Jan 27, 2023 12:03 PM
Felicia and Elias visit the Casinean Empire
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Is 'The Gate' a god Eternal? Probably, given the wording and tone.

Oop, he's been asked to speak. Speak he shall.

"If I was in Golarion, I'd be thinking about boosting the enchantment bonuses on my arms and armor. Enchanted weapons go from the +1 grade to the +5 grade – mine are at the lowest level. Enchanted arms and and armor are stronger, do not tarnish or dull, and are easier and better to use overall: weapons hit harder, and armors protect more.

You must place at least a +1 enchantment on a weapon or armor before placing special abilities on it. For my armor, I'm not looking for any special abilities, since what I pick would depend on what enemies I am about to fight. Improving the enchantment on my armor is the best option overall. My organization does a lot of item crafting and enchantment as its business, which means we have lots of wizards that can enchant things for us.

For my greatsword," he unsheathes an oddly shaped dagger with a rather short handle, "it also has a +1 enchantment only. The type of warrior I am is such that I specialize in disabling and weakening opponents to make them easier to defeat – that's the reason why I have a Fear aura. I am especially keen on placing a Cruel enchantment on it: Cruel weapons, if they touch someone who is already frightened, will cause them to become sickened.

The other enchantment I am keen to place is Channeling. Part of my god's boons is such that I can deliver curses with a touch," he reaches out to the air with his right hand, "but lunging at someone to touch them is tricky in combat. A Channeling weapon will allow me to deliver that curse through my weapon." He's not going to elaborate on the sorts of fun things you can do with Bestow Curse.

"I would appreciate similar properties in the magical arms and armor I use. Of course, there are other items that are useful in combat but which are neither arms nor armor per se. For example, my Cloak of Resistance +1 helps me resist the effect of spells, but now it has become useless to me, because Allegra has told and demonstrated to me that your world's magic is irresistible. It's quite tragic, too, since my god's boon helps me to resist hostile magic from our world."

It's very clear that he's spent a lot of time thinking about this topic.

"As for tuning fork research, it is not necessary for us to be secretive if we could reliably defend ourselves from hostile actors, but we have no idea how people fight in this world and would rather not die in the process of knowing." He's very confident that he wouldn't die, but Felicia is a little more fragile, and he's doomed if she dies.

"Allegra has suggested Otkodov as a place we could petition people to help us in our quest to get back home – it seems they are more accepting of...people like us."

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"I can see why she thought of Otkodov - I'm sure they'd be interested in you, and they're the greatest nearby magical power - but I'd worry they might be interested enough to keep you, rather than to trade with you. They do trade, but only when they don't think they can take instead.

You've got a very different taxonomy of magic items there! If greatswords are your thing, we have greatswords that can break other weapons and shields, can force your enemy to fall down or retreat or hold still, or can just straight up channel killing force into them; I don't know how the enchantment would interact with whatever you've got on it to make it tiny, you'd need an artisan to tell you that - I'm sure I can dig one out for you who'd be happy to advise, in return for just getting a look at that.

We do have some armour enchantment that just makes it better armour, although not as quantified as yours! The other thing our armours do is self-healing - you can pick one of removing poison, ignoring the effects of your wounds, repairing your own limbs or repairing your general state of health. How often you can do this depends on your own reserves of heroic strength - which our weapons and armour can also bolster, you might want one to do that and one for the effect if whatever you have doesn't, hmm, line up with what the effects expect to be powered by." He is being very careful not to say 'if you don't have any heroic strength' to the large warrior who clearly does have it in the non technical sense.

"Getting into a fight within the Empire is likely to escalate beyond your ability to cope with it," he advises them solemnly. "We recently sent an entire five thousand person army to clear out one small village of heretics. You would likely be facing multiple armies, if you tried to take over the Lyceum for your own ends."

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"Blasphemers," notes Allegra, who had been thoroughly pretending she wasn't there, but can't resist correcting him. "They were technically blasphemers, not heretics."

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He relates to how Otkodov operates, and, honestly, he's kind of comforted by that familiarity compared to the awfulness of navigating political intrigues, which is solely Felicia's domain. The most he can do in that situation is stand silently and look imposing.

"They will not be able to part us from our belongings easily. But I understand where you're coming from.

