Curse of the Crimson Throne

Edge of Anarchy
CHAPTER ONE

Korvosa clean
The city of Korvosa began 300 years ago, in 4407 ar, when the Empire of Cheliax expanded north into Varisia. Here, the Chelaxians found a large tribe of Shoanti barbarians dwelling around an immense pyramid on the shores of a deep bay—a perfect site for a city. Much bloodshed eventually left the Shoanti defeated, driven back to the harsh Cinderlands, and the city that grew on the site was named after the field marshal who led his army to victory there.

Today, Korvosa’s reigning King Eodred Arabasti II is feared by all the right people. His rule is steady, even if his insatiate appetites drain the city’s coffers. His ability to navigate the rocks and shoals of Chelish diplomacy earned the city favorable trade agreements with the Old Empire, but rumors persisted of the king’s womanizing habits and his spendthrift ways. Despite his fondness for a soft touch, he has to date produced no heir to the throne, the latest in a line of rulers affected by the Curse of the Crimson Throne. Edicts proclaim Eodred II the Saffron King, likening his reign to one of abundance, in which honey and spice flood the markets. The city’s downtrodden have another name for Eodred, though—the Stirge King, a man whose squandering ways are slowly bleeding his city dry.

Whispers of Eodred II’s taste for scandalously young companionship have dogged the king throughout his rule, and thus when he finally wed, it was no surprise that his bride was barely a third of his age. Queen Ileosa was a woman of breathtaking beauty, with red hair like the sunset, chaste alabaster skin, and features so fetching many claimed her mother must have been a nymph queen, as surely no mortal woman could give birth to a beauty such as she. Most of Korvosa’s nobles worry of the dangers of placing a trophy wife within hands’ reach of the Crimson Throne, but Ileosa’s interest in the city seemed secondary to the life of luxury—and with the more-than-competent Seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis guarding Castle Korvosa’s interests, these noble families feel they have little to worry about.

The two were wed after a scandalously short courtship, and, perhaps the most shocking move of all, Eodred turned out his entire harem in favor of his new queen. Barely 17 years old when she took Eodred II’s side in 4704 ar, Queen Ileosa has managed a minor miracle in the past 4 years—she’s single-handedly shifted the dislike and disapproval away from King Eodred to herself with her open distaste for Korvosa (a city she’s been heard to call “a backwater colonial village” more than once).

The last several weeks, the King has become more secluded in Castle Korvosa and his lady-wife has taken more of the ruling responsibilities in the public eye. Despite the staff’s best efforts, rumors are starting to surface that the King may not be well, and that the Curse of the Crimson Throne is finally taking its toll. If the King were to die, it would surely plunge the city onto the Edge of Anarchy.

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The Tie That Binds
Introductions and a common enemy (Illendrian's POV)

Tucked into the shadows of an alleyway across from the location he was given on a mysterious harrow card, Illendrian sat and watched the entrance to the nondescript building, making sure he was early to arrive. There was no trace of anyone being in the abandoned building he called home, and he was careful that no one knew the building was even occupied which made the appearance of said card even more disturbing. It promised a chance at Gaedren Lamm, something he couldn’t pass up, but that didn’t mean he was going to rush heedlessly into what could well be a trap. Patience was key – for observation led to knowledge, and knowledge to preparedness. It didn’t take long.

Valek and Zarian were the first to arrive, the first a human of average height and build while the later – also human – was heavily muscled and armed with a massive spiked hammer and a shield the size of a table. They walked up to the front door and knocked straight away. This conveyed either a severe lack of intelligence or extreme confidence, and Illendrian couldn’t figure out which. The door popped open a couple of inches and the two disappeared inside. Illendrian continued to wait.

A few minutes passed without scream or explosion and a third figure approached. Hooded, it was hard to tell exactly what he or she was, but there was a grace and agility in each step. Scanning for any signs of potential danger, Henric also slipped inside. “Smart, that one,” Illendrian thought to himself, “He was probably scouting as well…”

A few more minutes passed and without signs of anyone else approaching, Illendrian made one last sweep for anyone watching or following him and then made his way to the building and entered without a knock.

It didn’t take long for the four to realize they’d all been brought together for a purpose. Each had received a mysterious harrow card slipped in their possessions and each had a vendetta against Gaedren.

