Curse of the Crimson Throne

Castle Crashers

Crown of Fangs, Part 5

At the Loranth estate, Kyra is impressed with the scale of the family’s holdings, but admits she’s been keeping her sticky fingers to herself since they’re Zandu’s kinfolk.

With Arlynn cured, the archives searched, and the spell research underway, Zandu teleports the three of them back to the embassy in Korvosa.

In Like Flint

While Zandu, Arlynn and Kyra visit the Loranth Estate, Nox and Marl take a nighttime trip to House Endrin. They try to dodge the curfew, but quickly fall to arguing about which back alley route to take through the city. Their dispute draws the attention of a squad of Gray Maidens, who demand to know why they are skulking in the shadows violating curfew.

Nox introduces himself in a menacing fashion, insisting that he is on official business traveling to the Endrin Estate. He successfully intimidates the Maidens into offering him an escort to the estate.

Nox announces himself to guards at the entrance, insisting that he is here to see Telus Endrin. Marl been shuttling messages back and forth between the embassy and the manor, so he is welcomed inside despite some initial suspicion over the late hour. Nox is led to a foyer, where he inspects a painting depicting the meeting of city founders Waydon Endrin and Jetska Korvosa while servants summon Telus.

Telus, up late drinking and brooding, calls them into a guest room. Nox references their correspondence and says that the time has come to strike at the Queen. Telus has reservations on joining the fight, particularly the repercussions of failure. Nox reassures him that tomorrow’s raid will be glorious and will result in the elevation of both House Endrin and Telus’ own name. Telus presses for specifics and is promised the elevation of his family as one of the Great Houses as well as his appointment as the new Commandant of a restored Sable Company.

They discuss plans for a little while, preparing for the big raid in the morning. Marl, meanwhile, helps himself to the quality booze in the guest room. When Telus steps out for a moment, the sellsword questions Nox on how useful the noble will be in a battle. Nox notes that Telus is one of the finest archers in the city, where he is known at tourneys by the nickname “Flint.”

Rather than risk the curfew again, Nox decides to spend the night at the Endrin estate.

False Hopes

Back at the embassy, an agitated Remmy approaches Egan with a heavy conscience. She had been talking to Sabina and is outraged that the party hasn’t fully confided in the defector regarding the situation with the Queen, particularly the possibility that the Crown of Fangs is possessing Ileosa in some way. She says that they’ve made Sabina feel like killing the Queen is only way to stop her.

Egan says that keeping Sabina in the dark is for the best, since while the party will try to capture the Queen that might not prove possible. They don’t wish to give the former lover of the queen a false hope. Remmy seems to be reassured by this, although still heavy-hearted. She joins Egan and Laori in baking good berry tarts.

Guild Wars

After returning to the embassy, Arlynn goes through messages to the resistance, giving marching orders and receiving information. Most noteworthy is an offer of help from the Ironsoots, an underground guild of smiths and ironworkers in Korvosa.In the event of an uprising, the Ironsoots are willing to help organize the common people into more than just mere mobs, while in the longer term they are willing to sabotage the regime’s equipment supplies.

In return, they want official recognition once the Queen is overthrown. The Korvosan Charter currently outlaws guilds—other than the Cerulean Society—in order to prevent price fixing. Cressida and Neolandis argue against taking up the group’s offer, while Vencarlo supports it. After consulting with the rest of the Crimson Blades, Arlynn decides to strike a middle course: appealing to the Ironsoots to aid the rebellion anyway, which would earn them tremendous goodwill. This deft response seems to be amendable to all parties.

Dreams and Portents

After finally bedding down for the evening, Egan has a dream about his father. They are strolling through the woods north of the city, with the older gnome telling his son that he is proud of him and all that he has accomplished with the Crimson Blades. But their path is abruptly blocked by a giant tentacle stretching out from Korvorsa, having crushed everything in its path.

Egan’s father warns that the evil in the heart of the castle has stretched its tentacles beyond the city and into the wild. The party may strike at the heart of the corruption, but just as the starfish can regrow itself from a single arm the evil will return unless the party follows the tendrils where they lead. He warns Egan that “it all ends in blood.”

When morning reaches the Embassy, Egan relays the dream to those present.

Bridge Over the River Jeggare

Per the plan, the uprising does not begin until mid-morning, when Sabina and the rebels launch their attack on the Longacre Building. That is the signal for the general uprising, as well as attacks on the city walls. Treebeard and his treants attack the North Gate, hurling boulders at the structure, while the Hellknights attack the southern gate (with some help from Freya). Bells ring out across the city, as squads of Gray Maidens scramble to put down the rebels and hold the gates.

Nox and Flint find themselves caught in the East Shore district as the uprising begins and soon learn that the Gray Maidens have closed the High Bridge gate. The bridge itself is littered with bodies from the rebellious citizens’ first attempt to take it. Nox and Flint quickly come up with a plan to get across. Flint takes Nox’s potion of fly, while Nox rallies the common people to take back their city. The rioters create a turtle out of an overturned wagon and begin advancing across the bridge, with Nox in the lead to draw the Maidens’ arrows.

Two shafts find their mark on the fighter, drawing blood, while a third shaft also zaps him with electricity. Flying overhead, Flint notices that the third arrow does not appear to have been loosed by any of the visible archers. Unable to spy the winch mechanism for opening the gate, Flint flies closer to take aim at the Gray Maidens.

