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Dec 02, 2022 1:57 AM
allegra is transported to the bronze orchard
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The Bronze Orchard is an underground base hidden deep inside the mountains of Sarkoris Scar. Literally deep, in this case, as it is hundreds of feet into the rock itself. It is hermetically sealed, and there are no passages in or out. The only way to enter or exit is via teleportation. There is no Forbiddance on it, but there is a Teleport Trap. Aside from a small safe area, any attempt to teleport into or out of the place will lead you to the cells in the dungeons.

 

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The protections around the Bronze Orchard, despite having been laid more than two decades ago, still hold fast. They have not had anyone appear in the dungeon in years. Still, it would be unwise not to keep guard posts in the area the Teleport Trap redirects to. It was Manus's turn to keep watch this afternoon. 

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Exhausted, hungry, neat layered green army robes torn by brambles and stained with blood and mud, Allegra continues down what definitely looked a little like a forest path earlier, although she is beginning to amend her assessment to 'forest path for deer'. Surely Cargo couldn't be much further?

She is too tired to notice the faint signs of a regio boundary until it is considerably too late.

As her surroundings change, she instinctively draws her army-issue rod (mostly wood, painted silver, cheap green gem embedded in the end) and buckler from her belt, even though there is probably little she can usefully do with them.

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There is now a wizard in the cell.

There isn't supposed to be anyone in the cell.

Manus bolts upright and draws his dagger, raising it into the air. He calls upon a fragment of Conrad's power. Bane: Humanoid (Human). The dagger begins to glow a pale white. He speaks the command word and it expands into a greatsword.

"Who are you!? Why are you here?" he asks in Taldane.

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Ah, excellent, someone shouting at her in a foreign language and waving a glowing... expanding sword?... at her. That is definitely exactly what she needed to improve her day.

She drops the rod and raises her hands in the air in what she hopes is a universal sign of surrender, although she does keep her left hand through the grip of the buckler; she's not necessarily convinced it will hold up against that thing, but at least it should take the force of one blow and stop her being immediately bisected.

"Do you speak Imperial?" she tries.

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The wizard drops the rod, but wizards can still cast spells just with their hands. Still, he does acknowledge the sign, and rests his greatsword on his shoulder.

That is not a language he speaks! He knows Varisian from his father, and Abyssal from the church. And Taldane. Everyone knows Taldane. Almost everyone. He casts Tongues.

In Imperial, he repeats, "Who are you? Why are you here?"

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"Allegra Highspire, Spring ritual auxiliary with the fifth ritual aux team of the Citadel Guard, currently very lost!" she replies, in a soldier-reporting kind of tone. None of it is... technically inaccurate... and it's not like she is about to let a dangerous stranger believe nobody is looking for her. She starts to gently put her hands back down, checking his reaction carefully; they've started to shake a little from fatigue.

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He is very confused, but he doesn't let that show on his face. His expression remains dispassionate and stern. Citadel Guard? Guard of what citadel? Lastwall?

He has no idea what Spring rituals are, but it's clear that the woman is a part of an organized military group, with her uniform and demeanor. Which is very strange! The Worldwound closed more than two decades ago, and this place is in the deep wilderness. All of the countries sending forces to keep the demons at bay have since recalled them.

Inquisitors get dungeon guard duty more than other people, and that's because they're great at interrogations. He can Discern Lies as an immediate action. She won't get anything past him...and she hasn't. Discern Lies says she's telling no lies.

He continues staring at her for a moment, and tries to examine her alignment next. That will be a good clue as to who sent her. Or, in this case, where she's from. Assuming Discern Lies wasn't fooled, which he doesn't expect it to have been, she really did come here by accident.

"Stay there for a minute," he says. His eyes seem to glaze over.

Detect Evil. Detect Good. Detect Chaos. Detect Law.  Each one of them will take eighteen seconds to process. He can use process of elimination to figure out her alignment then, although it won't distinguish between her being True Neutral, having an effect on her that conceals alignment, or her being too weak to show up. Which detection spells does she ping, if any?

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Nope; she's just not powerful enough to have an aura. She puts her arms back down by her sides and tries to stay standing still, but is swaying slightly; walking was just about okay, but she really is dead on her feet.

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Huh. She does not detect to any of them. Either she's too weak, is Neutral, or is concealing her alignment. Suspicious! The bars of the cell are enchanted and will not be broken by any mundane method, but there's no Antimagic Field in place. Detaining wizards, or casters in general, is very difficult. 

He can tell she's tired.

