Curse of the Crimson Throne

96.

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Showdown with Rolth!
A Burning in the Bowels of the Hospice

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.

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Death from Above!
A Foothold in the Fortress of the Enemy

There, gathered on the roof of the Hospice of the Blessed Maidens the party can see the city they’ve been protecting. The shared threat of Lamm is long gone. Regicide, cover-ups, vigilantes, and rescues have made the time fly. Were anyone to look up and see the figures on against the moon a nod of the head would be involuntary. This is Korvosa, and word has spread about a team who takes on the impossible. Ferox Kerr, Inquisitor of the Bank of Abadar, Gaius Lirsiiv the Whip of Callistra, Sandor Strongbellows Crafter of Legendary Weapons, Morkeleb the Mighty the Bender of Men’s Wills, Thorgrym Sharkslayer and his companion Bucho, and Odric the Stout Brewer of Brews and Smasher of Skulls, stand ready to do violence on behalf of their city yet again.

After much planning and discussion, the group decides to break into the hospice from the roof. The plan includes Gaius’ nimble fingers and considerable skill getting the group past the physical barriers they encounter. Ferox will use his magic to detect the thoughts of any who might pass beneath while the fighters prepare for bloodshed below.

The inquisitor’s eyes bore into the roof even as the holy man dismantles it expertly.

Suddenly, Ferox touches Gaius’s shoulder. There are two sources of thoughts below. They pass out of range eventually, only to return. It’s periodic and predictable. Eventually there is a whole even the sizable Odric and Sandor can pass through, ready to go. The work is so expert that there’s no visible clue inside that a new egress has been made. All that remains is for someone to push through to the other side…

The Kegerator is out and ready. Odric is silently cursing himself for forgetting to warm up appropriately and is fairly certain if he doesn’t turn an ankle he will have a pulled groin muscle or something.

In an effort to get his blood flowing and hopefully minimize his potential for injury, Odric silently flexes all of his muscles simultaneously, then relaxes them. He repeats the action three times, getting redder and redder in the face each time until he starts breathing again quietly.
In the near dark, the big warrior tries to make out shapes and movement from the hallway’s dark recesses. He is glad his sturdy companions are with him, the unknown dangers ahead weigh heavily on him. The plan is for the fighters to drop into the room below, then for Morkeleb to slide forward and hang his head and shoulders into the ceiling so he might cast Sleep. If magic fails, steel will ring.

As the fighters fall to the catwalk below, they find they are flanked by a pair of Grey Maidens. The guards are, in fact, Grey Maiden’s. The Queen’s handmaidens stand on the catwalk, forked by the party. Below is a crowded room; the cries of the Blood Veil victim’s drown out the action above. The magical sleep descends on one who slumps to the ground, motionless.

Riding the ecstacy of his initial spell, Morkeleb immediately casts another enchantment—Daze—on the standing Maiden, in an attempt to make this encounter quick and quiet.

Morkeleb fires of another dweomer, Dazing the remaining guard. In a quick series of blows, Odric and Grym dispatch the wakeful but dazed guard and decapitate the sleeping one.

Now that they have time to take in their surroundings, the party can get a feel for the situation. Twenty feet below you are about 60 beds, each occupied by someone wracked with the Blood Veil. Among the sick are four of the masked doctors. They walk the rows, but don’t seem to be doing anything in particular. The only way down from here seems to be a rope and pulley style elevator in the Northeast.

Exploring the area, Gaius discovers a lift made of a series of pulleys and a platform. He manages to figure out how to operate it in moments.

Despite their best attempts at stealth, the party is betrayed by the unusual sight of a dwarven figure standing on the catwalk. Without a word, communicating only with hand signals, two of the doctors make their way to the lift to investigate. Seeing the masked doctors coming to investigate, the ranger sheathes his blades and gets ready to try and take one alive.

Gaius says, “We’ll talk about you wearing plate to a break in later, Dwarf.”

Gaius casts Disguise Self and changes his appearance to that of a Grey Maiden. He palms a dagger, keeping it out of site, and the glamer will not show it in any case.

He motions to his companions to move this way to the elevator, then he steps in and pulls the, “off”, lever—which should bring him to the ground floor to intercept the doctors.

When the elevator arrives on the ground floor, Gaius will only cock his head at the two doctors, as if to silently ask the question, “Yes?”

The two doctors make a rapid fire series of signs with their gloved hands. They look at each other and then board the elevator. They stand directly by the door. One of them takes out a vial and smashes it into Gaius’s chest. The glass shatters and the liquid worms its way into Gaius’s body. Gaius immediately recognizes that he has been given a potion of Bull’s Strength. The other starts mixing rather volatile chemicals, ready for combat. The alleged Grey Maiden smiled wickedly.
Sandor slowly backs up to try to lure the Doctors into the gauntlet of his friends. He backs up as much as he can to make them have to move before they are in range to throw the vial.

When the elevator opens, Gaius strikes true. He slips his Masterwork dagger into the Doctor’s kidney. The doctor in front of him stumbles forward, a deep hit in his back. He’s not down, but he flails soundlessly. He turns to face the Calistrian while the other continues to prep for attacking Sandor, heedless of other threats.

Grym leaps into the fray with his elbow forward, smashing into the Doctor’s face with an unarmed strike. The ranger’s cracking strike clearly breaks bone. The doctor takes the hit without a single utterance of pain. He’s extremely injured, but still in the fight.

Ferox nocks an arrow and lets loose at the injured doctor. The first arrow finishes off the wounded foe and the Ferox shoots again, wounding the other one.

Morkeleb casts Daze on the remaining Doctor, but the Doctor ignores the power of the spell; it has no effect.

The short jaws latch on to the doctor’s leg, then the dog shakes his blocky head back and forth to savage the wound.

Gaius drops his dagger whips out his rapier, and thrusts at the remaining doctor. Who will never see it coming. He dies without a sound. The two doctors below have seen the attack now though.

The ranger smiles in delight as his faithful dog brings down the masked doctor. Though between the the massive stab wound in the chest and his dog severing some arteries in the leg the enemy is bled out and dying. The ranger shakes his head ruefully, “After I went through all that trouble to engage him with out my blades…” he thinks to himself. 
Grym whispers to the Calistrian, “Lets try to take one alive, if we can.”

Odric vaults over the railing arms and legs akimbo, plummeting through the air towards the doctors on the ground floor. His impressive agility for a man so large allows him to land on balance in a threateningly lethal crouching position. The thud when the nearly 200 pounds of solid muscle hits the stone floor is impressive and sounds painful. The carnivorous grin on Odric’s face betrays not a flicker of discomfort though.

After a heartbeat of glaring at the doctor before him, Odric leaps at him with the ferocity of a mountain lion. The gleaming falchion swishes by the man’s face thrice before the true attack slams him in the side of his neck, gouging a bright slash of crimson in the man’s flesh. Odric turns to face the other doctor and swings the Kegerator in a lazy figure eight, flinging red strings of blood and gore in wet lines across the man’s mask and robes.

The grizzled dwarf’s scarred mouth hangs open for the span of a few heartbeats, then the warrior’s square teeth clack together audibly as he set’s his jaw and charges for the edge of the railing. His respect for the human manifests itself in the sincerest form of flattery as the crusty dwarf leaps into the air. He grumbles a prayer to Torag on the long trip down, apologizing for acting like a ridiculous plate mail-encased flying squirrel when dwarves are supposed to be firmly rooted in the ground.

The impact nearly accomplishes that feat, as a flagstone cracks beneath him. Sandor too is able to maintain his footing and lands in a wide-legged stance immediately before Odric.

“Quit yer foolin’ around me boy and I’d suggest yer finishin’ that other one off instea’ o’ playin’ with that Mighty Fine Blade! Use it fer killin’ like it were made ta do and quit yer fancy showin’ off ye damn fool human!” Sandor pokes his stubby finger forcefully at the doctor Odric slashed but did not yet decapitate.

Sandor glares at Odric for a moment, thumbs the blade of his trusty battle axe with a thoughtful look on his face. The dwarf spins widdershins and hacks mightily at the doctor’s spindly shins.
The doctor leaps nimbly over the axe and Sandor finds himself winding up for a counterattack on Odric’s back, having spun himself completely around.

“What are ye doin’ in front o’ me ye durned idiot?! Are ye tryin’ ta get yerself split in two like a melon?” Sandor reorients himself on his opponent cursing Odric’s incompetence under his breath the whole time.

The eerily silent reaction of the doctor’s continues. With his lifeblood flowing freely the doctor makes not a sound even as he begins mixing ingredients furiously. Finally the doctors move to action, wordlessly.

The injured one remaining, to the west of Odric steps back and mixes a concoction that he slides under his mask. His wounds begin to heal instantly though not completely. Meanwhile the second one mixes an altogether more volitile looking concoction as he steps back and hurls at it Sandor. The dwarf knocks the bomb just barely off course. It explodes, the flames lapping at Sandor’s beard, but causes no damage. The liquid fire splashes onto a victim of the Blood Veil, burning the remainder of his life out of him. Odric is splashed with the fire as well.

“FIRE!! Ya will bloody pay fer usin fire” Sandor roars and smites the doctor with an extremely well-placed strike.

The ranger quickly weighs the heights and distances. He decides to pull out his sling and fire a stone at the one who just launched a fire potion at Sandor. Grym’s bullet goes wide, way wide. Thankfully no civilians were hurt.

Ferox should be able to see both doctors. He takes aim and lets loose another two arrows at the doctor closest to him. Ferox’s first arrow lands home. The second goes wide. Two injured doctors on the floor. With two injured targets available, Morkeleb tries to take both down with Magic Missiles.

Gaius’s disguise still intact, he takes the elevator down to the ground floor and walks out of the elevator, moving menacingly towards Odric and Sandor.

Odric violently ends the doctor in front of him with the Kegerator.

With a splash of blood the Doctor falls.

The group mills about, examining the carnage and looking to misister to the dying. They fear they have all contracted the Blood Veil, and are interested in figuring out what they can before they are overcome by the disease.

Sandor asks, “So what’s the plan Gaius? I ‘ave a feelin that Morkelb, Ferox, ’n yaself could go down n look like Dr’s, but Grym, the lad, ‘n I will give that ruse up quickly. I would prefer not ta split up, but if’n ya think it makes sense.”

While waiting for Gaius’s answer. Sandor does an equipment check then does a few of the lad’s deep knee bends to loosen up after taking a leap off the balcony and to make sure everything is there.
Odric immediately brightens. “Stretching out is a grand idea!”

The huge man begins gyrating in what could only be loosely termed stretching. His exertions are immensely distracting to anyone around him and he does his best to include all those nearby in his warm-up. The armored war kilt swings wide with each spin, and the shorter of stature are sure to get an eyeful if they are not careful. The patients nearby are certainly treated to a view they won’t soon forget.

As Odric continues his warm up, he begins practicing a move he read about in a tale of piracy on the high seas and an accursed treasure buried in a jungle. It involves running up to an opponent, attacking and then continuing to move afterwards, like a cat of prey. The move was called Spring Attack, after the pirate who first attempted it.

The pirate had lost his right leg to a shark, then his peg to an infestation of termites. He replaced the peg with a wound piece of steel in the shape of a coil called a Spring. This pirate would use the curious properties of his Spring in his attacks, allowing him to effectively bounce around the battle in a most terrifying manner.

Odric had never thought himself capable of such a feat, but shortly after the last altercation he felt strong enough and experienced enough to attempt it. Perhaps the leap from the catwalk above had reminded him of the concept. In any case, he committed himself to practicing the move, hoping to perfect it after leaving the hospice.

Once he is done, and is sufficiently sweaty and red-faced to consider himself prepared for what might lie ahead, Odric pants heavily as he walks the rows of beds, offering water or bites of food to those victims he can.

Wearing the mask proves difficult with the amount of sweat and less than fresh breath issuing forth from his face, but once Morkeleb explained the mask’s properties, Odric immediately put it on.
Adjusting people’s blankets, fluffing pillows and offering reassurances or short dirty jokes occupies his time until the party is ready to proceed.

The party resolves to press on, bravely facing the challenges ahead.

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The Masque of the Blood Veil
Yee-Haw! Jester's Dea... err... nevermind.

After their underwater foray, the heroes determine the next step in their investigation of the Blood Veil to be the home of a pair of bards rumored to have some sort of money moving scheme involving the spread of the plague. They make ready and check their gear, ensuring they are prepared for anything.

Thorgrym Sharkslayer with his dog Bucho, Sandor Strongbellows, Morkeleb the Mighty, Gaius Lirsiiv, Ferox Kerr and Odric the Stout make their way to the bards’ home.

The bard siblings living in a modest apartment near the Marbledome. It’s a lower middle class abode, and clearly incongruent with the amount of wealth they’re reported to be flaunting these days.

Grym makes an initial assessment of the building, ostensibly on a walk with Bucho. He reports back to the group, “Two exits. Front and back. Apartment is second story. There are 3 stories to the building. Shades are closed tight.”

Gaius theorizes the poor bards are probably dead of the blood veil inside. Though Gaius is probably right, Grym none the less delivers his his plan of attack. The ranger wants everyone ready for an evening assault.

Gryms rough plan is outlined as follows. 
Gaius and Morkeleb try a frontal approach. The Calistrians well versed tongue and possibly the wizards magic get them in the door. The Stout and “short and stout” stay just around the corner ready to back them up if violence happens. 
Grym and Bucho cover the backdoor. 
Ferox is covering the roof ready to run them down as only an Inquisitor can.
The ranger is happy to use a different plan if someone has a better one, as long as it is tonight. Grym informs his mates, “the moment is upon us.”

Everyone takes their positions, certain that this will not be a repeat of the chase for Trinia. Gaius takes the lead on the door, Morkeleb just behind and to the side of him. A simple knock brings no answer. After a few moments, Gaius tries again. This time the half-elf catches just the tiniest sound, a whimper. He looks to Morkeleb, but the wizard clearly didn’t hear anything out of sorts. Gaius forgoes the third knock in favor of checking the door… it’s unlocked.

Just barely he opens the door a crack. What he sees is…unexpected.

The door opens to an unwelcomed sight. A girl, just barely an adult stands awkwardly on the other side. Aimed directly into Gaius’s face is a crossbow. The quarrel’s tip is shaking like a leaf in the wind. “Please… I don’t want to shoot you but I will. Just go away”

Morkeleb calmly tells the girl from behind Gaius, “We are not here to harm you. We are here to make the madness stop. Put the weapon down.

Whispered to Gaius, “I can Daze her…”

Gaius gently but firmly kicks backwards, hitting Morkeleb in the shins.
Will she shoot? He wonders, buthe doesn’t think she has it in her heart to shoot him.
Gaius shows the girl his hands and inches forward. One inch. If that. He wants to watch her eyes and his muscles, looking for a tell.

“Easy. I bring no evil to you and yours, and I don’t wanna die. My name is Gaius Lirsiiv. I’m a priest. I want to help you. Please don’t shoot.”

She drops the crossbow to the ground, setting it off and sending a bolt into her door frame over Gaius’s head. She bursts into tears and simply sits down on the floor. Her tears become sobs. It is only after a few repetitions that Gaius can make out words between shuddering sadness. “Oh Ruan…. Desna why?”

Gaius steps past her gingerly, looking around the apartment. He sees an extremely modest apartment. There are playbills and posters strewn about. The furnishings look one step above destitute.

Gaius sits next to her on the floor.

“You must be Deyanira. Shhhhhhhhh… I hear you’re a singer. Do you know The Star Sailor? It’s an Elven song to Desna. Will you sing with me? If you don’t know the words, just hum a little, and come in when you pick up the chorus, alright?”

“Sail with me, upon that star
Far and away from who you are
Monarch of Night bless my way
Free me from my cares today
I’ve stayed to long and yearn to see
new roads, new friends, new destiny
A little luck is all we’ll need
Sing The Song of Stars and we’ll be freed…”
After Gaius succeeds in calming her…
“Deyanira… What happened to Ruan?”

“Yes, I’m Deyanire” She says as she calms down slightly. “Oh by Desna I thought you were here to do something bad to me. Ruan, my brother Ruan. He’s lost. He went to that gods-be-damned manor. He…. he didn’t want to, but the money. Oh no. What has happened? RUAN! Please, I don’t know what brought you here, but….oh Ruan.”

“Start from the beginning, Deyanira. Please tell me what happened.”

The ranger waits watching the back door with a hunter’s patience. Bucho twitches a little and straining his ears Grym can hear a few low words from the front entrance. If there were danger certainly he would hear some screams or one of the warrior’s battle cries. 
Then the dog tilts his head in confusion as he listens. Then the dog looks up at his master.

“Yes Buch, I believe that is the Star Sailor they are singing.” Grym whispers to his dog. “I know. I don’t understand the Calistran either. But he does seem to get results…”

The hunter and his dog continue to wait with patience. A magical shark slaying dagger lightly held in his left hand ready for a sudden danger. Right hand touching his dog’s back as if to hold him in stasis.

The distraught girl manages to pull herself together, and begin her tale. She’s oblivious to the setting, sitting on her floor with a strange half-elf and a growing audience of battle hardened adventurers. She tells he sad tale.

“Several days ago, Ruan came home excitedly, which was odd. Things were hard before the Blood Veil, now they had become like the Underworld incarnate. But there he was, delighted. He showered me with coin, gold beyound my wildest imagination. At first I didn’t even think. I cried and ran my fingers through it. A full thousand Crowns, more than we had ever seen. My wits finally returned, this was too good to be true. I thought long about simply not asking, but I couldn’t. I had to know. Oh Desnda I had to know. Ruan said that he had been personally requested to perform at a private masquerade at Carowyn Manor, home of the well-known patrons of the arts. He really is THAT good, but we don’t have anyway of attracting a patron like that. He said that one of the Carowyn’s heard him play and offered him the job! He practiced for a week, oh did he practice. It was a challenging new arrangement, and he left early the evening of the event. That was several days ago and the last time I saw him. When Ruan didn’t return I went to the manor. I banged on the gates. I screamed. I begged. Nothing.”

“At the end of the day I went home. The citadel is stretched too thin, so I came up with a plan. I would use all the gold Ruan brought and buy the services of the Church of Abadar. It was a solid plan…or so I thought. When I arrived home, the apartment had been ransacked. The gold was gone, all of it. I was shattered. I contemplated every course of action, no matter how dark. Without any means I went back to the manor. I planned on breaking in. Instead I was met at the gate by a greasy looking man in robes. He smelled of death. I nearly retched. He looked into my eyes and promised me, “Forget your brother ever existed girl. Stay in your home and forget any of this happened.”

“I was scared out of my mind. I went home. That was yesterday morning. I needed food, so I ventured out. When I returned… oh Desna…. When I returned my stupid neighbor had broken into my apartment. At least that’s what I thought happened. There….there was a body on my floor. A knife sunken into her back. She, she looks like me…and I’m ashamed to say…. I think the knife was meant for me. I… I called the guards. I lied to them. I told them that a looter had broken in and I defended myself. I was scared that the truth would expose me and I’d end up with a dagger in my own back. I’ve been locked in here ever since…”

“There, there…” Odric pats her reassuringly on the shoulder.

A knowing look passes between Odric and Sandor, then between Odric and Grym, then all three were nodding with a palpable air of decision. Odric unobtrusively starts warming up in preparation for violence and justice.

“A thousand gold coins. What a coincidence, eh gentlemen?” Morkeleb says, “Ferox, you’re more skilled in the healing arts than I am—perhaps you should look this girl over for signs of the Blood Veil.” The wizard continues, “Something tells me we have a lead on that second coffer.”

Sandor nods, “I agree Morkelb.”

“Deyanire, my name is Sandor. I am sorry to hear about your neighbor, and I am afraid ya are probably correct that the knife was meant for you. I think we might have a place to keep ya safe. But first do ya think ya can draw the likeness of the greasy lookin man at the gate? Maybe recall if he was wearing any jewelry or symbols?”

Sandor looks at Morkeleb who he knows carries writing materials “Do ya have anything this lass can draw wit?”

After the short conversation is done with her, and she is sketching away. Sandor walks away a short distance, and gathers everyone around for a group huddle. Speaking softly “Lads she might be our lead back to the queen, or her lackey. I suggest we take her to someone we know isn’t in the Queen’s corner. Me thinks Vencarlo might help us out ’ere ’n keep ’er safe a bit. At least it will give us time to go check out the Carowyn manor.”

