Travel: Shrine of Lamashtu
Read Kesten’s Letter, which Jhod should have given you after visiting the throne room while “Monster Invasion” was active. In it, Kesten will explain what he’s been up to since leaving your castle (did you even notice he was gone?) and after justifying himself and giving you an update on the morale of the citizenry, he’ll divulge what he’s discovered. As previous allies have suspected, it seems that Lamashtu cultists belonging to move civilized races than goblins may be involved, and Kesten has not only located their shrine, but deduced their routine.
To get there, head to the southeastern edge of the South Narlmarches, where the “Shrine of Lamashtu” area should be revealed on your map. Both the “Secluded Lodge” and “Lizardfolk Village” areas are fairly close, just head east, and southeast from the Secluded Lodge to get there.
Note: Pass through the Kamelands to reach this location quicker. Also, as you head from the empty node near the Hunting Lodge area to the Bridge Over the Gudrin River area you should spot the “Goblin Village” to the east. This will come in handy later.
During your travels you may run afoul of a new random encounter, which will be recorded here just in case you find it but also because it’s topical.
You’ll appear along the northern edge of a wilderness area, from which head southeast along a path. When the path veers west, search some rocks to find a Taldan Warrior’s Dog Tag, then continue west to find a small camp of refugees, lead by one named Urkhed… or Uhrked? In any event, if you question him he’ll claim they’re fleeing to Galt “in search of protection”, although from the look of one of their companions, they may be carrying their troubles with them.
Ask about this afflicted youth - Verdrin - and pass a [Lore (Nature) 17] check to identify his symptoms and recognize how little time he has left. If you leave things be, you’ll get to see a familiar scene play out - these travelers had no chance of making it to Galt with Verdin. You can also try to execute the youth, which will provoke a fight with all the refugees if you’re insistent. Alternatively, if you’re just being nasty you can pick the [Chaotic Evil] option to just slaughter those who are perhaps justifiably fleeing your lands.
To resolve things more peacefully (and to provide the refugees with their only chance at leaving alive), you must pass the aforementioned [Lore (Nature)] check, then pick the [Diplomacy 18] option to talk some sense into them. Surprisingly, they listen, and shortly thereafter a Greater Enraged Owlbear will tear its way out of Verdrin.
Kill the beast, then talk to Urkhed, who uses the opportunity to vent his frustrations, giving you a variety of moral choices to make in response. Any dialogue options that don’t have [Attack] in them will lead to a [Persuasion 16] check, which you can succeed at to talk the refugees into staying in your lands, for what that’s worth. Otherwise, your options are basically limited to letting them leave for Galt, or attacking them as part of another moral choice or as a [Chaotic Evil] option.
Whatever you do regarding the refugees, finish up the area by looting a nearby chest to score some gold, gems, jewelry and food. Once that’s done, head to the southern border of the area, then turn east to find a hidden [Perception 5] stump, where you’ll find some potions, gold and more food-stuffs.
Raid the Cult
When you arrive at the Shrine to Lamashtu, head north to find Kesten Garess hiding behind some rocks. Kesten’s here to chew bubblegum and smite cultists, and well, bubblegum probably doesn’t exist in Pathfinder. Learn what you can from Kesten, then tell him when you’re ready to start the ambush. The cultists will conveniently show up afterwards, head to the shrine, then babble about the supposed works of their goddess. Curiously enough, given the monsters rampaging throughout the land, they seem to focus on relatively trivial matters.
No sense worrying about cultist priorities. Garess will begin to stir, so let him engage, then follow him into the fray. One of the cultists will immediately flee, leaving you to engage three Cultists and a Priest of Lamashtu, the latter of which should be your priority, as the priest will cast spells and channel negative energy. The cultists - armed with swords and shields - are capable warriors, but nothing compared to the beasts you’ve been fighting lately. Cut them all down, then loot the priest for a Bloodstained Piece of a Manuscript, which says all you really need to know about the goals of this cult.
Before you run off in pursuit of the escaping cultist, you might as well search the area. Don’t worry, you’ve got just as much of a chance of catching them, either way. First head southeast of where you fought the cultists and find a Taldan Warrior’s Dog Tag in some rocks, then head west to find a pile of branches hiding a Token of the Dryad.
Once those treasures are yours, head north and exit the area to pursue the runaway cultist which of course takes the form of an Illustrated Book Episode!
Catch the Cultist
This is a relatively simple Illustrated Book Episode in that there’s arguably no “wrong” way to do it. If you can succeed at the checks, you’ll get some experience, if not, you won’t. Either way, you’ll end up where you need to be.
The first choice you need to make is a either a [Dexterity 17] check or a [Mobility 21] check, the latter of which is probably easier. After all, even a character with a phenomenal Dexterity score still has a good chance of failing, but your highest Mobility score could end up being twice as high. If you fail the initial checks, you’ll get a [Reflex 18] or [Reflex 10] check (respectively) to recover. If you somehow manage to fail both the initial check and the save afterwards, you’ll end up in the “Secluded Lodge” area in pursuit of your quarry.
