The group of heroes gathered on the ground floor of the Hospice of the Blessed Maidens with increased resolve look on the dying around them and realize the only way to save their city is to continue deeper into the inner sanctum of the hospice.
Gaius looks at the elevator and reaches a decision. He looks around briefly, taking in his companions. Thorgrym, Ferox, Morkeleb and Odric stand together discussing the future. Sandor stands aside, inspecting his equipment.
The group loads into the elevator when it arrives at Gaius’ summoning.
While the elevator descends, Odric humms a cheesy tune softly while looking up. Someone shifts uncomfortably in the awkward silence and the resulting clank of weapons against armor tells Odric it was Sandor.
Odric takes advantage of the noise to try to sneak a bit of gas out. The strange high-pitched whine starts out relatively quiet and is at a steady pitch so that some might mistake it for a squeaky pulley in the elevator shaft. Unfortunately, towards the end there is a marked increase in volume, throatiness and pitch. The end result is a fart that sounds a bit like a question, asked in too loud a voice.
Odric raises an eyebrow and silently polls his friends with a look. He wonders is any of them might know the answer to his question.
As the stench somehow makes it way past the enchanted Doctor’s Mask, Gaius turns to glare at Odric before producing a vial of perfume and blasting three quick pumps into the air. “There, you have your answer.” Gaius’ face is invisible beneath the captured Doctor’s mask, so it is hard for Odric to guess his frame of mind.
Odric puts his own Doctor’s mask on. It doesn’t work, the smell is still lingering.
The ride down is slow. Sandor states with certainty that the trip down is about 50’. When the lift door opens he is greeted with a very different scene than the hospital above. The scuffed stone walls of this chamber have been plastered over and then decorated with lurid murals of skeletons cavorting among the dead of a Korvosa completely succumbed to blood veil. Simple wooden doors lead to the north, south, and west, each bearing a painting of a scythe-wielding skeleton. A sizable double door stands on the east wall, appearing in the mural as a massive set of double doors opening into the pyramid foundation of Castle Korvosa. Two more scythe-wielding skeletons decorate these large doors.
“It appears that this was the correct direction…” Morkeleb muses softly.
Gaius quips, “I don’t know, Wizard. There’s probably a room like this below every hospice.”
Keeping to the walls close to the elevator, Morkeleb takes closer scrutiny of the lurid murals. He is trying to discern whether they are simply celebratory paintings of what this nasty group wishes to achieve, or if there is any hidden meaning—mundane or magical—underneath. He can’t discern any specific meanings, but he notes the scythes the skeletons are holding are quite real and probably very sharp.
Holding his magic dagger in hand like a security blanket, the ranger gives a quick inspection of the room looking for anything.
Bucho sniffs along next to his master.
Ferox double checks his quiver. He sees that he’s almost out of the magical arrows the group was fortunate enough to find. He restocks the remaining space in his quiver with blunt arrows from the bundle in his backpack.
He scans the room, keeping a keen eye out for potential attack.
Gaius yields the forward position to Sandor and Odric, but will investigate the double doors while they form up.
The rogue asks Calistria for Guidance to assist him to check the lock, hinges and doorframe for anything out of the ordinary that may indicate an alarm or trap.
Gaius will also cast Detect Magic and examine the ceiling, floor and door frame for hidden glyphs or other magical traps.
He moves forward to listens at the doors, but as soon as Gaius moves towards the door, the remnants of Morkeleb’s magical detection spell flash. Before the wizard can so much as make a noise, Gaius sets off a trap that he failed to detect. The scythes come crashing down towards the Calistrian and carve a deep gash in his side.
That’s not the worst of it. The skeletal heads force out a cloud of noxious green gas. A single breath is enough to affect everyone in the room. Your perceptions twist. The murals laugh at you. In each man’s eyes, his companions begin to decompose and fall apart. When they look down at themselves they see death spreading. Insanity begins to seep into their puny mortal minds.
“Give up. For this is the end.” The thought echoes in their thoughts.
Most of the companions fight off the insanity, but Ferox and Bucho can’t escape it. When Bucho comes to several moments later, he is clearly not the same.
