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The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

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The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:49 am

(Players note: I wish to apologize to any and all for any misspellings of names or confusion of events in the pages that follow.  If it's possible for me to edit this in the future, I'll make an corrections necessary as they are brought up to me!  Additionally, concerning this first installment, all of my notes for the session started with the entrance of the fortune teller, which will actually be the 2nd entry into this journal.  Thus, for this first entry, it's all pretty much on memory, which you'll recall mine can be tricky at times!  I'll seek to post the second half of our first gathering either later today or tomorrow, as soon as I have the chance to finish writing it!  Thanks, and I hope you all enjoy this journal throughout the adventure!)

15 Gozran, 4715

       It was a day like any other . . . except it truly wasn’t.

       The city prepared for its annual Tax Festival, destined to liven up three of the plazas when evening arrived, though if past years proved accurate there’d be plenty of additional locales enjoying festivities of their own.  The Abadaran Church—by whom this illustrious celebration of tax collection was established—sponsored numerous activities for the gathered crowds, as well as used this opportunity as a conversionary tactic by catering free alcohol for any that attended their services within the next month.  Obviously, they decided to take a page out of Cayden Cailean’s dogma.

With hours to go before the Tax Festival officially kicked off, I attempted to ease the suffering of bleeding money pouches for those barely capable of supporting themselves at the best of times through the charity of freshly baked bread.  Somewhere about noonday, the newsies materialized with the newest edition of The Korvosan Chronicle, and I couldn’t help but purchase a copy.  I’ll admit to being a sucker for those kids hawking the pamphlet.  They do a fine job day-in and day-out, so, as ever, I found myself turning over a silver I probably couldn’t afford to give.  The Tax Festival dominated the first page, of course, along with some faux charitable giving by the crooked Arkonas, an accident at the Ironworks—complete with argument by its workers concerning the lousy working conditions at the factory, the continued—or oft-repeated—peace talks with the Shoanti, and a few other fluff stories to round it out.  On this particular day, however, the cleverly written stories of The Korvosan Chronicle failed to be the most shocking part of the purchase . . . .

As I buried a hand in my coin pouch for the silver payment, it brushed against a card placed undetected within the pouch’s confines.  Though not verbatim, the general message written on the back of a Winged Serpent harrow card invited me to 3 Lancet Lane, where apparently a few guests of like mind to my own were being invited to deal with a troublesome criminal figure known as Gaedren Lamm.  Without going into too much detail on the situation, Gaedren was a man I maintained some interest in tracking down, as I’d recently learned his part as a major drug supplier in Old Korvosa.  While that alone required his removal from the streets of the city, his profiteering had cost a special young mother her life, making the man’s capture more personal for me.  That the criminal had wronged others enough to be wanted by them came as little surprise.

Unfortunately, all I knew about 3 Lancet Lane was that it didn’t reside in Old Korvosa.  Therefore, I pocketed the harrow card and continued my work until the bread supply in the wagon ran dry, then escorted the wagon back to the temple of Aroden and inquired of Brother Pellonius as to its location.  He graciously informed me of its existence in Midland, near the southern end of the docks.  I filed this away in my memory, already determined to make the trip into central Korvosa this evening and learn what I could about this new opportunity.

When the proper time arrived, I found myself walking the short and nearly empty lane toward the address of the clandestine meeting.  Despite the lack of any real foot traffic, a homeless man sat conspicuously across the way of the exact locale to which I traveled.  This struck me as odd, and I’ll admit to growing a bit wary at the sight.  If there were a trap awaiting me here, it stood to reason that this conveniently-placed beggar might be watching for me—or us, if it remained true that others were coming—to enter so as to spring it.

Not wishing to let on my suspicion, and believing it likely that whoever invited me here would know my tendency to be gracious to the poor, I greeted the apparent beggar with a charitable donation of a silver piece.  I questioned him some about his knowledge of the area, seeking to garner his purpose for being here, but his answers were intuitively vague.  Realizing it improbable that I’d defeat this man in any verbal trickery—such is not my strong suit anyhow, I reminded him that the Abadarans were handing out free food at Jeggare Circle and headed inside as directed by the note.

Within, a trio of tapestries easily caught the eye—not necessarily because of their value, though they were finely crafted, but due to their subject matter, which depicted celestial and demonic images.  A table with six chairs centered the room, and upon it rested a basket which had at one time kept loaves of bread and a flagon of wine for the anticipated guests.  I’ve no clue exactly how much bread actually occupied the basket before, however, as the lone dwarf sitting at the table had consumed a majority of the fare, leaving a third of a loaf for those of us to come.

His greeting to me was to solicit whether I was Gaedren Lamm.  He had imbibed a significant amount of drink, as well, so it’s difficult to anticipate if this line of questioning was facetious or legitimate.  I assured him I was not, which assuaged him thankfully, and apparently positioned me as a favorite amongst those to come.  The dwarf looked hardy, as so many of his race tended to do.  Certainly a fine warrior, I feared for the man that chose to go toe-to-toe with that ax.  We introduced ourselves—his name was Glannin, and I helped pass the time by examining those unique tapestries as the others filtered in over the next few minutes.

Following me—and welcomed by a thrown ax into the door from the dwarf, who was unimpressed by the newcomers opening words of warning that battle mages would come searching if anything happened to him—was an elven wizard of comparatively few words considering the introduction, named Syrical Emeright.  He presented a confident demeanor, an air of academia, and a steady hand capable of wielding spell or the crossbow slung over his shoulder.

Shortly after, a fourth man of noble bearing and an inspirational disposition entered the chamber.  Polite, amiable, and completely at ease in this gathering of strangers, he heralded himself Calcedon Fordyce, and sat comfortably across the table from where I had settled in after the appearance of Syrical.  I fathomed that the others recognized the man’s name as being important within the city, though, admittedly, I failed to do so myself.  That, I must concede, was a shortcoming of mine.  Having spent so much time amidst the city’s poor in Old Korvosa, I lack even a rudimentary knowledge of its nobility, to which I discerned Calcedon probably belonged.

The final invitee walked through the door soon after Calcedon, and unlike the noble, this one I had heard about, as he had something of a reputation in Old Korvosa.  The elven investigator, Merethyl Eyrianor, whose work against the criminal element of the city boasted quite a noteworthy resume, examined the room’s occupants with a keen, intellectual deduction.  What impacted me most about his scrutiny was that he hardly seemed surprised to find any of us here, as if he knew each of us before ever he entered the building.  He even analyzed what little food remained before tearing off a piece of bread!  The effort was nonchalant, and so quite brilliant in its thorough simplicity.

We’d located a note on the ground earlier—presumably dropped there in Glannin’s rush to scarf down the bread!—which indicated that our host had needed to step out for a short time.  Some small talk between us helped pass the time.  Through it, we uncovered that each of us had received a harrow card with the same message written on the back, and that we all indeed harbored a strong inclination to find and stop Gaedren Lamm.  My deepest concern upon listening to the others express that eagerness was their willingness to work around the justice system and play the role of executioners themselves.  I cannot say the thought never crossed my mind, but Aroden taught an established society of order, in which the laws were carried out by those with authority granted to them.  It’s true that Gaedren had done much to deserve death, but it’s also true that the slope of justice gets increasingly slippery the more individuals believe they have the right to carry out punishment themselves without involving societal authority.  The line between justice and vengeance—lawful execution and murder—can too easily be erased by the mere scuff of a boot in the minds of many.  I had no interest in seeing this line blurred in the case of Lamm and made it a point to speak up when the time came.

Last edited by The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:56 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:16 am

15 Gozran, 4715 continued . . .

      A young Varisian fortuneteller turned out to be the thread that drew us all together.  Zellara was her name, and Gaedren had wronged her in a couple ways, it seemed.  First, the criminal had stolen a harrow deck that had been a part of her family’s possessions for over ten generations.  By reputation alone, it’s known the importance placed upon these decks by the Varisian people, and one owned by a family for so long possessed incredible sentimental value, if not great economic worth—though the fact Lamm stole it may be indicative of the latter, as well.  Her son, unwilling to take the slight quietly, successfully recovered the deck and returned it, though Gaedren murdered him for the trouble.  Now, she sought justice for her brother’s death, but ever the master manipulator, Gaedren left no recognizable clues behind tying him to any of these nefarious dealings.

      That’s where we come in, you see.

      In her research to discover a way to apprehend, or kill, Gaedren Lamm, Zellara apparently uncovered our own connections with the man who’d also harmed each of us, and the soothsayer brought us together for the chance to right those wrongs.  The dearth of evidence prevented Gaedren—guilty of so many crimes—from fear of consequence by the law, she explained, but we could do something about that.  I took that to mean we could find the evidence to put him away.  I believe most of the others interpreted it differently.  Zellara then proclaimed knowledge of Gaedren’s whereabouts, which she would tell us if we agreed to stop him.  With all of us needing questions in our lives answered by this man, and preferably these chapters closed, we consented to help.  Now assured, she revealed his base of operations as a fishery near the thirteenth pier.  As it happened, Calcidon knew exactly the spot she spoke of, and Merethyl owned an apartment very near there.

      Zellara then asked if we wished for a reading to start us on our way.  Naturally, I was skeptical.  Too many times, I’d heard that Varisian fortunetellers were nothing but charlatans using the cards to dupe their customers with bogus readings.  The others gave their assent to it, however, and so I kept quiet about my misgivings and went along with the charade . . . .

      . . . Except it wasn’t a charade, which I would learn over the next few minutes of studying her tells carefully and deducing no trickery there!

      She shuffled the deck, placed them on the table before us, and bade that we each take from it the top card in order.  Glannin moved a touch faster than the rest and snatched at the first card, only to be met by a sharp, verbal reprisal from Zellara!  The first at the table to her left—where she’d indicated we should begin—was Calcedon, and evidently the dwarf had just grabbed the card the fates had in store for him.  After a swift admonishment toward the dwarf’s hastiness, the Varisian woman dealt the harrow a second time and replaced the deck in its original location on the table.  The lot of us stayed true to the order of things this time, and each took the top card when our turn arrived—first Calcedon, then Glannin, Syrical, Merethyl, and finally myself.  Upon receiving our cards, she instructed us to place them face-up on the table in front of us, then commenced reading the providence of each card.  I’ve summarized each below:

1) Calcedon: The Locksmith—the past kept keys to the future, she told him, but as yet those keys remained a mystery.  If he stayed attentive and identified those keys, his future could be bright indeed.

2) Glannin: The Crows—something had been taken from him through violence, but this might be a blessing in disguise that would yet be beneficial to him.

3) Syrical: The Rabid Prince—this was seemingly an indicator that he was—or should prepare to be—agile in both body and mind.

4) Merethyl: The Juggler—a great many things occurred with and around him at once.  This sounded as a confirmation that he played with many lives, and thus he must be careful or something gravely terrible would happen.

5) Chazon (myself): The Cricket—indicative that I’ve been on a long journey in search of some treasure, either literal or figurative, and that I mustn’t give up my pursuit of it.

      Looking at the reactions on their faces as Zellara pronounced these readings divulged that each found their message significant in some way.  I easily connected mine own to my life’s work: finding a revelation to prove Aroden still lives, and that his ways are the best and only option for the future success and prosperity of human civilization.  Luckily, I’d had no intention of giving up my pursuit of that goal!  How reassuring that fate and I agree on the matter!

      Zellara reclaimed our cards, reshuffled the deck a third time, then laid out nine face down upon the table in three columns of three rows.  She illuminated that the first column delineated the past, then overturned all three cards to reveal the Hidden Truth, the Twin, and the Demon’s Lantern.  The latter two cards specified that we’d been put in a bad situation, but the first card evidenced that all had picked the path of greater truth upon which to tread.

       The second column, analogous with the present or neutrality, displayed the Desert, the Vision, and the Crows.  The soothsayer frowned at Glannin with the returning of his fate card and warned him that he can’t hope to survive without aid.  Likewise, she then peered at the lot of us and assured that we’d find aid from within and without.   More reassurance from the cards, I suppose.  Perhaps we were the aid Glannin would need to keep from perishing, though that might be too easy a reading of them since I’ve not idea one on their magnitude of individual and collective meaning.

      The fortuneteller expressed that the third column’s importance resided in the future and chaos, so clearly not my favorite combination, as I put very little stock in the worth of chaos.  This time it was my turn to endure the evil eye—perhaps a poor word choice, granted—of Zellara, as she unveiled the Owl, the Forge, and the Cricket.  My journey would be perilous, she predicted, and if I strayed but a little, the treasure I sought would be lost forever.  More dour than reassuring that.  Guess I’ll just have to verify that I don’t deviate from Aroden’s path, then!  The cards of Owl and Forge portended that we could overcome the imminent dangers together, by using our various sources of strength.  Good news there, certainly, as we were a group of eclectic talents and beliefs.

      Upon completion of the harrow reading, Zellara removed herself from much of the conversation to come.  To the credit of all, there was no requirement of payment for the deed we’d been hired for; maybe because the idea of finally getting Gaedren Lamm off the streets proved reward enough.  Calcedon immediately turned to Merethyl for how best to proceed, being that the elf was an investigator and probably had more experience at this sort of thing than any of the rest of us.  Good facilitator, that one, and accurate in his assessment.  Merethyl began piecing together our best strategy concerning the fishery, which began with the necessity of scoping out the place to be confident Gaedren was even there.  None of us save the investigator being the stealthy sort, however, we agreed to stay an hour or so at his apartment while he checked out the lay of the land and looked for habitation.

      We said our farewells to Zellara, who assured us that she’d not take more adventures this night from the meeting place so we could report back our findings—and Aroden willing, our success—when the job was done and Gaedren in our possession.  She wished us luck as we set out the door, and we reached Merethyl’s residence a short time later.  Glannin wasn’t altogether happy about waiting an hour for the elven investigator to do his work, but the food in the cupboards at least gave the dwarf something to do in the meantime.  I’ve heard dwarves can carry any load and not tire; now I know why!  This dwarf packs food away as though his stomach were an endless pit, yet never seems desirous to rest!  When Merethyl returned from his detective work with certitude that the fishery was currently in use and that Gaedren was most likely there, Glannin sprung up with great eagerness to take the fight to their door.

      Before he got to the door, however, I took this opportunity to speak up about how we should deal with those we’d inevitably come into conflict with at the fishery.  I stressed that Korvosa is a city of law, not a wild frontier, and that it wouldn’t be acceptable for us to kill the people who came against us.  If we were to do so, the authorities of the city may well condemn us for the same crimes we were condemning Lamm and his people for!  I felt it imperative, then, that we take our enemies alive, to be handed over to the proper authority once we had defeated their network.  Truly, I expected we’d find evidence at the fishery that would help us to incriminate Gaedren and permit the authorities to slap whatever punitive measures they saw fit upon his head.  Just to be clear: I’m not against Gaedren Lamm dying for all he’s done . . . I’m simply against us being the ones to do it.  We have no lawful authority upon which to stand for such an execution, and if we commit the act by our own hand, it makes us no better than him from a morally objective standpoint.  Granted, I’m elaborating my thoughts into this journal, as our discussion hardly delved this deep, but note that I did focus upon my desire to keep these people alive in spite of their crimes and character.  Praise the Last Azlanti that my words were heard and—by and large—heeded.

      I hung back about twenty-five feet when we reached the fishery, hoping to give Merethyl some space to silently pick the locks of the door for easier and quieter entry.  Syrical stayed back with me, but the others ventured up with the investigator, so in retrospect, I suppose the distance meant nothing.  It mattered little anyway, as the early attempt to pick the lock failed, and a watchdog from within began barking to warn of our presence.  So, best laid plans fell away to our contingency: Glannin simply busted open the door.

      Even from my position in the rear, I was the first through the smashed portal.  I deemed it necessary to silence the dog, else it draw further attention from the streets upon our endeavor.  When the dog saw an intruder within the room, it attacked.  I slashed as it darted past a chair to get to me, but the furnishing moved as the canine went past it, and my strike damaged wood and nothing more.  The guard dog might have boasted about its better battle prowess than mine after it bit me rather hard just below the left knee, but Calcedon’s descending polearm nearly sheered the animal in half.

      As the others entered—well, all save Syrical, who kept vigil at the front door to prevent any unsuspecting enemy from getting around behind us, a command was heard through the northern door in the room for its occupants to keep quiet.  Whomever issued it should probably have listened to his own advice.  Merethyl made to the door and opened it to expose a sorrowful sight.

      Beyond the portal, a handful of children shoveled foul slop into water chutes that exited the structure below.  I wouldn’t dare a guess at exactly what went into that slop, except to say that it looked disgusting and reeked far worse.  I prayed for it to contain only fish parts and nothing more sinister.

      Glannin stormed through the doorway seeking something to fight but finding only children.  At first glance, I saw the same . . . until I inspected them more carefully and realized that one of the children was truly a gnome in disguise!  I exposed him to the others and took a slash from the kukri that suddenly appeared in his hand.  The slicing blade caught me just above the knee on the same leg as the bite, but the wound felt only superficial.

      Like before, Calcedon showed up behind me, but this time, rather than severing the gnome in half as he did the dog, the nobleman reached out with the weapon and tripped our enemy.  At that point, something of a brawl broke out.  Merethyl effectively kicked our prone enemy a couple different times, while simultaneously speaking to one of the children directly to keep safe against the wall.  I believed he referred to this child by the name Liam.  Glannin joined in by pouncing on the gnome, who exhibited a fine bit of agility from the ground for a short while until the dwarf grabbed hold of him and started headbutting his face.  For such a small frame, that gnome endured quite the beating!  I was able to disarm the kukri while the others continued to try and knock him unconscious.  Witnessing those futile efforts, Liam shouted angrily and lunged with a pitchfork to skewer his captor, but the wiry gnome shifted just right and avoided the impaling.

      At about that time, back in the first room we’d entered, Syrical offered a short alarm as a second man made an appearance.  I heard the newcomer exclaim, “What’s going on in here?”  Just after, Calcedon turned from the northern doorway back toward one of the eastern doors we’d yet to check, and I heard the man grunt with pain.  With the enemy in this room beaten, disarmed, and grappled on the floor, I made the executive decision to help with the new threat.  A part of me worried that with only Syrical and Calcedon in that room, the man’s life may well be in danger.  Syrical used magic, which rarely could be wielded in a nonlethal capacity, or a crossbow besides.  Same problem.  Calcedon had concurred with allowing them to live and had shown his willingness to abide with that decision by tripping rather than slaughtering the gnome.  Recollections of our discussions around the table at Zellara’s place brought to my attention that Calcedon had trained once as a hellknight, and hellknights didn’t train for incapacitation.  They believed themselves to be judge, jury, and executioner.  If that training mindset kicked in for Calcedon with the abrupt entry of a new threat, it’s entirely possible that the nobleman would kill the man without realizing exactly what he was doing.

      I couldn’t have that.

      So, I bolted into the first room to see the man there with a gaping, red line from right shoulder to the left side of his sternum and knew I’d made the correct decision.  I shouted at him to drop the wand held in his right hand and not speak—a spur of the moment command derived from seeing the wand and fearing him an arcane caster of some kind.  He promptly ignored my warning, stepped back and threw a glob of acid at me from the wand.  It just barely missed my left thigh.  I closed and managed to grab the wrist of the wand hand, while shoving the man up against the wall with all my weight and momentum and pinning him there.  Yelling sounded from the other room that another of Gaedren’s lackies had joined the fray, and again Calcedon departed to help against the new danger.

