….Now the unnamed party of Korvosa’s heroes find themselves at the edge of the old city. In the bards’ tales, the heroes are ever clean and the foes are majestic dragons. In reality, the heroes are caked with grime, and the foes hide in shadows. They stand at a large sewer grate opening scant inches above the high tide water lapping at your feet. The day is bright and they can just make out the outline of something in the water deep. This is the first lead directly related to the cause of the Blood Veil. The party has saved hundreds of lives thus far, but it’s been a reactive game of attrition. Perhaps in the waters below Korvosa, they can take to offense.
Odric cinches down the Kegerator in its beautiful scabbard and once again draws forth his trusty heavy pick, The Eagle. He reminds his friends gently, Use a weapon that pierces rather than a slashing or bludgeoning weapon underwater friends.
He looks solemnly across the water for a few moments, then steps forward grandly in to a deep knee bend. With The Eagle held horizontally over his head in both hands, Odric leans side to side and twists violently in an effort to ensure he is warmed up and ready.
He performs some toe touches, a few push ups and begins jumping in the air as high as he can, tucking his knees up at the apex of each leap. The flapping and lifting of Odric’s Armored War Kilt cause much disturbance among the companions as usual, given the regimental style he wears it in. He is much lighter on his feet since he donned his old studded leather too. His new Chain Mail is safely stored at his residence.
Once he feels he is sufficiently warmed up, he makes a monumental effort to pass gas. The minor eruption releases all manner of stench into the air, but should reduce his buoyancy significantly. Odric feels he is ready.
Sandor Strongbellows makes the initial decision to remain safely above the water’s surface. “Dwarves sink” was his only explanation.
The ranger is also ready to brave the depths. He drops his cloak along with his weapons, taking only his new magical dagger. He also leaves Bucho in the trusted hands of the dwarf.
Grym also hopes that at least one or two others will come along but he will none the less face the depths at Odrics side.
Soon, the party with Thorgrym in the lead can make out the outline of a sunken ship in the murky waters of the harbor. The front portion of the ship broke away and landed awkwardly here, revealing two splintered decks inside. Its bowsprit shattered and decks filled with debris, the vessel bears an ominous moniker along its fire-scarred hull: Direption.
Morkeleb and Gaius agree to hang back, given their limited ability to contribute to a fight. Grym, Ferox and Odric make their way to the hulk.
It takes a bit of time to become accustomed to being able to breath underwater. The group makes its way down to the wreck, ears popping with the pressure. The first door flaps slightly with the current. As everyone looks to each other to get the “ready” signal, the door bursts open with a flurry of movement. Inside are a half dozen silt eels!
As the eels slither forth from the darkened interior, they stir up some of the sediment as they swarm towards the group. Odric is startled at first, thinking his eyes are mistaken. The teeth and bulging eyes slither towards Grym and Morkeleb, with five feet of rippling muscle and fins trailing right behind.
As the monsters pass him, Odric’s fine honed combat instincts kick in. He starts swinging The Eagle at the creatures as they pass. The blood in the water clouds around him as the first two eels pass by. He slays them quickly as they pass him. The third, Odric manages to absolutely obliterates. Barely anything is left of the carcass, as The Eagle passes through it completely.
Through it all, Odric’s hair moves not a fraction of an inch. A strange oily rainbow sheen is drifting off of it, clouding the water a bit more.
The ranger bursts into action as the shrieking eels attack. Grym’s arm is pistoning forward as he stabs at the underwater threat. As the eels passthe pair, Odric slays one, despite making three mighty swings with The Eagle. Grym manages to stab two more, killing them. A single eel remains after mere seconds.
Gaius swims forward and gives him a poke with his rapier. “Ye Gods, a hit?” the rogue asks.
A spilt second after Gaius stabs at the eel, Odric follows up with a mighty assault further down its sinuous body. (The eel, not Gaius). And with a final spastic jerk the last eel perishes. It sinks slowly to the ruined deck to join its companions in death. Already small scavengers are nibbling at the eels, it is only a matter of time before the six bodies devolve into small bones, sharp teeth and dust.