If you picked - and passed - the Dexterity check (or at least the Reflex Save afterwards) you’ll get two more options. Either pass a [Perception 20] check (or failing that, an [Intelligence 13] check, or an [Athletics 20] check. Pass any one of these three checks to successfully track down the cultist. Fail both the Perception and Intelligence checks, or the Athletics check and you’ll fail to track the cultist.
Alternatively, picking the Mobility option at the start will - assuming you pass it or the Reflex Save afterwards - enable you to follow up with two pairs of checks. Either choose the [Strength 18] and [Intimidate 20] pair, or the [Dexterity 18] and [Perception 20] pair. Pass one of the checks in any pair and you’ll track down the cultist, fail both of any pair and you won’t.
|Reward: For tracking down the cultist|
Either way, succeed or fail, you’ll arrive at the Secluded Lodge run by Dumra, which you may have visited before. It’s somewhat busier now than it was then, and it seems like there’s no shortage of suspects, although simple process of elimination should make this painfully easy. Immediately inside Kesten will pester you again, giving you three options. You can trust his instincts and let him harass the people here (his instincts, as it turns out, are terrible), you can go through a lengthy search, or you can simply pick the [Chaotic Neutral] option, which surprisingly works quite well.
If you conduct an investigation yourself, you’ll need to go talk to people and collect clues. Getting keys from the Tedrims is as simple as a [Perception 10] dialogue check, while Olika will simply hand hers over, albeit reluctantly. If you search her room (upstairs, middle room on the southeastern side of the hall), check her bed and succeed at a [Perception 20] check, which will open up dialogue options. Her story is sad, and there’s probably no need to expose matters - the cultist clearly wasn’t encumbered by pregnancy.
If you question the Tedrims, say “Tell me about yourself”, then pass a [Bluff 10] check. Also be sure to ask him “Far from Brevoy, are you not?”, then ask about his hunting to find out he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. His response to “An odd place to rest for the night.” is also curious. While they’re clearly up to something, a know-nothing city-dweller and his wife - neither of which could probably survive the night in the Narlmarches - match the profile of the cultist you were chasing earlier.
That leaves Tsanna, who is in the kitchen. Investigate the stove [Perception 10] to find out that whatever is cooking was modified recently. Head past Tsanna and check out the back door to discover [Perception 15] that it was used recently. Once you’re done snooping, talk to Tsanna and pass a [Stealth 10] check to notice that she’s limping… just like the cultist you were chasing. Go through her dialogue and pick [Peek into the stewpot]. to see that Tsanna is either the worse cook you’ve yet encountered, or a very imaginative poisoner.
Ready to bang the gavel yet? Tsanna is the only person here who remotely matches the profile of the cultist you’re after. Head over to Kesten and say “There is someone who seemed especially suspicious to me.” followed by “Tsanna, Tedrim’s maid.” to expose the cultist. If you leave it up to Kesten to interrogate, he’ll finger the wrong suspect, while simply picking the [Chaotic Neutral] option will get the cultist to expose herself after some chatter. If you accuse the wrong suspect, Tsanna will grow annoyed at your buffoonery and will attack, but not until after she summons four Redcaps, which by now are scarcely a threat. Either way, you end up having to fight Tsanna; the only benefit to successfully conducting an investigation or picking the [Chaotic Neutral] option is avoiding the Redcaps.
Not much needs to be said about the fight itself - Tsanna is woefully outmatched, and once her HP are depleted, she’ll surrender. Go through her dialogue options and she’ll deny Lamashtu being involved in the matter at all. You can also learn about Lamashtu from the perspective of a cult member, which isn’t unbiased, but it is biased in the opposite direction of every other opinion you’ve heard (as an aside, having both Octavia and Valerie in your party is worth it for the line “Could we please bypass the theological debates about which cult has better orgies?”).
When you’ve made it through the rest of the dialogue options you’ll have the opportunity to pronounce judgment on Tsanna. You can simply let everybody go [Neutral Good], banish Tsanna [Lawful Good], execute Tsanna [Lawful Neutral] or execute the lot of them [Lawful Evil]. In the case of banishment or execution, Olika will - perhaps brazenly, given your verdict - beg you to allow Tsanna to perform her ritual. The cultist of Lamashtu will agree to perform it readily enough if she was banished, otherwise she’ll demand you commute her death sentence, first. The fate of Tsanna and of Olika’s unborn child depend on your decisions here.
|Reward: For investigating the cult of Lamashtu|
Whether Tsanna ended up free, banished or executed, you’ve at least determined that this sect of Lamashtu isn’t behind the monster-seeds plaguing your peasantry. One lead down, one to go.
Note: You should have been able to find the Goblin Village on your journey through the Kamelands enroute to the Shrine of Lamashtu, but if not, there’s another way to discern its location - by completing the Lonely Mill area, which should appear in the Kamelands between Tuskdale and Lake Silverstep, northeast of the Bridge Over the Gudrin River area. If the Goblin Village area is already on your map, feel free to skip the Lonely Mill and go right to the “Mother of Monsters” area. Failing either of those two options, you can learn the location of the Goblin Village via the “Goblin Ambush” random encounter.