      I shook my head, knowing there was nothing I could do for that one, as my hands were already full here.  I demanded his surrender a second time, and for the second time he ignored it.  The tip of the wand flashed green, but he was unable to point it directly at my face because of my hold on his wrist, and the glob shot wide again.  A thin, pale blue ray of frigid cold blasted the man straight in the face from over my left shoulder.  For a third time I ordered his surrender, accentuating that I had no intentions of killing him, though my companions may if he didn’t throw the wand down and give up.  Finally, the man complied, pleading with me that he was just trying to run his business.

      The fighting persisted in the other room for a short while longer.  It was impossible for me to aid there until I was given rope to tie up this prisoner, so I interrogated him a little more.  I asked what they did here, and instantly discerned he was omitting the whole truth when he replied they just sold fish guts.  I confronted him on the fact, and he clammed up after, obviously weighing his options.

      When Glannin brought me a rope less than a moment later, I knew the fight to be over.  As we tied the man up, I repeated my earlier question of what they did here, but this time I had the intimidating glower of my dwarven companion to entice a more acceptable answer.  He worked for Gaedren Lamm, and he confirmed that Gaedren was on the premises.  Before we deposited the bound man on the floor, he had elaborated that his boss resided below the fishery, which could only be gotten to via the ship docked behind the place.

      Calcidon had lowered himself to the children’s level and was diplomatically convincing them to go directly to Merethyl’s apartment when I entered the site where the combat had started.  Thankfully, neither the gnome, nor the half-orc I’d yet to see until now, were dead, though both displayed bleeding wounds.  Broken but not dead . . . more than acceptable.  Even better, by the wounds I saw, Calcedon was responsible for the half-orc still breathing.  That elicited a small smile.  Despite the training, his goodness shone through.

      Syrical located a ledger in the eastern room where all three criminals were now tied up to one another, two of them unconscious.  In the document were poor forgeries of purchases and taxation numbers that made virtually no sense to anyone even half-looking.  This provided proof that this business was corrupt, which may be of use to us later.  Still, I do pray that more incriminating evidence can be found, as I’m unsure whether the testimony of children would be credible enough to prosecute.  I’d hope so, of course, but the more we find, the better the chance that Gaedren won’t be able to slip the noose this time.

      After we finished our work inside the building, the lot of us went through the eastern door used by the half-orc to join the fight.  Outside, the slop chutes emptied into a small reservoir, and more children hid beneath the landing that circled the area.  Before Calcedon convinced them to take refuge with the others at Merethyl’s, we learned that a girl named Anna had recently been taken below by Gaedren.  They lamented that when a child went below they never came back up and begged us to rescue her.  Additionally, the children hinted at a terrifying beast kept by Lamm that we needed to watch out for.  Once sent on their way to safety, we commenced on toward the ship.

Last edited by The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:59 am; edited 1 time in total

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:54 am

15 Gozran, 4715 continued . . .

Seeing no apparent way onto the ship from the fishery floor save for a wooden walkway above us that circled down to it from the fishery, we ascended the stairs back into the structure.  However, when Merethyl opened the outer door to the rickety walkway constructed of rotted and creaking wood that barely seemed capably of holding him, there were some harbored fears that this path served as little more than a trap for unwelcome visitors such as ourselves.  Unwilling to venture onward until all other avenues were thoroughly examined, the lot of us went back down to the fishery floor to search for any hidden doors buried behind the plethora of barrels and crates beside the vessel.  Our only discovery proved all these to be completely empty, but no entry to the ship.

So, back to the ramshackle walkway we went.

The group quickly decided it best to take the walkway one at a time.  Merethyl set out first, with an eager Calcedon next.  While we waited, Glannin took me aside and inquired about my injuries.  I conceded that my leg remained quite sore from the dog bite and kukri slash, then asked if he had battlefield wound treatment experience.  He merely shrugged, inspected the wounds with what felt like unpracticed hands, and suddenly the pain drained from my leg completely.  I stared at the dwarven warrior in surprise.  The relatively instant relief of harm made no sense unless magical healing was involved, but he hardly struck me as one that possessed such a talent.  Admittedly, it shocked me enough that I said nothing to him, and he held no desire to explain either.  Without another word, he escaped out the door, onto the walkway, and disappeared.

I followed the same path to the door and peeked out to see the dwarf tentatively working his way down the gradual slope of weather-beaten wood.  Turning back to Syrical, I offered to let him descend next, but he deferred.  I cast a glance to our three prisoners tied up in the corner of the room—two unconscious, the third glaring at me—before slipping out the door.  What a harrowing descent!  Each board bowed beneath my weight, and I heard them crack and splinter with each cautious step.

I walked along at a gingerly pace for nearly half-a-minute and hadn’t even gotten to the ship yet when there were shouts from the deck!  Glannin managed to find a weak point in the deck and nearly fell through it, though he felt the boards giving way under him and reflexively leapt to safety.  This proved doubly fortunate, as Merethyl elected to walk through the door into the aft cabin before we had all congregated, was promptly attacked by a spider the size of a cat, and required the dwarf to smite the vermin from atop his head.  It may be wise if, in the future, we wait on exploration of a dangerous locale until the entire group arrives to best handle whatever comes.  In the investigator’s defense, I’m certain he believed there to be very little room on the deck, especially after Glannin’s close call.  Additionally, the elf typically works alone during his investigations, and so rarely needs think about accommodating others while on the job.  Had the threat been greater than simply an oversized spider, however, there would have been no way for Syrical or I to hurry along that walkway to aid him or the others.

The name, Kraken’s Folly, was painted upon the hull of the rundown vessel, which our dwarf had already discovered to be treacherous.  Based on its horrible condition, it’s unlikely this ship has traveled anywhere in recent history.  A red fish decorated the door that Merethyl had opened, precipitating the attack.  We learned that the elven investigator had recognized tracks that led into the small cabin and down the stairs to its hold, so when we all gathered our only choice was to follow them.

I placed a light spell upon Calcedon’s person, since he stayed close on the heels of Merethyl, and the light enabled those of us without darkvision to see the filthy conditions and thick strands of webbing below deck.  The steps were steep and narrow, so Merethyl and Calcedon plunged downward into the bowels of the ship slowly.  Having just been attacked by a drain spider, few doubted what awaited us among all those webs.  Sure enough, not a moment after the elf’s foot touched the floor, four of the pesky vermin dropped down from their cover to attack.  Calcedon reacted quickly and sliced one in half with his polearm before any of the rest of us even knew the large critters were there.  Unfortunately, a second that he hadn’t noticed perched upon his shoulder and bit into the base of his neck.

In the midst of this anticipated ambush, both man and elf cleared the stairs to make room for those of us yet to come down.  Glannin gleefully made it to the midway point of the stay and hacked at the spider on Calcedon’s shoulder with his axe.  Though the precision strike hewed part of its bulbous abdomen, along with a couple of its legs, the little creature held on to life.  I squeezed past the dwarf and slipped to the side of the stair before taking a jab at the creature in an attempt to finish it, but failed to connect.  Likewise, Syrical sent a freezing ray at it from above and missed wide, causing frost to form on the edge of a step.  Holding on to life through multiple attacks with only half a body, and already having located the weak spot around Calcedon’s armor, the spider bit him again.  The marks hardly looked painful, but who knew what poison the thing injected into that wound!

The other two drain spiders attacked Merethyl and Glannin, but neither had any luck scoring hits against them.  The elf successfully dispatched his on the second stab of the sword cane.  Calcedon brushed the creature off his shoulder, stepped away, and sought a killing strike on the dwarf’s enemy without a favorable outcome.  Syrical’s next ray of numbing frost nearly struck the leg of the wounded spider, but settled for the step again.  Not appreciating its precarious position—I’m dramatizing here, as spiders are obviously incapable of such complex thought, the six-legged vermin scuttled toward Glannin, only to be vengefully squashed by Calcedon.

The last of the spiders resided too far away for me to attack it, and rather than press through the cramped hold for the opportunity, I instead bowed my head in silent prayer for Aroden to aid us.  The prayer was answered through a burst of speed by Calcedon, who assailed the thing with a pair of strikes in quick succession.  Though both missed their mark, a third crashed down upon it when the spider attempted to go after Glannin and killed it.  Admittedly, I smiled to myself after that final kill, amused that none would ever accept from whom that sudden quickness given Calcedon came, and I chose not to bother with enlightenment at this time.  One day, perhaps curiosity would dawn inquest, but our current need to push forward and find Gaedren Lamm required our full attention.

After the fight’s conclusion, Merethyl confided that he’d lost the trail that led us here and urged those of us that could to search for it.  I pinpointed it and noted that the prints disappeared at the hull of the Kraken’s Folly.  Merethyl swiftly came over to search and uncovered a secret door, which opened onto another wooden walkway beneath the fishery.  This constructed path appeared far safer than the one leading to the ship—its boards solid and strong.  Above, the hole in the fishery floor could be seen about fourteen feet up.  Anything dropped through it would splash down into the water here, where a dark shadow in the depths swam undisturbed and undoubtedly hungry.

The sturdy walkway started south, then angled west and ended at a two-and-a-half foot, square door.  A quick check verified the door as locked, but Merethyl opened it without much problem.  It necessitated some doing to fit through the small door, and as the elven investigator worked his way through, he was ridiculed by the room’s occupant . . . Gaedren Lamm.  Each of us was hit by a similar salvo as we entered.  None are written here because I’ll not glorify the man for making light of his crimes against us.

A large portion of the underfishery’s floor was open water, with only a single five-foot path running the east, south, and west perimeter to where Lamm resided in its northern portion.  Several pilings acted as pillars for the ceiling above.  An intricate block and tackle pulley system weaved through these pilings and terminated in a set of rusty manacles, which currently held the young girl we knew to be Anna above the watery opening.  Below her swam a badly scarred crocodile—the forewarned of Gobbleguts.  Lamm gripped the rope of the pulley system in a left hand shriveled with age, and in his right hand he brandished a loaded crossbow.  A wreck of a human being, Lamm was jaundiced, filthy, long-faced, and fragile.  He obviously favored his right leg.  Besides the crossbow in his hand, he also owned a companion dagger on his belt and adorned himself in padded armor.

Clearly, holding that little girl’s life in his hands emboldened the old man to believe he had us where he wanted us.  He extended an ultimatum to us: let him leave this place alive and unharmed, and he would let us take Anna in similar fashion.  If we should seek to inhibit his escaping, however, Lamm promised to release the rope and let her plunge into the water with Gobbleguts.  I watched the old criminal closely as he spoke and detected no trace of a lie, which I’ll confess surprised me more than a little.  It shouldn’t have.  A man with a strong survival instinct would do whatever it took to stay alive, and I have no doubt he thought to avenge this hit to his pride at a later time.  He’d already gotten to each of us once, after all.

Glannin moved toward Lamm with axe menacingly before him and promised there’d be no way the old man was walking out of here still standing.  Inside, I agreed with the good dwarf in principle, but I wasn’t so keen on it costing a little girl’s life.  Thus, when I noted Lamm take a step back and raise his crossbow at the crocodile—a threat that he’d anger the beast and drop Anna right on top of it, I spoke up for Glannin to not be so hasty in disregarding the trade.  It pained me to even sound out the words.  This criminal had caused the harm or death of innumerable people, and we had him dead to rights here and now.  Letting him go was a bad idea, but we needed time to work out a way to get Anna safe.

As luck would have it, Merethyl and Calcedon had already worked that out between them.

Glannin’s threat—nay, promise—had unsettled the man, wiping that smug grin off his face.  Intimidated, he reissued his ultimatum, and that’s when the two heroes made their move.  Merethyl charged, erasing the distance between he and Gaedren in the blink of an eye.  The onrushing elf startled Lamm, who shot the Gobbleguts in the back, but he still held fast to the rope!  I can only imagine poor Anna’s thoughts as she watched all this unfold before her, terrified that at any moment her captor would set free the rope and plunge her into the frigid waters of scaly death awaiting her below.

Syrical screamed at the man—or, at least, that’s the facial expression he made, though no sound emitted from it.  Gaedren recoiled in pain, and I thought for sure he’d release the rope, but the criminal only gripped it tighter!  So tight, in fact, that when Merethyl grabbed for it, Lamm refused to let go!  Glannin and I both hurry around the water—he straight at the man he wants dead, and I the long way round to the west, then north, all the while shouting for the others not to kill the man.  An enraged Gobbleguts surged right at me but wasn’t able to clear the lip of the floor.  With all of us collapsing on Lamm, the noble Calcedon merely stepped forward and jammed his polearm into one of the pulleys, making it impossible for Anna to fall even if our enemy were to let go of the rope.

Desperate to get to Lamm, especially after seeing the dwarf bury his axe into the man’s shoulder, I rushed forward and paid no mind to Gobbleguts.  Ice formed in the water beside the crocodile from one of Syrical’s frost rays, and the reptile launched from the water to snap at me as I departed, just missing me.  I reached Lamm and slipped my sword in the crooks of both his arms in an attempt to grapple him.  I wanted to pull him away from the dwarf’s lethal strikes and subdue the man.  To my surprise, Gobbleguts lunged out of the water at its master, though I pushed the man forward just enough that its strong jaws couldn’t clamp down on him.  The maneuver set me off-balance, and Lamm twisted about and grappled me instead, pushing me to the very corner I’d intended to put him!

With distance between the two of us and my compatriots now, most everyone turned their attacks on the crocodile.  Syrical managed to frost the lashing beast, causing Glannin to swing wide of his intended mark.  Merethyl wisely tied Anna’s rope off so Calcedon wouldn’t need to keep his polearm lodged in the pulley the entire time.  Lamm’s grip on me was tentative at best, so I easily reversed it and slammed my head into his nose.  At that exact moment, Gobbleguts—ignoring the attacks of all the others—swept up out of the pool and latched onto Lamm’s leg!  The shock and pain of the attack slumped Gaedren into unconsciousness, allowing the crocodile to easily rip him from my grasp and into the water.

Merethyl and Glannin attack Gobbleguts, though only the latter connects with a solid hit, and the water around the crocodile bursts into a cloud of red.  From across the room, I hear Syrical addressing me concerning Lamm’s fate being taken into the hands of nature.  In the heat of the moment, I couldn’t judge if the words were mocking or pragmatic, but I noted that no freezing ray struck croc or water at that time.  I retorted that it was man’s duty to preside over nature, not the other way around, and that Lamm deserved to stand trial and be convicted in a civilized court of law.  I followed those comments with a swing at Gobbleguts, but the creature had already released the comatose criminal due to Glannin’s deep cut into its flank, and my attack went nowhere near it.  When the crocodile surged at the dwarf, I heard him cry out, “Cal!  Get in the fight!”  The wounded reptile failed to clear the lip of the landing, leaving Glannin untouched anyhow.

Even still, Calcedon’s brilliant response: “Not now!  I’m saving the Princess!”  While we had concentrated our efforts against Lamm and Gobbleguts, the nobleman had rescued Anna from her precarious position above the water and gotten her out of harm’s way.  Aroden bless that man.

I fished Gaedren from the water so he wouldn’t drown and perched him in the corner where his nonsensical form would be safest.  Meanwhile, Glannin, Syrical, and Merethyl made attacks against the crocodile, with the former two landing theirs.  Gobbleguts’ thrashing from the vicious gash of the axe and freezing blast of the spell accidentally parried the investigator’s blade, which also provided an opening for the frenzied beast.  Its powerful jaws snapped shut on his leg, and he shredded more flesh when he lurched it from the crocodile’s iron grasp.  That extra wounding probably saved Merethyl’s life, however, as it prevented Gobbleguts from dragging him into the pool with it.

By this time, Calcedon had Anna freed, healed, and tucked away from the fighting in the back corner of the room.  The elven investigator jabbed forward with his sword cane and scored a hit in neck, just behind the crocodile’s opened maw.  He then hobbled back away from the fight where the nobleman helped heal his wound, as well.  Gobbleguts focused its attention on Glannin, which enabled it to twist away from the warrior’s axe, but I used that diversion to step in from the side and hack with my blade into the space behind its eyes.  My sword sliced through hide already weakened by Glannin’s earlier attacks and killed it.

With the last threat done away with, we tended the wounded, or at least confirmed that all would live.  While I ensured that Lamm still breathed and stripped him of his weapons, armor and a trio of keys (brass, iron, and rusted iron), the others saw to Anna and the three tables of paraphernalia in the northeast part of the room.  Not much was found there, with the most interesting being some letter in a bottle dated a handful of years ago.  It read:

“6th of Arodus, 4710
To whom it may concern . . . please disregard earlier bottles.
Corrigan Desmond.
Formerly of Smuggler’s Shiv, Survivor of the Jenivere
Presently a guest aboard a South Arcadian whaling vessel.
P.S. We lost Sasha on the island . . . She went in search of carnivorous dinobird pet . . . Never seen again.”

That extraordinary find out of the way, we moved on to the smaller room in the northwest corner—Gaedren Lamm’s chamber.  There, we located a few very interesting things.  First, resting upon a strongbox resided a journal.  A brief look through it by Merethyl disclosed that it was written in some form of thief’s cypher, but the investigator could break just enough of it with his short perusal to be certain that this book would incriminate Lamm for all he’d done to us and a great many others.  It was exactly what I desired to find here!  Within that journal was situated the evidence that guaranteed the criminal couldn’t work his way out of a conviction.  Aroden be praised!

Second was the lockbox itself.  One of the keys taken off Lamm’s unconscious body opened it readily enough, so the elf wasn’t needed to put his lock-picking skills to work again.  Many expensive treasures were securely hidden in there, the most of which I’ll not bother to itemize now.  Three pieces caught my attention enough to be notable: 1) a two-pound gold ingot bar with the Chelaxian coat of arms upon it (this struck me as something that might come directly from a noble house treasury), 2) a unique, masterwork dagger with a blade shaped like a key and the inscription “For an inspiration of a Father.” written upon it, and 3) a masterfully-crafted—and incredibly expensive—brooch depicting an intertwined imp and pseudodragon.  The last was of the utmost importance, as Merethyl recognized the brooch as a personal possession of the Queen of Korvosa!  He mentioned a significant reward being offered for its return, but, more importantly, it means that there’d be no hope for Lamm escaping justice now . . . If his journal wasn’t proof enough, this highly unorthodox theft would certainly convict him.

The third, most baffling, find was a hat box, which Syrical looked into and saw a severed head rotting away in there.  Enough detail remained for him to identify it as the head of Zellara!  We’d just left her at her own fortune-telling business not hours before, and this head appeared easily a couple weeks old, if not more!  But, if she’s been dead so long, then who hired us for this mission?  Why would someone go through the trouble of disguising themselves as this woman to meet with us when not one of us knew her at all?  What were they trying to hide?  The harrow deck used to perform the readings for us all—or one that gave the impression of being that same deck!—laid in the hatbox beneath the head.  Upon questioning the possibilities concerning the “Zellara” we met, Glannin spoke up that it could very well have been her spirit, and Calcidon agreed that he’d heard stories of benevolent spirits doing such things in the storybooks.  That sounded a strange and unlikely event to me, and I’m not so sure Merethyl bought into it either.  Syrical struck me as ambivalent to it regardless.  It seems very much that there’s a conspiracy here, and we shall seek it out before the end!

