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.
The man smiles. "Also I was reading your thoughts. You in particular made it very difficult, so, I must offer congratulations as well."
Leareth nods. Doesn't return the smile. "I assume this place is an absurd level of secure, but - may we speak openly here?"
"Aroden. You survived, right? And - rebuilt, it must have been from nothing..." Leareth shakes his head. "If you were reading my mind," (he would one hundred percent be offended and scared if it were anyone else but he can't really be, here), "then - you must be very confused about who I am."
"One might say that. I have gathered that you come from another world and have an army at your beck and call - presumably you left them behind in said other world, or I would have heard something. Also you and your friends seem to believe that you are the same person as me, which does not make very much sense."
"It does not. We - lived the same story, I think. In two different worlds, which I am sure left corresponding differences in us." He glances at Mahdi and Hagan. "They can help explain better."
"Three weeks ago an acquaintance of Leareth's from his world, called Velgarth, landed in ours by a magical accident, we don't have more details though we think it was an accident on our end not Velgarth's. He was aware Leareth was working on a large-scale plan that as one of its steps involved conquering his country, but he didn't have more details. Eight days ago we hired the High Priestess of Nethys in Sothis, Nefreti Clepati, to kidnap Leareth from his world so we could ask about them. She did. Before she did, she said - my notes are in my Bag of Holding and my headband is disabled so this may be off - 'the same stories repeat themselves across worlds. Young men who think they're immortal, because they are, because they were, but everything else was not, everything else was lost, a price they did not know they'd need to pay, and time erodes even the mountains.'"
He's still, not answering, for a period of about five seconds.
(The centrepiece of the puzzle is falling into place and quite a lot of the confusion is resolving with it. Although not in a direction that he is exactly pleased with.)
"You are telling me," he says slowly, "that Abadar knows everything you were thinking, when you came here to investigate, and so does Nethys?"
"Not everything. On my part, I told the pharaoh - who is not, in fact, personally Abadar, though I am sure you knew that already - that I suspected Rahadoum was preparing to fight Cheliax, and that I could make inferences about the person leading because they were an alternate version of someone I knew in my own world. I suspect he guessed I meant myself. He - may have been pressing me for information later, no, almost certainly was. I do not think there is any possible way he could have made the leap to your being Aroden because it is, from an outside view, absurd."
"And yet you believed it, on a hunch, enough to travel here undercover and learn more."
"...The entire history of my life is from an outside view absurd, so."
"You haven't actually told us your history, beyond that it matches," he says to Leareth. "- and that he was, uh, trying to build a god who'd fix everything wrong with Velgarth."
"I see." Malduoni does not look surprised at all.
"I suppose I ought to tell you, to - make the case better." Glance at Hagan and Mahdi. "And, at this point, I see little reason to hold it back from either of you. My world had a Cataclysm about two thousand years ago. Two powerful mages fought. One of them was myself, the other my teacher and mentor. I lost most of my memories and do not have surviving records, so I am unsure of the details, but - I did not want to fight him and I certainly did not want to kill him. I was winning the war, and then - things went very badly out of control, he destroyed his own stronghold to prevent my reaching it, and handed a weapon I had not known existed to some of his allies, who used it to murder me. In the process setting off said Cataclysm, which left the world badly damaged for millennia. I had already arranged immortality, and so I - came back."
"...Yes. I see certain similarities." A piercing look. "Are you still planning to solve your Velgarth's problems with a god."
"I will do the obvious thing for when one has discovered an entire new world, which is stop and orient and reassess all of my plans in light of this." Sigh. "And - in light of the knowledge that, here, it did not even work."
"I am sorry."
"Do you know what went wrong? We figured you didn't. Because - banning all the gods from a country - is what you do when you don't know what you actually need to do."
He says nothing. Which is an answer by itself.
"For what it is worth, I do not think that it was Abadar. Though perhaps I am over-updating on the fact that he - offered? requested? - to make me his cleric. I assume he would not, perhaps could not, do that if he were against the sorts of goals that someone like me - like us - would hold."
"Really. I assume you did not accept."
"We had a mission to Rahadoum scheduled first."
"I bet He knows."
"About Aroden– Oh. I suppose He might have all of the requisite pieces. From what I told the pharaoh, and - if He spoke to the gods in Velgarth, and asked about my history, He might learn a great deal... And I am not sure if He thinks in the right way to - put it together that way, a mix of human stories and the way gods think, but the pharaoh is brilliant." He ducks his head. "I am sorry. I did not think of that."