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?