With exception of the dagger key and royal brooch I noted above from the lockbox, we agreed (somewhat tentatively by a couple) to leave everything else here for the coming investigation by the proper Korvosan authorities.  I’d hoped that any reward that might be offered would cover all that we left, or perhaps they’d give us what wasn’t required for evidence against Lamm.  I didn’t wish to remove something that might incriminate us along with Gaedren from this stockpile, and thankfully Merethyl backed my play on this.

We carried Lamm above and tied him with the other three.  I fine bunch of prisoners they’d be for turning over to the Korvosan Guard, some of whom Merethyl knew from past investigations.  After a quick search of the fishery rooms we’d not yet looked through—in which, we found nothing but a few small pouches with what appeared to be payment for the ones we’d captured, Merethyl stepped out to find a runner meant to deliver the message of our success to the Guard and bring them to us swiftly.

What he—and by extension, we—witnessed upon throwing wide the door was something far beyond the realm of normal!  The screams of the terrified and the dying erupted over the constant din of fighting in the streets.  Fires burned everywhere, casting the city’s horizon with a hellish glow.  Somewhere, a voice shouted out that King Eodred was dead, and long live the new Queen of Korvosas: his widow, Ileosa.  Cheers ensued from some; jeers from a good many others.  A hippogriff and rider of the Sable Company fell from the burning sky to crash on the ground nearby.  

Merethyl ran to see if the man was in any condition to receive aid.  The rest of us joined him without, in a city currently inflicted with chaos that threatened to consume it.

Last edited by The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:03 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:09 pm

16 Gozran, 4715 – Midnight

After Merethyl’s disappearance to check on the Sable Company rider, the four of us who remained at the fishery discussed the quick workings of a plan for moving forward.  In the midst of a city in bedlam, we had four prisoners in need of cells and a dozen children alone and scared at the investigator’s apartment.  Already I’d heard Glannin idly commenting on dispatching Lamm, fearful that he might escape justice in the current climate, when the Korvosan Guard had plenty of other worry on their minds.  Naturally, I was against any such execution.  I don’t fault Glannin, Merethyl, or Syrical for their desire to meet out swift justice with their own hands; the rules of their society—dwarven and elven respectively—were constructed with different considerations of civilization than our own.  Perhaps more to the point, they put less value on human civilization, and, therefore, less value on human life than the Last Azlanti teaches.  For men such as Lamm, who have committed unbearable atrocities against the weak and strong alike, they see no point in not disposing of him immediately, and truth be told I can’t say I don’t sympathize.  But this isn’t a matter of desire . . . it’s a matter of right and wrong, and we haven’t the authority within this city to take Lamm’s life before he stands before those who do have authority to make that decision.

Thus, wishing to see this through to its proper conclusion concerning the criminals, I was forced to suggest we split up when Calcedon proposed his House in East Shore as a safe harbor in which to ride out the rest of this night.  Glannin and I would see to the disposition of the prisoners—I tended to them while Glannin stood guard, and Calcedon and Syrical would hike to Merethyl’s apartment to retrieve the kids.  We would then meet back here and take the whole lot to House Fordyce, where the children would be safe, and the prisoners could be interred until things slowed down enough to turn them over to the Guard.

What follows is a reconstruction of events based solely on discussions I had with those involved after the fact.  For the purposes of posterity, I’ve attempted to make it as accurate to the accounts as I could.

Merethyl was successful in saving the Sable Company rider’s life through the administering of potions located upon the rider himself.  Unfortunately, the hippogriff proved beyond help, both from taking the brunt force of the crash upon itself and from the crossbow bolt lodged deep within its throat.  The rider, who reported his name to be Arzen Kale, proclaimed it urgent that he get to the castle immediately, as the riots occurring through the streets of Korvosa originated from that location, and the Queen was still in some danger.  It appeared that the people failed to take news of the king’s death with any grace at all.

Apparently, the Sable rider sought to continue his hurried jaunt to the castle when he discovered quite swiftly that the drinking of four healing potions still had done little to mend his broken leg.  So impaired, he finally accepted Merethyl’s aid and headed back to the investigator’s residence where it could best be dispensed.  Now hampered in movement, it allowed Calcedon and Syrical to catch up to them, and the four men made their way together.

As their small company drew near the apartment, however, one of them noted the dangerous glow of firelight coming from within a local chandlery business, called Illustrious Illuminaries, which resided only a couple structures away from Merethyl’s home.  A sign boasted this shop—owned by a man named Lachlan—to be the official chandler of the Queen, which evidently made it fair game for looters or rioters that had come by.  Recognizing the inherent danger to not only this business, but also to the buildings to either side of it should any flame spread, Syrical began calling out for aid to put out the flame.  Merethyl, having the Sable rider still draped over his shoulders, hastened home to drop the man off and return to aid in fighting the fire.  Calcedon had recollected that Lachlan had a wife and three children, and so rushed inside to help where he could.

Lachlan the chandler laid sprawled out behind his counter, beaten and bloodied, but Calcedon quickly let him be after learning the man still respired.  Not far beyond the unconscious man resided a second room with stairs leading to the second story, a large vat filled with hot wax, and the fire source, which was just starting to liven and threatening to get out of control.  The nobleman swept the cloak from his own shoulders and began beating at the flames, successfully putting out a portion of it.  Regrettably, other portions of the flame licked at the wood of the floors and walls and spread far faster than could be anticipated.  Unable to beat out more of the flames, and actually attacked by the fire as it spread onto his cloak and the floorboards upon which he stood, Calcedon leaped to the stairs and ascended to search for any of the chandler’s family that may yet be inside.

Having deposited Arzen Kale in his apartment building, Merethyl darted back to Illustrious Illuminaries, past where Syrical’s calls for help had finally commenced getting replies from the habitants of the next apartment building over.  The investigator checked upon the fallen chandler, who was coming around to consciousness of his own accord.  He turned his attention to more pressing matters, then, snatching a tapestry from the room’s wall and madly trying to smother the flames, which had spread far enough to completely block off the stairs.  His many attempts to smother the fire were foiled by his inability to properly get a handle on the sizeable tapestry, which he learned to his chagrin was not finessable.  Eventually, Syrical arrived to help him with a second tapestry, after the elven wizard had managed to organize a bucket brigade outside and helped Lachlan come around and slowly make his way out of the burning business.

On the second floor, Calcedon came upon the rest of the chandler’s family amid the billowing smoke funneling up the stairs from the fire below.  One of the children, a three-year-old named Ollie succumbed to smoke inhalation just as Calcedon moved them all into a separate room with windows and shut the door to keep the smoke at bay.  He recognized their only chance to be escaping by a window, so he ordered them to strip the beds of blankets and shattered out the window to eliminate any obstruction to their flight.  With smoke chugging in like a living thing through the bottom of the door, Calcedon helped the mother out the window and to the ground, then began lowering one of the little girls.  One-by-one, the nobleman let each child down to safety, even the unconscious boy, whom he wrapped carefully into the blanket, then eventually climbed down himself.

Below, the epic struggle against the flames continued, and it failed to go altogether well.  Merethyl had gotten too deep into the room and permitted the fire to spread around him, essentially surrounding him on all sides.  He suffered some burns from the predicament, but prevented the fire from igniting the vat of wax until Syrical successfully beat out enough of the flame to let the investigator abscond from his entrapment.  Lachlan (despite his injuries), his son, his wife, and the neighbors formed a bucket brigade from the nearby well to douse the flames soon after.  Deciding he could do no more good from within, Syrical exited the burning structure when smoke started to become a problem in the lower floor, as well, and shouted encouragement to those passing buckets along the line.  Despite one of the neighbor’s inebriation while handling the buckets of water, the fire was beaten down and the business saved with no lives lost.

Merethyl swears that he required no compensation for this good deed, yet Lachlan was so appreciative for the saving of his business and family that he thrust a coffer into the elf’s hands that contained some gold and a magical candle still yet to be identified.  When a man is that thankful, it’s best to accept his generosity, or you’ll have a fight on your hands trying to push it away.

A short time later, the lot of us met up again, Sable Company rider, children, and prisoners in tow.  In fact, due to a pair of the prisoners still being unconscious, it obligated the two still awake to carry them, which was easiest since the four were still tied together to restrict any attempted getaway.

The Korvosan Guard headquarters, Citadel Volshyenek, resides near the High Bridge, which was our only way of crossing the Jeggare River into East Shore.  That proved fortuitous, as we decided to slip in and see if we couldn’t unload Lamm and his cronies to the Guard.  The Citadel felt a microcosm of the city: a collection of people flitting about in sheer chaos, orders and questions shouted about with none listening or understanding, wounded strewn about everywhere in need of attention . . . . These men and women, supposedly the authority for keeping the citizens safe on the streets of Korvosa, exhibited a complete lack of structure or poise.  We were favored just to find a guard able to speak with us, though whether said guard held any sort of rank was uncertain.  He agreed to find a cell for the four criminals, but seemed hesitant about knowing where to store the evidence we’d collected to ensure Lamm would never run free again.  Merethyl inquired about our keeping the evidence until things got less frantic in the city, to which the guard readily agreed.  On the one hand, it concerned me that the evidence might well get misplaced amidst the chaos, so I felt relieved to be holding onto it for safekeeping.  On the other hand, I would hate for Lamm or the others to get released accidentally when no evidence for their incarceration could be found.  We shall need to check in repeatedly with Citadel Volshyenek to make sure they remember why the man and his accomplices are there.

Arzen Kale resolved to stay at the Citadel, as well, stating that he would seek out care for his leg there.  We bid him farewell and went onward across the High Bridge to arrive at House Fordyce.

Though weather-beaten and unkempt, the House Fordyce compound revealed itself to be quite impressive.  In size and scope, Calcedon’s home easily eclipsed the Temple of Aroden that I call home at least three times over, and the entirety of the structures inside the walls—though constructed in the ancient style—displayed apt defensive capability.  Interestingly, I witnessed no true sentries or house guard at all, and the servants of the nobleman looked as rough around the edges as the buildings they called home.  None flaunted the House coat-of-arms, nor were they in any way coordinated in their appearance or manner.  If I were to give this compound a single suitably descriptive noun, it would undoubtedly be “individuality,” for everyone here looked and acted distinctly of their own character.

Calcedon had one of his peculiar servants escort us to the front parlor, while he worked at getting the children settled in.  Glannin’s constant parlaying for food finally won out, and two baskets of sustenance awaited us when we were ushered into the cozy chamber.  Seeing the burns on Merethyl, the dwarven warrior approached him about a need for healing.  After gaining agreement from the elf, Glannin rather unorthodoxically (essentially using spit and marmalade jam) rubbed the burns nearly out of existence, once again lending credence to my notion that there remains something unique about this dwarf that he has not told us.  I wonder—after viewing this most recent display—if the dwarf himself understands the significance of what he does?

When we had all dined, and Calcedon had rejoined us, an earnest discussion about the Zellara phenomenon took place.  We all agreed that it made little sense for someone to impersonate her, as none of us knew a thing about her before our meeting last evening.  If that were true, however, the only other explanation for her presence was supernatural.  Strongly wanting to get to the bottom of this mystery, the five of us consented to go back to 3 Lancet Lane this very night to uncover it.

The fortuneteller’s abode appeared empty, as though abandoned for weeks.  No furnishings, no food, and no trace of Zellara.  There existed footprints in the dust at our feet, and, upon careful observation, it could be seen that those footprints matched our own from when we had inhabited this place hours ago.  Just because we wished to leave no stone unturned, we spent a few minutes searching the room and came up empty.  As a final test before departing, Merethyl pulled her harrow deck from his pouch, and behold, an apparitional manifestation of the Vistani woman coalesced before our eyes.

Her first words to us were by way of apology.  She hated the idea of deceiving us, but believed it the only way to ensure we’d do the job of chasing down Lamm.  As she explained it, she had been killed by the unscrupulous Lamm—a fact uncovered by us in his hideout with the discovery of her head, and she desired him caught and, inevitably, destroyed.  I’m unclear as to whether she would have taken the news of his fall so well had we confided that we didn’t kill the man, but we consciously determined to leave his fate somewhat nebulous, explaining that his mechanizations had been neutralized and the man himself taken care of.  That seemed enough to appease her spirit, and we chose not to elaborate any further.

The state of the city unnerved her, if such a statement can be made about an apparition . . . . She imparted having never seen such a violent reaction to the death of a king in Korvosa, and she worried that this city she had called home would tear itself apart.  Due to her great love for it, she extended an offer to help us when she could should the city need saving from its current happenings.  Granted, I’m a bit skeptical about what we five newly gathered folk might be able to do to help the city with the death of a king, having been here as I have for only a few years, but if there lies power with us to aid the poor through appealing to Queen Ileosa by the brooch we discovered in Lamm’s “treasury,” I’m more than happy to do what I can.  Why we would need an apparitional Zellara’s help with that, I again don’t know.  Grasping her strong inclination to help, however, we all agreed to accept it, although I warned her that I’d be careful to watch her closely for any sign of malevolence to come.  To this point, she hadn’t shown any desire to harm anyone except Lamm, but when dealing with spirits or undead of any kind, one had to be mindful that their outlook might change at any time.  She assured me that she understood my point, albeit a little condescendingly, but I cared not for how she took my warning, so long as she took it in earnest.

On a final note about this strange situation, we questioned her about relatives that yet lived, so we might return the harrow deck to her family when this whole thing was over.  It felt only proper, being that the deck was a family heirloom for ten generations!  She stated that a sister and a niece lived in Magnimar, a place I’d visited only a short time ago, and to return the harrow to them after.  When we concurred to do just that, she said that she would indicate to us those times when she could be of help and dissolved from sight.

With the enigma of Zellara solved, we returned to House Fordyce to rest for the night.  Feeling a pang of guilt for leaving the Brothers of Aroden alone during this time of unrest, I requested of Calcedon that he might send a couple runners to Old Korvosa in the morning with the intention of checking on the conditions there.  The worst of the rioting occurred in the western and northern portions of the city, so I was a bit troubled as to the state of the priests.  Graciously, the nobleman Fordyce agreed to send a runner at first light, so long as it was safe for them to go.

Additionally, I should add here that before parting ways with Glannin on our way to the compound for the evening, Calcedon requested that he look into the possibility of being put on retainer for the next day’s services.  The dwarf affirmed that he’d bring the point up to his superiors and left it at that.

16 Gozran, 4715 – Late Morning

I learned upon waking late that morning that Calcedon’s runners didn’t make it far to the north before coming to the conclusion it was simply too dangerous to approach that portion of the city.  That put me ill at ease from the start, and I desperately desired to go check on the Brothers’ health.  The runners conveyed that there were Korvosan Guard and Sable Company contingents active throughout the city, as pockets of rioting had continued throughout the night and into the daylight hours.  Also, the Hellknights had been called in to help quell the problem.

Though anxious to see the Queen, return the brooch that Merethyl had known was so important to her, and see how we might help the city at large, we all came to the consensus that it was unlikely the Queen would be taking visitors this day.  With all the trouble having erupted throughout the city at her new status as sole ruler of Korvosa, it wouldn’t look appropriate for a small band of unknowns (well, mostly unknowns) to openly request a meeting.  More likely we’d be seen as possible assassins, detained, and who knows what else!  Best to leave that alone until things have quieted down a bit.

Instead, the lot of us decided to go north to check on the Temple, Merethyl’s nephew rescued the night before, and the general condition of the city.

Our first stop was to see about Merethyl’s nephew, who lived in the triangular portion of the Midlands tucked between University Way, Harborview Boulevard North, and the North Point district of the city.  I’ll admit to having never seen a man pick the lock of his relative’s door rather than knock, but based upon the exasperated greeting the investigator received upon entering, this wasn’t the first time he’d done it.  Confirming that all was well, the elf told them to not only lock the door as we left, but also slide a heavier cabinet in front of it for safety.  We departed to the sound of scraping furniture; they apparently chose to accept the advice of the investigator.

From there, we picked a road that would lead us into North Point and to Jeggare Circle—a relatively easy path to find.  From the Circle, we could travel Mainshore Boulevard north through the gate in the wall there, and it would take us straight to the only stone bridge crossing the Narrows into Old Korvosa and directly to the Temple of Aroden.

Last edited by The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 21, 2018 1:07 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:05 pm

16 Gozran, 4715 – Noon

The journey through North Point proceeded without struggle, though the farther north we went the more palpable the tension in the air. The streets lack any significant presence, and those that do roam about seem either touched or up to no good. A great many workers were absent from their jobs, which will spell doom for the city’s economy if it maintains for long. The Groetans had appeared, as well, and we were lucky enough to hear one of his doomsayers preaching the god’s ridiculous message of apocalyptic ruin in Jeggare Circle.

Old Korvosa, as I feared, looked ransacked. The poorest of the poor in this city live across the bridges, and the worst of Korvosa’s problems are only magnified there. More than our fair share of crime bosses exist in the district I call home—none worse than the dubious House Arkona, who strive to make a charitable name for themselves in the public eye, yet have their hands in some of the darkest corners of the district. With the sheer amount of political and economic strife happening in the city currently, the poverty-stricken citizens of Old Korvosa would be oppressed by the worst of it, with little help from elsewhere except possibly the Hellknights, whose particular brand of fear-inducing justice receives ample execution there.

The temple doors were locked tight upon our arrival—a clear indication of how bad things had gotten. Pellonius heard my knocking and graciously admitted us. He escorted us to the small common room so we might communicate on our intentions going forward. Baltos visited us soon after Pellonius departed our company, with Nevarius—a young ward of the temple—close on his heels. It’s always a blessing to see the boy, who performs his chores throughout the temple admirably on all accounts, and worked hard helping the numerous refugees that had flooded into the temple to escape the riots in the streets.

Brother Baltos—after taking a moment to point out my absence the night before at a time of need for the church—filled us in on the goings-on in Old Korvosa. The working class poor were those rioting in the district, and their blood filled the potholes and gutters that we had passed by getting here. He verified that this kind of rioting had never occurred before after the death of a royal persona, and he appeared to share my fear about the criminal element of the district posturing to take full advantage of the chaos and increase their standing through diabolical means. We all agreed it very likely that someone or something significant pulled the strings behind all this unrest. As we discussed how best to help alleviate the pressure building in the city—with mine own pleas being to help those in Old Korvosa, and Syrical’s pleas simply to help the poor and not permit their oppression, we all decided it most useful to aid the Korvosan Guard however they felt it best for us to do so.

I bid the good brothers of Aroden farewell, with verbal commendations for their fine work in support of the people, and our crew left the temple to head back toward Citadel Volshyenek. Along the way, we intercepted a passel of dock workers rousing their own ire against the political faction of the city. Calcedon and I immediately went to speak with them about their intended goals and implored them to make better use of their energies by helping their neighbors and their community by repairing the massive amounts of damage done by the many riots.

As we drew closer to the Citadel, at the corner of Warehouse Way and Guard Street, a homeless man on the corner suddenly sprung up as if on youthful legs and proclaimed that he’d seen Syrical in a dream. Apparently, in his dream, Syrical was incredibly sick and near death. I listened intently, sizing the man up to see if this was some sort of street trick, but I sensed the man believed these things he spoke. In an effort to convince the elven wizard, the homeless man grabbed Syrical by the shoulders with some urgency, and so tightly that even Glannin couldn’t pry him off. A few quick words by Merethyl found the man releasing the mage, who abashedly asserted he merely wished to warn our companion of the dream as he plopped back down on the corner and permitted us to continue on without further hindrance.

