition Alexei, he demands his lands be returned as they had been unfairly stripped, refusing to believe the letter produced to be genuine. Alexei arranges for another duel, which this time Drevel wins so Alexei returns the lands. Svetlana signals to the guards to be ready by his 3 associates as Alexei adds “however, there is another matter that has come to light.” Svetlana reads the letter as evidence and then the writ of execution as the guards close in around the group. They are taken by cart back to the town their ruled, where the 3 are hanged and Drevel is flogged and cut to pieces. The town is renamed ‘Drevel’s Folly’ and Drevel’s head is preserved and sent to Irrevetti with a note dressed up in diplomatic speak that basically boiled down to “Don’t fuck with us”.
They return Vlad to his mother, who is delighted to see them, and ensure the region is running well.
They have been back maybe a couple of weeks when they are summoned to Noleski in order that their new titles can formally be transferred. Svetlana is delighted to see several of her friends from her home town have been invited and arrived. The ceremony is simple and over quickly, followed by a big party.
Noleski catches the group and asks to see Svetlana privately later; she agrees and Noleski advises them that the greater extent of the Dawnlands may give them some new problems. He is very pleased with their decision to post the head to Irrevetti: his contacts advise that Irrevetti was furious on receiving it and that is wonderful (he doesn’t like the man any more than Svetlana does) but their lands are bordered by Pitax on the west. Furthermore, they have upset the Restokovic family and Restov borders them to the east. His sister has been seen with the Duke of Restov and there is suspicion she is trying to ally herself with him. Alexei suggests that Noleski may wish to make a politically sound marriage either for himself or for his sister to prevent her doing the same. Svetlana goes very quiet. Talk turns to the western border and the barbarian tribe known to live on the edge of their lands by a suspected silver mine – Noleski suggests they could be befriended to assist in warding off Pitax.
Alexei, Kieran and Arron then head off to the party whilst Svetlana accompanies Noleski to look at some paperwork he needs her help with. A bit later, Arron spots Svetlana race in, find her mother (a woman in her mid-thirties bearing a striking resemblance to the 19 year old Svetlana – Natasha’s hair is a fairer shade of blonde, her eyes blue rather than grey and she is human, but otherwise it is clear they are closely related) and leave again with her.
A bit later, Natasha returns with Svetlana and Noleski close behind. They are smiling and have linked arms – a formal engagement is announced. Arron is surprised – he didn’t think Svetlana was the type to do something like this but looking at them he realises only the timing is political.
Natalya, Noleski’s sister, is furious. Alexei attempts to seduce her to calm her down, and it seems to work.
The wedding is set for 3 weeks time. It may sound soon, but a fortnight after that Svetlana will have to leave with the others to lead their portion of the Crusade into the World Wound. Now that their relationship is official, Noleski feels less concerned at asking her to take more troops for protection and she is happy to assent: the orc population in their lands includes many skilled fighters who would probably jump at the chance to help, and she knows their general, Sir Akaros, has been training an elite mounted unit known as the Dawn Riders.
They depart (with promises between Svetlana and Noleski to see each other soon, but he must return to Absalom and she to the Dawnlands), and head west to the barbarian tribe. A scouting party is befriended with the help of a deer carcass and the party learns that there has very recently been a change in leadership. This does not seem to be a popular change, but the new leader (Amag) killed their previously leader so is now in charge through right of conquest. They are led to him, sitting with the corpses of the previous leader and his guards rotting around him. He is in seclusion, Serec has advised us, until he is officially confirmed as leader.
Amag proves intractable and Kieran opts for another choice: he reminds Amag that he isn’t yet the leader of the tribe and suggests the previous leader may be a better choice for us to speak to. Amag starts to laugh as the Paladin reaches down and lays his hands on the corpse of the previous Elder. The corpse glows with fiery wings and he opens his eyes…