Release the Daemon!
Come morning, the battle lines outside have thinned but the stalemate between Guard and Gray Maiden continues. Rather than wait for a resolution, the party decides to venture back into the temple to confront the evil below themselves. One of the three remaining Sable Company marines, a Shoanti man named Hargev, volunteers to accompany them. The other two marines remain above with Ishani Dhatri to watch over the survivors.
In the vat room, Egan un-shapes the stone to clear the entrance to the heart of the temple. Arlynn and Irabeth open the doors, revealing a morbid chamber lit by tall, misshapen candles. A pair of huge stone doors hang ajar to the east, revealing a long hallway leading further into the dark. At the room’s center stand four large, cylindrical glass vats, each filled with a bubbling emerald fluid that tints the chamber’s light a noxious green. Within each suspension floats a malformed abomination—something part man, part angel, and part horse—things of half-formed muscle with dead, fleshless equine skulls. Three of the forms are motionless and still, but the fourth twitches now and then with life.
Beside this last vat, one of the room’s four Urgathoan priests hunkers behind an overturned table. They have been waiting for the party’s assault and battle is soon joined, with Irabeth and Hargev cornering a priest in the north while Arlynn and Ashla strike at one to the south. Egan and Zandu charge right down the center to engage the priest behind the table.
Slim, once again invisible, circles around towards the back of the room, having devised a cunning plan for using the life-hating daemon. But the priests, desperate and overwhelmed, beat him to it. Their spiritual weapons smash open the glass cylinder and the fiend bursts free, unfurling its vulture wings with a piercing cry.
The creature immediately lashes out at Irabeth and Hargev, badly wounding both and inflicting bubonic plague onto the Shoanti. The half-orc paladin finally recognizes the creature as a Leukodaemon, a terrifying plague bringer. She warns the party not to let it touch them.
As Irabeth and Slim keep the daemon occupied, the others finish off the last of the Urgathoans. They then converge on the monstrosity. Although it doles out impressive punishment, spreading bubonic plague to Ashla as well, the leukodaemon is unable to withstand the combined fury of the adventurers.
The party ventures cautiously down a dark, sloping hallway that opens onto the inner sanctum of the temple. Several great vats of bodily fluids—the Seven Scourges of Urgathoa—ring the circular chamber while a golden statue of the Pallid Princess herself rises from a pool of crystal clear water in the chamber center. On the other side of the pool, Lady Andaisin awaits them, leaning on her ornate scythe.
“She has gorgeous hair!” Ashla blurts out.
Andaisin welcomes them and bids them to either drink from one of the seven scourges to be blessed by Urgathoa’s contagion or offer themselves to her scythe for a swift end. “Swifter, in any event, than this delightful end your lovely queen has enjoined me to create!”
Zandu attempts to seduce the high priestess, but has no more success than Rolth did. His distraction, however, lets Slim get close enough to snipe the priestess with a poisoned arrow. Lady Andaisin simply shakes it off. As Arlynn closes in on her, Urgathoa’s chosen summons swirling shadows around one hand and reaches out to tap Arlynn with a single finger.
“Die, little paladin.”
A wave of necrotic energy slams into Arlynn, leeching at her life force, but Iomedae’s strength allows her to endure it (as Zellara foretold). Disappointed, Andaisin simply strides up into the air over the gold statue.
“Fall down before me, fools!” she commands from her lofty perch. All but Arlynn are unable to to do anything but obey. “Witness the power of the Pallid Princess! Your weak and sniveling goddess cannot save you, paladin!”
From his position on the ground beneath Andaisin, Slim snarks at the view up her dress, but she ignores him. Arlynn switches to a bow and begins firing at the priestess. As other members of the party begin to shake off the spell, Andaisin summons an obscuring mist to cover her as she tries to heal herself. Egan summons an air elemental to blow the mist away, but before it is gone Lady Andaisin switches to a new tactic—channeling negative energy.
Waves of necrotic power slam into the party as the mist clears, sapping their strength—but not fast enough. As Egan calls lightning, Slim, Arlynn, and Irabeth renew their flurry of arrows. It’s the rogue who finally brings Andaisin down. The high priestess falls to the floor, landing half-in and half-out of the statue’s fountain, it’s clear water darkening with her blood.