The first enchantment you gave sounds interesting, but unnecessary. I can already make people do that with my spells – I can make allies try to kill each other too. As for my greatsword, it has the Shrinking enchantment on it. My god, Conrad, in His mortal life, placed this enchantment very early on in His career on his own greatsword, so it's considered auspicious for our weapons to have it. Of course, it is also very practically useful. Small weapons are easily carried and hidden."

Elias beams with delight...not that his expression can be seen.

"I would love to wear such armor.

Hm, you're...talking about 'heroic strength' as though it were a measurable thing. We measure the strength of initiates when we induct them, but what what you mean is probably different.

I did not expect the Empire to send that many soldiers just for the crime of blasphemy. It really does take its religion seriously, huh? Allegra has suggested that we try to figure out a cover story that allows us to operate with less secrecy but without calling attention to our divine boons or our gods, but we wouldn't know where to begin with that.

Another thing we are thinking about is attempting to summon one of our gods' outsiders – Allegra has told me that 'heralds' are the closest concept you have of them – for help, and also to test whether we are somewhat close to our god's realm. It would be a good portent if we're able to summon one, but...my feeling is that they're too far away, even though we are still able to receive spells from our gods."

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"Well, if you need a secure room for it, we have plenty here! Um, how likely is it to do property damage, do you have any control of it when summoned - we should be able to clear one mithril-walled vault, I suppose?"

What they manage to summon would give him a lot of information, he still feels like he's somewhat flying blind here, although that could just be the general feeling of unease he's still stubbornly ignoring.

"I'm afraid the armour effects conflict with each other, so you do have to pick one - the cheapest is the one to ignore your wounds, followed by curing poison, then fixing broken bones, then general healing; the most expensive would be around six of those coins, assuming you'll let me sell them as exciting foreign coins of mysterious origin. Although I think you may already have to have some capability to heal yourself for the most expensive one to work, so that might not be the wisest purchase.

Heroic strength is a measurable thing, yes, although mostly - 'how many people can you knock over before you're too worn out to do any more' - we don't have anything that measures it directly. I can lend you an Apprentice's Blade to see if you can figure it out, if you'd like - although, hmm, I don't know what bonding a new weapon will do to your attunement to the one you've got? Usually you wouldn't be able to use its special power until you'd been unbonded, rebonded to your weapon, and slept."

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"Ah, Felicia has not actually prepared the summoning spell today, so it will have to wait for tomorrow. We have no direct control over the summoned creature, although it would serve the same deities as us and therefore would not wantonly attack people or destroy things.

Hm, the curing poison one seems the best. I can ignore my wounds just fine even without Delay Pain, and fixing bones and doing healing Felicia can do. Felicia can also Neutralize Poison, although she doesn't usually prepare that spell. It might be useful to have that just so she can prepare other spells. The issue is that it seems that I'll have to give up my current armor and wear that instead, and I do not wish to give up this set. I don't own it – it's from our armory."

Oh, he's asking about his level. Right. Well, the Bronze Orchard derived the concept of levels for noncasters and partial casters independently, so he shouldn't just blithely state that he's level 9 based on their spells-per-day chart.

"I can jump off a six-story building and still be able to fight. In my world, fighters' bodies become more resilient the more battles they overcome. Felicia would be able to do the same, but from not as tall a building.

Bonding? I am not bonded to my weapon. Our weapons don't...have that. Conrad's bonding was because He was a wizard and used His greatsword as a casting focus for spells. Antipaladins and clerics such as ourselves do not make any sort of bonds with our weapons. I could pass my greatsword to Felicia and she'd be able to use its Shrinking enchantment just fine." 

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Okay, can you like, not suggest that we jump off buildings, please? What you say is true, but I am not keen on doing that just to show off our resilience!

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"Oh, good, that's much more convenient! It's always awkward to have to tell someone that I could sell them another weapon, but they'd have to pick which one to use each day and find a magician to fiddle with the bindings."

Verys is clearly impressed with the whole jumping off a building thing. "Our fighters can learn to be quite enduring, but that would be quite a legendary feat for them - maybe someone on the best potions and armour, as well as a great deal of personal endurance, would be able to fix themselves in a few seconds and carry on.

None of that is - correlated, necessarily, with heroic strength, though, although the kind of people interested in picking one up will generally also be interested in picking up the other."

That seems to have caused some kind of conflict with Felicia, that's interesting. Clearly she's a little more on the cautious side than her companion? Or perhaps it's just that magic users rarely want to do any kind of feats of athletics, even in the cases where they technically can.