"You can sit down," he says, although there's nothing at all in the cell, so she'll have to sit on the smoothed gray stone floor. He softens his expression. It seems that she's already used up all her spells for the day, because any other wizard would likely have tried casting something already.

"Where do you come from? What were you last doing before you came here? Were you sent by anyone?" He readies Discern Lies.

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She attempts to sit gracefully on the ground, but kind of half collapses instead, both knees to one side and her free hand on the ground to steady her.

"Originally, Morrow; most recently, Reikos, although I'm fairly sure we'd been pushed over the border into Therunin. I was attempting to reach civilisation after being separated from my unit. I didn't intend to come here at all, I think I fell through a regio portal. Is this an Autumn pocket or something else?"

She is too exhausted to come up with any particularly convincing lies; it might be incomplete, but none of it is a deliberate falsehood.

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He does not know any of those place names. Nor does he know what a 'regio' or an 'Autumn pocket' is. But neither is it a lie, so either she has some sort of divination-blocking item, is very good at concealing her own thoughts from herself, or is deluded. Or some combination from the above. He clearly can't handle this on his own. Likely the wizards will know what she's talking about.

"I'll be back in a few minutes." Before he goes, he casts See Invisibility.

There are no invisible entities in the cell.

He leaves the dungeon and asks whether someone has Share Language and Lesser Geas or Geas prepared. Conradia does, so he fetches her, and explains the current situation along the way. A few more people go with them, but they remain outside the dungeon.

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The woman that comes back with him is visibly older, but not by much. Whereas Manus wore a simple and ergonomic tunic and pants, Conradia appears with wizard robes that would shine brightly to Detect Magic, as well as a bunch of other magic items. She has some sort of bluish cape or cloak trailing behind her, and there's something like a leather strap or circlet around her forehead that's studded with gemstones and metal pieces.

Her face is neutral, and it doesn't have that undercurrent of vigilance and concealed aggression that Manus has.

"Hello, Allegra. My colleague has explained things to me. My thought is that you somehow came here through another plane, though a Plane Shift like effect," she says in Imperial. She explains like she was giving a college lecture.

"I'm keen to talk to you more, but I would like to cast a spell similar to what my colleague used to understand and speak to you, so that you'll be able to speak our language. It's a touch range spell, so you'll need to stick your hand out through the bars." She, as a seventh-circle wizard and important person, has Permanent Tongues on her, but most of the five hundred or so people in the Bronze Orchard don't. 

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Allegra resignedly struggles to her feet, trying to retain what scraps of dignity she can muster, and presents a hand through the bars.

At actually being touched, she startles and just about manages not to snatch her hand back, her muscles tensing like it took a considerable effort of will; like she doesn't touch anyone at all very often, like it's uncomfortably intimate; she doesn't seem to have expected to actually be touched, just for the caster to come close enough that she could in principle touch her.

She doesn't bother saying anything until this is done, assuming that it's necessary for the new person to understand her, even if she can understand what they're saying. She's also carefully watching and listening to how the spell is cast, like she might be able to tell something about it from how it's done.

"Thank you," she says after the spell is cast, as much to try it out as anything else. She stays on her feet, swaying slightly.

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It takes her three seconds to cast Share Language. She incants, though not in Imperial. Her right hand makes a few sweeping gestures, and then lands gently on Allegra's hand to place the spell.

Conradia debated whether to give her Abyssal or Taldane. Taldane is the lingua franca of the Inner Sea – it's sometimes called Common for a reason. But they don't speak Taldane in here. They speak Abyssal. It's a requirement for initiates. She decided to give her Abyssal and not Taldane. Were she to try and escape, she would only be able to speak Abyssal. Which would be highly suspicious, given that Abyssal is the language of demons.

Any member of the Bronze Orchard can leave at any time, but she isn't one, and she hasn't been proven not to be a threat or of strategic value. This Citadel Guard of hers might want her back. At the same time, it behooves them to treat her with decency and not like how they normally treat prisoners, in the case the Citadel Guard comes to fetch her.

"This spell will give you the facility to speak and understand our language, as well as read and write in it. It only lasts twenty-four hours, however."

She makes a slight smile. "Would you like some food? We have beef stew. We can get water for you as well." She really seems like she needs it. From the way Allegra is swaying, she looks like she's about to faint.

It's always stew of some sort: that's the only thing the Cauldrons of Plenty can make. It took her weeks of research to figure out how to alter the cauldrons' enchantments to produce other types of stews or soups. Beef stew was Conrad's favorite, so when He made the cauldrons in His mortal life, He made all of them produce only that. Fortunately, her alteration was not ruled as heretical or sacrilegious by Rendon.