It was at this moment that their mysterious benefactor showed herself. Zellara was her name, and with the help of her Harrow Deck, she had come to know that each of us had been wronged at one point by Gaedren and has also ascertained his whereabouts. Naturally, this caused some raised eyebrows and questions but a quick Q&A and a chance to finally bring Gaedren to justice was enough to convince the four to work towards their common goal.

Pleased at this, Zellara offered a Harrow reading as payment for the group’s services – one which was accepted with varying degrees of skepticism. In short, dire times were heading towards Korvosa and this group was to play a part in either preventing or putting an end to this “plague”.

Benefactor revealed, mission accepted, and fortunes read, the four adventurers headed out into the afternoon sun to track down Gaedren Lamm…

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The Old Fishery

The hero’s entered the Old Fishery after sundown, and took care of Gaedren’s main thugs Yargin, Hookshanks, Giggles and the mangy cur Bloo. All the little lambs are too scared to fight back and ran into the night as soon as their captors were dead. The adventurers then made their way under the fishery to access Gaedren’s den.

After dispatching of Lamm and feeding him to his pet gator, they loot Gaedren’s rather remaining treasures. Within his bedroom made a shocking discovery – the head of Zellara! Back at her apartment they discovered that Zellara did pursue Gaedren, but was then captured and killed several weeks ago. She gathered the heroes together posthumously and now haunts her Harrow Deck.

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A City Gone Mad

Korvosa riot
Emerging from the fishery our heroes found the city had erupted into chaos. News of King Eodred’s death had incited riots across the city. Among the riots, The group saved a young noble from being killed by rioters, interrupted looters, saved citizens from burning buildings and prevented the fire from spreading.

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The Alchemist's Tavern ( Valek POV )

Artwork tavern

“Zarian, we must get back to the tavern and check on Kiriam” I bellowed as we ran through the riot filled city. “Hurry!”

Zarian was right on my heels with his tower shield firmly fastened to his back and his spiked hammer gripped in one hand. For a man his size, he kept up with no problems. I’m not sure if he had something to prove or his fear for Kiriam’s safety motivated him to do so, but I had never seen him like this. He didn’t even move like this when we were in the old fishery earlier in the day. “We’re almost there!”

“Damn it… it’s locked” I muttered and Zarian gestured at my neck. “Oh Yeah. I almost forgot.” Kiriam had given me a key to the tavern and since I gained her trust in the last few weeks, she would let me lock up at night. I took the key from around my neck and unlocked the door. Kiriam must have shut down to prevent the looters from gaining access to the tavern when the rioting broke out.

I turned to Zarian " Come on, let’s get inside" and as I turned back I was met with the tip of a crossbow bolt looking me square in the face. “Damn you boys! Where have you been?” Kiriam asked. Her eyes full of worry. You could see the dark circles under them. “The king is dead and most of Korvosa is rioting!” she said looking over my shoulder to make sure no one had noticed the open door. “Hurry inside!”

I told her that we were aware of Eodred Arabasti II: (Deceased) passsing and told her that wasn’t all. “Then we have much to talk about” Kiriam said. Her features looking worn out, as if she hadn’t been sleeping the past few days. We told her about our meeting with Zellara and how we met two others who also had the same connections to Gaedren Lamm (Deceased) as we had. Kiriam seemed puzzled at first but listened intently to our story.

“So you guys managed to kill Gaedren?” Kiriam asked? “Aye” Zarian said in a low tone of voice. I could sense his frustration among all the confusion of what had transpired that today. "Kiriam sat quite for a few minutes. The silence was awkward and I couldn’t get quite a read on her. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

“Well, if your lives are tied to the future of Korvosa, then there is much that needs to be done.” Kiriam said with determination in her voice. “Get some rest tonight. I’m going to contact a few friends.”

And as Zarian and I started to walk up the stairs Kiriam turned to me and with what almost seemed like a smile said “Valek, you did well today. I’m proud of you”

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Long Live the Queen

Sorting through the loot from the Fishery, our heroes realized they had a brooch that belonged to the Queen. They sought to return it and were rewarded by an audience with the Queen herself and her plea for these new heroes to help the city. They agreed and were sent to Citadel Volshyenek to speak with Field Commander Cressidia Kroft. She sent the new heroes on a series of missions to help quell the unrest within the city.