The ranger scoops up his beloved dog, “Wizard! Can you help him? Whats wrong?” The normally fearless ranger is slightly panicked with his dog clearly acting strange. “Any price, Iwill pay it…”
Seeing the only human (or demi-human) affected by the foul poison being Ferox—and only lightly—Morkeleb seems relieved, until Grym’s broken voice reaches him.
The wizard has always been a bit detached, perhaps more than a bit. But seeing the brave animal suffering, and the brave ranger so affected by it, shows just about the first crack in “The Wizardly Veneer” any of the companions have yet seen.
He puts his hand on Grym’s shoulder, and looks him in the eye. “I am sorry. Restoring the dog’s mind is beyond my skills. Our best chance will most likely be divine magic; perhaps the Abadarians can help…” he glances at Ferox and nods differentially “…for a price, of course.” Morkeleb continues, “Gaius, that is one nasty wound. I have cure potions—will you take one?”
While the others tend to the wounded, Odric takes issue with the trap. Odric starts attacking and doesn’t stop until the trap is broken.
While Odric takes issue with the trap though, Ferox takes issue with Odric taking issue, “Excellent. Well, any semblance of surprise we might have had is definitely gone.”
Sandor holds his axe out to Odric and shrugs his shoulders, “That’s ok Ferox. I’m sure that at least somebody was alerted when the trap went off. Although I’m sad to see such a fine blade being used for vengeance on a door. Especially when an axe is better suited.”
“One way or another, I’ve done my job and gotten rid of the trap. Can someone wrangle Odric. Let’s form up and keep moving. If we have to be loud, let’s at least be mobile.” Gaius begins to move through the door, a bit shaky after the blood loss but rapidly improving after the potion takes effect.
In the next chamber the party witnesses a horrible sight. Dozens of the living dead line the walls of this chamber, their rotting faces sneering and broken fingers clawing at each other. A layer of rotting bodies lines the floor, the shattered forms twitching in vain, bones and splintered appendages grasping hopelessly. Yet, rather than some massive, nightmare grave, this horror-show seems instead to be a stomach-churning attempt at art, as the mangled living dead lie trapped behind walls and beneath a floor of thick glass.
Morkeleb’s lip curls slightly in disdain and disgust. “It appears that, after everything we’ve seen thus far, the villain Rolth has actually managed to outdo himself again. I believe I have never been as disgusted. This place needs to be burned to cinders in cleansing fire.”
He turns to Sandor… “My apologies ahead of time if I offend, good dwarf, but reducing this nightmare to ash seems to be the best course of action. I shall tell you now, before we face him—I will not hesitate to burn Rolth to a charred husk, regardless of your, er, history with fire, if that is the quickest way to deal with him—agreed?”
Sandor just looks at the Wizard for a moment. “If he be undead that’s fine, but lets see it when we get there”
While the others ponder the strange artwork of undeath, Ferox’ preternaturally keen hearing picks up shreds of conversation, but voices are hard to make out. Someone is instructing or ordering at least two other people on the other side. They’re speaking loudly such that he thinks it’s a large room. The Inquisitor calls for quiet and informs his companions of the danger ahead.
The ranger kneels brooding over the damage to Bucho’s mind. Grym strokes the dog’s ears with one hand while he grasps a blade with the other. The ranger is ready to bring whoever caused these abominations to justice. Preferably on the edge of a blade.
Ferox motions the others to come over to him and get ready as he prepares to open the door.
The party charges into the room.
Eight cold, iron beds stand here, their sharp frames threaded with worn manacles and stained leather straps. Several are occupied by obviously unwilling patients, each bound and in various states of consciousness, their combined moans murmuring throughout the room. Between them stand several small tables, each strewn with gore-soaked pans, flasks of mysterious fluids, and all manner of cruel-looking cutting instruments. A sizable brown-crimson stain covers much of the eastern wall, as if all the blood from a body once held there had exploded forth in a single violent eruption. There are five people “working” amongst six bodies strapped to tables. There are four bodies completely unmoving, and two more coughing and screaming in agony. Two of the workers are dressed as doctors, with their unnerving masks affixed. Two more are wearing breastplates and are armed with scythes and unholy symbols.