“Let us be out of the chum cloud quickly, before larger predators are attracted hence.” The wizard Morkeleb wisely counsels. Gaius asks for a moment to search the area the eels emerged from, but finds nothing. The party presses on.
Ferox squeezes along the middle wall and checks out the south-western door. This door is also flapping in the current. Ferox pokes in, and it looks empty.
High above the group, Sandor peers down into the water. The polluted scum drifting along the surface collects at the pilings of the dock, making it harder to see below. The impression he gets is that it is quite wet and dark below.
Sandor becomes increasingly uneasy, like a sensation on the back of his neck. His mind flashes to the Harrowing. The desert, a place where the environment itself brings death. Your flash of insight becomes manifest. He feels a surge of power and vitality, and confusion when he realizes that the Harrowing that had indicated an arid desert was actually referring to an underwater adventure.
Sandor stops his walking up and down the shoreline. He tenses up enough so that Bucho senses it and starts to emit a low growl. Having a bad feeling that he is denying his destiny, he starts to jog to the nearest boat pier.
Finding when he gets there that it is run by the city. He sees a cart selling potions, and rushes up to the owner, asking for a potion of underwater breathing. The man recognizes Sandor as a hero of the city, and hands him one without hesitation. “Thank ye kind sir, I won’t forget this!” Sandor shouts over his shoulder. On his way to the dock once again, the dwarf quickly ducks into a weapon shop and purchases a Bec de Corbin without even bargaining for it, paying 15 sail, and grabs a 100 foot coil of Rope from the guards by the dock for another 2 sail. He also offers to pay one of them to row him out over the sunken ship.
When one guard agrees, Sandor picks up two big rocks and puts them and Bucho in the boat. Once the boat is being rowed out he then proceeds to tie off one end of the rope to the rock. He strips out of the armor and weapons, tells Bucho to guard them, and gives him a treat. He then ties other end of the rope around him and waits till they are in position.
When in position he informs the guard to not let the rock over the side, that he should be back within the hour.
With a silent prayer to Torag, Sandor Drinks the potion, grabs the rock the Bec de corbin and jumps overboard. The guard is dumbfounded by the flurry of activity and the ridiculous instructions. He trusts in Sandor though, and has some misgivings about Bucho. This motivates him to follow the instructions exactly.
Grym and Gaius barely notice in time the swimming death coming their way from the ship’s stern. A shark is approaching with obvious hunger and violent intent.
The ranger holds position just outside of the ship and waits for the shark to come to him. Grym holds his dagger ready to thrust. Somewhere in the back of his mind he is thinking about presenting Sandor with a large supply of fine shark skin for sword/weapon grips. Not to mention a hero’s feast of shark steaks…
The shark advances into the party, eager for a meal. With a quick dash of the dagger, Grym stabs it in the eye, causing the shark to enter a berserker rage. Without missing a beat, the ranger plunges his hand back into the eye. This time the blade goes so deep that Grym’s hand stops only when it hits the bone behind the eye. Grym has in fact, killed a shark with a dagger in single combat.
In his excitement the ranger forgets his usual style of stealth during a “mission”. He holds the dagger up and yells (perhaps completely unintelligible underwater) “BEST DAGGER EVER!!!!!”
Thorgrym also marks the spot where the shark’s body comes to rest on the floor. Grym plans to take the body after they finish with the ship. Odric’s jaw drops. He high fives his friend and goes back to staring. After a few seconds he looks a bit sheepish as a row of bubbles escape his war Kilt and make their way towards the surface.
Morkeleb had been prepping to cast a spell, but the quick dispatching of the danger at Grym’s hand catches him a bit aback. “Huh. Well done, Grym. Remind me not to swim at you and try to eat you!”
After a brief search around the hold, Odric makes his way under the stairs at the aft of the ship. The water is murky, little sunlight is filtering down through the depths and into the hold of the ship. As the light fades, the temperature drops noticeably.
He checks to make sure Thorgrym Sharkslayer is behind him and the warrior presses forward into the unknown.
