An adventuring party recruited from Osirion teleports into Azir on the 8th of Desnus. Rahadoum's recruiting contact in Osirion wrote ahead to note they were expected. Couple of guys he's known a long time - a wizard, a ranger - and a new guy, sorcerer, probably to replace the cleric they usually travel with. They spend two days in Azir getting oriented and head out to the front. The ranger wears an unusually high quality amulet of Nondetection; the sorcerer wears a headband for intelligence, which is a bit unusual as sorcerers usually don't need it to cast, but some variants do; they are otherwise unremarkable. Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, no reading, which could mean neutral or 'hiding it'. They work quickly and effectively, manage resources reasonably well, get recommended to higher-ups for a closer look on that account.
"Mahdi, Hagan," agrees Mahdi - they're no longer going to have a language in common.
Hagan does not seem to have a good angle on throwing the paralysis off and is going to fling his head at it to little avail for a while.
Leareth would help, except for the fact that he definitely cannot help because he currently lacks magic. He says something apologetic which of course Hagan can't understand, but hopefully the tone comes across. At least it looks like Fy was, as usual, snuggled up with Hagan and was hauled along.
"If you just let it expire of its own accord that'll give us some information about his capabilities," Mahdi says. "Not that it matters very much."
"Yeah," he says when it finally wears off, "I think we can characterize them as 'sufficient'. How long was that -"
"Two minutes and ten, twelve seconds."
"Clepati couldn't do that."
"All of those were seventh-circle spells prepared in ninth circle slots. I've seen the concept before, though not with ninth circle slots obviously. A ninth circle caster specializing in enchantment -" he glances at Leareth, then remembers Leareth can't understand him. "Also he had a rod of greater quicken spell, he must have, or it would've taken him longer. And at least four other casters."
"Well. I guess turnabout is fair play."
Wish he'd - hurry up - but I guess there's no need, now."
"We might have to wait a day. I'm not gonna attack him but he doesn't know that, and I am armed, sort of -" he sleeps with two daggers and with Fy - "...if I were him I'd want all my spells."
"Maybe put the daggers conspicuously far away from you." He sighs.
Checks out the books.
They're real books. The ones he pulls out mostly seem to be histories, and treatises on subjects like mathematics and economics.
There are also other bookshelves protected by something like frosted glass, except definitely unbreakable, that seemed to be locked with magic. (And cannot be unlocked by magic, at least not by any of them.)
He gestures at the whole setup. Asks Leareth, "Leareth?"
It's very irritating not having the translation working, but some questions don't need additional words to communicate. It's been the main thing Leareth has been thinking about over the past several minutes.
He can't communicate the intricacies of his reasoning, of course. Or how incredibly jealous he is that this kind of thing works in Golarion's magic and not in Velgarth's.
He nods, emphatically.
He pulls out his daggers, moving very slowly and nonthreateningly, and sets them down on the ground on the other end of the room, and retreats over to where Mahdi is looking at a book about economics. "Does he have good taste?"
"I hate reading economics with my headband off, I don't really know. It's a pleasanter distraction than thinking how long it'd be until anyone missed us -"
"I bet my darling brother checks on me every day. But - it's gonna be fine. The person who did this is gonna invade Cheliax. So the more ridiculous stuff he can do, the better, really."
He sighs. "I guess," he says, again.
And Malduoni stands only a few yards away, invisibly. His rod of security lets him hop to an extradimensional space where the outside world is paused. For twenty-four hours, and only once a week, but this is a place where it's clearly worth it. He's slept, he has all of his spells again, and he hasn't exactly resolved his deep pit of confusion, it's going to take asking questions to do that, but he's - clarified it, yes.
He can read Leareth's thoughts more easily, here, which is interesting; the not-sorcerer seems to have been supplementing with some sort of magic item, now disabled. He's thinking about how - all of this - is very much his own style, very - in character for himself - and this is in the abstract a baffling line of reasoning, but it accords with the other baffling piece, so there's no additional confusion it adds. And the structure of Leareth's thoughts are - it's not exactly how Malduoni thinks, it's the product of an entirely different life history, but - the resemblance is still clear. Leareth is also coping very calmly with being imprisoned here - they all are - but Leareth's particular flavour of frustration at lacking his magic is a very familiar one.
(Malduoni had considered at first whether it could have been the case that, when Aroden died, his memories returned to more than one person - a god is a very big thing and His death involved fragmentation, after all. But it doesn't fit, because 'Leareth' plainly isn't from their same world at all, he had already pieced this together from sideways references and now Leareth is thinking about it much more directly.)
They know his identity as Aroden. They knew to seek him in Rahadoum. They have a man with them - a man with powerful alien magic carried from another world, and apparently an army waiting somewhere - who claims to be, clearly in some more abstract than literal sense, the same person as Aroden/Malduoni. He must have the relevant pieces, now, but he's not yet succeeding at piecing them together.
A few seconds later, a figure suddenly appears. He's - very old, white-haired, his face lined.
"I apologize for my rudeness," he says. "I wished to speak with you. Since none of you are stupid, I assume you can guess why."
He is the first to say -
"Hi. Did you do something so Leareth can understand us -"
"Ah, yes, I will take care of that now." Casting Tongues before he appeared would have made his presence very apparent, but he does so now. Nods to Leareth and repeats what he said.
Leareth looks him in the eye, levelly. "I am not surprised at all, and it would be unhelpful to be offended."
"It seemed more likely to work out like this if we were right than if we were wrong."
"I have to congratulate you on your subtlety in spying on us," Leareth says. "I assume you had someone watching us after all during the fight - or were there yourself, perhaps. And were - eavesdropping on my Mindspeech? You would not have used this much overkill if it were only that I have abilities a Golarion sorcerer ought not."