Citadel Volshyenek proved in better order than we had left it the night before. There weren’t near so many people walking about the place—guard or civilian, and the one guard we did see appeared absolutely exhausted from the long night. My first question sought to confirm Lamm’s continued incarceration, and I was pleased to hear that no mistake had been made to let him out during last night’s disarray. After informing the guard of the evidence we maintained possession of due to the Citadel’s turmoil, we were told to leave it behind now, and they would take good care of it. We did so, but Merethyl bragged about being able to break the code of Lamm’s journal, and the guard bid him please do. Though he professed the journal rather easy to decode, it ended up taking him the better part of six hours to actually do so.

In that time, the rest of us were invited to speak to Field Marshal Croft. She informed us that well-meaning adventurers were to report to the Queen at Castle Korvosa for assignments in helping the city. We expressed some trepidation about being considered adventurers, but eventually thanked her for the information and decided we’d visit her Royal Highness in the morning. When we left, Merethyl still worked on that journal, which he’d later crack and turn in. We even got a reward for it, just as we did the evidence for Lamm which we turned in earlier.

That night, back at House Fordyce, we agreed not only to depart for the castle first thing in the morning, but also to put forth some of the reward and treasure we’d collected for use in helping the economic woes of the city. Calcedon assured us that he had connections with merchants and others, and that he could put the money to good use. After this important discussion, we all retired for the evening, eager to begin with our aid efforts for the city upon the morrow.

17 Gozran, 4715 – Morning

Our venturing through the Midlands to Castle Korvosa revealed no improvement after a full day’s time. As we neared the west side of Field Marshal Avenue, yet another small group of men and women had gathered with distasteful intentions, though this time their vitriol was aimed at a specific individual. Derision and jeers of “Die, dandy!” met us from the opposite side of the avenue, where the tiny mob believed their anger and hatred could overpower a nobleman of the city. Obviously, the nobleman wished no conflict, as his weapon remained sheathed, and his silver tongue sought futilely to dissuade the commoners from their current action.

Once again, we chose to intervene, although our intentions were nearly poisoned at the start by our own dispositions. Calcedon’s words toward the minute mob were rather biting, and my opening questions toward the nobleman were not much improved in attitude, I’m afraid. Though I meant no offense, perhaps my working amidst the poor for so long caused my initial words to be biting. I’m not proud of how I handled this opening discussion, let me just say that plainly.

That said, the nobleman—whose name we discovered to be Amin Jalento—held his temper and his tact quite admirably. The mob only grew more enraged at seeing yet another nobleman coming to the defense of their intended prey. A great many threats were leveled toward Calcedon, specifically, as well as myself and the others more peripherally. Thank Aroden, we eventually succeeded in talking the mob down using multiple plains of reasoning that layered one another quite well: Calcedon assuring them that open murder of nobility in the streets of Korvosa would only encourage a deeper level of Hellknight intervention; myself appealing to the love they bear their families by reinforcing that their incarceration or death would do nothing to help their spouses and children; Merethyl pouncing up that opening to convey that the city needed no more orphans.

When the small mob had dispersed, Amin Jalento thanked us for our intervention. I have no doubt the man could have killed the lot of them had he determined all options spent, which caused me to appreciate him that much more. He affirmed his desire to help the city’s merchant woes and told us that seeking a solution to this problem was his current endeavor, in fact. After rewarding us—unnecessarily—with a signet ring for our help, Master Jalento went about his way, and we continued to the castle.

The castle guard weren’t particularly glad to see us approach and demanded our business, to which Merethyl informed them of its dual purpose: First, to return a piece of the Queen’s stolen property, and second, to learn how we could help the city, as Field Marshal Croft had instructed us that the Queen had put a call out for those who wished to aid in the current plight should come to Castle Korvosa. Skeptical at first, after revealing the brooch in question, they seemed placated. They mandated that we lose all our weaponry, to which we capitulated quickly and without fuss. My only reservation was to give up the blade I keep carefully wrapped but with me always. I’d discovered the blade hidden at the Arodennama, a giant statue of the Last Azlanti located upon Aroden’s Rise in the city of Westgate, and though I’d not uncovered anything of true significance concerning the sword, it acts as a constant reminder of my time there. One might say it’s a keepsake of my visit, but, to me, it’s a symbol of my faith . . . a beacon of strength to prompt my thoughts toward Aroden’s constant presence. Gratefully, the guard handled the shrouded weapon almost reverently.

With that preliminary business out of the way, the guard escorted us up a 20-foot-wide stair, across a landing that appeared to circumnavigate the castle—though we didn’t follow it all the way around, up to the third level, and through a passage with murder holes and opened portcullis. Awaiting us at this gate was a woman in full plate armor detailed in crimson filigree and cloth, who picked up the escort from the four guard. She inquired as to our names and titles for the introduction to come, and we all answered her in our own way.

Upon reaching the spacious throne room, the impressively-armored woman formally announced us to the Queen, who resided in her black mourning dress upon the Crimson Throne. Massive and exquisite tapestries of unmatched workmanship decorated the chamber, and behind the throne were a trio of magnificent stained-glass windows depicting past kings of Korvosa. Most hauntingly, however, with exception of us, the woman in full plate, and the mourning Queen, the entirety of the throne room was empty. One could only believe it possible at such a tragic time as this.

The woman warrior presented the stolen brooch to the Queen, then took her proper place beside the monarch. Queen Ileosa then regaled us with a fine speech about the recovered piece of jewelry, equating it to hope for Korvosa. Admittedly, I found the speech moving because of her professed love for this city, which I’m grateful to say held no lying signatures that I could see. She rewarded us quite handsomely for the precious brooch’s return, then explained that we were to report back to Field Marshal Croft immediately.

Turned back over to the woman in full plate to accompany us out, we graciously turned away a guard escort back to the east side of the city, quite secure in our own capabilities to make that journey again. Besides, if we were to come across more trouble like that which we encountered coming, it would be best to not have representatives of the Queen there that might turn the situation into a bloodbath. Thus, we struck back out into the Midlands, heading to Citadel Volshyenek and Field Marshal Croft, where we might get our first mission to help fix this beloved city.

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:54 am

17 Gozran, 4715 – Afternoon

As our small band crossed back through the city in the opposite direction from whence we’d come less than an hour ago, it seemed impossible to miss the roving flocks of imps making a terror of the skies. While this isn’t necessarily a rare sight for the Korvosan skyline, it happens to be the wrong time of year for it to be this angry overhead. I know that the Academae is the primary purpose for it, though I’m not privy as to why it tends to have seasonal variants. If I were to grow curious enough—and lost value in my own wellbeing, I could certainly go to Syrical for an answer, I’m sure. Virtually the entire way back, the vitriol that escaped his lips about the Academae was scathing and varied, though it tended to center around the uselessness of a school that continually called forth the little devils above but were incapable of controlling them. This spurred Calcedon to regale us with how a past member of his household had shamed the Academae during some event they hold in the city periodically. Honestly, I’ve heard of it somewhere before, and I recall it being a popular thing, but know little of it myself. Syrical took some measure of appreciation at the embarrassing history. The elf is normally very mild-mannered, if not momentarily calculating, but I’m sensing that he also tends to hold grudges . . . .

Upon returning to the Citadel, we’re met by a couple of guards that say we’re expected. News does travel fast here. They escorted us to Field Marshal Croft, who’s accompanied by the commander of the Sable Company, Marcus Endrin. Immediately, the field marshal sang our praises—more than a little surprising to a couple of us—and explained how happy she was to retain our services on behalf of the city. The guard have been stretched understandably thin with all the chaos in the city, so we’re to be of great help to her. She assured us we’d be paid for our service, which most see as a kind gesture on her and the city’s part, though none of us really asked for it. Even so, the Church has expenses and needs, and it’ll be good to have another outlet to aid them.

Naturally, our “deputizing” into the Korvosan Guard elicited the question of lethal force usage by our dwarf friend. With exception of a spot or two, I’ve been pleased that we’ve sought to end conflict with minimal loss of life on either side, but we’ve a couple among our number that are trained warriors—namely Glannin, himself, and the nobleman, whose early training in the combat arts occurred amidst the Hellknights themselves. Thus, I can see how the difficulty of pulling punches in a fight might seem less apt for them, though both have done well enough to this point in doing so. Thankfully, the field marshal stressed it best if criminals were kept alive for the justice system to handle, though she admitted to understanding the necessity of lethal force occasionally. I was pleased, Merethyl appeared agreeable, and the others tentatively accepted it.

Unexpectedly, it was Commander Endrin who stepped forward to offer us our first assignment. He’d heard of Merethyl’s valor in aiding his fallen Sable Rider on the night all the chaos began and praised the elven investigator for his work in saving the man’s life. He followed this with a report of another Sable Rider and hippogriff that had gone missing over North Point this morning while chasing looters. The commander knew nothing further about the rider—not even where he’d gone missing, but mentioned the Sable Rider’s name to be Lucius Gavros, and his hippogriff to be Burt. As it happened, Merethyl and Calcedon were exquisite information gatherers due to it being the former’s job and the latter’s disposition, so we accepted the mission without a second thought.

Having not eaten since breakfast, Glannin was growing a bit temperamental. We stopped in at Baylor’s Retreat for a bite. Though a tension-filled tavern—mostly owing to the fact that the clientele were primarily Korvosan Guard and recently released individuals from the Citadel dungeons, the food tasted satisfactory enough, and Calcedon graciously sprang for the meals. After a half-hour at the Retreat and another half-hour traveling north, it was just after 1 pm when we arrived in North Point.

We decided to split up for the information gathering, though not far, mind you. As Merethyl and I were more acquainted with The Shingles from our time in Old Korvosa, we ventured to the rooftop path, and the other three remained firmly planted on the streets. The groups kept the other in sight at all times just in case anything should happen . . . and surprise, surprise, something did!

After Merethyl had gleaned information from a beggar who had seen a hippogriff flying over the warehouses in the northeastern portion of the district, we started forward to where we knew an easy way down to be. Making a bend in The Shingles, we stumbled upon a dead man being feasted upon by a horde of rats—I mean, there had to have been hundreds of the things! The swarm was ravenous, and we’d just left another man not fifty feet behind us. Should we bypass this and that man get attacked by these villainous creatures . . . no, I’d not have it worrying at my mind. So, I rushed in—drawing my blade as I went—and swept it through the mound of vermin. The swipe killed a dozen or so, but such a number proved insignificant when there were so many. Having a weapon more adept at piercing than slashing, Merethyl was a bit uncertain as to exactly what to do when the feasting swarm surged at us from the dead remains. Rats practically buried the two of us in scurrying feet and biting mouths, temporarily paralyzing my companion from action with disgust, though he had enough wherewithal to catch a bottle thrown up to him by Syrical below. Glannin and Calcedon had located a ladder that only came halfway up and were racing up to join us.

I noted the effect the voracious swarm had on Merethyl and sprang away in hopes the vermin would follow me. I haphazardly cut at them as I went—seeing within that cloud of tooth and claw and fur was harder than you might realize!—but failed to kill any, hard as that is to believe! Luckily, I succeeded in getting them to follow, and Merethyl applied whatever it was Syrical had thrown him to his body rather hastily. By this time, Calcedon had hoisted himself onto The Shingles, though poor Glannin had his hands full with the ladder. It looked rather rickety, and the heft of the dwarf in his armor threatened its integrity!

I hacked away at the insatiable swarm until I saw Calcedon motioning for me to get clear. Able to separate myself from the biting vermin, I scrambled behind the nobleman to where Merethyl stood, now covered in some form of glistening concoction. Facing the fast approaching rat swarm, Calcedon broke out his instrument and played the most discordant note one could ever imagine hearing! Magic struck out from the violin to blast into the rodents, slaying hundreds of them in a single instant! A few survived the impressive spell, but fear overcame hunger, and they fled into the dark crevices and crannies of The Shingles.

I watched as the investigator examined the body and admittedly blanched a little upon the discovery of a rat’s nest constructed within the dead man. I’ve seen a great deal in my time working with the poor of Old Korvosa, but this was a first. Truly grotesque. The body possessed a few copper coins and a tarnished silver ring. Our nobleman cleaned up the ring with a quick cantrip and discovered a phrase written on the inside of the band, “From Ellie May, with love.” As I perused these happenings, Glannin had come up and healed my wounds using tobacco chaw. There’s no doubt in my mind that the dwarf has somehow inherited divine magic, though he has yet to determine that fact for himself. I know not its source, but it’s undeniable at this point. I chuckled when I watched Merethyl squirm as the dwarven warrior rubbed moldy bread against his wounds to heal them completely. Part of me wishes that Glannin will never realize his talents, if only to see how creative he might get with his remedies!

The gathering of information culminating in the combat with the rat swarm required a good two hours, leaving us only in the middle of the afternoon and with plenty of time to search the warehouses where the Sable Rider was seen. Our inquiries there—this time discovered by Calcedon—pointed us to the specific warehouse where a hippogriff crashed after another couple hours.

The warehouse in question appeared run down, though someone attempted to maintain its integrity against theft of what was within by a locked chain protecting the doors. Regrettably for the owner, but fortuitous for us, a side door farther down an alleyway had been broken open and permitted us easy admittance. As we peered into the darkened office-like room that the busted door led into, a couple of the others heard faint laughter from somewhere deeper in. Our initial entry into the dust-covered room transpired cautiously . . . until the terrified screech of a hippogriff rang out from behind another door in the office. Spurred on more quickly now, we threw open the door where the screech originated to reveal the larger, spacious chamber where the hippogriff resided—tied down and with six thugs stabbing at it using long poles with daggers tethered about the ends. Lucius sat securely fastened in the far corner.

Calcedon immediately ordered the lot to stand down, but the looks on their faces when they turned to meet us clearly indicated they had no intentions of obeying.

I believe that’s exactly what Syrical was looking for, as his voice called out from behind us all, “Lasting political change can’t be achieved by violence!”

A shimmering bolt of force flew by a second later to smash into one of the criminals.

The fight began in earnest, then, as we all charged into the room. Merethyl and Glannin attacked a pair of them, but neither succeeded in connecting. I moved near one but used Aroden’s divine power to strengthen my fighting skills. Behind us, Calcedon began a rousing tune upon his violin that stirred the adrenalin within us—or me, at least—and bolstered my attentiveness to the fight further. Two of the thugs dropped their makeshift polearms and drew out daggers to attack the elf and dwarf—the former proved too slow, while the latter connected with Glannin but failed to penetrate his armor. Keeping themselves at distance, the others poked at us with their dagger-tipped sticks, but only one managed to strike Merethyl with little true effect.

Merethyl used the aggression within him from taking the wound and stabbed the dagger-wielder through the heart. Another force missile jolted the thug squaring off against Glannin, which dazed the man just enough that I pommeled him to the back of the head and knocked him out cold. I heard Calcedon demand one of the enemy on Merethyl back down and saw the dwarven warrior move past me to cleave a vicious wound into the one that had struck out at me a brief moment ago. All but one of the daggers-on-a-stick were thrown down as the melee became more discombobulated. These fellas demonstrated themselves more accurate wielders of the dagger and accomplished successful strikes against both Merethyl and Glannin, but neither score hit hard. Indeed, the dwarf’s riposte with his axe hacked far harder, separating arm from shoulder. Whether due to the wound or the shock of it, the man was dead before he hit the floor.

Admittedly, it pained me to see two men sprawled dead on the floor, and that may have thrown off my own nonlethal attack on my opponent. Others around me failed to connect, as well, friend and foe—indicative that the entire fight went more defensive after the gruesomeness of the second death.

Syrical decided to put away the force energy and fired the frost rays which had almost become his calling card in combat. The first flew wide of its target, but the second formed a small welt of frozen skin on the back of Merethyl’s attacker. The investigator attempted to bludgeon the man with his sword cane and failed. Hoping to use the bloodied mess upon the floor near me, I warned the three left to drop their weapons and give up lest more of them wind up dead. The thug before me appeared quite rattled at the thought of ending up like his two compatriots. Glannin tried to intimidate the second criminal on Merethyl, but the distance between them took some of the sting from his words. Or maybe not, as all three of them bolted right after. Calcedon tripped one of them before he could get far, and Merethyl tried to grapple the man to keep him down, but the thug wriggled free from the elf’s grip. This prompted the nobleman to whack the thug upside the head with the haft of his polearm, and the man toppled like a stone.

Glannin and I chased the other two out the door, through the alleyway, and into the street. One of them simply had too great a head-start and got away. With a burst of speed, the dwarf and cut off the other’s escape and again warned him to give up. The man seemed too frightened to listen to reason, however, and he tried to withdraw past us. I hamstringed him to end his flight far more painfully than if he had simply given up. Glannin hoisted the lout—who had gone unconscious from the pain—over his shoulder, and the two of us went back inside the warehouse. There, Calcedon had already begun healing the hippogriff, and Merethyl was in the act of untying Lucius, who embarrassingly admitted to falling prey to a rope trap that brought he and Burt down into the grasp of the men we’d just defeated.

Once Lucius gained his feet, the man proved eager to be gone. Can’t say I blame him. After the ordeal he and his mount suffered here, I’d be desiring to get on my way, as well. On his way out, he told us to visit the Great Tower, home of the Sable Company. Apparently, our deeds this day warranted an additional reward beyond our guard pay.

Calcedon tidied up the thugs all snug in a rope while I performed a little first aid to bring a couple back around to consciousness. We had three prisoners, and I thought it only fair that they carry the unconscious one back to the Citadel themselves. Our work was done. Merethyl confirmed that none of these men belonged to any of the gangs in Korvosa, so there would be no follow-up attempts on our lives by silly hoodlums thinking vengeance was a good idea. Again, the investigator had received the worst of the fight, so Glannin crushed up some old chicken bones he happened to have stored on him somewhere and used the marrow within to heal the elf’s wounds. I’ll concede to liking the moldy bread better.

We escorted our prisoners back to Citadel Volshyenek and provided our report of all that happened to complete our assignment. As there were no other current tasks for us to fulfill for the evening, we decided to retire to House Fordyce for the night and check back in the morning.

18-21 Gozran, 4715

The next four days went by rather uneventfully. One of the mundane courier missions issued by the field marshal took us near enough the Great Tower to collect that small reward for saving Lucius and Burt, but that settled the only real excitement in that stretch of days. We were able to sell some of the valuables we’d recovered in the days previous through Merethyl’s contacts on the street, since doing so in shops was impossible in the current economic climate. At the nobleman’s residence, we divvied up the spoils of the last couple days, sans the one thousand gold we’d agreed beforehand would be given to Calcedon to use in stimulating the economy however it could be done. Glannin grumbled a bit at relinquishing such a sum, but I’ve heard dwarves gripe louder than others at giving away their gold.

Merethyl also managed to collect a fair amount of interesting information from his streetwise contacts throughout, as well. The conditions in Old Korvosa continued to deteriorate. I was able to drop off some funds at the Last Azlanti’s temple in that time to help with the feeding and clothing of those taking refuge there. I hadn’t time to do much else for them, but I informed Brother Vectorion to send word to the Citadel immediately if the temple needed aid of any kind. I would receive word there and come the moment I got the message.

It seemed that a butcher sought to aid the district as best he could be giving away free meat to those in need of food. I am grateful to hear that those who have the capability of helping their neighbors continue to do so. Aroden teaches the importance of such charitableness for the betterment of civilization, and its benefits can be easily pointed to throughout the centuries.