Meanwhile, a ballista is wheeled into position to loose against the rioters’ wagon. However, one of the Gray Maidens has a change of heart and knocks the siege weapon out of alignment. Dissension in the ranks breaks out, while Nox and the rioters reach the gates, where the fighter drinks a potion of enlarge person and works with the commoners to try to lift the portcullis.

Despite being harried by the invisible sniper, Flint swoops in and unleashes a torrent of arrows, killing two Grey Maidens. He asks the mutinous Maiden where the mechanism is to open the gates and she directs him to the chamber below her. In that room, the mysterious sniper giggles and says “See ya”, before passing invisibly near him to the arrow slit. Flint releases the winch to raise the gate and then reunites with Nox.

Just down the street, a group of cavalry lead by an armored centaur in Hellknight armor approach. Mistress of Blades Maidrayne Vox greets the two nobles and inquires after their status. She also advises that the main force is just behind them, and should have healing and spare horses with them. The Hellknights’ first objective is to capture Citadel Volshyenek, the Guard headquarters.

The two decide to wait and are soon approached by the larger contingent of infantry. They are greeted by Lictor Severs “Boneclaw” DiVri. Nox reveals the parties’ plan to storm the castle during the chaos and deposing of the Queen. The Lictor supplies him with healing and a horse, to which Nox also instructs that a detachment be sent to High Bridge to secure the area and heal the civilians injured in the assault. Lictor Boneclaw obliges and says he will await a signal from the castle and wishes them good hunting before returning to his march toward the Citadel.

The Secret Door

The two noble hustle across the city to reunite with the rest of the Crimson Blades near the base of the Grand Mastaba. Zandu teleports them in several groups to the area near the secret entrance. His magic spirals out of control on his first return trip, but thankfully he is teleported nearby and is able to find the rest of the party with help from a swarm of pseudodragons led by Majenko.

Once everyone has been assembled by the secret entrance, they face their next challenge—the fact that the secret door is 15 feet above ground level. Egan takes his Earth Elemental form and glides through the black marble walls to scout into the armory and look for traps. The secret door itself is locked, but detect magic picks up an aura around it that Egan and Zandu suspect is an alarm spell, or worse. Inside, the armory is empty save for racks of weapons and a long table under which rests a 15-foot ladder. Earth-Egan uses shape stone to expand an arrow slit near the door into a proper opening, using the excess stone to create stairs down to the party and block off a nearby spiral staircase leading up.

Hell’s Kitchen

The party advances down a long hallway to an empty room that looks as if it had been converted from kitchen storage into a barracks. Consulting the map that Sabina and Neolandis had sketched out for them, they continue towards the main mess hall.

As they approach the hall, they can hear a trio of guttural voices singing in a language Zandu recognizes as infernal, but the chorus is in Common:

“Who would say a single beast could give us such a double feast?
Yes, my friends, we’ve meat and fowl—cooking up from arse to jowl!”

The mess hall itself has been transformed into a little slice of Hell, complete with fire, brimstone, and the souls of the damned writhing in agony. Looking more closely, however, the adventurers are able to discern that the hellscape is merely an illusion layered over the more mundane chamber—perhaps to make it more homey for the three Barbed Devils who currently occupy it. The trio is singing off-key as they roast a hippogriff in the chamber’s huge fireplace.

With the devils distracted, the Crimson Blades have time to plot an ambush. Earth-Egan, Kyra, and invisible Ashla stealthily enter the room and each line up their target. The druid and the ranger strike true, but Kyra has a run of bad luck. Her blade glances off the devil’s barbs, and when she tries to duck beneath a table for cover her boot slips on a bit of viscera, sending her faceplanting while her returning dagger thunks into the tabletop above.

The barbed devils shriek in fear and pain at the ambush, while the rest of the party moves into the room. The devils’ first move is to back away from the adventurers as best they can and cast a summoning spell. Nox closes to battle with one while Ashla and Earth-Egan clash with the other two. Arlynn moves towards the center of the room to extend her aura of faith to Ashla, while Flint takes up a position to begin feathering the devils, and Irabeth and Laori guard the rear.

Beards and Barbs

The barbed devils’ summoning warps in five bearded devils, who wade into the fray, while the barbed devils’ own defensive spines sink into Ashla and Nox’s sword arms.

The turning point of the fight happens when Zandu strides into the room and lines up an effective blast of chain lightning that clears away most of the devils. After that, it was a matter of cleaning up the remaining devils, with Nox and Arlynn each cleaving one in two, Flint pinning one into the wall with a torrent of arrows, and Egan finishing the battle by earth uppercutting one into dust.

Arlynn finishes off a badly wounded barbed devil with Serithtial, the blade proving surprisingly sharp, and Earth-Egan smooshes another against a pillar, but the last of the trio, Peever, teleports away.

After pausing to heal and quickly investigate another empty barracks chamber, the adventures regroup and advance on the seneschal’s apartment.

It’s a Trap!

The Crimson Blades pile into a small junction room that serves as a public parlor, with a small hallway splitting off from it to connect with the seneschal’s residence. Kyra picks the lock while Zandu peers through the door with detect magic, turning up only a few auras from objects inside.

As Nox gets ready to kick in the door, but he gets feeling that something isn’t right. The Devils running rampant, no servants, humans sharing spaces with devils, it all is unsettling and not normal for a situation where the devils serve. After this moment, he kicks down the door, he has just enough time to see a large imp point and laugh, get shot by a quick-drawing Flint, and fly out the window. Before the party can react, the sound of armored boots fills their ears, approaching from both sides…

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