“Curious.” Gaius strokes his chin thoughtfully.

Out of Deyanira’s earshot he asks, “Sandor, I think your instincts are good. Vencarlo’s been willing and able to hide people in the past. We should check her to see if she’s been infected, first. I will try, but The Inquisitor is more skilled in medicine than I. Another option would be to send her to my temple. Another young girl will hardly be conspicuous there.”

“The thousand crowns is suspicious. The exact sum we found in the other coffer. And bestowing the crowns on a couple of spend-thrift bards is a good way to spread the gold, the disease, and then you tie up the loose ends by killing the bards. The Masquerade event would conceal the identity of everyone from Ruan, just as the Doctors’ Masques do.”

“I’d even wager that Ruan was only one of multiple gold drops. If they keep filling the coffer, infecting gold, and then drop another pile on someone who won’t ask too many questions about it, they can kill everyone in Korvosa. The rate of infection would far surpass the city’s ability to contain it. And the gold is likely to be used as payment for Remove Disease spells. That would infect the very people best equipped to cure the disease. And since they don’t know the source, it will just keep infecting them. Every caster runs out of spells eventually.”

“What concerns me as well… Are the vampire spawn we discovered. True coincidence is rare. Urgrathoa is also a goddess of undeath. BLOOD Veil. It’s on my mind.”

“We should make preparations and strike Carowyn Manor without delay.”

Gaius contructs a simple disguise for the girl, Odric and Sandor accompany Morkelb on the trip to Vencarlo’s to hide the girl while the others scout the manor. Sandor retains the sketch the lass created, although its utility is lessened by the stereotypical “greasy necromancer type” she drew.
The scouting party arrives at a stately, gabled manor along Shoreline Way, Carowyn Manor serves as stark contrast to their normal stomping grounds. Built for entertaining, the estate includes the manor house itself, a smaller servants’ residence, and a meticulously manicured garden—complete with gazebo and pond full of Ember Lake charigs (tiny salamanders that glow in the dark). Festooned with cinderberry garlands and bright red drapes, the limestone facade of Carowyn Manor faces Shoreline Way. Its sturdy-looking doors of Bloodsworn mahogany bear intricately etched locks. The brass banisters of a balcony rise 15 feet above the front door—a nimble person could get up there with little difficulty. The entire property is surrounded by hedges growing around a barely-hidden spiked iron fence.

After a lengthy discussion on the best way to breach the house, Ferox notes, “If the front of the house faces Shoreline Way, we’re probably safe climbing to the front balcony. Shoreline Way looks directly out over the sea and the South Shore is less populated than other districts of Korvosa. We’re likely not to be noticed by neighbors or passing traffic if we do this under the cover of night.”

Gaius climbs the balcony and lowers a rope for the rest of the party to follow. Once the rope is secured and Gaius can take a look around he blanches slightly.

Finely framed works of art cover the walls of the gallery, looking down upon the hall below. Great windows look out to the south, and an alcove to the east is set with chairs for musicians. In mockery of the room’s beauty, several costumed corpses stand about the hall, some posed like ghastly statues while others stand like contemplative critics. Their masks are garish like only the filthy rich can sport. The juxtaposition is macabre. The entire area is a macabre construction. It’s as if some supernatural being set the house up like a child’s playhouse replacing dolls with the corpses of the rich…

The group clambers up, joining Gaius on the balcony.

They pass the glass windows where they could look into the macabre setting and and enter through an open door into an office.

The party stepped into an office. The desk and drawers have been completely emptied and left in a mess. A single pustule ridden corpse sits at the desk. He wears a simple mask made to resemble a hummingbird. The body has been propped up by means of wooden stakes both braced against him and impaled through his limbs. It doesn’t take a keen eye to spot the lone detail more morbid than the corpse. He’s been propped to look like he’s writing. Indeed a feather pen rests in his hand, the remaining ink having drained onto the paper like a blot of blood. The words are written with a shaky hand with a child’s poem rewritten with disturbing lines:

Roses are red
growing sharp thorns
I am now dead
Yet who now morns?

The assembled men each look at one another when they hear a lilting and unhinged voice. It seams to bounce around, like it’s coming from different places. “Welcome to my party, please don’t disturb the guests, I wouldn’t want to ruin their night!”

Odric unlimbers his weapon and hefts the falchion in his hands. He takes a few practice swings and stands with his back to the corner. The ranger already having one blade in hand quickly draws another. He looks around in alarm…

Grym looks into the great room beyond. All is freakishly still….until a body dressed like a court jester moves, just a hint. He’s not even sure it happened, until the head turns ever so slightly and the mouth breaks into a wry grin and raises a crossbow!

The jester comes alive! She cackles, the sound assaulting your ears from all over. When the bolt leaves the crossbow, it screeches with the anger and hatred of the dead. Souls looking to inflict pain on all who hear their dirge. The sound grates against your very being. The bolt itself drills towards Grym’s heart. It strikes him with a sickening thud and sinks into his chest.

At the awful sound, Odric, Sandor, Ferox and Bucho are all severely shaken.

The jester, now out of hiding, draws a potion and drinks it. Within seconds her form vanishes to invisibility. Bucho fumbles around where he last saw the woman, and bites harmlessly at the air.
Gaius moves into the room, past one of the corpse objects d’art, draws his rapier and whispers a few words to Callistria. Half of the room fills with an Obscuring Mist. Gaius hides in the mist and tunes his ears, listening for movement.

Sandor enters the room and declares total Defense. He looks around for anything that would help detect an invisible creature like flour, makeup powder, fine down feathers, or his favorite for dressing like a girly dwarf, Glitter Powder. In the mist though, he can’t find anything.
The Inquisitor says some words of magic softly and casts Protection from Evil.

After some flailing about in the mist, Bucho catches the Jester’s scent and makes a beeline for her. As he corners her though, she shoots an arcane splash of acid straight onto him. The attack causes her invisibility to fade though.

Hearing the barking, the spellcasting, and the telltale yelp of the acid-burned dog, Morkeleb strides forward through the mist. Standing at the edge, he quickly casts his eyes back and forth between the alchemical bag, and arcane wand. He looks about at the mist he is still within, nods to himself firmly, and points the wand at the Jester, firing off a bolt. Morkeleb decides the jester is too tall and thin to be a human….perhaps an elf? The makeup is awfully heavy to make out features.

Gaius skulks through the mist along the railing and takes position in the mist, blocking the stairs. He readies his rapier for a sneak attack of the Jester comes in range. Ferox moves into the room and casts Divine Favor, hoping Abadar’s blessing will help put a quick end to the Jester.
Meanwhile, Sandor enters the mist towards the sound. Comes across the posed figure and smashes its head, splattering dead brains everywhere.

In a gambit to get to the Jester immediately, without wasting time running around the perimeter of the room, Odric springs over the railing, tumbling once on the floor before sprinting up the stair towards the jester. He immediately strikes out at the thing with his naked blade, hoping to quickly decapitate it and resume his search.

The landing jars his leg badly, but nonetheless he closes with the enemy and swings his massive blade towards her, cutting a huge gash into her side. Rather than cry in pain, she laughs at the massive gash in her side. With confidence, she tumbles down the stairs, over Odric and away from Grym. As she passes. Odric is able to lash out yet again with the Kegerator and slice her deeply.
When she finally stops tumbling, she aims a finger at the big man and a black slams into his chest, the Stout seems a little less so the next instant. He suffers an enervating power that saps his strength.

Meanwhile some of the propped up corpses begin to move and in a strange macabre way dance towards members of the party. They are slow moving and clumsy, and Ferox, Morkeleb, Bucho and Odric all avoid their attacks easily.

Morkeleb utters a curse for having been fool enough to walk into the trap. Knowing it’s a dangerous move he drops his wand of Magic Missile, and draws forth the Burning Arc wand.

His instinct is to point it at the foe he’s facing—but he pauses briefly, and looks behind him at the one in front of Ferox and Sandor. If that one is taken down quickly, they can more quickly come to his aid—it’s more tactically sound to strike that one first. He levels the wand at the foe blocking the door, and an intensely bright, focused line of fire blazes forth into its chest and a secondary bolt of flame arcs over to the foe adjacent to the wizard.

Gaius dismisses the Obscuring Mist and moves downstairs after The Jester, down the stairs ten feet and then jumps down to the floor. He lands on his feet, and closes to melee range.

“Quick everyone to the stairs, keep together. We can hold the undead off by using the stairs as a choke point.” The ranger calls to those still far away from the stairs.

Sandor attempts to smash the zombie with his shield pressing it against the door jamb and then bring the hammer down on its head. He misses woefully, and the mindless things clambers after him unabated.

Odric thunders after the evil creature and past Gaius and Bucho, ending up in an ideal flanking position with Thorgrym Sharkslayer’s faithful hound. As the dog growls and snaps at the Jester distracting her, Odric times his attack carefully and swings the Kegerator in a swooping arc for the fiend’s midsection. Odric slashes open the Jester’s side. She cries out in pain-pleasure.

As the heroes’ fight spills out into the ground floor, they can see the rooms beyond. A massacre took place here. Upon the marble floor and heaped in the corners lie more than a dozen corpses, each clad in garish outfits of sequined velvet, revealing silk, and colorful feathers. Masks of all shapes and sizes— each competing with the last in terms of elaborateness— adorn the dead. In several cases, though, these fanciful adornments have fallen away, revealing withered flesh covered in nauseating facial tumors. Most horrifyingly, upon a bloodslick space cleared at the room’s center sway three couples, jerking like hellish dancers, all obviously dead.

In the further room, visible only to Gaius and Odric, two dead nobles wearing matching lion and lioness masks sit before the empty fireplace, with a third zombie dressed as a peacock and holding a silver serving tray attending them.

Ferox takes a step back to make room for Sandor and to give himself some room to draw back on his bow safely.The Inquisitor quietly whispers a prayer to Abadar, calling for his aid to bring Justice to those massacred here.

Ferox then pulls back on his bow, two arrows nocked. He lets loose with silent determination. He drives two arrows home into the zombie before him. It doesn’t look like the piercing arrows do much good against the corpse however…

“Lets try this again bloody zombie is worse than the skele we were fightin’ in the tunnels” Sandor muses to himself.

Again Sandor slams him with the shield knocking him back out of the door way a bit. When the mindless thing comes back through the axe connects solidly with the forehead. The jester, seeing the situation turning poorly, makes a risky choice. she makes as if moving to attack, then steps back and draws forth a potion.

As she is distracted, both Odric and Bucho press their attack, to no avail. She downs the potion and vanishes, but not before she shouts, “May dear partygoers, kill them and eat them!”
Thirteen zombies converge on the heroes, the press of undead flesh is awful and relentless. Morkeleb, Grym, Bucho and Odric are all hurt by them, while the crowding and sluggish nature of their reanimated flesh cause the majority to miss.

Bucho can’t get a lock on the zombie behind him fast enough. Meanwhile, upstairs, Morkeleb fires another charge from the Wand at the zombie who just hit him. The first arc explodes on the zombie in front of him, and the second arcs back over his head to strike the zombie by Ferox and Sandor. The zombie in front of him incinerates, leaving a pile of ash.

At the bright flash of flame the ranger unconsciously ducks a little as he is battling with the zombies. Risking a glance over he is amazed at the wizard’s display of fiery power. He also sees how far apart the team is getting. He shouts over toward Morkeleb the Fiery, Sandor, and Ferox. “Fight your way to the stairs. We can make a stand here. A huge mess of undead are swarming our brothers downstairs!” 
Thorgrym slips another zombie arm and vows to work on his ability to deal with the undead.

Odric hacks at the zombie in front of him with a viscous snarl. The Inquisitor strikes the zombie with an arrow to no effect, then with his righteous rage bubbling up to the surface, the second blunt arrow bursts through the walker’s forehead and the monster drops to the floor. Grym’s shout to the allies upstairs are nearly drowned out by Odric’s snarl. Thank Cayden that the fighter’s swing cuts the zombie’s head from its body.

The ranger light on the balls of his feet moves and attacks the zombie with everything he has. Grym slashes a zombie with his svord. The beast doesn’t fall, but is injured badly. The dagger misses its mark.

Gaius channels positive energy, damaging all undead in a 30 foot burst, however these zombies are quite resistant as a group. Morkeleb the Mighty makes a quick assessment of the battle. With a confident step forward he aims his wand at the zombie between him and the ranger. The Burning Arc flies forth. The zombie before Grym bursts into flame, and is reduced to ash in seconds. The second zombie is also extremely injured, and a good slash from Grym is sure to bring him down.

Odric swings the Kegerator mightily, the veins of his massive arms standing out starkly against his sweat sheened skin. The blade carves into the first zombie it can bite and continues with so much force that it cleaves into the zombie beside it. Gore and a nauseating smell of death abound.
As fighting swarms below him, Ferox rushes to the edge of the balcony and hopes to aid the others downstairs. Seeing the zombie blocking the way to the stairs, he quickly pulls an arrow and lets loose against the undead creature.

Not sure whether to be annoyed at Ferox for killing his Zombie or thankful, Grym decides to go with teamwork. “Thanks Ferox!” he shouts as he turns and pounds down the stairs. Trying to take some of the heat off of Gaius the ranger leaps onto zombie. 
In the tight quarters the ranger leads with his trusty dagger.

Gaius once again channels positive energy to harm the un-dead. Again the burst of holy power washes over the restless dead and while none explode, they moan with hatred. One manages a swing at Gaius on his way back, but it was a miss.

A mad cackle from behind Odric presages the Jester’s sneak attack. Her invisibility spell vanishes as she pulls the trigger on her crossbow. A screaming bolt heads right towards Odric when he wasn’t expecting it! After the shot she opens the door to her right and steps inside.

The bolt literally screeches towards the big warrior. The eerie scream gets to the big man and he feels shaken to his core.

With half of the zombies dead, the remaining concentrate their attacks on Odric and Bucho. The human escapes injury, but the faithful hound falls. The zombies bring the poor dog down and turn their attention to Gaius! Bucho is dying on the floor.

Morkeleb makes for the top of the stairs, points his wand at the undead horde mobbing gallant Odric, and lets loose with his Burning Arc. The first zombie is utterly incinerated. The second doesn’t look good at all. Sandor runs down the stairs, and stands protectively over Bucho.

Ferox continues with his onslaught. The blunt arrows making a sickening sound like a melon cracking when they hit. The stench is horrendous. The zombie drops with nary a reaction.

Odric hacks at the partially concealed Jester in desperation. The Kegerator screams towards her with a frightening amount of power. He misses her completely though. Odric takes a huge chunk out of the door frame, and is met with a cackle from the jester. A split second later, Grym makes two hits with his melee weapons which are what it takes to bring down another zombie.

The jester pulls an end around and readies her crossbow. When she sees only two remaining zombies she drops it. “I give, I surrender. Zombies, HALT!”

Hearing the jester’s cry, the wizard is dubious. he makes his way—partway—down the stairs, and levels his staff at the jester.

He is ready to hit her with magic missile if she starts to cast anything.

As soon as there is a lull in combat the ranger leaps over the fallen zombie and kneels before his loyal injured dog. “Thank you noble dwarf” Grym picks up the dog’s head and tilts it back so he can pour a potion of Cure Light Wounds down the hatch.

Ferox appoaches the Jester, bow drawn. He makes sure that his Key is in plain sight.

“Drop your weapons and take off the mask. Then put your hands on top of your head. You have a lot to answer for. By Abadar, you are going to answer all of our questions and you might live to see morning.”

The jester dejectedly removes her mask. Underneath is an elf that has let her beauty waste away. Her eyes still hold an inborn fire, but it’s lost and gives you the feeling that she’s suffered some kind of mental break. She makes a sound somewhere between a sigh and a chuckle.

“I’ve no wish to die a final death Inquisitor, speak your questions and see them answered.”
A moment after her lucid response she returns to her giggling.

“But then again, death doesn’t seem to stop the party…Perhaps my darlings will dance with me! So long as I am free, what’s not to love about death?!”

“Boys, keep an eye on those zombies.” Morkeleb approaches the jester with a raised hand. “Let me help you…”

The wizard casts a spell, charming the elf temporarily. “But, before heading into the nether world, I can help out my nice new friends…”

Smiling with satisfaction at another erstwhile foe bending to his will, Morkeleb raises his eyebrows to his companions, a silent invitation to question her. “Yes, I’m your friend my dear. we’ll stop hurting you now—but tell me, what is the nature of what is going on here? You must admit, this is all pretty strange!”

The ranger shudders at the wizards spell. The ability to turn someone’s thoughts against them seems strange and beyond Grym’s ken. The ranger cleans the disgusting zombie gore from his blades. He sheathes the sword but drives the dagger into the wooden floor ready to pick up if the undead pose a threat. He begins to tend to his poor dog. He praises him for his bravery and gives him another potion.

Bucho eagerly laps up the potion, though still injured; he seems to be in a much better mood now. Once he sees there are still “walking” zombies though, he growls.

The Jester says, “My love and master was done with the party, so he let me have some fun. I wanted all of the patrons to keep dancing, but he only gave me two dozen! Still, he’s very good to me.”
Odric asks, “Who is your love and master?”

After quite an involved and frustrating conversation with the elf jester, the group comes away with some critical information.

“”/campaigns/sfoundercotct/characters/jolistina-susperio" class=“wiki-content-link”>Jolistina Susperio is my name you handsome dwarf.” She runs her fingers along Sandor’s scar. “Those are very sexy burns you have there. Teeheehee… And I’ve never heard the name, but a bard yes. Rolth bid me find a good looking Varisian that wouldn’t be missed, though he needed skill. He’s not here any more though. Rolth took him. Well his two manly women servants took him. They weren’t nice at all. They obeyed my Rolth, but they were covered head to toe in armor. How is that hot? I don’t know where, but I wasn’t done playing! I was going to have to leave soon anyway. These bodies all have the Blood Veil and I’m running out of spells to cure myself. I wish I knew where to direct you. Rolth is such a nice man when he’s not murdering. Tell him I love him and give him a kiss for me.”

The Jester is brought to the Bank as a patient, concealed beneath a hasty disguise. The Field Marshal is summoned and takes control of the prisoner. She urges the heroes to press on, following the leads they have uncovered.

Ion what seems to be an endless trail of leads, the party is oriented on a new threat, though one they have faced before indirectly. The Hospice of the Blessed Maiden seems to hold the next piece of the puzzle for the heroes.

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Thorgrym Sharkslayer
A fight with a Sea Hag and a clue about the plague.

….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.

Odric, Grym, Morkeleb, Gaius and Ferox each drink a potion, specially designed to give them free movement underwater, and the ability to breathe the very water as though it were air.

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.

View
Girrigz Gutted
Slinking Through Sewers, Stinky and Stealthy.

One fine Korvosan morning, we were meeting over breakfast (popkins filled with egg, chedder, and sausage) when a somewhat homely woman approached our table. She looked like a Sczarni with her face being dominated by buck teeth and hirsuite upper lip.

“Eries Yelloweyes, masters. My name is Eries. You’re the heroes I have heard so much about.”
Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper as she looked from face to face. She saw Odric, the impressively large and massively muscular man, Thorgrym the Tracker, the tall ranger with a faithful dog gnawing on a bone at his feet, Morkeleb the Mighty, sitting quietly in the corner, with his wizard robe wrapped around him. Gaius, the legendary rake sitting toying with his dagger on the scarred oaken table and across from him Ferox, the stern Inquisitor with his golden key hanging around his neck. Her gaze lingered on the scarred face of Sandor Strongbellows, who wore a mask to cover his scars, but still turned his face away out of respect and sensitivity for the way his appearance might affect her.

“I come to you seeking succor masters. The Blood Veil is ravaging our city, and I worry that it is only a matter of time before racial violence brings the blame to my door….. Two days ago a family member of mine was lynched. We are forced to live in squalor, and everyone “knows” that rats carry disease. They dragged him out and chopped of his head with an axe of silver…. Heroes, we are wererats. It is true that most of us are less than reputable, and we’re accustomed to abuse and violence. Normally the murder of a family member wouldn’t send me to your table, but there is one of us, Girrigz Ripperclaws, who has decided to take the fight to the humans. I have lived in Korvosa for 50 years. No one knows my secret, and I wish to keep it that way. I have tried to reason with Girrigz, but it is no use. Please, I know that violence will likely ensue, but do what you can to limit the death. Please stop Girrigz before a civil war erupts. I know you can’t work for free. Please take whatever you find in his camp. Additionally, I may have information to help you get to the true source of the plague.”

