Pathfinder Kingmaker

Secret Combinations

...and invisible hands.

Time had been lost and with it opportunity. The hollowed room inside the great oak stood empty of motion. Shards of moon light split the darkness as dusty milky waves bent towards the light source, small crevices in-between the branching veins of the mighty oak. The shafts reflected upon the silver dais made for meditation. They bounced against an immaculate desk holding strange scripts in dead tongues. Resting in the corner, a large beast laid, its heartbeat filling the chamber with a steady dull thump. The oak room seemed a calm from the secret combinations outside, save the slender shape beginning to take effect on an inside wall. Split between hiss and crackle of wood breaking through stone, the shape slowly manifested. First a leg then arms outstretched swimming through the air. The wooden being became flesh and gasped into life once more. The large feline awoke to the sound and loyally arose to greet the woman. She acknowledges the furry creature with a soft rub underneath the chin and hug. It was good to be home. But she was too preoccupied with events at hand.

She felt lost and defeated in her attempt for revenge. Her time spent in the forest proved fruitless. It is as if she had disappeared from existence. But as she searched she found only more secrets. She heard the stories. The object of her revenge only became crueler after time, after her fleeing. What can only be said as some magic taking hold to her, some insidious deterioration of the soul from the inside? Now fey beasts and strangers began feeding from the depths of the Narlmarches. What sort of machination was set in motion here. The Norn, protector of all that was once good, that had once banished her, tried to kill her, was no more than a shadow to time. And in her place, vengeance that will never be quelled and a hole in the world where there should not be one.

Still rubbing the felines belly she became aware of her meditations and awoke. Taking quick survey of the room, she instantly spotted the letter from the Mistborn rangers. Typical was their correspondence spent this way, transporting in through the bare patch of earth that was available to leave messages on whereabouts and the sort. It was peculiar today. It was written in druidic. She quietly open the note. An unexpected gasp, regret, and fear filled her with its words. These were the mechanizations coming too close to home. She knew who she had to see. The note dropped from her hand and quickly grabbed her companion as they vanished into oaken wall through a splash of magic and bending wood.

+++++++++++

Standing at a distance, he could see the festering wounds Misthaven beginning to take shape. Two shadows, too afraid of the light, silently locked up the warehouse door and took flight into the shrouded fog banks of the ports. He waited sometime after they had left. Deftly he moved across the street and through the broken window into the warehouse. Damp and dark, he could see the mold as much as smell it across the wooden trusses. Dropping down to the floor, he strode quietly across the large room to the staircase down. Below and between the creak of the steps he could hear the sniffling of some poor creature through a door. Knowing who it was, he held no compassion as he advanced in blurred speed, hushing the only light in the room, to strike the young man.

A loud and broken cry ensued as the young man was snapped back into his nightmare. “Trust is a fragile thing, once broken you are never the same. I am never the same!” exclaimed the Caretaker at the restrained Saul of Mistmarch. A wet sniffle, a silent plea escaped the beaten man. “We are all weak Saul but we do not give in to that weakness with the empty promises of those who would destroy us,” his large paws upon the captive’s chest, pressing down with immense pressure. Saul could not breath, his lungs burned under the pressure for air, if he could just speak. “I know you understand what has happened. I know you will know one day what risk you have placed upon those you once claimed to love. I know you think you can escape this but the secrets are already breaking. They will know you were the source. I have made plans already and there will be a new master.” Releasing the pressure, the Caretaker turned to go. Struggling for words, “Wait… no… do not leave… me!” Saul laid his last desperate cry for forgiveness. Half turning the Caretaker simply said, “We shall kill no one.” And as fast as he was at Saul’s throat, the large creature was gone leaving the human to his thoughts of pain, shame, and hopelessness.

As he was held in straps, too weak to escape or pick at the locks, Saul felt the dreams he had at ambition slip into the shards of tears upon his wounds. There truly was no one to help as his withdrawal took him deeper into delirium. He could feel the soft touch of a dog, once like when he was young, approach his hand and face to comfort and lick the dried blood away. The last smile of youth flashed across his face before the darkness in his soul. Suddenly the dog was startled and fled. Or so he thought, as a large tiger, snarling approached him in the bleakness of the warehouse. “The nightmare had come to stay,” he thought to himself. As his mouth stood agape is silent scream and his body twisted. His last thoughts coursing through his body, the vision of a woman came to stand before him and hold him. Once like his mother did before she died. Once like an angel spirit had watched over him all this time.

