Dec 02, 2022 12:45 AM
Felicia and Elias visit the Casinean Empire
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Comfy sofa! Okay, back to business.

She's still struggling with the currency. "Admittedly, now that you talk about it, much of my magic does revolve around military matters. We don't necessarily object to working with the government, but we generally prefer working with private individuals or organizations. It...it has theological implications which I won't get into right now.

There are two grades of Restoration I can cast. Lesser Restoration removes fatigue and energizes the mind and body. Standard Restoration is the same, but it can affect things more permanent in nature, such as a soldier whose bone healed wrong and now walks with a limp. The standard Restoration requires diamond dust. It is also necessary if you want to restore a person to full capability if I Raise them. Two castings are necessary for most people, but if the person is young, you might be able to get away with just one.

I wonder whether my negative energy channeling would work against the Vallorn. They seem to be like the undead of our world, but animated with positive rather than negative energy. Sadly, I cannot demonstrate this capability without harming something. Negative energy is inimical to life. As for poison in the air, I can protect against it with Life Bubble and Air Bubble. These spells block outside air and provide a shell of breathable air for the person inside. 

As for the Druj, I can cast Remove Fear, Bless, or Blessing of Luck and Resolve to shield against fear. 

Delay Pain removes all sensation of pain for hours at a time. It's useful if you have to conduct surgery on someone. It blocks all pain however, so care must be taken that people don't overexert themselves.

Sadly, Sleep is an arcane spell. I do not have access to it. Neither do I have access to Teleport.

Yes, I should have thought of a better question to ask you. It's difficult to think about what's difficult if you don't know what's on offer. I suppose the type of services I offer depend on whether I'm being hired for a short time only to cast spells, or whether I'm employed in a more...permanent position. It seems that rituals in your world produce effects that last for months at a time. For us, a spell – we do not have rituals – that lasts days is considered rare. I have many spells which are powerful but which last for only several minutes, such as the mental enhancement spells. Many of the spells I listed earlier have durations measured in minutes. Useful if I'm on site, but too short to be useful otherwise.

Also, I'll extend our stay for two days so that the market runner can arrive. This is a very pleasant place to be in, in any case, and I do not mind staying."

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Elias isn't keen on staying, but he's deferring to Felicia on negotiation matters. But still, he doesn't want to leave it entirely to her. He is more Splendid than her.

"We are trained for combat, especially myself. Felicia's training and skillset is such that she can fulfill many tasks so long as she's given a day to prepare, but I am specifically made for battle. I don't think that civilian institutions would have many strong magical items, especially weapons, on offer to pay us with, and neither would they appreciate the rest of our capabilities. I initially wished to go to Otkodov because it seems like they would employ us without asking annoying questions, and would appreciate both our offensive and support capability."

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Elias!!!

She opens her mouth as if to speak, and then purses her lips and smiles awkwardly instead.

"Yes, we are trained for combat, but that's not all that we're trained for. The both of us are trained in mundane healing – Elias used to work as a temple healer – and part of my job at our organization was tending to our greenhouse herbarium. I relate to you having to deal with the Vallorn. We are part of an organization that lives in Sarkoris Scar, which was the site of the now-closed Worldwound, a place where monstrous demons poured from the earth and ravaged countries for over a century. Although there are no more demons coming out, the ones that have entered are still there, and our organization is one of the ones which are cleaning it up.

It is a generational struggle, and many people have lost family members personally to these demons. I was an orphan because my parents died while fighting at the Worldwound. But fighting endlessly tends to um...make people single-minded, and it is a relatively more peaceful time now. The Worldwound was closed twenty-four years ago. We are especially desirous of strong magic items because many demons in our world are resistant to mundane weaponry. The weapons must be enchanted – like the ones we have now – in order to do significant damage to them, and the wizards at our group are looking for new ways to make them stronger and cheaper."

She can't believe she said all that, without actually saying any lies. Asmodeus or Erecura should cleric her now, honestly.

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Okay. They absolutely mustn't be allowed to go to Otkadov. The Thule with this power would be... well, they wouldn't stop at Hercynia, this time. Verys determinedly tries to push down the bitter thoughts of the past, and focus on the bright future that he can see, if only he can just be persuasive enough.

"Well, it sounds like we have an excellent opportunity here.

What do you say to this. I consult with some people and we load you up with the best magical items we can lay our hands on - they won't be artefacts, but the best that money can buy on short notice. We do a collection and send you off with more money than you'd make from doing your magic for private individuals in the League for a month - I can promise you at least 30 thrones and it may turn out to be more.