Grym looked up, very interested in the woman’s story. “Knowledge of the true source of the blood veil would be very valuable. Why would not rather sell this information to someone with more wealth then us?” 


The ranger watched her closely, trying to gauge her reaction.

She looked down sheepishly, “Most with more wealth than you would see this as an opportunity to exploit us or destroy us. I come to you not because of the size of your purse, but because of the depths of your heart. It pains me to wish ill on one of my people, but he is an evil man on a path that will lead us all to ruin.”

Morkeleb thought carefully for a moment, “Hm. Miss Yelloweyes, would you excuse us so we may discuss this?”

He turned away, affording him the privacy to speak plainly to his fellows, “while I’m sure some of us might balk at aiding wererats, I propose that we’d be helping the greater community if we do as Eries suggests—assuming she’s telling the truth. Any objections?”

Grym thought for a bit before answering, “Are all wererats evil? My old mentor Aliah had told me stories of goodly werecreatures though they were not rat folk.” The ranger continued eating and thinking a bit more about it. “Evil or not, if we are given a warning about possible danger to the city I think we should look into it. Besides I have no experience with were creatures. That seems like something a tracker should know about.”

“Aye lads, I’m thinkin we should help.” Sandor weighed in. “Tha last thin this city needs is a war or riots started by some were’s. If’n we do help out I would like some concessions from her up front since we be workin fer free. Yeah I know she said we can keep what we find, but meh she also says how poor they are. The concessions that I would like are her info on tha blood veil up front. I would also like any info n maps she has on the lair, and how many supporters will fight fer Girrigz Ripperclaws. If she has heard of us, then she knows we will honor our words.”

Sandor decided on the spot to help her and asked, “Ok who is gonna do the negotiatin wit her?”

She looked squarely at Sandor, realizing her pleas were about to be answered. “A half century of being on the short end of greed and racism leaves me wary, even with you. I’ll grant you this, you’re looking at just shy of a dozen of my people. Girrigz is the only one that’s truly a threat. If you can confine your lethal violence to him, I’d appreciate it. There are going to undoubtedly be normal rats everywhere. The sewers are rife with otyugh in the city, so I can’t guarantee you won’t find any. I’ll grant you this. If you’re successful, I’ll be able to supply potions that let you breath underwater at a hefty discount. To use my information, you’ll need them.”

At the mention of the Otyugh Sandor had a shiver of the stink that took days to remove, and then looked at flowery and girly-smelling Odric and cracked a sly grin. When Grym mentioned using fire as a weapon Sandor’s eyes hardened and he almost supressed a sharp intake of breath as he unconsciously touched his scarred face.

Speaking to his friends and to Yelloweyes, “Well lads I’ve heard that all the wererats be being bad, but that might just be because well people just don’t be likin rats ta begin with.”

He got a very serious look on his face and stared at Yelloweyes, “What we ‘ave ’ere is one of em standin before us ta do ’er dirty work fer ’er. Now tha way I see it, it doesn’t matter ifn she ‘as any ulterior motive for gettin rid of this Girrigz or not as long as she’s tellin the truth about him startin a war against Korvosa. But if’n she be lyin n just using us to remove some competition or to avenge a wrong done ta her, we Will find out and well… she gets me drift.”

His look softened a bit, “Miss Yelloweyes. Unless my friends have compelling arguments against helping you I accept your request for aid, and I will try to limit my lethal violence to Girrigz. I but have two changes to your terms. First, your information concerning the Blood Veil will be known to us before we break this meeting. Second, the potions for breathing underwater will be free, and that payment can be given after we have dealt with Girrigz.

She spoke up, "Razorclaws is a natural lycanthrope. To hurt him with anything less than a catapult, you’ll need silver weapons. Fire and spell work as they would on any other.”

She looked at Sandor, "I cannot give thee the potions for free. They are not mine to give away, but are owned by my people. Some time ago, after the ship was sunk, debris washed into the sewers near our lairs. Inside were chests of coin. Rats had burrowed their way into the chests, only to die of the Blood Veil before they could make it far. The wreck of the ship is not far from there, and the chests must have come from the ship. The Blood Veil was caused on purpose I believe…. and that is all I know.”

Sandor relented, “Very well, steeply discounted will do. Thank you for the information. If’n ya could direct us to the washed up coin, we would be needin ta take some ta get the proper detection and cure started, and we might not need ta go underwater.”

The meeting concluded, the heroes set about planning their attack. With borrowed silvered weapons from the armory, the party prepared to enter the sewers.

Slowly and stealthily, Grym and Bucho took point. The tunnels were a winding maze, but the ranger lead the group true. Through the disgustingly visible haze of noxious sewer reek, the flow of unmentionable slop through the sewer tunnel’s filth-slick channel unexpectedly forked. Most continued on its expected path, but a small stream of ooze diverted off through a wide cleft in the moldy masonry wall. The man-sized crack cut deep into the rock behind the wall, and wisps of thin white smoke issued forth.

Gaius checked carefully for traps, found none and announced as much. The crafty rogue reminded the group that finding no traps did not necessarily mean the cleft was safe.

The flow of sewer filth oozed into this rough-hewn stone cave, pooling near its center before continuing through a crude channel in the western wall. Fat black mushrooms which Gaius immediately recognized as Shreikers, and other disgusting fungus grew thick around the pool of slime. Several low alcoves were cut into the walls, each filled with moldering hay, filthy furs, and tiny bones. In the room were a trio of wererats keeping an ineffectual eye out for intruders. Among them were a pair of dire rats.

The group decided that skirting around the shreikers would not be possible, and that even if they were to use magical means to put the enemy and his compatriots to sleep, the shreikers would likely wake them. In an effort to prevent a bloodbath, the group decided to look for another way into the cavern where Girrigz was holed up.

Odric found a sewer grate protecting another passage in short order.

The grate was wrenched open with help from Sandor and Grym as well as the use of Odric’s trusty crowbar.

Two thick grates of rusted iron hedged in this section of sewer tunnel. From a man-sized crack in the northern wall seeped a steady flow of sewage, oozing into the greater flow of tainted water. A hulking pile of filth and debris partially blocks the stream of offal, a cart-sized clot in this disgusting artery. The group was suspicious that the clot might be an otyugh, but even with the foreknowledge that danger lurked, the sudden explosion of violence startled all but the fleet footed ranger.

As the otyugh swiped at Odric ineffectually, Grym moved forward blade already extending into a thrust as he pulled his dagger with his off hand to strike.

Grym silently cursed as he was bumped by Odric’s dodge. He was glad his friend avoided the nasty attack but saddened it ruined his good sword thrust. Yet never being one to fret over spilled milk the ranger adapted to the stumble and managed to turn it into a nice cut with his dagger.
First blood went to Grym this day. The otyugh snapped its fetid jaws at the man and gouged the man’s flesh with its foul teeth.

Morkeleb moved to where he could see the action, then whipped out his wand of Daze Monster. A flash of bright sparkles surrounded the Otyug’s eyes.

The beast bellowed, “HUNGRIES!” an instant before Morkeleb’s wand released the spell, but the magic had no effect on the beast. With surprising agility, the beast lashed out at Odric with a pair of barbed tentacles, and hit with one of them. The snaking appendage wrapped around the fighter’s neck and started to choke the man violently.

Odric lashed out with his beautiful new custom made falchion, trying to sever the tentacle around his neck. The thrashing tentacle threw off the man’s aim, and the blade skittered harmlessly off the thing’s tough hide.

A bleeding and frustrated Grym lashed out with two blades and missed, frustrating him further.
Morkeleb discarded the Daze wand, and brought out his wand of Burning Arc. With the muttered incantation, a bright, curved line of fire issued from the end of the wand to connect with the creature’s skull. Morkeleb’s second wand landed a solid hit and burned the beast. The smell of cooked shite monster nearly overwhelmed the melee fighters.

Ferox took aim and let loose an arrow at the creature. Ferox landed an arrow directly in center mass. The beast howled, “Food bite back! Hungries!!!”

The beast almost absentmindedly continued to strangle Odric but failed to maintain the hold.
The second tentacle attacked Sandor. but couldn’t gain purchase over the dwarf’s armor.
Finally the otyugh tried to chomp through Sandor’s armor and teeth succeeded where the noodly appendage failed.

Odric tried and failed to strike at the beast with his sword, while Sandor started to curse and yell at the monster but remembered the group was trying to be somewhat quiet. He buried his axe into the creature with a solid hit.

As the heroes closed in on the bleeding monster, the extent of its wounds became clear. With finality, as the men closed in on it, Grym struck out with a hard thrust of his sword, ending the combat as quickly as it had begun.

The group recovered with healing spells and a quick search of the area. They moved on, intent on their goal.

The passage ahead was narrow, and semi-blocked up with refuse. It looked to be easy enough to tear down. Several pieces of broken furniture, dried hay, and fragments of lumber burned in a small fire at the center of this open, ruggedly carved cavern. Short alcoves filled with filthy, oversized rats’ nests dotted the walls, and the disgusting drip of polluted black condensation echoed through the chamber. A thick flow of sewage spread across the western edge of the chamber, seeping from a crack in the western wall to another in the south. A quartet of hybrid rat-men tormented some large black rats. They were laughing loudly and constantly. Somehow, miraculously, they hadn’t yet heard the party.

Sandor addressed the group in a hushed whisper, “There are four baddies that we’re not supposed ta kill about or 40 feet feet from the openin. They are on the other side of the fire so ya think we can get em ta sleep or otherwise unharmed? Only difficulty is that the passage is somewhat blocked, but I think we can take it apart quietly enough.”

Looking down at his filthy clothes and armor, then at Morkeleb the Dwarf continued, “Think ya can save one of those prestiga…presgig..presdididastations or what eva ya call em for me for when we get outta this sewage?”

Morkeleb looked back to the site of the otyugh fight and said, “Perhaps we can save a more thorough search for after this threat is dealt with.” He redirected his gaze to the grimy Dwarf before him, “Worry not, Sandor: I’ve prepared Prestidigidation and can therefore cast it at will this day; I shall get everyone as clean as I can forthwith! 
I will gladly use a Sleep spell, but depending on their willpower and strength, there is no guarantee that all—or even any—of them will actually succumb. I have another method or two to try to keep at least one occupied, but violence might be necessary. Let me know when all is ready, and I’ll proceed.”

Morkeleb brings out his wand of Magic Missile, and readies his staff for casting.

The party readied weapons and nodded in turn to the wizard. As the green light emanated from the crystal surmounting his staff, Morkeleb watched carefully as three of the four wererats slumped to the ground in a deep and dreamless slumber. The fourth blinked twice, shrugged off the dweomer and screamed.

Gaius entered the cavern, hand crossbow up and pointed at the standing wererat. The firelight made the silver-tipped bolt twinkle, and Gaius made sure the rat man could see it. He stayed just within range and fired a silver bolt at the screaming wererat.

“The next one goes in your throat, if you don’t stop screaming! Drop your weapon and hit the floor! NOW!”

As the wizard moves to the tunnel mouth to begin his sleep spell, the ranger crept forward with his silvered blade ready at hand. His other hand clutched Bucho’s scruff tightly. He whispered words of attack to the dog. Anyone could plainly see the dog’s nose and then eyes riveted on the group of wererats. The dog was actually shaking he was so keyed up to charge forward after his prey. Grym held the dog tight though he pulled. The ranger was afraid any of the wererats who didn’t fall under the spell might bolt and escape before the heroes could capture them. Bucho would be able to cover the distance quicker then any of them and should be able to harry at least one of the wererats long enough that Grym could get close enough to tackle it. Though they were trying not to use violence, Bucho should do minimal damage and certainly nothing that the were creatures wouldn’t heal from quickly. 
As the ranger watched Morkeleb’s spell come to fruition, three of the creatures fell in slumber. The fourth jerked in surprise. After the rogue strode into the firelight and fired his quarrel, Grym let slip the dog of war.

The brindle dog shot forward as did the rogues missile from the crossbow, running full speed to leap upon the lone wererat. While his teeth connected, they failed to damage the accursed creature. The wererat nevertheless let out a scream of shock. He looked east with an expression of hope, like something in the next room over could deliver a defense, or perhaps vengeance.

While flashing the gleam of silver off his axe and moving up to cut off a retreat, Sandor said, “shuuuushhhhhhhhhh…. quiet lil one we won’t hurt ya if ya cooperate.”

If he tried to escape the Dwarf was fully prepared to chop off his leg.

Ferox drew his bow and aimed at the wererat.

In a quiet but stern voice, Ferox chastened the wererat. “Stand down and be quiet, lad. You are outnumbered and outclassed. Look at the strength arrayed against you. Even if help arrives, you will be first to fall. We only want your leader. You can live for another day, or you can die like a common rat in the sewer.”

Seeing his companions so competently at the ready to subdue the remaining wererat, and seeing the expectative hopeful look the monster gave the eastern entry, he readied himself for what may come.
Pointing both staff, and Burning Arc wand toward the entrance, he prepared to fire off either enchantment, or evocation, depending on the threat.

Odric ran up to the Wererat cowering in fear. He grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and keeping clear of the thing’s yellowed teeth shook it vigorously. He demanded to know where Girrigz is holed up.

“I won’t kill you, but I can make you VERRRRY uncomfortable for a VERRRRY long time!”
Odric gave him another shake and positioned his borrowed falchion’s silvered point beneath the wererat’s navel with the point digging in slightly.

“Where is he?!?!”

Gaius cleared his throat at Odric, as the man’s question seemed to be answered. From out of the shadows a wererat with a blurry indistinct outline approached. It’s a technique the Callistran had used himself. He tried to get the jump on the group, but they were ready. Morkeleb, never saw it coming however. Girrigz slipped past the wizard somehow.

Still Girrigz was a well-trained swordsman, and a silvered rapier darted towards Gaius. It slid deep into the Calistrian’s ribs.

The wererat shouted as he turned the blade in the wound. “I shall not kill you. Submit to my rule and be remade in my image!”

Gaius smiled, swooned a little and then managed to hold keep his balance. He felt blood in his mouth and he spit a gob in Girrigz’s eyes. Girrigz furiously lunged again, but Gaius expected the sloppy stab and turned to the side avoiding the rapier.

“That’s your offer?”

Gaius took a deep breath and while Girrigz was recovering from his lunge, he sprung back and twisted between Grym and Ferox and puts his back against the wall behind the inquisitor and the ranger. Careful eyes see him slump just a little and he pulled out another silver bolt but doesn’t have the strength to load just yet.

“Grym? Please take this. I’m too nauseated to respond properly just yet.”

The ranger took the rogue’s suggestion as the wounded Calistrian rogue slipped by. Then Grym moved forward to put his borrowed silvered sword to good use. Though wary he viciously attacked the wererat for the brutal stick he gave Gaius.

Sandor moved towards the fray, calling the rat out. “Surrender ’n become a rat??? Now what Dwarf ’n ’is right mind would do a thin like that… Not only are ya a rat, but ya are stupid enough ta try ta rise up against a whole city who would crush ya.. Ya own kind are willin ta hire us ta kill ya so surrender to me or I will be sure ta do just that!!!”

“Come Bucho, attack!” Grym exhorted his companion.
The dog ran over to attack from behind and flank. Neither attack landed true, and the wererat lashed out at the dog with his blade as the pooch approached, slashing him in the flank.

Odric swung and missed by a fraction of a handbreadth. The wererat’s whiskers felt the passage of the silver blade and the creature jerked its head back in the blink of an eye.

As Morkeleb resolved the rat’s location and his spell fired off, the rat man was able to ignore its effects, and the wizards eye’s widened in surprise.

Girrigz laughed at Morkeleb’s puny magics. Both Sandor and Odric looked like scary targets, but Girrigz looked towards whence he came and focused his fury on the slightly less metal encased Odric, delivering a fearsome stab to the hip.
Meanwhile the cowering wererat transformed. He shrank into the size of a large sewer rat and prepared to scurry away.

In a moment, the combatants paused, eyeing each other carefully. Gaius healed himself with his clerical magic and hid himself in the shadows, prepared to intervene from afar if the opportunity arose.

Sandor swung wildly with his axe, missing, which opened up an opportunity for Morkeleb to cast Burning Gaze on the wererat. As the flames leaped out of the wizard’s eyes, both Bucho and Grym failed to connect with their attacks.

Ferox drew two silver arrows from his quiver.

“Korvosa cries out for Justice, Girrigz. Abadar will answer her with your death.” 
Ferox activated Judgement: Justice.

He took quick aim and let loose at the wererat. Ferox sank an arrow into the wererat. The damage was minor but very real, and caused a bit of fear.

Sensing the futility of acting alone, the party began trying to set up the wererat for a massive attack from Sandor. Gaius tried to trip him with his whip, but to no avail. Bucho and Grym provided harrying attacks to the creature. Sandor’s axe hit solidly, but failed to harm the creature significantly.

Morkeleb cast Magic Missile at the enemy after the burning fire from his gaze had run its course. The slivers of light slammed into Girrgz unerringly, but the weakness of the spell meant that he could largely ignore the pain and fight on, his confidence building.

Sandor took advantage of another assisting attack from Odric, and an arrow loosed from the Inquisitor’s massive bow. With Bucho still snapping and worrying the creature at the level of his knees, and Grym swinging with feint after feint with sword and knife, The Dwarf was able to connect solidly.

“Nah Girrigz lad we’ve only been toyin wit ya like ya boys over there were toyin wit tha poor sewer rat” the Dwarf bluffed.

A relentless barrage of feints, nicks and scratches interspersed with the odd damaging blow began to weaken the wererat. Arrow after arrow from Ferox slammed into him and the wererat’s armor of bravado began to crack. Listening to the planning he attempted a desperate move. He took a single stab at Sandor, drilling the Dwarf, and attempted to tumble his way out of the crowd.

With the chaos of the fight, the darkness and the close quarters, the agile foe succeeded.

Blows rained down on the creature, Grym and Bucho scoring hits as Morkeleb came to a decision. He cast a Scorching Ray at the man-rat even as Gaius tried yet again unsuccessfully to trip him. The flames licked at the enemy and the smell of burning fur filled the foul smelling cavern. The wererat’s vitriol was replaced with panic.

Grym’s scimitar slashed down and struck a critical hit to the whiskered face, slashing open its cheek and sinking into the shoulder. As the blood flows freely, Sandor ejaculates, “Scurry lil rat Scurry away. Yah still do have the option of surrender!”

Morkeleb responds to Sandor’s ejaculation with one of his own, “Don’t get your hopes up, Sandor—he is far to superior to we humans to surrender to us. Isn’t that right, Girrigz?”

No witty remark, or stinging rejoinder came. As the rat opened its mouth, in short order two silver-tipped arrows punctured its throat, and Odric slashed open the bristling trachea with the silvered falchion from the keep’s armory. The enemy slumped to the ground, motionless.

Grym took action to tie up the remaining wererats, and Gaius offered healing to all.
As the men searched, they discovered a trove worthy of the risk. Girrigz wielded a magic silvered rapier and a masterwork chain shirt with its own enchantment. Several crates, mismatched boxes, and poorly kept weapons lay stacked and scattered about the dingy stone chamber. Pinned to the side of one stack was a crudely sketched map of Korvosa. A large rat’s nest, strewn with moldy pillows, filled an elevated hollow in the south wall. In the entrance to the room there were two empty vials on the floor. Odric’s highly organized search of the room yielded a large supply of loot; He turned up 22 daggers, 12 short swords, 3 light crossbows, 12 flasks of alchemist’s fire, a masterwork longsword, 1000 Sails, and a masterwork suit of chainmail. In a hidden cache there were 4 blue potions, a masterwork silvered dagger, and a metal urn akin to a genie’s lamp which Morkeleb noticed had a faint tinge of transmutation magic.

An argument about what loot to take ensued, but the group eventually came to an uneasy truce about it, the biggest sticking point was the alchemist’s fire. Sandor’s objections stemmed back to the scarring he received by fire as a younger Dwarf.