+++++++++++

Entering into the great hall with the half dead Saul upon Lupo’s back, Tessara stepped forward to the Kings with a newfound purpose to bring things out of the dark and into the light.

“I know how they found Pik. I led them there. I told the Caretaker to keep him safe and we both failed in trusting this urchin of a master thief.” Tessara pointed to the limp body upon the tiger’s back. “We should forgive him for being weak to his addictions.” “I believed we could keep the city safe from these things but no.”

Striking her staff on the hard stone floor, commanding the attention of the kings, “I know we have been reactive to these threats every time. We have been dancing with kingdom trivialities too long. Now we are told to attack each other with no thought to truly why. It is not Pitax but we are dancing again to someone else’s game. Dancing to who’s music? We are being played for fools!”_

Comments

You obviously have far more knowledge on these matters than the rest of the kings. Who is this man on your animals back? Who, or what is this care taker, and where in the 9 hells have you been? Your absence has not endeared to me trust. And now you bring some waif into our throne room with wild accusations about us being played the fools? Our own diplomat almost murdered. And a confession of associated guilt. What is this." Says Zion as if venom coming from his mouth.

Secret Combinations
 

Reg stamps his right foot.

“My brother’s right on this one!,” he shouts as he looks at his fellow kings.

“I don’t like all this creepin’round crap, Tessara! You came late to this table, and still we’ve given you an equal seat. It’s time to show us and this realm the deserved respect!”

Secret Combinations
 

Meta
Let’s take this encounter slowly and deliberately, so as to build the best story and, regardless of what happens with relations between the monarchs and Tessara’s place among them, it’s something we can all appreciate.

And then you can go back to arguing over Zion’s version of Neverland Ranch.

Secret Combinations
 

Anton paces thoughtfully at the far side of the hall, too restless to sit, the frustration plainly apparent upon his troubled brow.
His booming voice, though controlled, reverberates throughout the great hall, “Welcome home, Queen Tessara. We’ve been awaiting your return that you might cast the light of truth upon the darkness that now plagues our beloved kingdom. Speak plainly that we might put to rest both accusation and suspicion.”
Hanging his sword over the intricately carved back of his throne, the hilt within easy reach, Anton resumes his seat anxious for his friends, family, and the kingdom.

Secret Combinations
 

Meta Question what is the size and shape of the Throne Room? I always envisioned it a a pretty big, elongated pentagon. Main doors in the north (where the bottom tip of said pentagon would be), kings sit in the south. With a couple of side doors. Probably about 50’ long, 20’ wide.

Secret Combinations
 

I’d actually never put a lot of thought into it, but after spending a moment considering it, here’s my response.

Tuskwater Castle was built around the core of the Stag Lord’s keep, which was made mostly out of timber and itself built around the remains of an old stone keep, of which very little was left. These facts would have shaped design decisions and building constraints, as well as the fact that you started small(er) and built larger as time passed. Sure, the mechanics don’t represent this, but within the story it makes sense that you would have sunk money and effort into rebuilding and adding to the existing structure, and then as the kingdom grew over time would have added to and changed that. Remember that we used to call it a Keep, and then switched to Castle.

I think the original keep had a relatively small, rectangular great hall – very typical. I’ll say that that space was subdivided into separate chambers by the Stag Lord, and that those divisions, created by shabby partitions, were removed during your first rebuild, opening up the hall to its original size. Over time I think you would have expanded that, as well. Into what, I don’t know. It’s your castle. You folks need to determine that. If you want the Starfleet Command HQ ops room, describe it. If you want Zion’s geometric figure, go for it. Decide as a group and then I can answer Thom’s question in the previous comment. A general shape and size, plus where the kings sit, is all I’d need

Secret Combinations
 

Anton’s throne has to go right in the middle to balance the hall. You might ask why, but the answer is really quite simple: At well over eight feet tall it would look odd if the little thrones were in the center. Don’t you think? :)

Secret Combinations
 

Antons physical stature is nothing compared to Zions ego. It can barely be contained in a hall 50’ X 20’.

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That is true. The hall does feel a little cramped with both of them in there.