And you go to the Broc, where even now there is an expedition into the heart of the Vallorn underway, the first in over a century, and you offer your aid to this expedition. There is no general there, no governmental organisation, just a large collection of private individuals taking advantage of an Eternal boon which provides temporary immunity to the miasma. You deploy your negative energy, your restoration, your raising of the dead - we will collect some diamonds to send you with too - your delay pain, your prowess in battle. You work with the Vates there, the Brands, the Thorns, and they get to know your capabilities and how to deploy them, until the Winter Solstice.

I can't promise a complete lack of annoying questions, but no Navarri is going to turn away help against the Vallorn. We all swear to fight it as our most abiding oath, when we come of age, and it is written on our skin."

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She can feel Elias just lunging to take the opportunity, but she holds her hand up to stay him. It's really not the money that's appealing – if she sold all her remaining coins at a quarter of the price Verys gave, the two of them would have fifty thrones to their name – but the cool magic items. She is honestly also attracted to the idea of cool magic items, even though her interests are more toward mundane stuff. 

"Do you have some idea of what sort of questions they would ask us? We generally refrain from lying, but if the particular nature of our powers and...worship...might cause conflict, then it would be a good idea to know which topics to avoid, or perhaps give a cover story. I believe we broached this topic yesterday. Notably, I can cast many spells that mimic ritual effects, but without the need for mana crystals.

What significance does the Winter Solstice have?"

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"Avoid talking about gods. If you must tell anyone where you get your powers from - and they'll take 'we wish to keep that secret' as an answer, so long as you are helpful and forthcoming about how they can be used and providing them - then we do have powerful entities called Eternals that do grant strange magical powers, but honestly I think that will just invite more questions.

Being secretive will be much less suspicious than being accidentally open about something that interests people - they should be easily diverted onto discussions of the mechanics of what you can do for them, rather than the source or - matters of odology.

The Winter Solstice is when the boon of the Eternal that is permitting the expedition to occur will run out, and also when the next great gathering in Anvil will convene."

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"They'll probably ask what some of your more esoteric spells do to the soul, whether you can teach them, generally 'how can I become powerful like you' kind of questions," adds Allegra.

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"Hm, I see. So it would make sense for us to go to the Broc, and then travel to Anvil afterward.

Sadly I wouldn't be able to teach them. I suppose I can fold that into the 'it's a secret' narrative. As long as they accept our help and we're paid, then it's all fine."

She and Elias look at each other for a moment, and then Felicia nods.

"We accept. What preparations do we need to do on our side?"

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"I'll assemble a catalog of what is readily available, and send a buy order for diamonds with a price cap rather than waiting for the price to come back; you'll need to come back this afternoon for the catalog and pick out what you want, then tomorrow for delivery; hopefully we'll get some diamonds back tomorrow evening, otherwise it'll need to be the next day.

You'll want travel equipment if you don't already have it, I'm assuming you'd rather shop for that yourselves as you know your preferences better than I do; I expect there to be base camps set up, but there being a reasonable chance of getting stuck out somewhere overnight, or even having to await rescue for a few days. There are no shortage of good suppliers here, good travel gear is something of a national obsession; tell people you're off to the Broc and they'll give good recommendations, although also possibly their own favourite horror stories.

Other than that, whatever you'd normally do before being in the field for an extended period of time - once you get past the Broch settlement in Black Boughs, there are no permanent structures. It's a nice stroll down the Trod from here to there, though."

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"We'll need time to shop, so it's not terribly urgent for the diamonds to arrive immediately. I cannot demonstrate the spell anyway unless you happen to have a recently dead person you want raised. I should note that Raise Dead has a time limit. The person cannot be dead for more than nine days, even if the body has been preserved. The soul would have progressed too much in the afterlife in that time, and I cannot bring them back using that spell. 

I do have another spell called Gentle Repose which preserves a body as well as halting their soul's progression in the afterlife, widening the window for revivification."

Shopping time! Right, they don't have an arcane caster with them. Anything divine magic can't do has to be recreated using mundane means. It will be like real adventuring.

She's not the sort of person to go adventuring. She's too attached to the comforts of civilization.

"I was wondering whether you could direct us to good shops.

We have our own tent, but it only fits two people comfortably. I think we'll defer to Allegra for advice on camping and such – we don't know the local wilderness and so don't know whether there might be something we're missing. I can conjure drinking water with Create Water, though I usually prepare Purify Food and Drink instead – it makes foraged food and water safe to eat and drink. I can also conjure food, but it's not a cantrip, so I'll have to use a slot for it. Not very efficient. Better to bring some emergency food rations just in case. 

Let me see. I think buying medical supplies would be good too. The two of us are trained in mundane healing, even though Elias cannot provide magical healing. 

I think we'd also need firestarting supplies, or a magical heating stone, if you have those. It's awful trying to cook with Prestidigitation."

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"Yes, that makes sense - I'd expect it to just not work on a Paragon, but most people aren't that, and are likely to hang around in the Labyrinth at least that long.