“We should sell all of the Alchemist Fire” Sandor stated with just a little too much passion in his voice. He caught the quizzical pause in several of his friends. So he let out a small sigh.. “Ok I guess I’ll come right out n say it. Fer reason’s that should be obvious I’m not to fond of fire being used as a weapon” His gaze lingers on the Wizard for a second “Yes I know I use fire in me forge every day, but those fires are used in creation, not in the indiscriminate way fire maims and destroys in a fight. Now I’m not sayin it is any less painful ta be struck by me axe, sword, or another weapon, but at least they take skill. Those flasks do not, and well I guess the most honest truth is that it pains me to see any living being burnt.”

He said his piece, looked at the others and grabs his share of the load. Nodded to Grym and Gaius. “Well ya lead us in here might as well lead us out.”

The return to the city came without fanfare. In fact the foray into the sewer caused passersby to give the group a wide berth. Eries Yelloweyes returned to the group shortly. Meeting in private, she began, “Thank you for your help. you’ve done a good thing this day, though it may not feel like it to you. I promised you information, and here it is. Fortune has it that several sewer tunnels empty into the Jeggare River below the Wall of Eodred. The night the black-sailed ship was sunk before reaching the harbor, several of my brethren were watching. They saw nothing on the ship except for a yellow light, but once it sank, strange debris drifted from its hull. Tracking down some of the flotsam, the other wererats discovered a few small boxes filled with dead rats and a few pouches of silver coins conveniently bound to floating timbers. Suspecting that something was wrong with the rats, and scenting some foulness upon the coins, they kicked the debris back into the river. I know little more than this, but don’t believe that the ship’s sinking, the strange flotsam, and the advent of the plague are mere coincidence. I can lead you there, and provide potions on the cheap.”

After the history books were written, it was estimated that preventing Girrigz’s war against Korvosa saved the lives of 400 citizens.

View
Lavender Red Handed
Something stinks, and for once it 's not Odric.

Early in the morning, the Apprentice was tasked with bringing the Master his breakfast, tidying up and generally making the place less of a pigsty. This morning, like most others, the Apprentice was failing. Artifacts and detritus were strewn about with abandon. The careless men who resided in the tower being much more interested in the distant past than in cleaning, or really any mundane chore of the household.
__
Without shame, the Apprentice simply leaned over the Master’s shoulder and read as the old man wrote in his neat, flowing script.

The next morning, 7th Desnus, the Field Marshal was with Banker Ishani already upon the party’s arrival. Morkeleb wondered silently, “Does she ever sleep?”

Ishani opened immediately with business. "A woman named Vendra Loaggri owns a perfumery in the Heights called “Lavender.” She claims to have discovered a cure for the Blood Veil. The Bank of Abadar is asking you to visit her perfumery and determine if her claim is legitimate. She has a long history of outrageous behavior. Some of you may remember the infamous “free imp with every purchase of 500 sails or more.” Either this woman is shaming the well-to-do citizens of the district, or she’s somehow stumbled on a simple cure too elusive for our archbankers to concoct. The church will willingly pay your group a fee of 1,000 sails total for getting to the bottom of this. Any questions?"

Muttering himself, Sandor said, “Not that this be the time nor place fer it, but this be what happens when a large city do not ‘ave a merchants guild settin standards fer things. Don’t get me wrong I see the good in not havin em either, somethin I might be blessin ’ere when I opens up me own shop. Now me wonders how did her reputation and buisness survive such an obvious fleecing ’n remain in buisness? She might just ’ave a powerful backer of sorts”

After throwing ideas around, the group settled on the strategy of purchasing a sample of the apocryphal potion in order to reverse engineer it, to figure out whether Lavender needed to be prosecuted or dissuaded. The group set out to Lavender’s place.

Finding her place was easy. Just following the signs worked perfectly. "Lavender’s Luxuriant Liniment is the everyday elixir of the common Korvosan. It wakes you up in the morning and calms you down at night. It soothes aching joints, tired feet, sore hands, and throbbing heads. It takes the pain out of cuts, burns, bruises, and blemishes. It smells like chastity, confidence, and respectability, and tastes like honeyed dewdrops over snow clouds. Most miraculously, though, Lavender’s Luxuriant Liniment dispels blisters, minimizes swelling, calms the complexion, and erases all symptoms of the common blood veil complaint.” Before long, the group was also able to follow the line.

The line started about four blocks away and contained mostly healthy looking people, but there were a fair amount of pustule-ridden citizens too. The sign said that it’s two Sail for a single dose, and the purple painted shop door was guarded by a pair of ludicrously dressed half-orcs, though no one would be surprised if the closest human ancestor was a grandparent. Each was dressed in frilly livery topped with purple cravats. The saps they held in hand seemed serious enough though.
Given the pace of the line, Gaius estimated the wait to be about two hours.

Rather than wait in line, the group split up with Gaius, Grym and Bucho circled around the back, with Sandor, Odric, Ferox and Morkeleb cutting to the front of the line in order to observe the activity in the shop itself.

All of a sudden, a man who had entered the shop moments earlier with splotchy skin came out into the sunlight exclaiming, “It works! Desna smiles, it works!” followed by a cheer. That exclamation was followed by a voice from a mouth with far too many teeth, “Keep yer shirts un! We’s gut enuff for yer all today. STAY IN LINE!”

Odric scooped him up and hustled him into the back alley with his remaining friends. He grabbed the gentleman under the arm and urged him in a low whisper to maintain a “friendly” attitude as the two strolled around back.

Odric certainly scared the crap out of the man, “uuuuhhhhhhhh how can I help you find gentlemen sirs, milord?” With a nod to the rogue, Odric positioned the man bodily before the intense looking rogue.

“Alright friend, he’s the stick,” Gaius tilted his head in Odric’s menacing direction, “and I’m the carrot if you get my drift. Tell us about your day. When did you contract Blood Veil? Tell us about your symptoms, the cure you just purchased, and what the cure did for you. And if you have any left. For now, we just want answers—details. Anything you can remember, especially if it seems odd.”
The frightened man stammered, “well milord, sir, master. I had a fever yesterday and hives this morning. I had um a touch of the Clap too. I drank the whole bottle about 10 minutes ago in the store. It’s all gone, the potion and my symptoms… well, not the Clap sir. I still have that.”

The man was surrounded, so Gaius turned slightly and inquired, “Inquisitor Ferox or Morkeleb… Can your knowledge of the healing arts tell us if this man has had the Veil and if it’s cured? Sirrah, please stick out your tongue and say, ‘aaaaah’.”

“Hmm, yes, let me see what I can discern.” Having no working knowledge of Healing except that cure potions are good and swords and fire spells are bad, Morkeleb turned to his forte. He waved his staff, and the gem gains its familiar eldritch green glow.

“Don’t worry, friend, this won’t hurt a bit. I’d like to try to determine whether your disease is gone, if I may . . .”

Morkeleb gave a slight self-satisfied smirk as his magic made a subtle but firm grip on the man’s mind. The wizard’s eyes narrowed slightly as he concentrated . . .

Echoing in the terrified man’s mind, the wizard’s voice was heard only by the poor man, “So, between you and me, I’m looking for some extra cash. Did Vendra pay you well to fake getting cured? Because I might want in on that action!”

The man brightened with the task of answering a direct and easy question “Yeah! You should totally! She pays me 20 Sails per day to drink the potion, and she says she’ll cure up my Clap too at the end of the week. I should get a finder’s fee for getting you. More testimonials means more customers, right?”

Out loud, Morkeleb said, “Huh. So, where do you think these splotches came from, since you didn’t really have the Blood Veil?”

“The splotches came right after I drank another potion she gave me. They go away in about an hour.” The man countered reasonably.

Odric said, “I think we have enough here. Let’s take this fella in.” but Morkeleb would have his say first.

Morkeleb was showing an uncharacteristic amount of anger—he was actually beginning to seethe.
He first addressed the “actor,” moderating his tone to appear friendly to the befuddled man. “You know, she’s not doing you any favors. Those potions will certainly make you ill! And you’re really not helping the situation in the city with your dishonesty, are you?”

The wizard turned his back on the chump.

“Odric, he’s just a stooge. I’m not condoning his actions, but the real criminal is the proprietor. She’s feeding on the fear and desperation of these people with her skills in alchemy. And it needs to stop—if for no other reason than giving true alchemists a bad reputation!”

Morkeleb was gathering himself, clearly preparing to address the line and denounce the fraud . . .
Gaius raised a hand and said, “So… We’ve investigated the fraud. We can bring our new friend right to The Field Marshall and cash out for our sails. Or do we take further action?”

There may have been a twinkle in Gaius’ eye, if anyone had looked closely at the man’s face.
Morkeleb paused before committing to action that couldn’t be taken back. “I would not suffer a flim-flam artist to bilk these people on snake oil, while I, a REAL alchemist, am attempting to actually find a cure!! This is offensive, as her actions erode confidence in legitimate professionals. Gaius, what do you have in mind? I and all my faculties are at your disposal!”
Without turning his head in the man’s direction, Morkeleb reached out once again with his mind, “You know, friend, I’m disappointed in you. We need to talk about this further, so hang around, won’t you?”

Odric said, “Well, we have proof that this whole thing is a sham. We have this chump who can spill the beans, what do you say we confront the actual offender with the testimony of her shill? We might be able to shut the whole shop down right now.”

Odric persisted, “I think unloading this guy into the capable hands of the guard is our first obligation and frees us up to work on the real problem which is this fraudulent cure. It is costing desperate people money and enriching a liar. I can’t abide by this, especially where life and death might hang in the balance for the infected.”

With a shrug, the fighter asked, “What difference does it make if we stop this guy from participating in the deception, Lavender will just recruit another to take his place. We need to address this at the source.”

He flexed three times with violence and started warming up. “I can take those thugs out front.” Odric announced grimly.

Sandor nodded sagely, unlimbering his axe in its harness.

Morkeleb interjected, “Odric, hold for a moment. I think I can take care of our new friend here. Someone get a guardsman or two here, if you please.”

To the shill, the wizard said, “I need you to do a very important favor for me, friend. Official business, I’m even getting some of the town guard to escort you! Hold on a moment.”

Morkeleb found a suitable flat writing surface, and took out a parchment and writing implement, and wrote a letter.

Field Marshall Kroft,
The bearer of this missive has admitted to me that he is being paid by our target to imbibe a concoction to give him splotches that make him appear as if afflicted with the Veil, and another she is selling as a cure. He admitted this to me under the influence of a Charm spell—but was under no compulsion, so I believe his story to be genuine and his testimony valid.
.
We have sent him back under guard to you to do with as your wisdom sees fit, relative to his crime. We remain to deal with the fakery and disperse the crowd who has gathered to buy this snake oil as peacefully as possible. We shall return anon with a report, and hopefully with the flim-flam artist in tow.
.
MORKELEB

Before sealing it, the wizard offered the note to the group to look over. Then, he gave the sealed paper to his New Friend, once the guards showed up. “Field Marshall Kroft is waiting for this. Make sure you put it in her hands only—no one else can read it, understand? I’m counting on you, and I’m sure the Field Marshal will give you a just reward!”

To the guards, Morkeleb said, “Kindly see this gentleman straight to the Field Marshal. He has something for her.”

Once they were gone, the wizard addressed the group. “I believe that takes care of THAT buffoon. How do you gentlemen want to deal with the shyster? I recommend against overt violence; this crowd may well turn on us in desperation of wanting a cure. I recommend simply calling them out publically as frauds and thieves, THEN turning on the violence if necessary.”

Odric suggested, “Let’s go in through the back, cut the line and deal with the fraudster directly. At the very least if a scuffle breaks out we haven’t just cut the long line and caused a riot.
We’re fairly famous at this point, perhaps while the group takes the fraudster in hand I can go out the front door and directly address the assembled crowd, although I think having Lavender well away from the place before addressing the mob would be ideal.”

The plan Odric laid out was a simple one. He sketched it out verbally, without a diagram but it was clear that he desperately wanted to make some illustrations judging by his excited gestures:
“Step 1: Go in the back 

Step 1b: Thump any guards inside 

Step 2: Spirit Lavender away 

Step 3: Address the crowd, deal with aftermath.”

Sandor said, “Sounds like fun but do we need to do it now? Can we wait for a few hours and do it then? Let’s lessen even the chance of mob rage and not risk the Field Marshal’s ire.

Odric’s mounting anger is not directed at his friend, but he snaps at him just the same,
“What about the poor craftsman who is about to spend a month’s wages to try to cure his dying child of the Blood Veil?” Odric shakes his head definitively. “We move now.”

Sandor shook his head and said, “Fella’s I am all fer removin this scum right now. But even though me blood’s a boilin, I be wantin to caution about movin to soon. Now I’m sure we can handle her and the guards easy enough, but I have a few things ta point out.”

The grizzled dwarf continued, “Now lets take a look at who she is scammin, we are in a more affluent part of town, so the cost while expensive might not hurt like it would for the poor. Now I’m not tryin ta defend her, but gents as far as we know she ain’t forcin anyone ta buy her cure. So I believe tha term is buyer beware”

Sandor was building him into some momentum “Fer her ta be pullin this bold scam means that she’s either got a silver tongue, magicks like Morkeleb, er both. Now lets say we do go in and stop the sales while she has hundreds in line, and she does have a silver tongue or magicks ta coerce them ta help defend her. Lads I don’t want ta be hurtin the innocent because they are scared of the plague and are tryin anythin ta avoid dyin from it. Lets wait till she closes ‘n the crowd leaves.” Sandor’s eyes lit up with a sudden inspiration “Then we put ’er outta buisness ’n take her ill gotten gold and donate it ta tha bank ta help with findin a real cure” his eyes flashed over to Gaius as his inspiration took a twist for the rogue “of course any donation from Lavenders ill-gotten gold would ’ave ta have our expenses finders fee taken from tha top”

“What say ya gents go now and risk gettin some innocents bloodied and the thankfull yet dissapointed look the Field Marshal will give us, or waitin a few bells ta lessen tha risk?” Sandor concluded.
Morkeleb rejoined, “Sandor, you surprise me. I would think you’d feel as I do—that “buyer beware” does not apply when the seller is using subterfuge and trickery to specifically play on the fears of the sick in a time of crisis. Granted, our reasons for this being a problem are likely different, but still… 
In any case, I have difficulty suffering a fraud to continue besmirching a noble profession, and stealing from desperate folk in the process, for even a day.
 I do think your fears regarding the crowd are legitimate, but I also think that, were our confrontation of this trickster to include vociferous denouncement of her sham product, it would give these innocents enough pause that, combined with our obvious might, would prevent them from openly attacking us. 
So, while I respect your motives, I find myself agreeing with Odric and Grym that we should move to shut this operation down before more people get fleeced. Besides, we have no idea whether the potions she’s selling are safe—they could be actually harming folk. Not to mention the fact that there are sick people in this crowd, and those nearby will also get sick—so she IS contributing to the Veil’s spread, and not its cure. She should be stopped—NOW.”

In his brogue, Sandor responded, “Now see Morkelb, I do agree wit ya me friend. Like I said at tha beginnin of me statement. I’m as angry as the rest of ya. But I wanted ta play a lil bit of devil’s advocate and see if discretion be the betta part of valor. Obviously it’s not now lets get ta some head thumpin. Oh n if ya be puttin anyone ta sleep make it Lavender, cuz I will like hittin the orcs.”

After discussing tactics for a brief period, the friends settled on a plan.

Ferox moved to the front of the store and started parting the crowd to gain easy access to the entrance.

“Move aside!” Ferox bellowed, “Official Bank business. Move aside!”

Odric positioned himself to the side of the door, skirting the line and ending up alongside the thugs. Sandor was by his side, glaring from under his helm at the orcs.

Gaius picked the lock at the rear of the establishment and quietly entered the apartment, Throgrym and Bucho on his heels. The trio moved nearly silently. Delicate wall hangings, artistically shaped candles, and the fine scent of cherry blossoms filled the well-decorated apartment. A table sculpted with swirling ivy leaves bore a fragile porcelain tea service and an exotically curved hookah in a kitchen nook to the east. A door adjacent to the kitchen opened into a bedroom furnished with an antique armoire and a bed sheeted in purple silks and heavily laden with round pillows.
In the front of the establishment, Ferox entered into menagerie of heady scents twisting throughout the cramped but stylish perfumery. A dizzying assortment of bottles—from gaudy ceramic containers to graceful crystalline vials—lined a variety of lace- and ribbon-strewn tables, shelves, racks, and an eye-catching display in the wide front window. Across from the front door’s orchid-tinted glass panes ran a long counter, stacked high with hundreds of simple clay phials bearing round, magenta stoppers. Behind the counter, violet flourishes swoop across a sign reading, “Lavender’s Luxuriant Liniment: Either You’ve Got It, or You’ve Had It.” A rather attractive woman took note of the Inquisitor rudely entering the store. She came out from behind the counter as staff continued to work through the lines. With the door open, even people outside could hear the exchange.

“Excuse me Mr. Inquisitor-type. I see what this is. You think that the high and mighty Abadar gets first dips without waiting in line. Well, let me tell you, it’s first come – first served here. I’ll not have you disrupting things. Either get in line or get out before I call the guard. She looked around at the crowd, reading them skillfully. "Unless you think you’re going to SHUT DOWN the cure while you “investigate” us. I thought we default to innocent in Korvosa?! Shall I tell these people that you’re ROBBING them of their cure?"

The soft sounds of Gaius conducting a search in the back room filtered through to the silence left in the wake of Lavender’s proclamation.

She glanced that way nervously, then turned her attention to Odric who stood before her, a bit closer than comfortable for social interactions.

Odric said, “Madam, we met your shill, he confessed all. At this moment he is under arrest and preparing to trade his total cooperation for light punishment. He will be providing testimony against you. Given this, your only hope for mercy is total and complete cooperation. Disperse this crowd peaceably, give us the 2 potions for inducing and removing the false symptoms, and stop selling the fake cure immediately. I give you only this promise; if you act nobly now that the ruse is up I will advocate for you to the authorities. If you want to play this out, I will shut you down.”

The burly man rested his massive right hand on the pommel of his Falchion. His left hand toyed with the by now quite famous taloned pommel of The Eagle. As he flexed his considerable bulk and relaxed it, the creak of his harness and the stretch and tinkle of his chainmail made for a menace not to be ignored.

The figures of Ferox, Sandor and Odric were indeed very intimidating. The patrons ran out of the shop. Vendra pleaded with the fleeing customers that they could have free samples, but to no avail. She turned her gaze towards the men. “I can’t believe you’ve done this to me. I’m ruined!” She briefly eyed her body guards, contemplating a combat, but she apparently decided they didn’t look like a match for the heroes. “Fine, I’ll go with you.” She stated in a defeated yet surly tone.
Grym called Gaius over, having found a crudely designed trap in the lady’s armoire. The astute rogue instantly recognized that opening the door the wrong way would benefit any intruder a face full of two vials of Alchemist’s Fire.

The ranger wiped a sudden sheen of sweat from his brow. He was happy to have found the hidden door, but couldn’t believe how close he came to getting an fire bath. He recalls their first adventure together when Gaius took a beaker of acid from Lamm’s alchemist. Handsome Gaius wasn’t so handsome lying nearly dead on the ground with half of his face melted off.

He turned to the Calistrian Rogue and nodded a quick “thanks”, for the trap warning.

Odric brought her to the corner of the room and allowed Ferox to collect evidence.

Using Morkeleb’s Message spell, Odric called to the Back Door Men, “She has surrendered to us. We need to get her safely to the Field Marshal. Can we get her out the back? We also need help in here getting the evidence sorted out and collected.”

To Lavendar, Odric asked, “Madam, where are the potions I asked for? Please direct my associate to them. If there are any traps or shenanigans, I expect you to tell me about them now. No shenanigans will be tolerated. Finally, I ask that you task your security guards to disperse the crowd calmly in order to prevent a riot or injury to the public or your establishment"

Odric kept her safely in the corner and watched her closely, ready for any shenanigans.

Odric confiscated two wands in order to prevent her from using them to defraud any more people. In case she needed to defend herself against an angry mob, he gave the dagger into the keeping of the guards who relieved him or her so she might regain it at some point. In short order, the team had turned the offending Lavender in to the authorities and dispersed the crowd.

Odric kept his word, advocating to Kroft on Lavender’s behalf for her cooperation. He did not hang around and insist on her good treatment though.

He turned the wands over to Morkeleb, and asked that if they are not entirely useful that he consider selling them in order to raise money for a keen falchion.

