Curse of the Crimson Throne (TRU)

Under Arkona Palace
Episode #25

 

Under Arkona Palace

 

                The group of adventurers slowly descended down the winding staircase below the massive jade elephant statue into the caverns below. Their next step was to find the Vivified Labryinth down here which Glorio Arkona had told them was hidden behind an illusionary wall. The staircase came out to a cavern of colorful fungi that covered the walls and floor. They treaded carefully through it as they followed the wall around the cavern. The center of his large chamber opened up and continued farther below into a dark space. A series of wooden bridges could be seen connecting various outcroppings from the wall and twisting to continue the path further down into the depths below.

                While moving through the colorful cavern, they saw a disturbance among the vines that overtook some of the walls. Suddenly five skeletal figures emerged in tattered armor wielding scimitars as they advanced towards the Harrows. Nicodemus looked at the skeletons as he turned to the group. “I will handle these vile undead.” He raised his staff and brought it down releasing a wave of positive energy that washed over the skeletons. However the energy seemed to have no effect as the oracle just paused for a moment. “Alright…they aren’t undead. New plan.”

                They looked at each other trying to figure out what these things were as they looked undead but weren’t affected by the positive energy. In the meantime Philo used Enlarge Person on Barilut to make the dwarf twice his size and a real threat to anything that got near him. He swung his Dwarven flail at one of the monsters cracking part of its side with a solid hit. The skeletons seemed to be more resilient than normal ones as they retaliated with their own scimitar strikes. Philo took this time to examine the creatures more closely and recalled hearing about rare efreetis that could take hold of a figure. With this knowledge plus the immovable wrath of Barilut they would be able to make short work of these strange guardians.

                With the strange creatures defeated, the Harrows moved on exploring the caverns. They took caution crossing the bridge making sure to not overload it and risk breaking it as they descended deeper underground. The winding path continued down to the sound of water as waves were seen crashing against some of the rocks. It appeared that an underground river flowed down here as a dock had been built with a boat stationed on it. There were also a few doors down here that the group checked to make sure they weren’t trapped. The first one appeared to be a living quarters of some kind as a bed was in it. Various animal sculptures made of fine materials and decorated with gems had been carved and placed on a shelf that Jathan helped himself to, tossing them into his bag of holding.

                They moved on over to the other door as Barilut opened it to see what was there. This room was much larger and had a number of statues of a humanoid man with a tiger head lining the alcoves of this temple room. At the far end another strange statue sat upon a dais as a humanoid man with tiger features sat there meditating. When he heard the door open he growled and got up, looking behind him with a snarl. “Who disturbs this temple?” The man said as the sounds of hissing began to fill the room for the room had a number of other occupants. Three large cobra snakes were curled up at the bottom of the steps and rose to attention as the strange tiger man called upon them.

                Barilut closed the door and looked back at the group. “Maybe he won’t bother us?” Gren and the rest of them just gave him a look as they prepared for battle, taking up defensive positions and casting magic to enhance themselves. While preparing the door to the temple opened and they looked to see the large cobras hissing around the doorway. “Did the snake just open the door?” Jathan said curiously as the tiger figure was nowhere to be seen. The rogue took a position as he fired a crossbow bolt into the room at one of the cobras. Barilut and Gren would lead the charge as Gren drank another strange potion and her body began to mutate and shift as wings grew out of her back and sharp claws and teeth replaced her human features. She darted in and started to slash away at one of the cobras while Barilut moved to another. Philo continued to support the group from afar, casting support magic and firing off acid darts when he could.

                It was then a crack of lightning was heard as the large electric bolt shot through the room and out the door at the adventurers. Gren managed to dodge out of the way but the lightning blasted through Barilut and Jathan as the tiger figure appeared at the other end of the Lightning Bolt spell. He roared out angrily at the adventurers as the cobras lunged out to try and bite the Harrows. Gren saw the strange man and charged into the room past the cobras as she clashed against the tiger with both of her own claws. With two of the three cobras defeated at the door the rest of the group could make their way in to deal with the strange monster.

                As they closed in the monster let loose another Lightning Bolt to cause them to scatter. Jathan was the next to make it to the tiger and slashed at it with his dagger. While the dagger did slice the shoulder of the monster it didn’t seem to pierce that deep as the monster’s skin was quite resistant to their attacks. The group swarmed around the beast trying to attack him from all sides. He lashed out with his sharp claws and teeth biting into Jathan to retaliate as the monster ripped into his armor and caused the rogue to bleed out profusely. Nicodemus quickly rushed over and used his healing magic to bring Jathan back to his feet. Meanwhile, Barilut and the rest of the Harrows let their weapons fly into the side of the monster to slowly wear it down.

                The back and forth exchange between the tiger humanoid and the adventurers was quite a bloody mess as they wore him down slowly before he finally succumbed to all their efforts. “What was that thing?” Jathan said, breathing heavily as he was badly injured in the encounter. “I’ve read about creatures like that before” Philo said. “I believe that they are known as Rakshasa. No idea why one is in Korvosa.” They scanned the temple to see if they could find anything useful before heading back out into the caverns to try and find the entranceway they were looking for. Sure enough just as Glorio describes, Philo’s hand passed through one of the stone walls that seemed to be an illusion. He called the group over to the illusionary wall and together they stepped through it into the tunnel beyond.

                The tunnel weaved around before finally coming to a stop at a set of double doors. The doors were ornately decorated and had four large circles carved on them, each one a tiger head inside roaring out. The design had various animals all over it and as they pushed the doors open they knew that they were here at last. This was the Vivified Labyrinth. They were one step closer to finding Vencarlo.  

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House Arkona
Episode #24

 

Emperor of Old Korvosa

 

The Harrows busted through the door of Emperor Pilts home trying to find Salvator Scream, the artist that they had come here for in the first place. After a grueling battle outside they finally were able to take a look around as Jathan went ahead and started scouting the area out. He opened up one of the doors and saw a bunch of old boxes filled with costumes, props, and various stage equipment. Most of it looked like junk and wasn’t worth anything so he just closed the door and continued exploring the area. The next room that he had discovered was a bizarre room that had a number of poorly preserved heads in it ranging from humans to a few elves and dwarves. A small bed was put together in the corner of the room that looked like it was far too tiny for any normal sized human as the group continued to check the place out.

Meanwhile, Barilut went to check another path as he found a long hallway that weaved in a different direction. At the end of this hallway he discovered a small room that seemed to house a bunch of art supplies and a number of paintings. Looking at the paintings they appeared to be the works of Salvator but seemed to be getting worse and worse with each one they flipped through. Back in the strange room, Jathan went to go open another door and this one opened up into what appeared to be a bedroom with a large bed in the center of it. The sheets were disheveled and dirty as three large paintings hung in this room.

The main attraction of this room was the figure running to and fro jamming various books and items into a large bag. It was the Emperor as he stopped in his tracks and looked towards the open door. “Found him.” Jathan called out to the rest of the group as he pulled his dagger out and charged in after the Emperor. Pilts quickly dropped the bag and pulled out a war razor using it to deflect the dagger strike and make some room for himself. The area was small so there wasn’t much space for the entire party to come after him. Laori was soon to follow as she moved in and let her spiked chain fly out cutting part of Pilt’s costume and shoulder with it.

Pilts swung his razor out towards Jathan who quickly dodged it and moved around the bedpost before slashing the dagger right across the Emperor’s chest and causing him to fall back in pain as he bled out. With one final swing, the Emperor of Old Korvosa was dead. While looking around his bedroom, Laori screamed in excitement when she saw the three paintings. Each one was more gruesome then the last but Laori loved them. “These are original Scream works!” The Elf screamed in excitement. She looked back towards the Harrows. “If you guys don’t want them can I have them? Can I? Can I?”

Barilut just looked at her, amazed at how such works could excite her like a child getting presents on their birthday. He checked with the rest of the group and they agreed that no one else really wanted them. Laori squeed in delight as she started to take the paintings and roll them up so that she could store them. The other thing of note in this room was the door that had a padlock on it. With a quick pick of the lock, the door was opened to reveal a man that looked to be heavily bruised and almost starved man.

“Salvator I presume?” Barilut asked the man as he screamed in fear before realizing that it wasn’t the Emperor and his goons. The man took some calming down but eventually he did and confirmed that he was indeed the artist Salvator Scream that they had been looking for. The Harrows spoke with the man wanting to learn what he knew about Vencarlo. It turns out that he was friends with Vencarlo but also knew the former seneschal Neolandus Kalepopolis. The seneschal had come to him one night in a haste saying that he was in trouble. Queen Ileosa had tried to get him murdered, hiring the Red Mantis assassin group to take him out but he got away just in time. Neolandus knew that the Queen had changed and was much worse than she usually was. He needed to find someplace safe to hide out from her as he figured out his next move.

Salvator suggested taking him to the Arkona Palace. The Arkona family were a large patron of the arts and a wealthy noble family in Old Korvosa that could hide such a prominent figure. The seneschal agreed to this plan and Salvator escorted him to the palace. A few days ago, Vencarlo came to him asking if he knew anything about Neolandus and his whereabouts. After a heated discussion, Salvator eventually told Vencarlo that he had taken him to the Arkona house. When the Harrows told him that Vencarlo was also missing, Salvator was shocked and assumed it meant that he too also had gone to House Arkona.

It seemed the path for the group was clear. They had to travel across the tough worn down streets of Old Korvosa to the high life area where the Arkonas lived. After exhausting any other questions they had for the man, Salvator asked to get out of this place. It was too dangerous for him to stay here. Laori piped in and said that she could escort him back to the mainland safely. The group reluctantly agreed to let Laori escort Salvator and she gave them a wave. “Was lot of fun, you all are an interesting group. Something tells me I’ll be seeing you all again!” She chirped as she started to hum to herself and head out with the artist.

With that the group headed back out to give SI’ro a proper burial. Barilut said a prayer to Torag for the gunslinger as they laid him to rest one final time and started their journey through Old Korvosa. On their way through the streets they heard a loud crack as rubble began to fall and a man dressed in full armor rushed out with an axe. He was fighting off some strange monsters and with one swing he slashed through one as the other one fled. The Harrows paused for a moment at this random figure as he turned and gave them a smile.

“Greetings there. I’m Regus Longheart. Nice to meet you lot.” The man said as he looked at them. He motioned for them to come inside and off the streets for a moment to rest. They followed the man to an abandoned building where they saw a man sleeping there. Regus said the man was Nicodemus and he was traveling with him as a bodyguard. The guy had come to Korvosa to help deal with the plague. The man began to stir and wake as he looked at all the people in the room with him, wondering what they were doing here. He looked peculiar as his body appeared to have aged rapidly even though he seemed to move with a youthful vigor as he got to his feet. The group introduced themselves as the Harrows.

“Ah the Harrows. You were the lot that cured the plague were you not?” Nicodemus said as he looked them over. He told them that he was a healer and wanted to help the people of Korvosa and got stuck here in Old Korvosa when the quarantine was put into effect. Even though the plague was gone, the city was still in turmoil and he wanted to stay to help. After some talk, the Harrows agreed to let the man join their group and come with them. With this news, Regus was also happy as he had a family back home that he missed dearly and wanted to see. With Nicodemus under the safety of the Harrows he could head to the docks and catch a ride with Deman to get back to the mainland and home.