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All the Worlds Meat

The first mission our Heroes were tasked with involved rounding up deserters from the Guard who had left their posts and have been moving meat in Northgate. They attempted a frontal assault when Gavin utilized his form of diplomacy; attempting to smash one of the guards head against the wall. Dispatching the Cow Hammer Boys, it is then discovered that not all the meat being processed in the back was from animals. The people the men were murdering have been ending up being given to citizens!

While the rest of the group gathered evidence to present to Cressida Kroft, Illendrian, fealing empathy for the mislead Verik Venkaskerkin allowed him to escape down a knotted rope from the office on the second floor. The group quickly broke out into an argument as they all shared different moral views.

The group has just formed and if something isn’t done quickly it could spell it’s end. More importantly, what will they tell The Field Marshal?

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Good Intentions, Misplaced Faith
A conversation between Illendrian and Verik

That last statement that floated up the stairs looked like a physical blow when it finally registered to Verik. Not all the meat was of the animal variety, some looked distinctly human in nature. As the color drained from his face he looked like he was doing his best to keep lunch down and I took a half-step back just to be safe.

“Care to explain?” I asked.

“I swear, I didn’t know THAT,” Verik exclaimed. “I…what…how…just wanted to make a difference,” he stuttered.

I still wasn’t sure what to make of him, the story he told made it seem like he was just trying to help those in need. Tired of the bonds of bureaucracy and wanting to make a difference in people’s lives he detached himself from the guard and started up this operation with some of his friends in the guard. As we found out moments ago, turns out his “friends” were sick of following his lead and had started running some side jobs to make extra coin, leading to the mutiny against him and the processing of human meat to the poor, huddled masses he thought he was helping. Judging by his reaction, it was definitely a case of misplaced faith.

Now that was something I could relate to and for a second my thoughts drifted to Tarya and the havoc she caused me before I pushed those thoughts aside, focusing on the here and now.

By this point, Henric had made his way back up the stairs and was standing sentinel and Valek had also come up to voice his opinions on the matter to our prisoner.

“Enough, Valek,” I sternly interjected. “Henric, can you watch him for a minute, I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”

Walking into what passed as the office I shuffled through the papers on his desk – some ledgers, a shipping manifest or two, and a draft of a letter to someone named Vamonda. Reading it over quickly it looked like his story added up at first glance, he was just trying to help those down on their luck – he finally felt free and was happy once more. That made up my mind, time to ask a few questions to confirm my gut instinct and then act.

Of the entire group, Henric is the one I trust most, but I’m not sure what side of the line he’d fall on. He seems like one who has similar goals and ideals but this would be asking a lot of someone I’ve only just met a day or two prior. I’m still not sure of the motivations of Valek or Zarian, besides I’m pretty sure the bounty and the law are higher on their priority lists then they are on mine. Consequences be damned, I’ll have to do this solo and fill the group in later for better or worse.

“Henric, Valek…if we’re to report on our findings here can you make sure everything is secure downstairs? I’ve got our friend here covered.” I say upon re-entering the room with a stack of papers.

As they descend the stairs out of earshot I turn my attention back to Verik, “So, who’s Vamonda?”

Head in hands, he lets out an exasperated huff. “She’s..she’s my girl. She was the one who gave me courage enough to leave the guard and the help the people. I swear that all I wanted to do – apparently I can’t even do that correctly.”

Eyeing him up and down the man looks defeated, broken. It’s a feeling I know all to well as I rest a hand on his shoulder. “It looks like your heart was in the right place, you just put your trust in the wrong people. I take it you know the penalty for treason?”

His shoulders slumped a little lower, “Of course I do – so that it’s then?” Verik half-heartedly asks. “I won’t fight it, I deserve my fate.”

“What if there’s another way?” I retort. “As I said, your heart was in the right place and you truly thought you were doing good deeds. You know as well as I do if we turn you in, you’ll likely die in prison – and that’s assuming you don’t get the death penalty wrought upon you first.”

With the faintest glimmer of hope comes his reply, “What…What are you talking about?”

“With the right people, the right organization, I believe you could do a lot of good in this city. But it will take time, patience. If that’s something you can handle, if you can lay low for a while I think I can help. Interested?”

It’s an odd sensation watching hope blossom in someone else’s eyes, it’s very hard to describe, but that what I saw there as he spoke next. “I…I would be forever in your debt. I promise, you won’t regret this. I have many amends to make, just tell me where to begin.”