Unfortunately, that was the last of the good news he learned. More distressing news soon followed. Word has gotten out that the Hellknights have given up on the city altogether and are leaving. As mercenary authorities paid by the city’s coffers (specifically by the royal coffers), their departure provides a good indication of Korvosa’s dilapidated economy. Even worse, Eel’s End—a quintuplet of docked boats of vice run by the ill-reputed Devargo Bavarsi—is being hailed as the safest place in the district because they still have loyal guards to keep watch at the place. Lastly, rumors have that small, strange creatures known as chokers are infesting The Shingles in Old Korvosa. Some report having seen the malicious little creatures often upon the rooftop paths, which bodes ill for certain. The time fast approaches that something will need to be done in the district that I now call home, whether the Guard wish to do it or not. I’ll not stand by why the poorest lives in the city suffer immensely from worse neglect. Civilizations do not prosper when so many who are ailing and incapable are left to fend for themselves against such great dangers. The Hellknights were rarely my favorite enforcers, but without the presence of the Hellknights at all, Old Korvosans have no chance of overcoming such threats on their own.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:35 pm

21 Gozran, 4715 – Evening

At the end of our patrol this evening, we paid a visit to the Traveling Man tavern to ensure that the Otyugh plug remained in fine working condition. Since the start of this chaos in the city, all authority have been overworked and unable to perform the rather common task of feeding the sewer beasts, so some concern had arisen that perhaps the otyughs below had grown hungry enough to attempt an uprising of their own. Upon inspecting the plug, we identified no issues with it, thankfully.

In the midst of our examination of the plug, a rather inebriated man in the uniform of the Korvosan Guard called out to our dwarven colleague, “Nefi!” Apparently, Glannin resembled a dwarven friend of this fellow, though his drunken condition may well have assisted in the mistaken identity. Baffled, Glannin started to inform the drunkard that he knew no one by that name, but then the man offered to buy us a round for his long-lost friend, Nefi, and our dwarf’s tune instantly changed—as, evidently, did his name.

Merethyl recognized the fellow as we followed him in: Grau Soldotto, a relatively well-liked Watch Sergeant among the Guard. As he informed us of this tidbit of information, it wasn’t at all difficult to hear the strain in his voice. Our investigator disliked the finding a Watch Sergeant drunk in a tavern rather than doing his job to help keep the people of Korvosa safe. Honestly, I can’t argue with that, though I’ve seen enough people hit hard times and lose themselves there to be completely jaded against the man.

Grau provided us an abbreviated version of his life story, starting with his beginnings in Sandpoint as a youngster. Adventure and the pride of youth brought him to Korvosa, where the love of a woman—a red-headed lass, named Sabena—kept him from going elsewhere. He trained in martial combat under van Carlo, who still owns and operates the sword academy in the city. Sadly, the woman cared more for prestige than him, and she also got involved with the academy master, which led to a falling out between the two men. While Grau obviously sounded pained by the lost relationship, he was convinced too much animosity remained for any reconciliation. Thus, he did what so many love-scorned youths tend to turn to in their despair: He joined the military . . . or the Korvosan Guard. Close enough.

Now, he spent his days lost in a drunken stupor at the Traveling Man, his will all but broken by the current tragedy within the city. As so often proved to be the case, a man who lost his way years ago and had yet to find it lacked the strength to overcome adversity when it struck home the hardest. Merethyl saw only a man turning his back on the city when it needed him most—especially a man respected and appreciated by his subordinates, and he denounced the man severely for that poor choice. Grau emphasized having never seen the city turn on itself like this in the past, and he admitted to being disillusioned in its ability to recover due to the harsh, deadly riots and rebellion, which only increased the vitriol thrown at him by Merethyl. Glannin and I sought to offset the sting some by also impressing upon the man the importance of his getting back to his duty, as there were a great many people counting on him—both the common folk and his fellow guard. It took a great deal of convincing, but eventually the man came to see things our way, and he made the journey back to the southern part of the Midlands to report again at the Citadel Volshyenek.

22 Gozran, 4715 – Morning

This morning, we reported back to the Citadel for our allotted mission from Field Marshal Croft, who first made certain to thank us for bringing Grau back to the Guard. Immediately after, she explained about a man named Varik Vancaskerkin, yet another member of the city guard who renounced them due to his dislike of the new queen. What’s more, he convinced others of the guard to follow him in this desertion. The lot of them were holed up at an old butcher shop in North Point, known as All the World’s Meat, handing free food out to the poor. His motivations confused her, as Varik had never cared much for politics, yet this move smelled of political insurrection at its core. Our mission, then, required us to apprehend Varik and discover the true purpose behind his odd decision to give up on the Guard. Naturally, I was glad that the Field Marshal stressed her desire that we take the man alive.

As we neared 22 Stirge Street, the long line of starving poor that extended down the street in the opposite direction promised another riot if we marched in the front doors to close this operation down. Granted, we weren’t convinced yet that completely ending this charitable giveaway was necessary, but we decided to peruse the entire shop for another way in just in case. A fenced pen to the side held a pair of cows and a trio of pigs—probably the first fresh meat I’d seen in the city since the troubles began. The sight raised questions as to where the livestock came from? How did they get these animals into the city without word spreading far and wide? Perhaps the most important question: Who supplied them? I’d seen the brand on the cattle before, so it must have been from one of the nearby farmers, but I couldn’t recognize exactly to whom it belonged.

A gate resided just after the livestock, with a set of doors beyond it hidden well enough from the street to serve as a viable entrance for us. Neither were locked, so we ambled on in like we owned the place.

Calcedon kept a cordial and even tone with the three butchers that worked the back of the shop, explaining to them that we were here on behalf of the Korvosan Guard to claim Varik Vancaskerkin. We wanted no trouble, he assured them, and had no design on the rest of them—Calcedon had met us on the road, so had not been present for the briefing, and he knew not that all of these men were deserters of the guard. Even so, I saw nothing wrong with his case, as Varik had been the ringleader according to the information we received, so apprehending him seemed the best option for us. The largest of the men spoke for the rest and refused to acquiesce to Calcedon’s request. Whether simply misguided or insanely itching for a fight, the men spurned our nobleman’s peaceful overtures. Noting their aggressiveness, Glannin sighed with grief or glee and warned them, “If any die, I lose gold, so just lay down your weapons.”

I, likewise, told them not to draw their weapons, as we wanted no bloodshed, and my words were laced with power. As I spoke them, however, I drew mine own sword and maintained a low, nonthreatening guard as I moved to cover the nearest of them. I felt it best to get close since they each had a bow nearby. Glannin did the same, but moved toward the larger man that considered himself the leader, and the dwarf spewed threats the entire way that actually appeared to rattle his opponent’s confidence.

Not enough, unfortunately. The man took a shot at Glannin, as did the farthest foe with his bow, but both proved inaccurate. Likewise, the man I’d closed on forsook his bow and drew his sword, stabbing at me. That’s exactly why I’d kept my guard low, and I successfully parried the quick lunge. Inspirational violin music filled the butcher shop as Merethyl entered the fray with a swing of his cane but failed to connect. Words of power escaped Syrical lips—I’m not sure his target with them, but if they were intended for my opponent, I’m sorry to say they had no visual effect.

I used Merethyl’s miss as a distraction to step around the enemy and clock him in the back of the head with my pommel. It rattled the man, but not enough to help Merethyl’s next attack. I couldn’t have been prouder of our dwarf, who stalled on an attack against the big fella and demanded the man back down and surrender. Again, the man spurned the command, but the fear of Glannin’s words etched clearly upon his face! He dropped the bow in his hand and fetched a sword, but swung it wildly at Glannin and whiffed just as wildly. The bowman at the back of the room stuck an arrow in the dwarf, though I’m uncertain he even felt it. Syrical’s words were almost drowned out by Calcedon’s playing, but in an instant the music went away, and the nobleman passed by us to help Glannin with the larger man.

Merethyl and I circled our foe. The enemy cried out for Baldrago, and when he took his eyes away from me for a split second, I struck low and hamstrung the man. He crumpled to the ground with barely a sound and passed out from the pain. Now freed from an opponent, the elven investigator pulled out a potion and consumed it.
I turned in time to see Glannin crack the big man over the head with the flat of his axe. His bell rung, the large one staggered back a step and made a half-hearted swing at the dwarf that came nowhere close to him. The third man’s confidence was badly shaken behind them. Rather than launch another arrow, he flung away his bow in favor of the longsword, but instead of attacking anyone, he sought to flee the area. Calcedon had positioned himself close enough to the man that he stuck out with his fauchard to hit the enemy combatant hard, though not hard enough to prevent his retreat to the door leading toward the front of the shop. Calcedon whipped about to trip up the big man, then repositioned to within reach of the one fleeing. Merethyl ran up to stop the man from getting away, as well.

Our elven arcanist came over to check upon the unconscious one on the ground, so I followed in the footsteps of the investigator and tried to grab hold of the retreating man. He saw me coming and took a reckless swing that forced me to duck out of the way, which foiled my grapple attempt. Behind, Glannin clocked his oversized opponent nonlethally again, and after a few hard knocks from the dwarf the big man looked about ready to fall over with his next exertion. Obviously stronger than he looked, he managed a swing at Glannin without dropping into unconsciousness, but the bad miss only confirmed him in no condition to fight any longer.

Two doors flung open, the first by our fleeing butcher, but he failed to get far before Calcedon tripped him up, and I pummeled him upside the head to dull his wits. The second opened to a newcomer—probably Baldrago, who bellowed out, “What’s going on in here?” Calcedon attempted to trip Baldrago quickly, but the newcomer leaped over the low swipe. Merethyl confronted the man and said simply, “Looking for Varik.”

“Busy at the moment,” Baldrago replied, then beat a hasty retreat from whence he came.

Back where we came in, Syrical noticed the man he’d just helped to stabilize coming back to consciousness, so the wizard snatched the man’s longsword and told him to stay down. With eyes as big as saucers, the defeated figure merely nodded in agreement and failed to move.

I recognized that the arrow wound in Glannin’s shoulder bled more severely now and rushed over to help him. That turned out to be easier than expected, since the big man remained beaten bloody and on the floor. I cracked him alongside the head with the flat of my blade and ended his part in the fight. Glannin only nodded at me, then felt at the wound and healed it.

Merethyl chased the fleeing Baldrago into a hall with stairs leading to the second floor and a door that exited into the front shop. The last I heard, the investigator asked if Baldrago was Varik.

Calcedon nearly followed the elf after Baldrago, but noticed at the last second that the one I thought I’d knocked unconscious was actually crawling sneakily through the door. He smashed his fauchard into the floor beside the man as a warning against his leaving, but the man panicked and slammed the door in his face, shouting through it that “they made him do it.” With a small shake of the head, the head of House Fordyce opened the door to find the frightened enemy still on the floor. In a nonthreatening, almost bored tone, he told the man not to move, to discard his weapons, and, if he did those things, the nobleman would spare his life and listen to his story.

Unsure as to how long he could maintain his masquerade with the longsword, Syrical requested aid with the man. Instead, Glannin tied up the big guy, while I cast a quick orison to ensure none of the meat in this room was poisoned. Seeing that our wizard still had the situation well in hand, I tipped my head in salute at the elf and exited the room through the door where Merethyl had gone after Baldrago. The investigator pointed at the stairs, so I accepted the cue and headed straight towards them, though he beat me to them and started up before me. I cast a spell of protection on myself and followed.

By the time I reached the top of the stairs, Merethyl had already traded weak blows with the man he thought to be Varik. I swung around the elf to provide a second front, if necessary, but before any additional attacks would be made, a second man in the uniform of the Korvosan Guard entered from a side office. There was something of a Katapeshan standoff at that point, with everyone wielding weapons, yet no one truly wanting to use them until we all knew who was who and what was what. The new arrival turned out to be Varik, in fact, and he accused us of attacking his butcher shop. I set the man straight by telling him that we did no such thing. Truthfully, I explained that we entered with no weapons unsheathed and expressed our will to conduct our business peacefully. When he nodded toward the blades in our hand, I informed him that we hadn’t drawn blades until the men downstairs became aggressive toward us when we said we were here for you. To prove the validity of our intentions, I told him there wasn’t a single dead man downstairs, though I don’t suppose we would have been given the same courtesy had roles been reversed.

The situation diffused a touch at that point, with Varik motioning for his guard to back away and lower his blade, which he did. Merethyl and I followed suit. We learned that the livestock outside came from farmers in the countryside, as we’d thought with the brands, and that it’s moved under guard through the city at night. The cost of it paid to the farmers is exorbitant, and since this meat gets passed on to the people for no cost, that begs the question: Who’s backing it? I’ll make note the point’s in present tense because we’ve still not learned that bit of information.
While carrying on this discussion, Calcedon joined us with some disturbing news: some of the meat being served to the masses was human in origin. Hearing that infuriated me, I’ll admit. Varik denied the very possibility of it, but I peered to the other man in the room and asked him about the validity of the report. He denied it . . . but he was lying. This man knew, and it disgusted me. He disgusted me, and I told him as much. Varik demanded proof, and Calcedon relayed that one of the men captured below had spilled the truth of these butchers. So, we decided to go down and listen to the story of the prisoner. Descending the stairs, I made it evident to the second man in the room that I knew he had lied, that he had provided me with every tell I needed to determine the truth from him, and that only my belief in civilized courts adjudicating the law righteously currently permitted him to maintain his life. He read the truth in my eyes, and it frightened him. It should. I am grateful for my faith in the Last Azlanti for precisely situations like this.

The confessor disclosed the entire ring to us below. How these men were mercenaries. How, on their missions, they butchered people and brought them back to this shop for use as additional meat to provide for the masses. So, there it was, laid out before us in all its nauseating detail by a man whose guilty conscience could not abide the corruption he squatted in. The bile that built in my stomach and threatened to overflow it sickened me, and though I would neither condone nor request leniency for this man’s crimes, I will acknowledge appreciation for the strength and courage it took for him to admit these wrongs that incriminated himself and all around him.

With my knowledge of human anatomy, I substantiated his report by identifying the differences between human and animal meat that—to his credit—turned the stomach of Varik. He had been honest with us above: he knew nothing about any of this. After being enlightened of its occurrence, however, Varik placed his wrists together in submission to authoritative action. We bound him and placed him with the others, keeping the one that reported it all separated from his former compatriots.

Regrettably, two of these monsters fled the scene before we could apprehend them: Baldrago and an accomplice that had been working the front of the shop. After their escape, the shop had been left unattended, and people pretty much cleared out the meat up there. The thought of what some of them will be eating was revolting, but there’s nothing for it now. Calcedon announced to those gathered that no more meat could be handed out today, which was met with many grumbles, but he assured them that whatever remained would later be handed out at no cost at a later time. The crowd shuffled away crestfallen.

Deciding to perform a thorough search of the butcher shop so no evidence to this heinous crime would be left behind, we performed a room-by-room inspection. In the primary butchery room, we discovered the grate loose, as if it were constantly opened for something more than just runoff. Glannin, Merethyl, and I climbed down into it expecting to find blood and filth. Instead, we observed an area of cleanliness unprecedented anywhere else in the shop!

A moment later, we met the cleaners—a trio of reefclaws that attacked Merethyl from beneath the water’s surface. The space was cramped, so Merethyl faced the brunt of the threat himself. I attempted to meditate and aid him through the help of Aroden with a pecular power granted me by the Last Azlanti to speed up one’s combat effectiveness for a short time. Calcedon used the reach of his fauchard, and Syrical blasted one of the creatures with his wand of force bolts to aid the investigator. After the first two creatures died, Glannin and I pushed forward to aid, though I succeeded in doing little else but getting struck by one of their wicked claws. There must have been something secreted from it or something, because I have not felt right since. A weakness has come over me that I just can’t shake.

The third marine monster died from Calcedon’s blade.

We uncovered little of interest in this area, so it’s entirely possible the reefclaws purpose here was to clean the area of any incriminating evidence of their human butchery. One piece of evidence left behind in a crack was a finger bone wearing a mithril ring with slivers of obsidian. Perhaps a victim?

We escorted the prisoners back to the Citadel and dropped them off in custody of the guard before being dismissed with a pat on the back for a job well done. All went about their business separately, as we each had things we desired to do. I’m trying to rest from this weakness that overtaken me since the reefclaw fight by writing in my journal, but I’m not feeling any better. Maybe in the morning.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:55 pm

23 Gozran, 4715 – Morning

Calcedon looked into the meat situation last night to consider keeping a flow of beef and pork moving through the city for cheap, but learned that those farmers giving up their cattle and swine were being paid a handsome sum for it. This, of course, raised the question again of where that large sum of money was coming from. Those pathetic imposters of men that we apprehended certainly had nothing to do with that, so who? Perhaps someone like Amin Jalento could have afforded such an expense, but I certainly hope it wasn’t he, as I had respect for the man when we spoke to him, and I would quickly lose any semblance of it if we discovered he financed the selling of human meat for the poor. It’s possible the backer failed to know of the atrocity his or her employees were performing, but it’s also difficult to hold such high idealism in the face of what was happening. Finding the backer could easily become our top priority in the days to come.

Merethyl also worked through the night in his own way, collecting rumors as they spread throughout the city. Apparently, there’s talk that agents of Magnimar have come to Korvosa to sow dissent among its populace and make the riots worse. Having just come back from Magnimar a few months ago after receiving a tip from a young Pathfinder scholar that a man with some knowledge of Aroden was currently stationed there at a new lodge, I hope such a rumor proves false. My visit to the City of Monuments was a short one, but I’ll admit to liking the place. Sadly, the subject of my journey there confirmed the sorrowful hypothesis that a severe lack of faith remains in the world. I know Aroden has a plan with this silence to validate the importance of faith . . . I persist in holding out hope and adapting my techniques to bring the Last Azlanti back to the forefront of this world’s religions, but I still struggle to win many converts back to his ways. Humanity would thrive with the truths taught by him if only they would listen and put their faith back where it belongs.

Of less significance—though Merethyl seemed to dwell on plenty—was information about a past criminal of Korvosa known as the Keylock Killer. He overheard a couple old men bantering about this serial killer that vanished after slaying nine in the city. They thought him one of the arbiters of Korvosa in his day, which our investigator reminded us was 4697 AR. He spoke of a lot more on the killer, but I’ll admit to tuning it out after a while, since my responsibility aimed more at the present than nearly 20 years in the past.

We all gathered at House Fordyce come morning and set out for Citadel Volshyenek to acquire our daily duty. Word everywhere on the street proclaimed the return of the Hellknights to Korvosa, which, for the first time in my stay here, I reacted to positively. In drastic times like this, Old Korvosa needed their presence in the city to stop from tearing itself apart.

Once again, Field Marshal Croft hosted a visitor to her office when we entered: Vancarlo Orisini. Yes, the same sword master whom Grau Soldotto had spoken about just the other day at the Traveling Man in North Point. He appeared embarrassed when I brought up his old friend’s name, but also thanked us for helping the man. In an effort to change the subject, the sword master inquired as to our thoughts on the return of the Hellknights, to which both Calcedon and I spoke up in favor of them, despite our common disagreement with the mercenary band normally. Perhaps tangentially here, I suddenly wonder why the Hellknights returned? When they disappeared from Korvosa, there were rumors about how the money had run out, and, without pay, the mercenaries not only refused to participate in helping the city but decided to wash their hands of the city all together. Yet, now, they’ve returned. It must be considered where the money to bring them back has come from, then. The city has made a turn for the better, I believe, but it’s not improved significantly yet. It leads me to contemplate a connection between the money that fueled All the World’s Meat and the resurgence of the Hellknights . . . Might it come from the same source?