With their new traveling companion, the adventurers continued through the streets and towards House Arkona in hopes of finding Vencarlo. However, it seemed that they wouldn’t be able to get there without another intrusion as a strange female figure appeared before them. She spoke under her hood in a bit of sarcastic tone. “So these are the Harrows? The lot that saved the city? My cure would’ve worked If you hadn’t beat me to it.” The woman said. The group looked at her strangely as she introduced herself as Gren Grimjak. Apparently she was an alchemist that had been working on a cure for the plague while the Harrows had been exploring the streets and was close to one before Si’ro had cracked it using the research notes they had found. Now she was angry and wanted to see what the hoopla was all about. Jathan told her that they didn’t have time for this as they needed to head to House Arkona.

Gren smirked as she knew where the palace was as they had funded some of her research projects in the past. She invited herself to join the Harrows to help guide them and also to see what they were all about. After all, if these were the legendary heroes and saviors of the city they had to be special right? Gren would be the judge of that. And in a short span of a few hours the Harrows had gained two new members to fill their ranks.

Eventually they were able to finally arrive on the grounds of Arkona Palace where a number of guards stopped them to ask what business they had. The party told the guards they wished to have an audience with the lord in charge and were politely escorted into the house. The house was just as exquisite as the garden outside with its red carpets and unique works of art. Various statues of multi-armed goddesses and animal motifs decorated the place as they were escorted by the butler of the house, Carnochan. After a few moments the doors opened and in stepped a man dressed in fine clothes and perfectly groomed hair. He introduced himself as Glorio Arkona, the master of this home.

Barilut told the man that they were here looking for someone named Vencarlo. Glorio laughed and seemed relax in an arrogant way as he sent Carnochan to get some bread and wine for them. He told the group that it would be a little tricky in giving his “guest” over to them as they were currently in the Vivified Labyrinth.

“The Vivified Labyrinth?” Philo asked, wondering what that was. Glorio smiled and explained that the labyrinth was an underground maze they used for entertainment as well as training some of their guards. The Harrows looked at each other finding it a little strange that something like that existed. However it seemed that Glorio was quite coy in his words. While he couldn’t get Vencarlo for them he offered them the option to go get him themselves. The nobleman told them that the entrance to the Vivified Labyrinth was below the elephant statue in the gardens and that to open the passageway the secret words were “Chamidu is blind.”

Glorio smiled as he retired to his personal quarters, wishing the best to the group down below in the Vivified Labyrinth. With the man gone and the group alone at last they talked over how much they believed him. The adventurers certainly didn’t trust Glorio but it was their only lead on the whereabouts of Vencarlo. With that the party made their way towards the gardens inside House Arkona. The gardens made up a huge part of the lower level and it was an elaborate place with plants and trees of all types in here that seemed to be from another world. The walls were painted with a mural resembling a jungle with tigers prowling in it with a sky design on the ceiling up above.

The two main attractions in this chamber was a large jade elephant statue and a similar large water fountain with a serpent design spouting streams of water down its multiple layers. Barilut pointed towards the jade elephant statue as they moved towards it to try and find the hidden passage that they were told about. Jathan examined the statue and the pedestal closely and noticed that there was a small button beneath the elephant statue. “Chamidu is blind.” The Half Elf said as he pushed the button. Suddenly, the base of the statue began to rotate and reveal a doorway to a staircase that went down below. “Well this looks like the way.’ Jathan said as he motioned to the rest of the group.

Before they could start to make their way down the stairwell they noticed the fountain was beginning to bubble and explode as a surge of water seemed to swirl around and make its way towards them. The group readied their weapons as it was their first combat in some time. Gren reached into her pocket and pulled out a vial of strange colored liquid, downing it in one swift motion. Her body began to shift and change as it grew more animalistic, her hands shifting into claws as her teeth sharpened like sharp fangs. The wild alchemist charged forward slashing and cutting through the water while Barilut and Jathan also came at the elemental with their own weapons. Philo sat back as he began to summon a trio of air elementals to surround the large water elemental that was coming at them.

While the water elemental could hurt with its forceful slams, it was no match for the combined firepower of the Harrows and soon the water dispersed like puddles feeding the various plants and trees in the garden. The few wounds that the party had suffered was quickly patched up thanks to the healing powers from Nicodemus as he backed up his words about being quite the potent healer. With their wounds fixed up and the elemental down, It was time for the group to head down the dark stairwell and try to find where Vencarlo was being kept.

 

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Blood Pig
Episode #23

 

Blood Pig

 

                The game of Blood Pig raged on as the Harrows and the Emperor’s thugs battled back and forth to try and score. In one moment one team would have the pig only to get intercepted moments later and then after that reacquire the pig with an interception of their own. Back and forth they went until finally on a solid breakaway another pig was delivered straight into the pit for the Harrows. The team had scored their 3rd and final goal to win the game. The Emperor got to his feet and gave them a round of applause.

                “Bravo. What a great display. However it seems in all my haste I left out some of the rules. The game is best out of 3! So congratulations on winning the first game but there is another to be played.” Emperor Pilts said to the group. The Harrows looked at each other and then up to the balcony where the man was.

                “You can’t change the rules. We won the game so let us see Salvator.” Barilut said, eyeing the Emperor of Old Korvosa.

                “I am not changing the rules. I just forgot to mention them before the game began. The Emperor has decreed another game should be played. Failure to comply would be disobeying me and you wouldn’t want that. After all, I have your weapons and your friend who you are trying to see.” Pilts said.

                The Harrows were not going to accept such an act of betrayal. They looked at each before suddenly brandishing their concealed weapons. The Emperor was shocked to see that they were armed and before he knew it one of the thugs had already been taken out by a quick dagger strike from Jathan. He grabbed the rod that he wielded as he pointed it towards the adventurers. “Behold the power of the Emperor”. The rod glowed as suddenly a stream of butterflies emerged from the rod in a long cone that dazzled across the arena. The group blinked a bit as they were unsure what just happened. Pilts looked at them with a laugh. “The Emperor can create life and take it! And yours will be mine!”

                With battle starting the group sprang into action. Barilut charged forward to take one of the thugs, using the Dwarven flail he had hidden in the bag of holding to strike the thug with a solid strike. While he handled the dwarf, Si’ro ran to get his guns from the bag so that he could be of use in the combat. Their newest acquaintance, Laori, turned to the back of the arena as she saw two of the mercenaries that were making their way down the stairs to surround them from all sides. She began to cast a spell and suddenly a wall of spinning blades appeared across the rooftop arena blocking the thugs from coming at the adventurers. The blade barrier kept a number of the mercenaries back and allowed the group to handle one front at a time.

                By now though, the small hooded gnome had made his way from the guillotine and down the stairs to confront the assaulters. The gnome swung a large greataxe as he cut a deep wound into Barilut with it. The dwarf retaliated with a flail strike of his own causing the executioner to stagger a bit. Si’ro had recovered his guns and with the pistol in hand was able to start taking shots at the thugs. They had never seen a firearm in action before and had only heard about it so the explosive sound and impact of the bullet was quite a surprise to them. Emperor Pilts was watching from his balcony at the battle unfolding as he spoke and inspired his men to fight for him.

                Philo began to focus as he unleashed an acid dart towards Pilts, striking him with the toxic blast that scalded part of his costume. The crazed Emperor retaliated once more with his bizarre rod as he unleashed a barrage of tiny gems out from it that barely pelted the old wizard. While those two went back and forth with various spells, Jathan and Barilut were making work of the Emperor’s thugs as they disposed of them in short order. The mercenaries had already been exhausted from their game of Blood Pig and hadn’t had time to rest and recover. Jathan turned as he saw the raging gnome executioner coming at him with full force, swinging his greataxe violently at the rogue. The half elf timed his swing as he parried the axe with his own dagger before tucking in for a roll as he moved past the gnome and with a quick pivot struck his dagger right into his back. The executioner coughed up some blood before his body stumbled forward and collapsed as he had been defeated.

                Pilts saw his trust executioner defeated and knew that things were starting to look grim. He started to cast a spell as a blast of chaotic energy washed over half of the Harrows. The magic invaded their minds and both Si’ro and Jathan were confused by the Confusion spell. With some of the party now disabled he hoped to even the odds. By now the Blade Barrier that Laori had put up to block off a few of the thugs had worn off as they came charging down towards the group. Barilut saw them coming and as he did he whispered something in Dwarvish to his flail and suddenly the ball end of the weapon began to grow and enlarge to the size of a boulder. The dwarf released the boulder as it started to roll towards the thug and with a heavy sound crushed him under its weight as it continued down its path. The boulder eventually struck one of the walls that caused it to crumble into large stone pieces, blocking one of the pits that was used for scoring during their game of Blood Pig.

                During all this, Jathan and Si’ro were having issues as their minds were lost to confusion. They were babbling incoherently and couldn’t tell friend or foe apart. In a burst of confusion, Jathan thought that Si’ro was trying to kill him and he lunged at him with his dagger plunging it straight into the gunslinger’s chest before Si’ro could get to him first. When his mind cleared up and he came to, he looked and saw the body of their newest companion laying at his feet dead. Si’ro’s blood dripped off his dagger as Jathan realized what he had just done. He had killed one of his own.

                With all the commotion that was going on, the Emperor knew that he needed to find a way to get out of here before they got to him. With another wave of his rod Pilts suddenly disappeared from sight. “Not so fast.” Philo said as he started to cast a summoning spell. Shortly after, a large dire bat appeared in the center of the area as the wizard directed the bat to go after the man. The bat was able to sense creatures through its blindsense and could pick out the location of where Pilts had ran off to as it swooped in and grabbed a hold of him. He struggled against the creature’s sharp talons as it grabbed a hold of him and carried him across the area, dropping him off on the ground with a heavy thud.

                The Harrows were beginning to close in on him and the Emperor had to do something quick as he was heavily wounded. With another quick cast of a spell he vanished from sight as the adventurers all looked upon in shock. Philo recognized the spell as Dimension Door which meant that he had teleported someplace away to safety. “Slippery little bastard.” Jathan said as he ran his dagger into one of the dying mercenaries to put him out of his misery. “Where did he go?”

                Meanwhile, Laori had ran up the stairs to the pile of weapons and dug through them to get a hold of her spiked chain. While she was digging through the weapons another one of the Emperor’s thugs came out from a door and spotted her as she charged in and swung the chain at him, blasting him with a burst of negative energy that sent him sprawling into the wall. Before he had a chance to retaliate the ground shook and out from below emerged Bauble, Barilut’s Earth Elemental, who smashed a stone fist right into the man to knock him out for good.  The Elven cleric turned and saw Barilut had sent the elemental to help as she gave him a thankful wave.

                “Come on.” Laori chirped out to the rest of the group. “We should check the compound to find Salvator.” The Harrows agreed that they needed to find the artist and after a few quick moments of healing to patch up their wounds they pressed onward. Si’ro’s body rested their on the Blood Pig field and the group swore to come back for him and give him a proper burial after they made sure to put a stop to the madman Emperor.

               

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Whispers from Old Korvosa (Part Two)
Episode #22

 

Whispers from Old Korvosa (Part Two)

 

The Harrows were trying to make sense of everything that had just happened. The Red Mantis Assassins had attacked them once again and it was obvious that they were not only targets by the assassin organization, but that Vencarlo was also in their sights. Not only that, but based on their latest discovery it appeared the sly silvertongued noble was also the infamous Blackjack in disguise. In the end though, all of this did nothing to point them in the direction of where Vencarlo had gone.