"Sadly, we will have to ask you more questions before we let you out, although we will let you eat and drink before that. Actually, given that we might be here a while, I think I'll get some food for myself as well."

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"I would..." she starts, and startles a bit at how the words actually sound; she hasn't been the target of something like Share Language before, and certainly not with quite such an alien language, considerably different from whatever the first guard was speaking. It would be fascinating, if she had the spare capacity to think about it much right now.

"Yes, food and water, please," she continues, a little hesitant about word choice in the very unfamiliar language. "Many apologies for accidentally trespassing in your domain, your suspicions and questions are entirely reasonable and I intend to cooperate fully." She wonders vaguely about sitting down again, but actually deciding on a position seems like a lot of effort; once it seems clear nobody is about to react suddenly, she does reach out gently and steady herself on the bars.

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Manus looks to Conradia, and she nods. He leaves. 

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She runs a hand through her hair unhurriedly. She walks over to a desk and pulls out a map from a drawer. It's a map of Golarion.

"My colleague will get us food and water. By any chance, could you recognize either your place of birth or country that employs you here?" She doesn't expect her to be able to, if her hypothesis over Plane Shifting was correct. Neither has she heard of any of the place names she's talked about. It pays to do you due diligence, though.

"I would also like to ask you what an 'Autumn pocket' or 'regio portal' are. They sound like terms of magic? And it also sounds like it was the latter that brought you here. Could you tell me what those are? Oh, and 'Spring rituals' too. You said that working on those was your job in the Citadel Guard." The Plane Shift hypothesis is supported by the fact that, if such things existed on Golarion, she would have heard about them even if they were only tangentially related to magic. She doesn't think Allegra is talking about the seasons here, although there does exist some magic that's dependent on the seasons.

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Allegra dutifully studies the map. It's getting a bit hard to focus her eyes on things. It's pretty clearly after a while of carefully tracing the coastlines that there's nothing that matches the map of the Bay of Catazar that she's familiar with.

"No... no lines that match... this one could draw you a local map with tools? Whole world is not mapped by us, we control land from ice to desert around a great bay, but not back to temperate lands again, not joining side to side; this could be across the ocean.

This map is bigger than any pocket unless the places are very small. Magic - magic we know, not magic by this word - comes in seasons and times of day? Spring summer autumn winter day night. Autumn is most likely to have - stone buildings, cities, well built dungeons. Spring is - growth, life, healing, decay. Regio is - a place of power? Portal is - there is a proper word for portal, so probably just that - usually between our world and a pocket, but can exit again in another place.

Rituals, rituals are, magic that consumes power, material power? We condense it into crystals, use those, but other sources can work. I know several Spring rituals, for healing, for corpse disposal. We cast them together; I can cast some alone, not as efficient."

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She is very unfamiliar with this system of magic! She is very excited by this confirmation. Her face doesn't show it, though. She merely says, "I see," and nods, as if it was something she had heard before and merely needed prompting to remember. The way she speaks implies that she is fully truthful and that Conradia should be less initially doubtful of what she says, or that she's a very good and Charismatic liar. There's an easy way to test that.

She incants and thrusts a hand toward Allegra, but doesn't touch her. Detect Thoughts. Aside from reading her surface thoughts, it will also tell her how Intelligent Allegra is. Unless she makes her Will save successfully, she wouldn't be able to notice the spell's probing effect, although the casting is noticeable.

"I'm casting a divination spell on you," she says, technically not lying. "I want to know what magical items you have, if any, and what properties they have. You were holding a rod earlier?"

There is a permanent Mage's Private Sanctum placed on the entire headquarters, which blocks many Detect-type spells, but the dungeon is excluded from its area. She rarely casts Detect Thoughts anymore, now that she's no longer working for Cheliax.

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"It's not an - enchanted item? It's a - focus, for spells. I don't have any enchanted or - wondrous? - items."

Allegra reflexively makes a will save, without understanding that she's doing so, but fails it. Her intelligence is 18.

when is the stew coming... hope it's not too spicy... what is 'hallowed' in this language anyway, none of these fit... is it going to look worse if I sit down or if I collapse...

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Manus enters with a large pot as well as bowls and cutlery. He's strong enough that he can hold the pot with one hand. He sets it a little before the bars, and sets down three bowls and cups. He takes out square cushions and puts one into Allegra's cell through the bars. He makes a show of ladling the stew into the bowls from the same pot and cutting the loaf of bread in front of her, placing each slice alternately on each plate. He doesn't want her to think they want to poison her.