Secret Combinations
 

Pik begins speaking in measured tones, almost cadence like, attempting to keep his pain under control and still keep speaking. “Trust is a fragile thing… one that can be lost in the blink of an eye.” Pik looks around and everyone in the room, then makes eye contact with Tessara “Tessara, I have been aware of the caretaker for some time now, and before anyone jumps to conclusions, I have seen the clues that tied the caretaker back to you. Now, we have all done things that to some degree or another we regret. Poor choices, unintended consequences…” Pik takes the time to make eye contact with each and every one in the room, then looks back to Tessara. “I gave you the space you needed, I kept the secret from the others hoping that the Tessara that protected us and fought fiercely by our side was one in the same, and was doing this for the good of the Kingdom, for the people. We have an assassin that is singing a song that sounds a lot like it was written by you. So, maybe you should start at the beginning, and we’ll have it all here and now…”

Secret Combinations
 

Meta
Shape aside, 50×20 sounds really small – not the length, but the width. And did Anton hit puberty again? 8’? I am now imagining Gene Simmons in great big platform boots.

Secret Combinations
 

Meta
So, if Anton is Gene Simmons, does that make Zion Ace Frehley, Reg as Paul Stanley or Peter Criss… wait, that won’t work because Pik is too short.

Secret Combinations
 

Pik could be from MiniKiss. And I think Zion would be Paul Stanley – he’s got way too much ego to be the relatively quiet Space Ace.

Secret Combinations
 

So it’s Anton as Gene; Zion as Paul; Reg as Ace; and the diminutive Pik as the MiniKiss version of Peter. And sitting behind the drum kit Pik would get a bonus from the riser and a high seat. No one would notice.

Tessara would be in the front row, pulling her shirt up.

Secret Combinations
 

Meta Zion is the Frontman? I’m so ok with that.
For size, (and we can touch on this tonight a bit if everyone is ok with it.) An elongated pentagon 50’ wide X 75’ long. It’s my vision which is changeable.
Zions actions
Sitting on his throne, his staff spear within easy reach. “I think we need to take as much time with this one”, he nods in Tessaras direction, “as we have with the assassin. I have never fully trusted her, and these actions have strained that trust further.”

Secret Combinations
 

META
…and we are all painfully aware that if she wished to kill us all here and now she could. lets keep that in mind as well…

Secret Combinations
 

“We are all dangerous in one aspect or another my friend. None can stand to you in close quarters, I with raw energy, Pik with his divine grace, and yes, even Tessara in her wilds. Even Reg is dangerous in his own right. When he isn’t drinking. She would take that into consideration as well. However, now is not the time for a pissing contest.
Tessara, in my view, must submit to questioning as we have the assassin. I do not suggest to restrain her as she wishes to be here. We deserve the unrestricted truth, and fact as to her activities, and her role behind the attempted assassination of Pik.”

Secret Combinations
 

Reg stomps his foot again.

“Agreed! The kingdom requires the truth! We’ll have it! We got what we needed out of the assassin – we should do the same with the queen. The needs of the kingdom can make room for any single person, even a monarch!” he states firmly, and with a resolute tone long-absent from the half-orc.

Secret Combinations
 

“It is good to see you sober brother, and that you’re taking the Kingdom seriously once again.” Zion says to Reg. “I’ll no longer tolerate you pissing your accomplishments away.”

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Reg grits his teeth silently as Zion repositions himself in his throne to gaze directly at Tessara.

‘Tolerate, eh? We’ll see what’s left to tolerate of you when your ego’s been brought into check…’ thinks the hulking warrior as he reaches for a flagon of the ’Warrior’s Drink.’

Secret Combinations
 

Everyone in the hall is poised and waiting for the druid to fill in the gaps…and we lean forward…and we hold our breath waiting…and still waiting…and growing older…and still…waiting…and…still…waiting…
…then Anton leans back in his throne and grumbles something to the effect of…“women!”

Secret Combinations
 

Tessara, standing before the four kings, her large cat at her side, begins to twitch a bit before speaking, the left side of her mouth quivering and her head jerking slightly as her mouth forms words.

“They’ve gotten a great rot among us! Thieves walk the streets and adorn the halls with their lies!” she blurts out, eyes wide. Turning her attention at Pik, she spreads her arms wide in front of herself and continues, palms toward the ceiling as if to feel the falling rain.

“We’re besieged from within! Saul here,” she pokes at the figure on the cats back, “is a leader of this rot. He and this Caretaker have allied themselves with the vilest of brutes and thugs and thieves and…” her breathing increases as she becomes visibly more agitated, “…and evil!”

Nodding as if she just made a very crucial point, she crosses her arms and smiles a lop-sided grin.

“We can regain our glory if we root out this rot together, my brothers,” she says, suddenly calmly, with narrowed eyes and a knowing grin.

Meta
Maybe Tessara’s gone completely nuts; maybe she’s seen something no one can see and walk away from sane; or maybe she’s trying to explain something really complex. But that’s what she says.

Secret Combinations
rykart

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