As they exited the house the group was approached by a young man with blonde hair. Barilut and Jathan recognized him as Amin Jalento, a young noble they had saved during the initial riots after King Eodred II’s death. He was grateful for what they did for him and the adventurers were happy to see that he was ok after all this time. “You lot.” He called out to them. “Glad to see you’re ok. I heard the commotion. Is everything ok? Are you looking for Master Orisini?” Amin asked them.

“Indeed we are.” Barilut said. Amin told them that he might be able to help but they needed to get off the streets to be safe. He took them a few blocks away to a building that had been looted and ransacked during the riots here. The place was rundown and there were signs that he lived here as a series of pillows and blankets rested in the corner. Amin began to tell them how after they saved him he wanted to defend himself and went to the Orisini Academy to learn how to use a sword. He trained a bit under Vencarlo but was worried for his teacher. He had camped out for days outside Vencarlo’s home to try and see where he had gone. Before Vencarlo’s disappearance though he saw him talking with a man. Amin recognized the man as Salvator Scream, a famous local artist in Old Korvosa who was popular for his grotesque works of art. The blonde noble knew where Salvator lived and could direct the party there.

“Thank you for your assistance.” Barilut said. “We have a boat on the Eastern End of Old Korvosa operated by a man named Deman. If you can make your way there you can get out of here and back to the mainland. If not, stay here and we’ll try to get you.” Amin nodded as he listened to them and was glad to finally have somebody on his side. With this new piece of information, the Harrows were back in business. They bid their farewell and headed out to where the artist Salvator lived.

The artist lived by the docks and had a small home. It seemed the place wasn’t well kept as the house next to it had fallen into a sinkhole as various wooden planks and debris floated in the water off the boardwalk. Jathan did a quick scan around the house to make sure the perimeter was safe before they entered the building. They saw that there were two entrances and just to be safe they would go through both doors so that the artist couldn’t flee out one of the doors. Barilut would go through the door by the docks while the rest of the group would go through the front door. Once the adventurers were in position and Jathan checked the doors the groups moved in.

The front door team entered and saw an entrance lobby that led to a hallway. The thing that stuck out were the muddy prints along the floor of what certainly looked like a number of people coming through this way and it certainly didn’t bode well for their artist. Meanwhile, Barilut barged through the door into what appeared to be the artist’s studio. The room had a number of paintbrushes and urns sitting on a cabinet that was empty. Across from it was a table with six skulls, candles affixed to their heads as the wax dripped slowly onto the polished bone.

Sitting on one of the cabinets near the skulls was a figure. The figure was a female dressed in armor that was covered with spikes on it. She was quietly thinking to herself as her legs dangled off the side. When she saw the dwarf enter she smiled and hopped off the cabinet. “Hey there! Are you friends of Salvator? I’ve been trying to find him.” The female elf said to the dwarf. Barilut was thrown aback by the strange appearance of this woman as he certainly didn’t expect to come across that. He quickly regained his composure as he spoke with the elf. “We are also looking for Salvator. Would you know where he is?”

“Sure. We can find him together!” She proclaimed as she clapped her hands. “My name is Laori Vaus.” Barilut nodded and introduced himself to her. He then asked what she did and she told him that she was a cleric of Zon-Kuthon. This confused Barilut a bit as Zon-Kuthon was known as the Deity of Pain and torture and the elf was quite energetic to be such a devout worshiper. Either way she seemed to not be a current threat as he called out to the rest of the party to join him in the studio. The rest of the adventurers were busy exploring the rest of the house as they found the bedroom. The bedroom was quite disheveled and there were signs of muddy tracks leading to the bed. Si’ro studied the tracks as he knelt down to examine them. It appeared that there were signs of a struggle and someone being dragged. The gunslinger deduced that some group came for the artist and dragged him out of bed during the middle of the night. He relayed it to the rest of the group as they heard Barilut call out to them and everyone went to rejoin their dwarven ally.

Everyone introduced themselves as they all looked at the cheerful cleric. “So why should we let you help us?” Si’ro said cautious about finding someone strange like that in a stranger’s house. Laori smiled, “I know where Salvator is. I’ve just been thinking about how to get to him. Besides, I have something that you may be real interested in.” This sparked a bit of curiosity from the Harrows. If this cleric had something that could help them find Vencarlo or Neolandus then it may be worth having her around for a bit. They agreed that Laori could join them for a bit and the Elf thanked them by giving them a piece of ripped cloth that bore the Korvosan emblem. The adventurers studied the fragment and recognized that it certainly belonged to a high ranking government official. If this was found here at Salvator’s house then it meant they were certainly on the right track.

Laori then told them the location of Salvator. The artist had been captured by men that served the self-proclaimed Emperor of Old Korvosa. From what the group had heard, this man was quite cruel and violent and had taken advantage of the dire situation here in Old Korvosa to seize power. Either way, he had power and men and that made him a dangerous threat. The adventurers would have to thread carefully in finding a way to get him. The Emperor’s palace was situated in the Old Docks District which they had been to once before. After finishing checking out the rest of the house they were ready to set off into the territory of the Emperor.

As they made their way into the Old Dock District they saw the signs of disaster. Damaged buildings, ransacked businesses, and dead bodies littered the street. It was clear that things weren’t good in these parts and that the angry mobs ruled the streets. While walking through the streets the group came across an old woman trying to sell various fungi. Barilut was saddened to see the woman trying so hard to pay to support her family he offered her a few gold so that she could take care of them all. She thanked him gratefully as they were ready to move past him and towards Pilt’s Palace.

Eventually the group approached what was the Emperor’s Palace, a series of tenement buildings all grouped together to form one large complex. It appeared that there wasn’t an easy access route from the ground. There were a series of bridges that connected a few of the outer building together like towers. Before the group marched their way through the towers they wanted to check out the rest of the area for any other ways in. While exploring the outer parts they saw one of the buildings was decaying, the walls crumbling to expose opened wooden beams and another way in. The adventurers tied a rope up to one of the beams and attempted to use it to climb up into the compound but as they pulled on the rope the wood creaked and buckled and it looked like they wouldn’t be able to go through this way. However it could still be of use to them as they then came up with another idea. They could cause a distraction that would lure any guards away from the towers to make their entrance easier.

It was then their newest acquaintance spoke up, Laori Vaus. She told them that she could conjure up something that would distract the guards. They listened to her idea and decided to go along with it. The energetic Elf clapped her hands as she began to cast a spell, calling upon the shadows to aid her. Suddenly, a swarm of monkeys appeared in the room that they could see through the exposed beams. The monkeys howled as they jumped around the room causing quite the stir that drew the attention of nearby guards.

Now was their chance. The Harrows barged into one of the towers and quickly ascended it as they made their way across the rope bridges to try and get to the main compound. The towers seemed to be just what they expected them to be, guard towers. As the group got past the second tower they were stopped by a few guards that saw through the illusion of the monkey swarm. The guards stopped them as they drew their blades and demanded to know what they were doing here. The adventurers said they wanted to meet with the Emperor and get an audience with him. They would be granted access if they handed over all their weapons before coming forward into the main compound. The party debated for a moment and during their discussion were able to hide a few of Si’ro’s guns in a bag of holding as well as Jathan concealing his own dagger with a quick sleight of hand. They gave a bunch of their weapons over before they were finally granted access to meet the Emperor.

The guards checked them before allowing them to come into the main area. The Harrows were brought to the rooftop of a large building. The rooftops across from them were adorned with wooden benches. Before them was a balcony that had a sort canopy overhead and there sat on what looked like a mock of the Crimson Throne itself was the Emperor of Old Korvosa. He wore a red robe and a golden crown that looked more like pieces from a costume then an actual royal outfit. In his hand he held a rod as he stood up to welcome the adventurers.

“Greetings! You are in the presence of the Emperor. What brings you to my domain?” The man proclaimed as he eyed them. The group responded by telling them they wanted to see Salvator Scream and that they heard he was here. The Emperor smirked, “Indeed. Salvator is a “guest” here at my palace. But I don’t let people visit my most special guests. However, you may be able to entertain me and if you prove worthy…”

“And what will it take to prove our worth to you?” Barilut said, cautious of this strange man.

“Well let’s play a game. I’ve devised a sport that a number of my men enjoy playing. We call it Blood Pig. You defeat my team and entertain me I’ll let you get a supervised visit with our shared artist friend.” The Harrows debated for a moment before accepting the deal. Emperor Pilts then went on to explain the rules of the game. The game consisted of a large arena, two cages, and two pits. Once the game started, a live pig would come out from the cage and the team would have to take the pig to their respective pit to score. The first team that scored 3 points would win the game. No weapons or magic were allowed so the only thing they had was their equipment and their bare hands. After the rules were explained the teams got into their respective starting area and the match began.

Blood Pig is a violent game of sport as the thugs that worked for the Emperor came at the Harrows. The adventurers were missing some of their brawn with Xandak and Trigeji no longer with them, not to mention the lack of muscle strength from Jathan and Philo put them at a disadvantage in the brawling department. They would have to use their wits and guile to come out on top. The first thing they would need to do is take the pig from one of the thugs who were trying to carry it to his goal. The pig squirmed and squealed as it was being handled but the man knocked it out with a firm strike so it was easier to manage.

The teams wrestled back and forth, trying to knock the pig out of one’s hand or trip the person as they positioned themselves around the field strategically. Once someone had a pig, they could pass it to another to get it closer to their pit. For a group without much brute strength they were quite efficient in maneuvering around the field and getting the pig. A few solid strikes from Barilut and the pig was in Si’ro’s hands. The gunslinger clutched onto the pig tightly as he ran across the field and threw the pig up into the air towards the pit. Thanks to his training the shot was dead on and the pig landed inside the pit to the sounds of it being torn to shreds. Apparently there was something living in the pits that enjoyed the fresh meat and it sounded quite violent.

With the pig in the pit, the Harrows had scored first and took a 1-0 lead. The thugs didn’t like that and started to get a bit more violent with them as they tried to do some severe physical harm now with their strikes versus just a nonlethal approach to it all. Again the next pig became a vicious back and forth as it was hard to keep a grip on it. The squealing and oinking from the animal caused the audience to laugh and chuckle at the spectacle that was occurring while the rest scrambled for it. Pass after pass failed as it was intercepted by the other team over and over again. Eventually, Jathan snuck behind one of the thugs to deliver a strong elbow into his lower back to knock him out opening him for a pass.

Si’ro passed the pig over to the half-elf and when he caught it he activated his Boots of Speed and darted through the field to their pit. The increased speed got him right up to the pit where he could dump the pig in for it to meet its demise once again. However this also meant the Harrows were now up 2-0 and only one goal away from winning the match and getting to see Salvator Scream so that they could hopefully find out what they came here for in the first place. What happened to Vencarlo?

 

 

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Whispers from Old Korvosa (Part One)
Episode #21

 

Whispers from Old Korvosa (Part One)

 

After the plague had been dealt with, the Harrows were able to have some time to themselves. With Xandak and the two gnomes leaving, the adventuring group was down to Barilut the dwarf, Jathan the half-elf, and Si’ro the human. They stayed around their adventuring home using the spoils from their heroic deeds to improve their equipment. One day, they received word from the Citadel that Field Marshall Cressida wanted to speak with them. The party gathered their belongings and headed to the headquarters of the Korvosan Guard to meet with their old friend.