As the party moves deeper into the wreck, the trio of warriors move aft. Neither Odric nor Sandor catch anything of note, but Grym hears chanting in a foreign tongue just on the other side of the door. The words are alien, and made more so by the muddling of the water on its sound.
Grym grabs Odric’s arm and points to the door, then to his ear. Odric listens for a moment, then hearing the chanting decides to charge. He slams open the door. With The Eagle at the ready, the warrior charges.
It is in this moment that the fire in Sandor’s belly truly ignites. This by Torag is what he had a vision of. The door flies open. Several bent metal bed frames and glass-paned cabinets lie shattered across the floor of the room. The room swirls with a haze of gore, fish heads, and half-eaten eels chumming the circling waters. In the middle of it all is a crone of a woman. Hair like rotting seaweed drapes this ancient witch. Loose, algae-colored skin sags off her starved frame. The door opens as she summons forth a Bucho-sized shark.
Ferox swims forward into the hold, drawing his dagger and enjoying visions of Grym level grandeur. He readies an attack. Grym slides in to attack, but this time his dagger doesn’t find the target. The sea hag turns the Evil Eye on Grym. “You killed Skinshear! Behold my gaze and despair!”
Gaius takes advantage of the firm footing available in the wreck and moves to his companion. He places a hand on the rangers shoulder and casts Protection From Evil on Grym, hoping to suppress the effects of the hags magicks.
Odric swims past the shark and twists his way away from the gnashing teeth, trusting Grym to be able to handle it. He swims to the far side of the Sea Hag and unleashes The Eagle on her. He swings wide, missing completely.
Morkeleb takes stock of the foe—a spellcaster. Typically strong of will, but less so physicality. “Maybe she won’t be able to resist this . . .” he thinks.
He takes in a deep breath (of water), and appears to scream, but no sound issues forth. Stranger still is the shifting water from his mouth, like a sonic blast that pushes the water aside. It strikes the crone, who cringes and grabs her ears. She seems to take some damage, but her determination doesn’t waver at all.
Sandor attacks with his massive polearm. Although obviously Sandor’s left arm is so practiced at using his shield that it causes the stab to go up and puncture the door frame. Sandor gives it a hefty tug causing a few bubbles from his bum to escape.
Seeing the threat of the hag, Ferox casts Litany of Sloth against her, and Grym attacks the shark with his dagger of sharkslaying. Snarling at Ferox, his spell fails before the sea hag. Similarly, her visage is so horrible that Odric is weakened significantly, as though by some sort of curse.
With Odric weakened she turns on him with a wicked looking spear. As she turns to him, Morkeleb focuses on her.
The wizard thinks, ‘Hm, generally resistant to magic. Fortunatley, I prepared a lot of alternative firepower.’ Morkeleb fires off two Magic MIssiles from his staff at the hag.
Odric winds up with The Eagle and swings mightily at the monstrosity before him. The water swirls in The Eagle’s wake and bits of putrefying chum dance in the vortices created by the weapon’s fearsome passage. Odric’s hit makes contact, but it’s like striking the bole of a tree.
Morkeleb cries out “Everyone attack the hag! Leave the shark to me!!”
Hearing Morkeleb’s cry of confidence, Ferox casts Litany of Sloth on the shark.
Ferox then moves to float next to Morkeleb. “Get her, guys!”
Though he really wanted a second shark kill under his belt, he hears and obeys Morkeleb’s watery cry about the shark. The ranger kicks off the wall and moves toward the sea hag. Flanking with Odric he tries to stab her in the back. Grym’s hit is good, and likely would have sunk in, but the hag’s magically hardened skin turns his blade aside.
Yvicca flies into a furious rage. She stabs Odric squarely in the chest with her spear twice. Her spear enters his chest, punches through his body and exits his back. Twice. The fighter sags under the assault and floats freely once the sea hag removes the spear from his body. Blood flows.
As the shark flips itself back towards Sandor opening its mouth to take a good chomp. Sandor moves the weapon up into its mouth and punches the spear point through the upper pallet into it’s tiny brain.