Watching over them is a tall thin man, foul by any definition of the word. Pale and blotchy scars mar his skin. He wears thick leather robes and all manner of trinkets. Upon the bursting entrance he looks up and immediately his eyes widen in recognition. "YOU! Wretched bastards. By all the Dark Ones, you’ll not ruin THIS. Come and die by my magic. Kill them. Kill them ALL!”
Upon hear the pronouncement, Morkeleb strides forward, and trains his staff directly at the villain’s head. “You must be Rolth. It shall be my pleasure to lay a pile of filth like yourself low.”
Ferox maneuvers into the room towards the second entrance, so as not to block his other companions from entering the room.
He activates Judgment: Justice and shouts, “You BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP! By Abadar, I will BLEEP *BLEEP you’re BLLEP BLEEP then BLEEP and BLEEP the whole lot of you!” His words carry the weight of magic, and Ferox’s invective washes over the enemy leader’s, and with much greater effect. Their skin burns with the judgment of Abadar’s chosen. It infuriates them, but the invective leaves them weary and shaken. Gaius meanwhile flits in and stabs at a priest, but his blade is turned aside by the armor. The priests fly into action. The first casts a spell. The second swings at Gaius, but he’s too slow for the rogue-priest.
The wizard points his finger at Odric and casts a spell. Instantly he’s pelted by the Magic Missiles from Morkeleb’s staff and barely keeps the spell. A ray of black energy streaks towards the fighter. The ray just barely misses the fighter.
Morkeleb’s eyes narrow in determination and compressed rage—and a grudging increase in respect for the foe. “I will handle the wizard!! You all bring the rest down!”
The ranger takes a breath while he sends Bucho in to attack. While the ranger finds his calm the half crazed dog is more then ready to spring into battle. The dog rushes forward and tears into the closest doctor.
Odric steps along the wall, and levels a swing at the scythe wielding beast engaged with Gaius and Sandor.
Odric’s attack meets with success, and slices into his target. After Sandor’s swing and miss, the priest wasn’t ready and Grym strikes with an extremely well-placed attack with his dagger! The priest crumples to the ground in a heap. The wizard yes, "FOOLS! DIE!”
Morkeleb gets a second smirk. He falls into spellcasting again, using intricate hand gestures which end in what looks suspiciously like blowing a kiss at the alchemist in front of the wizard.
He casts Unnatural lust at the alchemist/doctor adjacent to the wizard, then watches the result with anticipation. The target shakes it off.
In quick succession, Ferox unleashes two magical arrows at the wizard, one wings the wizard, drawing a line of blood from his shoulder.
Then the enemy wizard let’s it fly. His hands move quicker than the eye as the air around most of the party freezes and the winds whip ice crystals all around. Everyone except Morkeleb takes cold and bludgeoning damage. The damaging ice disappears, but a blizzard remains. Inside the area is difficult terrain that wreaks havoc on the battle.
“Bah frackin mages” Sandor thinks. “What goods my armor against this? Fire and Ice well I will show that mage my axe.”
Odric leaps around and over beds currently occupied. There’s no way to get to a flanking position without drawing an attack from the enemy. The enemy swings at him, but to no avail. Odric’s slash is of such sklurching power that the priest’s head comes tumbling from his neck. Grym’s saber makes a massive cut in the wizard’s side. He’s bleeding far more than you’d think possible…and it’s getting worse.
The doctor closest to Odric is too close for bombs, so he draws his club and swings for the knees and hit’s him square. Meanwhile the doctor south of the wizard casts a spell on him. The bleeding from Grym’s hit slows and stops.
Morkeleb carefully makes his way into the room, minding his footing on the slippery surface, drawing a wand on the way. He points it at the enemy wizard, thinking to once again wait for the telltale signs of casting. Upon seeing him so badly wounded, however, the enchanter decides to change his tactic and simply blast the foe, hoping to interrupt his next spell by simply ending his life before he starts it.
Morkeleb glances at Sandor briefly. “My apologies, sir; you may wish to avert your eyes briefly.” Morkeleb casts Burning Arc on the wizard, secondary bolt on the priest behind him.
Ferox moves out of the blizzard to the opposite corner of the room, surprised to see Morkeleb enter behind him so quickly. He then casts Litany of Sloth on the necromancer.