When they arrived at the Citadel they were surprised to see the state it was in. The barracks was severely understaffed, the courtyard empty of training regiments, and even the number of guards was far less then what once was. Walking through the halls of the barracks they eventually found Cressida who looked ragged and tired as she ushered them to a room. Instead of meeting in her office like they normally did she took to a different chamber. The entranceway to the room was filled with a strange fog that they passed through to reveal a table with a number of chairs around it. Cressida ushered them to sit as she took a seat.

However they were not alone as a figure was there with them. He was an older man wearing a set of robes and as he waited for the group a small dragon with rainbow colored wings flew from his pocket and perched on his shoulder. Cressida introduced him as Philo, a wizard that used to teach at the Acadamae who had returned to Korvosa after the plague had ended. He saw the trouble the city was in and wanted to help and thought what better way than to join the Harrows.

“Korvosa is dying. No, strike that. Korvosa is being murdered. Killed by our queen. She’s disbanded the Sable Company and reallocated our own funding to the Gray Maidens, and now she’s more in control than ever. I dare not move against her, as my guards would be executed to the last fighter by her Gray Maidens before sundown. But she must be stopped. And I know of no one else but you to do this deed.” Cressida said as she looked at the Harrows. The young Field Marshall began to tell the story of how Sable Company was disbanded. Their commander, Marcus Enderin, wouldn’t take it quietly and at the ceremony he drew his crossbow and let a shot ring out into the head of the Queen. However it didn’t kill her as she moved swiftly and grabbed the commander, withdrew the bolt from her head and drove it into the neck of him. It was an unnatural act and that display showed Cressida that she was something else…something not natural.

“You see, just this morning, new information came to me. Vencarlo Orisini’s been one of my most trusted sources of information regarding the public; it’s hard for an officer of the Korvosan Guard to get honest opinions from the citizens, and Vencarlo’s observations on these topics have been a godsend, particularly since the plague started. When the queen quarantined Old Korvosa, I’d feared his messages would end, yet he managed to find ways to smuggle updates to me every day. Recently, he wrote of discovering something of vital importance regarding the queen. He mentions something about dark magic and a pact with a devil, but until the events of this morning, I found his claims difficult to believe. But even more astounding, he hinted he’d found a lead on Seneschal Kalepopolis, and implied the man might still be in hiding in Old Korvosa!”

Cressida wanted the group to head back into Old Korvosa and try to find Vencarlo. She mentioned checking out his Academy or his home.  She knew that they had went in there before and knew that the group was resourceful. She gave the group a few potions and other equipment to them to help with their next endeavor. After that she left the room so that the adventurers could plan what their next move would be and get to know their new member in Philo.

It was during this time that Jathan felt something from the Harrow Deck in his bag. He drew the deck out and watched as Zellara’s form materialized before them. She welcome the new faces who were surprised to see a ghostly spirit in the room. The harrower wanted to perform another harrow reading to help guide the Harrows in their upcoming journey. She took the cards and began to conduct a harrowing, interpreting the cards that represented slavery and oppression and the dark times that Korvosa is going through. She warned them about new acquaintances and that some may be betrayers in disguise and that they will need to keep their wits about them if they are to survive. With that she faded back into the deck of cards to watch over the Harrows and their new adventuring members.

With that, the party would meet up with Deman in Trail’s End to ferry themselves over into Old Korvosa. The district was still under quarantine and fully locked down by the Grey Maidens but if they went by boat under the cover of darkness they would be able to enter undetected. That night, the Harrows infiltrated Old Korvosa and began their search for Vencarlo. The first stop would be back to his academy to see if there were any signs of him there. When they arrived at the Orisini Academy they were surprised to see that it wasn’t there and instead the place was filled with rubble and scorched wooden frames. It appeared that the Academy had been burnt down and this was the first sign to the group that dark times had certainly taken over Old Korvosa.

The only other lead they had was Vencarlo’s home that Cressida had given them. The group made their way over to the Fort District inside Old Korvosa where the house was and was surprised to see that for someone that had such wealth and their own swordsmanship academy his home was quite humble. There wasn’t anything fancy about it as they checked the door to make sure it was safe. They slowly entered the house and started to look around, noticing that inside was also quite humble as the home looked like a normal building and not one for a nobleman. The fireplace in the den was lit warming the place up a bit as they continued to look for him.

“The fireplace is lit…someone was here not too long ago. Stay sharp all.” Jathan said as they continued to check around the den before moving upstairs. On the second floor it appeared that one of the rooms had been cleared out to be a training area as a few wooden dummies rested in the corner of the open room. There was another fireplace in this room that was also lit and Jathan paused for a moment as he smelt a slight tinge in the air. He wasn’t able to figure out what it was and asked Si’ro if he knew what it was. The gunslinger tried to pick out the scent and determined it was similar to Alchemist’s Fire, an alchemical creation that he had some experience in.

It was in that moment that two figures dropped down from the rafters clad in red armor. The group recognized them as Red Mantis Assassins, similar to the ones that had attacked them the last time they were in Old Korvosa. As the two assassins dropped down, one of them held a flask in his hand and tossed it towards the fireplace causing a violent explosion as the flames erupted out from the fireplace and started to burn some of the wooden floorboards.

Barilut saw the flames and knew he had to act quickly as he began to cast a spell. Suddenly, a large amount of water appeared over the flames as it fell and put them all out. The Create Water spell had worked in stopping the flames and giving the Red Mantis an advantage in the fight as the two assassins moved in position trying to surround one of the Harrows to dig their sabers deep into them. However this time the party was more prepared for the assassins and with Philo’s help of summoning elementals to easily outnumber the assassins the Red Mantis didn’t put up as hard of a fight as they did last time. There was an additional assassin that came from downstairs to try and sneak behind the party but Si’ro fired a musket shot right into his armor and he was left for Jathan to finish off with a quick dagger kill.

The group quickly rushed downstairs and saw that the fireplace on the first floor had also bursted out and now parts of the sofas in the den were ablaze. Once again, Barilut used a Create Water spell to lessen the spread of the fire but it had grown larger than he could snuff out with one spell. The group had to act fast in putting out the sofa and the rest of the burning furniture but in the end the house had been saved from being burned to the ground.

The Harrows went back upstairs to examine the rest of the house and check out Vencarlo’s bedroom. They came here looking for clues but still couldn’t find anything that led them to where Vencarlo had gone. They checked his bed, his closet, and everywhere else for any sort of sign. Barilut stroked his beard as he looked around the building. “There has to be something here. It just doesn’t feel right.” The dwarf said as he tried to figure it out. Philo approached him and nodded. “I agree. Here, let me help you try and explore.” The old wizard said as he suddenly used Enlarge Person on Barilut. The dwarf grew to twice his size as the floorboards began to crack under his weight. He was now a wrecking ball as he charged into the closet and started tearing the walls apart.

In his wanton destruction however, Barilut saw a secret compartment that they hadn’t found up until this point. Inside it was a lockbox that he grabbed and called the rest of the group over to check out. The box was heavily locked and Jathan had to concentrate and focus if he was to pick the lock as he carefully opened it. The box contained a leather pouch that the group took and was curious to see what it contained. The bag appeared to be a Bag of Holding so they dumped the contents of it out on the floor. Out from the bag came an assortment of equipment from black leather armor, capes, masks, gloves, boots to weapons such as rapiers and daggers engraved with a B on them.

Jathan and Barilut both gasped as they knew what this meant. This equipment appeared to be the same that the infamous vigilante Blackjack wore during the rescue of Trinia Sabor during her assassination attempt. Did this mean that Vencarlo Orisini, the noble swordsman academy owner, was secretly Blackjack all along?

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Seven Days to the Grave
Episode #20

 

Seven Days to the Grave

 

                The Harrows were ready to enter the temple and see what awaited them as they all slowly walked down the hallway and came into a circular chamber. The chamber had numerous vats in the wall and each one had a different liquid in it that ranged from a strange white color to bile and even blood. It could only be left to their imagination what these vats were used for. In the center of the chamber was a fountain with a large statue as its centerpiece. The statue was made of gold and depicted a woman that was nude but from the waist down was just a skeleton.

                Four zombies stood in the room, two on either side as drool dripped down from their jaws. They seemed different than the others they had fought before as these were wielding swords and seemed to have a sense of where they were. It was then they heard a voice from behind the zombies coming from a woman dressed in eloquent dark robes and wielding a large scythe.

                “And so you have found your way to me, hopeful heroes. Know that you stand before the architect of your city’s death. You call this sending blood veil, yet I know it as the gentle kiss of the Pallid Princess. Your reward shall be great—choose of the seven scourges to become one with the goddess. Those who drink I shall only cripple, leaving you alive to enjoy her as she quickens inside your flesh. Those who abstain are fools, not fit to house the divine gift. You may prostrate yourselves at my feet, and I shall make your end all the more swift for it. Swifter, in any event, than this delightful end your lovely queen has enjoined me to create!”

                The group looked at the woman as she had proclaimed for them to kneel before her and accept their deaths and knew this woman was certainly insane as they readied themselves for battle. Xandak and Trigeji rushed in to clash with the zombies as they were finally taking the fight to them. The strange woman began to walk towards them but as she did she ascended upwards into the sky until she was 10 feet above them. “I said bow before me!” She proclaimed as she began to cast a spell. However Si’ro was ready for it as he pulled his pistol out and let loose a quick shot at her. The pellet hit her clean and caused her to lose her focus and in turn lose the spell. Andaisin glared towards the gunslinger as Si’ro smirked. “We don’t bow to you.”

                Lumpen fired a barrage of magic missiles at one of the zombies and watched as the magical blasts had no effect on the undead creature. “Uh oh…these zombies are different.” The gnome called out to the party to let them know what he had discovered. Meanwhile, Xandak began to rage as he swung his axe trying to mow down the zombie as Barilut and Trigeji created a blockade to keep the zombies at bay. Andaisin once again raised a hand and this time a blast of dark negative energy came down across the adventurers that scorched them. The dark cleric once again started to cast a spell and Si’ro reacted once more firing another shot that struck the side of her causing her to lose focus once more.

                The shots from Si’ro’s firearms were beginning to wear down the evil cleric of Urgathoa as she glared towards Si’ro. “It’s time I deal with you.” Lady Andaisin said as she cast another spell and one of her hands began to darken with a dark aura. She walked until she came back down to the ground in front of the gunslinger and looked at him. “Now die.” She said as she placed her hand on Si’ro’s chest. He suddenly felt a sharp pain shoot through his entire body as the life was stricken from him. His body fell back and collapsed on the ground as the pistol slid out of his hand along the floor.

                The group stopped in their tracks for a moment as they looked at their party member now dead. Barilut pivoted and swung his flail towards the cleric as one shot hit her clean while the other swing went wide. Jathan also rushed ahead towards her as he jumped over one of the dead zombies slashing his dagger in her direction but she narrowly ducked and avoided the attack. Lumpen pulled out a wand from his robes as he aimed it towards the cleric. “This is for Korvosa!” He shouted as he shot a Magic Missile out from the wand and watched as it blasted into the chest of the woman before her body tumbled back and fell to the ground. She had been defeated and the Harrows were victorious. Xandak moved towards her body as he took her scythe from her hands and using the large blade sliced the woman’s head off with it. “That’s what you deserve.” The half-orc said, spitting in the direction of her corpse.

                Meanwhile, Jathan and Trigeji began to explore the chamber and examine the large golden statue. They noticed that the statue had a hidden compartment in it and began to open it to explore. While they were exploring and Barilut was patching up some of the parties wounds, the corpse of Lady Andaisin began to float up in the air as it started to bubble up and explode before reforming into a large figure with a sleek body and a large oversized scythe-like claw for one hand as she hissed towards the party angrily.

