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?