Curse of the Crimson Throne

Yawn...this dinner party is DEAD!

While the group waited for Valek to create water breathing potions for us to investigate the shipwreck we split up to take care of personal matters within the city. Meeting up at a predetermined time, Henric informed the group of a contact that had approached him about her missing brother.

A few nights prior he had been invited to a dinner party at a ritzy manor in town and had not been seen or heard from since. Investigating the property on his own, Henric found the gates locked tight, all the shades in the house drawn, and the unmistakably stench of death wafting from the grounds. With Valek still needing time to finish crafting our potions Henric, Illendrian (accompanied by Oberron the wolf-hound), and Zarian decided to investigate.

Picking the lock and slipping onto the property, the three adventurers entered the mansion to an almost unbearable stench of death and decay as three corpse couples shuffled together on the dance floor next to a pile of other bodies. Turning their undead glaze on the group, combat quickly ensued.

As six zombies quickly became nine we heard a voice echo from upstairs, revealing her presence as the conductor to this undead production. As Zarian, Illendrian, and Oberron kept picking off zombies advancing towards the stairway, Henric lept into action and pursued the mysterious voice.

No sooner than Henric made his way upstairs did all hell break loose. Nine zombies turned into roughly twenty as Zarian and Illendrian were now shut off from reaching the second floor while Henric battled our mysterious lady-friend one-on-one upstairs.

With some quick thinking on his part, Henric threw our mystery host off the balcony and into the throng of her zombie horde, following closely behind himself. While shielded from our attacks, she took the only avenue available and ended up cornered. In a surprise move, she surrendered and ordered the zombies off.

After a quick interrogation – where the necromancer Rolff was found to be behind this gruesome scene – Henric and Oberron stood guard as Zarian and Illendrian put an end to the rest of the undead abominations. Hauling our prisoner off, we handed her over to Cressida’s second in command (which couldn’t have come quick enough for Henric who looked VERY uncomfortable with her flirting).

With our report filed, we took our leave to go see if Valek had finished crafting the necessary potions for our jaunt to the bottom of the Jeggare River…

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A problem in the sewers...Where at wererat?

Apparently the adventuring party’s exploits in combating the city’s woes haven’t gone unnoticed as we were approached by a member of the local were-rat population that had made a section of Korvosa’s sewers home.

With her husband recently removed from power (and this mortal coil) by a hulking brute of a were-rat, she came to us looking to put an end to his scheming ways and stop a war that the city didn’t even know was coming. Diplomacy would be the option of choice, but if force was necessary then so be it.

Following the directions provided to their lair we were met with open hostility and a fight quickly ensued. While trying to keep as many of the clan-members alive as possible, this new “chieftain” finally showed himself and gave the adventurers quite a test – almost felling Illendrian. The tide turned however, when the young ranger freed his new autiaug (spelling?) friend. The were-rats all fled, leaving behind only the chief who was eventually taken down by the combined efforts of the group.

Returning with her brethren, our initial contact thanked us for restoring order and stopping what would have been a needless war. Promising us a continued peaceful existence below the city street, she offered us payment in the form of information…clues regarding the mysterious ship that was sunk a few nights before, including the approximate location as well as the cargo it was carrying.

Thanking her, we parted ways amicably to set out on investigating the ship wreck.

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Memories Blossom from the Scent of Deception

Had it not been for the scent of undeath still permeating my nostrils from the previous encounter with the ghouls in the Grey District today, I might have realized what I was walking into. I was driven, both by justice & spite. Wiping the smugness from that guards face was a bonus, helping those being swindled by this con artist was the true reward of this task. I was lost for a few moments as the dust settled within this odoriferous menagerie. For a moment I heard my mother’s voice behind the counter, looking upon it only to see a young girl standing against the wall fearful of what would be happening to her for her part in this apparent hoax.

For a brief moment, I was back listening to Illendrian interrogate this leech of society. I had barely paid enough attention to what she was saying to provide help to the conversation as I soon found my mind wandering again before I even finished my only sentence added to the current assessment of this degenerate. I found myself gazing upon the guard I had given a fresh limp to; the smile quickly leaves my face as I hear my mother’s scream ring through my head. Was this the kind of man that showed up that night, for all I know this could have been the same man. I wish I had not pulled my blow; he should be in a pile on the floor. Maybe I should try and convince Gavin to have a chat with him when he gets to Long Acre. That would be a conversation he deserves, certainly. Luckily for him I know that my unwillingness to do that is what separates me from a man like that.