                “Oh what the hell…we got an issue!” Barilut said as he quickly grabbed onto his duerger and assumed a defensive position as the monstrosity came towards them. Xandak slashed into the creature’s back with his greataxe to leave a gash into her. The monster turned and swung its massive claw towards the bloodrager slicing his shoulder with its large claw as he fought through the pain and the toxins that flowed through the claw strike.

                The rest of the group saw what was going on and joined the fight as Jathan grabbed his crossbow and let a bolt shoot out that missed wide on the transformed monster. Trigeji dashed up at the creature and tried swinging her Warhammer at it but it was met with the sharp giant claw blocking it. Lumpen fired another blast from his wand into her as the Lantern Archon fired another ray of light into her with force as she roared out at them all with seething vengeance. Another claw strike came out as it sliced into the dwarf and cut him deeply as she was fighting her way out of getting surrounded.

                However the numbers game was hard to combat. Barilut struck her with his flail and Xandak once again sliced through with his greataxe. Trigeji got a clean shot right into Andaisin’s abdomen as she writhed in pain from the shot. The large monster turned and swung its claws toward the small gnome. The normal sized claw cut through the pink haired gnome before the large oversized one pierced into her chest before pulling it out of her and with it knocking Trigeji out. The small gnome fell to the ground and for the first time the Harrows were in a situation where two of their own had died so soon to one another.

                Jathan saw that Trigeji had been slain and tossed his crossbow aside as he ran towards Andaisin. The nimble half-elf did a jumping somersault over the bodies of his fallen comrades and drove his dagger into the skull of the monster with both hands on the hilt to pierce right through. The mutated beast screamed in pain before it collapsed to the ground, Jathan riding it all the way down until the monster stopped moving. Andaisin had been killed once again and this time it seemed her body wasn’t coming back from the dead.

                “Glad that she’s finally dead.” Jathan said, panting a little as he pulled his dagger out from the corpse. The group was able to finally fully examine the room now as they took the stuff they found in the hidden compartment under the statue. They then saw in the rear of the chamber a number of skull decorated boxes. Most of them were empty and tipped over but one of them was still sealed. “That must be the box that man wanted..” Barilut said as they grabbed the box so that they could trade it for Ruan. When they grabbed the box, they also saw a stack of papers next to it that appeared to be Dr. Davaulus’s research notes on the plague. They took it to compile with Rolth’s as they headed back to the strange man with the box and the bodies of their two fallen companions.

                When they returned to the pale skinned man, they went through with the trade and gave him the skull coffer. He smirked as he took the box and bowed towards the group. “Farewell, time to leave this place. The plague has run its course it seems…” And with a burst of arcane energy the man vanished. Jathan went over to the table where Ruan was strapped down and looked at the levers that controlled the mechanism. He saw that the writing on it was in Varisian and deciphered which way to pull the levers to release him. Barilut helped him up and began healing some of his wounds while the rest of the group looked around the laboratory. They discovered a large number of alchemical supplies as well as his notes on the plague and the immunity that some Varisians had to it.

                With the notes in hand, they escorted Ruan back up to the surface and began to deal with the aftermath of everything that had happened. One of the scrolls they had found while down in the temple was a scroll of Raise Dead. They used it to bring Si’ro back to life so that he could study the research notes that they discovered. The Harrows knew that he had some Alchemy experience and might be able to make sense of all these notes as the gunslinger began to analyze the notes. With all the research papers he was able to figure out a possible cure for the plague and began to work on it. Within a day, a cure had been formulated and they began to disperse it out to the populous to stop the plague.

 

                In the coming weeks, the cure had proven to be a success in stopping the plague as it also spread among people to help heal them. The Harrows became famous for the ones responsible for stopping the plague and ending the epidemic that struck the city. The citizens celebrated them with a large feast and showered the party with gifts. Nobles, artisans, scholars, and merchants came to talk with the group to offer their services as the Harrows were revered as saviors of the city.

                Even Queen Ileosa made a public appearance to congratulate the adventuring party on their heroism. She denounced Doctor Davaulus for his actions and betrayal to the crown for deceiving her and spreading the plague. On behalf of Korvosa, she gave each of them a 5,000 gold writ to spend in Korvosa. With that she returned back to Castle Korvosa and the Harrows were able to finally get a break. Lumpen used his resources to get Trigeji revived and the two gnomes told the rest of the Harrows that they wanted to leave the city. Things in the city were getting hectic and the gnomes wanted to retreat some place safe and where they could relax for a bit. The two gnomes bid farewell and left the Harrows.

                Xandak also told the group that he wanted to head out and try to discover himself. After everything that had happened with his own death and the losing of two of their own, the half-orc wanted to get stronger so that his friends wouldn’t suffer like that again. He told the group that he would return and wished them the best as he also left Korvosa on his own path of self-discovery.

                The Harrows were beginning to dwindle as they were down to three members. They would have to recover from losing so many of their own but in the meantime the plague had been cured and the adventurers were able to do what every adventurer loved doing. Spending their hard earned gold to improve their equipment for future adventures.

 

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Old Nemesis
Episode #19

 

Old Nemesis

 

The Harrows were ready to enter the underground lair once again, now with their newly revived teammate in Xandak. They had left the body of Dr. Davaulus with the Bank of Abadar to take care of while they continued clearing out the strange and horrific rooms that were in this lair. Once back inside, they carefully made their way back to the large chamber filled with strange toxic vats and where they had stopped the evil doctor. The group followed along the right wall and opened the doors to discover what appeared to be storage rooms to contain materials and tools for the vats. They then made their way up onto the catwalk and towards the Northern wall to check the singular door there.

As they opened the door, Jathan scouted ahead to see what was inside as he saw what appeared to be a laboratory of some kind. Various tables covered with beakers, vials, and alchemical equipment lined the walls with books on them. In the center of the room was a table with what appeared to be a young man strapped to it. He looked alive but unconscious and Jathan recognized him as Ruan Mirkova, the young man they had been tasked to rescue.

Jathan also saw another figure in this room that was quietly preparing a number of chemical reagents. The man was bald with pale white skin and didn’t notice Jathan as the half-elf peeked in. When he had scouted enough he went back and told the rest of the group what he had seen. They decided to step up into the room with Barilut approaching the man and Jathan sneaking around in the shadows. As Barilut got into position the man turned around and saw the stout dwarf in his chamber.

“Good Evening…or Morning. Hard to tell when I’ve been done here doing my research.” The pale man spoke with a thick accent.

“Greetings. Who may you be?” Barilut asked the man.

“My name is Ramoska Arkminos. Judging from your appearance in my room I take it you were the ones causing all that noise in the other room earlier.”

“We were. We’re here to stop this plague from spreading. What of you…are you friend or foe?” The dwarf said, clutching his flail a little tighter.

“I am neither. I am just conducting some research of my own and have nothing to do with this plague and its spread.” Ramoska responded as he motioned towards the man strapped down to the table. “He is surprisingly immune to the Blood Veil disease and a number of its strains. Wondering what else he may be immune to.”

At this they knew this man was a threat and Barilut let his flail out to try and hit the pale-skinned scientist. The man quickly sidestepped the attack as he let out a sigh. “Such meaningless efforts. I do suggest you stop this. I have no desire to kill you all.” He then pulled out a vial from his jacket and drank it while watching the group move into position. They all shot out a few attacks towards the strange man but nothing seemed to be able to strike him and they began to realize that what he was saying was the truth. In all this time he hadn’t even made an attack towards them and remained calm. He knew he could crush them whenever he wanted and they were in over their head.

 “Alright we yield. We just want the man.” Barilut said, motioning towards Ruan on the table. The pale scientist looked at them with a smirk. “He has proven to be quite an interesting test subject but I may allow you to take him. For a small fee of course. 2000 gold.” The party was taken aback by such a request as it almost felt like slavery, buying a man with gold. However they knew that he wasn’t safe here and they discussed it a moment before turning back to Ramoska. “We don’t have the 2000 gold to give you.”

“Such a shame. However…there may be something else you can provide. The one you seek lies further in this area, Lady Andaisin. In her possession she has a number of boxes with skulls decorating them. Now most of these boxes are opened and empty but I saw that she still has one that is sealed. If you bring me the box I shall give you the boy and depart Korvosa.” The pale man said as he presented his next offer.

“What’s in the box?” Si’ro asked, a bit skeptical of it all.

“Nothing that concerns you. Do we have a deal?” Arkminos said as he waited to see how the Harrows would respond. They again debated amongst themselves before finally agreeing to take the offer. They knew that it may be dangerous to give this man that box but they had to free Ruan from this prison and would do what it takes. With the deal in place they made their way out of this chamber and back into the vat room and towards the room where they fought the cultists and the strange demon that bursted out from its tube.

When they opened the door and entered the room they were surprised to see that they were not alone. The room had a few of the cultists in it with what appeared to be zombies with them. The undead corpses were festering and covered with blisters as they slowly advanced towards the intruders. At the other end of the room a man stood there dressed in robes, his face quite grotesque and scarred as he smirked a bit.

“Well…if it isn’t the legendary Harrows. You lot have been causing quite the trouble for me and my plans.” The man said in a coarse voice. The adventurers looked at each other realizing this was probably the necromancer that they had heard about. The one that was called Rolth.

“Your time is coming to an end.” Jathan said, pulling his dagger out as he stared at the man.

“Now…which one of you killed my old man? I’m going to peel your skin off for what you did to him!”  Rolth screamed out as he ordered the acolytes to attack. They charged in with their scythes alongside with the zombies as they came at the adventurers from all three sides.

Jathan and Trigeji ran to the South to engage the acolyte and zombie with the feisty gnome taking point to block any of the incoming attacks and set Jathan up to get in position. Barilut charged ahead and assumed a defensive stance so that he could keep the main hallway bunkered down while Xandak and Si’ro went to the other side. Lumpen remained in the middle so he could provide assistance to all sides with his array of magic.

The first thing that Lumped called out was a grease puddle in the center of the room to cut off that route. Barilut’s flail could reach over the grease while the scythe couldn’t. Rolth returned the casting by calling out a spectral hand that slowly floated towards the group. Xandak swung his axe as he blasted it through a zombie to leave a nasty cut in it as he was glad to be back on his feet and killing once again.

“Hmm…let’s make you suffer.” Rolth said as he unleashed a spell of dark energy towards Barilut. The dwarf tried to get out of the way as he just narrowly sidestepped the ray in time to avoid it. He glanced back towards the necromancer as he let his flail out into one of the acolytes causing the man to double over in pain. “The only one that will suffer is you!” Barilut screamed back at him Meanwhile, Siro had managed to get through one of the acolytes and was making his way around the room to sneak up on Rolth. Xandak had finished off the zombie and when he cut into it the body convulsed momentarily before it exploded into a cloud of disease. The half-orc coughed a bit through It as he glanced over his shoulder. “Careful with these. They seem to be carrying the plague on them.” He said as he began to head towards the next acolyte to deal with them.

