Thrune Loyal Agent: You have sworn your body to Queen Abrogail and House Thrune in a ritual ceremony, and are willing to lay down your life in service to Thrune. Once per week, when reduced to fewer than 0 hit points, you automatically gain fast healing 1 for 1 minute. Once this ability has been used, you instead gain a +4 trait bonus on Constitution checks to stabilize when reduced to negative hit points.
In addition, you receive an invisible arcane mark of the encircled cross emblem of Cheliax as a symbol of your loyalty. This mark does not fade and is visible only to other creatures with this trait, or creatures with the ability to perceive the invisible (via see invisibility or true seeing, for example). You can make this mark visible to other creatures for 1 round as a swift action. If the mark is dispelled or removed (such as with erase), it can be replaced with another casting of arcane mark, which thereafter functions as detailed in this trait.
Part 1: Loyal Agents of Thrune
It has been two weeks since the battle at Fort Estazano, and the three remaining members of the Longacre Sheriff’s force – quiet Maledictus the Dhampir Monk, unpredictable Palaxia the Fetchling Spiritualist, her zealous companion Bob, and curt Corva Crispin the dual-sabre wielding worshipper of Achaekek – have had ample time to rest, recuperate, and enjoy their positions as minor tyrants in Longacre. Before long, however, they receive a summons from the Archbaron of Longacre, Darellus Fex, instructing them to report to Scarlet Crown, his manor outside of town.
In the now-familiar room where you once swore the Hellfire Compact, Fex waits for you along with Razelago the accuser devil and two unfamiliar faces. Regina is a dark-skinned Human Hunter with dark hair, and she is accompanied by a disconcertingly large bee she calls Zebub. Asriel is an Aasimar Inquisitor with lustrous moon-toned skin and greenish metallic hair that reminds you of the sheen of rotting meat; over his breast hangs a holy symbol of Asmodeus. Fex informs you that they will be joining you on the next mission he has for you.
But before that, he tells you he has a reward for you! “You’ve been acting as de facto representatives of Cheliax for weeks now, and it’s time we legitimized this arrangement. Anyone who pledges themself directly to Queen Abrogail II grants them some measure of royal authority and entitles you to some useful boons. I offer you this to honor and reward for your service to me and to House Thrune. Do you agree?”
He asks the question in a way that brooks no answer other than “Yes,” although he does courteously allow you to say it yourselves.
The ceremony is a short affair – you must each use a small offering of your own blood to sign a formal document swearing to lay down your lives for Queen Abrogail II and House Thrune, although no official requirements or duties are stated in the document. Fex beckons each of you forward in turn and casts a spell over your hand; the encircled cross emblem of Cheliax appears on your flesh. You each receive the Thrune Loyal Agent trait.
Once the ceremony is complete, Fex tells you that the town of Kantaria has fallen to the Glorious Reclamation. Kantaria was once ruled by Iomedae before she was immortal for a year and a day, holding it against hordes of shapechanging faceless stalkers – a deed now immortalized as Iomedae’s Tenth Act. Now the town is considered a holy site by the Iomedaean church. Thus, the relatively bloodless takeover strengthens the Glorious Reclamation both spiritually and militarily.
However, the Reclamation has moved on to surround Senara, leaving behind only a small garrison to defend Kantaria. “Their arrogance will be their downfall,” he tells you. He orders you to infiltrate Kantaria and find whatever chances you can to cause mischief and undermine the Reclamation’s hold on the town. But most importantly, he advises, keep a low profile. “The town is overrun with the Reclamation dogs and neither Her Infernal Majestrix nor the lords of the Pit offer aid to fools.”
You infiltrate the town under the guise of hired muscle for a Nidalese woman who owes Fex an unspecified favor. Loredana Viorica is a pretty woman with mean eyes, and she runs an inn on the edge of Kantaria called the Little Uskwood. After introductions, she immediately warns you against bringing unwanted attention to her and her business, and informs you that the town’s governor has invited you to brunch tomorrow at the Narikopolus Manor. “It’ll be a good opportunity for you to meet the governing council of Kantaria,” she tells you.
Dinner is a bland affair, both gastronomically and socially. Loredana is not chatty. The inn is nearly empty but for three men – one dressed in the garb of a modest merchant and two burly fellows you assume must be his bodyguards – who sit on the opposite end of the room from you and talk quietly among themselves.
