Chapter 6, Part V: A Platinum Bond

In Platinum City, the Talons took a vote and decided to choose Candice Cully to be their docent, even though Xerxes was annoyed by her mannerisms.

Hoping to take his irritation out on some minimum wage employees, Xerxes complained to customer service at Brawlmart about his cap of water breathing, and received a coupon for 20% off a single magic item. Vance brought the rest of the group to Candice's wagon, and excitedly presented her the offer to be their docent.

She happily accepted, but requested that they join on for Wondrously International as brand ambassadors, a role that Blake was more than happy to accept. She provided him with a starter pack, which had 10 of each of the 4 types of Charisma-enhancing potions. Vance mentioned that they wanted to go to Gragthar and asked Candice if she had any suggestions about the easiest way to get there. Candice advised going from Lorecliff to Solendia via port, which would be the shortest and likely simplest route. She explained that it would likely be a five day journey to Lorecliff via horse and a one day journey to Solendia Beach via the boat. She mentioned that Solendia Beach used to be a bustling tourist location, but in the last few decades, had seen less and less traffic.

The Talons then met with the Chancellor and Lady Selkath. They discussed how the chancellor was progressing with his health since giving up a large portion of his power to the Talons. He also talked about an increase of elemental activity in Crystalia, and the poison veil which was causing great issue and casualties in Gragthar. The Chancellor and the Lady spoke about the Order of Righteous Conflict and that maybe the Rameda faction would be able to assist.

After stocking up on some supplies, the Talons grabbed their three trusty horses, Huey, Dewy, and Louie, and headed off to Lorecliff.

Xerxes, following along with the group's decision to head to Gragthar, felt trepidatious about the fates of his loved one in Terriah. He sent a message over to his best friend, Grimm, who uncharacteristically did not respond. He then sent a message to Lara's father, George Grace, a burly man with a long beard, who had made a name for himself as a clothing vendor in Rehoth Landing, Terriah's capital city.

Instead of asking for information in the conventional way, Xerxes attempted to convince the man that he had kidnapped his daughter for ransom in order to ensure her safety. The return message set Xerxes at ease, as he learned that Lara was home safely with her family. Blake overheard Xerxes sending a ransom message and carefully inquired about it. Xerxes explained that he was trying to convince the father of his friend to keep her safe, and was happy to learn that she already was out of harm's way.

Drez and Vance were chatting in the wagon on their way to Lorecliff, and spoke about enemies and rivals they had made in their travels.

Vance talked about how the Mystic Crescendo had rivals of other performers. Performers in Fynali tended to take a loop which would take roughly a year to complete. This meant that other groups and troupes would potentially be in the same city as another, which led to conflict and sometimes even some sabotage trying to stop each other from getting to the city first. Vance mentioned some of the Mystic Crescendo's rivals were the Lannister Longfeets and the Twilight Gloom.

Vance also shared that he stole the identity of an apothecary to get to Lorecliff from Solendia beach, so that apothecary wound up stuck in Solendia. When Vance arrived in Lorecliff, he heard the cries of a mother who was looking for that apothecary to save her son, who would only have been right on time had he been on the boat instead of Vance. As a result of him being waylaid in Solendia, that child died.

Drez spoke about how orcs killed his family, and that he had spent a lot of time thinking about the day when he could get his revenge on that clan. He told Vance that being around friends helped him feel less angry, and he disclosed that he was from Nilfdell, an elven city in the northern forests of Palmedow which had been decimated in that attack. In retelling this to Vance, Drez recalled that the orcs that attacked his home were organized and well-equipped, which is not how the orcs from Gragthar historically operated.

As Vance and Drez spoke of their enemies, Blake and Firebrook talked about their homes. Firebrook lamented that his home was on a dark and dreary plane of resistance. There, he was raised by cultists and demon worshippers. He said that demons served Hellspear and Deathblossom, but that specifically, they spoke of an entity named Yoth-Soggin who promised great power and aimed to corrupt.