Those thoughts aside, Vancarlo mentioned a certain Chelaxian ambassador by the name of Darvayne Gios Amprei that has threatened Korvosa with economic sanctions and embargos that would further cripple the already listing economy of the city. He’s learned that this ambassador tends to frequent Eel’s End, where the King of Spiders, Devargo Barvasi, has tendrils in the underworld that stretch out far and wide. I’ve had dealings with Eel’s End more than once, as it’s one of the criminal establishments in Old Korvosa that pays the Vice Tax to operate unhindered, and that fact sits ill in my stomach. Thus, I’ve occasionally gone there to voice my displeasure to the employees and inform them of the great wrongs they commit against the city and civilization. When a connection between this corrupt Chelaxian ambassador and the King of Spiders was brought up, I tingled with anticipation that perhaps this would be an opportunity to bring down the whole operation.

Regrettably, my hopes were to be dashed and stomped upon for good measure . . . .

Instead, the Field Marshal wished to dig up dirt on Ambassador Amprei and believed that Barvasi would have the dirt she required in his possession. Rather than close up Eel’s End, she ordered us to waltz in there as unknowns to the Korvosan Guard and obtain it. She even granted us a thousand gold coin to help sway the villain of Eel’s End into giving up the desired information. Just like that, what started as a dream come true had become a waking nightmare. We were to work with a “lesser evil” to bring down a greater one in an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” ploy. Let me make this abundantly clear to any that might one day read this: I hate this “means-to-an-end” ridiculousness. You cannot do the wrong thing for a right reason, no matter how much good you may think may come from it, and when you settle for one evil to stop another evil, it’s important to consider that you’re still settling with evil. Even when you succeed, no good comes from it, because you capitulated to the wrong, and the wrong will come back on you somewhere down the road. I voiced my displeasure of this course of action, but the Field Marshal--though sympathetic to my argument—commanded the deed be done.

And, so, we headed north to Old Korvosa. Vancarlo accompanied us, since his academy resided in the same district. He questioned us about our thoughts concerning Queen Ileosa, though I’m not so sure he received many satisfying answers in return. Calcedon praised the skills of Merethyl and I in detecting lies when we had met her at the castle and explained that he had no reason to believe her anything but grieving due to our perceiving no lie from her lips. Merethyl believed it suspicious that the economy collapsed so quickly, but he issued no blame toward the queen directly. Vancarlo responded to our answers by informing us that rumors have the king dying from some form of incurable leprosy, but the lot of us refuted that as making no sense at all. Royalty would have enough money to easily cure any disease, no matter how strong, and I’ve not yet heard of the disease that powerful magic couldn’t cure. Admittedly, Merethyl won this round of conversation when he brought up lycanthropy as a possible disease that couldn’t be cured, though I refuted that possibility as well. He saved face when he admitted that lycanthropy might be curable, but it would at least give the king pause (paws). I had no response to that.

Vancarlo departed our company after crossing the bridge into Old Korvosa. We wished him well and continued on our way. During the last leg to Eel’s End, I confided in the others that I’m not much liked at that establishment. Calcedon also admitted that he had ill experience there as well and knew not if it might come back on him during our visit. I explained that I’d not be speaking much in our current endeavor, because I despised the idea of giving the King of Spiders any money at all to be used for his nefarious purposes, and I believed myself incapable of not jeopardizing the mission if words escaped me even once. The nobleman sounded as sympathetic as the Field Marshal had towards my take on this, but, likewise, set his sights on successfully completing this goal. He assured his intentions were to keep as much of that thousand gold out of the crime lord’s hands as possible. I wanted to say that any additional gold in his hand would be too much, yet I battled with myself to not outwardly sound too defeatist. Instead, I merely accepted that and let the no-win situation commence.

A relatively quiet Eel’s End met us at the pier with only a few guards and loiterers walking about the boardwalk. We bypassed them all and progressed to the deck of the primary ship that the King of Spiders frequents. Though the guards outside the cabin door tried to impede our passage with the argument that Barvasi would be indisposed the whole day, Calcedon’s rebuttal that he sought to trade secrets and came from old money persuaded the guard to permit us entry.

We entered into a throne room almost as lavish as that in which the Crimson Throne resides. Half-a-dozen men entertained themselves at a pair of tables, and the King of Spiders sat upon his throne in the center of the back wall. Huge numbers of spiders—some the size of a fist—scampered along the walls and ceiling, helping to solidify Barvasi’s nickname. There’s speculation that the crime lord has the blood of fiends coursing through his veins, enabling him to communicate with those spiders. A caged house drake looking quite the worse for wear acted as a central decoration to the room.

Calcedon took the lead in our dealings with the Spider. The negotiation was rather straight forward, as Calcedon chose to deal relatively quickly and to the point. We sought scandal on the Chelaxian ambassador; the Spider boasted of having just such a delicate matter on hand but demanded payment of 1,500 gold for it. He assured us that gold in hand interested him more than a healthy economy for the city. Truly, the words of a patriot. Our initial offer had been 400 gold, and I cringed as Calcedon raised it to 900 gold—nearly the entirety of our allotment. I fought to stay quiet in that moment, knowing that anything I said would ruin any chance for a deal, despite not at all wishing to make a deal. The stain this entire affair puts on my soul will require atonement of some significance, I fear . . . . How could I sit idly by—or even participate!—with this corruption happening right before my eyes. Nothing about this affair felt legitimate to me. To make matters worse, Barvasi spurned the offer as the nobleman laid it out. Needing to pamper his bloated ego, the crime lord necessitated entertainment at our expense in addition to the payment. A game of knivesies, he called it, would be required. I’d heard of the game in passing but knew nothing of its rules.

I watched as Merethyl volunteered to participate, and one of the men in the room before us did the same. Naturally, there existed a gambling element to this violent game, as I learned when my companions started tossing gold coins—save for Glannin, who cast a few copper—upon the table behind the investigator, and the Spider’s cronies did the same, but in greater monetary increments. Then they placed a dagger at the center of the table and told them to get on with it. For the record, this entire escapade had covered me in enough layers of filth that I resolved to stay out of the betting entirely.

The dangerous game failed to go well for our companion. His opponent snatched up the dagger, leaving him to swipe up coin, I suppose. It seemed a silly game to me. Merethyl managed to dodge the stabbing dagger twice to scoop up gold coins, but then the Spider’s man lunged forward and knocked him off the table. Thus, the game ended. Rather quick, anticlimactic, and uninteresting the whole thing.

Naturally, pride had to get in the way, and we couldn’t leave it at that. Our noble took it upon himself to defend the honor of our investigator and another wager ensued. It’s entirely possible that Calcedon believed a victory to be important to impress the Spider and pride had nothing to do with his decision to repeat this ridiculousness. Either way . . . Whatever. The only difference between the two matches was Calcedon got the dagger, more blood spilled, and our side proved victorious.

Barvasi grinned his congratulations to Calcedon for the victory and agreed to the 900 gold for letters that showed proof that Ambassador Amprei had an affair with a noble’s wife. We’ve since read the letters, and they were . . . well, embarrassing, to say the least. Certainly enough to stop the man from his plot to blackmail Korvosa economically.

Just when I thought the job completed and the way opened for us to leave, Syrical petitioned the Spider about purchasing the beaten house drake. Amused, Barvasi enticed our wizard with the possibility of a transaction, then slammed the door shut by setting the price at five thousand gold—a staggering price he undoubtedly knew impossible for Syrical to match. To his credit, Syrical attempted to reason with the man, but the Spider only toyed with him by lowering the price to three thousand—still an astronomical figure. The elven wizard considered the number for a short time before acquiescing that the price point remained too high and, with his common stoicism, informed the crime lord that perhaps he would be back at a later time to meet the asking price if he would simply keep the house drake in healthy condition. No promises were forthcoming.

All talking points now concluded, our party began filing out of the room to Barvasi’s mocking invitation for our return at any time we’d like. I could hold it in no longer. Our job done and the documents in our hands, I stopped in the doorway to turn about on the Spider and remind him briefly of his mistake. “I’ll remember that,” I said, voice even but with underlying hostility, “You invited me back.” I observed a quirk of his eyebrow as I about-faced and strode away.

On our way back to deliver the letters to the Citadel, Merethyl suddenly spoke up in the middle of the street that someone just told him to leave money on the road and go. Having heard nothing of the sort, we all stared in confusion at the investigator until something openly suggested the same to Glannin from the rooftops . . . and the dwarf complied! We all gawked as he continued up the road, when out of nowhere a quartet of imps appeared and attacked.

The little devils struck at all of us save Syrical—almost ironic considering how often the wizard speaks scathingly of them. A barb slipped between the links in my chain shirt just below the neckline, and I felt poison course into my bloodstream. Glannin’s armor actually performed its task admirably, unlike my own, while Merethyl and Calcedon successfully dodged their attackers. Calcedon displayed some handy fauchard work by cutting deeply into the devil that closed on him, then stepping away from its poking tail to slash the imp on Merethyl. Syrical’s wand of missiles exited its place at his belt and struck one of the little creatures hard, which he then followed up by informing the rest of us that silver acted as a foil to the unnatural hardness of their skin. I left the longsword in its sheath at my side and went for the silver dagger given me a couple days ago instead, but the silvered weapons bypass nothing if they don’t make contact. The others fared no better than I on their opening salvo.

The frenzy of battle continued in a chaotic whirlwind, with the imps lashing out with barbed tails but scoring no significant hits, and our party obliging them in kind. Only two notable exceptions occurred: the imp that attacked Glannin successfully entangled itself in his beard, and Syrical blasted away with his wand repeatedly, battering our foes this way and that with those force missiles. I recognized a growing hitch in my step, probably induced by the poison, and moved away from the fight to incur judgment on the little devils and pray for the divine favor of Aroden on myself. Just as I finished my quick prayer, a pair of tiny creatures swooshed by me in a blur to strike repeatedly at the imp on Merethyl.

The Korvosan War of house drake versus imp spurred immediate retaliation by the devils against the newcomers. They traded blows, but the imp received the worst of it and fell dead to the ground. The devil pestering me accomplished its task a second time. My legs rejected all calls by my brain to move, and my arm barely held enough coordination to thrust the dagger. It practically goes without saying that it missed the mark. Calcedon’s fauchard sliced the air before me, attempting to cut down the imp making it a bad day for me, but it dodged out of the way. Glannin growled at the touch of a barbed tail and retaliated in kind with a mighty swing of his axe that nearly cleaved the creature in twain. Being a devil, it somehow survived the wicked hit.

Staggering away from the little beast making a pincushion of me, it attempted to follow immediately and took three hard shots from a nearby Glannin, Calcedon, and finally me. As noted, my dagger is silvered, yet it failed to penetrate the devil’s skin. Taken aback by the failure, the imp stabbed me again with a gleeful cackle. Calcedon took a barb in the back, and I’ve never believed myself to be as much a liability to my companions as I did at that moment. The dwarf screamed at my opponent with surprising malice that appeared to actually hurt the thing! I shouted that my silver dagger had no affect on the thing, yet stabbed out with it again at the imp, only to miss poorly. In frustration, I threw the small weapon to the ground and almost followed it! Recognizing weakness, the imp rushed in to finish me, but Calcedon proved the quicker of the two, and the noble’s polearm ended the devil’s corrupted life.

The remaining imps failed to barb the house drake or Calcedon, while taking damage from the respective might of Glannin, Merethyl, and Syrical, whose magical missile barrage continuously pounded the one wrestling with the drake. Finally having enough, our last two mischievous attackers fled the battle. Glannin clipped one on its way out but did nothing to it. The force missile from Syrical’s wand indisputably did, however, as the tiny devil dropped from the sky. The house drakes hurried off into the night after the lone survivor, not wanting their mortal enemy to escape.

Seeing the last of the imps dart off, I stumbled back against the wall trying to take a step away from it. My heart unceasingly pumped the poison throughout my body, and while my strength remained, my coordination had all but departed from me. Glannin moved to support me, and I noted the undeniable warmth of his unrecognizable healing magic flow through me, though it did nothing to restore any deftness to my musculature. Merethyl almost nonchalantly handed me his sword cane, which I traded my longsword for additional aid in walking. Even so, I required my dwarven companion to help balance me, and the travel to the Citadel yet abiding went by extraordinarily slowly.

The letters given to the Field Marshal were exactly what she had hoped they’d be, which is all I care to write about this mission anymore. Never have I been so disappointed with a success in my life.

Field Marshal Croft mercifully gave us the rest of the day off, despite the early hour. We retired back to House Fordyce, and Calcedon summoned a unique Shelyn cleric to heal some of the poison damage done to me. She was Shoanti by ethnicity, and her name was Eats-With-Sparrows. Though her language was a bit rough, she proved immensely cordial and helpful. She even passed on a rumor to us that we’d previously not heard about House Ornellos seeking to depose the queen.

Later, Calcedon and a couple of the others went back to the Citadel as I rested from the ordeals of the day. They questioned the helpful prisoner there about who bank-rolled the operation at All the World’s Meats. Though reluctant to say at first, the man eventually caved and conveyed that the primary backer was none other than House Arkona . . . Yet another enemy of mine from Old Korvosa.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:52 pm

24 Gozran, 4715 – Morning

Syrical called us all together first thing in the morning, clearly an elf on a mission. He wore . . . something . . . resembling armor, yet before a single question could appropriately follow the quizzical stare we all fixed on him, he assured us the . . . armor . . . was intended to throw off attackers from his being a magic user. Glannin practically guffawed and would have, I suspect, had the dwarf not been baffled by the wizard’s choice of weapon: a club. Apparently, Syrical chose a simple, wooden weapon over Glannin’s preferred axe due to weight distribution. Clubs were wood and light, while axes were heavy and unwieldly for an arm that had never swung one. Of course, the elf blanched at the thought of every having to use the club, as well, but it proved lighter to carry around, and so it won out.

Explanations for the new equipment aside, Syrical informed us that after extensive research on the imp from the day before by a plethora of sources he knew and trusted explicitly, there appeared nothing out-of-the-ordinary concerning the devil’s makeup that made it immune to silver. He postulated, then, that the imp had been protected by magic—magic not inherently possessed by them. This led him to speculate that the Academae was to blame for it. Almost since I’ve come to know the elf, he’s had a grudge against the Academae, and while I sensed he earnestly believed this logic chain, he tried far too hard to convince us of the connection. Such adamance is typically indicative of one who wants desperately for something to be true regardless of reality. A leap in logic unsubstantiated by any sort of real evidence to back it save for a strong conviction borne from a heavy grudge.

A conversation about whether the silver dagger was actually silver followed, but Glannin quickly put that issue to bed when he verified the weapon as silvered.

Then came Syrical’s giant leap: Due to his tirade against imps before the Spider, he claimed the crime lord sent the tiny devils to assassinate us. Honestly, he didn’t even believe that argument, which made it incredibly easy to see through. Next came the catalyst for the preceding argument: Rescue the forlorn drake caged in the Spider’s throne room, and we could discover the validity of the far-reaching conjecture. Thus, the debate about stealing Barvasi’s little dragon began. “Theft is illegal.” “The drake is a sentient creature. Can you steal a sentient being? It’s akin to freeing a slave.” “Slavery is legal in Korvosa, so the law wouldn’t side with us if we swept in and took the drake.” Not much arose from the discussion. Everyone else agreed that the time for such a heist wasn’t now—I disagree with it on principle of it’s breaking the law, but there existed talk of scoping out Eel’s End for a future raid. I don’t believe I could participate in such a raid. As much as I abhor slavery, the proper way to tackle such a deplorable practice continues to be through proper, lawful channels. Theft of the Spider’s property may vex him, but it would also make him a victim and possibly raise sympathies for him amidst the populace and law enforcement. That’s certainly not what I desire for a man that routinely destroys the lives of others.

Tabling that conversation, we gathered our things and departed for the Citadel to acquire the day’s mission. Upon arrival, we collected our pay for the week of patrols we performed in addition to our other assignments. I thanked Field Marshal Croft sending mine directly to the temple to aid the brothers in their endeavors with the poor in Old Korvosa. That business completed, the field marshal apprised us that the city has been quiet with the return of the Hellknights, and that our regular services wouldn’t be needed after today—though she requested to keep us on retainer should a situation arise with which could help. She confided in her next breath that the Queen was displeased with how the Korvosan Guard and Sable Company had handled things, so she needed to conserve funding as best she could. We all recognized the difficulty of her situation and agreed to be available should she call upon us. In gratitude, she beamed as she conveyed that the dirt we collected on Ambassador Amprei worked to silence him so it wouldn’t get out in Cheliax.

Joy. I’m glad for the city, of course, but I could have gone the rest of my natural life without being reminded of that job. Thinking of it just covered me in grime all over again.

While on our last patrol through Old Korvosa, we decided to make it a dual-purpose trip. Merethyl and Calcedon worked the rumor mill throughout our route, but to little effect. With all the money poured into the district, the poor held up House Arkona as a champion of virtue for the working man . . . which I’m highly dubious about, of course. It’s not a stretch to believe that they’ve nefarious motivations behind their charity, and I’m waiting for the hammer to fall. Furthermore, it seems the people of my home district suspect the Queen of murdering her husband. No great surprise there. In the midst of all this, however, a grand surprise did happen: the skies opened up, and the deluge came down. Since it hadn’t rained in Korvosa for weeks, the hard precipitation arrived with a certain amount of fanfare.

After we crossed the bridge back into North Point, a sudden disturbance rumbled in the very street beneath our feet. Taken somewhat aback, a mighty roar erupted even as the road cracked open and a hideous monster rose out of the sewers. Three waving tentacles—one covered in eyes at its end—splayed out above a massive, gaping maw and the grotesque stench of fecal matter. It bellowed out in broken common, “Is hungry!” as it climbed from the sinkhole.

Still not entirely myself physically, I called upon Aroden’s protective energies and judgment to shield me, then interposed myself between the great monster and the closest of the bystanders to shield him in case the beast—an otyugh—turned its hunger against him. My companions quickly readied themselves in their own ways—Merethyl with a potion, Syrical with a spell on his crossbow—and closed ranks on the disgusting creature. Calcedon moved close enough to get a swing on it, and the blade of his fauchard cut deep into its toughened hide. Thankfully, the people fled quickly before the otyugh opened up with a flurry of attacks against the lot of us. Though the others dodged its attacks, a tentacle pummeled me, then latched on with an iron grip and dragged me closer to it.

The constriction of that tentacle sapped my breath and stole all strength from my attempted swing, which bounced off the beast like a child’s toy sword. With its attention so focused on me, however, Merethyl, Calcedon, and Glannin managed to take chunks out of its hide with repeated strikes. Unappreciative of all the blood-spilling damage, the otyugh dropped me from its grasp and flurried on the others, with Calcedon being the unlucky one to take the hit this time. Still trying to catch my breath, my sword bounced off its leathery skin without even leaving a mark yet again. Calcedon, now in close, raked at the beast with his thorn bracer and left such a deep gash behind that the otyugh undoubtedly regretted pulling him close! Syrical—thus far unsuccessful with his crossbow—fired a third bolt, and a resounding clang ensued. I failed to see where that bolt struck, as it happened on the opposite side of the monster from me.