The store itself seemed to be uninteresting and took Morkeleb and Sandor about an hour and fifteen minutes to search. There were numerous simple perfumes, and stacks upon stacks of the miracle cure.
The next door apartment was a bit more interesting. Bits of broken crates and barrels covered the floor of the dilapidated apartment. A tun of oily liquid, its lip level with a man’s chest, fills a corner of the room, a well-used canoe oar sticking out of it. Next to it squat several large casks of murky water and two stacks of boxes—one holding dozens of small ceramic vials with magenta stoppers, the other holding a mismatched collection of delicate perfume bottles. The apartment’s kitchen nook held another crate, this one filled with broken shards of multicolored glass. Despite being in shambles, the apartment smelled delightful—a mixture of spices, flowers, and exotic oils. There were also plans for a “cure” consisting of adding sugar to a mélange of cheap perfume. There was also a ledger detailing the profits. A note written into the margin estimates that in 2 week’s time, she would have earned enough to skip town.

The Master dipped his quill one last time and penned a note in the margin, as the apprentice looked over his shoulder. Their actions in peacefully solving this “problem” lead to the saving of 700 additional lives during the Blood Veil epidemic.

View
Vampires!
...and not the emo sparkly kind either!

The apprentice distractedly scratches the Master’s old cat behind its ears, his attention on the exciting and horrible events unfolding before him. The Master, taking time to research the important folks surrounding Field Marshal Kroft in an effort to better understand her ahs taken to scrying a group of adventurers that the apprentice has read about at some length. Odric the Stout, Morkeleb the Mighty, Ferox the Inquisitor, Sandor Strongbellows, Gaius Lirsiiv, and Throgrym the Tracker with his faithful canine, Bucho. A plague was beginning in the city of Korvosa, men, women and children were dying horrible deaths in the streets, and these men had been enlisted to find the cause and fight it.

The men had just delivered Trinia from the block and were resting at Sandor’s home as was their wont.

A messenger wearing the livery of Abadar knocked and delivered a message to Ferox, ”Inquisitor Ferox, it appears that there are more cases of the terrible disease that attacked poor Brienna. Please come posthaste to the Bank. Bring your friends. The sick have begun appearing at our doorstep. While many have the pecuniary component to rid themselves of this disease, most do not. We need assistance. -Ishani Dhatri”

When the group approached the Bank, a mob had gathered. The sick were pressing in, trying to gain salvation. As the crowd pressed, the friends tried to reason, to question, to interview to no avail. The men needed to gain entry, and barely did so.

Even after they managed to navigate your way through the crowd, the temple remained a place besieged. Within its airy hall, priests and patrons eyed each other and every newcomer with suspicion, and every footfall upon the marble floor echoed through a frightened silence. The presence of an inquisitor did little to put them at ease. They had no trouble finding Ishani Dhatri, as he had reserved one of the temple’s western meeting rooms to meet with the group and awaited them there. The young priest looks grave as he greeted them, “Thank you for coming. I assume you already suspect my reasons for meeting with you in a formal sense, having seen the crowd outside—poor lot. You recognize the symptoms too, I’m sure. I had hoped that the Soldado case was isolated, but apparently we have a bigger problem on our hands than I’d feared.

I’m concerned for the city, but also for my brethren here. The morning after my visit to the Soldado home I came to the temple to hear that three of my brothers awoke with similar symptoms, although they had already been healed. I spoke to each, and aside from their usual duties in the temple, none have had any dealings with the sick. Later in the day, more of my brothers— vaultkeepers, guards, and acolytes—developed symptoms, and folk from throughout the city began arriving in search of healing. It’s been more than a little bit frightening. They’re calling the sickness ‘blood veil.’ An apt enough name, I suppose.

This affliction has spread fast, yet I’m not yet sure how. Most of the patients we’re treating have come from North Point and Old Korvosa. The disease seems to spread fastest through the lower classes. Although we here at the temple can heal some of the ill, I fear that the spread of the disease will soon outpace our resources. The only way to stem the growing infection is to involve all the city’s resources. We need to organize. We need to call upon the faiths of Sarenrae, Pharasma, and even Asmodeus to face this attack. Archbanker Tuttle and several of his assistants are out pursuing alliances with these other faiths, but even that won’t be enough. We need to involve the Korvosan Guard, at the very least. And that’s where you come in—with the number of desperate souls outside already I can only assume an epidemic coming, it’s not particularly safe for a priest to walk the streets of Korvosa during such a thing. I hear that you have a good relationship with Field Marshal Cressida Kroft—perhaps you would be willing to escort me to Citadel Volshyenek to introduce me to her?”

The apprentice smiled, knowing well of their relationship to the good Field Marshal.

A plan was hatched whereby the Inquisitor and the Wizard would remain at the Bank to research the disease, and the others would go to the Citadel. After a time, the two men produced little information of value and followed the others to the Citadel, arriving just after them.

Reaching Citadel Volshyenek posed little problem, despite Ishani’s fear to the contrary. The party was greeted warmly by the on duty guards, men whom the group recognized immediately. The echoes of forcefully spoken but still just-missed words resounded off the imposing granite and iron walls of Citadel Volshyenek’s outer curtain. Dozens of red-and-silver-armored guards stood in assembly upon the pitted stone mustering ground here, mumbling in hushed, somber tones. Before them, atop a weathered wooden platform, paced Field Marshal Kroft, her eyebrows arched sternly as she momentarily tolerated the crowd’s murmurs. Behind her upon the scaffold stood three grizzled veteran guardsmen at attention, as well as an ominous-looking group. These men wore cowled robes of oily-looking leather, supple gloves, and wide black hats. Some gripped heavy canes, others dark satchels. Each of them, though, wore a dark-goggled mask tapering to a pointed beak. Among them stood two others. The first was a middle aged gentleman in a simple black overcoat with streaks of white gracing the sides of his short dark hair. He watched the gathered guards with a soft, concerned expression, his hands tightly clasping a heavy-looking doctor’s case. The second figure was an imposing one indeed—a woman dressed in full-plate armor, a longsword and shield at her side, and her blank-faced full helm sporting a bright red plume.

The Field Marshal’s fierce tone cut through the rumble of whispers.

“You will escort Doctor Davaulus and his men in their royal duties wherever those might take them. Furthermore, you are to consider orders from any of the queen’s new order of Gray Maidens to be as binding as any superior officer in the Korvosan Guard or Sable Company. You are guardsmen of Korvosa. You will not balk. These are dire times and your city needs these healers. Your city needs you. Your patrol leaders have your assignments. Dismissed!”

Gaius patiently watched the guards, doctors and the Grey Maiden disperse. His face was a mask, a playful smirk that nothing could break.

He and Odric strolled up to Field Marshall Kroft and the rogue formally bowed, giving her due respect. He straightened up, and addressed the Field Marshall.

“Field Marshall Kroft, may we present Ishani Dhatri of The Bank of Abadar? The Bank has been seeing to the sick and requested this introduction of us.”

Gaius presented Dhatri to Field Marshall Kroft and then stepped back to stand just to the side.

The look in Kroft’s eyes was one of relief to see them. Clearly the men had become more than agents to her. Their arrival had the effect of giving her a chance to cut the Doctor’s time in the sun short. Unexpectedly, the doctor turned to Gaius.

He bowed gracefully, and not only tipped his hat, but lifted his mask allowing him to make eye-contact. "Greetings gentlemen,” his Taldane was filled with a variety of nuances, picking his point of origin was impossible. “I understand that this is a trying time, and others in my profession are equally unnerving, but I assure you I am not here for political reasons. I am here to do what I can. My name is Dr. Davaulus. I have some time now before duty calls me. If you have questions, speak and have fears lessened.”

After some verbal sparring, the group managed to get the Field Marshal alone. She unloaded on them, “"Gentlemen, at first nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There are always sick and diseased people in the city. It’s not a matter for the guard, not by a long shot. As individual churches began to lose ground against the tide, word began to spread. Now it appears we’re in trouble. I’m currently diverting guardsmen to help catalog the sick and make note of the worst neighborhoods. The queen’s doctors say they’ll handle quarantining the sick and healing those whom they can. The problem is, there are currently more sick than there are spells to cure them… This is where you come in. I can’ waste your time with the mundane. I need you to help me with any hotspots, and help find the source of this disease. Anyway, that’s where I stand. What questions do you have for me?"

Odric replied “We are happy to help. Where are the hotspots? Are there any leads on the cause of the disease?”

Odric scratched his neatly trimmed beard thoughtfully. The effect was more respected warrior than town drunk, given his stature and grooming. A shift that was somewhat striking when his recent persona was exactly that sort of sodden lout but a year ago.
“We had an early theory that the ship that was sunk in the harbor might be related, as the first cases appeared the next morning. Are there any other indications that might be the case?” Odric pressed.

“We have not explored the wreck yet, no. The disease seems to hit the poorest sections hardest, which makes sense in any epidemic. Before the Doctor arrived I had just received word that some of the crews tasked with bringing the bodies to the Gray District are getting lazy and just dumping them into alleys. Can you check out Racker’s Alley in the west of Old Korvosa after we finish here?” The Field Marshall made her way to the city map, laying a gentle hand on Gaius’s shoulder on her way by. She pointed to the alley in question.

The carriage ride to the alley was uneventful, arriving at the place they saw a poor alley, in a poverty-stricken neighborhood.

The high walls of the surrounding buildings threw this awkwardly bent alley into constant shadow. Although littered with garbage and filth, the refuse wasn’t the most stomach-turning trait of this rundown sideway. Heaped against a bent wooden wall rose a pile of more than three dozen plague victims, their faces blistered and flushed, eyes open and staring. The scent of death was overpowered by the reek of rot, suggesting that some of these corpses have lain here for days.
Inside the adjacent building, unbalanced stuffed animals, poorly equipped toy soldiers, and dolls exhibiting myriad accidental deformities stared blankly out of the filth-smeared front window of this toy store showroom. Several heavy-looking kites dangled purple and crimson tails from the ceiling above, and a dollhouse recreating Castle Korvosa’s intimidating towers dominated a table in the room’s center. Festooned with tiny bells, the shop’s entrance stood to the north, across from a counter cluttered with dusty candies and a doorway marked “Private.”

Though disgusted at the pile of dead bodies outside and the lack of respect given them. Thorgrym was much more disturbed by the strange “toy store”. The deformed dolls made this more the scene of a deranged nightmare then an adventure. The ranger couldn’t help but shudder a little as he got the willies. Yet seeing his trusty canine companion blindly following him, oddly gave Grym strength. He chastized himself for his childish superstitions. He sought to be at least half the man Bucho saw him as. 
Backing Odric and Sandor while Gaius was at the door, Grym pulled his sling out and loaded it ready for combat.

Ferox hung back to examine the bodies, and saw through the window a quartet of vampires hiding in ambush for the group. With a thrill of excitement, he prayed to Abadar and raced around the corner.

The apprentices heart quickened as combat began, he saw the Master shift forward in his overstuffed chair as well, his pipe smoldering forgotten beside him.

Gaius looked curiously up out of the front of the shop window and saw Ferox bolting past, jabbering something about vampires. Just then the door slammed open and without missing a beat, Gaius stepped to his right, pulled his hand crossbow, loaded and fired. The action was so smooth is looked like a single movement. “Oh, Ferox,” called Gaius, “Would you get in here? There are some people I’d like you to meet.”

Gaius’ bolt hit directly in the monster’s eye. Within the span of a heartbeat the eye shoved the bolt back out, and healed itself nearly completely.

Ferox raced into the room and took up position next to Gaius. He nocked an arrow in his bow and let it fly at the undead thing in the doorway.

The lead vampires slammed into the party’s front line, Odric and Sandor easily absorbed the impact though. A third vampire was trying to maneuver around the group to flank them. Grym slung a bullet which bounced off one’s head harmlessly.

Morkeleb, with a background in the occult called out, “Vampire spawn! Not full-blown vampires, but still very dangerous!” Morkeleb coolly pulled one of the patches from the Robe of Bones, and hurled it into the room whence the vamps attacked, hoping to give his undead slave only enemy targets!
Upon hearing the learned mage shout they are vampire spawn, and seeing the unnatural way that the arrow was shoved back out it’s eye socket confirmed the Wizards words. Upon the knowledge gained while shopping for special materials for his new axe Sandor realised that he has his wrong axe drawn.

With what looks like an errant swing he lodged the axe in the wooden counter directly behind him.
The massive dwarf produced an incredible alchemical silver Dwarven battle axe, and wedged myself between the counters. “Hey lads keep em in the chokepoint if at all possible.” He called out gruffly. His words spoken, he proceeded to push hard with the shield trying to keep the one on him off balance, and annoyed. Then just as he hoped the thing grabbed at the annoying shield wrapping its hands and claws on it trying to pull it to the side. Sandor then allowed the shield to go with the motion throwing the enemy slightly off balance and allowing him to pin both arms between the shield and the counter. Sandor swung his axe, intending to cleave the arms off at the wrists before he popped back behind its protective bastion.

Seizing upon a plan, Odric grabbed the vampire spawn directly in front of him in his brawny arms and began dragging the monster backwards towards the open door and the sunlight. The vampire struck out as it was grabbed, slashing at Odric with its claws. The big warrior gritted his teeth and resisted the unholy power of the undead, dragging the creature about five feet towards its doom.

Gaius slunk through his companions, humming the Korvosan Anthem. He pulled his whip while on the move and lashed out at the vampire in the corner of the room. Gaius ducked Sandor’s flailing and then lashed out with his whip to trip the vampire he was maneuvering on. He missed wildly, and tried to make it look like an intentional flourish.

Ferox hit with two arrows, apparently guided by Abadar towards the creatures. Only the first seemed to injure it though, and already the wound was closing. Only the injury dealt by Sandor still showed grievous damage.

The vampire dragged by Odric tried to turn the tides. He pushed into the warrior’s pull and tried to pin down his arms. Fangs meant for killing grew in a heartbeat. The big warrior made a quick attack, taking advantage of the creature’s momentary loss of balance and connected! Undaunted the monster grabbed at the warrior, but Odric tore free before a hold is made.

Directly behind, the spawn wounded by Sandor swung his fist in a backhand motion at the dwarf’s jaw and connects only with his fine dwarven helm.

The spawn in the rear struck out at the skeleton summoned by Morkeleb, and missed!

Finally, the third spawn continued his attempt to dominate, and now eyed the ranger. Grym resisted the attempt in a feat of willpower.

Bucho leaped forward to attack with a ferocious bite in his slavering jaws. The strange smell of the undead threw the canine off as he moved in and the bite snapped shut just before the creature’s face.

The ranger dropped his sling and dove into his pouch, just dove right in. Nobody is sure what he is doing or quite to make of it, but he was up in two shakes and he was holding the biggest fragging vial of holy water anyone’s ever seen. 
Next vampire to move will get a face full of holy pain…
Odric again grabbed to yank the monster. And again the monster made an attack, though it was ineffectual. Still unfazed, Odric dragged the monster a full ten feet, past Morkeleb, Sandor, Bucho and Thorgrym, each of whom took advantage of the opportunity to attack it. Morkeleb missed, having little experience with melee.

Still holding the holy water for the spawn fighting Sandor, the ranger saw the chance to get a hit in on the spawn mighty Odric was steadily dragging toward the bright light of day. With his off hand he quickly drew his dagger and sliced into the spawn’s thigh, hopefully making it easier for Odric to keep dragging it. Grym’s quick offhand knife plunged into the spawn’s thigh, the ranger then twisted the blade viciously opening up a nasty wound.

Sandor was so engrossed in his battle, that his swing at the passing spawn was not fully committed and missed.

After his staff swung around and back to his two-handed grip, Morkeleb stepped away from the monster to a safe spot, and stared into the gem on his staff, chanting lightly. His eyes took on the eldritch glow of the staff—a strikingly eerie green flame surrounded his eyeballs. He then stared with authority at the creature Sandor struck. “BURN, fiend!!” the wizard roared.

The creature was nailed with Morkeleb’s heat vision. The fire quickly spread through its body and it was all he could do to stay upright. For the quick-eyed I nthe fight, they could see the flames reflected in Sandor’s silver axe, but not the source.

Gaius took out his holy symbol and smiled, appearing amused by the prospect. Neither he, nor The Lady In The Room, would usually go in for such displays. These were strange days, indeed.

He presented the Daggers of Calistria to the spawn and speaks, “By The Pleasures of life, the stings of Trickery, Lust and Vengence, that which makes blood surge, flesh yearn, and skin tingle, I defy you Un-Dead things!” The spawn recoiled from the holy light, but fought on! The one being mauled by Sandor was faring poorly indeed, it looked near defeat.

Ferox stepped to the side away from Odric and his charge. He then nocked another two arrows and let fly at the spawn harassing Sandor.

The second arrow from Ferox slammed into the spawn and it dropped down “dead” at Sandor’s feet. The wounds were beginning to close already, and it showed signs that it would get up in a moment.
The creature fighting Odric continued to try to avoid being tossed into the sunlight. He did not bite, as the door was getting awfully close, so instead tried to slam the warrior into submission to no effect.

Across the room, the vampire facing the skeleton summoned by Morkeleb smashed the creature into dust. As it charged up the center of the room, confident after its victory against the animated bones, Grym smashed the vial of holy water into the monster with a shout of triumph.

As the fiend rushed by, Sandor was shocked at the disregard the creature showed to him. For his insolence Sandor chopped at the fiend’s hip trying to remove it from the socket. The hit was solid but did little damage to the charging vampire.

Sandor shouted to Morkeleb, “Keep the one that’s down burning. When Odric’s done with his play toy, I will toss the one that’s down to the door. So it can be destroyed too.”

Odric continued dragging the unholy beast out the door towards the searing sunlight. He clenched his grip on the thing ever tighter, wincing slightly at the licking flames’ heat from the burning vampire at Sandor’s feet.

At this point, Gaius assessed the battlefield, the northernmost vampire was repeatedly being dragged towards the exit by Odric. 
The second northernmost had been felled and was burning to death under Morkeleb’s burning gaze. 
The third undead was unconscious, but healing rapidly from its wounds 
The Southernmost was totally fine, untouched thus far by the ferocious battle.

Gaius dropped his whip and took a step towards the door, whistling the whole while. He pulled Alchemist’s fire and leaned around the door frame with a bright smile. “Happy New Year!” he called to the southernmost vampire, catching him in the flames. Over his shoulder, Gaius called to the Inquisitor, “Ferox, our friend back there may rabbit…”

Ferox shifted to get a clearer shot on the southern-most vampire.

Ferox couldn’t help a slight quirk of his lips at Gaius’s exclamation. He recalled a New Year’s celebration he had crashed several years ago. He had fallen through the thatch roof over the residence of a cult of Kyuss worshipers. He landed smack in the middle of their dinner table, scattering the cultists and most of the feast that had been on the table, except for a large tureen of a sweet, jiggly dessert.

Shouting to the vampire, “Please don’t go!” Forox frowned, “You haven’t had any pudding!”

The Southern spawn screeched in unholy rage as he lunged forward while on fire and sporting a single deeply planted arrow. He lashed out with a slam attack at Gaius which the holy rogue dodged easily.
The northern Vampire tried to turn the tables on Odric by rushing him away from the door. He succeeded in moving a mere five feet, but gave Odric the opening he needed to attack him again. The warrior spun the spawn around, and started his inexorable push towards the door, living muscle straining against unholy power in a titanic struggle of life and death.

Behind him, Grym and Bucho continued to assault the remaining vampires to varying degrees of effect. Buch was unable to puncture the preternaturally hard skin, but Grym had success in trading blows with his opponent. Sandor whiffed an axe attack, and the vampire in Odric’s arms finally burst forth into the sunlight.

It begins smoldering and Odric threw the dying vampire to the ground and moves with alacrity to the remaining combatants while drawing his sword. As it fell, the burning vampire landed one final blow to Odric before immolation took it.

As the alchemist’s fire continued to burn, Gaius, quick as a flash, drew his rapier and tried to slide the steel into the back of the creature’s skull for sneak attack. He recognized that it would need to be a perfect strike to damage the creature, but one parting strike before he moved away was a good opportunity. Gaius then stepped away out of the creature’s reach for the moment.
Gaius burns the creature and manages to stab him just so, but the wound is minor and he’s already looking mad.

Sensing an easier target, the spawn turned towards Gaius, and took the priest on the chest. Gaius barely resisted the unholy drain of the vampire’s hit.