Writing down an address on a scrap of paper I walk him into the office and hand it to him. “Lay low here, no one will find you. Don’t stop home, just grab a couple days worth of supplies with whatever coin you have on you. I’ll drop by with more in the next few days.” Lowering a length of rope out the window, I gesture with a quick nod of my head. “Quickly now, before the others come back upstairs. I’m taking a big risk here, don’t make me regret this…” I finish as his head disappears from view.

“Sarenrae grant me strength and wisdom” I mutter as I turn to head back downstairs. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.”

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Eels End

Upon returning to Feild Marshal Kroft to discuss the results of their last mission they met Vencarlo Orisini. They explained that they had put an end to the Cow Hammer Boys and their illegal activities. While not thrilled with the choice to allow Vencaskerkin to escape, Vencarlo spoke on the groups behalf and reminded her that they face larger problems at the moment.

Agreeing, she explained that the next mission was important. A Chelaxian ambassador was attempting to capitalize on the cities’ unrest with the acquisition of inexpensive real estate and the implementation of possible trade embargoes. This needed to be put to rest immediately. Word on the street was that Devargo Barvassi, the King of Spiders had incriminating evidence regarding the ambassador. She suggested that a meeting to obtain this information would be possible as long as they had no association to the Korvosan Guard.

Vencarlo Orisini offered to escort the group from the Citidel to Old Korvosa. During their trek north, he took time to get to know the group better and thanked Zarian for helping their mutual friend Grau Soldadowhen he had been down on his luck.

Parting ways, our heroes ventured towards Eel’s End. Splitting up to gather some intel, Zarian had a private conversation with a companion from the House of Clouds. The others tried their luck at the Twin Tigers Gambling Barge. Eventually the group learned that The King of Spiders had obtained some incriminating letters.

While the Heroes attempted to gain audience with Devargo, Madam Courtney alongside Gavin motivated the guards to allow entry. Once inside, they became aware they had interrupted a meeting between Devargo and some potential enforcers.

After some initial difficulty with diplomacy, some words, gold, and a few rounds of Knivesies, The King of Spiders finally agreed to part with the blackmail material. During that dialogue, the alchemist had been contacted telepathically with a plea for freedom.

Valek Greymist had no intention of allowing the pseudodragon Majenko to suffer in a cage and had a plan of his own. The whisper of encouragement was all Gavin Theldoren needed to hear. Slipping into stealth, he waited for his moment and gutted one of the Eel’s enforcers.

Zarian had accidently overheard the murderous order and tried to prevent the imminent battle. Devargo would have none of it and with a push of a button activated a pit trap below the his feet.
Eelsendspider

All chaos broke loose and while Zarian faced off against an ettercap and its spider companions, the rest of the group were forced to deal with the might of Eel’s End. Valek managed to free Majenko before falling to the expert marksmanship of the King of Spiders. Majenko dove through the pit to defend the unconscious Alchemist. Illendrian Quennore followed closely behind knowing the fatigued little dragon would only last so long.

As the dust settled, Henric realized that this fatal encounter was manipulated by Madam Courtney, Gavin and Kiriam from the beginning. Henric managed to negotiate a cease to all hostilities with the new Madam of Eel’s End. Zarian was not thrilled with negotiating with criminals but settled on taking Gavin to Citidel Volshyenek and turning him in for murder.

Madam Courtney objected, but Gavin interceded. He explained that he was only doing what Valek had instructed but willingly turned himself over. He was happy to point out that he wouldn’t be in Longacre long and didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize his friendship with the group. Besides, there were a few people in prison that owed him some money and it was a great opportunity to remind them.

Grateful for his rescue, Majenko agreed to serve Valek for one full year. While ultimately successful in their mission. It would seem that the group may not share the same set of values and may need to have a discussion going forward if they are to succeed.

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A Charming Encounter

Zarian decided that the House of Clouds might prove a better source of information on the ambassador than the Twin Tigers. He figured with the varied clientele the girls might have heard something. The double doors at the entrance hung open revealing a large room decorated with throw rugs, large pillows, air thick with incense and lit by red paper lanterns. The scent of anise, rosewater, and cinnamon poured forth from smoking bronze braziers set on silver stands carved in the likenesses of slit-eyed serpents and proud hunting birds. Several scantily-clad men and women loitered about the barge’s deck.

Distracted and looking for a place to start he was surprised to feel a slender arm wrap around his own. “Looking for some company?” He could feel her warm breath on his skin. He turned his head to get a better look at her. She was young; maybe in her early twenties, and beautiful. Her hair was long, thick, and the color of dancing flame. She also had an infectious smile. Zarian realized he must have lost his focus as she asked the question again.