Merethyl and I attacked simultaneously, grazing it enough to at least blemish the hide with each schmuck. Calcedon showed us up yet again with a ferocious swing that cleaved into the otyugh with tremendous force that slaughtered the beast.

I backed away from the sinkhole in case any other such monsters were nearby and wanted to surface, carrying myself somewhat awkwardly from what felt like a pair of crushed ribs. Not desiring to depart with this new opening to the sewer prominent in the street, I suggested we stand guard until someone else who knew what to do about it arrived. The others recognized the merit in my recommendation, and Calcedon convinced a couple of the people to fetch city officials to do the job. Glannin worked his healing magic on myself and the nobleman with chewed up root paste, spit, and bacon grease. After, the dwarf managed to yank a crossbow bolt that had lodged in the back of his plate armor, examined it for a moment, and observed the fletching appeared much like Syrical’s. He offered the bolt back to the wizard, who denied it being his. Upon commenting about the similarity of the fletching to those in the elf’s bolt quiver, Syrical commented on the likelihood of it being an assassin’s cleverly disguised attempt on Glannin’s life. Listening to this interplay, I couldn’t help but shake my head at the comical absurdity of the exchange.

A stonemason finally showed up with a host of Korvosan Guard to handle the rather large problem in the street two hours later. We left them to it and reported the incident upon returning to the Citadel. Afterward, we escorted Calcedon and Glannin on a short shopping foray, then retired to House Fordyce for the evening. I hired a messenger to run north, learn of the happenings at the Temple of Aroden, then report back to me before the night was through. The brothers disclosed in the return message that the temple remained busy as they fed and clothed those in need. I thanked the boy for his promptness and retired for the night.

25 Gozran, 4715

A lax day . . . the first of its kind for us since the chaos of the king’s death. Still somewhat reeling from the filth fever we contracted at some point earlier, Glannin and I spent the entire day resting peacefully. I did request of Merethyl that he check in with his network of spies in Old Korvosa and see if he could uncover the nefarious workings of House Arkona. He agreed to do so but turned up nothing new. Calcedon spent most of the day down at the docks, toiling at his newly-acquired pier. Later, he sought to get the theater doors opened for the city’s entertainment. They remained skeptical, afraid that they’d not sell the tickets necessary to make it worth their time with Korvosa still suffering from economic woes. Syrical—remembering himself to be a student at the other arcane university in Korvosa—attended classes.

26 Gozran, 4715

We woke to the second heavy downpour in three days. No one from the Guard had arrived to summon us, so it appeared we had another day off. Word around the Fordyce compound was that the Bank of Abadar had reopened its doors, and Calcedon had put Syrical on retainer. That makes two, if you’re keeping count. Only Merethyl and I remain our own men, though I belong to the Last Azlanti . . . so I suppose that leaves only Merethyl. I wish him all the best.

Calcedon continued his dealings with the entertainment industry, now working on the amphitheater. Syrical spent another day with his studies. Merethyl attended the Elven Enclave to hear their take on the goings-on of the city. They admitted the riots were as bad as they’d seen in Korvosa after the death of royalty, but it left them unphased. The enclave stayed locked down since immediately after the whole situated started and waited for the rest of the city to—as he put it—get it together.

In the meantime, finally feeling myself again for the first time in a couple days, I departed from the lower city and went back to Old Korvosa to help the people there. Glannin decided to join me. It felt good to get back out on the street and help those in need again. A part of me feels guilty for all the time I’ve spent away from my brothers-in-faith and the people here that lack so much. I know the work we’ve done in the south has been important, but the inhabitants of Old Korvosa suffer so much from neglect that it’s a battle to leave them for too long regardless of the reason.

Passing out food on the streets, I heard more about how the poor look up to House Arkona due to the high expenditures given to help ease their suffering. Hopelessness has set in with the resignation that the government has abandoned them to their fates here, and drug use has escalated because of it. I evangelized to all I provided bread to, making it clear that faith in something greater would take one much farther than any drug. I’m happy to report that six chose wisely and agreed to attend the temple services.

27 Gozran, 4715 – Morning

Eager to get back out onto the streets, I had awakened at the crack of dawn to load the bread wagons for distribution. An hour later, Brother Pellonius visited me when the job was nearly done, but the cleric appeared white as a clean sheet. When I asked what was wrong, he confided that something he’d seen last night had rattled him to the core. The brother explained that while on his normal bread distribution route near the Traveling Man, he heard a cry of distress from a nearby alley. Normally, being a man of pacifistic nature, he would be reluctant to heed such a cry for fear that he’d be incapable of helping, but, for some reason, this time he peeked into the alley. Glowing orange eyes glared back at him from within the darkness. Terrified, he retreated in all haste from the darkened backstreet. Upon finding his courage again, Brother Pellonius went back, but nothing remained that he could see. When his curiosity found him checking out the alley again earlier this morning, he located blood near a sewer access point. He retreated back and requested that I (and by extension the rest of us) investigate the matter.

I promptly dispatched a runner to retrieve my companions. In thanks for our help, Brother Pellonius provided us with two antitoxins and an antiplague, which I divvied up between Syrical, Merethyl, and Calcedon when they arrived an hour later. I asked the good brother if he would guide us to the particular alleyway where he’d seen the orange eyes and bloodstain, and he agreed to do so.

The Shingles sprawled everywhere overhead in an intense labyrinthine latticework that virtually blocked out the cloudy sky. Despite the rain that Korvosa had seen throughout the night, this umbrella of second-story passages served our needs this morning, enabling us to make a sweep of the area for clues left behind by our mysterious perpetrator. Merethyl easily found the blood stain near the sewer access and reported that the amount of blood present probably meant a wounding rather than a killing, at least here. I discovered two sets of tracks near the blood—one belonged to a human no larger than an adolescent, the other to something far smaller and tipped with claws. Unable to identify what would have left the latter, I pointed them out to our investigator, who speculated their owner to probably be a tiny fey creature of some kind.

The preliminary investigations now completed, we descended into the most popular sewer in all of Avistan. In the dim lighting around the access, I spotted blood from a body obviously dragged north along the sewage passage. Calling attention to it, we all then recognized a massive monstrosity moving through the tunnel toward us—albeit slowly.

Yet another otyugh.

Noticing our attentions turned its way, the large creature suddenly through a temper tantrum . . . Its tentacles smashed in chaotic fashion around the sewer tunnel all around, its feet stamped upon the ground, and its maw gaped in an ear-splitting roar. Thinking back on it, I believe it possible the thing was attempting to intimidate us.

Kidding aside, I must give credit where credit is due: This otyugh reserved some modicum of intelligence wherever a brain resided within that hulking mound of feces-infested flesh. Rather than outright attack us, the creature introduced itself with, “Tog want food!” Not overly keen on fighting another of these beasts after yesterday’s encounter, Calcedon—the only one of us to regularly carry food with him to pacify our ravenous dwarven companion—pitched it a loaf. Of bread. I’m terribly sorry . . . that should have been beneath me.

Tog apparently enjoyed the bread, which bought us the information that some “meat” had passed by here some time ago. A promise ensued that if we fed him more, the otyugh would let us pass too without a fight. Calcedon tossed it more bread, much to the disgust of Glannin, who growled at the munching Tog’s luck. The bread proved insufficient to satisfy the creature, however, which demanded meat or drink and stared down our dwarf as a possible morsel. Not concerned at all, Glannin pulled out some dwarven stout and threw it to the otyugh. That fired up its taste buds so incredibly that Tog praised the “little meats” for the gift and agreed to let us pass.

Apparently, the stout impressed the massive monster so much that it also felt compelled to reward us with “treasures” it had collected in a hole in the wall, which turned out to be a small room. Glannin inspected the room as the rest of us watched Tog for any sort of possible treachery, and he called out the discovery of a leg sticking out of the other useless debris inside. Having learned above that an adolescent had been dragged down here, the thoughts of every one of us immediately darkened, and I pushed forward to get a better look at the appendage. Unable to see in the darkness, I first summoned light into the dug-out chamber. A quick look at the leg provided me with two important bits of information: first, it had belonged to an adolescent, and, second, it had been here less than a day.
Tog sounded concerned that we might take its meat away, and I have no doubt that the otyugh would have fought us without a second thought if we’d given any indication that we planned to do so. The thought of a human being consumed by one of these creatures disgusts me, but it’s tough to blame the thing for its nature. I’d be just as disgusted by a wolf or bear that did the same, but I don’t blame the wolf or bear for doing what is in their nature to do. All that remained here was a leg, so no reason to take it away now. Instead, I inquired as to how this “meat” got here. It responded that Poffoff (some small creature, though to it any of us would be small creatures!) fed it meat to pass freely. Thus, we know now why this otyugh chose to negotiate with us rather than just attack us, like the one on the streets of North Point. It’s trained for this.

We left Tog behind and progressed to where the tunnel ended and perpendicular one crossed it. On the left resided a gate, which the sewer designers placed throughout as a way to keep the otyughs from gathering together. This gate had been intentionally broken, allowing us to go that way if we wished without any difficulty. The tunnel also went to the right without any sort of obstruction. After a short discussion, we decided on the broken gate, but it led to an empty circular chamber a hundred feet on that had once been a lair for another otyugh, or so the remnants of it professed. Tog had stated that there was a brother he’d eaten, and that brother had no doubt lived here.

So, we traveled east along the open sewer tunnel, which terminated at a giant rat statue with strange writing scratched all over it and a large pipe that permitted passage through the southern wall if one chose to squeeze through it. Merethyl moved ahead to examine the statue when an echoed voice projected through the pipe asking if we’d rid the tunnel to the west of the otyugh. We told them to come out, and two men crawled into our sewer line. Named Marixiti and Pellius, they were initially undesirous to tell us what they were even doing down here. Both were terrified when we informed them the otyugh still lived, and in their resignation explained that they often traveled through the sewers because they were safer than the streets. Considering the otyughs that inhabited the sewers, that answer made little sense to me. A little more conversation revealed they worked for the Cerulean Society, the only legal thieves’ guild in Korvosa, as well as a belief by the men that their employers set them up.

I questioned the men about what existed on the other side of the pipe, but they stated they hadn’t explored it very far, so I asked Glannin if he might be willing to investigate, and he agreed.

Unfortunately, while he explored the other side, the rat statue’s eyes began to glow red, and it shouted gibberish at us. Merethyl conveyed the gibberish to be Undercommon. Whatever the language was, it panicked the two men, who immediately attempted to bolt from the statue . . . directly through Calcedon. When the nobleman stood his ground, Marixiti struck him with a staff. Calcedon retaliated but, luckily for the man, missed. Noting his partner’s lack of progress, Pellius jumped across the sewage to my side of the tunnel but failed to bypass me. I placed a hand on his chest somewhat harshly and pushed him against the wall, then growled for him to eliminate the hysteria. The tone in my voice must have registered, because he became noticeably cowed.

That’s when Merethyl cried out from a crossbow bolt to the back. Taken off-guard by the sudden attack, he rushed around the statue to find the culprit we’d come down here for: a tiny creature with glowing orange eyes . . . and a crossbow, apparently.

Calcedon shamed Marixiti for being such a coward and looked to be changing the man’s mind about fleeing the situation when Glannin exited the pipe.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:54 pm

27 Gozran, 4715 – Morning continued

The little fey—which Merethyl would later recall as a gremlin, specifically, a Jinkin—proved remarkably difficult to contact. Glannin, Merethyl, and Calcedon ganged up on the Jinkin and failed to connect a single time. Pellius refused to heed my advice to calm down, jumped into the sewage and swam dozens of feet away; the other simply stood there watching but did nothing else. Obviously not liking the numbers gathered around it, the nimble gremlin darted around all of us and disappeared. Syrical—who had just pulled out his wand of force missiles—informed us that it had used a dimensional door to exit the fight, which he explained was a rather powerful spell.

With the danger past, we gathered to discuss how to proceed. Marixiti and Pellius—who had rejoined us after his little swim—desired nothing more than to get out of the sewers, but the rest of us knew there remained work to be done. That Jinkin had brought an adolescent into the sewers as food for Tog, or some other nefarious purpose, and we needed to find the creature and put an end to it, else more kids would die. Syrical confirmed that the Jinkin hadn’t gone far, as the dimensional hopping spell it used had a limited range to it. Thus, we crawled back through the pipe to track down the gremlin, whom we considered could be working with the wererats here in the sewers. Our two newcomers chose to stay in the pipe where the otyugh couldn’t get to them until we returned.

I immediately found tracks on the other side, and we followed them through a small collection of sewer tunnels until coming to a large patch of plant matter that dangled down nearly to the water’s surface. It hardly looked natural based simply on what we’d seen of the Korvosan sewers; however, Merethyl pointed out that the conglomeration of plant life appeared groomed in some way, as if it were a garden. In his next breath, the investigator warned against our advancing farther until a newly-discovered problem could be dealt with: a deadly plant with a skull on the petals known as a xatabay. The plant releases a toxin into the air within ten feet of it that will put prey to sleep, enabling it to crawl leisurely across the floor and drain the life out of the unconscious body.

We called Calcedon forward, remembering the dissonant spell he used to eliminate the rat swarm that troubled us in the Shingles and hoping he could do the same to neutralize this threat. The plan worked, as the intentionally-sour note ripped from the noble’s violin and caused the petals to fall to the sewer floor. With the death of the xatabay, I immediately recognized another of the plants behind it, but this one looked far enough back so as not to be a problem if we chose to pass by. That’s when a strange puffball flew by me and missed its intended target, Calcedon. The origin of the odd attack showed itself afterward to be some sort of fungal, mushroom beast the likes of which I’d never seen before.

Again, I noted that Syrical pulled out his trusty wand, though, again, he did not use it. All for the best, as it turned out. One thing I’ve grown to appreciate about our elven wizard: he conserves resources until he knows they must be used.

Merethyl tends to be a bit more impulsive . . . . The elf leapt across the sewage channel and right into a third, unseen xatabay. The toxic cloud burst around the plant, but, luckily, he was immune to its sleeping effect. He landed a scrape on the xatabay and identified the mushroom creature as a fungal leshy.

Syrical surprised again as he spoke some strange language to the leshy, and the fungal beast replied in kind, except far more irate! After the quick correspondence, he told the rest of us that it just wanted us out of its garden. We all agreed that the best option. We had no idea what awaited us ahead, so avoiding a fight here would be a prudent move. Within seconds, the lot of us had escaped the garden’s confines, though Merethyl lingered just long enough to request (I discovered later) whether the leshy had seen any bodies dragged through this area. It sounded as if it hadn’t.

As we continued through the sewers, the investigator located tracks that I had missed, which led us to a natural cleft that breeched the sewer wall. Merethyl rushed up to the entrance to the cleft and spotted a garden ooze squatting in the center of it, almost like a watchdog. I prayed for the shielding protection of Aroden, then joined Merethyl at the cleft, where I pointed out a pair of gremlins hidden deeper in—one near the back corner of the cleft, and a second one within a small passage on the opposite side. As I cautioned him about the gremlins he hadn’t seen, he stated that the tracks we’d been following entered into this cleft . . . then charged the ooze . . . with all our companions still on the other side of the sewage stream. Dare I say, we must invest in some ranged combat capability. Our investigator will get himself killed if he continues rushing headlong in when the others aren’t yet in position to aid.

Merethyl’s attack connected, but hardly hurt the ooze. A fungal tendril escaped the creature and lashed out at him but missed. Calcedon leapt across the sewage to take up a position behind the elf, while Glannin peered skeptically at the feces-laden waters and called that he’d stay back and guard “Axe,” as he affectionately calls Syrical. I heard the dwarf’s sigh from my position when the wizard deftly jumped the manmade river to get in close to the fray behind Calcedon. Worse, the pair of Jinkins launched bolts at Merethyl, and one of the tiny projectiles sank deep into his neck. I called for Glannin’s bacon grease to help the investigator, then provided a glancing blow upon the ooze as I rushed by to corner a Jinkin. The ooze sought to strike me for the scrape I carved in it, but the tendril swept by without impact. Calcedon subsequently hacked the ooze in two.

The gremlins flung a couple more bolts toward myself and Calcedon, nicking both of us, but not significantly. Behind us, I noted Syrical casting a spell and Glannin—having successfully crossed the sewage—tending to the bolt in Merethyl’s neck, which he required the use of haggis and honey for, apparently.

The Jinkin in the tunnel easily dodged my semblance of an attack, though it gave me a second chance at it after dropping its crossbow and lunging at me. It proved unfortunate this time, as my sword bit into it deeply! My attack jarred the tiny creature enough that its stabbing short sword failed to penetrate my chain armor. Its partner’s crossbow bolt lodged into my exposed side, however, which I’ll admit stung more than a little. Calcedon joined me, but, in being careful not to strike me, missed wide with his fauchard. As I sought to maneuver myself into position to take advantage of the nobleman’s presence, a magical bolt zoomed in and killed the gremlin! I couldn’t hide a grin. Our studious wizard knew exactly when to use that wand of his to fullest effect. Yes, he conserved when necessary, but Syrical understood how to read the situation and expend resources at the best possible time.

We converged on the second Jinkin, now completely cornered and with no way to avoid us. I believe it realized the dire straits it was in when the tiny gremlin pitched aside its crossbow and unsheathed the short sword at its side. My sword lacked accuracy on two separate occasions, yet I danced around to the left side as its sword poked at me, opening the way for Calcedon to slash the Jinkin hard across its miniature torso. For the second time, a force missile from Syrical’s wand finished the job.

The fight now over, Glannin came to seal my pair of wounds in similar style to the treatment Merethyl had received: yogurt, honey, stout, and the added bonus of casting plaster about the injuries. As ever, all was healed completely when he had finished.

The investigator searched around the area where the short passage led and discovered a secret door there. Like the gate in the sewers back near Tog, the mechanism that worked this door had been intentionally destroyed. Calcedon attempted to open it, but the door refused to budge. A tiny hole existed at its base, just large enough for the gremlins to pass through unhindered, but nowhere near sizeable for us to squeeze through. Some evidence remained that the Jinkin forced other bodies through the hole, as well, which settled poorly with my stomach. This validated our continued search for the macabre little beasts, as this proved they brought the adolescents here, though I somehow doubt they could be alive by the reaching of this portal.

Our inability to open the door was infuriating, but there was nothing for it. We couldn’t get through this way, yet all knew that this led to the gremlin lair; guards left outside indicated what resided behind that door was still occupied. So, we agreed to wander the sewer tunnel a bit in an attempt to locate a different way in. Just a short way down the eastern way revealed exactly what we were looking to find! A small stair ushered to a stone door decorated with a horsehead emblem with a ruby red glass eye and Shoanti pictures all about it. Calcedon’s eidetic memory worked for more than just noble houses in Korvosa and Cheliax, as he recognized this to be the symbol for the Sklar-Quah Shoanti tribe. Merethyl uncovered a javelin trap cleverly hidden in the door and disarmed it.

We entered into a carefully-constructed chamber of stonework walls and corbel ceilings. Old doors lined the chamber north and south, with a hall in the center of the northern wall. Glannin mused that this must once have been a Shoanti burial site, which the sewers of Korvosa were quite literally built upon in a most disrespectful fashion. I checked the first door in the southern wall and found a bunch of dirt, dust, and musty blankets of a cell-like room that hadn’t been used in a long while. Upon examining the scratches, nicks and cracks in the back wall of the cell, I pieced together the elements like something of a puzzle to unearth the unholy symbol of Zon Kuthon hidden there. These rooms hadn’t been used in decades, which felt like something akin to a blessing if the faithful of Zon Kuthon had once inhabited this area. The news struck Calcedon particularly hard, it seemed, as his face became somewhat ashen, and he showed reluctance to even enter. All the doors revealed the same type of room, though only a couple hid additional symbols of Zon Kuthon.