Grym grappled with the remaining vampire, repositioned it to match Odric’s feat of pushing it out the door. Buch, Sandor and now Odric aiding him were each jolted slightly as the vampire absorbed some additional damage from a well-placed magic missile from Morkeleb.

The spawn made an attempt to break free of the ranger’s grip and just managed to tear himself free. Backed into the doorway, he simply dropped to a fetal position. “Kill me not! I will be good. Only pigs and steer for meals!”

Odric shouted, too intent to hear Morkeleb’s plea to spare it and glean intelligence, “Die Fiend!” He swung his falchion down, shattering the creature’s defenses. The ranger paused and let the Stout land the powerful blow. As soon as the blade cleared, Grym shot in to tie up the spawn again and press him out into the sunlight.

Odric’s swing landed with tremendous force. The spawn dropped to the ground. The burning flesh not only didn’t stitch itself back together, the flame accelerated. After nearly a full minute of terror, combat was finally over.

The Apprentice and the Master each let out sighs of relief as the last vampire fell.
The party searched the toy store and found a Ring of Jumping and Pipes of Haunting, as well as a sum of money and some keys. Morkeleb held up the magical treasure and said, “This will give the wearer greater jumping ability. And this will frighten weak-minded creatures who hear its tune—if it’s played skillfully enough.”

Oric replied, “I took the last magic ring we found, and I already frighten weak-minded creatures. Whether it is my fearsome odor or my fearsome pectoral muscles that frightens them, you be the judge.”

Odric stepped forward into a low stance with one foot far forward of the other. He flexed his chest and arms to the point where a few links of his chain mail whizzed off into the corners of the room. While doing so, a horribly loud and juicy fart rumbled out from beneath his war kilt. The palpable intimidation wafts through the room slowly, lingering for far too long.

The group returned to the Field Marshal and gave Kroft a full report. She was disturbed, certainly, but also grateful for their assistance. She passed the information on to Banker Ishani. It had been a long day for everyone. She asked that they return in the morning. She suggested that until there was a solid lead for the group to follow, that they come in each morning, and she would give them the most promising lead of the day. While the guard can’t spare any additional pay, anything that comes from Abadar’s Bank would likely also come with a reward…

The Master penned, “thus endeth the 6th of Desnus.”

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Early Symptoms, Trinia's Exodus
The Beer Barrel Befuzzlement

Just before midnight, after the friends had dispersed after the Harrowing, the evening’s peace was shattered by a wooden screech, followed by the thunder of a trebuchet being fired. Again and again the sounds echoed from the Wall of Eodred near North Bridge, waking nearly all of North Point. Across the river in Trail’s End, torches lit and people came out just in time to see a sleek brig burn and swiftly sink into the wine-dark waters. The rest of the night passed in breathless anticipation of the wallweapons’ further use, which fortuitously never came. Next morning, gossip buzzed through the city and fanciful tales ran wild. Every tavern and street corner was abuzz with rumors of pirate raiders and ghost ships. The Crimson Throne remained quiet on the matter, though…

The next day the stories ran wild, but before long the rumors died down, and life returned to normal. Perhaps were it not for it being the night of the Harrowing, the heroes would not have noticed anything. A sinister-looking ship refused inspection as it sailed into the river. When it neared North Bridge and still failed to make its intentions known, the watch fired upon and destroyed it. None of the guardsmen who signaled or shouted out to the ship received a response. Some say that no one was on board at all.

Another week goes by with little progress on the regicide when a pounding at the door disrupted Grym’s breakfast. At the door was an extremely distraught Sergeant Grau.

While he’d grown strong again under Vencarlo’s tutelage, he seemed back to his broken self. He started without invitation, and quickly, Grym learned the source of his angst.
Grau began, “My niece is sick. I don’t know what she has and neither does 
anyone in Trail’s End. She’s broken out all over in red pocks and can barely keep down food, or even the swill that good-for-nothing herbalist gave her. Her mother’s talking about going to the Bank of Abadar, but her family can’t afford to pay the prices their clerics would demand. Then I remembered Ferox is an Inquisitor, and how you all handled yourselves during the riots, and how you helped me out, and I figured you all could help. A bunch of resourceful folk like you, I’d bet if you don’t already have a way to fix this you must know who can. Surely you can’t just sit by while a child suffers, can you?”
Grau asked if he and Grym could have some time to talk through the problem. Grym quickly agreed, and the two stepped out.

Having little in his humble home (or shed really), Grym took Grau into the Cracked Cup tavern. The owner started to yell because the tavern was still not open, but recognized Grym and waves the pair in. Having the place to themselves, the ranger sat down with Grau to talk. 
As he listened to the story, Grym paused to walk outside and get one of the local street rats. With a handful of copper coins he sent the children out as runners to find his comrades, Odric the Stout, Morkeleb the Magician, Ferox the Inquisitor, Gaius the Sting of Calistra, and Sandor the Battle Tank, and tell them Thorgrym asks for their help at the Cracked Cup.
“Grau, tell me when did you hear of your niece’s condition?” The ranger asked as warmly as he can. “I will do what I can for your niece. I have some money saved up if that’s what the Bank requires. But I really want to find out about this plague she suffers from. If this sweeps through the city…” Grym trailed off shaking his head. “Where does your niece live? Is she the only one who is sick? Please tell me all you know.”
While the two waited for Thorgrym’s companions to arrive, the ranger began another path of questioning. “Have you heard some of the crazy rumors flying around about the trebuchet shot that sunk the ship near North Point? I"m sure you know something about being in the guard. What really happened? What do you know?”

The companions arrived, singly and in pairs. Hearing of Grau’s niece’s condition, Ferox requested if he can see her. With Abadar’s Guidance, he wanted to try to diagnose what’s wrong with her.

“I’ll help in any way I can, although I don’t know what my particular skills might accomplish.” Odric announces to Grau. “Is there anything you can think of that might be helpful?”
Morkeleb’s academic interest was piqued by the guard’s problem. Typical illnesses—from what little he knew of them—are easily treated, or at least diagnosed, by folk Grau has already sought help from. Maybe this isn’t a typical illness.

“Grau, may I see your neice? I’d like to get a look at how ill she is, maybe get an idea of what is wrong. Ferox, I’ll join you. My training is in magic and alchemy, not healing as such—but maybe if we put our heads together we can make a good diagnosis.”

When the group arrived Tayce’s home, and the whole group indeed went, they entered a simple room where two boys played, oblivious to the situation. Grau introduced them as his nephews, Charlo and Rello. During the introductions a spasm of ragged coughing filled the house from above – bringing a flinch from Grau as if he had been struck. As the heroes prepared to move upstairs an acolyte from the Bank of Abadar, entered from the kitchen with a bag of herbs, brewing some concoction that smelled of cinnamon and anise. Grau is obviously displeased to see the man, whom he briskly introduced as Ishani Dhatri before going upstairs to have a sternly whispered conversation with Tayce. The acolyte looked distraught and defeated. Upon seeing an Inquisitor he stammered an apology and backed himself into the kitchen. As Ishani is backing away, Ferox points at him.

“Do not go anywhere. I’ll want to speak with you after I’ve examined the girl.” Ferox proceeded up the stairs after Grau, hoping to talk with Tayce before seeing his daughter.

As he passes the acolyte, Morkeleb asks him, “What is your diagnosis of the girl? And have you tried anything actualy curative in nature yet?”

“My good sir, I would love to use every ounce of clerical power to help the girl,” the acolyte responded, “but it goes against the core tenants of Abadar to cure her without proper recompense. There is no such taboo concerning herbal remedies and….and…. concoctions to ease her pain.”
He called after the Inquisitor, who clearly intimidates him without effort.
“Master Inquisitor, I swear, I have not broken the sacred laws! It pains my heart to stay true, but stay true I have. What scares me is that I can’t actually diagnose her disease. It’s a combination of symptoms I’ve never seen before. Please, you are not bound by our edicts. Help her!”

The wizard pressed him, “If it is a combination of symptoms you haven’t heard of, perhaps the nature of the sickness isn’t natural. What kind of symptoms are we talking about?”

The conversation continued downstairs, while on the stairway, Tayce came down and met the Inquisitor half way. Her expression was both desperate and depressed. She possessed a simple beauty, scarcely hidden by her disheveled appearance and wan features— it’s obvious that she’d not slept in more than a day. She eyed Ferox’ sacred key warily, but with a nod from Grau, she took Ferox by the hand and lead him upstairs.

The creaky steps opened up into a bedroom loft above the main room of the Soldado home. A young girl with auburn hair lay in one of the beds, her slight frame dwarfed by the bed’s size and the pile of pillows, afghans, and quilts surrounding her. Splotches of an angry red rash covered her face and arms, appearing in irregular shapes and sizes. Suddenly, her restlessness was interrupted by a violent fit of hacking coughs that jerked her entire frame, lifting her well off her pillows. The spasm passed after a moment, dropping her back to the bed, but seemingly having done little to ease her breathing.

Ferox agreed with Acolyte Ashani’s prognosis. He had never seen this disease before, and he had a pretty good mind for this kind of thing. It must have been something new. Nevertheless, he saw no reason why the malady couldn’t be cured with a simple spell of Remove Disease.

Gaius asks politely from behind Ferox, looking over the Inquisitor’s shoulder, “Grau. Would you permit me to hire a Calistrian to cast a spell to remove the disease? I cover the cost, and only ask that you owe me a favor. One that I promise will not conflict with your oaths, obligations, or conscience.”

Gaius holds out his hand, offering a handshake to seal the deal.

Grau replied, “Master Gaius, I have most of the cost of the spell. If you would hire a priest, then Ashani is here now and will do it. I would pay you back as soon as I am able, saving only enough of my pay cover food.”

“Pish-posh.” Gaius interrupted, “We can work out a less draconian schedule than that! Let’s have Ashani cast the spell, if…” Gaius pauses, looking Ashani up and down and then nodding slightly. “he’s strong enough. I mean no disrespect, but I heard someone here identify him as an Acolyte. I’ll cover whatever you’re not able to. Please be sure to leave yourselves ample to eat well and recover in reasonable comfort. We can work out details later.”

At the offered funds, Ashani immediately took the money with a prayer to Abadar and rushed upstairs. The spell was already on his lips, and after mere seconds, the holy light covered the girl. Her coughing fits and restlessness immediately vanished. Tayce was overwhelmed, tears flowing freely. Brienna woke almost immediately. She was slightly befuddled by the crowd of strangers in the house and all the fuss before she asked her mother if lunch was ready yet. Now Tayce’s personal heroes, she profusely thanked you all with hugs and kisses. Although the Soldados could hardly afford to compensate the group, Tayce was eager to prepare you a feast—a considerable reward, considering her cooking skill. The group was offered a permanent open invitation to the Soldado house, which swiftly took on a celebratory air as she alternated between preparing food and hugging her daughter.
Ashani was also moved to tears. "The tenents of my faith are clear as you no doubt know from your Inquisitor friend. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve made the correct choice in my life. I know I can do more good, and it’s not against the Golden One’s teachings to assist in charity work. My charitable work sometimes requires the aid of those outside my church’s rigid hierarchies… might you be amenable to me contacting you in the future?”

Grym assured Ashani that for good causes he is happy to help.

Sandor was glad to accept the hearty meal with the Soldado’s. He tries to make sure he takes a spot at the table that shows the good side of his face to the little lady.

He started to reach for a nice stiff pull at his dwarven ale, when he remembered Grau’s former condition. While giving a look of kindness to Ashani, and a glance around the table to the rest…
“Lads tis a good thing that we did ‘ere tonight. Tayce the food is amazing. Thank you for inviting us to stay for dinner.” Sandor raises his cup “A good dinner such as this can’t go without a toast!”

Morkeleb blanched at the word toast. Knowing the dwarf’s toasts have been nothing short of pornographic in the past. Sandor caught Gaius’ smirk. Just before Grym and Ferox can cut him off he started in,

“Ta the old, long life and treasure; 

Ta the young, all health ’n pleasure;”

he reaches over and taps the head of Brienna 


“Ta the fair, their face, 

With eternal grace; 

’N the rest, ta be loved at leisure.”

Sandor finished his cup. Which sat on his pleasantly full belly, and then let out a belch that could be nothing less than a huge sign of approval for the cook. He looked around with a smile realized that Tayce may not be used to Dwarven customs and with what would be a embarrassed shy smile he said with an apologetic shrug “See lass I told ya the meal was good.”

Sandor, sensing that it was getting late for the Saldado children offered to help clean up. After things were clean, Sandor took a dishtowel that was still very wet, he looks around to see who wasn’t looking. Then he twirled it up and snaps Odric on the back of his thigh while Odric is bending over showing the boys his “flexibility” exercises. The loud crack, and the jump from the big man brought a bit of laughter from everyone and a scowl from Odric. Sandor knows he will pay later for the act.

“Now that this towel is properly dirty I will put it in your laundry basket.”
As he put the dirty linen in the wash, he took a platinum piece and wrapped it in the towel and then placed it in the bottom of the basket. This should help keep the kids in clothes and food.
With a satisfied smirk on his face Sandor waited for a break in the conversation.
“Again thank ya fer ya hospitality. May ya daughters recovery happen unabated. Lads I am going to retire to me house, but I think we should sit and talk before the nights end. I do believe the Cracked cup is between ’ere and me house so lets meet there. Sgt Grau, unless ya have something that needs your attention or my house will be a better venue for ya, ya are more than invited to attend”
Sandor waited for an answer, then left. On his walk he was struck with the events in the little house. The worry of the Uncle and the Mother, the overall relief felt from the entire family and friends alike. The children calling him Uncle Sandor. Dinner time reminded him of his family eating at the community table sharing in fellowship with not just family, but neighbors both near and far.
It was then that the picture spawns in his head. A picture of the future. The future when times in Korvosa have calmed. The time when Cressida and the Crown no longer need his services. His vision includes a forge of his own. Two apprentices, Charlo and Rello if they want to learn a trade and their mother will let them. Talking Master Vencarlo Orsini into a contract to where his forge will provide weapons and armor for his students at a discounted price for the prestige of being associated with his school.
The daydream continues into the mundane steps of how to make it happen… upon arriving at his destination he whispered to himself…” It all begins and ends with… Family”
Gaius made an excuse and goes to find Kroft. He knocked on her window and showed up asking if she fancied a stroll. “Greetings, Field Marshall. Are you well? Listen, there are strange things afoot. Can we talk?”

He clearly woke the Field Marshal. Though retired for the night she was fast asleep at her desk when he came to the window. She had changed into rather sheer night clothes of clear elven make. After a minute or two without modesty she grabed a cloak and straps a sword belt to her waist….Clearly this delay to action was purposeful.

The Whip of Calistra mentioned the scuttling of the ship and disease and casually dropped that he fronted half of the cost to heal the child, and mentioned it’s possible connection. In all he showed honest concern about an epidemic in the city.

After sharing his ponderings with her, she decided that more action needed to be taken. But first she shared some other news. The queen authorized a reward of 5,000 Sails for information leading to the capture of Trinia. Furthermore, today was delivered a note of the most peculiar sort. It was addressed to the six members of the party, and requested their presence at the Osirini Academy first thing at daybreak. The note was signed “B”. Nothing more…. The night ended with a very warm hug, much to Gaius’ frustration and disappointment.

With the dwarf wandering down the street towards the Cracked Cup, it was an easy matter for Odric to steadily maneuver himself in front of the distracted and woolgathering dwarf. Upon finding a suitably rancid and disgusting puddle, the human casually bent down to adjust his boot straps and deftly extended his other foot behind him to trip the dwarf in retaliation for the towel snap.
After all around had a hearty laugh at the sputtering dwarf, Odric helped him up genially. The big fighter’s plans backfire as the befouled dwarf embraced Odric in a giant avuncular hug.
Seeing the antics of his comrades on their way to the Cracked Cup reminded Ferox of the pranks he and the other boys pulled on each other back in his youth. The stench wafting from Odric and Sandor reminded him of when he, Pidge, Renny, and Neko stuffed poor, little Idej down the third story privy chute. The headmasters didn’t find him ‘till morning; not ’till after the faculty on that floor had used the loo after evening mess and that morning’s ablutions. As the group laughs with Sandor and Odric, Ferox laughs with them but with tears of sadness in his eyes.

He wiped his eyes as he followed his companions into the Cracked Cup.

With the group, except Gaius, all laughing and as usual staying upwind of Sandor and Odric, they threw open the door to the Cup and pour inside, the picture of good cheer and camaraderie.
As they sat down, Ferox offered to buy a round of drinks for the table. When they were served, he lifted his mug to his friends. “Sorry about the poo.” He drank his mug down in one big gulp and called for another.

Sandor began, “Hey lads I brought ya here ta discuss what is on all of our minds. How did that sweet lil lass get sick like that. I may be thinking the worst and worrying to soon. But I have a few questios that need answered. Does it tie in with the ship sinking. Sergeant Grau, did you hear of anyone on that ship trying to swim ta shore as it was sinking? If not when and where did they get off? Who would benefit wit an epidemic in the city? What can we do to get out in front if it? Ideas anyone?”

Sandor waited a moment and then answered his own questions.

“Excluding external threats, I am sure there are several people who would benefit, but with her strange behavior the queen would highly benefit. She could impose martial law. Any of her detractors could disappear and be blamed on the disease. And if she opens her coffers she could be seen as the savior of the city. Not saying she is complicit. Just saying she could greatly benefit. Same with any of the faiths they could benefit as well.

External threats: do we know of any that practice the pestilence approach? Or trying to weaken our cities economy?

ta get out in front of this we need to get all of the faiths on the same page. Which is the survival of Korvosa. Once it is confirmed send out criers to stop the snake oil false cures from preying on te weak and feeble. Get medical and such supplies away from looters and a good plan to deal with the bodies to keep them from piling up haphazardly”

Sandor went on a bit more and finishes up with “ohh and while the rest are handling that. We will be eliminating those behind this if it was intentional”

Thorgrym added, “Do you really think one of the faiths is behind this? Surely none of the good ones would do this. Abadar isnt good but is neutral, however law and fairness is sort of thier thing. Are there any openly evil faiths operating in Korvosa?” The ranger ponders a moment… 
”That f allen paladin we vanquished. He was a follower of Norbinger, I think the god is called. An evil god, is associated with the color gray and favors the short sword.” Thorgrym looks around the room. “Reminds me a little too much of these “grey maidens” the queen has running around. They all carry short swords don’t they?”

After hearing Sandor speak, Ferox offered, “I think it prudent to wait ‘till morning. We have only one case of an unknown illness. That its timing coincides so closely to the sinking of that ship is certainly cause for concern, but I want more information before we act. Tomorrow, we should find out as much as we can about any other afflictions similar to Brienna’s. See if we do have an epidemic on our hands. If we can examine more patients, maybe we can determine how it is spread. Find out what precautions the populous can take. If we determine the illness is unnatural, then we can examine our options then.”

After listening to the Inquisitor’s wise words, Grym suddenly blurted out “Norgober!” 
He looked a little embarressed but went on. “Sorry, the evil god is called Norgober, not Norbinger. Ive heard him called the Grey Master. I might be grasping at straws but I dont like those grey maidens. I like them even less if they are disciples of some evil god.”

Morkeleb sat quietly, fingers pressed together, thinking intently. As far as the tenants of the faith go, the wizard didn’t recognize any connection to the Grey Maidens, though Grym did point out some interesting coincidences.

Grau said, “It seems way to big of a coincidence that my niece got sick so close to the sinking of the ship. But I can’t fathom” (He doesn’t notice the pun) “how they would be connected. Brie was asleep in bed at that time. It’s worth looking into. Maybe we ought to try the Bank tomorrow. I’m sure Ferox could get some answers.”

Sandor rubbed his belly and rumbled contentedly, “Thank ya gentleman it has been a fine evening. I’m off to the bath then ta me house. Ferox, meet you at the Bank one bell after daybreak. If anyone needs anything sooner please send a runner.”

Gaius entered and stopped Sandor dead in his tracks at the door of The Cracked Cup. “Hold, Master Dwarf. We’ve one more matter to discuss before we all retire.”

He held up the note, waving it at the party, “We’ve been summoned.” He passed the note to the others and told them about the 5,000 Sail reward for the capture of Trinia. He sat at a table, puts up his feet and ordered a flagon of mead.