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Felicia would prefer that this conversation end quicker so they can get the money, although it seems that Verys is advising them to go a different path from what Allegra initially counseled. She pats the table with both hands.

"So, how much money would you buy these ten coins for? It seems that we're going to have to decide ourselves where to go, since Allegra's advice is a little different from yours, and it's Allegra that will actually be accompanying us on our journey, unless you decide to come with us.

We cannot teach you our magic. We cast divine magic, which are bestowed upon us by our gods when we pray every morning. There is no way for you to receive them unless They chose you," which she doesn't expect. "Only arcane magic can be taught like how you learn how to read in school, and we do not know how to do arcane magic."

She sighs. She feels...apologetic, somehow, even though she hasn't said anything rude.

"We've walked for quite a bit, and it's been a while since I walked that much. I would be open to talking and also demonstrating more of our divine magic once we've decided what our course of action is. Aside from raising the dead, I can also heal wounds, neutralize poisons, remove curses, remove enchantments, and other such helpful magic, although I must prepare the spell in advance at the day's start." She's maybe not going to mention all the nasty things you can cast as a cleric.

"While I would normally prefer to go to Anvil and use my diplomatic and negotiation training to seek help and avoid trouble, we have no idea about the current geopolitical situation or like...cultural norms, even, and it would work out terribly if we offended someone important in the Empire's capital. I will share with you that part of my divine powers means that I am capable of working...enchantments – in the other sense of the word – on people, but it is not guaranteed to work, and I usually reserve uses of that skill when conflict is imminent." Or if there's great material wealth to be obtained. 

"I'm honestly inclined to take our chances in Otkodov – it seems that things would be more...straightforward...there. And Elias would prefer it, I'm sure." She looks very tired and reluctant at the prospect.

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"I really would advise not going to Otkadov without at least a small military unit to back you up, regardless of how high a building you can leap from," replies Verys. He knows when it's time to close a deal though, and it definitely sounds like that time.

"If you are happy with me selling them on as rare coins that I acquired from a traveller, who unfortunately didn't leave much in the way of detail with them, I can give you ten thrones for the lot; you would undertake not to flood the market with them in return, selling a similar quantity in another city would be fine, but you'd agree to give me a season to shift these to collecters here before selling elsewhere in Seren or unloading a huge quantity on some other market. Is that acceptable?

And I'd love to see you again tomorrow once you've rested, if you're interested in working on a better story for your powers or... attempting a summoning."

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That seems...low, from what Allegra implied, even with her already lowered expectations. Should she cast Silent Still Charm Person? She should probably not cast Silent Still Charm Person. Whatever, if she needs money, she could sell healing spells...after she figures out their cover story.

"I see. That is acceptable to us, and we will not sell coins to other merchants in this city, since Allegra trusts that you are both discreet and fair. Do you know of any good places to stay and eat? We don't know the area at all. Er, doing the summoning here seems...ill-advised, unless we could use the mithril room you were speaking of. If that was impossible, we would probably do it in the wilderness. It's not that it's dangerous, it's just that some of the outsiders our god may send us have...exotic forms that will attract attention."

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"Oh, we'd definitely be doing it in a private room; I can get the mithril vault ready for you tomorrow.

Allegra should be able to get you bed and board at any wayhouse as a Vate's companions, but if you want the height of Sereneal luxury, head over to the Clearview - it has rooms overlooking the Golden Trees - and tell Trevyn I sent you, for a discount.

They also do rather good meals, but my favourite restaurant at the moment is the Vos, it's down near the main ferry port along the river, you might have to wait a bit for a table but they'll likely squeeze you in if you tell them you're there to see if Verys' recommendation was any good. Their speciality is fish, but they have an excellent chef who can tailor things to your liking if you're happy to wait.

Oh, I suppose it might be a bit crowded down that end of town, though. I suppose you could persuade them to give you something to go and take it back to the Clearview, there's more space to breathe over on the woods side."

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The prospect of eating good food with a beautiful view cheers her up again.

"Thank you, that's very kind. We'll try the Clearview and Vos, then. I think I'll go and buy the food myself and take it back to the hotel – I have a good idea of the sorts of things Elias would like. At what time should we meet again tomorrow? I think staying here for three days and two nights would be good, unless there was something else that would keep us. Allegra mentioned that you might have contacts in Temeschwar that could help us either hire people if we decided to go to Otkodov, or otherwise procure diamonds or diamond dust and change money for us."

