Apotheosis

The Mantis's Prey

The Red Mantis have a contract to assassinate Grandmaster Torch, and the famed former Absalom information broker calls in a favor from the Champions of Absalom to prevent his untimely demise. Racing against the clock, the heroes must locate and defeat a cell of the legendary assassins and uncover unlikely secrets in the process.

Two weeks after their return to Absalom from the horrors they faced at Nightfang Spire, the Champions of Absalom find themselves each with a summons to Crescent Manor within the Petal District. Believing they have had an audience requested of them by the local nobility the group travel to the appointment. Unbeknownst to the heroes, their ally and former agent of the Varlokkur, Julian Ormontagne has also received such an invitation and meets up with them at the manor. It quickly becomes clear that the summons is not simply a polite social gathering as they spot familiar bodyguards outside the residence and become aware of heavy magical wardings. Within the manor they are greeted by their former associate and rival, Grandmaster Torch. After the initial shock of being summoned by a man they thought had long since abandoned their home city, the champions query why Torch has summoned them. Before he will give them an answer, the Grandmaster requests that they first prove they are up to the high standards he expects of them by inspecting a number of ‘artifacts’ he has come into possession of. Reluctantly, Albert, Behnam and Julian investigate the items, quickly proving that each is clearly a fake, frustrating Torch’s own expert in the process.

Satisfied that they are still up to the standards he expects of them, Grandmaster Torch explains that he has become aware of a contract on his head, taking out by one of his own enemies with the infamous Red Mantis assassins. The conniving information broker explains that he wishes for the champions to deal with his assailants on his behalf before any ill can befall both himself or the innocents of Absalom. While most of the group are reluctant to take any action to support Torch, Julian exclaims interest in ‘just one more adventure’, citing that it will be ‘just like old times’. Unwillingly to disappoint their friend, or place the populace of the city in harm’s way, the heroes agree to investigate. Torch identifies the assassins base of operations within an abandoned cloistered bardic college, Allegro College.

After retrieving their adventuring equipment, Julian and the champions travel to the mountains north of Absalom and locate the college hidden behind Frothripper waterfall. Upon their arrival they are set upon by a handful of Red Mantis and their enforcers. Despite the assassins deadly reputation, the group are soon victorious and locate the entrance to the college. However, the entrance is built into a trapped music puzzle, which Albert recklessly activates. In response to the failsafe triggering, a gigantic elder water elemental emerges from the waterfall behind the group, delivering a punishing blow to Set’nah. The group scattered, with the elven archer distancing himself from his allies while Nazuk disappears. Realising the power of the elemental, Albert dimension door’s the others to safety. Alone and exposed, Set’nah comes under attack from the elemental again, his flesh and bones breaking under the immense torrential fists. Overwhelmed and unprepared, Set’nah perishes brutally, witnessed by a powerless Nazuk. The slyph shadowdancer manages to sneak away and locate the others, relaying the news of their friends demise. Realising the elementals summoning won’t have lasted long, the champions recover the archer’s body and return to Absalom somberly. Within the Temple of the Shining Star, Behnam invokes the divine powers of his goddess Sarenrae and miraculously heals the elfs body and returns his soul to his shell. Despite being drained and both mentally and emotionally in shock from his temporary death, Set’nah agrees to resume their task.

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With their physical wounds healed, the group return to the college and carefully manage to overcome the trapped entryway. Within they encounter a number of Red Mantis and their apparent prisoners. To the heroes surprise, the assassins surrender, but when Behnam unmasks the “assassins” he realises they are medusa. Another trap is sprung, as the prisoners reveal themselves to be more disguised Red Mantis and a fearsome melee breaks out. The champions are victorious, capturing one of the medusa, however in the chaos both Nazuk and Malias have succumbed to the medusa’s stony gaze. Thankfully, the medusa trades her freedom for a number of salves that will return the pair to normal. Unfortunately, Nazuks body proves too fragile to survive the transition back from stone, with the shock causing her to almost expire. Thankfully, once again Behnam is able to use his powerful healing magics to return her from the brink of death.

Following a quick search of the college, the champions fail to locate any additional assassins and prepare to set off back to Absalom. As they leave, they are ambushed by the alchemically quickened Red Mantis cell leader, Vashian the Needle. However, she proves unable to match the combined abilities of the heroes and their bardic ally. Satisfied that the assassins are defeated, the group head back to Absalom, with Set’nah and Julian using the Mantis’s air glissades to fly part of the way.

When the group report their success to Torch he seemed genuinely impressed with their efforts and commends them. In exchange for their service he offers a handsome payment and some additonal information, including revealing his identity as a former Pathfinder. Torch explains that he was targetted for his recent alliance with the Pathfinder Society, by those who once sought to usurp him. The Grandmaster goes on to explain that he has since elimated the offending individual and his alliance with the Society has come to an end. Nazuk queries if he intends to remain in Absalom again, but the Grandmaster expalins that he has more pressing concerns overseas. Before the group departs, Torch offers Behnam one final piece of information. He simply exposits that the person the priest seeks recently passed through Absalom, but refuses to expand any further.

With their harrowing task completed and several brutal experiences and new information to take stock of, the celebrity and the champions retire to the Saucy Wench and raise a bittersweet mug of ale to “another adventure”.

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