Although each joined the Pathfinder Society for their own reasons, their destiny has brought the unknowing heroes to the City of Monuments; Magnimar. It was upon their return to this city, from their grueling training in Absalom and subsequent initiation into the Pathfinder Society, that they were greeted with a note from Sheila Heidmarch. The party remembers that Sheila operates the first and only Pathfinder lodge in Magnimar, known as Heidmarch Manor, and make their way in answer to the personal invite. Sheila Heidmarch cuts an imposing figure among Magnimar’s elite. With her unusually low and sultry voice, she both turns heads at high society events and commands respect from Pathfinder field agents. She is a striking woman, tall and imposing; she moves with an easy confidence, appearing ready to leap into action despite her elaborately-embroidered gown. She carries a masterfully carved quarterstaff of polished black wood, the head of which resembles a watchful raven. Sheila petitioned the Decemvirate to open a Pathfinder lodge in Magnimar, and was soon granted that honor. She and her husband returned to his manor in the city, and Sheila became Varisia’s first venture-captain, immersing herself in all the frontier wonders that had so enthralled her in her youth. Now she is seen as the Society’s steady hand in the North, bringing ever more fresh recruits to her lodge to plumb the secrets of ancient Thassilon.
Upon arrival, however, the group is advised that they are to make their way to the Broken Staff Inn, located in Ordelia, and to return tomorrow, one hour before noon. It is obvious that she is concerned about the unique characteristics of the party, and has probably selected the Broken Staff for both its distance from the Alabaster district as well as its fame as a discrete location for those who are seeking privacy from prying eyes.
Entering the inn, it is immediately obvious that magic permeates every crevice of the building, with spells performing many of the tasks that hired help would normally assist with. The group notices Solin Majere, who is a retired adventurer who seems more preoccupied with reading than with running the establishment. He is friendly enough, however, and even offers to provide the group with magical items for purchase as well as an offer to buy any enchanted treasures that they find. Although the first week of room and board was covered by the Pathfinder Society, subsequent weeks will cost the party 5 sp / day for lodging and 5 cp / day for food. The party also perceives that there seems to be a thin lead lining upon the walls and ceiling of the place, and deduce that it provides a barrier against magical scrying.
The party also notes two other important sites:
The first is Billivin’s Benevolent Balms and Effulgent Elixirs. He is a sleep deprived Gnome who is constantly distracted. He sells his “world famous” Billiver Billivin’s Most Effulgent Brain Tonic for 100gp, which has the side effect of turning the tongue of those who imbibe it purple for a day. Although his shop has a myriad of items on display, none of them are for sale. Instead, Billiver creates the potions “fresh” for each customer. Thus, the group has a place in which to purchase potions and salves.
The second is known as the Cynosure Tower. It’s usual for the priesthood of Desna with their love of travel and the night sky to build permanent shires. But as Desna’s worship is quite popular among the Magnimarians (particularly among the city’s pure-blooded Varisians), the faith maintains a temple in the city. Called Cynosure Tower, in honor of Desna’s palace, this ring-shaped structure has a courtyard that remains open to the sky. The shrine is tended by a single priest, Bevaluu Zimantiu (CG female Varisian cleric of Desna 10), a woman who, despite her power, prefers to live a quiet life tending the tower grounds. Twice yearly she goes on month-long journeys to commune with the Song of the Spheres, at which point she hand-selects local Desnans for the great honor of watching the tower while she’s gone. Silver-haired, grandmotherly, does the gardening herself. She tells me that Sheila has high hopes for us, offers to cast spells for us for only the material cost. She is the constant here, despite all of travelers moving through, so much that they call her “The North Star.”
The next morning, the party makes their way back to Heidmarch manor. It is here that they are introduced to Koriah Azmeren, an attractive half-elven woman dressed in leather armor and armed with a distinctive-looking mithral-and-redwood aklys (a hooked club attached to a cord) and a bastard sword. Azmeren is one of Varisia’s most famous Pathfinders and a well-renowned expert on the Darklands. Koriah has just returned from an expedition to the Darklands below Varisia, having successfully scouted out a new, but relatively minor, route down to Nar-Voth from the Fogscar Mountains. She returned with a surprising number of Thassilonian artifacts from this expedition. It is one of these items that Sheila wishes to show the group.
In the library, sitting alone upon a table is a Paradox Box (see the Treasure tab), a small stone chest of ornate design that measures approximately 1-1/2 feet by 1-1/2 feet by 1 foot. Closer inspection reveals the paradox box to be a solid piece of stone that’s been carved to resemble a box—it has no seam for a lid or hinges to allow opening. Opening this item is the group’s first task, or audition. The group is given one hour, as Sheila has other business in which to attend to. Through cunning and patience, the group solves the secret of the box, and it opens. Inside are a few items, and upon reaching in the box to retrieve them, the group also discovers that there is a nasty surprise that was waiting for them; and Imp. Using its venomous attack and invisibility, the Imp proves to be a dangerous adversary. Eventually, however, the group manages to slay the devil before Sheila returns. When she returns, she is pleased with the party’s success and believes that the party is indeed capable of completing the important task ahead.
It was then that Sheila mentioned Natalia Vankaskerkin. Natalia Vankaskerkin, daughter of Sal Vankaskerkin, runs with the Szarny, said she’d be willing to report to Sheila on the activity of the gang. Apparently, there was a major robbery that was about to take place. These often included Thassilonian artifacts, of which the Pathfinder Society is extremely interested in. She promised to meet with Shiela 3 days ago, but never showed. Through her network of informants, Sheila discovers that the Szarny gang is also looking for her. Sheila believes that Natalia ran off with the item. Her task for the group was clear. Locate Natalia, and more importantly discover what it was that she found. As Sheila wants this to remain a secret, she directs the group to remain clandestine in all aspects regarding this mission. She offers a reward as well: Bring back the item for a 500gp, and bring back Natalia, if possible, for another 500gp.
Upon further questioning by the party, Sheila is able to offer very little, but ends the conversation with this: There is a front man who works as a liaison for the Szarny gang who is located in Washer’s Row in the Dockway district of Magnimar. He calls himself the Amazing Zograthy. Perhaps he could further assist the group, though she warns them that he is dangerous and should not be trusted. With that, Sheila wishes the group luck.
The day is young, and the adventure awaits!