“I gots the shark mage… Now gets ta penetrating.. that lovely creature is right up your ally”
As the weight of the dead shark starts to pull the tip of the polearm down, Sandor shortens the haft on it, and then does one of Odric’s warm up kicks to its nose removing the shark from the weapon.
Being poorly versed in the necromantic arts, Morkeleb is unsure whether this will work as he intends. But he tries anway, since his magicks are of dubious efficacy against this foe. He grabs the last patch from his Robe of Bones, and throws it toward the sea witch. He issues a command as the Fast Goblin Zombie materializes from the patch.
“GRAB HER!” Morkeleb commands his minion.
Sandor swim and walks as fast as he can gets right behind Grym. “Work your way around her Grym.. this underwater stuff has me all messed up.”
As the group repositions, Odric slowly floats away from the fight. Once he is out of her reach, he carefully takes a curative potion to his lips and drinks it. He feels a tingle around his awful sucking chest wound and begins to heal slowly. The wound still hurts incredibly, but the bleeding has slowed to a trickle. Odric drinks another potion, and feels better still.
Sandor stabs the sea hag deep in her side, resulting in a scream carried on bubbles. The zombie doesn’t know how to grapple, but tries to slam its fists into the target. The zombie hits the sea hag once and misses once.
In rapid succession Gaius makes a weak thrust as Ferox turns his ire towards her, and the intimidation opens up an opportunity for Grym to drive home his dagger. Heart or no heart it causes her extreme pain. Her milky eyes grow wide with fright. The hag’s face begins to elongate and then in the blink of an eye she becomes a shark, akin to the one she summoned at the beginning of the battle. With her greatly enhanced swimming abilities, she looks to make a fast get away. It’s a risk, but she tries it.
Gaius makes another awkward stab, but Sandor and Grym combined are too much. the hag reverts to her normal form and her corpse slows to a stop before she can even leave the room.
The party loots the corpse, gaining a magical spear and some specially constructed bracers with coral worked into the metal. The party resolves to search the rest of the ship before leaving the murky depths.
In the captain’s quarters, the group finds a chest and a body, draped in a black roibe and wearing a doctor’s mask. The body is wearing an Unholy symbol of Urgathoa, goddess of undeath and disease.
The unholy symbol is devoid of magics, but the chest radiates necromancy. It takes a bit more work, but Gaius opens the untrapped chest. Inside are 1,000 Sails….and a dead rat.
After some discussion about the meaning of the items and their significance, the party decides to consult with Zellara. The coffer confers a disease to an item. Place something infected in the box, and everything else in the box becomes infected as well.
The discussion about what to do next takes place in Sandor’s living room.
“Are their other coffers like this one?” The dwarf asked.
“If there are, they were out of the range of the Detect Magic spells that were cast. If we assume there are more, we’d have to comb the harbor—an expensive proposition. Considering that this one coffer can infect a thousand sails at a time, I don’t think there needed to be more than one.” Responded Morkeleb.
Gaius posited “The poor seem to have gotten hit the worst, did they try on copper and silver first?” It seems the use of smaller denominations of coin would indicate that, or they were used because they are about 100 times more plentiful than Sail.
“Is the holy symbol Gaius found important? And is Urgathoa’s involvement real, or left there to throw off investigators?” asked Ferox
“This sounds like Urgathoa’s portfolio. I belive it’s safe to assume it’s legitimate, until other evidence turns up to indicate otherwise.” Replied the wizard sagely.
“What is the goal of the disease?” asks Odric.
Grym replies immediately “Chaos, and instability of the city.” And follows up with a question of his own, “Who profits by destroying the money supply?”
Morkeleb responds, “I think this is a red herring question. “Infected” does not mean “destoryed.” And 1000 sails is far from “the money supply.” This was an insidious way to spread disease. That, I believe, was the goal, the money was a clever means to that end, not the end itself.”
Gaius asks, “If Urgathoa is involved can they pull it off by themselves, or who would help them?”
