One by one the four fledgling members of the Pathfinder Society arrive at Heidmarch Manor, in response to the summons they received. They are greeted by Canayvan Heidmarch who asks them to wait in the lobby.
The four introduce themselves to one another – Fijit, the gnome alchemist and treasure seeker; Erin Merripan, cleric of Serenrae who aims to use the resources of the Society to restore the abandoned shrine to his diety in the city; Roland Kaddren, a devotee of the strange art of firearms and black sheep of one the city’s noble houses; and Dorsavil, a half-elven bloodrager and former member of the Sczarni gang Doolan’s Lads.
After the introductions, they are greated by two women, one in a regal blue and green gown with a no-nonsense attitude who introduces herself as Sheila Heidmarch, Venture-Captain of the Magnimar Pathfinder lodge. The other woman needs to introduction to Fijit or Roland, but Sheila introduces her anyway as Koriah Azmeren, a well-known Pathfinder who has just returned from the Darklands with several Thassilonian artifacts.
Informing the group that the two would need some additional time to confer, Sheila asks them to try to figure out how to open a Thassilonian artifact known as a paradox box that Koriah brought back from her expedition.
“This particular box was among those items recovered by Koriah – the scrolls next to the box are her preliminary notes on possible triggers or methods of opening it, but she’s not yet had a chance to sit down and properly investigate the thing. So… why don’t you put your heads together and see if you can’t do that for me? Even if the box is empty, as I suspect it probably is, knowing the method of opening it makes it a valuable find anyway. I’ll return shortly, and I hope to see that box open! Think of this as an audition, if you will – because the actual task I want to speak to you about soon will require as much wit as it will brawn!” -Sheila Heidmarch
Leaving the group in the room, the would-be heroes peruse Koriah’s notes and focus on five runes that spell out the word “CRUEL”. Tapping the symbols causes them to switch positions and Roland quickly organizes them to spell “LUCRE”, causing the box to tumble open in a cloud of smoke that heralds the sudden appearance of two tiny dog-faced creatures who immediately begin tearing around the room and destroying items with claws and daggers.
Attempts to apprehend the creatures prove futile and in so doing, the heroes find themselves stumbling and knocking over books, decorations and the like. Roland takes aim at one and with an explosive bang, he grazes the creature but lodges a bullet solidly into the wall.
Dorsavnil swings his mighty greatsword and instead cleaves a table in twain.
Angry at the destruction, but equally angry at herself for overlooking the potential danger, she composes herself, bids farewell to Koriah and turns to explain the purpose behind her summons – that she would like the party to help her locate a missing person named Natalya Vancaskerin.
Natalya had come to her recently and offered to work as a double agent, informing the Pathfinder Society about the goings on of the Sczarni. She informed Sheila that she had found an item and then hadn’t been heard from since.
Sheila tells the group that Natalya had been in contact with a man known as the Amazing Zograthy and that he might have some information. In addition, there have been rumors of kidnappings – word on the street is that there are slavers from Nidal taking people in the night – although it is just is likely that she was possibly picked up by the city guard.
In any case, Sheila offers a reward for information about Natalya, even greater if they can bring her in for questioning. While she wishes to study the Paradox Box further, Sheila allows the party to take three garnets, a ring and dagger that were contained within the box.
“Go out there and look for Natalya. Find out what happened to her, and to this item she and her gang discovered. If you can secure the item, all the better-bring it back to me and I’ll have a reward of 500 gold pieces for you. And if you can bring Natalya back alive for me to speak to, I’ll double that!” -Sheila Heidmarch
With that, the party heads down into the lower section of the city, making their way to the Dockway in search of the Amazing Zograthy.