Meanwhile Rolth was continuing his barrage of spells as he fired them towards Barilut and the rest of the party. Lumpen had called forth another Lantern Archon to help with the fight, using its range to its advantage to let its bright rays shoot at the necromancer over the grease pit. The necromancer was beginning to feel some of the wounds from the assault as he took a shot in the side from Si’ro’s musket. “I think it’s time we deal with you…” Rolth said as he turned to face the gunslinger and suddenly a bolt of lightning crackled from his fingertips and across the room at the human. Si’ro took the bolt directly in his chest which caused him to stumble and grab onto the large glass tube for support as he coughed a bit of blood out. The impact singed part of his armor and almost took him out with one violent strike.

It was beginning to be evident that the acolytes were no match against the Harrows as they fell in order to the quick combo of Jathan and Trigeji surrounding an enemy as well as Xandak slicing through them. Soon it was just Rolth on his own as he tried to cast a spell through the spectral hand on Lumpen but the small gnome slipped under the ghastly touch and avoided it. Now seeing himself surrounded, the necromancer began to say the incantation for another spell as quick as he could as Barilut beared down on him.

“Bauble, let him have it!” The dwarf said as he called his Earth Elemental out from the ground and watched as the creature charged right into Rolth. It crashed into the gut of the necromancer as it bull rushed him straight into the stone doors behind him. Before he had time to react however, Trigeji used Bauble as a stepping stone and climbed up him before leaping into the air towards the necromancer and connecting with her Warhammer right into the side of his skull. The cracking sound echoed through the chamber as the body fell and Rolth Lamm had been defeated.

“Well…Mad Doctor dead. Necromancer dead. Guess all that’s left is whoever the head honcho is.” Barilut said as the group went through Rolth’s belongings and gathered it into their bags. The one thing of note were the set of research notes he had on him describing how some Varisians seemed to have a natural immunity to Blood Veil and he had been experimenting to try and discover why. But for now that would have to wait as they peered down a long hallway that would lead them to the bottom of who was behind this plague once and for all.

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Down Below (Part Two)
Episode #18

 

Down Below (Part Two)

 

    The adventurers had fought a hard battle against Dr. Davaulus and the strange cultists but they had lost Xandak in the process. The group rushed to the side of their
friend but it was too late. Jathan turned towards Si'ro and told him that he needed to go back to the Citadel and tell Cressida that they needed some help. The gunslinger
nodded as he ran back to the surface while Jathan and the gnomes remained on watch. Back on top, Si'ro made his way to the Citadel and told Cressida of the horror that they had
discovered below the Hospice. Unfortunately, the young Field Marshall couldn't provide the group with much support except for two guards. The adventurer was relieved to get
whatever help he could get as he brought the two guards back with him down to the underground dungeon.
    Once Si'ro had returned the group had to decide what their next move would be. They were hurt and had lost one of their own but if they turned back now that might be
the chance the cultists need to regroup and gather their forces together again. After much thought and discussion the Harrows decided to press on. They instructed the guards to
stay back and protect the bodies of Xandak and Davaulus as they needed both the corpses. The Harrows pushed forward past the large vats and through the set of doors at the
other end of the room into the next chamber. This chamber had a number of tables filled with various flasks and alchemical equipment along the wall. In the center of the
chamber were four large glass tubes with greenish liquid sloshing inside. The tubes seemed to contain a strange creature inside them that appeared part humanoid, part house,
and part angel. All of these creatures appeared still except for one that occaisonally twitched inside its glass prison. 
    The party was not alone in this room however as a number of those hooded cultists filled the room. They had heard the commotion in the other room and were prepared for
the intruders as their scythes were at the ready. The cultists moved to try and surround them but Lumpen was quick to act as he used a Web spell to create an area of thick
webbing between two of the large glass tubes. The webbing caught and entangled two of the cultists in it and cut off one avenue as the Harrows were able to focus their
attention on the other fronts. Si'ro and Lumpen again stayed by the door and prepared ranged support as Barilut, Jathan, and Trigeji ran in to engage the cultists. The stout
dwarf was a solid defender and picked up the slack of losing their friend Xandak as he buckled down and took a defensive stance, using his dwarven derger to keep the cultists
back. One cultist fell to the sharp dagger of Jathan before another got knocked dead to the ground with a powerful shot from Si'ro's musket. 
    With the cultists numbers dwindling the strange figures were desperate to take out the brave party who had invaded their lair. One of the cultists scraped his scythe
along the edge of the glass tube which caused the creature inside to stir and twitch. Moments later the tube broke open as the creature inside broke through and was free at
last. It roared out as it spread its winged and thrashed at the nearest thing it could, grabbing one of the cultists and tearing deep wounds into him. The cultist screamed a
blood curling scream as he stumbled forward and was finished off by a bludgeoning blow from Trigeji's warhammer. However this monster was a new threat that the Harrows had to
deal with and one that they certainly weren't prepared for with most of their resources already drained from the last encounter. For now they had to take care of the cultists
before they could focus on the strange creature so Lumpen used another Web spell to try and bind the creature to slow its movements. The web only slowed the monster down
briefly but its large frame and long reach allowed it to bite at those near it still.
    Barilut and Jathan focused on taking out the cultists while Trigeji clashed with the large monster. She tried daggers and her warhammer but not much seemed to be able
to penetrate the defenses of the monster as it thrashed about in the web. The remaining cultists were no match for the adventurers even in their weakened state and soon they
were left with just the beast to deal with. 
    "Alright…how do we deal with it?" Jathan said as he looked at the monster trying to figure out the best plan of attack. 
    "We need more support to deal with this. Guards!" Si'ro screamed out to the guards that they had gotten from Cressida to come and aid them. The two guards arrived at
the scene and gasped when they saw what was in here as they drew their crossbows and began to take shots towards the monster. Meanwhile, Lumpen summoned forth another Lantern
Archon to aid them while Barilut invoked the power of the Earth and called forth an Earth elemental to assist them. The adventurers had created a small army to aid them in
fighting with the beast. The archon fired its light rays at the monster while the elemental slammed forcefully into the side of the demon to leave a nasty mark in it.
    The demon growled angrily as it looked at the forces approaching before it opened its mouth and a massive blast of flies erupted from its mouthy jaws. The dark swarm
blasted the party and their allies as the creatures bit and blasted their way through the group. The two guards fell to their knees wheezing in pain as they were not expecting
such a blast. The archon had been blown away and the rest of the group had to contend with a swarm of pestilence and flies that filled a small area in front of the monster.
Jathan used this time to creep along the sides of the room to get behind it while Barilut moved into position, his blood tough as rock allowing him to avoid the disease and
filth ridden swarm so that he sould slam his flail into the monster. His swings were forceful and even though the monster seemed to have a natural resistance to such attacks
the weapon still left quite the mark on the beast.
    Si'ro took the time to aim his musket while the beast was distracted with everything that was going on before he let a shot ring out. The blast came out straight like
an arrow as it blasted into the horse-like head of the monster and was a clean direct hit that rattled it. The creature roared out in pain as Jathan took this chance to sneak
up behind and dig his dagger into the back of the monster's neck, forcing the small blade in as far as he could go before the beast collapsed to the ground in a pile. The
creature had been slain in another intense fight that drained most of the party's resources even further. The two guards that had escorted Si'ro down were drinking health
potions to desperately patch up some of their wounds as they were gasping, still in shock from what they had just seen. 
    "We're drained. We have no choice but to head back and rest." Barilut said, wiping the sweat from his brow. "Come, let's grab the bodies and head to a temple to see
what we can do for Xandak."
    "I got the bodies." Lumpen said as he used a Levitate spell to pick the corpses up and float them behind the party and back to the lift that took them upstairs to the
Hospice. The Harrows were ready for some rest and to see if they could bring their beloved half-orc back from the dead after everything that had happened down here in the
underground lair of cultists. Once back on the surface the group of adventurers rushed to the Temple of Abadar to try and get some assistance. They brought the two bodies in as
clerics of the Temple rushed around them. 
    "Can you save our friend?" Jathan said, motioning to the still corpse of Xandak.
    "We can. It is costly to our resources but it is possible. What of the other one? The Queen's doctor?" The cleric inquired.
    Barilut looked towards the corpse of Davaulus. "Keep the body for now. He is a traitor to the city."

    The Harrows then proceeded to negotiate with the Bank of Abadar. They were able to barter a number of onyx gems and take a loan out from the Bank to pay to bring Xandak
back and heal some of the wounds that death caused. With the preparations complete the clerics of Abadar brought the half-orc back from the dead as Xandak stirred to life once
again. The rest of the group crowded around as they smiled at the bloodrager. "Welcome back friend." Barilut said, "You ready to finish this?"

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Down Below (Part One)
Episode #17

 

Down Below (Part One)

 

                The Harrows were slowly recovering from the ambush that they had fallen into while exploring Old Korvosa by the strange group known as the Red Mantis. They gathered what they could from the bodies and decided that they had to see what was going on over here and for that they might need Vencarlo’s help. Si’ro had some experience in tracking and they went back to the academy to see if he could pick up a trail. As he surveyed the ground he saw that the tracks were quite muddled as the riots and crowds had moved through the area. It didn’t look like that the academy had seen any use in the past few days however which was quite troublesome.

                They then decided to look for what they came here for in the first place: the wererat den suspected to be the cause of this plague. For the next few hours the group scoured the streets checking out any access points that would lead them down to the sewers where the wererat enjoyed staying. At the end of it all, they found nothing as they were beginning to grow tired.

                “I’m starting to think this was a lie.” Lumpen said as he looked towards the rest of the group.

                “I agree with the little one.” Xandak said, resting against a nearby wall. “That doctor lied to us! I will have his head.”

                Jathan looked towards them as he motioned to try and calm the half-orc. “Easy there. We need to figure out the best course of action. Let’s find a place to camp out for the night and head back to the mainland tomorrow. Then…let’s pay our old doctor friend a visit.”

                The rest of the group agreed as they began to find a place to camp out. They found an old abandoned shop and used it as their home for the night, keeping a few people on watch to make sure that nothing attacked them during the night. The night went by without an issue as the riots and mobs of people seemed to leave this area alone. With a new day ahead of them, the Harrows got ready and made their way back to the docks where they had said they would signal Deman to get them. A quick performance of lights from Trigeji and Deman shortly appeared with his boat to ferry them back across to the rest of Korvosa.

                The adventurers started to make their way back to the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden to talk with Dr. Davaulus. When they arrived there, they saw that the door had been boarded up and it caught them by surprise. Jathan stopped one of the citizens walking along the street to question them about what had happened. The man said that the word on the street was someone attacked the hospice during the night and due that forced them to relocate to a secret location. They took all the people and shut down this warehouse. This sudden news raised some eyebrows from the group as they wondered what exactly was going on. They thanked the man and went back to exploring the warehouse, heading to the back where they had initially gotten into the building. They saw that the hole they had made had been boarded up as they motioned towards one of the other doors. Xandak nodded as he needed to get some anger out and smashed a hole in the door, prying some of the wood off to create an opening for them to enter.

                Like last time, Jathan moved in first on his own to scout out the place and make sure it was safe. He peeked through the leather curtains into the main room and saw all the beds had been left there but there were no bodies. There was also no sign of any of the physicians or Grey Maidens that were here before. The half-elf returned back to the group to let them know what he saw in there and the rest of them then moved in. Once inside the warehouse, the group of adventurers moved up to the top floor to see what was there. They saw the set of double doors that Dr. Davaulus had been standing next to last time and a quick check revealed it to still be locked. Jathan went to work picking lock and soon it was open for them to go in. The room behind the door had a series of beds along either wall with some tables in the center. The tables were covered with broken glass and it appeared that most of what was there had been destroyed. An examination of the beds showed that these beds had leather restraints on them as the party looked at one another.