Part 2: Sunday Brunch
The following morning, Loredana leads you to Narikopolus Manor, an austere red brick building in the south of town. Glorious Reclamation guards guide you through the foyer into a well-lit room containing an elegant table and chairs and six other people:
- Faydreth Zaine, a half-elf with a well-kept beard and pristine red-and-white Iomedaean robes. He is the Rassophore of the Glorious Reclamation – a powerful wizard. He seems distant, but you can tell by the scrolls you spot hanging inside the folds of his robes that he is likely interested in all things arcane. (Influence: Knowledge (arcana))
- Jalila Hadjara, a lean muscular human woman. Her defining physical trait is the painstakingly tattooed text covering her skin – they are the verses of the Acts of Iomedae. Loredana tells you that she is the Warden of Hardship’s Hearth, the prison camp outside of town. She has a warm smile, but she is soft-spoken. She would probably be impressed by someone who can flip and jump around like she can. (Influence: Acrobatics)
- Jana Holdus, a human woman of considerable charms, which she proudly displays in a low-cut jerkin. She runs the Sweetest Drop inn, Loredana whispers. Jana flutters her green eyes at you as you walk in.
- Linton Demeer, a chubby human man with unkempt black hair. He owns Healthy Heart Alchemicals. As an alchemist himself, he probably enjoys talking shop with other alchemists. (Influence: Craft (alchemy))
- Loredana Viorica.
- Oppian Nevilindor, governor of Kantaria and leader of the Glorious Reclamation forces in Kantaria. He is garbed in a gleaming breastplate displaying the symbol of Iomedae. He welcomes you warmly, but you notice that he has a habit of keeping one hand on his sheathed sword no matter who he is talking to. As he is a high-ranking priest of Iomedae, you get the feeling he would enjoy discussing religion. (Influence: Knowledge (religion))
You try to get to know the governing council, but it is clear you are not used to rubbing shoulders with elites. Regina does manage to sweet-talk Faydreth by discussing matters of the arcane with him, and silver-tongued Asriel glides easily from Oppian to Linton to Jana. However, Palaxia makes little headway with Linton, and Maledictus embarrasses herself when she tries to impress Jalila with a flip, catches her foot on her chair leg, and topples over in a heap. “You’re getting better!” quips Regina as Maledictus rights herself.
Part 3: Sunday Afternoon
That afternoon, you explore the town. Your explorations take you to:
- Inheritor’s Square. Location of Kantaria’s Oathday (Thursday) Market. People come from all over the lands near Kantaria to sell their wares, and the Glorious Reclamation sends at least one good outsider to remind the populace that “angels walk among them.” You surmise that disrupting the Oathday Market would be a good way to create tension in the town – unfortunately, it’s only Sunday.
- Shrine of the Hammer. This chapel was once dedicated to Aroden, but in the wake of the Chelish Civil War, it became Kantaria’s temple to Asmodeus. More recently, Kalcyra the Just, the leader of the growing dwarf community in Kantaria, has repurposed it into a shrine to Torag. Asriel makes a Will save to prevent himself from destroying the corrupted shrine to his god.
- Groat’s Smithy. This smoking fiery ruin catches your eye as you walk through town. Locals give the place a wide berth, believing it to be inhabited by a devil made manifest from the spirit of the murdered smith, Tychus Groat. Your investigations reveal the truth: Tychus’ former familiar, an ukobach, or Tinder Devil, has kept the forge’s flames alight in honor of his former master – “the most tolerable human I’ve ever met.” He tells you his name is Brextur and describes how Oppian Nevilindor (Kantaria’s governor) and Tychus Groat were best friends, despite their religious differences. However, when the Glorious Reclamation conquered Kantaria, as Groat was a staunch Thrune loyalist and Oppian was fighting alongside the Iomedaean knights, Oppian was forced to strike down his friend. He also tells you that in the chaos, he saw one of the townsfolk take Tychus’ famous hammer after his death – some “ugly bugger with a hooked nose.” He promises to help you in your mission, as a form of revenge for the death of his master.
- The Sweetest Drop Inn. Loud and popular, known for the quality of its ale and the beauty of its keeper. You’re not sure which one the name refers to. The food here is delicious, unlike the tasteless fare at the Little Uskwood.
- The Docks. Bearing a jug of Jana’s best ale (on the house for a certain handsome aasimar), Asriel ingratiates himself with the guards atop the entrance to the harbor. Unfortunately, by the time you wander over, the gates have closed for the night, but the now-tipsy guards promise to put in a good word for you with Jonas Reikman, the harbormaster.