Gentle Repose... I mean, that sounds very useful, but also don't tell the Highborn. I think that must be very similar to what the Axou do to their dead, to stop them going to the Labyrinth in the first place.

Allegra can make sure you're not in the tourist district, but otherwise anyone selling inferior equipment to people who are off to fight the Vallorn would have been run out of town, so it's mostly a matter of taste.

Medical supplies are a good idea - most Navarri physicks will be using herbal remedies or blood resonance so that's what you'll likely find tools and supplies for around here, let me know if you can't find whatever you use for your healing and I'll see what we can do.

We don't have magical heating stones but we do have some pretty good firestarters, there's this white waxy stuff which goes up really well and burns for long enough you can usually get any decently laid fire to light, and firestarting sticks that you can light it from, although you probably want to pick up a flint and steel kit as well because they don't do well when you get them wet, and they're one-use."

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She nods, and wishes she had something to write with. She'll just have to try and remember it. Fortunately, she has a good memory. You kind of have to have that to survive not knowing how to read and write the first two decades of your life.

"Thank you for your advice. Aside from that – and this question is for Allegra as well – how do you think we should disguise Elias's fear aura?

Additionally, how should we present our spells? If we knew more about how rituals work, I could probably dress up some of the spells as rituals, especially since you have relatively few spells compared to us, and anything complex or powerful must be done by means of ritual. Is it like...performing? Acting? Or is it something involving mathematics? Allegra cast Bright Lantern of Ophis on Elias, and the way she cast it is very similar to a spell from our world, but as I understand it, Bright Lantern of Ophis isn't a high, er, magnitude ritual.

It is especially problematic because I don't use mana crystals in my work – indeed, I haven't seen a mana crystal ever until we came here. That's probably a big part of what might make me selling spells profitable: I can cast Remove Curse without needing to buy or find mana crystals."

 

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"Now that is going to make you very rich at Anvil, if you can do it without getting arrested," replies Verys, somewhat enviously. "State of the art in curse removal is the White Stone, which is seventieth magnitude, requires a ring of Ilium, and only does physical-effect curses.

I'll defer to Allegra on this, but I wouldn't try to lie about your spells or dress them up; you are Strange Foreigners who have Strange Foreign Magic which you're not interested or able to teach anyone and aren't revealing your sources, but look, it's super helpful. You might need a better cover story for your sources at Anvil, but I think Allegra probably overestimates how suspicious everyone is, most of the time..."

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"I think 'Elias is cursed' is the obvious way to do it, but that does kind of conflict with selling curse removal," offers Allegra. "Curses come in lots of varieties, though, maybe this one is just one that your spell won't shift. People will probably try to fix it for him when he gets to Anvil, but it's not illegal to be cursed, even with weird malign auras, as long as you're not going around claiming you intended it, and you're not intentionally hurting people with it - or being really careless about where you point it, I guess.

Even if someone tags you with Wisdom of the Balanced Blade - and that's hard to do subtly, they've got to follow you around blatantly chanting for at least two minutes - they will probably get an extremely confusing summary that's hard to prove anything off. And Verys is right, you actually have to come to the attention of the Synod and have them go through quite a bit of bureaucracy to get arrested for a religious crime normally - if you're doing something extremely obvious, like telling everyone you follow gods or that fear is great actually, the militia might try to arrest you pre-emptively, but they get into a lot of trouble if it's not clear-cut.

You'll need to be careful, and ready to leave in a hurry if someone does decide to move against you, but if you're not actively involving Imperial citizens, even foreigners with blatant religious behaviour are usually just deported at worst. We probably want to say you come from somewhere beyond the Commonwealth, it's not a lie for carefully chosen values of 'beyond', and if we do get into really serious trouble, we can get you put on a ship bound to there; I used to speak a bit of their language and they're generally the least objectionable foreign nation, they'd be pretty happy to get to study your weird foreign magic too, although I don't think they have anything like the Gate.

Some people will refuse your services because you won't say where they come from, but as Verys says, probably not amongst the Navarr; we tend to be a lot more practical about it. We will be travelling through Highguard to get to the Broc, though, and it's probably worth just not saying anything of substance to anyone while we're in their territory; Anvil's technically also in Highguard but it's a bit of a special case."

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Sigh. Well, people being religiously discriminatory isn't new. That's kind of just a fact of life for Chaotic Evil clerics. She wonders how a cleric of Iomedae, Pharasma or Sarenrae would fare here. The three of them are probably the most unobjectionable gods in the whole of Golarion.

"I see. Remove Curse is not a panacea – it may fail against curses which are of high strength, or have been cast by someone particularly strong. However, it is possible to try multiple times, and usually after several tries it will work, even if it is a powerful curse. Some curses are simply outside of its power to treat, though.

