With the Starstone shard tucked away deep in their pocket, the Pathfinders returned to Absalom from the tops of the Kortos Mounts. Having seemingly pushed most cult operations out of the city, they took a day to rest.
Looking for some merriment, Altaire helped himself to the taverns and inns. Inside the Tooth and Nail he found a loud, proud bard by the name of Kain sending off several competitors with their dignity shattered in front of a bar of drunken patrons. Altaire and Lilli saw an opportunity to have a bit of fun, and stood up to challenge Kain.
They dueled with their voices, with Lilli accompanying Altaire with dance. Lilli and Altaire left victorious, but gracious. Winning a performance contract with the Tooth and Nail, Altaire insisted that Kain have the deal. They requested Kain’s instrument as a prize, claiming that his sharp wit would be more than enough to make his due. Kain grumbled, but agreed to the exchange.
Benneth claimed that Casamir sent most of his letters by carrier pigeons; Suhaila vowed to catch one and give it a response to send back.
Hroth found Silhren in the Pathfinder Grand Lodge training fields. He gruffly returned the cloak to Silhren, telling him that his charity was not required. Silhren kindly returned to cloak to him, telling him that he needn’t worry about keeping tabs and to simply accept the gift. Hroth wasn’t entirely convinced, but kept up his compliance long enough for Silhren to leave eyesight.
Sym, having not paid his respects to Nethys in some time, decided to visit the Nethys temple in Absalom. Located close by the Arcanamirium the temple was filled to the brim with scholars, libraries, and rooms for magic duels and training. Sym stayed behind to watch a match between two fledgling students, and was pleased to see a young Mwangi human succeed at besting his peer in a magical duel of skill.
The young man’s name was Mateba. He had come from the Magaambya, an ancient place of arcane learning in the city of Nantambu of the Mwangi Expanse. He claimed he was also fleeing Ruthazek, much like Sym, and in much the same way. He had stolen what appeared to be a ring with Abyssal inclination. Large enough to fit a normal humanoid’s wrist, it was a ring built for the gorilla king himself, and was likely not for an honorable purpose.
Sym offered to keep the ring in his more experienced hands, and Mateba also gave him a pouch that would conceal its evil aura from prying eyes. Mateba thanked Sym for his help, for he was worried he would be alone in the largest city in the world.
Gathering Silhren, Altaire, and Lilli, Suhaila purchased 200 pounds of raw meat as a present for the tribes of the Kortos Mounts. Mounting the load into a wooden cart, they had the cart pulled to the base of the mounts and had Lilli scout ahead with a map drawn by Suli to lead the tribes back to the heroes.
The harpies, unsurprisingly, were most insubordinate, but the centaurs and minotaurs caught on quickly. The harpy chieftainess assured the heroes that the offering would be split evenly amongst everyone.
The heroes also made sure to remind the tribes of the wonders of cooking their food, as well as seasoning them. The addition of salt turned out to be favorable amongst the tribes.
Meanwhile, Sym remained in the dueling room while the rest of the crowds cleared out. Standing in the room with him was a cloaked figure who could tell that Sym was no mere practitioner of magics. He wished to see his capability and challenged him to friendly duel; intrigued, Sym accepted the challenge.
The challenger threw spell after spell, as Sym countered and returned the barrage of magics which were countered by his opponent as well. It quickly became apparent to Sym that this duel did not keep up the magical wards that most duels received, so the damage he received was most lethal. As the spells continued to fly, the stranger’s cloak fell back, and he was revealed to be an eagle-headed rakshasa. He condemned Sym for his sullied heritage, and wondered allowed why he wasn’t more like the rakshasa people with his ruthless preferences in battle and skill with magic. The aggressor claimed he would kill Sym, and the dirty progeny of the traitor of rakshasa-kind would not carry on.
Hearing the commotion behind the locked door, Mateba tried to rush to Sym’s aid. Unlocking the door, Sym brought Mateba under fire from the rakshasa assassin, nearly killing him. Sym immolated the assassin with a tower of fire before rushing to Mateba’s aid. Mateba was healed by local temple sages, and thanked Sym profusely for his help.
Suhaila found an angry Treval arguing with a martial artists trainer in Skyreach. The man refused to train Treval, seeing that the boy’s intentions with the knowledge of the martial arts would not be put to pure use. Treval was left alone and steaming in the training room. Suhaila tried to speak; Treval threw weapons off the walls and pulled down weapon racks in rage, tears flowing and sobs held inside.
Suhaila asked what the problem was. Treval said it was family. His parents were gone, and they didn’t go peacefully. He wanted revenge, and no one would let him have it. Suhaila saw his pain, and assured him that what he was feeling was legitimate. She pleaded that he remember that his anger should be used for the right reasons, and that vengeance wasn’t a good one, and likely not one that would honor his parents’ memories.
Treval calmed down. Suhaila remembered her present, and handed him a small collection of seeds in a handmade bag displaying Erastil’s symbol.
Hroth decided to vent his frustration on the targeting range at the Grand Lodge. As the targeting board became nearly full of his arrows, he was approached by a curious Zarishu. Asking him questions about romantic interests did little to lessen his frustrations, especially when she asked if he thought Silhren found her attractive. Treval came to break up the discomfort. Him and Zarishu were requested to clarify some reports from a recent mission.
Zarishu thanked Hroth for the “talk”, and Hroth just shouted.
Altaire found yet another bar to visit, this time it was the bar owned by Meghan and her husband. The visit was eventful; a tipsy dwarf tried to hit on Lilli, Lilli discovered her taste for drink, and Altaire rediscovered the floor of the tavern, but not before propositioning every woman in the tavern simultaneously. Several of these girls had partners already, and a fight nearly broke out but was broken up by a bored Zarishu, who took a liking to the nearly unconscious gnome and hoisted him up to carry him from the tavern.
Zarishu got back to the Grand Lodge when she decided to toss the poor gnome into Suhaila’s arms. She asked for her to hold on to him while she found a good inn for the night.
Altaire’s body was rolled off of the poor girl, and Silhren and Sym both found their way to her aid as well. Hroth found himself approaching by coincidence. Just as Suhaila was explaining the situation, the heroes heard a scream come from down the block.
They rushed to the source to find Zarishu being loaded into an armored carriage into chains big enough for a giant by a number of Garundi men. They held the heroes at bay while she was loaded and carried to the docks.
The heroes did not lose them, and followed them to a ship in the docks.