Morkeleb, clearly the expert on such matters said, “Personally, I don’t know how difficult the construction of a magic item like this is. It’s clever, but pretty esoteric—of limited utility. I don’t think it would take a wizard or priest of uncommon skill to craft it”
Sandor who had been quietly listening chimes in, “If there are, they were out of the range of the Detect Magic spells that were cast. If we assume there are more, we’d have to comb the harbor—an expensive proposition. Considering that this one coffer can infect a thousand sails at a time, I don’t think there needed to be more than one.”
“I agree that they probably only needed one, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of more, and maybe something our limited manpower and funds could be concerned with. Maybe tell the Field Marshal”
“On the reasoning behind the use of smaller coin, two reasons. Obviously those that are pulling this off are wealthy, and or connected. Not everyone in this city see’s a Sail that often, so to spread it quicker silver and copper would change hands more. Also keeping it not in sails lessens the chance of one of my “wealthy” family members being affected. Then the simple reason, it costs less to fill the chest with coppers and silvers. If it didn’t work as intended”
“You are correct, but the end result might be “confiscating” all the money supply to Mint it again. Couldn’t this be a scare tactic big enough that they “Masses” will allow the confiscation of all their monetary wealth? What if The Bank of Abadar agrees with the plan? Yes I may be reaching, but the idea isn’t that far out of the box.
I don’t know anything about this Urgathoa. Is there a Temple to him/her here in the city? Who would be the most likely to help the Temple. Remember we did find Vamp agents/spies in the city and one of the clues were they belonged to a Vamp run city to the north”
“Interesting toughts, Sandor.” Said Morkeleb, “It seems to me we have at least two tasks still in front of us.”
“First, the Blood Veil itself. We have to determine how to stop the spread of the disease—find some sort of cure, or at least a treatment. Perhaps now that we have this,” Morkeleb indicates the coffer, “Ferox and I can put our heads together and figure something out?”
“Second, the reasons behind it—rather, the agents behind it. Signs point to these “doctors” (although the mask could be a plant, but the simplest answer is often the right one). We need to figure out who is behind this vile plot, and expose them. Gaius, that sounds like it’s mostly under your area of expertise, no? Perhaps you should lead that leg of our endeavors?”
“In any case, would a report, in secret, to the Field Marshall be in order at this point?”
Gaius said, “We now know how the disease is being spread. We can ask Field Marshall Kroft to help us get the word out. All monies need to be cleansed, and we need to find the other box, for indeed, with this box at the bottom of the drink, there must be another. Perhaps with the aid of the guard and the bank of Abadar, we can set up a currency exchange, and try to get the infected coins off the street. We can produce this box as evidence to get the city’s resources to mobilize.”
“Then we need to locate The Cultists. We have weak evidence that suggests a link between them and The Queen’s doctors. So we can make a couple of moves.”
“I’m going to hit up my contacts and see if I can find—not a temple, no, they’re going to be too smart for that. But the money used in infecting the people will be harder to hide. I’m going to see if we can get a tip off to anyone moving a lot of coins. This is basically money laundering, or dirtying in this case. That can be a hard trail to conceal.”
“Then we need to find where Her Majesty’s physicians are residing and we should go pay them a visit under cover of darkness and see if we can find anything either exonerates or implicates them.”
“As to the matter of speaking with the dead… It might be worth a shot, if we can phrase our questions correctly. These men lie well, though, as their lifestyle demands. I’ll go. My moral flexibility may make them more inclined to answer, and it’s very difficult to fool me with a lie. If anyone has questions they wish for me to ask, speak now. When I’ve seen my contacts, I’ll come back for the corpse. Someone will need to come with me to move the body.”
After some research and canvassing, the group decides the next move will be to follow up on a tip Gaius received. The brother and sister bard combination of Deyanira Mirukova and Ruan Mirukova have lately been moving gold far beyond their means. It was sudden too, not a gradual increase in wealth. Deyanira is a simple chorus girl, but her brother is the aspiring virtuoso. the doctors are holed up in a place called The Hospice of the Blessed Maiden in the heart of Korvosa.
The party decides to have a chat with this pair of bards.