Blake talked about growing up in the frigid wastelands of Tyrrus, and the surprisingly hot inner-mountain capital city of Zaltara. He disclosed that growing up in that environment was a competitive one, and he didn't have a lot of happy memories. He did mentioned that there was a fun game the kids played called 'King of the mountain,' but due to the dangerous terrain and the steep hills and rocks, this game resulted in a lot of dead participants.

Blake, to show his compassion for his friend Firebrook, wrote the name Yoth-Sogin on the top of his "Shit List," and tucked it into the band in his hat.

Xerxes, after finishing up sending his ransom note, wound up joining Vance and Drez in the front of the wagon as they talked about their strongest beliefs. Xerxes mentioned that he was a soldier during the Terriah-Verastin War, and that he saw a lot of death and cruelty, which left a deep impression on him. He told them that Fynali was a world of suffering but that, if Xerxes had any say in it, he wanted to work to make it softer suffering.

As they were near finishing their last day of travel, they saw an old man standing at an altar just off the road. He beckoned to them and called the Talons by name, which piqued their interest and saw them pulling over to see what he wanted. The old man had a long salt and pepper beard, the hood of his white robe pulled up over his head.

Unsure of his intentions, Vance casted Friends on the man, who introduced himself as Grey. He explained that the altar he had was one that could be used to commune with the deities, and to help strengthen their connections. He explained that the more the deity was called upon, the harder it would be to reach them next time. But he could help them to reinvigorate the connection to make it easier to call them again. In order to do this, a magic item would have to be sacrificed on the altar, but he warned them not to choose something that would seem a blatant disrespect to the god they were trying to reach. For example, sending a fire arrow to Marista, the goddess of water, may be read as a slight, and would push her further away.

He also explained that for 25 GP, he could tell them if their connection to a specific deity was strong or weak.

After sacrificing a few magical items to Spriggit, Vortegus, and Kiln, Grey explained that the offers were accepted by the deities, with the Ring of Featherfall to Vortegus being particularly appreciated.

Before leaving, Vance apologized to Grey for casting Friends, which Grey seemed to accept.

As they arrived just outside of Lorecliff, Dr. Hoo noticed a Wiltspar Sapling not far off the path. The Platinum Talons harmonized with this sapling, unlocking another location to travel to from the main tree.

Lorecliff, standing near the edge of a steep precipice at the southwest of the Ardesian continent, is a busy city, alight and alive with innovation. You notice, immediately, the strangeness of the buildings here. They are built upwards, creating rows and blocks of high, boxy towers, with the streets below zig-zagging at sharp angles throughout.

You see, to the right of where you stand, a familiar sign: The fist and hammer logo atop the word "Brawlmart."

Located in the center of the city, you see the tallest of the buildings rising just above the rest. It is a bronze tower with a large fixture rotating slowly on the roof: a gear with the words "Grayforge Industries" circled by a flat ring. And at the bottom of that building you see another familiar logo winking at you: the AGI Shield over the front doors of the massive tower.

Inside the city, the Talons first headed toward the Grayforge Industries building, with Xerxes explaining that 'Grayforge' was the last name of Adrian, who had invented the AGI and built J3551CA. Inside the towering building was the lobby for Grayforge Industries and a large AGI, with an unfamiliar face behind the concierge desk. The woman there was blonde with a blue ribbon at her collar. Firebrook used his keen artificer eyes to attempt to determine if this woman, who introduced herself cheerily as Holly, was a construct. He determined, if she was a construct, she was the most convincingly humanoid one he'd ever seen.

The Talons asked Holly about the wagon that their docent had sent over, to which Holly assured them that the wagon, non-descript and plain, was tucked safely into the stables. She said that there was a down-payment fee that the courier would collect from her, and that before they took the wagon from the building, they would need to pay the 300 GP.

They took a quick look at the quests on the AGI board, and decided, before they did anything too involved, that they should head back to the Wiltspar first.

When they arrived there, Firebrook's half-brother, Bladestar, challenged him to a three-on-three duel, to which the Talons all accepted. After a flashy show of no-holds-barred might from all of the participants, Bladestar's team, which included Drez and Vance, emerged victorious.

Completed: March 2024