                “They were experimenting on people up here…” Jathan said, tugging on one of the restraints.

                Barilut looked around the tables in the center and saw some burnt papers. Most of them were destroyed but some weren’t fully burned and he could make out some of the writing. “Hey guys, look at this…” The dwarf said as he motioned to the paper and started reading it out. It mentioned doing work for Urgathoa and “Sending it down to A”.

                “Down?” Trigeji said, wondering what they meant by that.

                “Maybe there is something beneath the building.” Si’ro said, wondering how that could be when he tried his trick on the lift. They took the paper and continued exploring the room when they saw another door at the end of the room. As they went to go check that door out they saw it lead to what appeared to be an office and figured it was probably Dr. Davaulus’s office. The place looked ransacked as books were thrown off the shelves and vials were smashed on the table. Si’ro moved over to check some of the broken vials and saw that it appeared to be blood. The books themselves looked to be anatomy and medical volumes and had no clues to what they were planning.

                With the office checked they started to look into the “Down below” part of the burnt documents and how to get there. They figured that they may as well check the lift once more as they went back through the building and into the cargo lift. A pull of the lever and they started to descend as the group tried to see if they noticed anything. It wasn’t until Jathan used his sharp vision that he noticed something peculiar with the panel that operated the lift. In the slot where the lever was there appeared to be an indentation for something like a small button, but it was missing. The rogue went to work trying to open and bypass whatever this mechanism was and a few moments later the panel clicked. This time they tried pulling the lever down and it gave as the lift began to descend further down into a new, hidden lower level of the hospice.

                The lift opened and they were in darkness as there were no lights. Lumpen quickly used Light on Trigeji’s Warhammer to light up the space as they stepped forward into a large room. The walls of the room were decorated with carvings and murals of skeletons dancing among fields of dead. A number of the doors in the room were decorated with skeletons wielding large scythes. The Harrows moved towards one of the doors as Jathan examined it. He could detect that the door wasn’t just made to look eerie but was trapped as well as he began to decipher a way to get past. A few moments later and the door’s seal was broken as they pushed open the door and entered the next room.

                This room had a table in the center with a number of cabinets lining the wall. Looking into these cabinets they saw an assortment of robes similar to those that the physicians wore and even a few of the strange masks that they wore. Looking through the room they found one of the cabinets was locked and with a quick pick of the lock the door was opened as the party grabbed some of the potions, healer’s kits, and some onyx gems. They searched the room for any more items before continuing through another door and into what appeared to be a barracks of sort. A number of beds with chests at the foot of it lined the room as a few figures stood there in leathery robes. They were a number of the Queen’s Physicians and they turned when they saw an intruder, proclaiming that they didn’t belong here as they moved in to attack. The physicians reached into their robes pulling out these small concoctions before tossing it towards the group of adventurers. The object exploded in a blast of fire as it splashed around and burned a few others.

                “Careful! They have bombs!” Si’ro said, recognizing what they were throwing. The adventurers charged into the physicians, closing the distance and using their power to overwhelm them. By getting in close they could reduce the number of bombs thrown since the blast radius would hit their own. However this also opened them up to getting swarmed as the physicians moved to attack from all angles. A few moments later and the physicians laid dead around them with the party only taking minor injuries from the attacks. Xandak wiped his brow as he cleaned his greataxe while they looked through the chests to see if there was anything of value. A few bottles of wine and other trinkets later, the Harrows had finished exploring this room and were ready to move on.

                They opened the door and walked into a room that they were not expecting. The floors and walls were glass and behind the glass were numbers of undead bodies, writhing and wriggling as some pressed and clawed at the thick glass. It was such an eerie sight as they were surrounded by this display of death that they almost didn’t notice the number of undead zombies in this room standing by a number of doors. The monsters saw the party enter as they lurched forward and began to move in their direction. Lumpen blasted one of them with a barrage of magic missiles before Barilut, Xandak, and Trigeji fanned out to keep the undead back. They had fought similar undead before at the Carowyn Manor so they knew what they up against. This time they were more prepared as Lumpen began to summon a monster and suddenly this creature of dancing lights appeared around them. The monster spun in its place, its body glowing as it shot out rays of light towards the zombies burning their flesh with its divine energy.

                The bodies of the zombies crumbled under the Harrows might as Jathan turned to look back at Lumpen. “What was that monster you summoned?”

The gnome sorcerer smiled a bit as the creature faded from this existence, “It’s a Lantern Archon. I figured we could use some additional support and firepower to take these guys down.”

Barilut smirked a bit. “Nice work. I agree that we must not hold back against these foes. They are killing this city and must be stopped.”

The adventurers decided to go through the door that had two of the zombies guarding it and it led them into a large open chamber. The chamber had similar carvings of undead marching through series of dead corpses and up near the ceiling the carvings of a female figure with her entire lower body just a skeleton overlooked it all. The room had three large metal vats in here that seemed to be bubbling to the brim with a putrid greenish color to it. A set of stairs lined the two walls that led to a series of catwalks that traversed over the vats. Inside this room they saw a number of hooded figures wearing robes, each one of them wielding what appeared to be a scythe. Some of them were tending to the vats while others walked around. Near the center of the room overlooking it all was a familiar sight of Dr. Reiner Davaulus. When he heard the doors open he turned to see who it was as a smirk crept along his lips.

“Well..it seems the little ambush didn’t take care of you guys. How disappointing…” Davaulus said.

Jathan looked up at the man. “It didn’t. Next time you should hire someone more challenging.” These words brought a chuckle out from the doctor as he glanced at the half-elf. “Just because you disposed of a few assassins doesn’t warrant such bravado. After all, you fell for my ruse like sheep.”

“We fell for it because we care for the city and want to protect it.” Lumpen said, getting angry at the words spoken. Again Davaulus turned to the speaker and looked at them before speaking to the whole group. “I do care for this city. That is why I am trying to save it. The city is plagued with the poor and ill-ridden. These people need to be cleansed so that we can make Korvosa a great city moving forward. It truly is a great cause.”

“Enough of this. Let’s end it.” Xandak said, clutching his greataxe tightly as they prepared for battle.

The mysterious hooded figures began to move towards them, coming from both sides as some made their way down the catwalks while some were on the ground floor already. Davaulus began to speak once more to invigorate and empower the strange cultists around him as the Harrows started to clash with the scythe wielding enemies. The battle was broken out into two fronts where Si’ro and Xandak handled one side of cultists while Jathan, Barilut, and Trigeji handled the other side. Lumpen stayed between them so that he could provide support to either side if needed. The cultists all seemed to cast a spell before charging into battle and the gnome sorcerer shouted out, “Careful! They are using Magic Weapon.” A few of the cultists who were on the catwalk dipped the long curved blade of their weapon into the vat coating it with whatever was in there as they continued their march down towards the group.

The strange cultists that were charging the adventurers began to swing their scythes slashing at them with a ferocity to try and keep the intruders back. Each slash that connected sliced through armor leaving nasty cuts on them as Davaulus watched on from his spot on the catwalk. The doctor reached into his jacket and pulled out a strange concoction as he inhaled it and his body seemed to glow briefly. “You shouldn’t have come down here. This will be your grave!” Davaulus said out to the Harrows.

Barilut and Trigeji ran to clash with some of the cultists as they swung their flail and Warhammer respectively, smashing them into the sides of these figures.  The figures winced in pain but continued their advance. One of the cultists saw Jathan moving around to try and flank as he began to cast a spell. Suddenly, the rogue’s body stiffened and couldn’t move as the Hold Person took effect and paralyzed him. The dwarf and gnome saw their friend caught in the spell and moved in a way to put them between the cultists and Jathan so that they could protect their teammate. Meanwhile on the other end of the room Xandak broke into a rage as he started to swing his greataxe towards the cultists slicing deep through the armor as he let his anger towards them fuel his power. Si’ro moved in position with his musket taking a number of shots at the cultists to break their armor and keep them back.

Davaulus saw that the Harrows were proving to be quite skilled in dealing with the cultists as he began to cast a spell of his own and in a blink the man disappeared from view as the sound of movement could be heard along the catwalk. Lumpen saw that Davaulus vanished and studied the catwalk a bit as he began to cast a spell. “Not so fast!” The gnome sorcerer said as suddenly a cloud of golden dust particles appeared and scattered on the catwalk. As the particles settled it outlined the figure of Davaulus ruining the effects of Invisibility with his successful use of Glitterdust. The doctor scowled a bit at the spell as his plan was ruined.  The cultists were starting to get worn down a bit by the might of the adventurers as some of them began to cast healing spells on each other to restore some of their wounds while the ones that were patched up moved forward and continued to slash and slice with their scythes. Davaulus proceeded to make his way along the catwalk with some of the cultists to the nearest staircase that led to Xandak and Si’ro.

Once again Lumpen saw the man moving along the catwalk as he began to cast another spell. Suddenly, part of the catwalk began to glisten as the Grease spell covered the area. Davaulus slipped a bit but was able to keep his footing in the area but the cultist who was with him stumbled as they fell prone. The gnome sorcerer was beginning to manipulate the battlefield to give the group the tactical advantage they needed to limit the oncoming assault of cultists from both sides. The doctor was beginning to grow weary of this as he reached into his jacket once more to pull out a small object and tossed it at Xandak. The bomb exploded as it burned part of the half-orc’s skin only angering the bloodrager even more. In retaliation, he brought the greataxe down and sliced into one of the cultists killing him with ease. Si’ro had moved to the staircase to intercept the oncoming cultists as he fired off two more shots towards one of them critically injuring him. Davaulus saw the gunslinger approaching and turned to throw another bomb towards Si’ro causing the flames to explode and burn part of him as the cultists continued to advance.

“As for you…” Davaulus said, turning his attention towards the half-orc. He had watched Xandak take down a number of cultists and knew he was quite strong. “…Take a breather.” The doctor cast a spell and suddenly Xandak dropped to the ground as he started to laugh. The laughing was uncontrollably as he rolled back and forth on the floor suffering the effects of the Hideous Laughter spell. With him currently indisposed, the cultists could focus on Si’ro and the others. Lumpen saw Xandak fall to the ground laughing and knew they were in trouble and had to call in some help. He quickly summoned up another Lantern Archon that began to shoot beams of light into the cultists. While the battle heated up on this side of the room, the other side was turning into a slugfest as Barilut and Trigeji were trying to take down cultist after cultist.

Jathan finally could feel his body as the Hold Person faded and he was ready to get his revenge. He darted behind one of the cultists and thrusted his dagger into the back of him to kill it. One of the cultists saw the numbers were beginning to favor the Harrows and clutched the holy symbol around his neck as he washed the area with negative energy which harmed Jathan, Barilut, and Trigeji as he desperately tried to take them out. However while they seemed to be defeating the cultists on this side the other side didn’t look as good as Xandak was still laughing on the ground. Davaulus jumped down from the catwalk and went over to the half-orc as he plunged the rapier into his side causing him to bleed out profusely. The half-orc finally snapped out of the laughing but was in terrible shape as his ferocity kicked in. He looked up from the ground and clutched his greataxe as he swung it one final time. “Take this!” Xandak screamed as the axe cut into Davaulus causing a nasty gash into him.