I was paying just enough attention to my surroundings to notice this interrogation ending. This Vile woman should keep none of her profits from this business, “We should confiscate the contents of her cash drawer and safe for evidence along with her. Don’t want her or anyone else making off with these deceitful gains.”

The smell of the candles & perfumes take me back to my parent’s busy shop again, I find myself having to look up at the person standing in front of me, I can see his mouth moving but I hear nothing. My mother is behind the counter talking to another customer, and I can feel the pulse of the wooden floor from behind me. A hand touches my shoulder and a deep voice cuts through the silence, “I might be able to help you with what you’re looking for, your wife will love some of the perfumes we have over here.” As I turned expecting to see my father and his friendly “shop smile,” one of the guards had came up behind me, his was the hand on my shoulder as he was trying to move past me to get to the shops funds. It sent a shiver down my spine that I am sure the guard felt by the puzzled look on his face as we made eye contact.

As we walked towards Citadel Volshyenek I couldn’t help but wonder how many other businesses in this city were still legitimate? Whether it be Butcher’s selling humans and running an anti government underground, Vile Gypsy’s selling hoax cure cashing in on the despondent citizens, or people being paid for a job as simple as carting bodies to the Grey district; cutting corners and dumping bodies before the job is done. I mean the most legitimate business we have seen so far might actually be in Eel’s End.

Also the Rampant Undead that seems to be springing up around the city. I knew we were in dire times, but has the City gone out of the grasp of saving? Is my best enough to make a difference?

My Mothers smiling face cuts through my mind and her voice tells me how proud she is of me…I think that might answer my questions.

Korvosa needs me……

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The Hungry Dead

Cressidia heard a disturbing rumor that some of the plague carters were not carting their dead to the Grey District, instead dumping their bodies somewhere in Old Korvosa. She asked the PCs to investigate the rumor, and correct the issue. Turned out they were dumping bodies in a place called Racker’s Alley. The PCs decided to wait to catch the carters red handed. They waited until dark, and were unexpectedly attacked by vampire spawn! The PCs killed the vamps, and then investigated the vampire den. It appeared the vampires were of Ustalavian origin, but why here or now wasn’t clear.

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Outbreak

The day after escorting Trinia out of the city, an acolyte from the Grand Vault approached the PCs explaining that Vaultkeeper Dhatri requested an audience with them at the temple. When they arrived, there were dozens of people, many of whom exhibited the familiar fiery rash of this new sickness. Zarian saw to it that a small child received the healing he needed. When the party met with Ishani, he told them that since the day they saw Brienna, people have been showing up sick, even some of the Bankers who have had no dealings with the sick. He believed this was the beginning of a bigger problem, and asked for an introduction to the Korvosan Guard (as well as safe escort) so he may begin pooling divine resources to battle this disease.

The PCs agree and make their way to Citadel Volshyenek, only to find that the Guard is already in motion. In addition to the Guard was the presence of a new military group, backed by the Queen herself, called Grey Maidens. These women in full plate with blank face masks are being tasked with coordinating the Guardsmen as well as a contingent of Plague Doctorss, hastily brought in from Cheliax and other areas. Following a speech from Cressidia, the PCs gained access to the talks of what was going on currently, and discussed how to move forward with fighting the outbreak.

Attention

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Second Harrowing

It wasn’t long before Zellara offered another Harrowing to our group. This Harrowing was rife with warnings of disease and death; The aid of the heroes being the key to the city’s salvation. It also had flashes of women with ashen skin and blank faces. There was also an omen of raven’s circling the dead.

Harrow Point Uses
In “Seven Days to the Grave,” the PCs are faced with numerous situations where health and resolve win the day, be this avoiding the contagion that plagues the city, resisting the toxins and poisons possessed by many of the people in the adventure, or enduring the implied race against the clock to find a cure for blood veil before it kills thousands. During this adventure, a character can spend his Harrow Points in the following ways.
Constitution Rerolls: Spend a Harrow Point to reroll any one Fortitude saving throw, Concentration check, or other Constitution-based d20 roll. You must abide by the new result (although if you have additional Harrow Points remaining, you can use them to attempt additional rerolls).
Fast Hit Point Recovery: Spend a Harrow Point after resting for a minute to catch your breath and recover from your recent ordeals—you heal a number of hit points equal to your class level and 1 point of ability damage (but not ability drain) each time you do so. You may spend a Harrow Point in this manner once after each encounter.
Damage Reduction: Spend a Harrow Point to gain damage reduction 3/—. This damage reduction persists for the duration of the encounter in which you spent the Harrow Point.

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Aftermath

With the rioting settled and talks of the botched execution of Trinia Sabor, life in Korvosa seemed return to its old routine. Our heroes sought refuge at the Old Fishery to see if there would be any fallout from assisting Blackjack in his escape.