The perpendicular hall directed us to another small stair that climbed to another door. Through it, we entered into a torture chamber of much more recent use than the rest of this small site. Zon Kuthonian instruments of torture—such as a table with chains to properly secure a victim—dominated the chamber, and a ridiculous amount of blades, sharpened shards, and other such detritus littered the floor to make every step incredibly dangerous.

If Calcedon went ashen upon hearing of the mark of Zon Kuthon when first we set foot in this place, the sight of the torture chamber brought about a ghastly transformation in the nobleman. I have only ever known him to be confident in mannerism and sure of speech, but that Calcedon was not the man that peered into that secret chamber within the Korvosan sewer. There stood a man before me of fear and doubt and defeat. A horrific caricature of a proud and noble man whose past still held more sway on his present than certainly he desired to admit. When asked—I don’t even recall now by who—if he was all right, he lifted his right hand, now missing two fingers, and replied hauntingly, “I shall bear the marks of Zon Kuthon for the rest of my life.”

My heart sank at the sound of those words . . . but, at that moment, a different battle required fighting. We shall return to this one at a future, more appropriate time.

As this chamber was filled with a dark spiritual presence, I felt the need to lead into our group of companions into it with the light of the Last Azlanti ahead of us. The chamber was expansive, much larger than the light of my spell could encompass, and the darkness outside of Aroden’s light weighed heavily with an oppressive intent. Merethyl entered behind me, his elven vision able to see farther in the conjured light than mine own. As I moved to the right of the torture table, he went to the left. His eyes scanned the floor and walls of the chamber, which meant that the creature clinging unseen by any of us to the ceiling dropped upon him with swift stealth to swallow his head into its maw. I heard his muffled cry and saw him stagger about with the strange monster enveloping him, but before I could react at all, a giant centipede suddenly appeared beside me and clamped onto my shin with oversized mandibles. My reaction brought the sword in my hand down and through the head of the gigantic insect, and it disappeared after the killing blow. That immediate threat eliminated, I became aware of a haunting melody drifting through the air, and only later discovered it not to be an enchantment of the room, but a musical enchantment of Calcedon!

What followed was an irritating game of cat-and-mouse with the ceiling hopping creature, known as a darkmantle. Glannin tiptoed through the sharp debris across the floor to aid Merethyl and forced the thing to release the elf. As the dwarf tried to pull the direly-wounded elf from danger, I engaged the hideous creature in combat. It refused to stay and fight, however. Instead, the darkmantle used a tactic of retreat to the ceiling, then launched itself back at me in what seemed a never-ending cycle of maneuver. I struggled to hit the thing with my blade; Syrical struggled to hit it with his inexhaustible supply of frost rays; the darkmantle struggled to wrap me up in its maw, though it succeeded in scoring a feeble hit or two in the process. Finally, Syrical managed to strike the aberration with a freezing ray that slowed it just enough that my blade bit heavily into it when it swooped down to attack me. It repaid me with a slam of its own, but I got off easy by comparison.

That’s when the gremlin decided to join the fray with its powerful magic. I heard strange sounds emanating from the corner of the room; right after, Calcedon’s haunting melody and Glannin’s healing touch stopped as the two valued members of our party fell unconscious to the floor. Merethyl acted quickly to kick Glannin and awaken him, then moved into the chamber again, apparently hearing what I had heard and heading towards it. My attempt to kill the darkmantle ended in disappointment.

Syrical turned his attentions to the newcomer in the room and threw a frost ray its way that succeeded only in leaving a small bit of ice on the wall behind it. Two balls of force emitted from the gremlin’s tiny paw-like hand to smash into the wizard’s chest, which staggered him backward a step. Not used to feeling pain, the elf screamed in agony and fury, and the Jinkin witch covered its bleeding ears from the screeching pitch of it. The two spellcasters began throwing force energy back-and-forth across the room in an attempt to pummel one another into submission.

Somewhere in the midst of this magical duel, I managed to deal the death blow to the darkmantle, and Merethyl hopped the table en route to the gremlin witch. The elf’s close proximity to the Jinkin led to a second game of cat-and-mouse, as the tiny fey had no problems moving across the dangerous debris about the floor, unlike us. Whenever any of us got close to it, then, the annoying creature would zip to a different location in the room that required us to chase at a much slower pace. Glannin unleashed his divine skills on Syrical, who had taken an incredible beating by the witch’s distant attacks, then rushed to join in the chase. After summoning a ball of electricity to partake in pursuit of the Jinkin, Syrical got to the sleeping Calcedon and shook him back to consciousness.

We’ve Merethyl to thank for ending the game, as he cornered the witch next to a desk the tiny fey couldn’t climb to get away. Glannin, Calcedon, and I converged on that corner to trap the Jinkin there. The elven investigator accepted a small scratch from the gremlin’s blade to scoop it up into a grapple. He endured another stabbing as the rest of us either failed to hit it or penetrate its hide—well, all save Syrical, who punished it with a last force blast before putting the wand away. Glannin’s axe virtually severed its upper torso from the lower body just after the gremlin had tasted freedom from Merethyl’s grasp to complete the day’s most difficult fight.

We carefully searched the chamber afterward, though Syrical searched the Jinkin instead, and Calcedon removed himself from the area. We located the small hole in the secret door from earlier, and also a hole in the floor that had to descend all the way into the Darklands, which may have been where the gremlin infestation came from. Four doors along the back wall held gnawed-upon bones of adolescents and a small stash of other riches collected by the witch and its lackeys. Syrical removed a small journal from the witch but wasted no time yet in reading it, if we even can do so.

This threat to the city now eliminated, we collected the two men from the pipe to make our way out of the sewers. They paid us what was promised, though not without a little persuading from Glannin when they were caught in the lie of scamming us from the agreed upon payment. Merethyl fed Tog a severed leg with meat still on it from the torture chamber to guarantee free passage.
On the way back to the temple, the change in Calcedon’s demeanor was as night and day. He explained a bit about the deprivations of his uncle, whose zeal for Zon Kuthon had caused him incredible suffering in the past. Clearly, that past had never fled from him.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:15 pm

27 Gozran, 4715 – Afternoon

We arrived at the temple of Aroden, and Pellonius met us the moment we walked through the door. To his credit, the brother gave no indication that our extended stay in the sewer bothered him at all despite the stench that wafted from inch of our clothing. I explained the nature of the creature he saw in the alley last night, their vile use of the adolescents for a food source, and I assured him the threat was eliminated. Pellonius appeared quite relieved to hear we handled the problem.

Meanwhile, Merethyl located one of the very few quiet chambers currently in the temple and deciphered the chicken scratch of the Jinkin witch’s journal. For reasons yet unknown to us, the witch seemed to have a fascination with Thassilonian lore. Nothing written factored into anything that we were doing, and the poor explanations of the gremlin’s findings meant the journal was virtually worthless even to a collector.

Our heroism finished for the day, we all split to deal with our own business for the rest of it. Glannin and I saw to the cleanliness of our clothing and armor, and I washed myself, as well, which included tending to the minor wounds still dotting my body. Merethyl checked in on his family for the first time since the problems in the city began. Syrical reported back to school, while Calcedon played for the small shrine of Shelyn and informed them of the temple to Zon Kuthon that we discovered in the sewers.

Late that afternoon, I received a runner from Calcedon with news that Lamm was scheduled for the noose tomorrow at noon. I rarely witnessed executions—my preference always resided with building up civilization, not watching those unfit to live in it taken out, but now and again there’s an individual that has caused so much harm in the lives of those around us that closure is required. Lamm sacrificed the betterment of those in Old Korvosa for his own personal greed and shattered the lives of countless men, women, and children over the years, including that of Nevarius, our own ward at the temple, whose mother—whom I worked with much throughout the years—was a casualty. For her memory, I needed to see justice done.

Additionally, the nobleman invited me to dinner this evening at House Fordyce, where the guest-of-honor was to be Vancarlo Orisini. Naturally, I attended, because it offered me an opportunity to speak with the celebrity of Old Korvosa about how he might help bring some hope to the poor of the district. Hopelessness ran rampant in the district, which led to the need for orphanages. Also, any chance to work with children and single mothers or fathers concerning their own self-defense could save lives and provide inspiration to these individuals. I appreciated that Vancarlo sounded quite open to all these possibilities and more.

28 Gozran, 4715 – Afternoon

A series of executions were set to occur at the Long Acre Building starting at noon, with Lamm among the first few to hang. The rather infamous Hanging Judge pronounced judgment over all these criminals—and there were plenty of them lined up with all the riots throughout the city in the last couple of weeks. When given his last words, “No regrets!” proved the best Lamm could conjure. Hardly surprised there. The man was as predictable going into death as he had been the way he lived his life—with redemption, or any thought of forgiveness, farthest from his mind.

We met with the Field Marshal there, and she informed us that the Queen had summoned her to a conference this evening at the castle. She openly confirmed her concern about the meeting. With rumors spreading about how displeased the Queen was with the Guard and the Sable Company, the Field Marshal had reason to be worried. Having worked with Korvosan Guard these last couple of weeks, I saw no sign of bad decision-making on their part. They worked hard and around the clock to put this city back together. Mistakes were made, of course, but that’s being human, and exhaustion certainly played a strong role in that, which the Queen could have alleviated by opening the emergency coffers even just a little. Regardless, we wished her luck in the meeting and went our own ways for the day.

Later reports by my companions confirmed that Glannin picked up more healing supplies at the bazaar, Syrical caught up on his studies, Calcedon worked on getting the amphitheater running again for city moral, Merethyl acted as a practice dummy for Vancarlo (I kid), and I fed the poor on the streets of Old Korvosa. While out there, I heard a new rumor prevalent on the streets that a local, young, and pretty woman artist was responsible for the King’s death.

29 Gozran, 4715 – Morning

I awakened early that next morning to an emergency runner sent from House Fordyce. We had agreed the night before to meet at the Citadel at nine sharp to learn the results of the Field Marshal’s meeting with the Queen. It appeared that meeting time had been moved up by necessity. As I headed south through the city, the Midlands were crowded with huge mobs scouring the streets in search of the King’s “true” murderer—a young female artist named Trinia Sabor, and each head amongst them had dreams of the Queen’s favor and gold dancing within it.


The Field Marshal met us with disconcerting news: She believed the Queen trying to start the riots up again. Though uncertain as to why, she argued that this new wave of mobs could have been avoided had the monarch not released Trinia’s name to the public. She also found this situation unsettling because there had been no attempt at ascertaining the guilt or innocence of this young artist. One of the Queen’s guards professed to seeing Trinia—who had been hired to paint the King’s portrait—slip something into the King’s drink. Conveniently, this guard committed suicide by launching himself off a castle tower this morning.

So, Field Marshal Croft hired us to find Trinia Sabor before the mobs or the Hellknights, who were also out looking. She gave us a lead on the others by providing the last known whereabouts of Trinia: 42 Moon Street in the Midlands. We promised to find the girl and bring her back. As a parting bit of news, she stated the Queen continued her grudge against the Guard and Sable Company, even threatening to shut down the latter completely and form a new military order within Korvosa to take its place.

Not desiring to take a chance moving amidst the crowds, Merethyl used his amazing knowledge of the city to maneuver us through it via back alleys and lesser-traversed roads. The Shingles predominated this entire area of three-story tenements, and when we arrived there was a woman lurking about 42 Moon steering people away from the residence. Calcedon led the way in persuading this woman, named Brey, to get us into the tenement and tell us where Trinia resided. Despite his, mine, and Merethyl’s adamant prognosis that Trinia stood no chance of escaping the mobs if she stayed here, Brey remained hesitant. A loyal friend, she feared for the young girl’s life, and rightly so! However, our pleas finally gained us admittance and, eventually, a specific location on the third floor where Trinia holed up. Brey also warned us that the residents on the second floor would be hostile to us for love of the young artist, as well.

We thanked her and assured that we’d get Trinia to safety. Nearly a dozen neighbors stopped us on the second floor, but we convinced them all of our good intentions, as well as the necessity to reach the girl as quickly as possible, which getting halted every few seconds hindered greatly. Trinia had barricaded the door of her room, but Glannin and Calcedon shouldered through it; we’d wasted enough precious time talking. Quickly spreading through the small tenement, I immediately slipped over to the window to find the artist skillfully working her way through the Shingles.

Thus, the chase began.

All but Glannin clambered up a steep roof onto a landing, with another crumbling rooftop to scale across to get on the same path as Trinia. Go figure, the moment we make progress in her direction, she disappears through some shortcut impossible to see from our vantage. Now fixated on getting to where she was, all of us attempted the unsure footing along the rooftop, but only Merethyl succeeded in hopping across. Unwilling to slow, the elf discovered a gap in the wall before him and scampered through that, as well.

By the time Glannin reached most of us on the landing, the poor dwarf found himself falling behind again, as all but Calcedon bested the rooftop on our second tries. Merethyl proved keen of eye, and he bolted through the same shortcut Trinia had seen to get out of our sight. Syrical, not to be outdone by his elven counterpart, strode hastily past me and through the gap in the wall in hot pursuit. With exception of Calcedon reaching the same gap that I struggled to get through, all the non-elves remained stationary as we attempted to decipher the trick to that silly gap.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side, Merethyl successfully grabs ahold of Trinia, who thrusted a wand in his face to force his release of her, but he shrugged off the magic. Unfortunately, the wiry young woman slipped from his grasp as he sought to tighten it. Syrical popped through the shortcut at that moment and reached out to grab her, but she sidled out of his reach easily. Now two-against-one, elves verses the human waif of a girl . . . and she outmaneuvered them to repeatedly before finally finding and exploiting a hole in the wall to escape. The two elves watched through that same escape route as Trinia leapt over a gap between buildings to widen her lead over them.

Calcedon followed me through the gap, but I lost him enough that he didn’t note the shortcut I took to reach the two elves. As they fought to get through the hole in the wall, I decided simply to go over it and saw a massive swarm of stirges before me across the gap in buildings. Apparently, the young artist had stirred up the clinging threat. With a short sigh to calm the nerves, I leapt over the gap and into the waiting stirge swarm. Turned out I would be there for a while. Trinia tried to ensorcell me with her wand, but I shook off whatever spell it possessed.

Stuck inside those stirges for what felt like forever, the others slowly made their way through the obstruction-laden Shingles. It was impossible to see anything through those buzzing insectoid things. When finally I steered through them and out the other side, Merethyl awaited me on the other side, obviously not having the same problem with them that I did. Trinia had only managed to get a short ways ahead across a hanging clothesline but was failing to get over another wall in the way. Both Merethyl and I walked the tightrope in quick succession. I failed to catch the young woman, but Merethyl grappled her and refused to let go for anything now. Rather than try to pin her down, he simply waited for me to come over and tie her up further. Realizing her getaway had concluded in failure, Trinia broke down in sobs, pleading with us to let her go because she didn’t wish to die. That proved fortunate, as we had no intent on killing her. I pledged that fact to her and pieced together a rather compelling argument as to why she should return to the Citadel with us post haste. After a bit, she capitulated to the idea. Calcedon (who had caught up) and Merethyl worked their magic to disguise her so she wouldn’t be recognizable on the streets below.

We all escorted this young woman that appeared nothing like herself through the same back alleys we’d taken to get there. With no need to speak to the Guard, we shuffled her past them and directly into the Field Marshal’s office, where she sat doing paperwork. After a little discussion, in which it was relayed that none of us had magical truth-finding capabilities—though I do tend to come close to that when it comes to determining lies, the Field Marshal explained that Trinia would be placed in the capable hands of Vancarlo until her guilt or innocence could be proved. In fact, he alone would know the location where he put her, so there’d be no doubts about her safety. It pained me a little to think her outside our protection, but we trusted Vancarlo as much as anyone in Korvosa, so no one started a fuss.

The mission complete, I headed back to Old Korvosa for the remainder of the day. Merethyl later reviewed that he disguised himself and floated amidst the patrons of a popular tavern for the Queen’s guard. There he learned that Talfen—the name of the guard that “jumped” from the tower—would never have jumped from that tower, at least according to those that knew him best. Further hearsay probably wasn’t the best evidence, and it certainly wouldn’t stick in the courts, but it offered legitimacy to the notion that this tragic accident might well have not been an accident, as all of us believed virtually unanimously.

30 Gozran, 4715—Morning

The next day began the same as most: I went to work with the poor, Merethyl investigated, and Syrical studied. Syrical sought to learn more about what this new Queen’s guard might be all about, but essentially got shunned for his efforts. Merethyl’s investigations into the guard turned up something interesting, though not about the guard himself. Instead, he gained the eye-opening news that the assassin had been caught, tried, and would be executed in two days.

Again, runners were dispatched to gather us all at the Citadel, where the investigator conveyed what he’d learned. Summoned with the rest of us, Vancarlo guaranteed that Trinia remained secure in his safehouse. Thus, we have a mystery before us. If the Queen doesn’t have Trinia, then who does she have? More disturbing, perhaps, was why they were set to execute a young woman they knew not to be Trinia. This reeked of corruption . . . badly. An innocent woman might just be paying an unfair price for another’s political gain, which, from what I could see, had no reason for happening. The city had been calming down, with things getting back under control. Why stir the pot again? Was it so important that the Queen get this new order of guard instated that she needed to somehow discredit the Sable Company through this blatant act of duplicity? What exactly was she trying to gain, otherwise? And why spill innocent blood to attain it when she already held the most powerful position in all Korvosa?

As the debate continued, I heard a loud noise outside the chamber. Curious, I opened the door to find Thousand Bones waiting there. The elderly man served as the Shoanti ambassador to Korvosa from the Skoan-Quah tribe. He appeared quite agitated. The Field Marshal requested that we depart for a time so that she could hold a meeting with the Shoanti ambassador. We acquiesced with no argument.

The meeting advanced nigh on forty minutes before the door opened and we were asked to reenter. All that time had not improved Thousand Bones’ disposition at all; he looked as gruff and frustrated as ever. He described that his grandson was killed yesterday by the large mobs seeking Trinia. They beat the boy to death in the street. I understood the old man’s disgruntled nature now, as he blamed the Guard for the boy’s death, though he remained diplomatic enough not to say it aloud. His son desire to leave Korvosa and head on the warpath, but Thousand Bones convinced him not to do so—at least for the moment. What’s worse, they could not even perform the proper funerary ceremony for the boy, since his body was stolen and sold to a necromancer in the Dead Warrens, where the spirits questioned by Thousand Bones said the boy’s body currently resided.

To make matters worse, this particular necromancer was a man name Rolth, Lamm’s son, who had been kicked out of the Academae for twisted experiments involving the attempted construction of a flesh golem. We agreed to get the body of Thousand Bones’ grandson back and put an end to Rolth’s corruption. The others will probably disagree, but my intent is to bring the vile man back to the Citadel alive and in chains to face justice. I’ll be purchasing a set of manacles as we head to question the man that sold the body to Rolth, whom the Field Marshal stated was in custody. He should be able to give us more information.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Re: The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

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