We're used to hiding our religious affiliations, which is part of why we wear regular clothes outside rather than formal temple robes.

I think we'll adopt the strategy of simply being extremely cagey rather than explaining things away. We would like to leave now to go shopping, and then come back later, perhaps at sunset, since the sun sets earlier this season."

She stands and turns to Allegra.

"Would you mind helping me shop? I would bring Elias, but I think that the militia would get upset over his fear aura again."

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"Yes, probably best to not cause problems in a crowded city. Anvil's nothing like the market streets of Seren; there are crowds in places, but they can be avoided, and people are expecting strange things to happen much more often."

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"I'll put together the catalog for sunset, then." Verys heads towards the door to escort them back out of the maze-like building.

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Felicia goes with Allegra and Elias back to the Clearview to drop him off, and then go back downstairs to go shopping. 

"You know Seren much better than me, so you should pick which shops we ought to go to. Since you're traveling with us, feel free to lump in what supplies you'll need to our expenses. I'm willing to pay for it, since you're already helping us with your knowledge and connections.

So far, we need: firestarters, a tent for you if you want one, potentially nonperishable snacks or food, mana crystals for you for your rituals, rope, writing materials, waterskins or bottles, medical supplies and herbs...what else? That might be everything. I prefer having Elias around because I have him carry everything for me." She laughs.

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"I rarely bother carrying a tent, but it is quite tempting if I can make Elias carry that too," replies Allegra, smiling for the first time in a while. "Let's head down to Caryn Softfoot's, they'll have all the basic supplies in and they do excellent large backpacks, I get the feeling I'll be wanting one of those. They're a pain to access with a cloak on, but much easier to run in than a satchel.

We'll probably want to pick up a set of potions; I should have asked Verys to see if he can source the good stuff with your magic item order, but at the least we'll want a full set of - ugh, I can never remember what they're actually called, the vervain and the cerulean and the one that keeps you moving, maybe Surging Flame although that can be kind of dangerous."

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She laughs too. "If I prepare Ant Haul, we really could make Elias carry everything, provided the backpack is big enough. The spell triples your carrying capacity, and it lasts for three quarters of the day – which is basically the whole day, since I doubt we can sustain walking for eighteen hours straight. He probably could, but I can't. It makes sense too, since if I have to carry a heavy load, I'll probably need to prepare a Lesser Restoration or two to keep me going if we're walking from dawn to dusk. I'm only of average strength.

Do you have anything like Bags of Holding? They're enchanted sacks that connect to an extradimensional space. They let you carry more things – in the sense that the space inside is greater than the space the bag occupies, and that you only feel the weight of the bag when you carry it, not the things inside. 

It would be good to carry potions – it means I don't have to prepare as many healing spells in case of emergency."

She'll let Allegra lead the way to Caryn Softfoot's store, as well as let her negotiate on her behalf. She might be more familiar with the currency now, but she still has no idea what's a fair price or not. She doesn't think even True Appraisal spell would help her.

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"Let's get him a really big backpack, then.

The Trod should do approximately what your Lesser Restoration does; we only caught the end of one on the way here, but there's literally an unbroken line between here and the Broch, it should be a lot easier. I think we can get away with taking it through Brightway and Coombe, and not hitting Highguard at all, actually - I think that bit's Dawnish.

That sounds incredibly useful, but no, the closest we have is the Night Pouch, which hides what's in it but it still is as heavy as everything that's in it."

Caryn Softfoot's store is a sprawling warehouse full of backpacks, tents, practical clothing, travel bedding, portable cooking equipment, everything you might need for an expedition in all weathers.

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A helpful attendant is soon with them, as a Vate and an unusually dressed visitor might be lucrative customers. "Hi, I'm Helyn Softfoot - what brings you here today?"

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"Equipping three to head into the Broc. The other member of the party is rather larger and stronger than us and would like the largest available backpack; I'd like one at a somewhat more reasonable size. We've already one tent, but a small one-person shelter would be good, then I'll look at whatever you recommend. And are you selling potions this season, or can you recommend a good supplier for the basics?"

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"Certainly ma'am, right this way," replies Helyn, and begins to lead them into the maze of goods.

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It's very obvious that this is not a Golarion store. Stores for adventurers are usually laid out similarly, since adventurers travel widely and prefer that they know exactly where to go in order to find things. Stores that want to be different are either selling extremely rare items, or will go out of business within the month. There are many things she's curious about and look interesting, but she's Wise enough to suppress the urge to touch and examine them.

"I shop for a lot of the other people at our ch– organization, so I know their clothing measurements, not to mention that we do some tailoring and armorsmithing in-house. I can give you my companion's size..." and she lists off Elias's body measurements.

She's really curious about the potions, too. Potions in Golarion are just spells packaged in a different form. Would Imperial potions be the same? 

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