She drinks the rest of the sweet chestnut tea.

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"Let's say ten in the morning, unless you'd rather another time? I could do earlier, but I don't want to deprive you of your hotel breakfast."

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"Ten in the morning works. As for you, Allegra, how much will it take to reimburse you for the mana crystals?" She should probably have asked that before they got the money changed. 

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"Eh, call it two crowns for the lot," replies Allegra. That's wildly under wholesale rates and Verys is definitely manfully restraining himself from rolling his eyes at her, but it should cover the liao which is what she really cares about replacing. "I'm sure you'll end up with change when we get to the Clearview."

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That provoked some sort of reaction from Verys, but she's not sure what type. She makes motions to leave.

"Of course. Where will you be staying? Elias and I are fine with sharing rooms, but I would be fine with with getting a room for you too. You have been helping us, after all, and are already."

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"Hmm, I wouldn't mind trying out a fancy place for a change, thank you. I can stay for free in most wayhouses as long as I look like I'm on official Vate business, which I definitely do walking around with you two."

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"Allow me," says Verys politely; he sweeps the coins onto a pouch, replaces them with ten smallish golden coloured coins that are obviously plated metal, with 'one throne' prominently marked on them, opens the door, and Allegra holds it while he leads them out, then Allegra takes up an informal rearguard position. "I'll see you back to the entrance to avoid any problems."

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"It's the least we can do."

Felicia carefully scoops them up and deposits them into her coin purse. The two of them follow Verys out. What does the Clearview look like?

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The streets on the way to the Clearview are less packed than the market street, and Allegra seems to be paying more attention this time at steering them carefully through and giving a challenging glance at anyone who looks like they might come too near.

There's a little more of the commercial district, then some residential areas, then another commercial district but with more inns, food carts and so on - and at the far edge of this, a tall wooden ediface, five storeys high where most of the surrounding buildings reach three at most, elaborately carved into tree and leaf themed patterns with a double-floor entrance door bearing an elaborate painted, carved lintel, proclaiming it to be the Clearview.

There's a doorman in a lovely plant-pattern embroidered green and brown dress with golden leaf highlights.

Allegra is carrying herself with manufacturered confidence; she looks very scruffy compared to this place.

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She cannot resist gawking at everything. The architecture is so pretty!

Can she just walk in, or is this a fancy place where you have to ask the doorman to let you in? She'd rather not have to waste her Charm Person on the doorman. She totally would, though, to get to stay at a fancy otherworldly hotel. It is not frivolous! It is totally in keeping with Damianite theology. To refuse experiencing it would be heretical to the highest degree, of course, warranting a visit from the inquisitors.

She is going to ignore Elias's stare.

She personally doesn't look that good either. She didn't put makeup on or do her hair, as she does most days, and she's wearing adventurer's clothes with lots of pockets, rather than her shimmery cleric robes. The light blue Cloaks of Resistance the both of them have look a little out of place with the rest of their outfits, which look totally mundane.

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The doorman smiles and dutifully opens the door for them as they approach. "Welcome to the Clearview! Do you have a reservation, or are you here for the restaurant? No worries if not, with everyone out in Broceliande I think we do have some on the day rooms available."

The hotel lobby is suitably impressive, a double height room which is somewhat akin to being inside a silvered tree trunk, studded liberally with clusters of glowing crystals and pocked with windows plugged with (somewhat thick and uneven) translucent glass for the natural light to get in, and a grand staircase that looks like it is grown out of tree roots with a golden mossy carpet.

There's an elaborate desk like a nest of tree roots with a smiling receptionist in attendance.

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She tries to commit the sight to memory: the druids and the sculptor wizards at the Bronze Orchard would have loved to see this. Too bad she's an awful drawer. It takes a few minutes for her to make her way to the receptionist, since she's too busy looking around the place. Finally, she gets there, with Elias standing a few paces behind.

"Hello. What a beautiful place this is. We're looking to get two rooms for two nights. We're travelers: Verys Eternal, an acquaintance of ours here, recommended this place to us."

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Allegra trails in after them and smiles apologetically at the receptionist as they take their time looking around.

The receptionist replies, "Certainly, ma'am. Will you be wanting breakfast, dinner, or all meals with that? Most of our rooms have one double bed, we have a few with twin single beds instead, do you have a preference? I'm assuming you want the best available view, but we do also have one ground floor room available, and a couple on the first floor."

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