Concerned for their safety they discretely organized a meeting withField Marshall Cressida Kroft. Less then pleased by the turn of events she rewarded the group’s trust in their friendship. She explained she also shares some of their doubts and while things have become more complicated she trusted their judgment and is relieved that Trinia hadn’t been executed under false pretenses. She recommended that they try to lay low until she can better assess the next coming days. She assured them that no word of their involvement had reached her ears, but would update them should anything new come to light.

Quickly growing restless, the group did not care for their self imposed quarantine. During this time Illendrian Quennore paid a visit to Verik Vancaskerkin and Tiora to check in and ensure they were adequately supplied.

Down time didn’t last for long as our heroes were awoken in the middle of the night due to the thunderous noise of several trebuchet shots. Disguised, they quickly made their way to North Point and discovered the Korvosan Guard and fired upon and scuttled a ship trying to sneak into the city under the cover of darkness. While the group attempted to delve deeper into the matter, the guard was very tight lipped and assured them that the situation was well under control and to return home.

The next morning Zarian Graves was tracked down by his friend Grau Soldado. His request was simple and straight forward. His niece Brienna was sick and no one knows what ailed her. He figured the group would know the right people or be able to heal her themselves, without paying the exorbitant prices the Bank of Abadar would require. They accompanied Grau to the Soldado residence in Trail’s End, where they ran into a Banker by the name of Ishani. Ishani had done all he could with herbs but couldn’t arrange for a remove disease without asking payment per the tenants of his church. Valek paid for a remove disease, and after healing Brienna become heroes to her grateful mother.

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Injustice for All

Symbol of seranrae
It all happened so fast, before I truly processed what happened I was already scattered from the scene. After pushing through the crowded streets around the “Gala for death," I find myself trying to work through it all, coincidentally finding myself in front of the Temple The Dawnflower herself. Did I subconsciously retreat here for safety? For penance? I ran like I did something wrong, but why do I feel so certain I did what was right? How did I end up in a situation like this, is this city really in such a shambled corrupt state that I find myself unable to be 100% positive I am on the right side? I seemingly followed Illendrian’s lead without hesitation, he acted so fast like he already had part of this planned. I wonder if Blackjack had not shown up, would Illendrian have been on the stage in his place. Thinking back on it, I have trouble believing that he would have gone to watch an execution made out to be such a display.

I knew of the legend of Blackjack, he has never appeared unless the city was in such dire need of them. But I always wondered why he waits until times are at their worst; why not try to fix them before they get that bad? Now I understand more than ever why that is. Tonight I saw people catalyzed by his very appearance. These people who were prepared to enjoy the execution of a likely innocent girl who was denied the due process a trial which in turn denied our King his Justice. If a King cannot receive justice from his nation, then who really can. Hopefully, Blackjack has stirred these questions within the minds of the people. Hopefully, that’s his intentions.

Rajiri always spoke that there was no real balance to Good and Evil, but instead a pendulum. Evil will never truly be extinguished from the world; all we can do is swing the pendulum back in our favor with mercy & redemption or swift justice. I think Blackjack might just be an extreme point on that pendulum, here to stir the hearts of the people back into the other direction. Maybe as much as champions like me are needed, maybe those who work outside the law are as well. Maybe a combination of the two is the only way to ensure Evil does not slip through on either path. Unfortunately I think the pendulum is not yet done swinging towards us, and I may be delivering more swift justice going forward then Mercy & Redemption.

Standing in her temple, my soul reminds me of the teachings. Her words are heard clearly in my mind “Whenever in doubt, it is the spirit of the law that must be followed, if ever the letter is corrupt or unknown.” This reeks of corruption, and it may be all the way to the top.

I want to trust Cressida, but how big of a part in this corruption does she play, whether it’s unbeknownst to her or not. While I don’t plan on lying to Cressida at all, telling her everything may not be in our best interest or in the City’s best interest; if we are truly needed to get this city back in the good graces of humanity.

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Edge of Restraint
The Execution of Trinia Sabor - Illendrian's POV

This is the real filth of the city Illendrian though to himself as he wandered through the assembled nobles and other important people in Korvosa’s upper class. All pomp and show as the who’s who tried to gain favor with their new Queen, completely uncaring whether or not this woman was even guilty. They’d come for the party – eating and drinking, laughing amongst friends, their blood-lust growing – as a young woman, an innocent young woman, awaited her fate.