He pours water from a pitcher into the cups, and then passes them through the bars. He sets the two cushions near Allegra, about a meter away, and sits cross-legged on it.

"Feel free to eat."

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Conradia does the same and sits down.

She complains about the beef stew, but it's actually very good. It's just tiring to eat the same thing every day. And not spicy at all, so that's good for Allegra. It took Conrad a lot of work to finagle the enchantment to make it flavorful – normally, Create Food and Water makes edible but bland food.

"Hm, I see. Do sit down, you look tired," she offers. She's a skilled enough wizard that she can talk normally even while focusing on a spell, although it takes effort. Hallowed? Does she mean the spell Hallow? But no, if she meant that, Abyssal has a word for it. She's struggling to peer through the links of meaning there. And an Intelligence of 18! She's surprised she doesn't have any wondrous items on her. An initiate with that level of Intelligence would be fast-tracked through the wizard curriculum immediately.

She doesn't seem like she's lying about not having any items save for her rod, which she says she uses as a focus, though she plans on checking that with Detect Magic later.

She sighs. "I believe you now when you said that you came here on accident from another plane with different magic. I'll ask you more questions about how your world's magic works, but I think it would be good if we explained where exactly you have ended up." She'll let the inquisitor explain – she's known Conrad from before He ascended, but he's the one who was ordained and went through seminary. She looks at him, and he nods.

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Manus speaks as if rehearsed from memory. His tone, while not hostile, sounds profoundly unamused with the current situation.

"You are currently inside the Bronze Orchard, which is the church headquarters of Conrad, the Contender, the Lord of Staff and Sword. He is the god the two of us worship. I am someone ordained by Him to protect the interests of the church – an inquisitor. We share the Bronze Orchard with the worshippers of Damian, the Fragrant Petal, the Lord of Flowers and Allures. They are ascended mortals, and our churches are allied and interconnected, since They were lovers in Their mortal life, and continue to be lovers today.

The Bronze Orchard is located deep within a mountain, and is hermetically sealed from the outside world. There is no way in or out save for teleportation, and unwanted visitors who try to teleport in are redirected by the protections laid on this place into this cell which you are currently in right now. This is why I was initially hostile towards you. I had interpreted you to be an attacker or spy." Which, to be clear, he's not entirely sold she isn't, even if Conradia might be humoring her. And it's not like he's going to apologize for potentially having attacked her – he has no obligations to her.

He asks questions more forcefully than Conradia, and generally has a more imposing demeanor, despite the fact that Conradia is an order of magnitude stronger than him, and could probably take on a dozen of him in combat. 

"What is your alignment? I tried to divine it, but didn't get a result. Are you attempting to conceal it? Don't lie, my god's blessing allows me to tell. Or is it that you are too weak to show up to it?" 

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Okay, so they're carefully showing the food isn't poisoned. Probably not worth trying to subtly cast Purify on it then, they look like they are paying attention. Cushion clearly means sit down before you fall down, so she does, lowering herself gently using the bars instead of almost falling over this time; she's not quite flexible enough to sit neatly cross-legged, especially not this tired out, but just generally she is not very happy sitting on a hard flat floor.

Food, blissful food, must remember to eat it very slowly even though it tastes so good, sip the water gently rather than gulping it down.

She tries very hard to pay attention to the explanation even though the food is taking up almost all of her concentration. Ugh, gods. Titles sound a lot like Eternals in a funny hat, ascended mortals could just mean they ate them or could be they actually usurped another one's position. All sounds a bit Suranni for comfort, but they didn't seem abjectly disgusted with magic, so there's that.

What the shit is an alignment. Does the language have anything to say about this. Okay, it does, it's kind of like dedication but weird; she reckons that 'chaotic' is a shoo-in and 'evil' is, uh, probably on the cards (a woman in a similar uniform in the woods, their throat slit by the knife she carries), but that doesn't sound like the safest thing to admit to these nice people?

"I don't know how strong you need to be to show up to it. I'm only second rank in Spring? I'm not concealing it on purpose, I know of items and potions that probably could but I'm not bound to any or have taken any, that I know of."

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Second rank in Spring? If he extrapolates rank to mean circle, then she would indeed be too weak to show up to it. You usually need to be at least third-circle to reliably show up to alignment detection spells.

Discern Lies says she isn't lying, and Conradia would have told him if she saw there was some effect that would have concealed it, or if Detect Thoughts didn't go through.

His face relaxes, but he maintains his sharp gaze. He starts to eat, and lets Conradia explain what alignment is.

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