But the attack wasn’t enough as the doctor still stood. After the swing Xandak lost any energy he had as his body collapsed to the ground and laid there still. Xandak was dead and the first member of the Harrows to fall in battle. The rest of the group paused for a moment as they turned and saw their comrade fall. Si’ro continued to blast the cultists on the catwalk taking them down as Lumpen focused the archon on Davaulus. The gnome sorcerer was beginning to be drained of resources as he reached into his robes and pulled out a Wand of Magic Missile. “This is all I got left. This is for Xandak!”Lumpen said as he shot out a magic missile, the magical force crashing right into Davaulus’s body. The arcane blast scorched the man as his body fell to the ground dead. Doctor Reiner Davaulus had been defeated and with him down the cultists had no chance as the group of adventurers struck them down one by one. Soon, the Harrows stood amongst all the dead bodies as victors of the battle although at a cost of one of their own.

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Hospice Stay
Episode #16

 

Hospice Stay

 

                After the run in with the Grey Maidens the Harrows turned their attention to the last issue they had discovered: the Queen’s Physicians. They had to go to the Hospice of the Blessed Maiden and try to figure out what exactly was going on and how were these mysterious doctors involved with it all. Making their way to the location they discovered that the building was an old warehouse converted into this hospice to help treat the victims of the Blood Veil. The Harrows checked the door knocking on it as a voice told them to come on in.

                When they walked through the door they saw a small waiting room with a long desk, a number of chairs and a dark leathery curtain that concealed the next room. Muffled sounds of moaning and coughing could be heard through the curtain as the Harrows made their way up to the counter to the burly figure behind the desk wearing gloves and what appeared to be numerous scarves wrapped around her face to cover her mouth.

                “Put your name on the list and wait to be called.” The burly female said as she waved in the general direction of the notepad that appeared to have a list of names on it. Turning around one could see chairs lining the wall with more than half of them filled with sick people. Barilut turned back towards the nurse as he tried to reason with her.

                “We are trying to speak with Dr. Davalaus and are offering to help.” The dwarf said as he looked at her.

                The woman looked at him. “You will be allowed to see him when your name is called. Those are the rules.”

                Jathan sighed as he grew frustrated with these waiting games. “I’m going to grab some fresh air.” The half elf said as he went outside. Once out, he began to explore and check out the entire building as he walked around it. There were no windows to sneak into but he did come across what appeared to be three loading doors from back when the building was used as a warehouse. The doors appeared to be sealed and not used for a while so they would require some force to get in but it would skip waiting in line. He smirked a bit at this discovery as he made his way back to the rest of the group to tell them what he found.

                They liked the idea of going through the loading door but knew it would probably cause a noise so they needed to keep the nurse occupied. Barilut and Trigeji chose to stay back and talk with the nurse while the rest of the party went around to where the loading doors were. After giving them a closer look they figured there was only one way in as Xandak raised his greataxe and brought it down chopping a large chunk of the door with it. He then used his half-orc strength to tear the rest of it down until there was a large enough opening for all to pass. The adventurers slowly made their way into the building and were now in a room that contained a large number of crates and barrels. Examining the crates they saw that they were here for some time and appeared to be from all regions of the world as tags read off places like Vudra, Mwangi Expanse, Taldor.

                “Looks like this place had quite a few imports coming in.” Si’ro said as he browsed the wares. Jathan also looked around the room and nodded. “Seems this warehouse was used for some sort of trading company. Either way, let’s find what we’re after.” Lumpen interrupted the half elf as he looked up at him. “This should help you scout out the area.” The gnome sorcerer said as he placed a hand on the rogue and cast Invisibility. Suddenly the half elf vanished from sight and combined with his natural ability to sneak around quietly he would go explore the warehouse to see what was going on. Slipping through the dark leather curtain Jathan saw the large open floor of the former warehouse covered with over five dozen beds almost all filled with sick patients. Hovering from bed to bed were a few of the Queen’s Physicians, their bird masks giving an eerie look to the whole scene. About 20 feet above the floor was a set of catwalks that overlooked the ward with a number of Grey Maidens patrolling above. He glanced over and saw a set of double doors with a few more Grey Maidens guarding it.

                Jathan returned back to the group as he told them the layout of the hospice. It was interesting to note that the Grey Maidens were here and they wondered what they were guarding. They discussed a plan to try and take out the guards as the group took their positions for a potential ambush. When everyone was in place Lumpen used Ghost Sounds to create enough noise to lure the guards. Sure enough, the two Grey Maidens guarding the door went over to explore what was making the sound. Once they crossed the curtain the ambush was sprung as Jathan and Xandak each took one as they unloaded into them with their weapons. Si'ro’ was near the back of the room and unloaded a few musket shots that while proving effective in putting down the guards was also quite loud.

                Meanwhile, Trigeji and Barilut were chatting with the nurse at the counter when they heard the sound of gunfire and knew that something was going down. They tried to keep her distracted but she ran back into the ward to see what was happening. They quickly rushed outside and went around to the back of the building where the loading doors were. By the time the two of them made it inside the storage room the two Grey Maidens collapsed on the ground. “What’s going on?” Barilut said as he saw Xandak pushing some of the crates across one of the doorways into the room to barricade it. However they didn’t have enough time as the Queen’s Physicians barged in demanding to know what was going on. The adventurers told them that they wanted to see Dr. Davalaus and the figure responded that if they waited patiently they would see him then.

                A few minutes passed before the physician took them to the stairwell and went upstairs. They eventually were brought to a room and saw Doctor Reiner Davalaus standing before them, a Grey Maiden on each side of him as well as a number of his physicians in the room as well. He turned to look at the group before speaking.

                “What is the meaning of all this?” Davalaus asked them, outraged at what was going on at the hospice.

                Jathan stepped forward. “We wanted to speak with you to first see how things are progressing and if any help was needed. Could working with the temples help at all?”

                “The temples are doing their best to heal the disease but we are also trying to research a cure for it as well.” Doctor Davalaus said. “If we can develop a cure then we can stop all of this.”

                “We did discover something else….a house with a mad woman in it. She provided details of giving a man over to a necromancer who was escorted by some of your physicians. We also have reason to believe that a cult of Urgathoa may be involved.” The half elf told the doctor.

                The man pondered for a moment, rubbing his temple as he took in all this information. “I’m unsure of these physicians that you speak of but dealing with such a widespread plague is quite stressful and some may not be able to stay strong and stray from the path. It is a sad thing. However I do believe there is something a group of adventurers like yourselves can do for me. I have suspicion to believe that this disease originated from a small cabal of wererats living in the sewers of Old Korvosa who worships a parasitic deity. I haven’t had the time or resources to send a team to investigate but you seem like a competent group.”

                The Harrows listened to the doctor and agreed to go check out this group of wererats seeing as how they had experience with wererats in the past. The last thing they wanted to ask was about the room that was guarded downstairs and Davalaus told them it contained the lift that was behind them. The group decided to try out the lift as they were escorted back down by one of the physicians. As they arrived at the ground floor Si’ro bumped into the man operating the lift controls to see if he would accidentally not stop it there and push on to a lower level. The lift however did stop at the ground floor and the party was all escorted out to the street.

                The task now was to figure out how to get into Old Korvosa due to the quarantine that was in place. All the bridges had been destroyed and the main bridge was blockaded off with a stone wall leaving only way in by water. They figured the best way to get in would be at a quiet spot and went to Trail’s End across the Jeggare River to try and find a boat. Here in this poor district where they had first seen the disease they would hope to cross over to the small island. The adventurers walked around the area until they eventually came upon a man working on his boat. They approached him and offered to pay him for a ride over to Old Korvosa. After much discussion he agreed and ferried them across.

                The man was named Deman and he seemed to be a nice guy. They even arranged a deal for him to come back and get them by checking the coast of Old Korvosa at 2 pm for a signal which would end up being an assortment of Dancing Lights. Once everything had been agreed the boat sailed back to Trail’s End and the adventuring group was out to try and find this group of wererats. Looking around Old Korvosa they saw the place was in pretty bad shape. The plague had hit the area hard and many diseased bodies lined the street. With the quarantine anarchy had begun to break out as riots and mobs filled the streets. The party slowly navigated the streets and made their way over to the Orisini Academy to check on their old friend Vencarlo. They hadn’t seen him since the plague began to grow severe. Arriving at the academy they saw that it was still closed and knocking on it proved to have fruitless results.

                After striking out with Vencarlo, the Harrows decided to move on and begin searching for the sewers and any leads on the wererat threat. As they navigated around they were suddenly surrounded by four strange masked assailants dressed in red with weird mantis masks on. These strange figures didn’t talk as they moved towards the group with their blades drawn ready for combat. The first one extended its sabres out and began to sway them in a rhythmic pattern that seemed to draw the viewer in. Jathan glanced at this and couldn’t resist the rhythmic sway as he grew fascinated with it and stood motionless watching it all. Meanwhile, the other three shrouded themselves in red mist as they dove in for attacks against the party. Quickly Xandak, Trigeji, and Barilut rushed out to meet them to create a perimeter as Si’ro and Lumpen prepared to help fend these assassins off.

                The one that was enchanting Jathan seemed to draw nearer and nearer as it captivated the rogue. Si’ro looked over and saw that he was in trouble as he aimed the musket and let a shot ring out right into the assassin’s side. The impact caused the mantis to stagger momentarily and break his concentration which snapped Jathan back to reality as he now saw the situation around him and it didn’t look good. Each swing of the sword from these assassins that landed proved to be deadly as the serrated edges cut into their skin and left deep cuts. The half-elf turned to see Barilut, a bastion of defense for their group covered with cuts and bleeding as these assassins proved to be able to penetrate the dwarf’s armor. Xandak rushed over to help Jathan with the assassin that was closing in on him as his greataxe swung and left a deep gash in their armor. The half orc was also showing heavy wounds as he growled and raged in the face of his enemies.

                The first assassin dropped to Xandak’s greataxe and as his body fell it faded into red mist leaving just his gear behind. They had finally defeated one of these enemies and were shocked by this turn of events, questioning if they had ties to vampirism.  But by charging and taking this one down they left an opening as one of the dual wielding assassins ran towards Si’ro and slashed its blade into the gunslinger. Xandak rushed over to try and stop him but as he did the assassin turned and thrusted his blade into the half-orc causing him to cough out blood. Xandak bit his tongue as he clenched onto his axe, using his ferocity to stay on his feet and fight through the pain. He stepped away and drank a potion quickly to heal himself and get stabilized. When he was stable he invoked the arcane ways and suddenly his axe elongated almost like a whip as it lashed out towards the target’s legs and cut into them causing the assassin to get knocked to the ground. Once on the ground, he was no match for Si’ro’s gunfire and the greataxe of Xandak as the second assassin had fallen.

                The other two had been occupied dealing with the rest of the party as Barilut and Jathan tried to stop one while Trigeji was taking on the other. However, the pink haired gnome was having a tough time as the blade cut into her back once more causing her to fall to the group and bleed out. Xandak rushed over to try and save the gnome as he swung his axe to block the next set of blades and protect her.  With the odds in their favor now they had the advantage and soon the other two assassins were defeated, their bodies fading into the red mist. The Harrows had survived the assault but barely as both Trigeji and Xandak were passed out from bleeding after everything was done and Barilut and Si’ro were severely wounded. They examined the armor and gear of their attackers and determined that they were members of the Red Mantis Assassins, a deadly assassin organization. Why would they be here? More importantly, why were they sent after the group and by who? Who knew that they would be here in Old Korvosa? The attack proved to open up many more doors then close any and provide answers.

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