Morkeleb, a thoughtful look on his stern face, said, “I surmise that it is not more work for the good Field Marshal, as she’d have spoken directly to us. Who summons us, and for what purpose?”
Sandor listened to the Sting of Calistra and pondered a moment.

With a sudden chuckle and as sly a smirk as any had seen from Sandor yet, he looked at each of his friends and said quietly so that only they could hear, “Lads… if she is willing to pay that much for information leading to her capture well lets keep all of her agents very very busy and start a misinformation campaign” he tilted his head a little, “hmm only one thing wrong with that.. we really don’t know where she is, so we might accidently tell the truth, but I am sure we can keep the Grey Maidens very very busy if that is who she sends to collect and track down any leads.”

The dwarf continued, “I will share one more cup before I take my leave and for those that want to go I will meet you at the Osirini acadamy in the morning.”

He then handed Grym five sail and whispered “Grym this be ya hole in the wall, add this ta the tab so as ta keep it a safe place for ya.”

On the morning of 5 Desnus, after a fitful night’s sleep, Odric made his way to the appointed meeting place with the mysterious “B”. He was clean-shaven and bathed, to the group’s mild surprise and delight.

Odric looked around and saw every member of the party, standing by ready for pretty much anything.
Anticipation hung heavy in the cool morning air.

“Good morning.” said Grym in a quiet voice to Odric. The ranger was squatting down petting Bucho. Then he stood and started throwing a stick for the brindle dog waiting for the meeting.

When everyone was assembled, a nondescript man in a wide brimmed hat approached. When he tilted his head up, it was Vencarlo. “Good morning lads, quickly come inside.”

He unlocked the school and placed a sign on the door reading “Classes closed for the day.” He lead the group through a salle that is familiar to some of the party members. He lead the way into the back room, which no one in the group had ever seen. There was a small table, and the smell of a hearty breakfast wafted in the air.

“A …mutual friend of ours delivered to me a package some time ago, a package I need help delivering to its final destination.”

And with that, and based on her astonished expression at seeing the six friends who so recently captured her, Trinia stepped out of a kitchenette around the corner to serve coffee…

Morkeleb blinked, “Well, this was unexpected.”

Gaius, looked to Morkeleb, “Expect the unexpected.”
Gaius nods and is nonplussed. “Good Morn, Lady Trinia. Are you well? I don’t suppose you can confirm your innocence for us before we break our fast. Clearly, we’re here and open to the theory that you are blameless for His Majesty Eodred’s death, but let’s all get fully undressed before we get into bed together.”

“I am innocent!” She started with a burst. "I was simply a painter. I’ve never had physical access to the king, besides…who would want that? What I don’t know is who framed me. I don’t believe that they’re all evil, but someone close to the king is the guilty party. It may be the queen, yes. But I also think her handmaiden Sabina is equally likely. I’m just not sure. I’m here now, and I’m not on the run. If you have divinatory magic, I’m an open book to all…well, all of you anyway.”
Vencarlo said, “The day of the … execution… Blackjack showed up here and dropped her off. He knows that I’m no fan of the queen, and knew I’d be here. His goals are inscrutable, well actually it’s not his goals as he’s always just wanted what’s best for Korvosa. It’s his plans and methods that I know not. Either way, he assumed correctly that I did not believe that Trinia was guilty. What he didn’t figure was that he was dropping her off to someone who is too well known to help get her out of the city. I can’t go through the gates without questioning. This is, I believe, where he wants you to come into the picture.”

Ferox interjected, “While I’m glad to see that you are well, Trinia, I’m reluctant to take any action before we know definitively of your innocence. You say that you are an open book. Very well. If you will indulge me, I need to make a quick trip to the Bank. When I return, I hope to be able to determine the truth from you. If you are indeed innocent, I will happily aid in your escape and redouble my efforts to discover who truly assassinated the king.”

Gaius looks Vencarlo and Trinia over and listens dispassionately. He doesn’t get any hunches about Trinia, but felt that Vencarlo knew more than he was letting on.

“Trinia, before we agree to anything, I have a couple of questions,” Gaius begins and takes a sip of coffee. He is visibly taken aback by the quality of the grind, the low acidity, the strength of the flavor, and the unexpected smooth finish. He looks to Master Vencarlo and nods approvingly with a devilish grin, and silently notes that he’d describe Vencarlo’s fencing technique with the same words. Turning back to Trinia, Gaius continues, “Can you tell me why it was reported that you confessed, what your duties were while at The Court of Eodred, and if you had a relationship with His Majesty. If you indeed had no physical access to The King, tell me more. Anything you may have heard or seen that was unusual, no matter how mundane. Even if you don’t understand it.”

Trinia locked eyes with Gaius, “I was his painter. Believe me, if it were up to him there’d be physical contact. He was a dirty old man, but the queen would never allow him to be alone with me. I never confessed. They never even asked me any questions, they just locked me in a room with the Queen’s body guard and a strange cloaked man. I never saw his face, and didn’t catch him casting a spell, but he looked at me for a good hour and simply declared me guilty.”
After Ferox returned, she sat patiently and gave Ferox her undivided attention.

The Inquisitor reads the scroll quietly to himself, and when he locked his gaze on the woman before him, his words held the weight of a powerful magic, “Trinia, did you by direct action or by collusion with another assassinate the king?”

He waits with bated breath for her answer.

Did you do it?, he asks the mage sitting across from him at the large oak table. Other than the lanterns for light, the small stone room they were in was bare.

The case seemed more trouble than it was worth. If not for the pressure from some of the noblemen in the city, Ferox didn’t think the case would have even been put in from of him. It had taken several weeks of investigation to track down the sorcerer. The hardest part had been convincing the women to divulge the spell-caster’s identity. In the end, only one of the ladies talked, and only provided the slightest of hints. But that small tip was enough to start the dominoes falling.
Don’t make this any harder on yourself. We have evidence tying you to the women. You got a little sloppy there. Again, did you do it?

She responded with a single word, “No.” She displayed no discomfort, not even a twitch.

Ferox lets out the breath he was holding. PHEW! Ha! What a relief! Ha. Hoo boy. Ferox leans back against a wall for a moment to catch his breath. You had me worried there for a bit. Heh. Alrighty then. Getting you out of the city. Where are we supposed to be taking you? I assume that haste is needed. So the sooner we head out the better?

Thorgrym sat quietly through most of the proceedings, just listening and watching. 
”Five thousand is a lot of money, but I don’t think I could accept it for someone who is innocent. Especially since we know she isn’t going to get a fair trial.” The ranger paused as if considering his words. “I’ll help. Though at the moment I don’t have much of a plan.”

Gaius continued his line of questioning, “A cloaked man. Symbols? Designs on the cloak? Did he say anything? Walk with a limp? Any details at all?”

“No symbols. He never spoke. I only assume he was male because of the shape of his body. The cloak was more like a coat, loaded with pockets, seemingly empty. He wore a wide brimmed hat. He also wore a mask, looked like a bird with a long beak.” Trinia stated matter of factly. When asked to draw the mask, she produced a beautiful image of a Doctor’s Mask.

Satisfied that she didn’t have anything to do with the Kings death after Ferox puts her to the question Sandor is relieved that his gut was right.

“Ok Master Osirini it looks like we are good with getting her out of the city, and Odric has a plan that seems to serve a dual purpose one that I would like ta help out wit also. Where did you want her to go?” The dwarf asked.

“Master Osirini, Trinia,” he continued, “I do ‘ave a question or two fer ya. Trinia said that the queen’s bodyguard was in the room with you when you were found guilty. Am I assuming correctly that your talking about the Grey Maiden Sabine? If so sir, she was your student what do you believe her capable of? What can you tell us about her mind especially her tendencies for fight or flight, or assessing a situation? Weaknesses in her fighting style? Fer I am sure that it will come down ta a fight between the maidens and us at some point.”

While the others pondered the grand conspiracy, Odric decided to test the city’s perimeter. He planned to seek out and hire wagon to deliver a load of empty kegs out of the city. As part of a new brewing technique, Odric intended to fill the kegs from a mineral-rich spring he heard about that supplies the coldest and tastiest water.

His preparation took two steps, first, he asked about town to gather information on a likely water source. 
Next he sought a reliable teamster who could make a couple trips over the course of the next two days.

Odric asked about the Gold Market and Eodred’s Walk, looking for some merchant or farmer selling produce who could tell him of a likely spring near the city, but out of sight of the walls. His intent was to find something close to the point Vencarlo wants Trinia delivered.

After a pleasant hour talking spiritedly with the innumerable characters of the city he loves, Odric thought he might have a pretty good idea where to look. Odric made no secret about the purpose of his asking; he wanted to find a new water source for his beer, and as incentive to anyone who offered him some good information he makes promises of free samples once the beer is complete. He writes down names and intends to make good on his debts.

That done, Odric headed to Pinking Shears for a shave and a haircut. He bantered with the other customers, men he had known for years and tried unsuccessfully to get Ol’ Hooktooth to laugh at some raunchy jokes. As usual, Odric got nowhere with the ugly half-orc, but was supremely satisfied with his hairdo. One of the men in the barber shop suggested checking with local barkeeps and tavern owners. The man reasoned that they might be able to refer the Adventurer cum Brewer to a likely teamster.

As Odric enjoyed the spring day, he made the rounds of some of the shops in his neighborhood. He thought he might have a promising lead after talking to Uncle Salty, the lecherous swarthy barkeep at Aram’s Crown. Uncle Salty directed Odric to what he promises is a reliable teamster with an incurious demeanor with the unlikely name of Pickles.

Once Odric met the teamster and inspected the wagon, he engaged in a rather intense bout of negotiations, during which he allowed himself to be bested but only after a hard-fought pitched battle. As he negotiated the price, Odric is certain to include a promise of a free sample of the newest version of The Stout, made from the crystal clear waters of the spring they will travel to. Odric does insist however, that Pickles “take a walk” and allow Odric to fill his barrels with the “mysterious” water in private. The men agree on the rate of 3 copper pinch per mile with a promise of an extra sail if the water is delivered to Master Bartleby’s brewery on time.

After some good-natured haggling in the Gold Market, Odric bought five barrels for a price of two sail each, delivered to Master Bartleby’s brewery. He ensured that the barrels are large enough to accommodate Trinia within. His plan is to allow her to breathe through the bunghole.

Odric and Grym accompanied the Teamster on the trip that afternoon, engaging him in friendly banter the entire trip. Odric was becoming a renowned conversationalist in town, and his beer was getting to be quite well known too.

At the point where the wagon left the city, Odric was careful to observe any suspicion, scrutiny or interest in his activities. 
He carried with him a small keg of Odric, The Stout in order to offer as samples. These samples might be interpreted as advertisement, good will and bonhomie, but certainly not as bribery!

After all was said and done, Odric had five barrels of water, a bit of intelligence to report to his friends, Trinia and Vencarlo, and released Pickles for the evening with a promise to repeat the process tomorrow.

Rejoining his friends, Odric said, “Today I was probing defenses. If we get some good intel out of this, we can certainly act on it. I am not married to this plan, so if someone has a better one – let’s explore it!”

With pride, the brewer said, “Either way, new batch of The Stout will taste of adventure, aged whiskey, oak charcoal and a lady. Should be an instant classic.”

Gaius said, “No, that can work. I was also thinking of using my Disguise Self spell to look like Trinia and act as a diversion.” He continued, “I’m thinking if Trinia were noticed in Old Korvosa, trying to secure passage on a ship out, that might pull some heat from the gates, letting Odric and his Stout out of the city gates. Spell lasts for 10 minutes. It’s long enough to start some rumors and not long enough to have me in danger for long. A quick diversion will keep the guard chasing rumors all day.”

Turning to the roguish rogue, the Dwarf said, “Gaius I like the way ya think, but I would severly caution against Trinia or you being spotted in the city while we won’t take five thousand sails there are many more that would return her or you dead for the reward. Maybe you can take a trip in a different direction than we go ’n be spotted travelin that way.”

Odric’s, your reconnaissance worked like a charm. He found the holes in the defenses that he was looking for, but he noticed something in the process. While the beer trick worked like a charm, he got the impression that such a window wouldn’t last long. Border guards seemed more numerous at the end of the day than the beginning. Grym hunted well while outside the walls, and his brace of rabbits was guaranteed to make a good dinner. The gate guards seemed conflicted. They treated Grym like a hero, but they seemed intent on not drawing the sergeant’s attention for being lax in their duties.

Sandor slapped the table and said, “Good then I think we should make our special beer run first thing in the morning about two hours before guard change if the gates are open. If not then two hours after. I will be ready when Odric says let’s go”

As the meeting broke up, and as everyone took their leave Sandor caught Vencarlo alone for a minute.
“Master Osirini a moment of your alone time for two things. I couldn’t help but notice there is a big weight on ya shoulders. No no I know it’s more than just harboring Trinia. Now I’m a warrior who’s a bit older than the lads, and I knows how ta keep me mouth shut, so if ya need someone ta talk to over an ale just let me know. I’m sure we’re on tha same side, which is Korvosa, and it’s going ta take a lot of good people to temper the vileness I feel commin from the Queen as opposed to Eodred. So when ya are ready ta talk n need someone ta listen let me know. This ole dwarf can keep a secret.”

Sandor nodded for emphasis. “The second thing is much less important at least for now. One of these days when Korvosa is umm I guess stable, and doesn’t require my services, I intend to open my own smithy, and I would like to come to a buisness arrangement with ya. If ya didn’t know I made this armor, and me three dwarven weapons I carry,” he placed them down for Vencarlo to inspect “I don’t know if you have an arrangement with a smithy yet, but I would like to become the exclusive provider of arms and armour to your school, and would be willing to offer a discount to graduates of your acadamy. I know it’s a little soon to make anything final, but I want to start warming ya up ta the idea.”

The plan in motion, Gaiushid out, cast his spell to disguise himself and sought passage on a ship out of the city. He did his best to appear suspicious. Odric and Grym set up for another water gathering expedition. Except this time Trina’s supple body was folded up inside one of the barrels.

Given the meticulous planning, the escape from the city was a resounding success. Trinia made it out safely. Before leaving, she gifts Odric with a kiss that’s far more than a friendly kiss on the cheek. “Thank you so much. All of you. I’m so sorry to have put you into this position. Someday, when the time is right and the backdrop is more favorable, I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

She refused to take an offered Wand of Daze Monster from Morkeleb, insisting instead that he use it, then keep it as a memento of her.

She called out over her shoulder while walking away, “Thank you again!”

The huge warrior muttered “You’re welcome! And thank you very much!” He rubs the spot where she kissed him, then takes his hand out from under his war kilt.

View
Blackjack's Return!
Execution, Investigation, Harrowing

BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG!

Odric’s door shuddered with the impatient knocking. He rolled over, bed ropes creaking and cracked an eye, gauging the time by the dim light outside his window to be about an hour before dawn.

The knocking continued getting louder. Joining in the cacophony, some of Odric’s neighbors began shouting and complaining. Before the watch was summoned, Odric staggered out of bed, sleep clouding his eyes. He grabbed the closest weapon at hand, The Eage off of the mantle and stumbled blindly for the door in his nightshirt and nothing else.

“Hold on, I’m coming” he mumbled. With The Eagle raised to strike, but hidden behind the barely opened door. “Yes?”

The impatient messenger was sharply dressed and appeared to be a member of the Field Marshal’s hand picked runners. Odric lowered The Eagle slightly as the man handed Odric a note, “compliments of the Field Marshal sir. I will await your reply sir.”

Odric quickly scanned the missive: “It’s an emergency. I need you, and Korvosa is depending on you." -Cressida.

He nodded curtly to the man, all sleepiness gone in a moment. “I will be there forthwith” Odric stated matter-of-factly, and closed the door.

The massive fighter quickly donned his clothes, padding and his new suit of Chainmail. He cinched down his belt, replaced The Eagle on the mantle and slid his new falchion into place at his side. Odric splashed water on his face, looked at himself in the poor mirror of polished steel and headed for the door. On his way by the sideboard he grabbed a piece of fruit and an old roll for breakfast.

Once on West High Street, Odric could hear the city awakening as merchants wheeled their carts into place and farmers streamed in from the recently-opened gates with the day’s fresh meat and produce. The air of excitement was a bit out of the ordinary today as he emerged into Eodred’s Walk, Odric recalled the execution was scheduled for this very night. He quickened his pace.

After a short jog around some men setting up a large concession tent amidst boisterous argument in a strange tongue, Odric beheld the Citadel, black against the lightening predawn sky.

Once within the curtain wall, Odric spotted Sandor, Grym and Morkeleb talking quietly near an iron and beam portcullis. He joined them to see they had similar notes from the Field Marshal. Guessing they would meet their other friends within, the group entered the Citadel proper and headed towards Kroft’s offices. Gaius leaned casually against the doorway to Kroft’s offices, nodded to the group and followed them in.

A manservant brought coffee for the group while they awaited Ferox, who’s home is furthest from the citadel. Once he arrived, the group entered the Field Marshal’s spartan but tasteful office to find her pacing.

She began abruptly, “My friends, this is the day I’ve been dreading. Something doesn’t sit right with this, and the way things have been going in Korvosa, I’m worried that another riot will break out. The queen has turned this into some kind of social affair. Would that the woman who passes the sentence swing the axe. Instead it’s going to be a who’s who of the upper class. I want you there today, please. I’m not asking you to do anything other than keep the peace if something horrible happens. You’ve got about 12 hours. I implore you not to interfere, just protect our city."

Ever practical, Morkeleb asked, “Are we to understand that Trinia is the one sentenced—despite her innocence? And are we to infer, therefore, that the Queen is either trying to make the girl a scapegoat because the real killer hasn’t been found, or is perhaps not under her full faculties?” He continued, “If you don’t want us to intervene, why are we to be there—just crowd control?”

Grym and Odric looked to each other and nodded almost imperceptibly. While he stroked Bucho’s blocky head the ranger assured her that the group will be ready. Odric asked, “What are the rules of engagement?” his mind is running over possibilities and contingencies. He is worried that with vague or unclear instructions, disaster could come from a misunderstanding as much as from some malicious activity.

“Gentlemen, I don’t have rules of engagement for this. It’s nothing I’ve ever dealt with before. I need you because I trust your judgment. Read the situation and protect Korvosa. It’s all I can ask. Sadly, I don’t have any reward I can offer you.” Kroft returned to her desk and began looking over some maps she had splayed out across the scarred surface.

Ferox assured her, “Field Marshall, rest assured that we’ll do all that we can to maintain the peace. How are we to attend the Queen‘s event? We are not among the city’s social elite. Will we be allowed admittance to the event?”
The Field Marshal looked up to the Inquisitor, her appreciation at his promised assistance plain on her care-worn face. “I’ve arranged to get you all invited. You’ve become folk heroes now, and that’s enough for the aristocracy. I wanted ”/campaigns/sfoundercotct/characters/vencarlo-orisini" class=“wiki-content-link”>Vencarlo to go in the same capacity, but he’s taking a stand about not being there."

Gaius smiled sweetly and a little sadly. But nodded in agreement with The Marshal and with the others. He lingered, as to be the last one to leave, holding the door for his companions. Just as Morkeleb passed through the door, Gaius looked the enchanter in the eyes and whispered, “I won’t be a moment. See you tonight at the execution.” Gaius then shut the door, leaving him alone with Field Marshal Cressida.

While appearing to idly look around the office, Gaius spoke and observed Cressida, taking careful note of details in her office and her choice of decor. His demeanor was friendly and genuinely curious. He said, “You’ve borne many burdens over the last several weeks, Field Marshal. You’ve performed admirably and with honor. You are an intriguing woman, Lady. How are you holding up?”

Cressida’s office featured many antiques of martial days past, ancient shields and helms, old maps, and the like. She seemed tired and stressed, though she gave Gaius a weak smile. "I’ve been better my friend, I won’t lie. I want this day to be done. Once this chapter is closed we’ll be back to normal I suspect… If you can quell any riots. When all is said and done I’ve got a contraband bottle of rum from the Shackles, the seven of us will split it.”

“Rum for seven is good. Dinner for two is better,” Gaius says, his voice is warm and inviting but his expression is focused and intense.

“My professional friend, I’m not normally one for dalliance. But I’ll make a pact with you. Make through tonight without the city devolving into chaos, and we’ll share breakfast.” The rogue is clearly pleased with the prospect, for upon taking his leave and exiting the Citadel he bellows “For law and order! Have at thee!” earning him some odd looks from those citizens on the broad avenue who heard him.