- Back to the Sweetest Drop Inn. Well, just Asriel, and Corva in an unsuccessful attempt at cock-blocking. Everyone else heads back to the Little Uskwood for some sleep.
Part 4: Monday (Moonday)
You continue to explore the town.
- You hear rumors about a missing family, the Bradons, as well as bandits on the roads outside the town. The Glorious Reclamation sent a force after them, but was unable to find them. The bandits have kept their heads down for a week now.
- Following up on the rumors, you head outside town to check out the Bradon homestead. By this time, their neighbors have begun working their land, but the house is unoccupied and shows no signs of forced entry or robbery. You find a purple mushroom near the gate – Regina identifies it as a spore from a myceloid. When asked about any place such a mushroom might grow, the farmers are able to point you towards the Blooming Caves a half-day’s journey northwest of Kantaria.
- The Docks. You are waved through the gates with a wink by the guards to speak with Jonas Reikman. The man is a former river pirate, and you were hoping to find a potential ally in him. Unfortunately, while he is no true supporter of the Glorious Reclamation, he knows he can make more money working with the town’s new government than against it. The Glorious Reclamation would have loved to replace him as master of the docks, he brags, but Kalcyra the Just decided to keep him on as master of the docks simply due to his efficiency. “She knew that nobody could do it like I could. Dwarves, eh? Nothing if not pragmatic.”
- Healthy Heart Alchemicals. You are delighted to find this shop filled with healing potions, as well as some useful lesser alchemical items like antiplague and antitoxin. Palaxia also buys vermin repellent after suspiciously eyeing up Regina’s giant bee companion. Linton Demeer, the owner, remains friendly but aloof.
- Iomedae’s House. This modest one-room house was the mortal Iomedae’s home when she lived in Kantaria. Now for the price of 1 silver piece, visitors can get a short guided tour from Pious Pete, a historian of dubious credentials. You learn all about Iomedae’s lesser known acts, such as planting all the apple trees in Golarion, defeating a steam-powered gnomish machine using only a steel hammer in a race to cut a tunnel through a mountain, and eating 50 pancakes in one minute. Regina swears to take painful bloody revenge on Pious Pete and burn Iomedae’s house to the ground.
- The Sweetest Drop. Again, only Asriel and Corva. Asriel learns an interesting bit of gossip – Oppian Nevilindor is helplessly in love with Loredana Viorica, so much so that he is willing to risk small infractions against his otherwise stringent moral code in order to gain her attention.
Part 5: Daddy Dearest
That night, while Asriel is taking his pleasure at the Sweetest Drop (with Corva sitting dutifully on the floor outside the door), Maledictus, Palaxia, and Regina are awoken by the sound of scratching coming from beneath the floorboards of the Little Uskwood. You track the sounds to the kitchen of the inn, where you locate a boarded-up door concealed behind a cabinet. Bob peered through the floorboards to see a floating creature that looks like the hollow skin of a male human. The upper-half is intact, but the lower half is in tatters. Choosing not to face this horror with only 60% of the party, they return to bed.
The next morning, Asriel is awoken suddenly by the loud drone of Regina’s bee hovering outside Jana’s bedroom window, staring in at them. He and Corva return to the Little Uskwood, and you all confront Loredana about what is going on.
“I see you’ve met my father,” she says wryly when you tell her that you heard clawing sounds scraping under the floorboards. When pressed, she elaborates: “Oh, we got into an argument, as families do. I hurled a kettle at him. I thought it would just scald his face, but there was acid in it. It melted away his lower body, and he couldn’t catch me before I ran upstairs and boarded him in there. He’s usually pretty well-behaved, but I think all these Glorious Reclamation folks got him riled up.”
You burst through the door with a crowbar and are immediately attacked by the creature. It enshrouds Corva, wrapping itself around her upper body like a tunic, and begins using Corva’s vocal chords to choke out barely intelligible words. “Forget all that is not suffering!” Corva utters in a voice that is barely her own as you are all blasted with negative energy.
The fight is long and dangerous, as every blow against the creature is also a blow against Corva. However, the creature seems most intent on finding Loredana, using any gap in your defenses to get closer to the inn’s exit. Zebub manages to grapple the creature off of Corva and delivers the killing blow – at which point the hate and pain controlling the skin disappears and it floats to the ground, stiff and dry as parchment.
Loredana is grateful enough to you to offer you the basement as your base of operations, as well as ownership of whatever you find down there. “My father shared Zon-Kuthon’s fondness for inflicting pain, I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff down there that you could use.”