As sunset drew near and Trinia was lead to the chopping block, the Queen gave a grandiose speech – one I fully believed to be nothing more than convenient lies meant to pin the murder of the King on an unsuspecting commoner. At least it was good for one thing, as the crowd’s attention was focused solely on the Queen, Illendrian was able to maneuver himself to a spot closer to the executioner’s stage.

If only he’d been quicker in the Shingles, if only the stubborn woman had listened she wouldn’t be in this predicament. Far to late to dwell on the past though, only time for the here and now. All Illendrian needed was a window, a second or two to act so he could right this wrong.

Looking around, he didn’t like his chances, outnumbered as he was. And it wasn’t something he was going to drag his party members into either. He would gladly forfeit his own life to save this innocent woman and expose what he was sure were the lies of his “Queen” but he couldn’t ask the same of his friends.

Tensing, hands on his sabres, Illendrian was ready to spring into action as the executioner hefted his axe when fate presented itself. There was a hitch in the executioners swing and a pained grunt. The axe dropped and the executioner reached to his back, his hand returning smeared with blood. He fell, revealing a two daggers firmly planted in his back, courtesy of the one and only Blackjack.

Stunned silence fell over the assembled crowd and time slowed for Illendrian. This was his moment to act. Blackjack addressed the crowd and the Queen, all but confirming Illendrian’s suspicions. Distracted as he was, he didn’t see the executioner rising behind him and by the time Illendrian realized he should be moving he was already halfway to the stage.

What happened next was a blur of chaos and commotion. The executioner’s axe was knocked from him hands right as Illendrian drove his shoulder into the wounded man’s back, knocking the air from his lung as he cascaded off the platform onto the ground below. Screams filled the air and panic broke out. Standing Illendrian found Zarian and Henric on stage with him with Valek running interference in the crowd.

This was going to get ugly quickly. “We need to move – now!” Illendrian spoke to his companions. “You know where to regroup.” Jumping off stage, the group lost themselves in the crowd and made themselves scarce…

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Return of a Hero

The big news bustling about the city as the PCs emerge triumphant from the Dead Warrens is that Trinia Sabor’s trial has concluded. Queen Ileosa has announced that the assassin is to be executed at sunset and has invited many of Korvosa’s nobles, military officers, and anyone of any real import to Castle Korvosa’s public courtyard to witness the event.

Cressida requested the PC’s be there as something about the whole affair didn’t sit right with her. With the way things have been going lately in Korvosa, Kroft worried that the execution might trigger another riot.

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.

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 the PCs met earlier in this adventure—Queen Ileosa has fully accepted the mantle of sole monarch now, and carried herself with poise, style, and grace.

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 Sabor’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 stands and addresses the crowd.

Queen ileosa arabasti 2
“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!”

As the headsman hefted his axe, the already silent crowd froze in anticipation. Yet just before he swungs, the headsman gavs a strange little grunt and staggered. His raised axe faltered as he reached with one hand to the small of his back and then brought it to his face, the fingers dripping with blood. An instant later, he cried out in pain and droped the axe as a dagger embeded itself in the back of his other hand. The axe sunk itself in the block inches from Trinia’s head, and the headsman doubled over in pain, revealing a second dagger that’d already embedded in the small of his back. Trinia rised to her knees, glancing up at the executioner in shock as a scream echoed through the crowded courtyard: “By the gods! It’s Blackjack!”

Courtyard execution
An instant later, a man dressed in a hooded cloak and leather armor sprang onto the executioner’s block. Wielding 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 turned 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 stood stunned for a few moments, whispered something to Sabina, and then quickly turned to flee into Castle Korvosa, Sabina and a dozen guards behind her covered her retreat. The remaining guards in the courtyard moved to apprehend Blackjack, but the gathered nobles, thirsty for blood, made it difficult to move. At the same time, the executioner recovered from his wounds and lifted his axe once again over Blackjack, who seemed to have momentarily forgotten the man in his apparent delight at having forced the queen to flee.

It was then our group burst into action. Henric quickly called Blackjack back to focus while Zarian interupted the swing of the executioners axe with his hammer. Illendrian capitalized on the situation and dove into the executioner driving his shoulder into the man’s back from behind. Valek managed to impede a group of guards as they worked their way towards to execution block.

Blackjack quickly dragged Trinia behind him and clambered up a hanging banner to a nearby wall, Trinia scampered behind. As the two reached the wall, he swiftly drank a potion of feather fall, bowed to the crowd while back lit by the setting sun. He then bowed to the PCs in particular, and he raised his rapier in salute to them before he and Trinia leapt from the wall to make their
escape into the city.

Thinking quickly the group made use of a thunderstone and some alchemy bombs to create the diversion they needed themselves in order to escape.

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