Grym caught up with Gaius in Eodred’s Walk. Grym was a little nervous about being around such high society people tonight. He was a street rat for so many years… 
Grym asked Gaius of a tailor or shop he could recommend. The ranger was looking for clothes that could fit in amongst high class, yet still be fit for fencing, adventuring, and stealth. He also assured Gaius he does not want to look “sluttastic”. 

Gaius assured Thorgrym that this would definitely not be an occasion for sluttastic. He lead Grym to a surprisingly staid tailor named Marcus in Old Korvosa. This shop was for men. Simple designs, high quality, and neutral colors were featured.
Grym raised his eyebrows when he sees the simple shop, seemingly incongruous with the rogue who favored yellow and black. Gaius looked at Thorgrym and smirked.
A bit drab, I know. Marcus is an old contact and I knew this would be right up your alley. Besides, he’ll have something for me in the back.
Marcus takes good care of the pair.
Grym then went home and polished his new magical studded leather armor up as best he can. His boots, blades, and leather belt got the same treatment. Last but not least he went to an up scale leather worker and purchases a nice leather collar with well polished brass fittings for Bucho.
If he is well dressed and can at least look the part of a noble swordsman, that will be half the battle to acting the part. His heart is noble if not his birth and blood. It should be enough.

The others shopped, prepared or spent their time in a variety of ways, until the appointed hour.

The execution was not an affair to be missed. The toast of Korvosa was in attendance in garish gowns, fine capes, and enough jewels to blind a common man. The overall feel of the event was that of a grand ball or party, not an assassin’s public execution. The group had time to hobnob with the elite of Korvosa. One notable personage not in attendance was Vencarlo Orisini, although given his outspoken disdain for the queen, this doesn’t surprise any of the adventurers.
Queen Ileosa emerged amid a great flourish and pomp as heralds announced her arrival with a fanfare of music and drums. This queen was not the subdued mourner who met the group when returning the broach —Queen Ileosa has fully accepted the mantle of sole monarch now, and carried herself with poise, style, and grace. She wore a green and white silk dress worth thousands of gold coins, and was attended by a small army of servants – The Grey Maidens. Chief among these was Sabina, her expression neutral but ever watchful for possible problems in the crowd. Ileosa took her seat in a high throne-like chair at one end of the public courtyard, while the headman’s block stood ominously at the other. The executioner was a towering, muscular man wearing an executioner’s helm and idly holding an immense axe—he remained motionless until his services were called upon
Gaius hummed Korvosa’s national anthem while he loaded a poisoned bolt into his hand crossbow and set it up for a smooth and easy draw. He paused in his humming, to address the others. “You know something? I’ve half a mind to shoot the executioner and start a riot to screen a hasty retreat, bard in hand. I won’t, mind you. I’m not ready for a blaze of stupidity like that and besides, I have breakfast plans.”
The rogue, dressed as a minor noble swordsman in yellow silk and black leather, laughed bitterly but then quickly resumed a serene demeanor. At times, Gaius can seem quite mad.
“But make no mistake…” the rogue continued, “Something about this stinks to The Nine Hells. I don’t like uncertainty! I don’t like not knowing!”
His attention returns to the ax about to fall, and takes his holy symbol from beneath his shirt, displaying it.
“Though if there is vengence to be had for this… I can see to that. Oh, yes. I can see to that.”
Gaius resumed humming the national anthem.
Morkeleb was as stoic as usual, simply taking stock of the situation. “Gaius, I cannot disagree with you. This does all seem wrong. However, our task is not to cause trouble, but to rebuff it. I find it unfortunate and a little sad that we captured her, and now she is being executed—but I have no time for, or interest in, politics. Triana’s death is on the Queen’s head, and she must be the one who sleeps tonight, or not, because of it.”
Gaius said, “Morkeleb, Trinia’s death isn’t my concern. It’s not knowing what’s really going on here. My concern is where that ax falls next.”

Ferox added, “I agree. I don’t like that Cressida wasn’t given the time to determine Trinia’s guilt or not. There isn’t much to be done for Trinia now, but we can certainly try to continue our own investigation into the matter later.”
Ferox said a quick prayer to Abadar for guidance and began scanning the crowd and the perimeter for anything out of the ordinary.
As the execution drew near, Grym see that his training partner, Sargeant Grau was on duty. He takes a moment to talk to you quietly. “My friend, this is a dark day, but do not stick your neck out. I beg you. Please watch your friend Odric, for I fear his sense of heroism may lead to something rash. There will be another day for justice if this is not it…” With that he hastened back to his detail.
Odric offeed samples of his beer to the crowd with a jovial tone, but edged closer and closer to the headsman. He maneuvered himself to the front or as close as he could get to the executioner.

Seeing Odric’s jostling form adging closer and closer to the headsman, Morkeleb casts ‘Message’ to whisper in the warrior’s ear, “Remember your charge. You are here to stop trouble, not cause it. Trinia’s fate is out of your hands.”
Grym heeded Sergeant Grau’s words and pressed to get closer to Odric. He asked for a sample of the “Stout” to cover his movements. 
The ranger took a drink to steel his nerves. The flavor is strong and the alcoholic content seems strong as well to the ranger. A mug and no more if he wants keep his mind sharp tonight. Grym’s heart cried a little as he sensed an innocent person about to die for crimes Grym doesn’t believe she committed. 
Without trying to do so, Thorgrym’s mind’s eye starts measuring the steps. A few swift moves and small jump to the stage. It would be easy to land a telling “stop cut” to the wrist of the executioner wielding such a heavy ax. He lacked Odric’s massive strength, but half-elven girl was slight of build. Grym figured even if she couldn’t move he could have her over his shoulder and be off. Especially with his well-trained Bucho covering his escape with jaws snarling… 
…And that is where his daydream ended. Surely brave Bucho would fall to the sword and spear of the Grey Maidens. Grym would be sacrificing his trusted comrade and breaking his word of honor to Cressida. The ranger never wanted to break his word to anyone, be they an honorless rogue or not. Yet the Field Marshall seemed to be better then most. Grym’s word was his bond, he couldn’t break it. Yet, his heart ached for this single person to be scapegoated.
Is one unjust death worth peace and possible hundreds more dead or raped out in the streets? The ranger’s head ached with his heart. He liked a simple task of tracking down a known criminal or raiding the warrens of an evil necromancer. He preferred to leave the skull sweat to the likes of Morkeleb and the others. 
Quietly and barely audible he prayed, “Sarenrae, I seldom pray to you. I have no tongue for it. Yet, I honor you and try to follow your way. I know you know what is best for me. Give me guidance if I’m to act. If I’m to watch her die, give me the strength to stand and give her the strength to endure it and hopefully her soul will go somewhere good on the other side…”
The brindle dog sitting at the ranger’s feet whined a little, his tiny brain sensing some of the anguish and turmoil in his master.
As sunset drew near, the expectant excitement in the crowd built. When the ominous beating of a single large drum began, the assembled gawkers fell silent. The drum set the pace for Trinia’s procession to the headsman’s block. As they reached the headsman’s block, one of the guards removed Trinia’s shackles and the hood, revealing a very frightened woman who nonetheless bravely held back her tears, if only barely. Trinia was led up onto the platform, her arms bound behind her back by a leather cord, and she was forced to kneel over the wooden block before the headsman as Queen Ileosa stood and addressed the crowd.
“Fellow Korvosans! You have suffered greatly these past few weeks. Homes have burned, family members have died, fortunes have been lost. I feel your suffering, for not only have I lost a beloved husband, but with each riot, each burning home, each act of anarchy, my heart bleeds a little more. This has been a trying time for us, yet the torment is at an end. Before you is the face of your anguish and pain. Do not be deceived by this murderer’s timid nature—she is a black-hearted assassin, a seductress and sinner, a viper amidst us all. I offer you all her death as a salve against the hatred and hurt you have suffered. Her death will not rebuild Korvosa, nor will it bring back the king, yet tomorrow will be a new dawn—a dawn over a city ready to rise from the edge of anarchy to become stronger than ever before! And so, without further delay, let us usher in this new dawn with justice! OFF WITH HER HEAD!”

A moment before the queen issued the command, Grym noticed Grau duck away suspiciously. Less than a second later on the other side of the courtyard, As the headsman hefted his axe, the already silent crowd froze in anticipation.

Yet just before he swung, the headsman gave a strange little grunt and staggered. His raised axe faltered as he reached with one hand to the small of his back and then brings it to his face, the fingers dripping with blood. An instant later, he cried out in pain and dropped the axe as a dagger embeds itself in the back of his other hand. The axe sank itself into the block inches from Trinia’s head, and the headsman doubled over in pain, revealing a second dagger that was already embedded in the small of his back.

It happens in the blink of an eye as each hero contemplated his duty. Trinia rose to her knees, glancing up at the executioner in shock as a scream echoed through the crowded courtyard: “By the gods! It’s Blackjack!”

An instant later, a man dressed in a hooded cloak and leather armor sprung onto the executioner’s block. He wielded a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other. Blackjack cut the bonds on Trinia’s wrists and then threw the dagger down to pin the executioner’s left foot to the wood below. He quickly helped Trinia to her feet and then briefly turns to address the shocked crowd. “Yes indeed, my queen! Let us usher in justice, but let that be justice for Korvosa, not this shambles you petulantly call a monarchy! Long live Korvosa! Down with the Queen!”

Blackjack’s words spread like fire, causing the crowd to erupt into a frenzy of activity. Some demanded that he release the assassin while others called for the queen to step down from the Crimson Throne. Queen Ileosa stands stunned for a few moments, whispered something to Sabina, and then quickly turns to flee into Castle Korvosa, Sabina and a dozen guards behind her to cover her retreat. The remaining guards in the courtyard moved to apprehend Blackjack, but the gathered nobles, thirsty for blood, make it difficult to move. At the same time, the executioner recovered from his wounds and lifted his axe once again over Blackjack, who seems to have momentarily forgotten the man in his apparent delight at having forced the queen to flee.

Odric moved in an instant to stand by Blackjack. He allowed the keg to crash to the ground with a splintering crunch. The flagstones were awash in dark, bitter beer with foam cresting the waves of alcohol. Odric assumed a drunken attitude, he has had long years to practice so his gambit ought to look believable. Given the chaos in the square, perhaps no one will scrutinize Odric’s sobriety.
With a staggering lunge, he wraps his large arms around the executioner in a effort to “save” him by binding his wounds. The plan is to hinder his attack against Blackjack.
“Headshmann! Yer Beedin’! Ehrmegerd! Let me shave you!!” Odric fumbles with a bandage as he grapples the headsman. Blackjack turned to the mighty Odric and whispered a quick thanks with a wink of the eye before downing a potion.

Taking advantage of the message spell, Sandor said, “By Torag just what we needed somtin to help Trinia live. Lets help Blackjack. block the guards and distract the headsman!”
He looked around to see if any of the guards had started to move towards Blackjack and Trinia yet. The scarred dwarf yelled at the top of his lungs in the direction of Blackjack, “OY!!! LOOK AT THAT!! That lads a tough one 3 daggers pierce his body n he still tryin ta kill the girl”

Grym instantly recognized Odric’s ploy and hesitated a moment thinking of how he can also “help”. The ranger cried out, “Lets get that vigilante!” And then he promptly tripped going up the steps of the executioner’s block, doing his best to get in the way of the guards rushing forward.
Blackjack turned to Trinia and scooped her up with unnatural strength. In a single bound he took the courtyard wall. With a flourish he saluted the crowd, eyeing of the six heroes each specifically in turn. “FOR KORVOSA!”
Immediately the crowd cheered and booed at the same time. It turned into Pandemonium. The guard rushes to Odric, not to subdue, but to help him up. Mutterings about the return of Blackjack spread amidst the chaos. Before long the elite scatter, the wings of gossip taking flight. The six are forgotten in the chaos.
Grau returned in the moments of Blackjack’s escape. “My friends, we must get back to the Field Marshall. We’ll palaver at the Citadel. Come, let us fly.”
Odric ensures that he falls face first into the puddle of The Stout in order to get the smell of alcohol on him. He stumbles in whatever direction Grau has indicated.
Upon arrival, Grau ushers the six to the Citadel. The gossip spread faster than fire. By the time they arrived, word had spread. The Field Marshal was in her office sitting at her desk, staring off into space. Vencarlo was there too, looking out the window.
Cressida said, “I did not see this coming my friends. Blackjack is something we talked about as kids, pretending to be the dashing hero. That he’s really here is…vexing. On the one hand, he’s a hero to the people, a hero they desperately need right now. I think the reason why the city hasn’t erupted into flame is that this latest scene is his doing. On the other hand, he’s technically an outlaw. Odric, please close the door…. Officially Blackjack is now public enemy number one. That being said, my main concern is the protection of the city. My resources will focus on heinous and large scale crimes. If we get Blackjack, we’ll deal with it then.”
Vencarlo interjected, “My biggest fear is the Queen. While I am an outspoken critic of hers, Blackjack’s move may force her hand. Who knows how she’ll handle this. Let’s keep our heads down, and our blades ready. Don’t rock the boat for a while. Korvosa may as easily calm down or burn into the night. Let’s not push the issue just yet…”
Cressida, “Gaius, let’s not wait for breakfast, and share a drink now. Unfortunately for you, I’m inviting all your friends too.”
Gaius responds playfully, motioning with his finger in a fencer’s salute, “Then you escape on a technicality. Another time, Field Marshall Kroft. I don’t surrender easily.”
“Field Marshall, what specifically do you fear regarding the queen? What actions might this Blackjack’s appearance elicit from her? Martial law?” Asked Morkeleb.

Kroft replied, Cressida, "Martial Law is exactly what I fear. While it appears no riots are forthcoming now. I worry that if we push her, she’ll go overboard and declare martial law. This is why I suggest we lay low for the time and take a ‘look and see’ approach.”

Gaius said, “No, I disagree. Her Majesty has been embarrassed in front of Korvosa’s elite. Her authority and ability to enforce The Rule of Law questioned. We cannot go to ground, for Her Majesty will leave no ground. She can’t afford to. And besides, the longer we delay, the harder it will be to find clues. We have two mysteries, ‘Who is Blackjack?’, and more importantly, ‘Who killed King Eodred’. I daresay the second will intersect with the first at some point. We need to solve the original crime, the King’s murder.”
Gaius stood up and paced for a moment, then turned to Field Marshall Kroft. “We need everything you have on Trinia and Eodred’s murder, anything you may have held back. And we need to find Verik Vankaskerson.”
Cressida said, “I haven’t held anything back, but I have a room full of unsolved crime. None of it seems to be related to the assassination, but you never know.”

Sandor has been stewing on what has happened. He listened intently to what was said, inhaled sharply a few times like he ready to speak, then gives a low grumble and left everyone to the conversation.
He fixed the Field Marshal with an intense stare as if trying to read her expressions then inhaled sharply, but this time blurted, “Ohh a pox on this ‘ere blasted situation. I would think that the city dwellers here are used to Royalty dying. If’n I remember my history correctly not many if any sitters on that throne have died of old age.”
He looked slightly embarrassed when he realized that he said that out loud. But when he did refocus he decided to jump in with both feet. “Well Field Marshal I hope I’ve heard correctly when ya said the Official Position on Blackjack is he is Most Wanted number one. Unoffically I hopes ya that he is Hero number 1.” He took his half mask off, gave his scars a trace drawing attention to them, “now I didn’t lose my head like Trinia would have, but I have a little understanding how people with station and money take care of their problems or cover up their embarrassing actions.”
He looks each of his friends in the eyes especially, Vencarlo and Cressida to check for the implied statement. “My friends we all know in our guts that Trinia didn’t kill the King. So I agree with solving that is a priority. I for one think that there are some puppet strings being pulled by some unknown party as of yet. Stuff isn’t adding up gents ohh and Lady. I think one of the first major clues we have of this is that dagger that was found.. which turned into a demon and tried to kill us. Then we foil a plot of a fallen Paladin trying to rob the bank of Abadar. Now I am sure the bank gets many attempts, but not many from that sect. That gives us a spy for intel, money for financing, riots and distractions to keep the guard/ law distracted”
He got a far away look pausing and doesn’t realize it. Odric fluffed and adjusted his tunic as the dwarf passed by. The scent of “The Stout” breaks his concentration he then realized that everyone was looking at him. “Ohh I am sorry I havn’t gotten any further than that, but then again I’m just a dwarf who doesn’t belong dealing with these grand matters. Which is why being in front of a forge is relaxing and peaceful.”
After talking so much he felt parched. Sandor looked around for a flagon of ale, seeing none he took the dashing cape that Odric was wearing while rolling around in his brew. He took the cloth and wrung it out into the tankard that was attached to his belt and took a long swallow. Oblivious to the stares that he garnered, he looked up at Odric with a huge smile. “Lad this is it! ya need to add a final filtration step to ya brew.”
In the days that followed, the men set out to investigate the mayhem and misdeeds of the recent past. Gaius lead the investigation, with Odric providing a bit of muscle and intimidation where required. Thorgrym offered his assistance in the time when he wasn’t actively training Bucho. Sandor worked tirelessly to separate liars from genuine tipsters using his gruff dwarven tactics of shouting and stomping to great effect.

The party spent the next five weeks following leads, ruling out speculative theories, and chasing down hunches. The progress was slow. Witnesses were unreliable at best, and found dead at worst. As tempers flared and frustrations are at their highest, the group found themselves meeting at Sandor’s on an evening to regroup and refocus.
After a particularly filling dinner, Odric began passing around his latest brew, a rather nutty brown ale with a hint of a chocolate aftertaste. It felt good to relax and rest. The city hadn’t burned to the ground. Sightings of Blackjack continued, but only third-hand. The Queen hadn’t made any large policy changes, and the public was accustomed to a change in monarch from time to time.
It was then that Zellara‘s Harrow deck awakened. The slain harrower’s spirit appeared calm and at peace. She took a seat at the table and the men thought “was that seat even here before?”
Zellara said, "Fate is muddy, and your progress has been slow. It is time again to read the cards. Sit my friends, open your minds and prepare.”
At the stage of the Choosing, each received a card of the Harrow:
Morkeleb. . .The Mountain Man – A Brobdingnagian challenge, a giant in either muscle or authority.
Sandor. . .The Desert -
In environment so bleak that only mutual aid leads to survival.
Gaius. . .The Wax Works -
A sign of helplessness, physical failure, and entropy.
Grym. . .The Tangled Briar -
The deeds of the past come to change the present.
Ferox. . .The Sickness -
Represents both a physical affliction and a corruption of the soul.
Odric. . .The Survivor -
Someone whom has conquered a dark past and lifted through an ordeal.
“The Harrowing”
Displayed before her were 9 cards:
The Foreign Trader – The Queen Mother – The Eclipse
The Beating – The Unicorn – The Marriage
The Tyrant – The Wax Works – The Avalanche
“First we examine the past. The Tyrant! The Tyrant is aligned. The Tyrant in the past is a ruler who rules for the good of the self, and not the good of the governed.”
“It is blocked in by the Beating, which tells us that a wicked deal was struck. The self is given over to an outside power. While the new Queen is the most obvious choice, the Tyrant may be a power yet to be seen in our city. Let us turn to the present. We see first the Queen Mother, knowledge and effort personified. It is through knowledge that effort finds it’s path. This shows the present, and in this position, you now find yourselves. Seek and be a part of the city. Arm yourself with knowledge, for in the position of the Dark Present we see the Wax Works, once drawn already and here again. The failure of the body is taking place even now. Somewhere in spirit or on the map. The Harrowing is anchored by the Unicorn. the Unicorn represents the desired fruit made available, but only through the Knowledge gained above through the corporal failure below. And now we turn to the Future, the murkiest and most frightening. For while questions may feel like a burden, the answers are a prison for one’s self. The Eclipse! The Eclipse normally portents self doubt and loss of purpose, but we see that unlike the Tyrant in the past this card is perfectly misaligned. Here it represents the curtain pulled away, an ability or destiny not yet revealed. This is a positive sign, and one that we shall be unable to see until it is upon us. But it is guarded by the card of The Marriage. The marriage of the salamander and the water weird shows that the sum is greater than it’s parts in this unseen new destiny. A cloudy future indeed. But this is your Harrowing, and in time all will be revealed…”

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