“Impossible…” Lady Andaisin gasps. “The goddess won’t abandon me…”
Wrath of the Pallid Princess
The party celebrates their hard-fought victory over the priestess, but the revelry is cut short as the vats of the Seven Scourges begin to boil and the fountain around the statue of Urgathoa turns to blood. They notice to their alarm that the golden statue itself is suddenly facing them, its sinister smile replaced with an angry snarl. Zandu, Ashla, and Egan high-tail it for the exit. As he floats past the slain Andaisin, the sorcerer observes that her lifeless body has begun to writhe and jerk. Irabeth, still enlarged, approaches the spasming body and then stands her ground, bellowing a challenge out to Urgathoa. Slim sticks close to the half-orc, while Arlynn circles around the other side of the fountain.
Lady Andaisin’s body crackles with unholy power and is lifted into the air. Her sundered flesh explodes with boils and pustules, while torrents of Urgathoa’s foul humors flood forth and congeal into a sickening new body for the unliving saint. Her scythe melds with her right arm into a gigantic curved blade of bone that she raises in triumph.
“I am REBORN!” the monstrous creature cries out. “Tremble before the champion of the Pallid Princess!”
The reborn Andaisin rends Irabeth with a terrible slash from her scythe-arm. The half-orc warns the party not to let the corpse queen touch them. Ashla tries to engage, but the scythe cuts into her, inflicting the bubonic plague, and the ranger is forced to retreat.
Arlynn, her sword still bathed in holy fire, braves the danger to close with the unliving saint, while Slim ducks beneath the swinging scythe to sneak attack. Zandu and Egan hang back to hammer her with spells. In the shifting battlefield, Arlynn is forced to wade into the foul pool of blood, which eats at her through her armor. Yet through sword and spell, Urgathoa’s unliving saint slowly weakens as she lashes out at those around her. Finally, Zandu finishes her off with a barrage of magic missiles.
Upon the priestess’ death, the holy fire around Arlynn’s sword blazes into a brilliant white light that washes over the vaulted chamber. Once the glare fades, the Seven Scourges and the fountain of blood have been transformed into pure water. Arlynn holds her sword aloft as Irabeth kneels in awe. The senior paladin then send the light beam crashing into the statue of Urgathoa, which melts into a lump of lead.
“Praise be to Iomedae!” Arlynn calls out.
While the paladins celebrate, Ashla and Slim search the room, discovering a hidden compartment with valuables—but unfortunately no documents tying the Urgathoans to the Queen.
Breaking the Plague
Gathering their spoils, the party returns to the hospice above, where they find Guardsmen on the premises evacuating the survivors. Ashla stops one of the Guards to ask what happened to resolve the standoff. The soldier says that it was a wild night, with the Guard and the Gray Maidens almost coming to blows, and then a gang of vampires running loose through the city after being stirred up by some Maidens. The standoff was ultimately resolved about half an hour ago by the arrival of Marcus Endrin and Sabina Merrin, who talked their respective sides down.
Zandu presents the party’s findings on the plague to Ishani. The Abadaran believes that with the information the party has acquired and the library taken from Rolth’s lair in the Dead Warrens, they should be able to reverse-engineer a cure in short order. Zandu volunteers to help.
Slim also comes forward with the discovery he and Vittora made, informing Ishani that the subset of Varisians immune to the plague are all at least distantly related. He offers to undergo some tests to see what could have caused this immunity and whether it could facilitate a cure.
Arlynn, meanwhile, hitches a ride on Hargev’s hippogriff to the Pantheon of the Many, where she intends to pray at the shrine of Iomedae. Irabeth makes her own way to the shrine.
Over the next three days, Zandu and alchemical experts from the faiths of Abadar, Sarenrae, and Pharasma work long hours at the Bank of Abadar to develop a cure for the blood veil. On the first day, Slim and Vittora arrive to undergo some brief testing. The priests are able to determine that the plague immunity is specific to the blood veil and is spiritual rather than biological in origin.
Zandu stumbles across a passage in Rolth’s notes that sheds light on the situation. The blood veil was based on an earlier supernatural disease, Vorel’s Phage, that was created in the Sandpoint region far to the west by the failed lich Vorel Foxglove. His Varisian wife, Kasanda Foxglove, is the ancestor of all those immune. Ishani speculates that Kasanda may be reaching from beyond the grave to protect her descendants from the effects of Vorel’s Phage and its derivatives.
A little unsettled by this news, Slim investigates Racker’s Alley, discovering the hidden coffins and treasure trove of the five vampire spawn that laired beneath the adjacent shop, Giotorri’s Toys. The rogue also finds a key to a lock box in the Abadaran Vault holding the live savings (and former gear) of the late Rodolfo Giotorri, a former thief turned shoddy toymaker.
After three days of effort, Zandu and the clerics are able to devise a cure for the blood veil. But others in the party have also gotten up to adventures in the mean time….