“Yes, In fact I am,” he casually replied. She took him by the hand and led him to one of the private quarters below the deck of the ship. Once they reached the room she began to unbuckle his hammer’s harness and leaned his massive shield against the wall. He placed his hand on her arm as she began to untie her bodice. “That won’t be necessary,” he interrupted, “I’m only looking for information.” Clearly confused by the turn of events she quickly secured her clothing. This customer was different from the others. “They’re your gold crowns, spend em however you’d like.”
“Zarian”, he interjected.
“hm?”
“My name is Zarian.” Rolling his broad shoulders, he settled on the bed. “I need information on Darvayne Gios Amprei. He’s the Chelaxian ambassador. Do you know him?” He watched as the girl twirled a strand of hair around her finger lost in thought. Even now she was working. “Yeah, I know of him. He comes around these parts late at night when he thinks no one will take notice of him. He’s a jerk if you ask me. Too full of himself. I heard one of the other girls mention that he and Devargo Barvasi have some sort of deal going on. The King of Spider didn’t feel the ambassador showed him the proper respect so he did something about it.” Zarian noticed her subtle shiver before she continued. “Rumor has it that Barvasi broke into his place and stole some sordid letters that could ruin his career. He has been selling these letters back to Ambassador Amprei one letter each week for a small fortune. I would be careful in your dealings with King of Spiders. Once he gets his hooks in you, he doesn’t let go…ever.”

Zarian watched as the young girl’s facade began to falter but was swiftly restored. “Is that what happened to you? Are you stuck here?” He inquired. She immediately grew angry. “Ah, so that’s your fucking game huh? You just planned on walking in here and pretending to be a good guy. Just looking for information!” She mocked. “Your no different than anyone else. If you wanted to role play that’s all you needed to say. It’s your coin.”

Taken back by the spontaneous reaction, Zarian tried to explain himself and couldn’t help but chuckle. “On my honor I meant no offense. I promise this is no such game. Let’s just say that I strongly believe in second chances. I’m not half bad at reading body language either. You look like you could use one. A second chance.”

He watched as she stared at him. She was clearly torn. “Zarian, our time is up unless you have another 5 crowns.” He knew all too well that 15 minutes had yet to pass but also understood that she was clinging desperately to any semblance of control. He reach into his pouch and pulled out another 10 gold crowns. “Apologies, I would not wish to get you in trouble. This coin should be more than sufficient for us to finish our conversation.”

She quickly took the coin and walked across the room where she deftly deposited the monies in a small lock box near a silver pitcher and glasses. “It’s your money, what shall we talk about?” Zarian smiled and asked for her name.

“My name? why would you want that? It doesn’t matter.” Zarian lifted himself from the bed and made his way to the other side of the room. “If it doesn’t matter, then you should have no problem humoring me.”

Her shoulder’s slumped and she lowered he head. He couldn’t see her eyes through her drooping bangs. My name is Surisa Melnorn." Zarian gently placed his hand on her shoulder. She didn’t move an inch. “Well Surisa Melnorn,” said Zarian, “Have you ever considered a different line of work? A whole new start? Maybe in a tavern? I happen to know a place where I could convince them to hire you.”

She pushed his hand aside. “Just like that? I am to take the word of a stranger and just leave the only thing i know??? I’m sorry but that’s just not good enough; and besides, even if I were to believe your intentions were genuine and wanted to leave I never could… The King of Spiders would never allow it.”

Zarian took Surisa by both shoulders and forced eye contact. "All I’m saying is to think about it. Think about your dreams and what your life could be. Tell me here and now this is what you want from life and I’ll leave never to trouble you again. She said nothing.

Zarian moved one of his hands to a different pouch and placed it on the table. “Here. Take this extra gold and keep it for yourself. I’ll come across more. My friends and I are seeking an audience with this King of Spiders. Perhaps I can find a way to show him that it is actually in his best interest to forget about you.”

Zarian moved towards his tower shield and began to fasten it to his back. “He’s dangerous,” she whispered. “So am I” answered the warrior. As he made his way back to the upper deck and towards the Twin Tigers to meet his friends, he left a young woman very confused and alone with her thoughts. She was confused by the turbulent emotions she was experiencing. Some feeling she hadn’t been familiar with in a while…hope?

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