Ferox continues with his righteous assault. The wizard’s motions slow a bit. This is immediately followed by Morkeleb’s spell. The fire undoes all the healing provided by his back up. The doctor pinned down by Odric tries to mix up something without drawing an attack and fails. He draws no attack, but neither does he complete the extraction. With the last second available to him he drops to the floor and hides under the bed.
The other doctor creates an extraction and hurls it at Sandor. The dwarf gets his shield up to deflect the main damage of the bomb, but the trio of heroes are caught in the splash.
The wizard steps aside, and tries to cast a spell. He touches two corpses on the beds. “Attack them! Kill them!” The disease-ridden corpses animate and immediately begin attacking. One of the newly raised zombies slams into Grym, causing him some harm.
The doctor rolling under the bed is on fire. He looks like he’s spending the time under the bed trying to put himself out. Gaius makes an attempt to trip the wizard with his whip, but the zombie in the way foils the attempt which surely would have succeeded otherwise.
Odric hunkers down to peek under the bed, exposing a fairly horrendous expanse of lower back and upper arse. He ensures the creature is sufficiently involved in fire dousing activities to interfere much with the conduct of the rest of the fight and glances over his shoulder at the huddle of enemies behind him.
With a feral snarl that catches even the stalwart Bucho by surprise in its ferocity and volume, Odric leaps through the air at his enemies. He deftly jukes between Sandor and Gaius, squares off against the animated corpse and hacks at it with practiced ease and righteous fury.
As the finely crafted blade slices through the undead denizen’s rotting flesh, Odric’s powerful bunched shoulder muscles propel it into the foe beside it. The blade barely slows as it parts muscle, sinew and bone. The huge man brings the gleaming blade up before his eyes in a silent challenge to the Necromancer beyond. His thick arm and shoulder muscles look like the hawsers on one of the trading ships that ply the waters in the port of Korvosa. The thick steel of the finely made dwarven blade is unwavering as Odric’s eyes bore into the Necromancer’s. Blood and gore sluice down the blood grooves and over Odric’s knotted forearms.
The unspoken threat is as clear as can be. “You are next!”
Odric hurries over to a more pressing area of battle. The burning doctor takes a furtive swing and misses completely. The big man’s swing finishes what Sandor started, ending the zombie almost as soon as he was created. The attack cleaves into the doctor and bifurcates him someplace really sensitive.
With the mighty Odric taking care of the zombie, the ranger turns back to the necromancer. Blades flashing he attacks. His lightly curved svord whips over head in a loopy circle catching the eye before descending. The flashy move if landed would cause a telling blow, yet the rangers true attack comes from below in a brutally efficient dagger thrust…
Gaius trips the hells out of the closest zombie. The creature continues its ravenous pursuit of living flesh. Meanwhile Bucho comes growling from the North and tries to bite a zombie but misses.
Grym’s practiced attack bespeaks his training with Vencarlo. The evil wizard never sees the dagger as it penetrates his defenses. With a gurgling scream to Urgathoa he retires to damnation. The remaining zombie, uncaring and unaware of what else is going on takes the burning arc and in seconds all that remains is a smoking and inert corpse. The remaining doctor failed to complete the somatic component of stop, drop, and roll. His burning corpse expires under the bed.
With a sizzle and a rancid stench of burning flesh and death, the threat of Roth fizzles.
Odric and Grym look at Bucho worriedly, the dog is still suffering from the wounds to its mind. Ferox collects his arrows from the battle, checking each one carefully and discarding those too damaged. Morkeleb and Gaius talk quietly about what lies ahead. Sandor stands off to the side, staring at the black soot and charred flesh with a far off look in his eye. His hand unconsciously strokes the side of his face over and over.
There is a ‘burning’ look in Sandor’s eye that ‘smolders’ with unease and hurt at Morkeleb. The look of betrayal the dwarf seems to be harboring bespeaks of a very serious conversation yet to come regarding the use of fire in this fight.
As the group collects the loot from the fallen foes, heals hurts and prepares to press on into the unknown, the once feared Rolth lies bleeding and burned on the floor. A lifeless husk.